Saturday, November 20, 2010

Chris Archer & The Shackles of Hope

Being a Cubs fan is an exercise in futility.  From somewhere deep within, there is hope.  Outside circumstances surrounding the Chicago Cubs may make it so that our hopes are more, or less, noticeable.  During the Jim Hendry Era, we've had reasons for hope.

Think back to the formidable pitching rotation a few years ago with Prior, Wood, Maddux, Clement, and Zambrano.

We had superstar managers.  In Dusty, we trustied.  Then, Sweet Lou showed up to turn the Cubs winners.

The Outfield was always a work in progress, and they kept dumping money on the wrong players.  Alfonso Soriano was a power/speed monster who was supposed to get the team over the hump.  Dreadful.  Kosuke Fukudome was supposed to be a blend of Ichiro and Godzilla.  Nope, not even close.  Milton Bradley was a switch-hitting OPS monster with some character and durability flaws, but man that OPS!  He's a whole other story altogether.  All the while, we had Felix Pie who wound up finally showing some of his promise the past two years in Baltimore.

On the mound, among other things, Jeff Samardzija was supposed to bring his golden dome to the Wrigley Field mound and blow hitters away.  That hasn't happened.

Much like the thoughts of our beloved Chicago Bears, and the empty feelings surrounding their current 7-3 record, we should maintain some hope.  It's tougher with the Cubs, when we see them go for less expensive options at Manager, Pitching Coach, and on the field.  Couldn't the Cubs use Cliff Lee and tell Silva or Wells to get lost, or move to the bullpen, or get better, or something?  What's the use?  The Cubs are keeping payroll level with 2010 spending, although they stunk this year and they're getting revenues from every possible stream surrounding the organization.  It's infuriating.  The Cubs lost one of the best pitching coaches in the game, when Larry Rothschild left for the same position with the New York Yankees.  They could be innovative and let Greg Maddux slide into the position, but they'll probably lose him to Arizona, just as they lost him to Atlanta almost 20 years ago.  What's the word for something that is infuriating even before it happens, but you know it's going to happen, then it happens?  That's what being a Cubs fan has been like since Steve Bartman got his fat fingers in Moises Alou's mitt.

Let's witch gears, Mark McGwire style... I'm not here to talk about the past.

Maybe the Cubs will get better this offseason.

Maybe, just maybe, they'll get Adam Dunn, and he'll be worth the money.  Maybe Kerry Wood will give a good ol' boy discount and come back to pitch with Marmol and Marshall in the 'pen.  Perhaps, some prospects can come up from Iowa and Daytona to help the cause beyond expectations.

Yesterday, the Cubs added a few prospects to their 40-man roster, pitchers Chris Archer, Kyle Smit and Alberto Cabrera and outfielder Brandon Guyer.  Cabrera and Guyer began their pro careers in the Cubs' organization, while Kyle Smit came over from the Dodgers in the Ted Lilly trade.  The Cubs got Archer a couple of years ago, when they traded Mark DeRosa to the Indians.

In short, during Chris Archer's minor league run with the Cubs, he has been terrific.  From this post:
Archer was named the Cubs Minor League Pitcher of the Year after a tremendous 2010 season.

Archer (22 years old, September 26, 1988) posted a 15-3 record in 28 games, 27 starts, with the Daytona Cubs (High Class-A) and the Tennessee Smokies (Double-A). Archer struck out 149 and walked 65 in 142 1/3 innings with a 2.34 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP. Archer was a solid 8-2 in 13 starts after his promotion to the Smokies and posted a 1.80 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP (67 strikeouts and 39 walks) in 70 innings.

Chris Archer is expected to compete for a spot in the Cubs' rotation this spring.
So, there you go fellow Cubs fans, a little offseason hope for the future.  Pay no attention to all the other great prospects that every other Major League team has.  We gotta believe!  It has been said that being a Cubs fan means the best day of your life hasn't happened yet.  We'll see about that.  Still, there are some things we cannot deny.  The shackles of hope won't let us go.  Even if 2011 is already a lost cause, the shackles of hope won't let us go.  There's hope; we maintain hope for that one sweet day.

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