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The Chicago Cubs are in the midst of a season-worst seven game losing streak. They are a season-worst 12 games under .500. They are eight games out in the NL Central, and in last place.

It’s fair to say that reasonable Cubs fans did not expect the Cubs to compete for a playoff spot this year. Indeed, were we being honest with ourselves, we probably would have guessed that this kind of start to the year was more likely than any kind of pleasant surprise.

Where did our reasonableness go? Our rationality? Did we forget that this was a deeply flawed roster and that turning it over would take considerable time?

Perhaps it’s time for a reminder that this roster is deeply flawed. Turning it over and becoming competitive long term will take considerable time. As new President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein said back in January: you can’t turn an ocean liner on a dime. He saw the pains that lay ahead for the Cubs, and we’re living those pains now. Consider yourself reminded.

With that reminder in place, you’re hopefully in the right mindset to consider that, although this season sucks, there is an upside to the awfulness of the 2012 Chicago Cubs. Actually, there are several upsides, ranging from obvious to subtle.

A Higher First Round Draft Pick Slot in 2013

The most obvious impact of a terrible season in virtually any sport is the corresponding move up the draft board the following year. That benefit is felt most pronouncedly in the first round, where the highest impact talent is typically selected. The Cubs are looking to build a long-term foundation, and adding top young talent is the most important piece of that puzzle. Picking in the top five of the Draft is a great way to do that. As things stand, the Cubs have the second worst record in baseball, and don’t look likely to slide out of the top five picks next year. They could even land that top pick if the dominoes, eh hem, fall correctly.

A Higher Second (and Third (and Fourth (etc.))) Draft Pick Slot in 2013

This may not seem like a distinct benefit to sucking, but it is. Not only does a poor record ensure you an earlier pick in *every* round of the Draft (which, on a cumulative basis, is a huge bonus, above and beyond merely picking one of the four or five best players in the draft in the first round), but CBA-driven changes to 2013’s draft order will make that difference even more helpful.

In recent years past, the space between the first and second rounds of the draft were packed with “supplemental picks,” increasing the distance between the final pick in the first round, and the first pick in the second round. That served to decrease the value of high picks in the second round. Starting in 2013, because of changes to the free agent compensation system, there will be fewer “supplemental picks.” Although there are an additional six lottery picks after the first round (and then another six after the second round), there should still be fewer picks between the first and second rounds than there are now. Consider that there are 26 supplemental picks tied to free agent compensation separating the first and second rounds in 2012, 17 of which are tied to Type B free agents, a classification that will not exist come 2013. In other words, when the Cubs pick in the second round (and subsequent rounds) in 2013, the pick should be slightly higher than it would have been were they in the same slot in 2012.

More “Pool” Money to Spend in the 2013 Draft

One of the most dramatic changes to the Draft effected by the new CBA is the limitation on spending. In short, each team will have a “pool” of money to spend on its first 10 rounds’ worth of picks (which pool is the sum of the slot recommendation for each of that team’s picks). After the 10th round, teams can spend up to $100k on each pick, but anything over $100k counts against the pool. If a team goes over the pool, the penalties are swift and steep (for example, if a team goes over by more than 5%, it loses a first round draft pick). Thus, the larger a team’s pool, the better talent it can theoretically draft and sign. The higher a team picks, generally speaking, the larger its pool will be.

Consider: the slot amount for the top pick in 2012 is $7.2 million (the slot in 2011 was just $4 million, but the top pick, Gerrit Cole, signed for $8 million). With a slot amount that high, there is theoretical wiggle room to save some money to be put to use on other picks (though I’m sure it will be a battle to convince an agent to tell his player to accept less than the slot amount). The slot amounts drop to about $1.5 million by the end of the first round, so the range is significant, and the numbers keep sliding as you move through the next round. So, if you’re picking late in the first round, you’re going to have far less overall money to work with when trying to sign all of your picks if you took some “overslot” types.

