Theo Epstein had a message for all of baseball after last season.
“…the Cubs are coming fast and the Cubs are coming strong,” he said.
Well, maybe they aren’t coming as fast as Epstein made it seem, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t on their way. Epstein has a plan.
Hang in there.
The Cubs may never be a game over .500 this year but that isn’t a concern for the Cubs front office just yet. With another slow start to the season, fans have already begun another summer-long bender. Can you blame them?
As most Cub fans know, the plan Epstein has in place is going to take time. It’s important to look past the wins and losses on the field as Theo is trying to rewrite history for this franchise. His book isn’t finished yet, and in many ways it has just begun.
The story may bore you at times but it’s all part of the plot. The ending is something fans will want to wait around for.
Chapter 1 - “Out with the old; in with the new” (2011-2013)
As much as we fell in love with Cubs like Aramis Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano, it was time to get younger and cheaper. The Cubs were able to get rid of big contracts in order to save money and improve the organization’s farm system.
But while the farm system was on its way, the Cubs major league team hit rock bottom. They had three straight 90-loss seasons featuring players that even a die-hard Cubs fan won’t remember.
Fans are now seeing players the Cubs either drafted or traded for develop through their system. Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, and Albert Almora are guys the Cubs are counting on. With the farm system improved, it was clear chapter one was over and chapter two was beginning.
Chapter 2 - “The losing continues” (2013-present)
This chapter involves something Cubs fans are familiar with: losing.
As bad as it looked, the Cubs were getting better. So don’t go grabbing another Old Style just yet. Fans may choose to skim over this part, but why stop now? The plot is coming together and the climax is just around the corner.
We are starting to see Cubs prospects come to the Majors. First it was Junior Lake and now it’s Mike Olt’s turn. Olt won a job during spring training and has shown promise early this year.
If Javier Baez can stay healthy and swing the bat like the Cubs know he can, we can maybe see him later this season.
This trend will continue into 2015 when Kris Bryant and Albert Almora make their way up through the farm system. Nobody will be able to tell you when exactly this will happen, but their time is coming.
Rebound years from Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo will be important too. With both of them showing improvements over last year, the “core” can still be in place when the younger guys are ready.
As of now, players like Emilio Bonifacio and Ryan Kalish have filled in nicely, but they may not be in the plan with the youngsters knocking on the door. We could see the Jeff Samardzija era come to an end, but he is making a case to stay in the Cubs’ future plans as he has pitched like a true number one so far. It’s ultimately up to Epstein.
The losing might carry over into 2015, but when prospects start to come up one by one, you should start to see improvements. And by the conclusion of next season, we can put an end to chapter two.
Chapter 3 - “Winning” (2016-?)
The manuscript has been written. If the Cubs stay on schedule, 2016 will be the year the organization will be resurrected from the dead. With the players the Cubs have gathered, losing will be a thing of the past.
With everything in place, the Cubs can be contenders and compete on a yearly basis. And hopefully Theo can write his final chapter:
“The Chicago Cubs are World Series Champions.”
Hang in there Cub fans. Your time is coming.
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