After a long break, I'm back to put finger to keypad to talk about what should be my favorite subject, The Chicago Cubs. Sadly, these days it's actually the least favorite thing for me to talk about. Even more so than Brett Favre. Though I could write a little about that jackass too.
Nope, this one is about the dismal and disappointing 2010 Cubs season. There really are other words that I could use, but since the biggest disappoint on this team in 2010 begins with a D, (I'm looking at you D-Lee) those will be suffice. Sure, he's not the only problem, but with Lee in a contract year, it wouldn't be surprising for him to have a monster year. That didn't happen. He'll tell you the back only bothers him on defense if anything, which funnily enough was Carlos Zambrano's blowup was all about, it's hard to believe that it doesn't hurt when swinging the bat as well. Enough about the .251 hitting 1B. I wish he hadn't rejected a trade to the Anaheim Angels. At least we could have gotten something for him.
Really, the blame on the season should fall onto the players, especially since their poor play this season is the real culprit. Ultimately, it will fall onto manager Lou Pinella and GM Jim Hendry. Unfortunately only one of them won't be back next season.
With Lou proclaiming that he was retiring after this season, and really so would I and I'm only 30, not a 104 like Lou, Cubs fans were hoping that they could get a clean start for the 2011 season. However, new owner Tom Ricketts has opted for Hendry to come back for the 2011 season, probably because they didn't want to pay him to sit on his ass for 2011 and 2012, like they have for this season so far. No, Hendry will be back for 2011 and the rebuilding of the Cubs will be in his hands. Sure, the Cubs will call it a reloading or something of that nature, but make no mistake about it, it will be a rebuilding, especially if most Cubs fans get their wish and they name Ryne Sandberg the manager for 2011.
Hendry has overseen the complete disaster of the Cubs since taking over in 2002. Sure, he made some great moves in 2003 to get the Cubs closer than they have been in a long time, but the bad contracts he has handed out since them has put them right where they are. The 2010 opening day payroll was $144 million. They have $103 million committed to 9 players. 9. Let that sink in for a second..... Ready for more? Of those 9 players, 5 have no-trade clauses and one will be a 10 and 5 player, which gives him a no-trade clause. The Cubs also have 7 players coming up for arbitration. Including Geovanny Soto, Carlos Marmol and Sean Marshall and all of them will get some hefty raises, I would imagine. Could easily put their payroll at $115 to $120 million range. And that doesn't give you a 2B, 1B or any new bullpen help. Even if Hendry is able to move some bad contracts, ie Zambrano and Kosuke Fukudome, they'll be eating some salary in those deals, and doesn't help reestablish their payroll to manageable levels.
Which leads to the manager. If the Cubs hire Sandberg instead of an established manager, that could be the sing that rebuilding is taking effect, especially if the Cubs trim the payroll. Honestly, I have no problem with that. Getting the payroll down is exactly what the Cubs need to do. Sure, we would all love to see the Cubs get back to a deep playoff run, but chances are with Sandberg in the dugout, there will be growing pains, and not a lot of big free agents will jump at the chance to play for a rebuilding team, unless you throw big money and no-trade clauses in the contracts, which is what has us in this spot to begin with. Cubs fans need to be prepared for a bit longer of a playoff dry spell than just these past 2 years.