More International Signing Bonus Money to Use in 2013

The new CBA also limits the amount of money teams can spend on internationals free agents. During this signing period, which kicks off in July, teams will have only $2.9 million to spend on international free agents (lest they be subjected to spending/signing limitations the following year if they go over). The number is the same for all teams. But next year, the teams with worse records in 2012 will have more money to spend on the international market, a la the Draft. The worst team in 2012 will get about $4.8 million to spend internationally in 2013, while the best team in 2012 will get just $1.7 million. That huge range (relatively speaking) means that the teams with the worst record in 2012 will have a significant advantage on the international stage in 2013, the first year that such an advantage will exist.

(And, yes, this impending limitation is why folks are modestly freaked out about the utter silence surrounding Jorge Soler. If he doesn’t sign before July 2, his signing is subject to the $2.9 million cap (that’s a team’s total spending cap, by the way – Soler was rumored to be getting more than $20 million by himself). That could cause serious problems for a team like the Cubs, who were once thought to have the inside track, but who might not want to blow their cap to sign Soler (given that, if they don’t blow their cap this year, their cap next year is likely to be among the highest in baseball)).

A Clear Plan at Mid-Season With Respect to Trades

Not all of the upsides of sucking in 2012 have to do with amateur talent. Teams floating around .500 are going to have a tricky set of decisions come July. Do we decide it isn’t going to happen and sell off, even though we’re ever-so-close to being in the race? Do we go on a buying spree to try and tip the scales in our favor, to the detriment of the farm system? Or do we stand pat and see where things stand come August, hoping that we could pick up a piece or two (or deal a piece or two) in a waiver trade if necessary?

The Cubs, if they continue to suck, will not have to face these questions. The path will be more than clear: if a player has value on the trade market, and isn’t certain to be a contributing piece in 2013, that player can be shopped. Aggressively.

Young Players Will Not Be Blocked

The benefit here is pretty simple: to the extent the Cubs would like to get some young guys some playing time in August and September – like real, legit, long-term playing time – there will be no “competitiveness” impediment to doing so. Without the absolute need to win games (just a preference to win them), it’s no big deal to give Junior Lake a week’s worth of games at third base, or to let Chris Rusin start a few times. Further, if guys like Brett Jackson and Anthony Rizzo are up and struggling, the team can stay committed to them without worrying about their performance on a day-to-day basis.

Everyone is on the Same “Development” Page

Relatedly, if the Cubs are completely out of it by mid-June, the organization doesn’t have to deal with awkward promotion decisions that are tied to the competitiveness of the big league team. Imagine in an alternate 2012 that there are a couple injuries in the infield, and the Cubs, desperately clinging to a Wild Card spot, decide to bring up Josh Vitters just in case they need him. Then he rides the pine for two weeks, heads back down to Iowa, and his confidence is totally shot. With a team that is plainly not competitive, these kinds of decisions can be avoided, and prospects can be treated exclusively in a manner that best serves their development, not a manner that best serves the marginal winning percentage of the big league club.

In sum, there are reasons that sucking 2012 isn’t the worst thing in the world for the Chicago Cubs’ organization. It’s hard for fans to stomach, but at least some tangible good can follow.

It’s important to remember that none of the reasons for our excitement back in October and November have gone away. “The plan” is still very much unfolding. I don’t know how many times many of us said that the near-term was going to be painful, and that living the day to day of it was going to suck, but we said it a lot. And we were right: this sucks.

But this is also a part of the process. Suffer through it. Take the suck for no more than it’s worth. Stick with it, and we’ll all be rewarded in time. That’s what I keep telling myself, anyway.

  • CubFan Paul

    “The benefit here is pretty simple: to the extent the Cubs would like to get some young guys some playing time in August and September – like real, legit, long-term playing time – there will be no “competitiveness” impediment to doing so”

    Remember Quade?

    • wax_eagle

      he was fighting for his job, Sveum came with no one mincing words that this team was going to be bad this year, and having been hired by management I think he knows he has a year or two of job security if he can follow directions.

  • Patrick

    I was thinking about this around the third inning last night. Thanks for an excellently written piece. I might add one more side benefit that seems less-obvious: lower attendance. How does that help? Well, in my theory, it gives the Cubs a little bit of leverage in the “We need Wrigley improved to keep drawing in fans, which will increase the tax revenue (which you can then give us some of.)

