How can the Cubs compete after layoffs ravaged the entire organization.
Watching the Los Angeles Dodgers and Tampa Bay Rays go head-to-head in the World Series has been an interesting experience as a Chicago Cubs fan. Los Angeles represents probably the most well-rounded organization in the game today – the perfect mix of big market financial power and baseball acumen.
A big part of that is the man calling the shots, Andrew Friedman, developed his skillset in Tampa Bay – a franchise that annually has one of – if not the – smallest payroll in the game. He’s used to doing a lot with a little. Handing him keys to one of the most powerful franchises in baseball has led to a run of incredible success for the Dodgers.
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The Rays continue to fly under the radar while fielding a legitimate contender on a yearly basis. I suspect organizations like Tampa Bay might weather the devastating financial impact of COVID-19 better than some of the teams that have relied on soaring revenues in large markets, but only time will tell if that proves to be the case.
One of those big market organizations that have been crippled by the last year? The Cubs, who, according to The Athletic (subscription required) laid off north of 100 employees in cost-cutting measures, including countless who have played integral roles in the team’s recent success.
Epstein alluded to this in his end-of-season Zoom call, noting that no organization is exempt from the changes that have gripped the game in the wake of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
This offseason represents one like no other. Owners, desperate to save money, will likely handcuff front offices from spending big money. Teams like the Cubs fall firmly in that group. Any payroll coming off the books will probably be replaced by buy-low guys in hopes of striking gold on guys while paying them the big league minimum or putting them on incentive-laden deals.
But how are you supposed to identify those guys with your scouting and baseball operations departments running on bare bones budgets? It becomes exponentially more difficult to run as a well-oiled machine when that machine is missing critical parts. Yet that’s the task the Cubs face after a prompt first-round postseason exit.
It means more people doing multiple jobs. Working in areas that are typically outside their area of expertise. Countless employees at companies across the world have experienced this already this year – and baseball is no exception. But, as is the case with all of us in our 9-to-5, expectations from the top don’t change: the bar remains set at the same level as always and it’s on those remaining to deliver.
With one year left for this Cubs core, in a normal year, you’d like to see the team go all-out to get one more ring. That won’t happen in this environment, though, despite the exhausting efforts of those front office employees left standing after rounds of layoffs this season.