With the Theo Epstein compensation saga finally about done, it is time to evaluate where the Cubs are now vs. where they were prior to Epsteins hiring.
First, and foremost they have tremendous stability in their front office after spending the 2011 season with then-GM Jim Hendrys job status in doubt.
Adding Epstein as well as Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod gives the Cubs a talented triumvirate that has a proven track record of success and should translate to major improvement for the Cubs.
A look at the major league team at the start of spring training is most definitely a cause for concern when you factor in the departures of some of the teams best offensive players from 2011 in Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Pena.
However, when you factor in the lackadaisical approach that Ramirez played with and Penas substandard numbers in certain key offensive categories (.175 average with runners in scoring position and .133 against left handed pitchers) you realize that the Cubs may not have lost as much as some people might want to believe.
The 2012 Cubs are a long way from being a contending team. However, they do have improved starting pitching depth, should be a better defensive team and are starting to incorporate younger players into the mix, which should help the rebuilding process.
They have several big question marks, starting with Alfonso Soriano in left field, Ian Stewart at third base and Bryan LaHair at first base. Can those three put up decent numbers?
How about the closers role? Is Carlos Marmol going to be the dominant force that he was prior to 2011? Or will he be the pitcher who imploded last season when he put up a 5.00 ERA in the second half of a 91-loss season?
In addition, the Cubs' minor league system is better than it was a year ago. With the addition of a heralded 2011 draft class, several prospects obtained in trades -- including touted first baseman Anthony Rizzo who came over from San Diego in the Andrew Cashner deal -- and a revamped scouting department, good times could be ahead on the North side.
No matter how the 2012 season turns out, the Cubs have a much brighter future than they had a year ago at this time when they were hoping that underperforming veterans would play back to form and that they would catch lightning in a bottle with a very suspect starting rotation.
While no one is predicting greatness this season, most around the club believe that they will see a better result through improved efforts, improved defense and an infusion of optimism throughout the organization.
So when you look at what the Cubs gave up for Epstein, it really doesnt matter how Chris Carpenter performs in Boston. He is a talented reliever with an injury history and should he go to Beantown and become an All-Star it will still be a small price to pay for a front office team that is among baseballs best and have been charged with the mission of ending a 104-year period of losing.
Should Theo Epstein and Co. win a World Series on the North Side of Chicago it wont matter if Chris Carpenter wins the Cy Young Award. Everyone in Cubs Nation will be too busy wiping champagne from their eyes to notice.