The Cubs biggest problem is holding on to the past. Case and point -- Carlos Zambrano.
Zambrano receiving the Sears Player of the Month award, August 2005. Photo By R.H. Levitin
Cubs fans and Cubs management alike have trouble determining when a players time on the team should come to a close. It might be easier to let the past go than to hold on when a 100 year World Series deficit looms over the North Sider's weary heads.
The Cubs beat the Brewers 13-7 Tuesday night but not before removing alleged ace, Zambrano.
There is now talk about the Tribune hoping that Zambrano will waive his no-trade clause, according to Chicago Tribune reporter Patrick Sullivan. And the right-hander wanted nothing to do with the discussion after last night's 5th inning collapse resulting in 39 pitches and his removal from the game.
"I don't care," he said. "If the Cubs want to trade me, it's because they don't like me anymore. I have to move on. What else can I do? I just move on."
Zambrano added he doesn't want to waive his no-trade rights, then left, saying: "That's enough."
Here's the problem -- the Cubs want to win. There are 19 games left and the prospect of the 3-peat playoff stint dwindle with the Colorado Rockies 5.5 games ahead of baseball's lovable losers.
What the Cubs need is a change. They can't hold on to their favorite players with a death grip anymore. They're going to have to learn to let them go when the time has come. This is the lesson that needs to be taken away from the 2009 season -- if a player doesn't live up to his potential it's time to trade him. End of story.
It's the same story every year. "This is the year! The Cubs show great potential! Great rotation, power-hitting line-up, a bullpen with blossoming talent -- potential is the name of the game and the Cubs are ready to play it!"
To hell with potential.
Listen up Jim Hendry -- if you want to win, going all-in on players with potential won't get you a ring. Fans are hungry and yet you continue to screw up even the best player investments. Consider yourself lucky that the fans' tolerance for embarrassment is high. Chicago Tribune reporter Steve Rosenberg claims that the Cubs are the luckiest team in any sport. The proof is all there -- even with the biggest championship drought in the Major Leagues, every game is sold-out.
Does winning even matter anymore? You bet it does. But why do the Cubs keep owning up their lovable loser nickname? Because they overuse talent with potential and set their expectations sky-high.
Remember Mark Prior? Fans, teammates, and management alike were all praying on bended knee for his 2003 season to play on a repeated loop for years to come. That didn't happen and now Prior's career is officially over (although most would say his career ended circa 2005 before being traded to the San Diego Padres for a few year run on their disabled list).
Prior had potential. The Cubs (cough cough, Dusty Baker, cough cough) ran his career into the ground by pushing his pitch count and abusing his once healthy arm, leaving the team without their 2003 All-Star of an ace.
Face it, the Cubs use up their talent until there's nothing left of them. And they wonder why they've been shut out in post season play since game 5 of the 2003 NLCS.
Greed is the best chance for the Cubs survival during October baseball. Spend the money. Cut the costs on players that prove to be a waste of capital. If the Yankees can do it, anyone can.