When Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer first took over the Cubs, the plan was to accumulate long term assets. A big part of the strategy was to continue to invest heavily in amateur talent both here and abroad. Unfortunately the new CBA put the kibosh on that plan. Undeterred, the Cubs front office made a new plan -- to turn short term assets into long term ones. The results have been great as the Cubs have acquired young, cost-controlled talent for the immediate future while also giving the farm system a boost for 2-4 years down the road.
The Cubs have accumulated the following assets since the arrival of Epstein and Hoyer
Ian Stewart, 27, starting 3B
Casey Weathers, 26, RP prospect
Lendy Castillo, 22, RP prospect
Jeff Bianchi, 25, IF prospect
Travis Wood, 25, LH Starting Pitcher
Dave Sappelt, 25, OF prospect
Ronald Torreyes, 19, 2B prospect
Chris Volstad, 25, RH Starting Pitcher
Anthony Rizzo, 22, 1B prospect
Zach Cates, 22, SP prospect
2 supplemental 1st round picks in the 2012 draft
All players are 27 or younger. All are cost-controlled. All are either current or former top 20 prospects with the exception of Lendy Castillo, who was a Rule 5 draft pick.
Here's the crazy part, though: the Cubs have given up one player who figured to play an important role beyond 2012: Andrew Cashner. Many of the others (Aramis Ramirez, Carlos Pena, Sean Marshall, Carlos Zambrano) figured to leave as free agents after either 2011 or 2012. Tyler Colvin and DJ LeMahieu were projected as reserves at best by the new regime.
And it's not over yet. The front office figures to cash in on Alfonso Soriano, Marlon Byrd, and possibly Matt Garza before the season starts, while Ryan Dempster, Carlos Marmol, and Geovanny Soto are possible candidates to be traded before the deadline.
As it is, the Cubs have already filled some gaps in the organization and have legitimate young prospects or players at just about every position on the field, although they still need to accumulate pitching depth.
C: Welington Castillo, 24
1B: Anthony Rizzo, 22
2B: Ronald Torreyes, 19
SS: Starlin Castro, 21
3B: Javier Baez, 19
LF: Brett Jackson, 23
CF: Matt Szczur, 22
RF: I think Jorge Soler, 19, would fit in nicely here, don't you?
At some point I want to re-write my Cubs prospect list because a lot of things have changed. Junior Lake's AZ Fall League performance was a pleasant surprise after he struggled with a AA call-up and the Cubs have acquired 4-5 more prospects since the new front office took over. The thing is, there may well be more changes before spring training starts and any prospects acquired in a potential Garza trade have the potential to top this list. In the meantime, check out this prospect list by John Sickels, as it's a pretty good one, in my opinion.
While I don't want to write off 2012 for he Cubs yet because we should see a team that plays better defense, gets on base more often, runs the bases better, and pitches more efficiently. When you do that you can stay in a lot more ballgames and anything can happen. But the real excitement begins beyond 2012 when we will start to see more of the young talent start to emerge. It's possible 5 of the players listed above could be in the Cubs lineup by 2013. The Cubs once bleak future continues to look better all the time.