10:16 AM CDT, August 23, 2012
Sorry, Cubs fans. My condolences.
Your team is worse than I thought -- whoops, wait a minute, I think another Cub just struck out -- and so is your future.
It’s not here yet and won’t be for a long time. Heck, it looks like it’ll be a long time before the Cubs become even a competent major league team.
I didn’t say competitive. I certainly didn’t say contender. I said competent, and I said I haven’t seen much that sniffs even that modest level.
As I imagined it, the 2012 season was Theo Epstein getting to know everybody, 2013 was supposed to be the season they finished razing the failures of the last five or so administrations and show some progress, then 2014 was supposed to be a big step up the standings, 2015 at worst.
But now, based on what I’ve seen of players given the chance to show their color and character, all I can say is, "oy."
The current bunch died at the trading deadline. After going 19-10 in July -- I believe Cooperstown asked for that calendar page -- the Cubs have gone 4-18 in their last 22. They’ve hit a robust .213 in that time. Their pitchers have a 5.12 earned-run average that is the next journey for the NASA rover Curiosity. They have been outscored 114-74 and just got done striking out 37 times in getting swept in Milwaukee.
That trading deadline thing is the problem. It seems to expose the Cubs for what they really have going forward, which actually is a lot of going backward. The Cubs’ remaining players have shown diminishing talent, brains and/or character.
Maybe some Cubs started feeling sorry for themselves because good players got traded but they didn’t, meaning they aren’t considered good players. If that’s the case, most of those players have provided ample evidence to back up the stink.
This death spiral at least explains why Theo Epstein is clearing out the Cubs offices, using his cell phone like an AK47.
After whacking the farm director and two statheads last week, Epstein fired six scouts Wednesday, and if you need to know why they had to go, just look at the young misery on the field.
No, wait, don’t look. It’ll make you sick or sad, or both.
Of the Cubs-developed talent that Epstein and his bunch have taken over and looked over -- and reached for air-sickness bags over -- only Jeff Samardzija looks like he can start. The other four spots in the rotation put the “for’’ in forfeit.
Carlos Marmol can pitch. He has come back to look like a closer, and if Epstein has anything to do with it, Marmol probably will be someone else’s closer by Christmas.
At the plate, yeesh. Starlin Castro is holding at .275 with an on-base percentage nearly that bad. The Cubs want to sign him to something like a six- or seven-year deal for, I don’t know, $60 million. That either makes Castro more tradeable or Epstein has washed out his eyes with battery acid watching the rest of the organization.
Like Brett Jackson. The strikeout machine in the minors has continued his laughable ways in the majors. He struck out three times Wednesday, bringing his total to 29 in just 55 at-bats. He’s only 148 K’s behind Adam Dunn. If that’s the center fielder of the future, then there’s not much of a future.
And then consider Josh Vitters, who made the most of his pinch-hit at-bat Wednesday by making an out. He’s very good at making outs, pulling off the unique embarrassment of a .119 batting average and a .116 on-base percentage. If that’s the third baseman of the future, then Cubs fans better hope the Mayans are right about 12-21-2012.
Seen any starting pitching you like? Anyone? Hello? Hel-lo?
OK, I still like Travis Wood. Possibly. Maybe. Mostly because he’s left-handed and wasn’t drafted and developed by the Cubs.
But watching the starters the Cubs have brought up this month makes me pine for Epstein’s battery acid. Imagine the players they haven't brought up.
I still have hope for Epstein’s abilities to spot talent and develop an organization that lives up to his plan of sustained success.
I have zero hope it will happen within the next three years.
The young talent in the organization is more young than talent. This is going to take longer than anyone thought.
My condolences, Cubs fans. Check back after the next presidential election after the next presidential election.
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