I was there for Bartman. I was there when we won the division, when we won the wild card; I was there when Marky Mark made his debut, I was also there when he got hit in the elbow. I was showered in champagne by Derrek Lee when we made the play-offs, it was our year! I’ve sat in the stands for hours with Billy Williams, traded daily barbs with Ron Santo, annoyed poor Pat Hughes, shook my head at Joe Carter, traded bands with Len Kasper (listen to the gufs!) and ran away from Ernie Banks…. I was there for the collapse of Wood/Prior\Zambrano/Maddux. I’ve seen Corey and Eric Patterson come and go. I remember Bobby Hill. I remember Nic Jackson. I was there when they no longer trusted Dusty. I was there when Sweet Lou arrived.
I believed in Michael Barrett, Carlos Zambrano, and Ryan Theriot. I witnessed the return of Kid K. I was there when we signed Notre Dame's best reciever. I was there for the resurrection of Ryan Dempster. I believed in Soriano. I believed. I was there when Sweet Lou felt sour. I was there when it all came apart for Marky Mark. I was there when Carlos came apart. I survived both the Alfonseca era and LaTroy Hawkins era. I can tell you Milton Bradley is in deed as friendly as he looks. I was there when Farnsworth...well, nevermind. Andy promised it. Hendry promised it. Even McDonough promised it. I’ve worked for numerous owners, from the Tribune, Sam Zell, to the Ricketts family. In that time nothing has changed, yet everything is not the same. I guess what I’m trying to say is we’ve come a long, long way baby, and its gonna take more than signing Theo Epstein for me to start believing again.
Granted it’s a great start. Theo Epstein had a very successful run in Boston, and his crew of guys worked their tails off to bring a competitive team to Boston (and San Diego) every year…not just to contend but also to play for a world series every year. That’s quite a task, and only a few teams realistically have that structure in place to compete on that level year after year after year. And now we’re to believe the Cubs are ready to become one of these teams (again)?
I really am full of optimism. Epstein has said the right things, has the right attitude, hired the right people, not brought back the right people... and is putting together a team/front office that will set the Cubs organization up to compete for years to come. And yes, that’s exciting, but I’ve seen a lot of pigs in my time. Some of those pigs have been very pretty; some of those pigs have just been god-awful ugly. No matter how you dress that pig up, it’s still a pig. And this little piggy has been dressed up pretty on numerous occasions, and still hasn't learned to fly.
Epstein has to get to work soon, and that starts with two key members of the 2011 ball-club. Ryan Dempster and Aramis Ramirez have been dealt with, and who's at 3rd is going to be a brilliant question. same for Mike Quade and Ryne Sandberg. Who's in the hot seat when the season start will be a monumental decision to start the Epstein era. I don’t doubt the decisions to be made by Epstein and his team. Yeah, I know what I said earlier, but lets just see how pretty this pig can be before we go making any big decisions.
Another good start is focusing on the pitching staff. In Boston, the pitching staff was not only built up to compete with the Yankees, but to be the best in baseball. The Cubs have some great young arms in the bullpen, but with Zambrano gone and not having a true number 5 starter all season long, an upgrade is necessary. Yeah, it’s true I like Casey Coleman, and Randy Wells seems like a really nice guy, but the Cubs have been inconsistent and less than threatening since Ted Lilly left town. And while picking up this new Japanese sensation to fill your number one slot seems like a good idea, Theo should look into some more solid, proven veterans.
Veterans like CJ Wilson and Roy Oswalt would be a welcomed addition to tighten up the pitching staff, don’t you think? And forget about Pujols and Fielder arriving to Wrigleyville as future residents, the Cubs have Carlos Pena and Brian LaHar. Finding another big bat is a huge step, along with answering what to do with Soriano, Colvin, Woody, and even Reed Johnson. Is it really time for the Brett Jackson era to finally start???
Theo Epstein has been given many titles since arriving to Chicago, but he’s going to have to have an incredible off-season if he is to be the Cubs’ newest savior.