Road to Opening Day: #36

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Next week we finally have Cactus League play, likely after a couple of Cubs intrasquad games as tune-ups.  You can check out the schedule here.  The Cubs host the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday, February 27th to celebrate their first official Cactus League opener in the new Mesa facility, which is super spiffy.

Chicago Cubs New Spring Training Facility

Can’t wait…and only 36 sleeps left until the real baseball begins!  If you missed our countdown so far, check out the lineup and click the “countdown” tag for more.

Today, according to MLBTR, is also a Cubs anniversary of sorts:

On this date in 2000, Cubs manager Don Baylor named four captains including first baseman Mark Grace, right fielder Sammy Sosa, pitcher Kevin Tapani, and reliever Rick Aguilera.  The quartet became the Cubs’ first captains since the 1960s and early 1970s, when Ron Santo held the position.


Maybe the Cubs should think about bringing one of their former captains back?

All’s Well That Randy Wells

Randy Wells was all the rage when he came up in May of 2009.  He had a string of impressive starts, finished with a winning record, and earned a bunch of Rookie of the Year votes.  The thing is, even with the sparkly-looking ERA, he wasn’t actually that good.  But he wasn’t bad either, because he kept the walks down and the ball in the park.  It wasn’t quite the same in 2010, but Wells was still league-average and ate even more innings than his rookie season.  The hope was that his ballooning ERA was the result of bad luck on balls in play rather than because he sucked.  Wells had a spot in the rotation to start 2011, but after a great debut performance, he had a forearm strain that sidelined him until late May.  He was never really the same after that, getting shelled just about every start, losing command, and striking out less than in 2009.  He was jettisoned from the Cubs in 2012 and after an unimpressive run in the Texas Rangers’ system, Wells retired from baseball in early 2013, partly due to residual elbow injury issues.

Randy Wells decided that he would give it another go this offseason, but hasn’t found a club yet.  I have no idea if he’ll find a team that wants him or if he’ll ever be able to get back to the majors again.  If he hadn’t been injured, he might not have sucked so bad, but now we’ll never know.  Although if things had worked out differently for Randy Wells, then the Cubs trajectory may have been vastly different, so just like with the Matt Garza trade situations we went through, Wells catalyzed a not-insignificant part of the Cubs future in terms of regular season record, front office turnover and whether the Cubs would be able to draft certain potential future superstars.

In many ways, Randy Wells shows how unforgiving baseball can be.  One moment you are on the top of the world as a potential long-term starter, and the next minute, injuries and circumstance overwhelm you and you’re thrust out.  Baseball is an incredibly difficult game to master, and so it’s very hard to get and keep one of the 750 big league jobs available each year.  For a while, though, Randy Wells realized his dream to be a big league ball player, got to make a few million bucks, and was luckier than most of us ever will be.

About Rice Cube

Rice Cube is the executive vice president of snark at World Series Dreaming. He loves all things Cubs, with notable exceptions (specifically, the part of Cubs fandom that pisses him off). Follow on Twitter at cubicsnarkonia

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