After 101 losses, next year can’t come soon enough for Cubs

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012 9:57 a.m. CDT

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CHICAGO (MCT) — The Chicago Cubs sent out e-mails to season ticket holders Tuesday informing them a 10 percent payment on next year’s seats is due by Nov. 12.

But because teams can’t sign free agents until six days after the end of the World Series, the makeup of the 2013 team probably won’t be known until well after fans make their decision on whether to renew.

Blind faith in the Cubs is not exactly a new phenomenon, but trying to sell 2013 based on this year’s 60-101 performance will be a challenge for the players, front office and marketing department alike.

Before Tuesday’s 3-0 loss to the Astros, manager Dale Sveum was asked how the Cubs will convince fans to come back for the next step of the rebuild.

“The one thing we have going for us is we’re playing for the Chicago Cubs, and fans do come out even in tough times,” Sveum said. “Obviously it’s all of our jobs to put a product on the field next year that’s competitive, that’s winning. The one good thing is we were pretty close to .500 at home (37-43 after Tuesday’s loss). The road record (23-58) was a whole other entity.”

Sveum said they needed the young players to improve, adding “as much as anything, it’s very, very important for us to get off to a good start next year.”

The season mercifully ends Wednesday, and the Cubs immediately will begin looking ahead. Sveum met with his pitchers before Tuesday’s game, and will have meetings with the position players Wednesday morning before the finale.

Quite a few will be wearing a Cubs uniform for the last time, whether they know it or not. One of those may be Chris Volstad, who pitched seven strong innings Tuesday, allowing one earned run. But the Cubs were shut out for the second straight game, giving Volstad no support.

Volstad avoided arbitration last year and signed for $2.65 million, a $2.2 million raise, despite going 5-13 with a 4.89 ERA with the Marlins. He finished at 3-12 with a 6.31 ERA with the Cubs and figures to be a non-tender candidate.

As for Sveum, Cubs President Theo Epstein absolved him of any blame for the 2012 nightmare, saying the manager has been “maintaining as much of a winning culture” as possible. The personnel moves of Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer, who were given carte blanche to dismantle the roster, were mostly at fault.

But in the end, everyone shared in the misery.

“Not many people around here have been through this many losses,” Epstein said. “It serves as motivation. It’s a very stark baseline of where we are and how much improvement we need to make.”

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