  • JulioZuleta

    Any draft gurus out there know if there is a consensus type #1 pick for 2013 yet? I haven’t looked in to next year’s class very much.

    • Kyle

      Too early. There’s a few guys who look good, but no Bryce Harper types. Plenty of time, though.

    • Cub Style

      I’m a big Karsten Whitson fan. He looks like he could be slotted there and I’d love to have him.

    • Jeremy

      Austin Wilson OF and Kris Bryant 3B/1B are too guys that stand out as well. Both are college bats have great power and have superstar potential. The 2013 class is also much better then this years class.

  • Wilbur

    Excellent article.

    I understand all your points totally. Agree completely that there is great value in having the first or second position this year that never existed in the past. Also, I am committed as a fan to stay faithful to the team as they go through this bottom up rebuilding process.

    It just is really painful to watch them play. Not so much as individuals, I get everyone is trying. It’s just painful … kind of like a root canal that just keeps going. When it’s done you’ll be great, but God just getting there takes all your energy.

    • Grant

      Last year was painful. At least there’s a benefit to the pain this year. Also, this year’s team will play a full 9 innings, whereas last year’s team seemed to give up (well) before the end of the game.

  • Kyle

    That’s about the size of it. I’m not enjoying the losing by any means, and I’m still not thrilled that we chose to tank, but I can see the method in the madness.

    We’ve identified some real pieces long-term. The emergency of LaHair, Samardzija and Rizzo really add to our stockpile of useful pieces.

    I know it’s going to be a bit controversial, but Ian Stewart has emerged to me as a medium-term (2-4 year) solution at 3b. As much as I’d love to give an “I told you so” because his numbers are superficially bad, the peripherals show he’s found a new level of ability in batting and I expect him to be a .750-.800 OPS 3b from now on.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      AH! UP IS DOWN! BLACK IS WHITE!

      • Kyle

        I’m all about the peripherals. And I can’t argue with an 18.8% k rate.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          “The emergency of LaHair, Samardzija and Rizzo really add to our stockpile of useful pieces.”

          Typo or slip?  :-)

  • Rob

    If the Dominican Republic doesn’t clear Soler before MLB implements the new rule, what will happen? Can the Cubs still theoretically sign him for $20 million and only be subjected to one year of penalties (2013)? If the big deal is off the table, will it instead turn into a race to see which team has the most attractive farm system/big league facilities/chance to win?

    • Kyle

      The penalties for signing will more or less take the big deal off the table.

      We’d have to pay a 100% tax on everything over the $2.9 million limit for IFAs this year (that’s a per team limit, not a per player limit). So his $20 million deal would cost us $40 million.

      Then, in 2013, when we’d have a chance to clean up in IFA because we’d have a higher limit than most teams (it will be based on record instead of each team just having the same limit), we’d be prohibited from signing any player for more than $250k, locking us out of all the worthwhile prospects.

      Everyone’s trying to dream up ways that teams could circumvent the IFA cap, but it seems extremely unlikely to me. There’s not going to be a 16-year-old prospect who is worth paying a 100% premium and limiting your ability to sign any other IFAs for an entire year.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      My guess is a team or two will be willing to blow their cap just a little bit for him – likely teams who aren’t expecting to have much of an IFA cap in 2013 anyway.

      If you want the Cubs to get Soler, it really needs to happen in June.

      • Rob

        Sigh. Well, here’s hoping something happens soon. Thanks for clearing up the confusion, guys.

  • JulioZuleta

    Some of the AL races are shaping up nicely for a strong trade market. With Detroit in third and the Yankees and Red Sox in 4th and 5th, there are several high expectation teams that haven’t begun separating themselves from the pack. I’d like to see a Yankees, Tigers bidding war for the services of a Ryan Dempster or Matt Garza.

    • rcleven

      Toronto seems like the target for me.

      • EQ76

        I think the Tigers make an offer.. they are “all in” this year and in 3rd place. I have no doubt they try to make a trade..

