After a slow start, when hiring a new manger was the main focus, the Theo Epstein braintrust has kicked into high gear recently. The Zambrano trade received the most notice, but the turnover has affected the starting rotation, the bullpen, the outfield and the corner positions of the infield. No player seems to be off limits other than Starlin Castro and perhaps Geovany Soto, but Castro now has a different type of distraction to deal with.
The dizzying rate of moves being made is something that Cubs fans aren’t used to, and I think I understand why. To make this point, I’m going to use an analogy of an old house. When the Cubs were Jim Hendry’s house, he was forever remodeling different rooms, with the expectation that bringing in a Milton Bradley or a Nomar Garciaparra or a Matt Garza was all it took to put the Cubs into championship contention.
But Epstein’s approach has been something closer to a gut rehab of the organization. By stripping the team down to its bare walls, so to speak, the team can be remade with younger, less expensive players. Players like Anthony Rizzo and Ian Stewart and Travis Wood are becoming the new normal, and higher-priced veterans like Zambrano are becoming a thing of the past.
Aramis Ramirez may have seen the writing on the wall when he left for Milwaukee, and Ryan Dempster should start thinking about life after the Cubs, if not at the trading deadline, then certainly after this final year of his contract is up.
Jim Hendry’s incessant remodeling of the team didn’t bear fruit, and Theo Epstein has realized–correctly–that the only way to move to the next level is to start all over. It will be messy, and the winning won’t happen as quickly as we want it to, but I’ll take these new Chicago Guts over what we’ve had for the past few seasons.