JUNE 27 SPORTS COLUMN — MARK SPENSLEY
It’s hard these days being a Chicago Cubs fan. In fact, as long as I have been one, since about age 5, it’s been hard being a Cubs fan period. And I think it will continue to be a difficult road ahead for us fans as the light at the end of the tunnel is very, very tiny.
I have heard from a few so-called experts that the Cubs are at least three years away from being a playoff contender again. That’s a long time to wait in baseball years.
The time is almost upon us for a team fire sale. Pretty soon you might see the Cubs’ best pitcher (Ryan Dempster), their best home run hitter (Alfonso Soriano) and another promising arm (Matt Garza) make their way onto playoff contending rosters.
If the Cubs are heading toward a youth movement, which many teams seem to be doing, this direction definitely starts with their All-Star shortstop, Starlin Castro. Throw in Bryan LaHair and soon to be called up first baseman Anthony Rizzo and you have the makings of a youth movement.
The Cubs have a few other top prospects and one that they are high on is outfielder Brett Jackson. The only thing holding Jackson back is himself and his penchant for striking out.
Jackson’s 105 strikeouts are the third most in baseball. Not just the minor leagues, but in all of baseball. White Sox slugger Adam Dunn is second with 115 K’s. A Class A minor leaguer has 120 K’s.
New Cubs GM Theo Epstein hasn’t really tipped his hand in what direction he will go to bring the Cubs back to contention. Will he go on a spending spree and bring in free agents? Will he trade away some pricey veterans and start stockpiling prospects? Or will he build this organization up through an improved scouting system and crafty draft picks?
Only time will tell. I just hope that time doesn’t go on forever when it comes to making this team a contender.
Notes: Cubs lefthander Travis Wood faced off Monday against Mets ace Johan Santana. This was the third straight start where Wood faced a former Cy Young award winner. The other two foes were Justin Verlander and Jake Peavy.
The Cubs record, as of last Monday, 24-48, is the worst in all of baseball. Last year at this time their record was 31-45.
At this point in 2008 the Cubs were 49-29, twenty games above .500. Ted Lilly had just won his eighth game, Geovany Soto was actually hitting higher (.280) than his weight and Kerry Wood just saved his 20th game of the season. Of the eight starters that day, only Soto is a current Cub.