        • Cubs Dude

          How about Garza, and Demp for Turner, Castellanos, and Smyly?? Their owner wants to win it all asap, hell he’s 85. I am sure he probably doesn’t care about the last couple years of Fielders contract…

          • rcleven

            Love the trade. Just won’t get that much in return Garza. Not too sure you could pry Turner & Castellanos both for Garza out of Detroit. Wouldn’t do over the winter won’t do it now. We can dream tho.

            • Cubs Dude

              I am saying package Garza and Demp together for those 3 rcleven. Demp may waive no trade because Detroit is relatively close to Chicago and he would get huge run support, and a chance for a title.

              • rcleven

                Would have to be a big moment of weakness for Detroit for them to make that trade. What you are suggesting is Demp for Smyly stright up in the package Detroit would have to have a screw loose.

                • Cubs Dude

                  I hear ya. Just a thought. I watched the Prince to Tiger press conference and thought to myself who in their right mind would give the go ahead of that ridiculous contract when they already had Miggy at first. I then looked to Fielder’s left and saw the elderly owner. I couldn’t help but think (right or wrong) this is an owner who could care less about the latter part of Prince’s contract as he would be in his mid 90’s and possibly not around anymore. It just seemed he was willing to do whatever to win right away with that contract.

          • Rob

            I’d be okay with that. If Detroit continues to disappoint and the Cubs are willing to give up both Garza and Dempster, they could possibly get a couple fringe prospects to go along with the big three you mentioned.

  • Dave H

    Another side benefit, those who have season tickets are more inclined to part with them at a better price. Nothing beats a ballgame at Wrigley.

    • rcleven

      Most season ticket holders have already sold their tickets to brokers. My brother has 2 boxes about 6 rows behind first base dugout.Picks and chooses what games he wants to go to then sells everything else before opening day. Gets full price for the tickets because he can combine the sale with the guy next to him for 4 in a row.

      Brokers must be crying in there beer.

      • Dave H

        This is true. A lot my connections are more of the “corporate” variety though. Customers really tail off going to the ballpark in August and September as the record gets worse and worse. Then I just mop up the mess. I can see an entire series in these months, if I play my cards right.

  • calicubsfan007

    I am a fan of building through drafts, whether it is MLB or NFL. The high pick can be good for us, look what it did for the Rays. I imagine the trading deadline being oh so chaotic, with the Cubs one of those most capable to capitalize on that chaos. And I agree with Kyle’s point that quite of few guys have emerged this season, which is good for the future.

  • notcubbiewubbie

    great article brett as i have said before im 60 and dont have as many years to build as you younger guys ; but this is definitely the right thing to do. i have wanted the cubs to do this my whole life even if it fails i know they blew up a big pile of jim hendry garbage and tried.

  • Mick

    Yes, high draft slot, more money in draft and International budget, and plenty of opportunities for young guys to take the bull by the horns and become the next stars of tomorrow.

    We’re nearing the mid-point of the season and the overall standings have suprise teams like Baltimore, Toronto, Cleveland, Chi White Sox, LA Dodgers, and Washington at or near the top of their divisions. These are all teams that maybe weren’t expecting to be there so, their off-season plans didn’t fill every position with depth. Plus, there’s going to be an extra wild-card in each league! I’m just waiting to hear the bell for when the Cubs open for business. Say good-bye to Garza, Dempster, Soto, cross-your fingers Soriano, and possibly LaHair.

    In Buster Olney’s latest blog: (post included because it’s for Insiders only)

    “Castro, 22, is viewed as the crown jewel of the Cubs’ franchise, and at 21, he led the National League in hits with 207. He is seemingly capable of being a .300 hitter for the next 10-12 years.
    His play is also raising questions about whether he can be a shortstop long term, because of his defensive inefficiency; he has 64 errors in his first 325 games in the majors. If he is moved to another position, his value will immediately be diminished. His on-base percentage was .347 in his first year, .341 last year, and it’s down to .326 this year. Epstein always valued high on-base percentage in his years as general manager of the Boston Red Sox, more so than some other teams.
    The Cubs could keep Castro as their centerpiece, with the belief that his flaws will be fixed. They could trade him — and right now, before his salary begins to rocket upward, he could have significant value to a team that believes in his potential and values his athleticism. Think Hanley Ramirez, with depreciation for the fact Castro already has two-plus years of service time.
    There are almost no deals the Cubs can make with their current 40-man roster that would bring them high-impact talent in return. Trading Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Marmol would bring them nothing; swapping Castro could get them two high-end prospects.”

