Sucking With Purpose

Well, the Cubs lost another series last night, dropping 2 out of 3 to Boston.  This team has been every bit as bad as I expected them to be, but losing hasn't bothered me as much as it has in the past.  Reason being, I'm still confident that Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have a plan to rebuild not just at the major league level, but system wide.  That kind of sea change takes time and isn't going to happen overnight, much less over the course of a single season.

The only thing I've found frustrating is some of the comments and complaints I've read from some Cub fans on the internets.  A lot of people seem to have missed the memo on just what's going on the North Side right now.  There was no chance in hell the Cubs were going to be competitive this year, so please dispense with the bitching and moaning about Theo not knowing what he's doing or calling for Dale Sveum to be fired.  It just makes our fanbase look foolish.

Yes, the Cubs suck.  However, I would argue that this year, the Cubs suck with purpose.  As one of the ESPN announcers pointed out last night, this is audition time.  Any of the players on the current team might be trade bait or cannon fodder.  Guys like Darwin Barney need to step up and prove they deserve to be on this team when the rebuilding dust settles.  Theo and Jed are going to be watching carefully to determine who stays and who goes.  Meanwhile, they appear to be ready to trade anybody they can get good prospects for, even ready to eat some money in order to do so.  Along with the draft and the addition of Jorge Soler, this will go a long way to replenishing a barren farm system.  Theo has admitted he made some mistakes in Boston, but most of those mistakes were on the free agent side.  This guy knows talent and I have confidence he can build a first rate farm system, which to me is the foundation for sustained success.  What a nice change from the Hendry regime, who merely threw oodles of money at the major league roster.  The Cubs had a few good seasons with this method, but no sustained success.

Dale Sveum may not have been the sexy hire the fanbase was hoping for, but honestly, if I see one more doofus bitching about Sandberg not being hired, I'm going to slap them around.  I'm not sure why these people believe the results would be different with number 23 in charge.  I loved Sandberg the player, but Sandberg the manager has never managed at the major league level.  There's no way in Hades he'd magically be able to make this a better ballclub.  Being a Cub icon ain't gonna make Ian Stewart hit for average, reverse Soriano's steady decline, improve Castro's concentration, or solidify the duct-taped bullpen.

I see Sveum's role much like Alan Trammel's in Detroit a number of years ago.  The Cubs have a motley collection of youth and veterans and Sveum's job is to stress the fundamentals and teach these kids to play the game the right way.  As they get better, add some better free agents over the next two-three years and all of a sudden, you're ready to compete.  Whether Dale will continue to be the manager at that point is anyone's guess, but I think he's the perfect guy for the task at hand.  The only thing that worried me at first was how he handled the bullpen, but the bullpen is so bad, there's really no way of telling if he's handling it right or not.  It seems like a complete crapshoot as to what kind of performance you're going to get from any Cub reliever at this point.  Hard to pin that on Dale.

I hate to say it, but as fans, all we can do is be patient.  I think we can look to what's happened in Detroit and Tampa Bay over the last decade to see what the future might hold.  You build from the bottom up, not the top down and I think your team is going to always have a chance to be in it.  The Cubs are going to have more money to spend than either of those teams in the next few years, but before you start spending money, a solid foundation has to be there.  That's what the Cubs are doing this year: pouring the concrete.  Yeah, watching it dry isn't going to be super exciting, but what the Cubs build on top of that just might be what Cub fans have been waiting for this past century and change.              

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