Chicago Cubs off Season Report
- Updated: December 1, 2008
Season Wrap Up
The team from the North Side of Chicago acted like they were finally going to break the all encompassing Billy Goat Curse last season, but that all ended when they got to the playoffs. While they were the darlings of analysts during the regular season, once the post season game around, they were no where to be found. The Los Angeles Dodgers swept the Cubs with almost no trouble as the adorable losers committed error after error in the field while having trouble producing with runners in scoring position at the plate. The amazing part about their debacle in the post season is that they were just so good during the regular season. Even three fourths of the way through the season, the Cubs were the only sure bet to make the playoffs in the National League.Their first move of the off season, however, was to reward their general manager as they gave Jim Hendry a four year contract extension. This perhaps points to the idea that Hendry did all he could to put the right pieces in place, they just could not come through when it counted most.
Holes to Fill
As stated above, the Cubbies were nearly flawless during the regular season and while they are willing to spend money, they really don’t have any need to. They recently announced they were out of the bidding for Jake Peavy as manager Lou Piniella claimed the team already had enough starting pitching. They may look to pick up one veteran with post season experience who has proven to not be a flop in October. Of course, no matter who it is, their performance may be altered by the curse or the pressure of possibly playing with a curse.
The team started the off season with seven free agents, but that number is now down to six after they came to terms on a four year deal with right hander Ryan Dempster on November 19. The remaining free agents include right handers Chad Fox, Kerry Wood, Jon Lieber and Bob Howry, outfielder/first baseman Daryle Ward and centerfielder Jim Edmonds. The Cubs have already publicly started that they are not going to bring Wood back even though he has been a staple of their franchise for almost a decade and did a good job as the team’s closer last season.With younger talent waiting in the wings, Jim Edmonds has virtually no chance of remaining on the north side next season. While Howry did an above average job for the Cubs last season, he will probably not be resigned as well, because the Cubs feel they have enough talent in that area and may look to find someone else to fill any holes that Howry leaves in free agency. Fox, Lieber and Ward all have some chance of coming back to the Cubs, but none have reportedly started talks with the team as of yet.
With the sale of the team still up in the air, that could dictate a lot of what happens this off season. The sale looks like it has a good chance of going down in the next couple of months, but the way the last two years have gone, nothing can really be predictable. The only thing the Cubs really have to offer in trade is mid-level pitching due to the fact that most of their core players are tied up in long term deals with no trade clauses and none seem to want to leave Chicago.
Even with a deep team already at the big league level, there may be some spots open at the start of the season for the likes of Jeff Samardzija, who was impressive last season during his short stint with the team.With all of this stability, the Cubs will no doubt at least be very competitive in their division next year, but will most likely run away with it again as long as they can avoid injuries. This is especially true because they play in such a weak division. The true test will come once the team reaches the post season where they will have gone winless for 101 straight years. While it is hard to find a definite flaw in this team, it is certain that if the Cubs are going to have a team that gets over the top, it’s going to have to be in the next couple of years as their core of talent is just going to get older, and is going to be very hard to trade away in order to bring in young stars to rebuild around.