This week news broke that the Chicago Cubs parted ways with manager Dale Sveum. After two, very bad losing seasons, the front office has decided to go in a different direction. Many opinions have swirled that the cause for the move is the targeting of manager Joe Girardi from the New York Yankees to be the next manager at Clark and Addison.
However, the question is, if it is not Girardi in the dugout whom does the regime turn to? One name that can be ruled out is former Cub favorite, and leading candidate for the job back in 2010 and 2011, Ryne Sandberg. “Ryno” had his interim tag removed and is now the full time manager for the Philadelphia Phillies.
Team President Theo Epstein on Monday, provided an excellent statement on the managerial move. It was well said, well written, and was true Theo verbiage. Around town though, the boo-birds are starting to get impatient with the rebuilding process, but Cub fans have to believe that it was never about wins and losses these past two years. While that is always difficult to swallow for a fan base that has not seen a World Series Champion in a few years or so, the big picture has always been about not rebuilding, but building for the future.
In the 1990’s and even 2000’s the Cubs farm system was nothing to write home about. There was the occasional player or two such as Mark Prior or Kerry Wood, but there was no sustained pipeline to Wrigley Field. What Theo and company have done the last two seasons has created an arguably top 3 farm systems in all of baseball. The latest projections show five to six prospects in the top 100. Those numbers are new to North Side baseball.
Dale Sveum always put the team first and never complained about the hand dealt to him according to Epstein’s statement. The goal now is to find a field general to benefit from the new hand that will soon be dealt and run with it to the tables with success. It is difficult to take in, put the long-term vision is still on schedule for the Cubs.
The key point in Epstein’s statement: “Soon, our organization will transition from a phase in which we have been primarily acquiring young talent to a phase in which we will promote many of our best prospects and actually field a very young, very talented club at the major league level.” Those words should encourage the Cub faithful that have been waiting.. and waiting.. and waiting for a Championship to come to their team because the talent is on the horizon.
Remember that scene in Back to the Future II where it flashed Cubs win World Series in 2015? While they will likely not sweep Miami in five games to win, the other half of that prophecy may not be that far off.
At the time of the movie, Miami, or even the state of Florida, did not have a professional baseball team. Now the state has two teams, however, the team that resides in Miami also resides in the same league as the Cubs making a World Series match up not possible. And unless there is a major change in the playoff format, a nine game series will be unlikely to sweep in five games. But who is to say that the Chicago Cubs can’t defeat the Tampa Bay Rays in four games come October 21st, 2015?
The Cubs are building for the future, and can it all lead to a summer and fall for the history books (and almanacs) in 2015? Not only is talent changing at the Friendly Confines, but the ballpark itself will be undergoing transformations and renovations. Cub fans just may need a trip in the DeLorean rather than the L train when all is said and done.
But how may the team look on the field? Some of the potential 2015 starting line up has seen big league playing time already. In addition to the stars of today, will be the highly anticipated prospects ready to burst onto the scene. When the Cubs take the field on Opening Day 2015, they may just be those 100 to 1 odds as well to win it all.
Introducing the 2015 starting line up, not taken from the Grays Sports Almanac:
Catcher – Wellington Castillo
First Base – Anthony Rizzo
Second Base – Starlin Castro
Shortstop – Javier Baez
Third Base – Kris Bryant
Left Field – Junior Lake
Center Field – Albert Almora
Right Field – Jorge Soler
If only Doc can make Cub fans fast forward to 2015 and see this Cubs team on the field. The outlook is bright, the talent is progressing, and 2015 just may be the year. History is on the side of the Cubs. There’s something very familiar about all of this.
McFly!.. rather Girardi!