Chicago Cubs: Myth #3 The core wasn’t performing so they were traded
This common misperception is based mostly on the team’s failure to get to, much less win, another World Series, and the individual struggles of the core in a particular season or part of a season.
But the real issue with the Cubs wasn’t with its core players. It’s been everyone else on the bench.
In 2016 the bench collectively slashed .228/.310/.328 with a .638 OPS. In 2019 that cratered to a .199/.286/.337 slash and a .622 OPS. 2020 was even worse, a .176/.270/.297 slash and a .567 OPS.
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Then there was host of other cast-offs and roster mistakes: Robel Garcia, Jonathan Lucroy, Carlos Gonzalez, Martin Maldonado, Steven Souza, Jr, Jose Martinez, not to mention the failures of Jason Heyward, Albert Almora, Ian Happ and David Bote.
If you want know just how bad this current group on the bench is just watch as they struggle to win even a third of their remaining games.
The bottom line is if you wrap a core of great players with crap like that well it’s no surprise your team is going to, well, stink. The front office is fully to blame for this mess.
Chicago Cubs: Myth #4 Jed had to trade the core because Ricketts is cheap
Tom Ricketts is a lot things. Cheap isn’t one of them. Stupid isn’t one ether. He gave Theo and Jed all the financial backing they asked for, until 2021, when he finally, and rightly, turned off the faucet.
When it comes to the Cubs, Ricketts has two responsibilities and he knows it: Make sure the resources are there for the team, and write checks. He’s done both.
Among other things, he paid for: the renovations to a decrepit Wrigley Field, allowed Theo and the gang to completely rebuild the scouting, farm, and player development systems and build a new facility in the Dominican Republic, and he cut checks like money was free.
Since 2016 the Cubs have been in the top 10 in MLB payroll. In 2019 they were #2 and in 2020 they were #3. In 2019 and 2020 Epstein’s Cubs exceeded the Competitive Balance Tax threshold and the Cubs had to pay the luxury tax both years. Yet in 2019 the Cubs didn’t make the postseason and in 2020 they washed out of the Wild Card Series 2-0, scoring just one run.
Against that, in 2021, without doing anything, they were headed to another top payroll and a third consecutive year over the luxury tax. Heck I’d have turned off the faucet, too.