An important part of the Cubs’ rebuild is selling the general fan base on the idea the team is improving despite its place in the standings.
Keeping the masses interested in a team still several seasons away from reaching the postseason won’t be easy, nor is it an effective ticket sales strategy if the Cubs lose 100-plus games again next year.
Realistically, slipping just under triple-digit losses in 2013 won’t cut it, either. For the club to be convincing of any improvement the loss total needs to be closer to 90-games at minimum, and anything less would certainly be ideal.
[As a reminder, I’m not talking about the Cubs selling ‘you and me’. This is largely about ‘Joe Cubs Fan’ who’s not reading baseball blogs in mid-November or deeply interested in the ‘process’ of a rebuilding plan still years away from completion. He’ll dust off his Cubs cap after spring training and then angrily swap it out for a Bears lid after his Cubbies deal away its good players at next July’s trade deadline.] Now back to our regularly scheduled program…
Achieving the dubious goal of ‘anything less than 100-losses’ means the Cubs strictly can’t rely on ‘rebuild’ players alone. The Jacksons, Vitters and Raleys of the organization can’t be counted on to assure the big-100 doesn’t happen again.
Instead, the Cubs are going to need at least 1 or 2 veteran, stop-gap type players like a David DeJesus (most notably at third base, centerfield and the starting rotation) to help prop the team up in the win column, if only for the sake of some visible proof in the standings the rebuild is moving forward.
It’s precisely why I suggested earlier this week the Cubs could explore trade optionsfor Dodgers’ starters Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang–two middle-aged veterans of which either could immediately help improve the Cubs’ starting pitching and its chances of avoiding consecutive 100-loss seasons–but neither of which would do more than serve this single purpose for a year or two at most.
For the sake of this post Capuano and Harang, specifically, are not of importance. What is, is recognizing not every player acquisition this offseason will be a perfect-fit for the rebuild like those early 20s, high-ceiling prospects we so dearly love or the re-tread pitchers coming off Tommy John surgery willing to take a 1-year, ‘prove-it’ deal with the chance to be traded to a contender in July (Scott Baker).
This is why I’ve repeatedly mentioned my hunch the Cubs would have a surprise or two up its sleeve for us this winter.
Look over the current roster and you’ll soon realize that without the additions of a few proven players the outlook for 2013 is hardly better than it was for 2012, as far as wins and losses are concerned.
Bridging what we hope is the short-term gap from the development of young rebuild-players into budding major league stars won’t be accomplished with more Alex Hinshaws and Chris Volstads.
Team Theo knows this, which is why the Cubs already made one attempt this offseason, albeit unsuccessfully, to deal Carlos Marmol for a proven, veteran pitcher in Dan Haren. For all the reasons stated above, I expect this won’t be their last try to supplement a veteran, short-term fix to the longer-term rebuild solutions.
Without one we can be fairly certain this club is sailing right back to the waters from which it came…a stormy sea of 101 losses.