    This really starts to make me wonder whether or not Castro is the centerpiece to future success or the lynchpin to yield us prospects who will then be the future success of this franchise.

    • aCubsFan

      Castro was brought up too early. This was done to appease the fan base and in attempt to save Jim Henry’s job. He’s still learning how to play the game of baseball while trying to learn English; having 3 different managers in 3 years; attempting to go from a leadoff type position to a run producer and all while the fan base and sportswriters heaping the savior tag on him. I believe all these issues are starting to weigh heavily on him and he is attempting to do too much.

      • rcleven

        Sure is pressing right now. Brenly said it last night. Castro would be a very good hitter in the 7 slot in a better lineup.

    • Grant

      Olney’s shortsighted on Castro.

      At 22, Castro is having to work out issues on a major league roster that most others would still be dealing with in A or AA ball. Yes, his value would drop if they moved him over to 2B (sending him to 3B seems dumb since it makes the throw to 1st even further), but it’s not like he’d be a bad 2B, just not as valuable a piece as if he were a SS.

      As for other deals that could bring high-impact talent, he’s overlooking 2-3 names: Garza, Dempster, and LaHair.

    • Cub Style

      So far, Castro is 9th in UZR, 2nd in Range Rating, and 5th in Defensive Runs Saved at SS. I know it’s a young season with a small sample size so far, but it’s hard not to see the improvement of Castro’s overall defense as well as the refinement of the raw tools he has.

    • Jeremy

      Olney’s clearly hasn’t watched much of the Cubs this year. Trading Castro would be an awful idea. He’s one of the most consistent bats in the game. Sure he is going through a slump right now but all hitters do. His defense has showed a lot of improvement this year as well. He had a poor start there but he has been very consistent there. Castro is the perfect player to build around. He will break out of this slump.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        What slump?  A player batting at completely constant rates should experience several such “slumps” each season just by chance alone.  Indeed, suppose that Castro ended up the season with these numbers: we’d expect one season in six to be this bad just by chance alone even if Castro’s OBP rates were identical in each season.

        • Jeremy

          What I mean is in terms of his previous production this could be considered a slump for him, that’s all I’m saying. His OBP is down and his BA has been falling but he should rebound. He seems to be pressing which I think is coming from him trying to do to much and the fact that he really doesn’t have any other hitters of his caliber surrounding him at the moment. LaHair has been good but he’s no where near the player that Castro is.

  • rbreeze

    Nice article Brett!  The problem is that we get teased with some good baseball like early in the month and then they just turn on the stench and its makes you nauseous as a fan.  I am going along with the plan and am totally on board.  But if they are going to stink I wish they would stop teasing us sometimes.  I am going on 58 and would love to see a Cubs WS win before its my time.  I can’t wait for the invasion of the kids whether its this your or next year.  Go Cubs!!!

  • ytowncubsfan

    Completely out of it by mid-june haha? I would say it was official sunday night. Brett is right on in thinking about the high draft picks, but i think Brett failed to mention the plus it is not having a manager still trying to win as many games in aug & sept to save his job. Thanks to Quade last year the cubs wont be selecting in the top 5 of this years june draft.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I believe I did discuss the issue of properly using younger players. The fact that the Cubs don’t have Quade is not a “benefit of being awful” this year, so it wasn’t really a salient point.

  • Stu

    Most intelligent baseball people understand that their approach is the “right” way to develop the team.

    The problem is the ticket prices don’t reflect the “product” being put on the field. No one in Cubs marketing is advertising, “We don’t have a chance to win anything this year, so thanks for your support for the winning Cubs of 2016″. I am not sure that attendance will hold up in that scenario. And keep in mind that even though many tickets are bought in advance, you need concessions to keep the cash flow going.

