Last years’ disappointing end to the season left a sour taste in a lot of Cubs’ fans mouth and an unhappy management decided that it needed to wait and see on manager Joe Maddon. Maddon enters the 2019 season as a lame duck and told you need to do better. You need to do better Joe despite not additions made to the team seems to be the message from management and, even more so, ownership.
The hypocrisy of that message should not be lost on the outside world. Was the end to the season a disappointment? Yes. However, the skipper lead the Cubs to a 95-68 record, losing the division in game 163 and still having the second best record in the NL despite Yu Darvish doing nothing, Tyler Chatwood being a bust, Kris Bryant not his normal self and closer Brandon Morrow playing half a season. Closer, MVP candidate, one your best pitchers and a rotation piece all worthless, plus the bad seasons from Kyle Schwarber and Wilson Contreras having really down seasons and the team still had the second best record in the NL. The whole Addison Russell situation is an entirely different nightmare as he likely gets his last chance this season.
Now I believe a regression back to the mean is a legitimate reason for optimism for the Cubs this season, but if the message is do better or you’re gone Joe Maddon shouldn’t the team offer him some more help? Especially since Chicago announced the partnership with Sinclair broadcasting for their own channel starting in 2020. That’s another huge sack of cash coming to join the added advertisement revenue and all that’s coming from the Wrigleyville renovations. That network is a big step in ‘making the Cubs the best organization in the world’ according to owner Tom Ricketts and yet free agency for the Cubs has been…crickets.
The luxury tax has become a big boogie man in baseball as we watch teams freeze out free agents two years in a row. That is not the price of winning championships, just look at Boston who got the draft pick punishment for their spending but I don’t think anyone is complaining about that with the trophy coming back to Boston. Windows in baseball are short and the Cubs have decided that tax is more important than doing everything possible to win another chip.
Now let’s not pretend this a video game and the Cubs were going to hand out 600 million combined to Manny Machado and Bryce Harper, the former now a Padre, but the Cubs have come out and done everything they can to say they are absolutely not tied to either free agent. Tom Ricketts has said 'there is no money’ and tried to say the focus is on re-signing their top players. There is a lot of young talent that is going to need deals; Bryant, Rizzo, Contreras, Baez all the young talent Theo Epstein has acquired, but you’re in the business to win.
Cole Hamels, Ben Zobrist, Pedro Strop, Steve Chisek, Brandon Kintzler and Brian Duensing are all in their last years and Jose Quintanna has an option that accounts for over 65 million dollars. That is no small chunk of change with the TV deal coming next season, so why is there no money? Yes the kids are going to continue to get more expensive and need extensions, but you know what makes money? Winning. You think the Golden State Warriors are going to nickle and dime their team if all the players want to be back? No, because they’re going to keep winning and keep printing money.
You know what could help this team, another impact bat like Bryce Harper. What about putting Craig Kimbrel at the back of the pen with Morrow likely to start the season on the DL? Joe Maddon is being told win or you’re done, despite taking the team to three NL Championships and a World Series, but ownership isn’t holding up its part of the deal. Besides the TV deal the Cubs ownership is doing everything wrong, just check the emails, and are risking a window that are always short in baseball. Hopefully the Cheapskate Cubs can win in spite of their owners.