Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Thank God it's almost over...

Source: NBC Sports
It's been a miserable year, at least if you're a Cubs fan.

Going in, we all knew it would be bad. Many of the stars from the last 10 years such as Aramis Ramirez, Derrek Lee, Carlos Zambrano, Sammy Sosa are long gone, either retired or shipped off to other destinations. The division winning years  of 2007 and 2008, not to mention the 2003 season where where the Cubs were an Alex Gonzalez error and five outs away from their first World Series since 1945, are distant memories.

No, with the new regime of Theo Epstein and company, it was going to be a rebuilding year, and no promises were made. Sure, we still have Alfonso Soriano roaming left field at Wrigley Field, but he never lived up to the promises of the 8-year, $126 million contract he signed before the 2007 season that has him making $18 million a year now through 2014. That fact alone scared off any trade prospects unwilling to take on even part of that salary, even with him having 29 HR and 101 RBIs following Tuesday's 3-1 loss to the Reds.

That has led to the Cubs not being able to draw 3 million fans to Wrigley Field for the first time since 2003, according to the Chicago Tribune. Besides a dreadful 58-90 mark with 13 games left (nine of them at home) that in a normal year would have left them in last place (see the Houston Astros, who won't even be around to beat up on as they move to the AL West), the Cubs kept the third highest average ticket price in the majors at $46.30, behind the Red Sox ($53.38) and the Yankees ($51.55).

Will things improve in 2013? The Cubs' youth movement showed some signs of life. 1B Anthony Rizzo, called up mid-season from AAA Iowa, has hit nearly for a nearly .300 average and 14 HR in just 73 games. SS Starlin Castro kept up his hot career, hitting about .280 after leading the NL in hits (207) last year. The rise earned him his big contract last month as he signed a 7-year, $60 million extension. And his double play partner, 2B Darwin Barney, has been consistent as well.

Is Epstein the genius everyone says he is? It's a game of wait and see as year 104 since the 1908 World Series champs ends without another title.

No comments: