As much as I love the Cubbies, I'm on the verge of rooting for their 2010 season to be a bust. The way I see it, if they are bad enough by the All-Star Break, the Ricketts and Jim Hendry might be forced to unload whatever veteran talent other teams will take in efforts to reduce payroll and begin looking ahead. This would be a fantastic thing for Cub fans.
First off, I must state that I am a die-hard Cub fan and, no matter what I may write here, I sincerely lust for them to win every game. That being said, my logic tells me that this season may not be a good choice for heavy emotional attachment.
While I expect the team to hover around .500 for the entire season, what about that is beneficial for the team moving forward? My main concern, as a Cub fan, is watching my favorite team win the World Series. Watching essentially the same core group of aging stars battle all season long to finish in second place and miss the playoffs is not what I enjoy, and does nothing to bring the team closer to a championship.
This brings me to the other trends that will likely plague the team for the duration of the remaining 156 games: the bullpen and sporadic offensive production. Even when the Cubs are going to put up runs, the inexperienced bullpen could prove to be the true Achille's heel of the team. We've seen multiple leads blown by the bullpen already, just six games in, and the offense has done little to give those pitchers strong leads to work with.
While it is only six games in, these are issues that can clearly spell disaster for a team. The bright spot of the bullpen is that at least it is a young core of players. My point is that the quality of the pen should only grow as these pitchers become comfortable and confident pitching in the majors. Justin Berg, Esmailin Caridad, and James Russell are all rookies, and Carlos Marmol is entering his first full year as the Cubs outright closer, and don't forget that Jeff Samardzija has not been able to solidify his role in two years with the club. However, the youth of the bullpen suggests it should only get better, and this is why I say perhaps Cub fans should root for the Cubs to lose, and fast.
If the team is out of contention beyond any likely reasoning by the trading deadline, that would mean there is potential for GM Jim Hendry to be forced to move whatever veteran talent and contracts that he can. While we are going to be stuck with Alfonso Soriano likely no matter what for the next four years, perhaps players like Derek Lee, Aramis Ramirez, Carlos Zambrano, Kosuke Fukudome, or Marlon Byrd and Xavier Nady (if they put up decent numbers), can attract some attention from teams in playoff contention.
While I love some of these players as much as the next Cub fan, and it would be sad to see Aramis or Lee leave town, the quickest way to build a team contending for the World Series is by stockpiling young talent. If Jim Henry can acquire young talent for these veterans that will likely not be with the team the next time it is in the playoffs, he must do so.
...But that will never happen if there is even a slight chance that the Cubs could make the 2010 playoffs; not with this payroll. That being said, if we root for the Cubs to be disastrous early on (...and so far so good), Hendry's hands just might be forced and I, for one, would be happy to see the team take the appropriate direction.