Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Future On Display

Anthony Rizzo is here.  Only 172 days ago, no one in Chicago knew his name.  Today, you'd think it he was the next Kerry Wood.  Or Mark Prior.   Or Kevin Orie.  Or Mike Harkey.  Or... you get the point.

This page will be honest and say that we’re really cheering for the kid.  He’s already our favorite player on the team.  If only he can live up to even a small piece of that hope.

With his Cub debut tonight, if you are a Cubs fan and you don't care to watch tonight's game, you really aren't a Cubs fan.  But the reason to watch is not to watch Anthony Rizzo, per se.  It's to watch what Rizzo represents.

Tonight, for the first time in the Theo Esptein Regime, there will be a player on the field that Theo Epstein has hand picked to be here.  Epstein and Hoyer like this kid so much they acquired him three times (ok, Theo twice and Hoyer three times).  Sure, they signed guys like David DeJesus and Ian Stewart, but those guys were not to build around.  Those guys are here because there are 324 games that needed to be played in 2012 and 2013 and someone had to play in them.  None of those guys were brought here to win a World Series.  They are here to be placeholders for the guys that will come here to win a World Series.

Anthony Rizzo is the first of Theo's player to arrive who projects be a starter on a winning team's roster.  He is the first piece in the team Theo is building that just might actually win something for the Cubs.  Rizzo may turn out to be a prime piece of that team.  He may turn out to be less.  But regardless if Rizzo goes on to the Hall of Fame or only ends up being a AAAA player who never pans out, we fans are getting our first real look at where the organization is headed.

The basis for the hope in the new front office was in their ability to identify and develop young talent.  Anthony Rizzo is the first player in a Cub uniform that represents that future.  For as good as Starlin Castro or Jeff Samardzija ever will be, they will never be guys that Epstein and Hoyer selected, groomed, and developed.

While many Cub fans are looking at tonight as THE ARRIVAL of the NEXT SAVIOR, they are missing the point.  The Saviors arrived last fall.  Tonight, we can begin to see for ourselves if Epstein and Hoyer deserve the title.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Is this Thing On?

Yes, it is alive.  It's been about seven months since this doorstep to the Internet was darkened with my scribblings.  With any luck, it won't be that long again. (Then again, you may be saying, "Oh, shit. Chuck is back? Yellon caused this, didn't he!" My apologies to those of you.)

This place has been dark for a couple of reasons.  First, the allure of Twitter has enabled the thoughts and opinions of this site to get out there for all to see and to be recorded for posterity at the Library of Congress. Writing thoughts 140 characters at a time does fit the week writing style found herein.

Second, there really hasn't been much to talk about with the Cubs.  For 2012, the on-field performance, at least in terms of record, is meaningless.  Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are just beginning the process of tearing apart the clusterfuck that Jim Hendry and Andy MacPhail left behind.  This is not a simple two-year re-build of the major league roster.  This is a total gut-and-rehab of the entire organization.  From scouting, to minor league training, to even such things like the EAMUS CATULI sign, the Chicago National League Ballclub is finally getting the enema it's needed since Dallas Green's foundation was allowed to collapse.

These changes are incremental and gradual.  They will occur over long period of time and only become visible at the major league level after several years.  Given that, the ability to discuss on a daily basis the organization's progress is not only very hard due to lack of information, but it's pretty damn boring.  And if you want boring daily writing about the Cubs, there are plenty other places to get that.

So, how are Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer doing so far?  Well, it's nearly impossible to tell.  They only recently begun to add players to the organization who will be on the roster two years from now.  Other than perhaps finally being able to see Anthony Rizzo in person and seeing if Jeff Samardzija and Starlin Castro are long term solutions or trade bait, there really is little reason to watch the on-field product.

All the fun stuff this year has come from the business side.  And by fun, it's always the Ricketts themselves that provide the hilarity.

The more and more you watch these people try to run a baseball team, the more of a disaster they show themselves to be.

First, they tried to do Gandalf and the Dwarves and slowly increase the cost of the Wrigley rehab.  Using Crain's as their mouthpiece, we were told back in 2011 that the total cost of rehab would be $200 million.  Then, some time last summer, it nudged up to $300 million.  Come December?  $400 million.  We got to opening day 2012 and Crain's had it at $500 million.  Just amazing that the cost could go up by 150% in just a year.  Inflation is a bitch.  No wonder Joe Ricketts wants new leadership in Washington.

Which leads us to the next bit of hilarity.  Joe Ricketts has clearly wanted to be a player in national politics for a long time.  Eldest son Pete ran for US Senate in Nebraska a few years ago. Joe has had his PAC, Taxpayers Against Earmarks, for quite a while.  The PAC changed its name to Ending Spending in 2011.  The goal of this PAC?  No more government spending.

Joe must not be a chess player because he didn't bother to look a few moves ahead. See, the Wrigley Rehab project that requires $500 million wants to use taxpayer dollars to support the project - the exact kind of dollars Joe doesn't want spent.

Moreover, the guys who would approve this subsidy go by the names of Rahm Emanuel and Pat Quinn.  Both these guys have a (D) that goes after their names.  Joe clearly didn't think about the ramifications on his request for tax money while he was, at the same time, going full bore to defeat Rahm and Pat's close pal Barack Obama.  Now that deal is stuck in quicksand (note to self: will be seeing Rahm speak at a lunch this week - be sure to ask him on the status of Wrigley if he takes questions).

Yes, it's been a Cubs season unworthy of blogging fresh stuff.  I don't know how the professional writers keep from pulling their hair out.  I know even less how fan writers can push out fresh drivel on a daily basis.  It's why this site has been dark.

Maybe I should just look back in my archives and see if there's anything I can self plagiarize?

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