Tomorrow Can’t Come Soon Enough For The Cubs
2014 has been another year and another spin around the Cubs carousel. It seems like the Northsiders are intent on acting out a real-life version of the Bill Murray classic Groundhog Day. Once again, the staff’s top pitchers were sent packing for prospects in return. This year’s recipients of a ticket to ride from Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer were Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, who were dealt for two first-round draft picks in Addison Russell and Billy McKinney, as well as pitcher Dan Straily from the Oakland A’s. Now, with the 2014 crew of walking dead firmly entrenched, the Cubs can start losing at break-neck speed. Just like it was planned.
The Samardzija trade hit some Cubs fans hard, since it signified that Epstein and company don’t think they’ll be ready to contend for at least a few more years. If the front office thought they had a chance in 2016, extending Samardzija would’ve been ideal. He was a durable, home-grown pitcher who knows Wrigley Field and is a good locker room guy. Oh well, enjoy the run support, Jeff. (Set the over/under for Cubs quality starts for the rest of 2014 at six.)
As in years past, this season has included a slew of press conferences, hearings and well-drawn renderings on the long awaited Wrigley Field renovations. Granted the Cubs employ some of the best sketch artists in town, but at this point isn’t this becoming the Chinese Democracy of ballpark facelifts? It’s long overdue, long delayed and the butt of more than a few jokes. For those interested in actual baseball, combing the Internet for stats and highlights from the Iowa, Tennessee and Daytona affiliates has replaced tuning in for the nightly broadcast.
Prospects like Javier Baez and Kris Bryant have shown solid promise this year at Triple-A Iowa, finally providing hope that the much-hyped farm system will actually produce something to watch at 1060 W. Addison for years to come. All signs point to a September call up for Baez and Bryant, who will look to get some big league experience before competing for a spot on the big club during spring training next year.
There have been a few positives in Chicago this summer. Anthony Rizzo earned his first All-Star selection, racking up 20 home runs, 49 RBI and a .381 on-base percentage at the break. More important, he has successfully responded to his 2013 struggles against lefties by batting .300 against southpaws this season. Considering that he isn’t exactly surrounded by prolific hitters, those numbers are impressive. His bounceback has calmed the murmurs that he might not reach the level the Cubs thought he would when he was brought to Chicago. One position player down, eight to go.
Starlin Castro has also rebounded from a down year and earned another All-Star nod. After ditching his Cubs-directed attempt at becoming a prototypical on-base percentage hitter, he has once again found success with a “see ball, hit ball” approach. On the mound, newly minted ace Jake Arrieta has been solid, but at 28 he’s not exactly a young building block. A successful second half could make him an early favorite to be shipped out of town next year.
All joking aside, the young talent is coming. But questions are mounting about whether or not they’ll actually have the money to solidify the roster when the time comes.
So while we wait for giant scoreboards, increased advertising, rooftop lawsuits, TV deal cash-ins and eventually on-field talent, there’s the beer. There’s always the beer.