By Sam Panayotovich
FOX Sports Betting Analyst
“The Chicago Cubs I have no hope or direction,” PlayUp USA betting manager Rex Beyers told FOX Sports. “They’re not going to win another World Series in my lifetime. I’m pretty sure of that.”
For the second time in 10 years, the Cubs find themselves in the early stages of another grueling organizational rebuild.
A decade after then-Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein exited lineups with the likes of Tony Campana, Steve Clevenger and Bryan LaHair, today’s lineups will include plenty of Zach McKinstry, Rafael Ortega and Frank Schwindel down the home stretch.
You could say none of these cats would start regularly for a contending baseball club, let alone all three. But despite a four billion dollar valuation and ridiculously wealthy ownership, the Cubs aren’t trying to win.
That was clear after current team president Jed Hoyer dumped franchise cornerstones Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Schwarber last summer.
“No team had more turnover from opening day last year to opening day this year than the Cubs,” Chris Bennett, head of sports betting for Circa Sports, told FOX Sports. “They dumped all of their key guys from the World Series, and it looked like they were on a full rebuild. But then they made some moves this offseason like they were trying to compete.”
The Cubs gave Marcus Stroman a three-year, $71 million deal and paid $85 million to sign Japanese star Seiya Suzuki for five years.
And after surprisingly holding off Willson Contreras and Ian Happ at Tuesday’s trade deadline instead of flipping them for more prospects, I’m as perplexed as anyone rooting for the North Siders.
“They’re in a weird place, and it’s hard to figure out what they’re doing,” Bennett admitted. “They need to acquire more young talent because they still have a long way to go to be in contention again.”
Bennett estimated the Cubs could open up 200-1 to win next year’s World Series when Circa opens the future book of 2023. It’s impossible to know exactly what the odds will be at this time, but the three numbers are more than accurate.
After decades of punters traveling to Las Vegas to secure the Cubs’ future tickets in hopes that the team will finally break the curse of the goat, they are just another team on the board in the eyes of many.
“We don’t see a flood of public money on the Cubs to win the World Series anymore,” Bennett said. “Before, there were a lot of recreational games, whether good or bad, but that hasn’t been the case lately.”
Epstein’s Cubs were exceptional at developing position pitchers and acquiring pitchers from other locations. They masterfully paired interns Baez, Bryant, Rizzo and Schwarber with Jon Lester and John Lackey in free agency and Jake Arrieta, Kyle Hendricks and Aroldis Chapman via trades. The signings of Dexter Fowler, Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist also helped.
That 2016 Cubs team was the perfect storm that culminated in the franchise’s first championship in 108 years, but they didn’t return despite Epstein’s promise of lasting success.
And it’s hard to be that optimistic with Hoyer in the big chair, given all the mixed messages and convoluted roster changes since he treated Chicago’s four World Series legends just over 100 years ago. 12 months.
“If you were to offer me a significant sum of money, say $5 million, in exchange for an instant death after the Cubs’ upcoming World Series Finals, I would accept that deal immediately,” Beyers concluded.
Sam Panayotovich is a sports betting analyst for FOX Sports and NESN. He previously worked for WGN Radio, NBC Sports and VSiN. He will probably choose against your favorite team. Follow him on Twitter @spshoot.
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