8274. That’s how many games Cubs fans have had to watch their beloved North Siders lose since they last won a world series. Pathetic right? Well good news, that number might not climb too much higher, maybe.
The news broke on Monday that the Cubs would be calling up top prospect Javier Baez from AAA Iowa. Baez, the Cubs second best rated prospect according to MLB.com, struggled early in the season but earned his promotion after hitting .300 in July and raising his season home run total to 23.
No, the promotion of one player and the stockpile of elite prospects in the farm system do not guarantee the Cubs a world series but it does give me one thing. Confidence. Not just confidence that the Cubs can sign a plethora of free agents and hope to contend for a year, or two if lucky (Ex: 2007-2008). It is confidence that the Cubs will become consistent winners and in the discussion for championships every year due to a crop of home grown players.
When Baez steps to the plate for the first time on Tuesday, it will have been two years, nine months, and 12 days since Theo Epstein was introduced as the Cubs president of baseball operations. During that time, two very smart baseball executives (Epstein and Jed Hoyer) have drawn a lot of criticism from ignorant Cubs fans who disagree with their plan to tear down the Cubs and do a complete rebuild. However this plan may prove to be the best thing to ever happen to the Chicago Cubs franchise.
Although some stubborn fans may disagree with the approach, Epstein said from the beginning this is how it would happen and it rebuilding does not happen overnight. Being in a large market, the word ‘rebuilding’ is far from popular. But Epstein knew the criticism would come but would not let that deter him from the plan.
“I should probably have another press conference right now to resign,” he said. “Because my popularity is definitely going to be at an all-time high right now.”
Agree or disagree with the plan, since the day Epstein took over the Cubs, the franchise has had a clear direction. Something that has not been apparent within the Cubs front office in quite some time. Will Baez come up and hit .300 with 15 homers in the next two months and spark the Cubs? Probably not. But the promotion of Javier Baez does turn the page on the Cubs rebuilding process.
Once the Cubs shipped Jeff Samardzija out of town on July 4, it became time to look forward to the future and when the ‘fantastic five’ or whatever you want to call it, would begin to arrive at Wrigley Field. Over the past few years, everyone around the Cubs(fans, writers, etc) has hyped up the Cubs system like no other.
When Baez finally steps to the plate in a Cubs uniform Tuesday night, Cubs fans can finally see, not hear, about what is to come in the future. No this is not just a cookie, it is the beginning of an “annual feast.”