Why I'm optimstic about the future
Reading the comments on this blog and other places, it's obvious that many Cub fans live and die in the here and now. That's fine. It's a fan's peroragative and I sometimes find myself running on the same emotional roller coaster.
Having said that, let's look at what the future entails. I think we owe Jim Hendry a debt of gratitude for nixing the old Cubs don't spend money storyline. He spent like a drunken sailor. For the most part, he did ok. He brought together a team which won back to back division titles for the first time in our history and have put together their first stretch of 3+ years in a row of over .500 baseball in over 35 years.
But it's clear that he's at the end of his rope and givin the huge number of drastic moves made by this team, I'd be willing to bet that his ouster is coming and soon.
I say this not to jump around and talk about how happy I am but rather to point out some very pertinent facts:
Fact 1) The Cubs finally have a decent farm system. For the first time in near a decade, it's fair to say that there are at least 4 legitimate major league regulars or starting pitchers sitting in the Cubs' system (even with Castro in the majors). These players are going to come up and make an impact on the team and help keep the team payroll at a manageable level
Fact 2) Between now and the start of 2012, 5 of the 8 $10 Million per year salaries are going to come off the book. The list includes the Good, Bad and Ugly of Cub salaries (Ramirez, Lee, Fukudome, Lilly, Silva). That's about $50-55 Million (when you factor in raises given to some of those who stay) that the Cubs will be able to play with.
Fact 3) The Rickets family appears desirous to keep spending that money. This is obvious when one considers the gymnastics employed to keep that Toyota sign.
Fact 4) Someone other than Jim Hendry will be making those decisions. With Hendry's replacement and a new field manager, the Cubs are likely to have a totally new management team begining in this off season.
Fact 5) No other team in the NL Central has the resources that the Cubs do. The closest team are the Cardinals but they have less of a revenue flow as far as I can tell and they will have over $50 Million of salary committed to two players very soon.
Fact 6) The Players that are prospects in the system currently play the positions that are the hardest and most expensive to find. The Cubs are loaded in the middle infield and have a solid center field and thirdbase prospect. Very few of the team's prospects are all hit/no glove first basemen who will have to DH when they are 30.
Fact 7) If the Cubs are smart, they will have four extra high round picks in the 2011 amateur draft. And just remember, someone other than Jim Hendry will be making those picks.
I know that 2010 has been rough and will continue to be and I suspect that 2011 will not be much better but beginning in 2012 and stretching thru about 2017, the Cubs have a chance to be one of the best teams in baseball every single year.
The odds suggest that they will win a World Series during that stretch, maybe even two.
It's coming Goat Rider Nation. Be patient.