Baseball Toaster Cub Town
Next Stop: The Future
2007-10-09 06:56
by Derek Smart

Feelings on the recent debacle? Nothing, really. Sure, there's a bit of disappointment, but if I'm truly being honest with myself, while I felt going into the season that the club was clearly improved, and that with the sad state of the division as a whole a playoff berth was certainly possible, this was not a team I looked at and thought, "Them thar's champeens!"

Like everyone else in the National League, the Cubs were and are a deeply flawed group. Decent enough, to be sure, due to some significant star power in a couple spots, but miles away from a dominating force, or even consideration as a sure-fire contender. This is, as currently constructed, a .500 team that could swing several games in either direction based on the whims and vagaries of a long season. Sticking with the status quo could result in a similar ride in 2008, one that would have the potential of another run to the postseason, or an equally likely yearlong slog in the muddy, mid-pack, March to Mediocrity.

There are things that can be done to raise this franchise from a member of the general, uninspiring, yet theoretically contending populace of the National League, into a team that can be looked on as a legitimate peer and potential foil of its upper echelon American League counterparts. However, in order to properly identify those - shall we call them "upgrade opportunities"? - I feel it's important to take a detailed look back at what the team had in stock, in tandem with a peek forward at what might parts might be available.

To that end, over the next several weeks, I'll be rolling out a series of player-centric essays on the Cubs and their future options that I like to call, "Assuming the Position." Hopefully, those of you who have seen these before are looking forward to them, and those who haven't will find them enjoyable. I want to get a few in the can before I start posting, so figure they'll start showing up sometime late next week, early the following week.

We may not be able to fix this team ourselves, but we sure as hell can put our two cents in. So, start thinking, and get ready to weigh in. We'll be rolling in no time.

2007-10-09 07:07:05
1.   chris in illinois
May I suggest that you start with Ryan T??
2007-10-09 07:15:21
2.   Derek Smart
Shortstop is actually the one I've begun work on, so your suggestion has apparently been psychically anticipated. ;)
2007-10-09 09:28:11
3.   Sandus
I can't wait for outfield.
2007-10-10 20:20:13
4.   JeffH
I've been a season ticket holder for this shipwreck for the last 25 years. I guess I'm lucky compared to most who have been suffering for a lot longer.

The problem with the Cubs is that there's never a future because for years, they've attempted to create a patchwork team by buying overpriced and overrated talent instead of building from within. Three of the 4 teams left this year have rosters filled with homegrown talent. That's not a coincidence.

The first step to rebuiding the Cubs is to fire Jim Hendry. This should have happened last year; perhaps if it had, we would not have spend $137M on a guy who drove in 70 runs. Soriano is and will continue to be one of the most overrated players in all of baseball. He's not a good leadoff hitter nor a particularly great baserunner. His speed was diminished by his injuries in 2007 and as he ages, he will continue to get slower. He's a lousy outfielder; while he has a good, accurate arm, he has no idea how to play the angles in the outfield and his poor defense is a detriment to the ballclub.

While I like Theriot and Soto, let's face it, neither of them can compare to the talent developed by the Rockies, Indians, D-Backs, Braves and Phillies to name just a few. Even the Yankees are beginning to develop their own- Cano, Chamberlain, Cabrera, to add to Jeter and Posada. I'm not interested in a one and done club although given what the Cubs have produced for the last 100 years, maybe that would be ok for many.

How about a consistent winning ballclub that plays exciting and fundamentally sound baseball. Maybe it will take 3-4 years to create that but guess what, I'm willing to wait.

When will the Cubs learn that you must develop a system that produces a pipeline of talent. McDonough's pronouncement at the beginning of the season that the Cubs planned to win the World Series was absurd. This was a 66 win team in 2006. It improved in 2007 but frankly, played a lot of lousy baseball for much of the year. I was there for much of it.

New ownership can't arrive soon enough. When it does, please wipe the slate clean and start over. Cub fans deserve a whole lot better.

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