Were you a Chicago Cubs enthusiast who believed that Theo Epstein would turn this organization into a World Series contender by 2012? Stop that. As the president of baseball operations, Epstein himself has implied that he doesn't expect a competitive team by 2013. He also believes that manager Dale Sveum "Has done a fantastic job."
According to ESPN Chicago, this was a snippet of what he had to say about Sveum and his team moving forward:
"We told him that based on where we are as a franchise, we're going to try to win but we're not going to evaluate him on wins and losses the first couple of years, to be honest, because it wouldn't be fair. We knew we would be putting out a team that had too much developing talent to be evaluating him strictly on wins and losses. We will evaluate him on a number of other criteria that we shared with him, and I think he has done a fantastic job to be honest with you."
Epstein wouldn't dismiss the possibility that the Cubs would trade two-fifths of their starting rotation at the 2013 July trade deadline. Furthermore, Sveum has been judged on his ability to develop players, not the win column.
Whether you agree or disagree with the rebuilding philosophy, one must respect the straight-forwardness and honesty. Epstein hasn't sugarcoated it: this nightmare won't conclude in three weeks. In fact, they haven't even reached the halfway point.
Led by Epstein, the Cubs are dedicated to rebuilding this franchise from the ground up. They're not taking shortcuts. They want to create an organization that's flowing with milk and honey throughout the entire farm system, not just the MLB club. They want to build something that lasts. That takes time.
What does this mean for the organization? Epstein isn't frightened by attendance issues. Despite a 57-87 record, the Cubs are outdrawing all but five National League clubs. Their fans are far too faithful to abandon them by Opening Day in 2013. As long as they're convinced of long-term glory, those fans have no problem with waiting a few more years for competitive baseball.
I'd be fine with Sveum staying. He deserves a second year. The Cubs have already changed managers in each of the past two seasons. They can't do that every season. At some point, they've got to commit to somebody and see what he can do in the long term. Sveum has earned that right. For whatever reason, this organization doesn't think that Ryne Sandberg is a good managerial fit. I'm just glad he isn't in the dugout for the St. Louis Cardinals. That would've been tough to handle.
Fans will just need some patience. Of course, that's much easier for a young whippersnapper to say. Each fan only has so much time to witness a championship in his or her lifetime. Epstein has proven that he can turn a contender into a champion. The question is whether he can turn a pretender into a contender that eventually turns into a champion.
Keep the faith.
Joshua Huffman grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula as a Green Bay Packers and Chicago Cubs enthusiast. He immediately gained an admiration for Cubs fans after watching numerous games on WGN during the mid-90s. His favorite Cubs moment was Kerry Wood's(notes) 1-hitter, 20K extravaganza that was only denied of a no-hitter by Kevin Orie's defensive blunder. As a Packers and Cubs fan, he suffered through Steve Bartman and "4th & 26" in a span of three months. He can be found on Twitter HERE.
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