From what I can see, after trawling the Internet in the early hours of this Wednesday morning, Jon Lester, former Red Sox and former Oakland pitcher, has not so far publicly commented on his decision to choose the Chicago Cubs as his next place of business. This is written in the hope that when he does comment, publicly, that he does not insult the intelligence of the Boston fans that wanted him to come back to Fenway so badly.
If Lester says he wanted the extra $20 million in cash, I would be cool with that. If Lester says he wanted out of Boston thanks to the crushing local media, I would understand and be cool with that also. If Lester says he wants to simply try something new, again, I would be cool as a cucumber with that.
My problem will be if Lester uses the word, or any variation of the word, ‘contend’ when he speaks to the masses for the first time on this.
The Cubs are a lovely, warm, cosy old team and their stadium is a national treasure, sure. However recently they have been absolutely pathetic in terms of results. Their last winning season was 5 years ago, in 2009. Since then they have won 346 games and lost 464. As recently as 2012 they lost 101 games. 101 losses! They are, frankly, a bad baseball team. Now, sure, they are building, and looking to contend and all that jazz. However a reasonable, relatively intelligent estimate on their first real push through the playoffs would have to be 2-3 years from now. Lester will be 34 years old. That’s just getting there. Winning the Series? That has to be 5 years away, surely. Lester would be 36 years old.
That’s assuming their rebuild goes well. What if it doesn’t? American professional sports teams seem to think that rebuilding is a given, that they will come out on the other end smelling of roses. What if the young guys don’t work out and the free agents are a bust? Even if Lester pitches his backside off, it could all be for naught.
I thought Jayson Stark made a great point on ESPN when he said;
A day like this doesn't help Javier Baez make more contact, of course. A day like this doesn't turn Addison Russell or Kris Bryant or Jorge Soler into instant stars. All that was always going to take time. And it still will.
Contending? Unless Lester plans on starting 2-3 days a week, and adding in some much needed power slugging also, then the Cubs are still a long way from contending.
With all due respect to the charming city of Chicago, the Cubs, right now, stink, and it will take a hell of a lot of rebuilding to get it right. If Lester actually wants to be part of a rebuilding project, well, good for him so. Just don’t tell us you want to contend, when the team you just joined has lost 464 games in the last 5 seasons combined.
Please, Jon, do not use the word ‘contend’ when you eventually speak to us all. It would be less of an insult to our intelligence if you just said;
‘’Yeah, Chicago offered me a couple of extra million, now I’m gonna go look up who does the best fried chicken in Chicago, and then go shoot a few deer.’