Cubs: If you’re going to suck, suck with young players

(Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images)
(Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images) /

In 2016, manager Joe Maddon, the king of gimmicks, had a slogan for the team: “Try not to suck.” It was printed on t-shirts and a brewery near me even brewed a tasty German style lager with that name. I saved a can for posterity. Basketball has the term, “Ball Don’t Lie.” Neither do records. The 2022 Cubs suck.

A couple weeks ago, I penned a piece speculating that if a few things went ‘just right,’ the Chicago Cubs could turn it around. How did that work out for me? In the words of Frank Barone, “Holy crap!”

A double by Nico Horner in the eighth inning kept the Cubs from entering the All-Star Break with  their second double-digit losing streak of the season. The team is one of the worst in baseball, and there seems to be another clubhouse cleaning coming. The Cubbies are just a half-game better than the Cincinnati Reds, who tanked it this winter and started the year 3-22.

Chicago is in a very unique situation. Currently, Wrigley Field is a beer garden where they happen to play baseball. I joked in the 1990s that the Cubs always made money because people came out to see sun, suds and Sammy. The Cubs never consistently drew a million fans consistently until 1968. Since 2000, good or bad, they draw right around three million fans annually. The Ricketts family prints money in Wrigleyville, but they aren’t spending it in recent years (unless you count the in-progress sportsbook adjacent to the ballpark).

There are three American cities with more than 2.5 million people: New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. Each have a pair of major league baseball teams. Payroll: #1- Dodgers, #2- Mets, #3-Yankees, #7- White Sox, #8- Angels and #14- Cubs. Roughly 15 percent of the $150 million the Cubs spend goes to a player on the DL with one home run and a .204 average in Jason Heyward.

The Reds are 21st in salary and 23rd in attendance, respectively. Unremarkably, the Cubs are seventh in attendance. In other cities, fans will get mad and stay home. Not at Wrigley Field. I will now get back to my point

If you are going to suck, suck young. People love to talk about the next great Cubs team. “Hey Alexa, show me the Cubs roster.” Ah, yeah. Scroll down, and you will find yourself saying no, no, no, maybe, no, no, and so on. The problem is, if you do the same for the Iowa Cubs, the cupboard is kind of bare. Matt Mervis is having a very good season, but a one-year jump from South Bend to Chicago is unlikely.

Cubs need to let the kids play once the deadline sell-off takes place

Trades brought promising prospects, but most wouldn’t legally be able to try that aforementioned beer after a game. Those deals brought kids, along with Greg Deichmann (I want to be wrong and I have my doubts) and Caleb Killian. I continually see discussion of him in the rotation next year, Rick Sutcliffe said as much one pregame show on Marquee. Yes, he had some control problems in a few games. I don’t care, get him to Wrigley. With all the fine coaches in Des Moines, aren’t Tommy Hottovy and his staff better?

Injuries and COVID have slowed, and altered, the development of players on many teams. The Cubs are no exception, their recent top prospects are a great example. It is also very important to bring players along when they are ready, there are hundreds of players who never lived up to expectations because teams botched their development. You do not want to overmatch guys who aren’t there yet.

It’s ridiculous to lose with 30-year-old “4A players” in a major market city. Sorry guys. Good luck to you. If trades are made in the next 10 days, and they will be, get a few prospects who can enjoy an Old Style after the game – in Chicago. Get someone near-big league ready to hold a spot until names like Mervis, Cassie, Crow-Armstrong, Wicks, and so on are ready.

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A long time ago in a galaxy far far away, I was a high school coach. As they used to say on WSCR “You’re happy for me!” Frustrated, I called my coaching mentor who scouted my team and commented, ‘You don’t lose with seniors.” You don’t lose with mediocre, thirty-year-old journeymen either.