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Cubs - Back to Old Ways?

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PostPosted: Wed 2/20/19 9:21 pm    Post subject: Cubs - Back to Old Ways? Reply with quote

First it was the Jints--and I must say it couldn't have happened to a nicer team--now, the Cubs.

Note that the email situation has been addressed in a separate thread, so I'd like to keep this one to discussing the team's challenges on the field.

From the L.A. Times:

"Lovable Cubs were a Budding Dynasty. So What Happened?"

FEB 18, 2019 | 2:10 PM

Jon Lester hollered a greeting as he peered through a bank of television cameras surrounding Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo.

“Hi Tony!” Lester said.

“Hi Jon,” Rizzo said. “Love you.”

“Love you back,” Lester replied.

It was a brief, bright moment during a gloomy start to the spring at Sloan Park. Remember the Cubs? Remember the budding homegrown dynasty? Remember the cuddly bunch that ended a 108-year championship drought and danced across the stage on “Saturday Night Live”?

The autumn of 2016 feels like a distant memory in the spring of 2019.

After the Cubs lost in the National League wild-card game last fall, president of baseball operations Theo Epstein predicted that 2019 would be a “reckoning.” Baseball Prospectus projects the Cubs to finish last in the National League Central. Last week, after a winter of austerity, the Cubs welcomed back infielder Addison Russell from his suspension for violating baseball’s domestic violence policy. On Monday, chairman Tom Ricketts apologized to the team for the racist, Islamophobic emails of his father.

A subsequent 30-minute news conference overshadowed the team's first official workout. Chairman Ricketts referred to Joe Ricketts’ emails as “unacceptable,” stressed that his father has “no direct role or economic interest in the team” and praised him for his charity work “in Islamic East Africa.”

When asked why the team spent so little money this winter, Ricketts replied, “That’s a pretty easy question to answer — we don’t have any more.” He said the impending launch of a regional sports network with Sinclair Broadcast Group would not compel the team to jump into the pool of high-priced free agents.

“As much as I would love to have a great, new, exciting player every year,” Ricketts said, “it just can’t happen every year.”

The Cubs made only minimal upgrades to a team that won 95 games in 2018 but lost the division title in Game 163 to the Milwaukee Brewers. Manager Joe Maddon entered the season without a contract for 2020. The front office awaits contributions from the club’s free-agent acquisitions of the previous winter, former Dodgers Yu Darvish and Brandon Morrow, while trying to avoid the regression suffered last year by its youthful core.

“It’s beating a dead horse talking about last season,” third baseman Kris Bryant said. “I don’t really care to talk about it. I know we won 95 games, and this and that, but it’s time to move on. We’ve got a new season ahead of us.”

Bryant spoke Monday morning, before Ricketts met with the team. The owner outlined three points to the players, he said: respect the Cubs by acting “well on and off the field,” respect the fans and contact the team if interested in doing charity work.

Then he spoke about his father’s emails.

On Feb. 4, the website Splinter News published emails sent by and forwarded to Joe Ricketts, founder and former CEO of TD Ameritrade, whose children purchased the Cubs in 2009. The emails were dated from 2009 to 2013. They included conspiracy theories about President Barack Obama. Ricketts laughed at jokes featuring slurs. He spread fear-mongering toward Muslims.
“We must all recognize the Islam is a dangerous element in our society due to its radical aspects,” Joe Ricketts wrote in one email from 2012.

In the wake of the story, Tom Ricketts and Cubs vice president of communications Julian Green met with local Muslim leaders in Chicago. Joe Ricketts apologized. His son furthered that message Monday.

“I have to be honest: I was surprised to see the emails,” Tom Ricketts said.
“Our family was never raised that way. I’ve never heard my father say anything that was even remotely racist. It just isn’t our family values.

Later, Ricketts added, “I love him. He’s my dad. He’s a great man. He’s done incredible things. He’s helped children all over the world through his charities. He supports 17,000 schools in Africa. All over East Africa too, or Islamic East Africa.

“He’s done all the right things. I just think he probably could have been more careful about the emails he brought in. And a couple he sent.”

Ricketts said he encouraged Cubs players to speak up if they felt the organization had upset them. He was less apologetic in his comments about the team’s spending, after a winter in which the Cubs added infielder Daniel Descalso, reliever Brad Brach and little else.

The Cubs’ opening day payroll projects to $208 million, an increase from their $182 million payroll to start 2018. Ricketts mentioned the raises accrued by Bryant and infielder Javier Baez in arbitration, plus the team’s decision to pick up a $20-million option on pitcher Cole Hamels.

“Those contracts put us well above what we’ve ever spent before,” Ricketts said.

The Cubs have shown little interest in either outfielder Bryce Harper or infielder Manny Machado, the two unsigned stars on the market. Rather than pursue Machado, the team elected to bring back Russell, who will serve a 40-game suspension into May.

Major League Baseball suspended Russell last September after allegations from his ex-wife, Melisa Reidy. The Cubs tendered him a $3.4 million contract for 2019. Russell apologized for his actions Friday.

“On that whole topic, I think I owe a little shoutout to everybody in the Cubs organization,” Ricketts said. “We from the very beginning reached out to Melisa, and tried to figure out what is the best possible answer for all the individuals involved, and came to the conclusion that the better path forward was to support Addison and give him the best chance as a Cub. To get this behind him, and become a better person.”

During his remarks to the media, Ricketts bundled the issues swirling around the team — his father’s emails, Russell’s suspension, the lack of spending — into the category of “distractions.” He spoke as if the joys of 2016 were right around the corner, rather than far away.

“We continue to do everything we can to be the best organization in sports,” Ricketts said. “The distractions that occur off the field don’t deter from that. And we continue to move forward. I don’t see these things changing us in any way.”
"The Dodgers have always occupied an enormous place in the history of the game. If the Yankees are the most successful team in baseball history, the Dodgers are the most essential. Their legacy is unique."

-Baseball Hall of Fame
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Location: San Diego CA - deep in the heart of SoCal

PostPosted: Mon 9/30/19 6:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Check back on this one, from last February, for some retrospect.

As was posted yesterday, Joe Maddon is gone. The budding dynasty still has some key pieces, but I don't see it coming all the way back.

This was a once-in-a-lifetime deal, something that back in 2016 could happen only once this century.

Updates about the managerial situation are to be posted in the F.O./Managerial thread, but I do have some final thoughts about what was accomplished during Maddon's tenure. When Kris first reported to camp with the big league team in pre-season a few years ago, the skipper commented to the media something along the lines of having a vision of a world championship parade, in which Kris would be a big part of the team that accomplished the feat.

I remember chuckling to myself at the time and thinking, "Yeah, right." I mean, how many times had we heard that before over the years with previous Cubs greats?

But, to their credit, they did it. And for about five years, the National League team in Chicago was relevant in terms of regular contention.

They could start all over and find the formula again quickly, but I'm skeptical. And if nothing else, this century's fans had their moment in the sun.
"The Dodgers have always occupied an enormous place in the history of the game. If the Yankees are the most successful team in baseball history, the Dodgers are the most essential. Their legacy is unique."

-Baseball Hall of Fame
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PostPosted: Wed 10/2/19 4:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

They might be able to get back to where they were with the right manager and a fresh start because their talent is mostly still there and they still have a lot of young players. Anthony Rizzo is the oldest of their main core and he's just 30.

Otherwise they can always fall back on being the "loveable losers" again! Laughing
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