The hard part, for Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer, ended sometime last season. It was probably about the time Jorge Soler joined Javy Baez on the active roster. For three years, two very competitive guys had to have the discipline to make moves for tomorrow, not today, and had to keep doing that over and over again. When they swung and missed at a highly paid free agent like Annibal Sanchez or Masahiro Tanaka, they had to have the discipline to not “Jim Hendry” the money and throw at whatever guy wandered by next.
They had to get to the point where the farm system was built up and the bad contracts were gone. They had histories of going after the best players on the market like Curt Schilling and Adrian Gonzalez, but had to settle for picking Chris Coghlan and Scott Feldman off the scrapheap.
But at the end of last season, the Cubs looked like a real baseball team again. Well, mostly. In three years, the talent level throughout the organization had taken an astonishing turn for the better. They actually looked like a team to be reckoned with in the future.
Less than six months after trading him away, the Cubs have re-signed pitcher Jason Hammel. This time, Hammel gets a nice raise, a second guaranteed year and a third year option. I’m sure that’ll help console him next July when he’s packing his shit and leaving again.
Just when everything seemed to be going so well. The Cubs offseason had included getting the best manager in the game, bringing back Hank White, adding Dave Martinez to the coaching staff, and making an ambitious run at Jon Lester. Hey, they’d even seen the Blue Jays bail them out of what would have been an onerous contract for squatty little Russell Martin.
All of that is now drowned out by the thud that is the return of Ryan Dempster, Fart Joke Teller Extraordinare. Canada’s worst export since Nickelback, Dempster left the Cubs a three glorious years ago when his trade deadline hostage crisis finally ended with him being shipped off to the Rangers. We detailed that saga here, and it no doubt will be featured in season two of the Serial Podcast.
The Cubs announced today that the big videoboard in left field (the one giving hokey traditionalists the vapors) that will debut sometime next season, will bear the name of Wintrust Financial. Apparently that is a bank, or some shit.
Being a Cubs fan wouldn’t be all that bad if it weren’t for two things:
1) the soul-crushing losing
2) other Cubs fans.
Yesterday, the Cubs invited a gaggle of Cubs bloggers to sit down with Cubs Vice President for Business Mismanagement Crane Kenney. Apparently they didn’t have postal addresses for Hire Jim Essian or me. But, thankfully, our good friend Al Yellon did score an invite. He filed this report: