“Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning to do afterward.” – Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
“Once you can smell some of the shit, you start smelling all of the shit. Ain’t no two ways about it, son.” – My Dad
What is going on with the Cubs? Where is this train headed and will it stop before the wreckage is too much to overcome?
I was just getting ready to go to bed when I caught news that hit me like a rogue meteor. If you haven’t heard yet, Len Kasper is leaving the Cubs to join the White Sox as their radio play-by-play announcer, and here’s how I found out.
JUST IN: A source confirmed that Cubs TV voice Len Kasper is leaving to fill the vacant play-by-play spot in the White Sox’ radio booth. Kasper, who has been with the Cubs for 16 years, will join analyst Darrin Jackson on the Sox’ new home, ESPN 1000. https://t.co/UsVibd3udY
— Chicago Sun-Times (@Suntimes) December 4, 2020
Initial reports are that longtime ESPN and Fox Sports broadcaster Chris Myers will replace Kasper on the Cubs broadcasts a year after being brought in as a part-time studio host for Marquee. As I have been awfully cynical in recent weeks, I’ll bet that this move started within the Cubs organization, probably even last year. And though not a player, the news about Kasper is just another hot poker to the backsides of the team’s fans.
At any rate, it segues nicely into my intended topic. In light of everything that’s happened since the end of the season, including the Theo Epstein resignation, the massive layoffs, the decision to non-tender Kyle Schwarber, and now the news about Kasper, I think we can all dismiss any hope that Jon Lester will pitch as a member of the Cubs in 2021.
Forget about it, it’s not happening and it shouldn’t anyway. The Cubs aren’t going to pay Lester market value and it sure feels in an almost foreboding sense that Hoyer is about to tear this whole thing down. If you want to see Lester pitch in Chicago, start hoping he follows Kasper to the White Sox. That may actually be the best thing for Lester at this point, especially after Drew Smyly signed with the Braves for $11 million on a one-year deal. Go get that money, Big Jon.
When Schwarber was first made a free agent, I thought that maybe the $10 million buyout Lester received cost the big-swinging outfielder his job. Makes sense, right? But I think Hoyer is about to pull off the reckoning that Epstein never could, and in biblical proportions no less. I actually have a gut feeling that more devastating player moves are coming, possibly within the next week or two.
When Epstein resigned, he said the Cubs were facing “a number of decisions this winter that carry long-term consequences.” He didn’t say a few, or some, or a couple, he specifically said “a number,” which means more than a few. That could mean a decent amount of earth-shattering, paradigm-shifting, fan-unfriendly actions with long-term consequences that may leave some of us overly hostile. When you consider Epstein was still president of baseball operations when the team announced all those layoffs, it’s frightening to think Hoyer could engineer something even more demoralizing to fans than that.
As you’ve seen over the last two days, it’s already started.
But back to Lester. Even if the hemorrhaging is over and Hoyer has a plan to retool the Cubs and fight in the NL Central, Lester does them no good. Remember, Cubs starters pitched to about a third of their normal workload this year. Guys like Kyle Hendricks and Alec Mills should be okay, but Yu Darvish could be taxed by the end of July and the team’s fourth starter right now is Adbert Alzolay, who has pitched a total of 103 professional innings over the last two seasons. The last thing David Ross needs is a fifth starter who goes five and out with nary a clean inning on a regular basis.
Hoyer is smart enough to know he needs rotation depth and a strong bullpen, and I’m sure he realizes that between Chicago and Iowa he’ll have to have starting pitching that goes 8-10 deep. Budget restrictions mean he’ll have to acquire those guys mainly on split deals. The new president of baseball operations is not going to give Lester $5-6 million or more just so Cubs fans can give him a standing ovation and a goodbye kiss come September.
As for Lester, why would he want to come to a franchise that looks to be ready to rip out all of the floorboards and tear down the walls? He should go to a team like the Braves or White Sox, where his deficiencies will be easier to mask, he can be an authoritative influence on a younger staff, and possibly get one more ring before walking off into the sunset with his 12’er of Bud Light.
Cubs News & Notes
I’m just going to skip this section today. We all have plenty to process and are suffering from bruised feelings that need interminable attention. That said, I guarantee someone will applaud the loss of Kasper in the comments section, and if not here, certainly on Facebook.
Odds & Sods
Brad Robinson with some spot on satire, ladies and gentlemen.
Me in 2025: "Son, gather 'round and hear tales of when Chicago was a Cubs town more than a White Sox town."
My kid in 2025: pic.twitter.com/uZJubNpSB5
— Brad Robinson (@bradrobinson8) December 4, 2020
Apropos of Nothing
I suppose the year that the Cubs Convention has been canceled as a large social gathering is the best year to turn your team into the ultimate fixer-upper. Maybe someone should start a show called ‘Sports Franchise Rescue’ and start filming over at Clark & Addison. Perhaps the Cubs will unveil new uniforms with horizontal stripes, like old-timey prisoners used to wear. Thank you, Tom Ricketts, and Merry Christmas!
The Staten Island Yankees announced that the organization is ceasing operations and has filed a lawsuit against its former parent club and another against Major League Baseball.
Four key offseason decisions could determine the fate of the Bronx Bombers.
Because there were so many non-tenders, the Blue Jays, who plan to be aggressive in free agency, could find themselves kings of a strong buyer’s market.
Sliding Into Home
“Music is everybody’s business. It’s only the publishers who think people own it.” – John Lennon
Thank God it’s Friday because I’m on 22 hours of no sleep and I’m trying to slash my personal budget like I’m a junior Ricketts. January 1 is getting closer every day, which means meeting another deductible for medical expenses. That sniffling you heard overnight was me agonizing about selling my vinyl album collection. 2020 sucked, and 2021 won’t start off on the happy note many of us are hoping it will.
Remember when Marquee was supposed to be a game-changer for the Cubs and allow Crane Kenney to walk into Epstein’s office with wheelbarrows full of cash? Those were some exciting times. I think we all fully understand why Theo bolted now.
— Madeline Kenney (@madkenney) January 18, 2020
They Said It
- “Chicago…from being drafted, to playoffs 5 out of 6 years, to being a World Series champion! I want to thank all the fans for the overwhelming support these past 7 years of being in the organization. It never got old running out into left and being able to give you guys a salute. It really is different at Wrigley. It was an absolute pleasure to go out tere everyday and grind with the fellas for you guys, and I’m forever grateful for my teammates, coaches, staff, and the fans. Thank you again from the bottom of my heart! Until we meet again.” – Kyle Schwarber
Friday Walk Up Song
Happy Xmas (War is Over) by John Lennon & Yoko Ono – Probably the most appropriate song this holiday season.