When you lose 101 games, there is no shortage of "horrifying realities" as a team moves forward. Such is the current life in the Chicago Cubs organization. Much of the attention surrounding the Cubs this last year has been focused around the arrival of Theo Epstein and how he is going to be directly responsible for ending the Cubs' epically long World Series drought --now sitting at a robust 104 years. While the jury is still out on what the ultimate reality will end up being, there are some major issues the organization still needs to address as the rebuilding project continues on.
The Starting RotationThe Cubs just don't have enough talent in this realm. Matt Garza can be a fantastic pitcher, but in reality he's yet to really put together a dominant season. He's a terrific pitcher overall, but when you're asking someone to anchor a rotation and his best season is a 15-10 record (2010), and his best career ERA is 3.32 (2011), you start to wonder. Jeff Samardzija took some significant strides in 2012 and serves as one of the few bright spots for the Cubs moving forward. Beyond those two, things get shady. Admittedly, the Cubs were in the business of throwing their young pitchers to the wolves in 2012 just to get experience. However, the numbers were ugly: Justin Germano (2-10, 6.75), Chris Rusin (2-3, 6.37), Brooks Raley (1-2, 8.14), and Jason Berken (0-3, 4.82). When you add those numbers to Travis Wood (6-13, 4.27) and Chris Volstad (3-12, 6.31), forgive me for not brimming with excitement. Given the Cubs' current mode of operation of building from within, I wouldn't bet there is too much help coming in free agency in this department.
Third BaseWhile the Cubs have had their share of problems at every position over the years, third base has been an especially tough problem child. There was a carousel of mediocrity between Ron Santo and Aramis Ramirez. As a Cubs fan, I can only hope that there isn't the same gap in time between the Cubs solidifying the position. As it stands, it's pretty close to disaster status. Ian Stewart (if he can stay healthy) is a passable solution until a better alternative appears, but he doesn't hit for average. Luis Valbuena has the defense but also doesn't hit for average. Josh Vitters isn't ready, and you at least start to wonder if he ever is going to live up to potential --his callup in 2012 was the definition of disaster -- .121 average in 109 plate appearances and played lacking defense. Again, I can't imagine too much help is coming in the form of a free agent, but for the Cubs to continue to improve, help has to come from somewhere.
PatienceWhen Epstein took over, he was upfront about the difficulty of the task at hand of turning the organization around. He had his naysayers immediately, but that will always be there. Generally, Cubs nation was just happy to see the team move in a different direction. Therefore, it was easy to swallow the "Be Patient" call. However, now a year into things and still plenty of rebuilding to go, I wonder how long that patience is going to last and subsequently how that will affect the pressure on the team. In defense of Cubs fans, 104 years is an absurdly long time to wait, so you can't really blame anyone for being tired of waiting. However, if this plan of Epstein's is going to work --whether that ends up being playoff appearances, or World Series titles -- it is going to take a while. The Cubs are doing things the correct way. That doesn't mean a World Series title is coming, but it means the Cubs will at least have a chance at that title. When you're 104 years in waiting, that chance means something.
Brian is a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan, having lived in Illinois his entire life and having followed Major League Baseball throughout.SourcesTravis Wood StatsChris Volstad Stats
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