Loyal Chicago Cubs fans arrive in town today to kick off the 26th Annual Cubs Convention at the Chicago Hilton and Towers. Besides the obvious challenge on how to effectively market a 5th place baseball team, the failed attempts of ownership to get the public to finance upgrades to Wrigley Field, and finding a classy and respectful way to honor a Cubs folk hero after the death of Cubs legend Ron Santo, questions surround the team on and off the field after an offseason that receives a mixed review to date. Some of the questions i’m sure will be brought up this weekend include:
Why Mike Quade over Ryne Sandberg when hiring Lou Piniella’s replacement as Cubs manager?
Why did Carlos Pena hit only .196 last season and was that worth the $10 million salary that was given to him to play 1B for the Cubs? (By the way, what was the deal about deferring half his salary? Are the Cubs in such a financial state that they have to start deferring salary on a player with a 1-year contract? Will he hit over .200 playing half his games in Wrigley this season?
Will you ever find mid-season homes for Alfonso Soriano, Aramis Ramirez and Kosuke Fukudome when the Cubs hit double digits in games behind in the division standings? When do the Cubs start calling up kids from the minors?
How did Cubs P Kerry Wood turn down reported 2 year, $10 million contract offers to accept a 1-year, $1.5 million Cubs offer, including the infamous “Cub for life” clause that was rumored to include broadcasting for the Cubs after he retires. How do you become a Cub for life off a 1-year contract?
Was Cubs P Matt Garza worth the 5 players he was traded for? Do you think any of those 5 players will eclipse the career that Garza has (and will) put together as a Cub? Is he the front of the rotation talent that required 5 minor league prospects to close the deal?
Who will step up in the rotation after Ryan Dempster, Carlos Zambrano and Garza? Does a rotation of Dempster, Zambrano and Garza even scare anyone other than Cubs fans?
Will the strong back end of the bullpen ever get into some meaningful games this season? Will Carlos Marmol, Sean Marshall, and Wood continue to dominate?
Will young talent Starlin Castro, Tyler Colvin, and Andrew Cashner continue their ascent in becoming cornerstones of a revived Cubs farm system that appears to be on the verge of regularly developing major league quality talent? Who will be this season’s Starlin Castro?
Off the field, there are even bigger challenges facing the Ricketts family:
Are last season’s empty seats an aberration or a indictment from fans on the quality on the field?
Will Crane Kenney and Jim Hendry survive another abysmal season as the Cubs top on-field and off-field management?
Will this be the year that the fruit of Cubs Director of Scouting Tim Wilken’s tree starts blossoming?
Will we ever see a Cubs Triangle Building and more investments in infrastructure of Wrigley Field with the Ricketts footing the bill, instead of the taxpayers?
Stay tuned as I will update this post with a progress report around mid-season/All-Star break.