With a record of 55-75 and the Chicago Cubs being in the midst of yet another horrible season, if I use the word progress with you, I bet you anything that you would laugh in my face. Or, at very least at the screen you are reading this on. After all, how can I possibly say that the Cubs are showing any signs of progress whatsoever when they are once again closing in on yet another season where they could lose 100 games. That is not progress, that is an embarrassment. Losing 100 games is a mark that no team ever wants, and the Cubs are possibly on the verge of doing that for the second season in a row. To avoid such embarrassment, they need to 8-24. Such a feat should be possible, but you never know with the way the Cubs have been playing as of late. On the plus side though, at least they are not the Astros who are 14 losses away from having done so for the third straight season.
Yet, despite the horrible record the major league team is possessing, the Cubs organization as a whole is showing great progress. The problem is, unless you look deeper than the results at the major league level, you are not going to be able to see the progress that is being made. By just looking at the major league team, you will not see any progress. At least not enough progress to write home and brag about. After all, the Cubs major league team is still no where near being competitors for the World Series or even the playoffs.
However, the major league ball club is not the main focus of the team at the moment. Theo Epstein basically said as much when he was hired almost two years ago. He told us to expect a few rough years while the plan to build a consistent contender was put into play. The problem is, I do not think some fans knew what to expect when Epstein said to expect rough years. I am sure they expected teams to be keeping their head above water while finishing third in the division while hovering around the .500 mark. After 100 plus years of not winning the World Series that is about as rough as most fans want to see, and pretty much what they can handle. I do not think they expected rough to mean battling to stay below the 100 loss mark.
But even with the major league team playing about as poorly as one could expect there is a massive amount of progress being made. The farm system went from pretty much void of talent to having a top five system in all of baseball. That is the progress that is being made. The plan, whether or not you like or agree with what is being done is working.
Go ahead, tell me that I am wrong and that the plan has failed. Tell me that Epstein is not getting the job done. Do so, and you would be wrong. The plan was to build a strong farm system, and Epstein has done so is less than two years. The early stages of the plan, without question are working. The fruits of the newly build farm system are playing well and skyrocketing up through the system. One of the biggest pieces, Javy Baez, might even get the call at some point next year.
With the Cubs farm system now going strong, my belief is that stage one is well under way and pretty much complete. I do not think the Cubs will be signing players to trade mid year anymore. What that means, is that Epstein and Jed Hoyer can start moving on to stage two. Signing a couple of veterans who they feel will be a good fit for the club and be an key fixture of a contending ball club. A solid mix of veterans and home grown talent will be right formula to get the team on the right path.
So yes, the Cubs are showing great progress, even if you cannot see such by looking at the major league team this year. After this year, the Cubs will have another high draft pick, one that is protected. They will not have to worry about losing their pick if they decide to go out and sign a highly touted veteran to help guide their team. The future is beginning to look bright, just don’t look at the major league team too closely because most of the every day players will not be a part of the future, and may not even be on the team past this season.
Currently the plan is progressing exactly as laid out. Whether or not the plan ends the way Epstein envisions remains to be seen. But there is progress being made.