Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Are The Chicago Cubs Putting Too Many Eggs In The Prospect Basket?

As it stands right now, the Chicago Cubs appear to throw a third consecutive season away before it even gets started. Despite a hope that the team would reach a level of some kind of respectability, perhaps somewhere in the neighborhood of .500, they’ve done virtually nothing to improve a team that finished at the bottom of the National League Central in 2013.

Not that that’s anything other than what was expected. The first two years of the rebuild saw the Cubs sell off whatever assets they had on their big league club in exchange for longer term assets, as they built up one of the worst farm systems in baseball and turned it into one of the best, all in a matter of two years. But it looks as if a third year is going to be necessary before this team is ready to start actually adding Major League pieces to its roster.

Is that the right move for the Cubs? That’s a point of contention among some writers and fans. Some folks feel that the Cubs should have gone out and added a name like Jacoby Ellsbury or maybe pursue Shin-Soo Choo, all while examining a trade for someone like David Price. Anything to speed up the timeline. But Theo EpsteinJed Hoyer, and Co. appear content to wait it out and see what they have with some of these kids currently in the system.

To a point, you could understand that. The Cubs have some incredible offensive talent waiting down in the minors, in addition to some underrated pitching. In fact, the Cubs have enough offensive talent that it’s difficult to determine just what their lineup may look like by 2015, when they are ready to turn the corner. There are questions. Does Javier Baez supplant Starlin Castro as the team’s starting shortstop, or does one of them change positions? Can Mike Olt succeed at third, forcing Kris Bryant to the outfield? Did the Cubs get the short end of the stick in regard to the recent influx of Cuban prospects in Jorge Soler?

Between Baez, Bryant, Soler, and Albert Almora, the Cubs have quite the group of position players in the minor league ranks. That’s not to mention the others they have, like Arismendy Alcantara or Christian Villanueva. There’s a lot to work with. However, one can’t help but wonder if they’re putting too much pressure on their young guys when they arrive to the Major Leagues.

Prospects are already going to be facing the daunting task of helping a team that hasn’t won a World Series in over a century, and has firmly established a culture of losing in the past couple of years. The only true veterans that could be around are the likes of Castillo and Rizzo, among others, who have been around to see the inception of this type of culture. The Cubs would be much better served to go pursue someone like Choo, not simply to spend money, but to inject some energy into the franchise and perhaps change the current perception, as well as take the pressure off some of these younger guys that’ll be up over the course of the next couple of seasons.

That’s not to say that the Chicago Cubs are wrong in their rebuilding process or that it’s officially time for it to be over. This team was in shambles when Jim Hendry was dismissed. But three years deep into the rebuild, all that the Cubs may have to show for it, as far as their big league results go, is another 100-loss season. That doesn’t exactly bode well for the young guys coming up.

Tags: Anthony Rizzo Chicago Cubs Javier Baez Kris Bryant Starlin Castro

  • Godwinslaw

    To say they have done virtually nothing to improve is flat out wrong. They’ve addressed what was a huge problem-their bullpen. That move alone should net them a double-digit increase in record improvement. They now have what should be an effective platoon-based outfield built around a player with a ton of upside, (Lake). Most believe it’s possible we will see Baez in the bigs this year. While I do yet expect the addition of a credible 5th starter type, (hopeful for Baker), Hendricks is an intriguing possibility as well. In all, I expect they have improved vastly-are in position for a stud impact player in the June draft, and can expect the spigot of minor leaguers such as Bryant and Soler to be here next year at the very latest. There is no reason to believe we are approaching another 100 loss season, and in fact, exiting players with upside, including Lake, Strop, Arrieta, Hendricks, Olt, along with youngsters like Castro, Castillo and Rizzo should make this a very entertaining team to watch.

    • kingdomusa

      This process is taking too long & if it keeps up the franchise could be devastated for years to come. We lost team & clubhouse leadership in talented Dejesus & Soriano (hits & power), we trade away our better than decent starting pitching. Baez puts up big numbers (37 HR’s-100+ RBI’s) & sits in the minors along with Bryant. Tough to keep a positive attitude when you know you are better than whats currently playing Wrigley. There has been no influx of excitement for the fan base to believe because we didn’t go & get any impact players that can hit & our prospects we all know about are ready to play but are discouraged because they can’t be a part of increasing our chance of winning. Is 100 losses again possible, it sure is if a positive movement isn’t rendered soon. The #4 draft pick is nice but he will not be ready for 3-4 years according to the current rebuilding process. Baez & Bryant would be promoted on most other teams & you are selling them on waiting when the time is right. That’s my thoughts & I’m sticking to them.

      • WhatsAnotherYear106+

        So the fan base is diminishing. Theo and his guys do have a plan and I don’t believe the short end of the plan is to please the people in the stands. If the cubs are a .500 team at near the trade deadline or even above .500 would you rather them make a push and try to make the playoffs with a team that most likely will struggle beating a more solid franchise or sell off a few of the players who are over performing and tank resulting in a better player in next years draft. It may be getting on peoples nerves that they are not making a big move, however stocking the farm system is as Theo has said building a form of currency for the big league team. With the renovations, T.V. deals, and a heavy farm system we will have the assets to make a big push. Not all of the prospects are going to pan out to be anything special, thats baseball. If they get enough of them the chance of one becoming a star increases. Eventually they will have a few guys break through and when that happens I am confident that Theo and his guys will have the assets to make a big move and hopefully win a world series.

  • nick

    I like your point as far as the possibility that too much pressure could be on these kids when they arrive. There isn’t any real veteran leadership or clubhouse people on the roster. I don’t think Choo is the answer for that and I am hoping they don’t sign him because whoever does is going to wind up overpaying in the long run. I think Choo puts up solid numbers over the next several years but nowhere near the money he is going to get. I’d avoid him like the plague!! I would like to see several veterans mixed in with reputations as true professionals and a positive clubhouse reputation. St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Baltimore always have a good mix when their prospects come up. I’m just not a big believer of ALL young kids without the presence of veteran leadership and talent.

  • nick

    I’m also concerned that the Cubs can help Castro get back to himself. The organizational tweaking with his approach last year was just the most ridiculous thing I have ever seen. Their inability to realize the mistakes that where made involving Castro is a red flag to me as far as my view goes toward the organization as a whole with the current group. Yes, they can gather young talent and make excellent moves acquiring talent. I am concerned they are not going to develop Baez right. After what I saw them do as an organization with Castro I am worried that they won’t develop Baez right at the MLB level.

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