Chicago media finally seeing problem with Chicago Cubs rebuilding as Sun-Times makes great point

by Kent Sterling

If Theo was really that smart, wouldn't Michael Wacha be a Cub instead of Edwin Jackson?

If Theo was really that smart, wouldn’t Michael Wacha be a Cub instead of Edwin Jackson?

The issue with the Chicago Cubs isn’t about improving over the next four years, but catching the St. Louis Cardinals who manage to win and build at the same time.

It’s not about whether Cubs president Theo Epstein is a smart baseball executive; it’s about whether he is a smarter baseball executive than Cards GM John Mozeliak.

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I’ve been writing about that for two years, and Mark Potash of the Chicago Sun-Times is climbing aboard the logic train that is starting to roll in Chicago.

In Theo’s first draft, the Cubs drafted outfielder Albert Almora with the sixth overall pick.  Almora, who will turn 20 tomorrow, is hitting .279 in high-A ball, and is projected to hit the majors in either 2016 or 2017.  The Cardinals drafted Michael Wacha 13 selections later, and he was the best pitcher in the 2013 postseason as he put the Cardinals on his back to carry them into the World Series.

The reason teams passed on Wacha was reportedly the lack of a third pitch.  Now he has one that the Cubs are going to likely face four times a year for the next decade and a half..

Potash also correctly holds the Cubs accountable for the signing of Edwin Jackson, a 30-year old career underachiever now toiling for his eighth team.  The year prior to the Cubs signing him, the Nationals awarded Jackson’s two months of relative success with the Cardinals with a one-year, $11-million deal.  Jackson was 10-11 for a 98-64 team.

The Cubs were then compelled through a process they should abandon to give him an inexplicably generous four-year, $52 million deal.  Predictably, he won at a percentage lower than the team he played for.  Meanwhile, Wacha, well, you know.

Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Almora, C.J. Edwards, Jorge Soler, and other prospects are filling the Cubs farm system with quality talent, but can the Cubs figure out how to prepare them to win at the major league level?  No one knows.  Fans can hope or doubt, depending upon their perspective.  What Cubs fans should know is that the Cardinals are really good at preparing young talent to succeed.

Last season, the Cardinals had 15 players on their postseason roster earning less than $1 million per year, and they nearly won the World Series for the second time in three years.  That shows development in the Cardinals farm system that nurtures and produces winners.

The Cubs first trick will be an easy one – to improve over the status quo.  Bringing up better talent than Luis Valbuena, Nate Schierholtz, and Ryan Sweeney should be a simple process.  The tougher part of the equation is putting a product on the field that will win more than Cardinals.  That is heavy lifting, and Chicagoans are beginning to understand it because smart guys like Potash are finally starting to ask the right questions.

4 thoughts on “Chicago media finally seeing problem with Chicago Cubs rebuilding as Sun-Times makes great point

  1. David Spellman

    Refreshing to read a Cubs column that doesn’t waive the pom-poms, or place palm beneath Theo’s feet.

    Very smart insights here. Having observed him as a Nat, I knew EJax was a bad signing.

    FYI, twitter @WischList is another person in the media who is a Cubs fan but doesn’t drink the blue Kool-Aid.

    1. kentsterling Post author

      Thanks for the recommendation to follow Dave. I like his writing. Didn’t know his twitter handle.

      How failing during his one-year/$11M deal gave him the juice to get four-year/$52M from the Cubs says everything I need to know about Theo. Hire inning eaters through 2016 seems to be the mandate.

  2. Sam

    Good analysis. Also where is the pitching development. Not there. If one analyzes Boston’s success they didn’t just do it from within but they used John Henry’s money. How many one and two run games do we need to lose before we can get quality relief. They were supposed to be competitive in five years. Now it’s 2020. Seems like Ricketts don’t have enough money to own team. Where is Mark Cuban when you need him.

    1. kentsterling Post author

      According to a financial analysis of the sale of the Cubs to the Ricketts Family, they are hamstrung from paying off the debt, and the debt keeps them from expanding their payroll.


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