Filed: October 5th, 2008
This dream is over. It died when Russell Martin and company burned the Cubs yet again, this time in a series-ending 3-1 loss that will have many questioning whether it's time to blow this team up.
Since I woke up so frustrated with Alfonso Soriano that I considered trading him straight up for Aaron Heilman a good idea -- even if we had to take back Castillo's insane contract -- I think I'm going to need a little time to properly heal from this one. So that said, I'm going to get a little scarce until after the World Series. I'll check in with the occasional update, but I think for me a little distance is good. Maybe for you too.
I will say a couple of things right now though. First, congratulations to the Dodgers. They've got the formula down, and you have to give Ned Colleti some credit. I think owner Frank McCourt is something of a naïf and a loon -- see three-year contract to Jason Schmidt as an example -- but Ned's got good pitching and talented parts, and deserves credit for pairing them with a great coach and a huge impact bat. Good luck to them, as the Phillies look especially good this year. It should be a great series.
For the fans, I say try to keep your head up. I can't begin to stress this enough; the Cubs were a bad organization, and for a very long time. Whether you look at the reactive mode of management, uncaring ownership, the quality of the managerial talent, to the success rate in the draft, they were just bad. But as I think three playoff appearances in five years shows, they're past the loveable loser image. I expect them to be back next season -- regardless of owner -- and there are good things happening in the farm system to make me believe that they can be competitive for years to come if they chose. For whatever our frustration with the 100 year itch, the truth is that there are at fans of at least 25 teams that would happily trade places with us. They'll get this right, and I think sooner rather than later.
And to the Cubs, you choked. Spin it how you like, but you did. And the organization is going to have to make some very important decisions about what they want the team to look like going forward, because the regression to free-swinging hacks isn't going to work. Now, I'll assume that they will attempt to remain competitive for the next few years, as I can't see Piniella having agreed to the 2010 season unless he was given assurances by the potential owners. However, there is much work to be done. I appreciate the need to keep Soriano at leadoff, but you need a rock solid, classic lead-off man hitting in the two-hole if you stick with that. That guy is not Ryan Theriot. Maybe it's Kosuke Fukudome, who I expect better things from next season, but probably not. I'd reopen the Brian Roberts dialogue, but that's just me.
Is it time to say goodbye to Derrek Lee, who has officially stepped over the line into decline phase? Are you parting with Ryan Dempster and Kerry Wood? I could go on, but you get the idea. The Cubs have done a nice job of putting talent on the field, but there's not much star power. And no true leaders. The next stop for Piniella is going to be changing the culture, and for that to happen, some people may need to go.
And to readers of Cubbie Nation, thanks for a great season. I received many kind calls and e-mails, which were greatly appreciated. Upgrades and improvements are already in development for next season, so check back often.