Saturday, July 11, 2015

Mid-Season: What Should the Cubs Do?

We are coming up on the All-Star break, the trade deadline is approaching (Sorry, John Kerry-we can't get any extensions), and Cub fans are debating over what if any trades, the Cubs should make since they are in the wild card chase. They actually could make the playoffs this season. The debate centers over whether they should trade any of their prize prospects in the minor leagues for proven players-even someone whose contract runs out this year. The pundits all say that the Cubs need a 5th starting pitcher. Looking at their poor offense, a slugging outfielder would also help.

Let me state at the outset that I have been a Cub fan since 1963. I am 70 years old this month and have yet to see my beloved Cubbies in the World Series. We won't talk about those near-misses in 1969, 1984 and 2003. I lived through all of them. Asking me to be patient has its limitations.

Yet, I say that we should not yet interrupt The Plan initiated by Theo Epstein, which has made the Cubs' farm system the best in baseball. They have loads of prospects who are 1-3 years away from reaching the major leagues and being outstanding players. Unfortunately, not too many of them are pitchers.

Rumors have the Cubs possibly trading prospects to selling teams like the Phillies, A's, White Sox or Padres to acquire Cole Hamels, Scott Kazmir, Jeff Samardziya, or James Shields respectively. A quality 5th starter might make the difference between the Cubs getting a wild card spot or missing the playoffs.

It is tempting, but I would prefer to stay the course and rely on the coming talent out of the farm system. There is real quality down there like IF Javier Baez, C-OF Kyle Schwarber, OF Billy McKinney, OF Albert Almora and IF Gleybar Torres to name a few. Current players at the big league level like Addison Russell, Jorge Soler and Kris Bryant are developing and figure to be much better next year. Anthony Rizzo is already established at first base. The team is on the road to steady and dramatic improvement, much as they have done this year.

I have to admit that I am at my wits end with SS Starlin Castro, whose lackadaisical play and plummeting batting average tell me he should be traded at some point. I just don't know if it is now. After Rizzo and Bryant, he is (supposedly) the next biggest hitting threat. He is on pace to drive in over 70 runs this year-for what it's worth.

At any rate, I am opposed to using our best prospects as trade bait to try and make it into a one-game playoff this year. The team is clearly not ready to reach the World Series, but in a year or two things can and should change. We can get a good starting pitcher next year in free agency, someone like David Price.

Stay the course.


Siarlys Jenkins said...

I am in full agreement with Gary. Stay the course. A long-term plan that could build a team to content in multiple play-off seasons is better than a fast grab for a wild card this year.

I attended the funeral of an old friend of my parents' last May. In addition to being a tenured college professor, art instructor, and keeping up his own art studio long into retirement, he was an avid Cubs fan who would mark up the game every game he could attend, or watch on TV. We were discussing at the funeral whether this is the year for the Cubs. Perhaps not, but they are coming along.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

What? Nobody else cares about the Cubs? Just me and Gary?