While Jon Lester is no longer a member of the Chicago Cubs, the greatest free agent signing in club history left plenty for Cubs fans to think about as he started his adventure with his new team, the Washington Nationals. Of course, Lester was gracious and professional in his comments about the Cubs, but as is often the case, it’s easy to read between the lines and take more away than was actually said.
And, to be clear, it’s what most of us already knew to be true, but now verified in the clearly delineated juxtaposition of the Nationals and Cubs:
The Nationals are a baseball team actively trying to compete and win baseball games.
The Cubs are a business actively trying to save money.
See the difference there? I know it may have been subtle, but it’s there even if you don’t look too closely. It’s not that the Cubs are trying to lose games or field a terrible baseball team. I’m sure the front office, coaching staff and players want to win baseball games and will do everything in their power to do so. As Lester himself said, “it’s not that the club is going to be bad;” but then again, they’re not actively trying to become any better than whatever they will be after this embarrassing and depressing winter is over.
Actually, I take that back; even if you could explain away and defend letting Lester and Kyle Schwarber go, you could definitely make the case that the Cubs are actively becoming worse by shipping the NL Cy Young runner-up, Yu Darvish, off to the San Diego Padres. Coincidentally, the Padres (along with the Nationals) would fall into that seemingly small category of MLB teams who have proven during this offseason that they’re actively trying to win in 2021.
Per Gordon Wittenmyer, Lester heard nothing from the Cubs until the 11th hour, and by that time, he was into the “nitty-gritty” on a Nationals’ deal. This wasn’t even the first report that Lester was willing to sign for less to stay in Chicago, and he further elaborated by saying he would have taken deferred money to remain with his buddies on the North Side.
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That’s right, Cubs fans- the guy basically said he would have played for a few hot dogs and a case of Miller Lite this season, had Tom Ricketts and Jed Hoyer wanted to keep him in Chicago. Clearly, however, they did not want to, or at least not in any meaningful way thanks to the biblical losses and pandemic wreaking havoc on an otherwise mismanaged and strained organizational pocketbook.
I know it’s blasphemy, but maybe it’s time to become a Padres or Nats fan? They each now have a couple of the 2020 Cubs who will be playing for their teams in 2021…
Seriously though (since I’m not about to stop rooting for the lovable losers), where do the Cubs go from here? How can the club continue to publicly state they’re not trying to punt the season or rebuild specifically because of fiscal reasons, while all signs point to untethering every piece of moneyed weight that is hanging around Wrigley Field.
I guess we just have to hope that this country can get the pandemic under control, the vaccines will be effective and fans can return to the Friendly Confines in order to placate not only their own longings, but almost more importantly for fans, the business side of things for Ricketts and the Cubs. Here’s hoping he can do his best Scrooge McDuck cannonball into a very full money vault in the very near future.
I’d tell you not to hold your breath on any of that, but I guess none of us will have to with a mask still on our faces. What a time to be alive and a Cubs fan.