The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Here are my predictions for the future of the Cubs:
With a new manager, first baseman, bullpen and the addition of Matt Garza to the rotation, the Cubs start hot out of the gate. Despite their typical "June Swoon", they remain only 5 games behind the Cardinals and Reds for the division lead at the All Star Break. Jim Hendry, in an effort to boost the sagging offense, trades Brett Jackson, Blake DeWitt and Casey Coleman to the Diamondbacks for Kelly Johnson. The move fails as the Cubs finish 4th, with a 75-87 record, 20 games back of the Reds for first and also behind the Cardinals and the surprising Pirates. Kelly Johnson becomes a free agent after the season, despite numerous extension offers from the Cubs, saying that Cub fans are racist against whites and too hung-up on trying to win a World Series to have fun at the ballpark.
With money to burn, Jim Hendry goes on another spending spree in the offseason, signing Prince Fielder to a 10-year/$250 million contract, Brandon Phillips to a 6-year/$90 million contract and Wandy Rodriguez to an 8-year/$140 million contract. Mike Quade immediately anoints Phillips (and his career .316 OBP) as the Cubs new leadoff hitter, saying he is the next Alfonso Soriano.
With a revamped lineup and a rotation featuring Matt Garza, Wandy Rodriguez, Andrew Cashner, Trey McNutt and Jeff Samardzija (yes, that Jeff Samardzija), the Cubs run away with the NL Central, winning 100 games and leading the league in ERA. Tom Ricketts signs Jim Hendry to a 5 year extension mid-season, only to see the Cubs lose in the first round to the Wild Card Florida Marlins.
After another early exit from the playoffs, Cubs Manager Mike Quade says that the Cubs are too lefty oriented and need a right handed power hitter in the middle of the lineup. Jim Hendry promptly signs free agent Mark Reynolds, who led the AL with 250 strikeouts in 125 games, to a 3-year/$45 million contract.
Despite deteriorating numbers and decreased velocity, Hendry also signs Matt Garza to a 5-year/$100 million extension.
After striking out for the 100th time with a runner on third and only one out, Cubs fans boo Mark Reynolds mercilessly. After the game, Reynolds tells reporters, "Cubs fan don't understand baseball. A strikeout doesn't hurt the team. At least I'm not hitting into a double play". Reynolds is traded in the offseason for a box of Special K's with the Cubs' agreeing to pay all of Reynolds' remaining salary.
Despite a winning season, the aging Cubs fail to make the playoffs.
After Prince Fielder reports to Spring Training weighing 300 lbs and starts the season hitting only .150 in April, Cubs Manager Mike Quade decides to make Fielder the Cubs' DH. Fielder isn't happy with the move, but says he will do what is best for the team.
Weighed down by bloated contracts for under performing players (Garza, Fielder and Phillips) and the departed Reynolds, the Cubs fail to produce a winning record for the first time in 3 years, falling to 65-97 and 5th place.
Hendry, with no payroll room to make any significant moves in the offseason, decides that he needs another starting pitcher (despite having 8 viable starters on the roster) and trades Minor League Player of the Year, Reggie Golden, and Minor League Pitcher of the Year, Hayden Simpson and three other prospects for Dan Hudson.