Write Derek at drksmart @ gmail.com
Write Phil at phil.bencomo @ gmail.com
Next Stop: The Future
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.