With the first season of the Epstein era about to conclude … is he going about his business correctly? A great discussion is going on in the Chicago Cubs forum and you should check it out. Give your opinion and how you think he’s going about his business .. it couldn’t hurt to do so!
First off, I’ll like to say I’m on Epstein’s side 100%. Granted, the Cubs won’t be competitive for a few years. But, when the time comes, watch out! Here’s a key point to why the Cubs have an advantage … while the Cubs will be younger, other teams will have older players whom are in their prime now. I’ve watched many teams around the league and a lot of teams are not prepared for the future. Also, the free agent classes going are forward are getting weaker.
People want Epstein to spend, but how will that be a good financial move? Giving one or two players a big contract, does not make the Cubs a world series team or even a contender. There are just too many holes on the team to filled through free agency. So, spending does not make sense financially, now and for the future.
Just like the past off-season, we will see more low bargain deals like starting pitcher Paul Maholm and outfielder David DeJesus. A case can be made for Maholm that he’s been one of the better pitchers this year (especially after the 1st month). Epstein knew how Maholm can throw and that’s why he signed him. There were reports out there that Epstein signed him to deal him at the trade deadline. I do believe there’s a chance that he did have that strategy and it is a great idea. This idea doesn’t surprise me as Epstein is a smart baseball guy. If Arodys Vizcaino can come back healthy from Tommy John Surgery, it was a great deal by Epstein. Vizcaino has great upside and was the Atlanta Braves top prospect a year ago before injury. He was actually labeled ‘untouchable’ before the injury. I know people won’t agree with me, but I love the DeJesus signing. Okay, he has never played for a contender and may be a 4th outfielder at best, (I think he can start) but he plays the game right, runs the base paths good, a great defender and an awesome guy to have in the clubhouse. He’s also a great fill-in on a team and a good mentor for the young kids.
Like many have suggested, you cannot count on prospects. Don’t get me wrong, I do know how the prospect game works and it’s not always good. However, the Cubs and Epstein are hoping the top prospects do pan out. That’s why chairman/owner Tom Ricketts put tons of money towards the draft and international free agent signings. According to many scouting reports and experts on prospects, the Cubs could have stars in the making … OF Jorge Soler, OF Albert Almora and 3B Javier Baez. If these three 3 players do pan out, the Cubs will be scary good. As they will join SS Starlin Castro, 1B Anthony Rizzo and OF Brett Jackson.
Projected starting line-up in a few years:
1) Brett Jackson LF
2) Albert Almora CF
3) Anthony Rizzo 1B
4) Jorge Soler RF
5) Javier Baez 3B
6) Starlin Castro SS
7) Junior Lake 2B
8) Welington Castillo C
9) Pitcher P
If the Cubs line-up does pan out like that, I will be so excited. The bench could also be strong too … Matt Szczur as the 4th OF, Darwin Barney as the main utility guy, Josh Vitters will play 1B/3B/LF/RF, Steve Clevenger as the back-up catcher and another OF (one that has speed, almost like Tony Campana).
I’m not going to get into the pitching as there are just too many questions. In a few years, we won’t know if the pitcher will even be on the Cubs and if the pitcher will be effective anymore. The Cubs pitching in the minors is weak, but keep an eye on Dillon Maples. He was highly touted coming into the draft and dropped many rounds because he wasn’t expected to sign a contract with any team. However, the Cubs offered him a deal that he couldn’t pass up. Don’t forget, there was no limit on signing players out of the draft, unlike this year where there was a cap.
For people who call Ricketts cheap, are not bright. Since he became the owner of the Cubs, he has ate over 40 million in contracts. Most notably, starting pitcher whom was shipped to Miami for pitcher Chris Volstad. I know it’s not helping the ball club win, but he’s paying a lot of money to the ‘dream’ front office. Like I just said, it’s not helping the team right now, but it is helping the team for the future.
As every President of Baseball operations or General manager, they do make bad moves. The move that is probably killing Epstein right now is the Ian Stewart trade. Ian Stewart struggled very bad before his season-ending wrist surgery and Casey Weathers (the other played they received in the trade) may never make the majors. The other two players the Cubs gave up, weren’t studs but are having a by far better season. Tyler Colvin is playing a lot and batting high in the order, while DJ LeMahieu is getting some playing time. I do know it’s the Colorado Rockies, but they are both having a better season than Stewart easily. That’s the only move I was against at the time and now for sure. Other moves he has made will take time to evaluate or are a toss-up (ex. Zambrano for Volstad).
Another good aspect that Epstein brings, is the rule of no no-trade causes. No-trade causes always seem to hurt the team in the long run. Jim Hendry seemed to always give them out and eventually hurt them at the end. So, the rule of no no-trades causes will help the team in the future and a great rule to have.
Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said it the best when he joined David Kaplan on Chicago Tribune Live: Teams are locking up their young players and when players hit free agency, they’re either 30 or older. So, realistically you’re paying for players for declining stats. How does that make sense? Well, that’s an easy one as it makes no sense at all. That’s why the Cubs are tying to lock-up Castro and they will soon in the coming weeks.
The Cubs have done that before and have tried to spend, but it didn’t go to good. Examples are OF Alfonso Soriano, OF Kosuke Fukudome and P Ryan Dempster. Now maybe you know why the Cubs are taking a different approach by not spending and taking their time to field a competitive team.
Finally, if the Cubs were one or two players away from being a great team and those positions are available through free agency, the Cubs won’t hesitate to sign them. Knowing those players could be the difference maker from being a playoff contender to a world series contender.
Cub fans don’t like to hear this (me being one), but we just have to be patient. It will pay off at the end … I guarantee it!
The Theo era will being a world series back to the north side!