When Jim Hendry was fired midseason, Cub fans knew that something big was going to happen. It started with a very successful draft, which outgoing GM Jim Hendry helped put gold stamp on, but it then had it's supernova-like moment when the Cubs cashed in on Boston's implosion and wrestled Theo Epstein(and a few of his guys) from the Red Sox's grasps.
Who wouldn't want Theo as the President of Baseball Operations?
Now add Jed Hoyer, who is quite a great baseball mind and did decent as a GM for himself, and Jason McLeod(great scout of talent)....you've got a trio of guys who will add credibility to your staff and ease the blow of the that dreaded R-word....
Now, to say that the Cubs are rebuilding is an understatement. What they're doing is generally termed as a "utter demolition of old infrastructure" and "complete overhaul". The job of Epstein is to implement long-term success plan for the Cubs, like what he had done in Boston. 2 World Series rings for an also "believed"-to-be "cursed" franchise is a resume' topper, in my honest opinion.
Tom Ricketts gave Theo and Hoyer the keys to the franchise and the right to dump any contract they wanted to, no matter how much money was involved.
Since Epstoyer came into power, the Cubs have acquired Chris Volstad, Ian Stewart, Travis Wood, Anthony Rizzo and 4 prospects while losing Carlos Zambrano(and paying 15 MIL of the 18 MIL owed to him in 2012), Sean Marshall, Tyler Colvin, DJ LaMathieu and a few mediocre prospects.
The Colvin/Stewart trade is a wash to me, the Rizzo is a "win" for the Cubs and the Marshall deal was basically to start the rebuild of a very barren farm system.
However, what an absolutely dumb and possibly damning trade that the Cubs front office made when they succumbed to media and fan's wishes by dealing Carlos Zambrano and 80% of his salary to Miami for the likes of a probable career #5 starter(with #3 upside, if everything goes well) when it is known/believed that Miami had offered a better package with a hitting prospect. Hrm, back-end rotation guy with ~2 years of MLB experience(not success) under his belt or highly-touted and now-blocked 3B prospect(Matt Dominguez) who is easily a better 3B than Ian Stewart now and has more upside than top organization 3B prospect in Josh Vitters.
I get it, Cub fans, Zambrano was never going to play for them again. He is believed to be a clubhouse cancer and was going to never be more than a headache instead of the presumed "ace" that he had was touted to be. However, it's an insanely horrible trade for the fact that you traded a #1 upside pitcher for a horrible SP and you're going to pay for 80% of his 2012 salary....and he's going to be managed by a guy who has wanted to manage him for the last 3 years when he was the manager of the cross-town rivals, the White Sox. Dave Sveum had no connections to Z, but Ozzie & Z are from the same country and have talked before/know of each other. If anyone will be able to harness a hot-head like Zambrano, it'd be a fellow hot-head in Ozzie.
On a side-note, for all the accolades and praise that I give the Cubs for the acquisition of Anthony Rizzo....the Cubs puzzle me when announcing that Rizzo will start 2012 season in AAA Iowa and they will likely start 2011 PCL MVP and Career AAAA-type Bryan LaHair as the Opening Day First Baseman. Everyone knows that the Cubs will suck in 2012, but with the Epstein-proof CBA in place and limiting an insane draft class like the 2011 Cubs had, what is the use of punting the 2012 season and giving LaHair ABs over Rizzo?
Looks like 2012 will be an easy year to get good tickets and watch a game at Wrigley....