April 5, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein talks to the media before the game against the Washington Nationals on opening day at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-US PRESSWIRE

Game Day Six-Pack: “Cubs Still Looking for Their Window”

As you may have noticed, I’m filling in for our fearless leader Justin in our weekly game day 6-pack. Justin would love to be here, but as soon as he got word of Vance Worley’s inflamed elbow he decided to magic school bus himself to check out the extent of the injury. God speed Justin.
Before Justin went out to do his best Dr. James Andrews impression, he got the low down from Cubs writer Berselius (am i saying that right?) at Obstructed View about all pressing issues with the Cubbies.
1.  I was moved to tears by the MLB 2K12 ad this year showing the Cubs win the World Series, and I’ve only been to Chicago like three times.  Was there an emotional thunderstorm erupting across the Cubs fanbase when the commercial debuted?
It was quite the stomach punch, pretty much everyone was upset. What really sucked is that it seemed to play every. single. commercial. break. Aside from the whole not winning thing it reminded me of Cubs Hall of Famer (!) Ron Santo’s passing, and how he’ll never get to see it.
2.  Scenarios from the fantasies of TV commercials aside, the Cubs haven’t won the World Series in a while.  The most recent solution I’ve heard is, naturally, to tear down Wrigley Field.  How much pressure would be on the franchise if this occurred?  What possible good could come from it?

You’re asking the wrong blog about this one (laughing), though we’re in the minority of Cubs fans. Many of us would love to see the team move to a more modern facility yesterday. The player amenities are absolutely pathetic. It’s sad that the Cubs spring training park has better facilities than the big league one. Furthermore the Cubs aren’t able to get as much revenue out of the park compared to modern parks due to their stone age skyboxes and limited video board capabilities. There was a stink before the season about the new videoboard in RF but everyone who’s seen it largely thinks it’s okay. There’s a plan in place to pretty much completely rebuild the field in the next few years, they just have to finish greasing the right palms around Chicago to get it done.

From a fan perspective Wrigley is a little better. The ivy and the scoreboard etc etc are sure nice, and it’s great having a park in the middle of the neighborhood, however shocked the residents pretend to be that there’s a major event going on in their back yard 81 times a year. The upper deck box seats are easily the best in baseball, hands down. The rest though…eh. They have to keep the ivy and scoreboard, but the rest of the grandstand (and especially the clubhouses) needs to be torn down and rebuilt. Most reasonable Cubs fans realize this, and given the footprint they have to work with the upper deck seats will probably still be about as close to the field as they were before (and yes, there will probably still be crappy obstructed view seats). As long as they stay at Wrigley (and the Ricketts family has made it pretty clear that they plan to do so) most of the grumbling will come from likely having to play a season in Miller Park or The Cell while the renovations happen. There are some plans floating around out there that they could do it in pieces in the offseason, but I don’t buy it. There are some fans who still love the feeling that they’re watching a game in the ye olde ways, but I’d just as soon not get nostalgic over piss troughs.

3.  Randy Wells is unhappy!  Obviously the Cubs need to fix this immediately.  Your thoughts?

I’ve been one of the biggest Randy Wells fans around the cubs blogosphere, but even I’m starting to give up on him. He came under criticism in the local media for partying too much during his sophomore season, and they blamed his high ERA on his late night carousing (his peripherals, for what it’s worth, were just as good as his solid rookie campaign). He was injured very early last year, and was probably rushed back too soon. Which wasn’t surprising, seeing how awful all the fill-in starters for Wells and Cashner were faring. We got about what we expected from the likes of Doug Davis, James Russell, and Casey Coleman. He finally started to regain his velocity numbers late in the year, but maybe it was just a fluke. He pitched relatively poorly in the Spring and hasn’t done himself any favors in Iowa or in his stint in the majors this year.

4.  How concerned are you for the relevance Joe Mantegna’s play “Bleacher Bums” if the Cubs win the World Series?  Is this a concept even worth using brain cells on?  Who cares about Joe Mantegna?  Is there a worse written article than this one?

That’s still running? I can count the number of Cubs fans who will be bummed they lost their Lovable Losers image on one hand. There are plenty of worse written articles than that one, just check the sports pages of the Chicago Tribune or Sun-Times any given week.

5.  Is Ryan Dempster legit?  Or will he succumb to the demoralizing black hole of winlessness that surrounds his incredible ERA and overall performances?

Dempster is legit. He’s going to make a lot of money this offseason. Aside from his thoroughly putrid April last year, he pitched right on with his projections for the rest of the season.

6.  As a frequent opponent, how have the Cardinals fared minus Albert Pujols?  How has the division overall been affected?  What changes can you expect from the subtraction of the Astros come next year?  For christ’s sake, what will the Cubs see as their window?

They seem to be doing okay (laughing). They lost Pujols, but got Wainwright back to cushion the blow, and Beltran was a fantastic signing. Going into the season I thought the Cards, Brewers, and Reds would all be very close to win the division. The Brewers hopes are fading fast due to their bushel of injuries but the Reds should give the Cardinals a run for their money.

I don’t really know what to expect without the Astros. A lot of it depends on how the crazy new schedule works out. It’s not going to affect the Cubs much in the short term because they’re not likely to contend for anything anyway, and in the long term, well, the Astros also hired some pretty sharp people to run their front office this year.

The Cubs window is probably around 2015-2016. The minor league system has Rizzo and Jackson in AAA, then a whole lot of nothing until you get to the low minors. The Cubs easily have the biggest financial advantage over the rest of the division so they can push things forward if there’s a crack to pry open, but the new CBA really screwed over the big revenue teams, both in being able to pay big for talent in the draft/international free agents (which was looking like the current market direction 6 months ago) to the current trend of extending young players instead of letting them hit the market. Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have their work cut out for them.

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