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 Epstein, Jed 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.