Chicago Cubs: This team was not close to contending. At all.
When Theo Epstein came in, the Cubs came off a 2011 season which saw them go 71-91 which was their second-straight losing season. It was a boring and downright bad team that was mainly composed of a young Starlin Castro and old players past their primes. Mike Quade who was a good and respected coach in MLB was over his head when offered the manager position after being the interim manager the final month-and-a-half of 2010.
The team was 14th in the NL with a collective 4.33 ERA, eighth in runs scored (654), 10th in OBP (.314) and led all of baseball in errors (134). All of this with the sixth-highest payroll in all of baseball. Even after shedding some dollars in 2010 and signing some cheap contracts in 2011, the payroll was still huge and they were losing 90 games.
It is also not like they were in a race to start the year and fell apart. April 23 marked the final day they’d see their record at .500 (10-10) and was never a game above it at all that season. There was not much value to sell at the deadline, other than trading away Kosuke Fukudome on July 28 for virtually nothing, no big future moves were made.
It was mid-August when Ricketts dismissed longtime GM Jim Hendry. Probably the biggest news and event of that 2011 season. It was clear a new direction was in the works before the season even ended. Hendry was a classy man who tried very hard to win, but his methods were just outdated and by 2010 were just setting the franchise further back. The remnants of the Tribune-owned Cubs were ready to be swept away.