An unceremonious sweep at the hands of the Miami Marlins (!) has Chicago Cub fans worried. A new manager in David Ross was what they wanted and they got more out of him: a division title and good club morale. Then the bats became silent against the Marlins and everything fell apart, which is what happened the last time the Cubs faced the Marlins and that Bartman guy interfered. Now there's a fresh new hell that has risen: where do the Cubs go from here?
Let's start with the elephant in the room: Theo Epstein. Epstein has stated that he wants to stay in Chicago, but there have been some underwhelming moves that have been made. Many Cubs fans have criticized signing Jason Heyward to an eight-year, $184 million contract (although he did deliver a speech in extra innings of Game 7 that won the Cubs their first World Series in 108 years). Heyward has never hit over .270 during his time with the Cubs and the highest OPS he's had in his Cubs career (.848) was in a 60-game season. On top of that, his batting average with the Cubs has been .253, while his OPS has been .721 and his OPS+ has been 90 (well below 114 with the Atlanta Braves). There's also the Jose Quintana trade where Theo gave up Dylan Cease and Eloy Jimenez and the Yu Darvish signing (although that did work for them this season). Theo wants to stay, but will the Ricketts let him stay?
There's also the arbitration situation the Cubs have been facing. Javier Baez is due for an extension and Kris Bryant is always a candidate to be traded. There are others such as Willson Contreras that are in the arbitration mix as well, but there is another factor to worry about here. The Cubs are hovering around the $208 million payroll mark, which is why they were reluctant to spend in the off-season (otherwise, they would've been subjected to a 30% tax for two straight seasons above the luxury tax). The Cubs had to be careful with their spending and will take extra precaution in the next couple years.
The Cubs were supposed to be a team that was destined to become a dynasty. At least, that's what the giddy fanboys at ESPN told us. Unfortunately, everything just slowly fell off after 2016 and hasn't been the same since. There will be some questions the Ricketts family will be faced with in the off-season, starting with the Epstein situation. The Ricketts better not strike out or there won't be many "W" flags raised in the future.
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