Chicago Cubs: Ricketts have destroyed potential dynasty

Chicago Cubs (Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports)
Chicago Cubs (Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Chicago Cubs have only won one playoff series since their 2016 World Series. But it shouldn’t have happened like this.

For the third year in a row, the Chicago Cubs failed to make it past the first round of the playoffs while fielding essentially the same core of issues for the fourth season in a row.

The bullpen has been atrocious since the Obama administration, the hitting depth has been nonexistent and the superstars have been inconsistent at best.

With the exception of the Nick Castellanos acquisition, the Cubs have failed to make any attempt to improve the roster and make another championship run.

It’s worth noting that the Jose Quintana trade was certainly a solid trade at the time but has failed to pan out due to Quintana’s health issues and mound struggles.

After their World Series run in 2016, the Cubs have struggled to win many postseason games. In 2017, the Cubs scored only eight runs in the first four games of the NLDS, followed by just eight runs in the entire five games of the NLCS.

They then followed up in 2018 with a September collapse that saw them hand the division to the Milwaukee Brewers, lose the NL Wild Card Game to the Colorado Rockies by scoring just one run, and then failed to even make the postseason in 2019.

It was the same story in 2020, as the Cubs bowed out of the NL Wild Card Series in a two-game sweep to the 31-29 Miami Marlins in which the Cubs scored just one measly run.

How fitting that the 2020 season ended with a Jason Heyward double followed by three straight strikeouts after a gem from Yu Darvish in which the Cubs failed to score one run.

On Saturday, David Kaplan reported that Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein and owner Tom Ricketts would be meeting to discuss Theo’s exit from the team, saying that sources indicate that he could be departing the front office despite being under contract for 2021.

If that situation proves true, it’s not the first time that Theo has voluntarily left a team seemingly as a result of a struggle with ownership. His strained relationship with Larry Lucchino in Boston is well-documented, and the way that the Cubs front office has failed to make any significant adjustments to the roster in years indicates that the situation is the same in Chicago.

How many times have we heard Tom Ricketts claim that they can’t make any major moves to the roster because they’re “out of money?”

Sir, you bought the Cubs for $900 million in 2009 and they’re now worth $3.2 billion. You HAVE the money, you just refuse to spend it. And that’s not fair to both the players or the fans.

When the Ricketts assumed ownership of the Cubs, they almost immediately brought in front office guru Theo Epstein to help build a championship contender. Theo did a spectacular job of constructing a young core of players that was sure to contend for at least half a decade.

It culminated in the best moment in Cubs history in 2016, but it’s been a stagnant team since then.

This should have been a team that should have had at least one other championship run. Sure, maybe they don’t win another championship. That’s not how sports always go. But to fail to even make it out of the first round after 2017 is simply inexcusable, and that’s on the Ricketts.

It’s also important to stress that this isn’t an indictment of the current team. Players struggle, and changes need to be made year in and year out if a team wants to continue to contend. Most players on the roster for the past four years could have contributed to another World Series title (or at least a run at it), they just needed a little support from the front office..

They received none. Hardly any major trades, complete neglect to the bullpen, and very little financial navigation of the payroll to bring in solid contributors and find ways to spend money correctly.

Again, the Cubs have money to spend. They just need to do it strategically.

This Cubs core of players should not have been a one-and-done team, but we’re about a season away from that being a reality. Some could argue that we’re already there, though that’s not fair to say that they couldn’t still make another run in 2021 before the core is inevitably broken up due to actual financial limitations.

Cubs fans have endured some brutal heartbreak in the past four years, and the Ricketts have contributed to a lot of that disappointment. No, it’s not fair to pin it all on them, as there’s no doubt that there is a wide range of issues.

But many shortcomings that have happened after 2016 are largely the result of a failure of the ownership.

To give the Ricketts credit, the fact alone that they brought a championship to the North Side is something that fans should be eternally grateful for, regardless of how this unfolds in the coming seasons. They deserve every bit of respect and gratitude for that championship and the fact that we have now had six straight years of relevant baseball.

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But the Ricketts also owe it to this core of players to give them one final year of contention, even if it means sacrificing a player or two from the core to make that happen.

Please, Tom and company. Give this chance one more serious run at a World Series.

It may be the last one for quite some time.