New Mgr. Dale Sveum
2011 record, 75-87
Fifth Place, NL Central
If Theo Epstein was able to reverse an 86-year old curse in Boston perhaps he can exorcise the Cubs 114 year-old demons. The Cubs are giving baseball’s most celebrated front office wunderkind $18.5 million, a fancy job title as President of Baseball Operations and five years to get the job done. As of this writing the Red Sox were still seeking compensation from the Cubs for wooing him away with one year remaining on his contract in Boston. The Cubs tried to give them outgoing GM Jim Hendry but the Sox wouldn’t take him—just kidding.
After five years of spending money on high-priced free agents, two managerial changes (make that three) and honestly believing the team was on the brink of turning the corner, I’ll let the late-great Steve Goodman take it from there: But what do you expect, When you raise up a young boy's hopes And then just crush 'em like so many paper beer cups. Year after year after year after year, after year, after year, after year, after year 'Til those hopes are just so much popcorn for the pigeons beneath the 'L' tracks to eat. – from “A Dying Cubs Fan’s Last Request,” by Steve Goodman.
So the Cubs have decided to tear it all down and start all over again. In addition to showing Jim Hendry the door, the Cubs have also relieved Mike Quade of his managerial duties after a season-and-a-half. Quade inherited the Cubs last place finish in 2010 but the team didn’t fare much better during his full season as skipper, tied with the Padres for the second worst record in the National League.
Gone too is mercurial pitcher Carlos Zambrano, whose 2011 season and 11 years with the Cubs came to an abrupt halt when he walked out on the team and announced his retirement on August 12, after being ejected from a game for throwing two pitches at Atlanta Braves batter Chipper Jones, following a five home run barrage by the Braves in 4 1/3 innings. Although Zambrano later rescinded his retirement, the Cubs placed him on the disqualified list for the remainder of the season and traded him to the Miami Marlins for pitcher Chris Volstad during the off-season. The Cubs were even willing to pay $15.5 million of the $18 million due on Zambrano’s contract for 2012 just to get rid of him. At 30, Zambrana should still have plenty of methanol in his tank. For the Cubs it’s back to the drawing board.
Arrivals: RHP Chris Volstad, INF Ian Stewart
Departures: RHP Carlos Zambrano, OF Tyler Colvin
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