Most Cubs fans want the Cubs to rebuild their foundation and I am one of them, of course. The Cubs have come a long way as far as building their farm system back up to respectability. It's a top 10 system by most accounts and it's on the verge of becoming more than that.
Others are tired of the losing and want to see the Cubs win now, or at least soon. I have nothing against this either -- so long as it doesn't take too much away from the long term plan. One thing I don't want is to revisit the 2006 offseason plan that nearly worked, but was short-sighted and left the Cubs with a small window to succeed and a bloated, inflexible payroll afterward.
It appears that by this next offseason, both groups of fans may have an ally. On the surface those two approaches seem to be opposites. Are their competing interests? Is there dissension in the ranks?
Not necessarily. That ally is the same for both sides and according to CSN's Patrick Mooney, that person is none other than Theo Epstein himself.
"We’re not where we want to be right now in terms of payroll. It’s gone down. As we move forward with our baseball plan, eventually it will go back up. Now that in and of itself won’t be a determining factor in our success. We need to generate a stream of young talent through our farm system. But we want to complement that with some aggressiveness in free agency.”
That should make both sides happy. It appears the Cubs should and will have the money to improve their team from both ends, provided they work out the business with the renovations and the extra revenue it is expected to create.
“They share projections with us based on different scenarios where we might be, but we need revenues to increase in order for us to execute our baseball plan,” Epstein said. “We expect them to (deliver revenues) and we have a lot of folks on the business side working hard for that."
Mooney senses some frustration coming from Epstein. He's been patiently working the team from the ground up in the absence of using their resources on the MLB payroll. That patience may be tested this offseason if his hands are tied again. Theo doesn't seem to like losing any more than the rest of us do.
Most expect agreements to be finalized before the season is over and if so, I think we will see the Cubs really go after some big names in free agency as well as seek to acquire veterans that smaller market teams may no longer be able to afford.
Whether you are for a long term rebuild or not, none of us want to see the perpetual rebuild we've seen with teams like the Pirates or the Royals -- or even the Rays, for that matter. Not that the Cubs wouldn't want to emulate the Rays success with their farm system, but they are in too big a market to trade top players in their prime as the Rays have been forced to do. The ultimate goal is to have a three-pronged approach:
- Build a steady stream of talent from within.
- Re-sign and retain all their good young players.
- Use their resources to acquire impact players from outside the organization such as free agency and trades.
We've seen the Cubs start the first two parts of the plan and it seems we are getting more and more hints that they'll earnestly pursue the 3rd part this offseason.
The Cubs foundation is no longer in a state of extreme disrepair. It's a solid farm system that should start producing talent over the next several years. They are at the point where they can continue to build on that while also turning some attention to the product on the field.
Theo Epstein appears willing and ready to do that. Let's see if Tom Ricketts and the ownership group gives him the green light.