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Cubs Season Recap

By Chuck Sudo in News on Oct 8, 2010 6:00PM

As written her earlier in the week, the Streak is now 102 years and counting for the Cubs. With the Ricketts family finally in control of the team and a marketing campaign geared toward the notion that the new ownership wanted nothing more than a title, the Cubs instead went out and had one of their more disappointing seasons in recent memory.

One can't blame Tom Ricketts and his family for inheriting a team filled with aging, underperforming veterans with back loaded contracts. One can question why Ricketts still has faith that the General Manager who doled out those contracts like TARP funds to mega banks, Jim Hendry, is the one to right the ship. Hendry's future is but one of many storylines to watch next season.

As much coverage as was given to the Ozzie Guillen-Kenny Williams feud (almost exclusively promoted by Sun-Times White Sox beat writer Joe Cowley, who wrote at times as though he had his own agenda against Williams) the level of dysfunction on the North Side was obvious and layered. Lou Piniella seemed distracted for much of the season before abruptly retiring in late August to be near his ailing mother. Carlos Zambrano entered the season more fit than he looked in years, but also lost his velocity the first month of the season, prompting Piniella to move Big Z to the bullpen. Then the old Carlos returned during the first half of the Crosstown Classic, when he cursed out everyone within earshot, including respected first baseman Derrek Lee; a tirade that was caught on camera. Zambrano was suspended and ordered to attend anger management courses before returning to the team and getting his groove back. Zambrano finished the season with an 11-6 record and seemed to regain both his fastball and confidence. Veterans such Lee and Aramis Ramirez were either injured or could never get untracked. Lee was eventually traded to the Atlanta Braves, while Ramirez has already said he plans on exercising his option for 2011.

There were glimmers of hope. Mike Quade, taking over as manager after Piniella's retirement, guided the 24-13 record as the Cubs played spoilers the last month of the season. Rookie Starlin Castro had a solid season after being called up in may. Fellow rookie pitcher Andrew Cashman has a decent year and Tyler Colvin simply produced when he played. (Colvin being pierced in the chest by a broken bat was one of the more freaky and frightening sights of the season). Free agent signing Marlon Byrd solidified center field and catcher Geovany Soto rebounded from a terrible 2009 before ending the season on the DL.

Hendry's first decision in the offseason will be the most important one - filling the manager slot. Quade earned a look at the permanent chair with the way the team rallied around him after Piniella left. But fans fueled by nostalgia — are there any other kind? — will be begging that Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg be given a chance to manage the Cubs. Sandberg's put in the time managing in the minors at every level with success and, if he isn't given the chance to come up to the main club, will have his opportunities elsewhere.. It's also uncertain if Yankees manager Joe Girardi will want to stay in the Bronx, even if the Yankees repeat as World Series champs, or if he'll simply use his uncertain future to leverage a more secure contract with New York.