Hope is a bastard of an emotion.
Sure, it helps people survive life-threatening situations or gives them the will to live/fight against impossible odds and somehow come out on top. Hope lifts you up when all seems lost.
It’d be one thing if the Cubbies just came out every year without having made any off-season moves, or traded away all of our good
players, (a la the Pirates), or decided to stop playing people to artificially drop our gargantuan payroll, or just generally showed signs of officially throwing in the towel.
But the Cubs don’t DO that. They (against all odds) inspire hope that next year NEXT YEAR will be The Year.
Hiring Theo Epstein is a perfect freaking example of this.
Here’s the story: I pretty much gave up on the cubs this season in April. Maybe May. MAYBE. Here I am, mad at the team because of an atrocious season, ready to swear them off for the entire next season and save myself some mental and emotional anguish, and, as per usual, they do something in the off-season (when the playoffs start) that Inspires Hope. This year they go get the GM that brought the Red Sox their first world series in a good long while. They got a world series-less streak killer of a GM!
But I tell you what: I’m skeptical.
Yup, skeptical right in the face of Hope. Sure Theo did a wonderful job with the Red Sox and got them a ring (and he might just be the messiah if he does it for the Cubbies, too), but the Sox have a bigger payroll than the Cubs and completely imploded at the end of this season. The Cubs’ m.o. for years has been to pick up a big-name player and pay him more money than he deserves (I’m talking to you, Soriano). We (as fans and as a team) don’t need more of that.
What we need is to build on the (few) positives from this season. Darwin Barney is excellent. Starlan Castro is one of the brightest
young stars in the game. We FINALLY fired our god-awful, terrible, jackass of a GM. It looks like we won’t have Zombrano next year to “guarantee” a world series victory only to follow up his words with temper tantrums and mediocre pitching. This LeHair kid shows promise. Marlon Byrd can see just fine and looks to be the leader this team has been missing since we stupidly got rid of de Rosa.
What we need is our GM to be focused on getting talented YOUNG players on the team. We need to build up our farm system and promote from within rather than trying to bring in some star player (Albert Pujols or Prince Assface) to save the day. We need to re-establish the culture of winning that we had in the early 2000s when we were the perennial favorites to win the Central every year (read: invest in/ develop excellent starting pitching). We need to cultivate a closer from our own staff (We have three viable candidates in Wood, Marshall, and Marmol – they just need some help. We need our new GM to bring in a manager dedicated to his team, to developing young players, and one that doesn’t tolerate mediocrity or childish outbursts, but rewards balls-to-the-wall effort.
The Cubbies have the talent to be a decent team. What they need is the leadership to take them to the next level. Here’s hoping Theo can bring some magic back to the Cubs. Lord knows we can’t get any worse.