Patience is a very funny thing, especially in baseball. Asking a fan base who has been waiting 104 years for a World Series Championship team to show patience takes a hell of a lot of guts. That is exactly what Tom Rickets and Theo Epstein have done, asking fans to give this new regime the patience to allow them to build the team into a consistent contending team. Last October, when the Cubs officially hired Epstein to be their President of Baseball Operations the fans seemed more than willing to give him the time to do what he needed to do, and were more than willing to wait a few years; as long as the end result was a World Series Championship. However, that was last October, and this is now.
When fans pledged their patience to Epstein and the Cubs, while they knew the 2012 season would not be very good, they had no idea things would be as dismal they turned out to be. With the Cubs on the verge of a 100 loss season, all the patience the fans pledged months ago has seemingly run out. Things were made even worse for the fans this afternoon when Alex Hinshaw and Chris Russin were promoted to the big leagues with Jeff Beliveau and Adrian Cardenas were optioned back to Iowa, leaving Chris Volstad on the active roster.
Volstad staying on the roster maddened Cub fans to the breaking point, causing them to wonder if the Cubs actually wanted to win or if they were just trying to sell the same old cock and blow story they have been fed for the past several years. I can not really blame the fans for questioning how serious the Cubs are about doing a complete rebuild. The confusion about how to do a rebuild has driven some fans crazy as they are not used to seeing a team go through a rebuild, even though they think they have. Sadly, they are mistaken about seeing the Cubs go through the rebuilding process for the past 20 years.
Despite what fans may or may not believe, this is truly the first rebuilding year the Chicago Cubs have gone through since the early 80s. The Cubs have in fact blown up their roster quite a few times and tried to build a new team by throwing money at free agents to fill the various holes around the team, but that is not rebuilding a roster. Rebuilding revolves around your team’s farm system, which unfortunately for the Cubs is about as bare as Old Mother Hubbard’s cabinets. In order for this rebuild to work, Epstein and Jed Hoyer need to build from the ground up, which means starting with the farm system. Volstad still being on the roster goes a long way to show how badly the Cubs need this rebuild.
While I am utterly shocked that Volstad is still a member of the Cubs 25 man roster, I was sure that he would be sent down to make room for Russin, there has got to be a reason he is still here. Perhaps he was kept because the Cubs knew that Matt Garza would be shut down for the rest of the year with his injured arm; or maybe he is being kept around because Jeff Samardzija’s time on the roster is coming to a close as well. There is a very good chance that Samardzija is going to be shut down in the near future as he has already thrown more innings than he ever has, and the Cubs want to be overly cautious with him, If he gets shut down sometime soon, the Cubs are going to need a pitcher to take his place. With Randy Wells out for the season, and Casey Coleman potentially being worse, Volstad might be the best option to start games for the Cubs. That speaks volumes about how bad our pitching depth is in our farm system
I understand that this year has been very hard to swallow. It has been traumatic and we there have been many things that have taken place that we do not understand why they have been done. Is Volstad the answer? No, he is not, but just because he is still here at the moment does not mean the Cubs, Ricketts or Theo do not care about the future of this franchise. If Ricketts did not care, he would not have fired Jim Hendry to bring in Epstein. If Epstein did not care, he would not have bothered to trade for Anthony Rizzo or be in the midst of signing Starlin Castro to a long term deal. I am pretty sure that all parties involved do care and want to bring a winner to the North Side of Chicago.
Furthermore, what difference does having Volstad on the roster at this point in time and potentially for the rest of this year really make? The Cubs are not going anywhere this season at all. Whether he starts another game for the Cubs or not this season our boys in blue will not go anywhere this year. The season is over and these remaining games are only being played out because they have not been mathematically eliminated yet, even though realistically there is no hope. As a matter of fact, Volstad staying and starting games for the remainder of the season actually helps the Cubs more than hurts because if he continues sucking to high heaven, the Cubs get closer and closer to that elusive number one draft pick. Getting the best draft pick we can will help this team rebuild faster by getting us a better player.
I know I am asking for a lot, but I must beg you for your patience for the remainder of this season and likely for another season if not two more. The Cubs are going to be bringing up young players and they are going to go through growing pains and likely will not do too much to help the Cubs win anything anytime soon. Will next year be better once there are more of these young kids on the roster? You would like to thinks so, because they can not be too much worse. However, do not wait for a miracle and expect to see a contending team until at least 2014 at the earliest.
These next few years will not be pretty, but keep showing patience no matter how hard that is to do. To quote Tom Petty, “The Waiting is the Hardest Part” but rest assured the waiting will pay off in due time.