Cubs Can't Rebuild with Kids Alone

Cubs Can't Rebuild with Kids Alone

Nowadays, to be a Cubs fan, you need to have a financial degree to follow the team.

When did it stop just being about baseball? When I became a Cubs fan, I was told there would be no math. Debt load, TV deals, rooftop negotiations, missing profits? I was just starting to figure out all the new metrics and now this?

Lately, when I have written or talked about the baseball operation needing more resources, I've been shot down with retorts to the effect of, "They don't need the money now" or "It would only be poorly spent".

"They are building through the system, the right way".

Now, I have never disagreed that building through the farm system is the right way to build the organization for, wait for it...sustained success.

However, and this is a big however, the front office has been lacking, and still needs much more from the business end soon to make this thing click on all cylinders.

Don't believe me? Just listen to Theo Epstein.

“We’re not saying that you can build a championship team through the minor-league system alone,” he said Thursday. “That would be extremely challenging, if not impossible.”

“We need to make sure that when the next wave of prospects comes up, they don’t take too much of a burden. We hope to have strong players around them, hopefully an impact player or two around them on the club so that they can break in the right way. You don’t want your prospects breaking in carrying too much responsibility.

You don’t want them hitting in the middle of the order. You don’t want them having to carry a club or playing an instrumental role on the club.

“That’s important and that’s something that we’ve thought about, and we’re going to have to act on it.”

I've been saying all along that these kids are going to need protection in the form of some veteran players. That is where a signing like Masahiro Tanaka or otherwise would greatly help take some of the focus off the Baezes and Bryants of the world.

But I have another question after hearing those thoughts: Why doesn't that logic apply already to Starlin Castro or Anthony Rizzo?

I wrote just the other day that Rizzo is unfairly being counted on as both a leader and middle-of-the-order hitter. Just imagine the protection afforded, both on and off the field, for young players in, say, the Cardinals organization.

“I have faith that our situation is going to change,” Epstein said. “As the team plays better, and most significantly when the TV deal happens, we’re going to be in a position to hopefully overpower the other teams in our division financially".

Sounds good, sounds like actual big market thinking.

Maybe it's not time yet, but soon the Cubs might want to think about making their Jason Werth-type move, so they can field an actual major-league lineup around these kids.


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  • fb_avatar

    I'm on the same page with you, Tom. I like what they're doing, but you can't build a team with just prospects. It's nice to think that they'll all come up and be able to play at a high level, but that's just not reality. Even getting 3 really good players out of the current crop would be an outstanding result. Once they kids start coming, they're going to need help in short order; the biz side really needs to get it going.

  • In reply to Evan Altman:

    Nothing the FO has said or done since Theo was hired indicates that the FO believes it can build a team "with just prospects."

  • In reply to TheThinBlueLine:

    Agreed, yet I'm sure if they had the resources they would've added a Ellsbury or a Cespedes, Darvish, etc.

  • On the financial degree point, the story used to be "everyone in baseball [except Steinbrenner] is losing money, and cities have to give us stadia for us to stay in business." Now that that's been exposed as b.s. (such as MLB saying that we need a superior offer from Washington, D.C.), the financial quants took over, just as the sabermetricians have.

    On the headline's point, the line up to now seems to have been "no sense spending while the team can't compete, but we will when it can," but developments in the past couple of days certainly have put doubt into that. Also, I doubt there can be any leadership when the message is to trade anyone with experience for more prospects. I don't from whom Rizzo is going to learn it. Maybe the Sox's investment in Paulie isn't such a bad idea.

  • In reply to jack:

    Yeah, luckily Rizzo IMO has it. I think it would've been great if someone other than or to supplement Soriano would've helped him as well.

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    Soriano was certainly not a role model or mentor. But it is certainly hard to think of any recent Cub who could have been. Looking at the current 40-man roster, I don't see someone in the infield or outfield who can.

    For that matter, I doubt that someone like Castro could be a mentor if the nonroster guys ever get up here.

  • In reply to jack:

    Probably not.

  • It is one thing to say a team needs impact players to take the responsibilties off the young players. It is another thing to actually do it.

    It should have already been done. The kids, Castro, Rizzo, and castillo are already there and too much has been put on their shoulders. Look at the results of last year. Bad mental habbits are already forming. losing Soriano to save $2,000,000 was very costly.

    What Theo is saying is they can not afford it now as they are waiting on a TV contract so that they can afford to pay someone. They will lose more in ticket sales and TV revenue ect. than what they will save.

    If the sox turn around first, attendance in the park and on TV will really go SOUTH.

    Sometimes you have to spend money to make money. In this case the Cubs need to protect their investment in the young players. Theo knows what to do. Ricketts must make it happen.

  • In reply to xantes:

    Very much what I have been saying all along. I think FO would've been doing things a bit differently had they had the resources.

  • fb_avatar

    I have waited for the last 2 years for our "mentor" type signing. You know the guy that his stats say he is an everyday middle of the line up hitter and his intangibles says he does things the right way. Guess what it isn't happening this year either. Instead we went with younger coaches not that far from their playing careers to be the voice. That does not make sense to me.

    I am not saying guys we coulda, shoulda, woulda had because that is a futile exercise. There is still a need for that type of guy in the club house and definitely on the field.

  • In reply to Richard Hood:

    Agreed, though it may come via trade. I don't know if Colorado is going to part with Cargo unless they go south. Yet, he is the kind of middle of the order hitter that makes sense long term.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Tom Loxas:

    Totally agree with a Cargo/Kemp type trade. The Cubs have a space in the payroll to add that type of salary and both if healthy will help speed up the process in a hurry. You never know there may be a couple other mostly in their prime players that become available this season.

  • Some are saying Soriano and his leadership being gone is a mistake. Yet, he doesn't fit the bill in other departments. Defense, OBP, etc.

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