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While Cubs stay patient, fans left paying price for 4-12 team

Geovany Sotags out Jay Bruce who tried score from third fielder’s choice fifth inning. The Cubs lost Reds 4-3. |

Geovany Soto tags out Jay Bruce, who tried to score from third on a fielder’s choice in the fifth inning. The Cubs lost to the Reds 4-3. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: May 24, 2012 8:29AM



HGTV makes it look so simple.

A wreck of a home, a few burly Canadian guys with sledgehammers, and in less than 30 minutes, minus a few commercials, there stands a new three-bedroom dream house, perfect landscaping and all. Everything goes so smoothly.

The reality of a complete teardown and rebuild?

Broken pipes, workers knee-deep in sewer waste, deteriorating support beams and then, of course, hidden costs around every corner for the consumer to pay. Basically, the equivalent of what’s going on at the construction site located at 1060 W. Addison.

It’s slow, it’s painful and progress is hard to measure, considering it’s one small board thrown up at a time.

Then add to it the latest worker to have his hard hat taken away and be escorted off the Wrigley Field job site, outfielder Marlon Byrd. He of the three hits in 13 games and
$6.5 million. While the trade to Boston on Saturday night didn’t help the payroll much (the Cubs likely will eat a good amount), it did seemingly open up another spot.

It allowed promising outfielder Brett Jackson to move one step closer to the North Side. Why not let him jump there now? Because besides being the Cubs’ president of baseball operations, Theo Epstein is the architect. There is a detailed blueprint, and it will be followed to a T. No steps skipped, no exceptions.

“It’s just the plan that we want to stick with,’’ manager Dale Sveum said of keeping Jackson with Class AAA Iowa. “He still needs to develop.

“The development part is big for everybody, and I think until you get those 500 at-bats in Triple-A, that’s something I think the organization and Theo wants to impress on our young guys, [that] you’re going to stay and play and develop.’’

But while sending that message to the players, the club is sending a message to the fans who are shelling out a pretty penny to sit at the Friendly Confines: You’re going to stay and pay and hope this works.

Forget just asking for a leap of faith. This is a leap of your finances for one of the higher ticket prices in all of baseball. The return so far? Frustration over a 4-12 start after a 4-3 loss to the Reds with the knowledge there is talent on the farm.

“I don’t think you get impatient,’’ Sveum said Sunday when asked if he was growing antsy with the process. “I think sometimes we rush kids too quick, and it’s not for anybody’s benefit. We’ve all been part of when kids have been rushed and they have done really well but it doesn’t happen very often. It’s very few times that happens until guys get their 2,000, 2,500 at-bats in the minor leagues and they really start developing.’’

That’s why if owner Tom Ricketts had any compassion for a fan base that needs a hug, he would drop the ticket prices for the rest of the season to at least come closer to matching the talent on the field.

You think it’s bad now? What happens come July if Epstein is able to move Matt Garza or a Ryan Dempster?

“We’ve got a little bit of a road ahead of us,’’ Dempster said. “The season hasn’t gotten off like we’ve wanted it to get off, but that can change real fast.’’

Yeah, it could get worse.

Look, we all knew this season would be ugly, but actually watching it play out daily might be a punch in the head that even the sturdiest of Cubs fans weren’t prepared for.

This is what a rebuild looks like. Thirty minutes? Yeah, right. Even HGTV couldn’t pretty this one up.



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