After losing six of eight the week prior to the All-Star break, it doesn’t look like too many positives can be taken away from what the Cubs did last week. They just barely avoided a five game sweep at the hands of the Cincinnati Reds, and then lost two of three to the offensively struggling Braves, and allowed 25 runs in three games to them. Looking past all of the superficial struggles, this past week may have very well been the week that the Chicago Cubs look back on as the one that turned corners for the organization.
Still at the major league level, Anthony Rizzo was voted in as the final All-Star for the National League as part of the MLB’s annual final vote, giving the first baseman of the future his first career All-Star appearance. The Cubs also saw three MLB debuts this past week, all of which involve players that look to play a big part in the Cubs future.
The first of which is former Japanese star, 33 year old lefty Tsuyoshi Wada, who had been incredibly successful at Triple-A Iowa, and was given the spot start following the Cubs’ trade with the Oakland A’s the week prior. Along with Wada, Kyle Hendricks, a large piece of the Ryan Dempster trade in 2012, made his MLB debut, and shows strong potential to be a solid 4th or 5th starter in the Cubs rotation for years to come.
Putting the pitching debuts aside, the Cubs made a call-up last week that signified perhaps the biggest organizational call-up since Anthony Rizzo was brought up in the summer of 2012. Longtime middle infield prospect Arismendy Alcantara was given the nod to come in for a few games before the break, and he left quite the impression.
In the five MLB games he played since being called up, Alcantara compiled 6 runs, 9 hits, 3 doubles, a triple, a home run, and 5 RBI. Not to mention, this was all attached to a triple slash of .391/.400/.739. Small sample size alert certainly applies, but Alcantara is merely performing to what the Cubs think he is: a contact switch hitter who possesses a large amount of power from both sides and a considerable amount of speed. Alcantara’s small frame can certainly be deceiving, but the second baseman/outfielder figures to be a huge part of the Cubs when they finally turn a corner at the big league level.
Perhaps the largest step forward for the Cubs this past week had nothing to do with baseball at all, but rather involved an off the field organizational move that can drastically impact the team as a whole. With Wrigley Field renovations planned for over a year and a half at this point, the Chicago Landmarks Commission finally approved the Cubs’ seven sign renovation plan for Wrigley Field, which will allow for a drastic increase in revenue for the team.
The Cubs unusual lack of activity in the offseason the past few years can be directly attributed to lack of funds, something that a large team from a large market rarely suffers. But with renovation work beginning soon, the Cubs can expect to carry in a lot more money, allowing them to make big offseason moves that they weren’t able to make in years prior.
These few significant events can truly mean the beginning for the Chicago Cubs, a team that may have the most impressive and loaded farm system in all of baseball. With more and more prospects moving up to become more MLB ready, it should not be ruled out that the Cubs can compete for a playoff spot as soon as 2015, and that the days of flipping players at the trade deadline will be long gone come next summer.
The Cubs may not have the success in the MLB yet, but with the large amounts of skill quickly trickling up, it will not be long before the North Side becomes one of the most decorated and successful locations in all of baseball.