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Cub Tracks stays between the lines

Foul play suspected, we got sole, and other bullets

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The Bryce Harper rumors are alive until they’re dead, apparently. It doesn’t take much squinting to see the opposing narratives with a common conclusion: The Cubs need help.

But there are differences of opinion as to exactly what kinda help. A nebulous cry for federal aid, manna, and a beneficial turn of the karmic wheel? A big bat, big arm, a collection of smaller arms? A whole flock of bats?

The championship window is closing.

The neighborhood is getting gentrified. Competition is good. It’s not best to be the big wheel all of the time.

Theo Epstein has a different view, I’d wager. But he hasn’t revealed his turn at the wheel, he has just offered his spin:

“I understand the desire for a big name every winter. And there will be winters when we do acquire big names and there’s going to be winters when we don’t acquire a big name. I don’t know what category this winter will fall into yet, but there’s a chance that it’s going to be a winter where we don’t acquire a big name from outside the organization. That does not represent failure. We should be judged on the product on the field and we should be judged on the games we win and we should be judged on whether we make the playoffs and we should be judged on how we perform in October.”

The truth is somewhere in between those five convoluted lines. Theo is trying to let people down easy, just in case the Cubs Caravan goes awry. It doesn’t mean that he’s unwilling to improve the team, just that he wants to do the responsible thing.

That’s why Joe Maddon wasn’t extended, I humbly submit. Cubs end up in third, win 90, are out of the playoffs, Joe gets let down easy, doesn’t take all of the blame, but someone’s gotta go. “He didn’t have all of his chosen men, you know. Wasn’t entirely his fault. But we have to move on,” says Theo, in the post-season press conference. “We’ll be looking for the right man,” he continues. “Those are big shoes to fill.”

Meanwhile, in the group behind him, a phone rings. David Ross fishes his out of his pocket and answers. “Size eleven and a half, extra wide,” he says.

Sad about Valbuena. Even sadder that it seems to have been a deliberate action (see below). Here’s today’s Cubs News and Notes. As always * means autoplay on, or annoying ads, or both (directions to remove for Firefox and Chrome).

Food for thought: