Hopes were high at the beginning of the season that the Chicago Cubs would do better than the previous season, however, at the end of the season, fans walked away disenchanted and disgusted with the team, players, coaches and management. President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein and General Manager Jed Hoyer were trying to build the farm system, they totally forgot about the parent team.
So what were the highlights of this past year for the Cubs? There weren’t many. Some of the biggest stories took place off the field.
Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts spent the bulk of the season arguing with the rooftop club owners over signage and a proposed Jumbotron. Ricketts had mockups that were put in place to show the rooftop owners whether their views would be blocked. He did this with where he’d like to see the Jumbotron and where he would like a see-through sign in right field. It appeared that no matter what Ricketts did, the rooftop owners were unhappy. Yes, they did come up with some suggestions of their own, that would be to their benefit, but those options were discredited by Cubs management. In the end, Ricketts said no construction would take place until he had assurances from the rooftop owners that they would not sue him or the team. To date, there have been no assurances, though Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has told the Cubs to start construction.
Crowds showed their displeasure by not coming to the ballpark. Many seats went unused, and many people ate their tickets when they could not sell them. According to an article in Crain’s Chicago Business, this past season the Cubs saw their lowest attendance since 1998. This was also noted by Al Yellon on Bleed Cubbie Blue. While much of the lower attendance can be attributed to the team not playing well, management was charging exorbitant prices for a minor league, or even some said expansion team.
Winter came and for the first time in four years, there was no Rink at Wrigley for skaters to ice skate. Many thought this was a sign that construction may start on what is called the Triangle Building, so far there has been no sign of construction on that piece of land.
On the player side, Epstein and Hoyer did their best to bolster the minor leagues, thus not paying enough attention to the parent club. Epstein even admitted to making mistakes in the rebuilding process. To their credit, they ended up signing Kris Bryant, who may be on the fast track to the majors. Bryant played in the Arizona Fall League and was named the AFL Most Valuable Player.
The Cubs did make a few major trades during the season, dealing Matt Garza to the Texas Rangers, Alfonso Soriano to the New York Yankees, Scott Feldman to the Baltimore Orioles and Carlos Marmol to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Even fan favorite David DeJesus was traded to the Washington Nationals while the Nats were in Chicago.
At the end of the season, the Cubs made a bold, yet necessary move by firing Manager Dale Sveum after two years. It took a little while, but they finally signed Rick Renteria. Fans can only hope under Renteria that they will see improvement on the field beginning in April.