    The brass will keep talking about how they have the secret formula for winning and you never know when it will come together, privately they know that the overall the talent is just not there yet. It really is a highly sophisticated marketing/con job to keep people in the stands to purchase $10 Beers. These guys really can sell ice to eskimos.

  • ytowncubsfan

    I think by mid-june I’ll be paying more attention to Boise’s season getting underway than the big league team.

    • Mick

      Why, everyone playing for Boise would have been promoted to Tennessee?

  • DocPeterWimsey

    What will the Cubs schedule be like at the end of the season?  In both 2010 and 2011, the Cubs had their easiest prolonged stretch at the end of the year.  Their early schedule this year has been on the rough side of average; that does not mean that September will be easy, but they are going to have to get an easier stretch at some point. (This won’t turn them into competitors, mind you: just slightly less muddy doormats.)

  • ColoCubFan

    Aided by the wind (HR) and Tacoma’s defense (4Errors), Iowa Cubs scored 6 in the bottom of the 3rd! Final score 18-8!

  • Dustin S

    I also wanted to add my kudos to a very well written article.

    I will add one more indirect one to the list…cheap tickets on the resale market. Upper Deck seats were going as low as $4 last week. Taking my granddaughter to her 1st game next week. Sadly they’re good seats I bought the day they went on-sale, I could probably get the same seats for half-face value now. But I do plan on making it to a few extra games this season just because they are going dirt cheap.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Thanks, Dustin. Good thought.

  • Luke D

    Waiting for a post called “The Cubs Suck And Other Bullets”

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      If the right article or quote comes along, that’s definitely a possibility.

      • rcleven

        I am ready for your interview.

        On second thought you couldn’t publish my quotes.

        Never mind.

  • Paul

    Castro will be the only every day player still here in 2 yrs

  • DublinCub

    “The most obvious impact of a terrible season in virtually any sport is the corresponding move up the draft board the following year”

    Virtually any sport? There must be thousands of different leagues/competitions across the huge number of professional sports, and I can think of about half a dozen that have a “draft board”. In virtually any sports league, relegation would be considered the most obvious impact.

    As a non-American, who loves American sports, I can’t help but facepalm when a US commentator makes reference to “one of the greatest _____ in sports”, when in fact they mean one of the greatest in 3 or 4 professional sports played in the US.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      All appropriate apologies about the geocentrism, but this is a US-based baseball site, so it’s kind of tacit that comments like that refer to the major American sports. I’m not being dopey or exclusionary, I’m covering what I cover. I certainly understand what you’re saying as a non-American. But, given the context of the site, I don’t really think I screwed up too badly here.

  • Spencer

    If the MLB draft was more like the NBA or NFL drafts then I would be much more excited to get a top 5 pick. It’s hard for me to get pumped up about drafting people that won’t have an impact for a handful of years and might turn out to be a bust.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Nobody’s saying this is a Lebron situation. It’s just one of many reasons that sucking this year isn’t the worst thing in the world long term.

  • Terry

    Whay happened about Sveum shaking up the lineup. Same old stuff.

    • http://bleachernation.com RicoSanto

      Switching the lineup is like playing old maid ,except you have 6 or 7 old maids.

  • Matt

    The thing that is disconcerting is that the “Theo way” of building a team is no longer possible, due to the new CBA. Can he do it by simply drafting players appropriate for that slot? I don’t know. Many people seem to be assuming that, “we suck now, but we will be good in 3-4 years.” As depressing as it is, that is not the foregone conclusion many seem to think.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Don’t forget that a big piece of the rebuild is the theoretically increased revenue streams, which will allow the Cubs to participate actively in the free agent market. Although they talk about the amateur side a lot (and it is, indeed, extremely important), that isn’t all that matters in terms of getting good fast.

    • tim815

      Theo wants players that have a better likelihood of being good than the guys prior regimes coveted. It will be more difficult with new rules, yes. With a team full of execs qualified at evaluating talent, and upgrading said talent trumps what we had before.

