Tuesday, July 8, 2014

On Deck: The Chicago Cubs

Chicago Cubs President of Baseball Operations, Theo Epstein

Sports are cyclical, I'm sure you have heard from someone at some point.  Sometimes the cycle lasts over 100 years, sorry Cubs fans.  However, there are some teams that seem like they are never out of the hunt year in and year out.  The St. Louis Cardinals and New York Yankees might be the best examples of this, each with their own formula success that allows them to play October baseball more times than not.  Their cycle for winning is much smaller, plain and simple, their formula for success is successful.  Without a successful formula the cycle becomes much, much longer, and then it becomes a drought.  While the results aren't there playing on Wrigley Field 81 times a year yet, I'm here to tell you disgruntled, impatient Cubs fans that your cycle is almost over and there is a formula in place to point towards, be proud about and root for.

Despite the recent trade of the Cubs best two starting pitchers Jason Hammel and Jeff Samardzjia, the team is still on the rise when you look at the big picture.  Having acquired top short stop prospect Addison Russell, the Chicago Cubs' farm system now boasts 2 if not 3 top 10 prospects in all of baseball.  The other two are fellow shortstop Javier Baez, and third basemen Kris Bryant, both of whom have 30-40 home run potential. Being top heavy isn't ideal, but not to worry, that isn't the name of the game for the Cubs' super front office tandem of Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein.  The top 8 prospects in the Cubs' organization are currently ranked within the top 100 on just about every prospect list out there.  It doesn't stop there though, the Cubs have been very active in signing international kids during the international free agent signing period. In 2013 they landed the #1 & #3 international prospects in Eloy Jimenez (Dominican Republic) and Gleyber Torres (Venezuela).  They also inked Taiwanese pitcher Jen-Ho Tseng who has had an impressive first season state side with a sub 3 ERA in 10 starts.  And here is where I start to feel like I'm selling you something because...Wait there is more! Just last month was the MLB draft where the Cubs had the 4th overall pick in the draft.  Kyle Schwarber was the lucky guy to get his name called, and thus the Cubs added another hitter with 40 home run potential. Schwarber signed quickly and has 8 jacks already in just 20 games.  Schwarber is likely to crack the top 75 on prospect lists when they start to get updated as we approach the All-Star Break.

 There is no guarantee that this will work, but it looks promising.  I'm no Cubs fan, but I can't help but get excited for those that are.  Unquestionably, there is considerable potential in that Farm System, and if everything breaks right the Cubs are going to be a very exciting team.  Perhaps what is lacking most is a stud pitcher to lead the staff.  However, with the surplus of promising young players Theo and company have built up recently I would imagine a trade or two in the future to bring in proven, high-quality pitching.  The best part of the situation the Cubs are in is that they have many options. Clubs with out options become desperate for quick fixes and "that one move" that is going to solve everything, but in reality makes most matters worst.  Take a look at the Diamondbacks the last 3 years, they fit that bill exceptionally.  Why? Because their formula for success being preached from the top isn't proving to be successful.  They have nothing to show for their rough and tough persona, meanwhile the Cubs have a wealth of youthful, promising talent.  No surprise that a professional organization with direction is succeeding more than those without it.  My phillies have no direction, and it sucks, so again be proud Cubs fans, embrace these young players, what you have could be pretty special real soon.

Names to remember:  Javier Baez (SS),  Kris Bryant (3B), Addison Russell (SS), Albert Almora (OF), C.J. Edwards (SP), Jorge Soler (OF), Arismendy Alcantara (2B/SS/CF), Kyle Schwarber (C), Pierce Johnson (SP).  It is my guess that all 9 of these players will be included on the mid season update of prospect lists, as I mentioned earlier the only one currently not is 4th overall selection Kyle Schwarber.  Baez, Bryant and Schwarber all have 30-40 home run potential, setting up one row of hell for opposing pitchers down the road. 

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Cole Miller, from Haddonfield, NJ, is currently a sophomore Sport Management major at Drexel. Over the summer, Cole volunteered for the 43rd SABR convention, a large convention with many speakers and other events for baseball fans who enjoy the new age statistics being brought to baseball such as WAR (wins above replacement ).   Cole is a huge fan of baseball, specifically the Phillies.

You can connect on Cole on LinkedIn here.

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