Despite owning the first-place Milwaukee Brewers the last two nights, the Cubs hope to claim the dubious honor of becoming the final team in the majors to win three in a row this season. I don’t think I’m going out on a limb to say it’s time to turn the page on this disastrous 2011 Cubs season and look toward the future.
But that’s where things get even more troubling for Cubs fans since there seems to be no real direction or plan from ownership and management. I think Johnny Rotten had the same feeling about the fate of the British monarchy back in 1976: “No future!” (sorry, I know it’s a stretch, but I felt it was past time to throw in a seminal punk anthem on the blog).
Fingers are being pointed in every direction for the colossal failure by fans and media alike. There seems to be growing sentiment against new manager, Mike Quade, but he can only be accountable for what he does with the players he’s been given. Pete and I witnessed him pull off an “according to Hoyle” miracle (have to throw in any Pulp Fiction reference whenever possible) Monday night when he beat a first place team with a Triple-A lineup replete with household names like Lou Montanez, Tony Campana, and French-rapper-turned-first-baseman, DJ LeMahieu. No, you can’t blame Quade for this mess, you’ve got to point the finger at the GM and the man paying him.
It’s still very early in his tenure and he seems like a genuinely nice guy, but owner Tom Ricketts doesn’t strike me as the next Mark Cuban who thinks of himself as a fan first and an owner second. He hasn’t shown that he will do (i.e. spend) whatever it takes to win a world championship as Cuban has. Ricketts seems far more concerned with the mystical Triangle Building—the most talked about geometric structure since the Pentagon—and getting his bison hot dogs into Wrigley than he does about the abysmal product he has on the field.
One could argue that Ricketts has been hamstrung by too many backloaded contracts for aging vets who are constantly injured or no longer producing (hey Alfonso, Aramis, Kosuke—are your ears burning?). But the other major market teams (as the Cubs certainly should be considered) the Yankees and Red Sox have never let bad deals stop them from spending their way to the top. They’ve simply spent more to overcome any bad decision or injury.
Even if Ricketts really doesn’t have the resources right now, which seems hard to believe, he still chose to retain the services of the architect of those criminally short-sighted deals that created the dire situation, Jim Hendry. If Ricketts was truly concerned about winning he would have jettisoned Hendry as soon as he had the chance. Instead he gave Hendry his vote of confidence thus endorsing perpetually schizophrenic decision making—vacillating between spending big money to win now and then capping spending to build for the future. Hendry’s fundamental flaw is that he has never been able to pick a lane and we are now seeing the results of his chronic indecision.
So is the plan to act like a major market club and spend what it takes to win, or build for the future? Cubs fans have been stuck in limbo for too long. Ricketts has to decide soon or there will be no future for Cubs fans to look forward to.