Photo: AP Images
Theo Epstein is now in charge of all Chicago Cubs personnel decisions.Surely, the man credited with reversing the Boston Red Sox’ 86-year World Series drought will ride into Wrigleyville on his white horse and perform a similar feat.
Wrong…at least in the immediate future. When Epstein took over the general managerial role for Boston, the Red Sox had finished second in the AL East five consecutive years and hadn’t finished under .500 since 1997.
Conversely, the Cubs are coming off their worst season since 2006, finishing 20 games under .500.
From the team’s current makeup, to its revenue problems, to dealing with the pressure of over 100 years of ineptitude, the organisation’s deficiencies can be found everywhere.
Mike Quade replaced the departed Lou Pinella late in the 2010 season and managed the team to a 24-13 record. The organisation was so positive he was the man for the full-time job that they spurned Cubs legend, and Triple-A manager, Ryne Sandberg. But then Quade won just 71 games this season. It's presumed Epstein will want to install his own man. He interviewed Sandberg for the Red Sox Triple-A job last year. Will he come calling again?
Former general manager, Jim Hendry, made some tremendous trades during his tenure. But he also signed some horrifically bad contracts. Alfonso Soriano has $54 million remaining on his deal. And he turns 36 in January. Carlos Zambrano is owed $18 million next season and the Cubs want no part of the pitcher that quit on his team. Trading both players, no matter what the team gets in return, will be one of Epstein's first priorities.
Starlin Castro may be the team's cornerstone. But the rest of the team's everyday players are expendable. It's a litany of ageing veterans and role players. Epstein will need to do some manoeuvring in the coming years to turn this offence around.
The pitching staff is equally in disarray. Ryan Dempster led the team with a whopping 10 wins. Zambrano will surely be shipped out. Closer Carlos Marmol had the worse season of his career. And much of the staff is comprised of unproven youngsters.
Lou Montanez. Bobby Brownlie. Ryan Harvey. What do these guys all have in common? They were all first-round selections. And they were all major busts. The Cubs' scouting department has improved, but recent selections are still several years away from making an impact at the major-league level.
The NL Central isn't getting any easier. May I remind you, two teams from this division are currently battling for the pennant. Milwaukee will lose Prince Fielder and St. Louis could lose Albert Pujols, but these teams are still the class of the division. Pittsburgh is young and hungry. And Cincinnati is just one year removed from a division title. We're leaving Houston out of this discussion on purpose.
People love Wrigley Field for its timelessness and ambiance almost as much as the baseball itself. For these reasons, the city and fans would never allow the same littering of logos and advertisements found at newer stadiums. An intimate venue also means a smaller seating capacity. Which means less ticket sales. Between a lack of advertising and capacity constraints, the organisation must come up with creative ways to match other clubs' revenue generating powers.
First it was the goat. Then it was the black cat. And, finally, the Bartman game. The Cubs haven't won a World Series in 103 years. You can't make this stuff up.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.