[December 04, 2013]CHICAGO
(The Sports Xchange)
— The 2013 season was much like the 2012
season, but without the 100-plus losses. In Year 2 of the rebuilding
plan set forth by team president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed
Hoyer, the Cubs went 66-96.
The team's failures led to the firing of manager Dale Sveum and
the coaching staff the day after the season ended. Sveum became
somewhat of sympathetic figure in Chicago because he was Epstein and
Hoyer's hand-picked manager and they saddled him with two of the
worst rosters in recent team history.
San Diego Padres bench coach Rick Renteria was hired as the Cubs'
new manager on Nov. 7.
Even with the change in manager, 2014 doesn't look much brighter on
the win-loss ledger because money is tight and the team remains
committed to building from within, betting much of its future on a
minor league system that looks well stocked, from the past two
drafts, trades and international signings.
"I don't think we're going to get where we need to be through free
agency for the short term, honestly," Epstein said. "Given the needs
we have and where we are and the likely price tags on the market, I
don't think we're going to have the ability to add, like, multiple
impact pieces in free agency.
"We're going to have to be, we're going to have to take a
multi-dimensional approach to changing things. We're not going to
solve our problems through free agency. It is a very viable and
sometimes attractive way to add power and to be a great
organization. It's not, given our situation on a lot of different
fronts, the cure to our ills."
Those ills center mainly on an offense that hit home runs this year
but had trouble once again getting on base.
"We need to get on base more," Epstein said.
"That's something we need to change."
Two of the Cubs' core offensive players, first baseman Anthony
Rizzo and shortstop Starlin Castro took steps backward this
season. Rizzo did hit 23 home runs and drive in 80, but his
batting average, on-base and slugging numbers all went down. It
will be up to him to adjust next year. Castro seemed to rebound
late in the season after he went back to the aggressive batting
approach that enabled him to pile up 200 hits in 2011 and make
All-Star teams in 2011 and 2012.
The starting pitchers were solid most of the way through. Lefty
Travis Wood reaching the 200-innings mark for the first time, as
did right-hander Jeff Samardzija. Right-hander Edwin Jackson,
however, was a major disappointment. The Cubs likely will add
one veteran, mid-priced starter to the rotation this offseason
to go along with the big three and 2014 candidates Chris Rusin
and Jake Arrieta.
The bullpen turned over almost completely this past year. Over
the winter, the Cubs must decide whether promising youngster
Pedro Strop can close or whether they need to go out and sign a
veteran caretaker, much as they did with Kevin Gregg last April.
Gregg saved 33 games. He could be a candidate to comeback, a
late-season misunderstanding over his role notwithstanding.