Add Lester, Add Optimism In Wrigleyville

Ladies and gentlemen, all of Major League Baseball, heck all of America, the Chicago Cubs have become serious about winning. The young talent that’s up and about to come-up, then out of the Cubbie Blue came the hiring of new manager Joe Maddon. Now arrives Jon Lester.

The three-time all-star and two time World Series winning left-handed pitcher, who elected not to return to the Boston Red Sox in a free-agent tug-of-war, has given fans of Chicago’s north side baseball team a Cubbie Blue Christmas.

That after a half a season in Oakland, only to get to the A.L. Wild Card game and lose.

How hurtful must this be to Red Sox nation, not returning to the ball club that made him famous? Try wanting to become part of something special, a Cubs World Series winner, something that has not happen since folks, 1908 that’s part of why Lester chose the Cubs.

Then again $155 million over six years is another. In fact, it becomes the highest paid contract in Cubs history. And the history has known it share of pain and heartache.

Unfortunately, pitching has become part of that heartache. Greg Maddux had great years in his youth wearing the Cubbie pinstripes in the late 1980s and early 1990s, left to depart to warmer and winning climates in Atlanta after his 1992 Cy Young Award season. Kerry Wood got bit by the injury bug early in his career. After 1998, he had a decent career, but not quite what everyone pictured after his 20 strikeout performance of the Astros. Then there’s Mark Prior, the best college pitcher in 2001 of out of USC, drafted the Cubs at No. 2, had a great 2003 season but shortly after that, well, Prior’s no longer in the majors.

Now enter Lester, the biggest finical piece in Cubs history. The question remains, how will he fair in six years? Who knows, but optimism resides in Wrigleyville.

After all, there’s a manager in place who uses the words “World Series.” That’s something no Cub manager has really used in the past.

There’s optimism in Wrigleyville.

Frank Sprankle

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