    • Mrp

      You can still scout better then everyone else and still make up ground. I like our chances there with the new regime. Also, I have confidence that Theo, Jed and McLeod can be the guys to develop the new way to “beating the draft” (if there is one).

  • AB

    What happens under the CBA with players who are undrafted free agents such as Mike Minor, or I guess Blake Lalli, etc.??

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Although I haven’t seen the CBA language myself, Jim Callis has said that the $100k cap also applies to undrafted free agents (in other words, any amount over $100k counts against your 10 round pool).

    • tim815

      Not against the slot unless they sign for over 100 K. Any amount over 100 K is taken against the slotted amount.

  • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

    I am actually fine with this year. I feel like rock bottom was last year.

  • sven-erik312

    What happpens when the Cubs do start winning? If they get to the World Series and loose, is that a failure? Which is worse? Being out of it year in year out by June every season or coming oh so close and still loosing in the end? When the Cubs window of opportunity opens and they have that competitive team, will being competitive be enough for the fans or is nothing short of a World Series win acceptable? I look at the Philly teams of the last few years and how great they have been yet they still lost. Their program was not a failure when you think about win/loss numbers. Looking at it from where we are, we’d give anything to have the kind of team that they have had, but now it looks like it’s over for them for a good while. Did they fail? What happens when our guys start winning?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      For now, I’m concerned only with the Cubs making the playoffs for multiple seasons in a five-year stretch. I’d like them to be a team that, over a 10-year stretch, is always in competition. If they do that, I’ll deal with whatever heartache rears its head at that time.

      I don’t see making it to the WS, say, in 2015 and then losing, as a failure.

      • Cubs Dude

        I think making it regularly to the playoffs is the key point here by Brett. Once you’re in anything can happen, the best regular season record is thrown out the window. And we have seen wild card teams win a lot in recent years. So if the Cubs can get in consistantly,as opposed to all your eggs in a basket for one yr. that gives us the best shot to win it all.

        • TWC

          As I said yesterday, while the ultimate goal is winning the World Series, the bar for success should be set at winning the division.  Every year.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            Any season in which the Cubs win the Central will be deemed, by me, to be a success, regardless of what happens in the playoffs.

            (Even if it’s REALLY hard to swallow, a la 2007 and 2008.)

            • TWC

              I remember both 2007 and 2008 — especially that first half of 2008 — as great, successful seasons.  They didn’t end well.

              • DocPeterWimsey

                Actually, the Cubs were the best team (or one of the best teams) in the NL in both July and August, too.  The wheels completely fell off in September: but a few lucky 1-run victories and the complete Chernobyling of the Brewers and Mets distracted everyone from that.

                But as for myself, I cannot count a season in which the Cubs go to post-season as a failure.  Sure, the losing sucks: but the competition and clinching are great fun that cannot be taken away.  Still, I’d like to at least see a pennant before I croak.

                • TWC

                  “…and the complete Chernobyling of the Brewers and Mets…”

                  That was a worthwhile distraction.

            • Wilbur

              Agreed

        • rcleven

          “If they get to the World Series and loose, is that a failure?”

          Hell No!
          Winning the world takes
          1) A fundamentally good team. (A team that does not beat it self.)
          2) Good pitching.( Doesn’t have to be great.)
          3) A hot run in October.
          4) A string of luck. (Timely hitting.)

          • http://www.justinjabs.com/blog/ justinjabs

            “The best teams make the postseason, and the hottest teams win it.”

            – Derrek Lee (somebody else said it originally I assume, but I just remember him saying it)

  • jim

    Dont panic! Whenis theos contract up?

  • MichiganGoat

    Great article but even better comments, there was so much doom and gloom the last couple of weeks it nice to see this community focus on the larger picture. We look bad right now but as an organization we no longer suck. Glad to see all the patience and vision from everyone. I’m proud to be part of this community.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      “even better comments”

      Forget you, clown.

      • Katie

        Don’t mention clowns. I hate clowns.

      • MichiganGoat

        :)

  • coal

    Love that picture at the top, Brett. Worth 1,000 words. Gets better Iworse) the more you look at it.

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