Sorry Cubbie fans around the world, not even the great Theo Epstein can save your beloved franchise.
Epstein is a true baseball genius, having turned the Red Sox into perennial contenders through his work with the minor league system and making smart free agent additions.
Of course, having the kind of salary Boston’s owners provided helped, but he’s receiving that in Chicago, as well.
Epstein can do all the studying, breakdowns and FA pick-ups possible, but nothing seems to work.
Take Alfonso Soriano for instance.
As soon as he departed Chi-Town for NYC he became an all-star, MVP-type player again. Sure, maybe that had more to do with having something to play for, but Chicago players aren’t going to have something to play for unless they start trying when it doesn’t matter.
As the old saying goes, you have to get worse to get better; the Cubs are worse, but they aren’t trying to get better.
The numbers back me up, as Chicago ranks nearly last in every key baseball category. They can’t hit, can’t pitch and have no bullpen.
If you examine the minor league system, you’ll see some good, young talent, but they have major mental issues – case in point, Jorge Soler.
Those mental issues aren’t just plaguing the minors, as star shortstop Starlin Castro is trying to be more than he is. He’s already been benched and reprimanded for taking plays off.
Ask Theo if he ever saw Derek Jeter take a play off. Or Nomar Garciaparra for that matter.
If you want to be the face of a franchise, an all-star, an MVP candidate, you do not take plays off. Not in May. Not in June. Not in July.
If you do, you won’t have any plays in August that matter.
I have a thought, and likely Mr. Epstein is thinking the same, that to bring the Chicago Cubs back to contention, he’ll need to gut everything.
That includes any past memories from the last 10-plus years.
You need new faces around the clubhouse, new players and the right attitudes.
Epstein had that in Boston with his “band of freaks” who just came together and wanted to play baseball. They didn’t care about anything else but winning and doing it by any means necessary.
That’s why Boston won, and that’s the only way the Cubs will end the “Curse of the Goat” and win again.
Speaking of the Red Sox, think they miss Epstein at all.
New GM Ben Cherrington is the likely Executive of the Year, and Boston is on the short list for World Series contenders right now.
Cherrington has pulled all the right strings and made all the right moves, even has injuries have derailed his bullpen and hindered his starting pitching rotation.
Slumps by David Ortiz, Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia have been overshadowed by the re-emergence of Shane Victorino and rookies like Will Middlebrooks, Xavier Bogaerts and Jose Iglesias before he was traded for stud pitcher Jake Peavy.
After last year when the Red Sox were in the news more for drinking, fried chicken and Bobby V, it’s good to see them making headlines for their play now, instead.