Epstein Must Be Active in Offseason to Quell Team Weaknesses, Fan Discontent

Hey Cubs fans, wake up!! Sorry to rouse you from your early hibernation, but the season is over, so the coast is clear. Unless you’re too depressed to watch playoff baseball, then just go back to sleep.

The Cubs ended their doozy of a season with a win, thanks to the man who fooled us all, “All-Star” Bryan LaHair. The irony of it all is what being a Cubs fan is all about. Joke’s on you, people who bought ‘LaHomer’ shirseys.

And lucky for the Cubs, this whole ‘100+ losses’ thing will follow them around until, well, they win the World Series. Personally, I didn’t think it was such a big deal reaching that milestone. It’s a lot, I get it, but it doesn’t change anything. We already knew they were one of the worst, if not the worst, teams in baseball. And then the players were trying really hard to avoid that 100-loss stigma – as if they weren’t trying hard before.

Now, almost a year after Theo Epstein came riding into Wrigley on his magic carpet, the glisten has worn off a bit on his big, shiny forehead, and his arm is a little tired from constantly holding the phone up to his ear. Someone get that man a Bluetooth.

He was able to essentially skate by for most of the season as the team collapsed in on itself and the fans took it like champs. It was what Epstein prepared them for – the lowest of low expectations. He did some fancy maneuvering at the trade deadline (though we’ll never really know what happened with the Ryan Dempster trade) which has yet to prove worthwhile. To be clear, I think what we gave up was necessary, but in terms of what we got in return, it’s a waiting game. If it weren’t for Anthony Rizzo, Epstein would be pretty screwed.

And what do fans have to look forward to? Ah yes, another season quite similar to this past one. But if Epstein expects the fans to just stick around because it’s their beloved Cubs, he’s sorely mistaken. He’s going to have to have something to show for all this time, or the Cubs can kiss their attendance goodbye.

2014 was a year that was thrown around for a possible contending Cubs team – well, it’s going to be here before Epstein knows it, and if things don’t change by then, he’s going to have a lot more people waiting outside his house than he’s used to.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been a The-liever (yeah, I know, terrible) from the start, and I still really do the-lieve that he can turn this club around. But fans have to remember that this guy is also a politician, and I’m sure he’s not averse to telling people what they want to hear.

According to the Chicago Tribune, he told reporters Thursday that ticket prices reflect the value of the Wrigley Field atmosphere, and that ultimately fans will be rewarded with a championship. So, let’s say a typical family on a budget goes to a game once a year. The Cubs lose. They spend $50+ on food and drinks. And when the time comes, they will be watching the World Series games on TV just like everyone else. The ‘value’ is that the Cubs will win – but isn’t that what they’re supposed to do anyway? Should every sports team charge at least $100 a ticket because they could eventually win a championship? And god forbid, what if the Cubs don’t win? Will all those people get their money back? So many questions, yet so little answers.

On the field, the task of filling the team’s voids seem daunting, especially on the mound. Matt Garza will likely be traded when he’s healthy, and the only other possible championship-caliber pitcher the Cubs have is Jeff Samardzija, though even that is a huge question mark. If the Cubs don’t acquire some decent young pitchers this offseason, which is their biggest need, there’s going to be a big problem.

After the worst season in recent memory, there’s more pressure than ever to right the ship, and with Epstein at the helm, the team should fare much better in the future. But talk is cheap, and Cubs fans, while outwardly patient and optimistic, are deep down quite restless. Let’s just say this offseason will tell a more potent story than the 2012 season ever did.

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