I have been struggling with what I would like to say about how things are going this year however, everyone pretty much is able to already determine how the season is going. We are just over one-third into the Theo Era with the Cubs and 2012 is probably already finished for our beloved Cubs. 19-40 is definitely not where I thought the Cubs would be at this point in the season after there appeared to be so much promise coming out of Spring Training. Hope is only able to spring eternal optimism for this team as all fans must realize how sad of a state this franchise has been for a longer time than anyone would like to remember and until the Ricketts children finally wised up and got rid of their hometown (Omaha Nebraska) hero Jim Hendry, it did not seem that things would ever turn a round our team. With the change in atmosphere and the improvement that is needed to really make the Cubs contenders on a consistent basis, there are going to be a couple of rough seasons to get through and everyone needs to trust that Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod do have a successful master plan that is and will be far superior than the last saviour of this team Andy MacPhail ever had. Right now it does not seem so with the way this team is performing yet when it is necessary to demolish what has not worked and rebuild for the future, things ideally will only get better.
So what have we seen since the start of the season. Truthfully there has not been much and that has to be expected for now. Gone are most of the high priced contracts that have plagued this organization for quite a while. I know some may be wanting Aramis Ramirez back at third or Marlon Byrd still out in center however, changes needed to be made to build a better system in the minor leagues to funnel guys into Wrigley who will hopefully have some strong staying power and help the Cubs long term. I am still waiting the celebrate the day when one of the biggest mistakes that Jim Hendry made is either released out right or finally traded away. Alfonzo Soriano has been a mistake since Hendry signed Soriano to that ugly long contract for a player that the Yankees refused to keep. If Soriano was truthfully any good, does anyone really think that he would not be in the Bronx? Ryan Dempster is another one I am waiting to see leave. When I was living in Southern California and went to a Cubs vs. Dodgers game and sat next to the bullpen, I had the pleasure of a brief conversation with Dempster that still bugs me to this day. If you remember Dempster served some time as the closer for this team after signing as a reclamation project with I believe a shoulder injury. The Cubs proceeded to score some more runs in the top of the 9th inning of that particular game and I yelled to Dempster that I was sorry the save opportunity was no longer available. Dempster replied that he was relieved as there is a lot of pressure being a closer. To me that just showed me that he did not have the mental toughness to be a closer and I am truthfully not that impressed with Dempster as a starter. I like Matt Garza and think Garza is a good solid pitcher who still may blossom into a top notch #1 starter however, Garza still has value to a contender who needs another quality October starter to help them get to the promised land. I also think that it is time to part ways with Carlos Marmol. Marmol initially seemed destined to be a hell of a closer however, after 2011 and the start of 2012 it may be better to give Marmol a change of scenery as it does not appear that Marmol will ever recover to be the closer it seemed he once was going to be. Most of the rest of the pitching staff in my opinion leaves a lot to be desired. The one bright part so far for 2012 has been the effort and performance by Jeff Samardzija as a starter. Samardzija for the most part has performed pretty well however, one has to keep wondering if this is legitimately Samardzija at his best doing what he should be or will the reality come crashing down on Cubs Nation and see that it is not what is really what Jim Hendry signed for.
Think as well as to the starting position players and the bench behind the starters. Bryan LaHair is tearing it up finally after getting the opportunity to be the every day first basemen. There was something definitely worth while there however, everyone is waiting rather anxiously for the arrival of Anthony Rizzo who has been the gem in the eye of Jed Hoyer since Hoyer was in Boston. While Hoyer was in San Diego as well know, Rizzo was a key to the trade with Boston that sent Adrian Gonzales to the Red Sox from San Diego. Once coming to Chicago, Hoyer traded once again to obtain Rizzo. If we finally get rid of Soriano and have both LaHair and Rizzo in the every day line up we may finally start to see what the future just may hold. Darwin Barney is continuing to be all right and we will see if Barney is ever able to get Cubs Nation to stop pining so hard to have Ryne Sandberg back covering second base. I am still not sure that he is the answer. Ian Stewart is just a temporary fix at third and will continue to make everyone look for the next Ron Santo who may be down in Iowa being Josh Vitters. David DeJesus is another temporary fix until a true value fielder shows up to handle right field. I like Tony Campana‘s scrappiness yet Campana is just a place holder until Brett Jackson finally gets his call up to become the permanent fixture in center. The other piece to the starting position players of course is Starlin Castro. Castro is another so call sure thing who maybe pretty decent as a hitter however, with his errors and mental errors on the field, it maybe time to get rid of Castro as well. If Dale Sveum would ever grow the balls that he supposedly has, Castro would be sitting after the last mental breakdown in the field in Milwaukee.
That in turn brings me to another problem that Cubs Nation has to deal with in the transition of rebuilding for the future which is the coaching staff. I want to give Sveum the benefit of the doubt because Epstein Et Al thought highly enough of Sveum to hire him as the manger yet it just seems that Sveum is making the same mistakes as Mike Quade madeand hell, I will even say Lou Piniella and Dusty Baker for that matter. If you do not fully hold these players totally accountable for their actions then as the saying goes, the team is letting the inmates run the asylum. Something that should never be acceptable at any level in any sport what so ever. Would the Cubs be this bad with the team with Ryne Sandberg as its manager? It is hard to know for sure since Sandberg was basically told that he would not be given the chance to manage this team. Is there someone else out in Major League Baseball managerland that would be a better fit at this time is hard to tell. I just look at the other coaches that are part of Dale Sveum’s staff that were brought in after Sveum’s hiring and there is not one coach that I have much confidence in to help this organization. The coaching staff does need some new blood and members that understand the game completely and use all the tools that are now available to all teams with stats, video review and what ever else they may need to help their respective teams win. The manager must be a student of the game still and willing to teach, learn and study everything about all the players that their team will face day in and day out. I am not convinced that Sveum is that manager and does not apparently get completely through to the players. I look at what Ryne Sandberg has done since being asked to go to the minor leagues by Hendry to learn managing and enjoy watching his success. I think Ryne does his best to learn everything he is able to for each team that his team faces and also teaches the players the one thing Sandberg preached in his Hall of Fame speech which is respect of the game, the past and the future of baseball. I also believe that with a Sandberg type of manager running the team, the season may not be so frustrating as the rebuilding continues. Unfortunately right now the Cubs Nation will have to deal with what has been given to us and hope as time passes and Theo Epstein Et Al continue with their master plan that everything will slowly improve and the Cubs will finally become the consistant contenders that we all crave and need to hopefully one day put an end to the longest streak without a title in the sports world. Until then everyone, we all have to deal with the heart ache and lack of effort and a very painful 2012, 2013 and maybe even 2014.