I’m a Cubs fan through and through, but this year, more than ever, I’m starting to get White Sox envy. In the 2 team city of Chicago, I’ve always thought the Cubs organization was head and shoulders above the White Sox. Better stadium, more devoted fans, higher payroll, etc. But as we near spring training, I have realized we Cub fans have plenty of reasons to be envious of the White Sox organization.
In 2009 the Cubs payroll was about 135 million (#3 in MLB) and the White Sox payroll was about 95 million (#12 in MLB). Both teams have slightly higher payrolls this year but the Sox talent potential is greater than the Cubs. Seeing the Cubs vs. Sox 2010 projected rosters has led me to have little confidence in the Cubs leadership. Though Hendry has 40 million dollars more to spend than his counterpart Kenny Williams, he has amassed a roster of past-their-prime hitters and a questionable pitching staff. Add to that the Milton Bradley debacle, the almost 50 million dollar Fukudome signing and Aaron Miles’s 2 year contract and Hendy hasn’t had a successful recent past. Kenny Williams has made trades and signings in the past few years that most Cub fans expected Hendry to do. Do you recall the ‘Jake Peavy to the Cubs’ trade that was almost certain before the 2009 season began? Guess what pitching staff he is leading up now. I’ve also heard the Cubs were interested in reliever J.J. Putz this offseason but he ended up on the south side too. Even though the Ricketts are new owners, I’m not willing to give them a pass on some early, questionable decisions. They choose to keep Hendry around going forward and, for some reason, we’re still hearing the name Crane Kenney as Cubs President. He was nothing more than a Tribune lawyer who was suppose to keep an eye on financials relating to the Cubs cash cow and has no reason to still be associated with the team. I suppose he did do some memorable things related to the Cubs… I recall his name as the one who invited the priest to Wrigley before a playoff game to bless the dugout and we see how that worked. I’ll continue to hope that Cubs management and ownership improves but recent failures gives me little hope for future success.
This relates directly to the reason above but I’m jealous of some of talented starting and bench players the Sox have added for 2010. The Cubs return essentially the same team minus Bradley, plus Byrd. Is Marlon Byrd a game changer? He batted .280 with about 20 homeruns last year for the Rangers but don’t forget Bradley’s great 2008 stat line (.320 with about 20 homeruns) when he was in Texas. I wouldn’t expect that again from a 30+ year old hitter who had never hit more than 10 homeruns in his previous 7 seasons. The Cubs have no other significant roster changes except Fontenot’s new 2nd base platoon partner, Jeff Baker. The Sox have added starting pitcher Jake Peavy along with position players Juan Pierre, Alex Rios and Mark Teahen. And a bench of Hoffpauir, Fuld, Blanco and Hill excites me far less than Jones (Andruw), Vizquel, Kotsay and Flowers. Unless our big money players Soriano, Zambrano and Fukudome starting playing up to their paychecks, I don’t have hope for a big jump in wins between 2009 and 2010.
I don’t have many strong arguments for why US Cellular is better than Wrigley and I can’t speak from experience since I’ve never been to the Cell but a modern stadium would have its benefits. The comforts of available parking, better food options, roomy seating and wider concourses don’t sound so negative. I’ve heard of improvements coming to Wrigley in the future years but I’ve heard that in the past as well. I’ll still pick Wrigley over the Cell any day of the week but I’m hoping that new owners equal a refreshed Wrigley Field.