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The Cubs are alright.
And then some. And then some more. They are what we thought they were going into the season - ridiculously loaded.
When your ninth-best position player (let's make Javy Baez No. 8) is uber-prospect Ian Happ, you are out-of-control talented. When No. 10 is center field wunderkid Albert Almora . . . I mean, come on.
The better Ian Happ plays in his first stint in the majors, the more it appears Theo and Jed went three for three with the top 10 first-round picks that resulted from three tanked seasons. And while you can argue that Kris Bryant was the obvious pick when the Cubs took him second overall in 2013, Kyle Schwarber (yes I know he is hitting .180 but surely most people who know baseball know he will get it going soon) certainly was not. And while Happ was universally acknowledged as full of potential, he was far from a sure thing either.
Schwarber was drafted fourth in 2014 and Happ ninth the next year. Very few teams thought the former was a top 10 talent and genius that I am, I excoriated the Cubs at the time for drafting him in part for his signability (and he did sign quickly and for less money than he could have given where he was drafted).
Now I listen to some of the geniuses out there advocating for a trade of Schwarber for a pitcher and I want to wring their necks. The guy is potentially a historically good left-handed power hitter. I would buy an upper deck reserved ticket (I'm sure as hell not paying box prices for any one player) just to watch him swing.
That is not the sort of player you trade at the start of his career for a quick fix, unless you want to regret that trade longer than the Cubs regretted letting Greg Maddux leave as a free agent.
As for other fruits of the Cubs' three-year tank job, well, not so much. The rest of the team's top 11 players were either already in the system when that era began - Willson Contreras, Baez and Almora, who was drafted in 2012 by Jed and Theo with the top 10 pick that resulted from Jim Hendry suckage in 2011 - or obtained using Hendry assets (Anthony Rizzo, Addison Russell and a bunch of the team's top pitchers) or signed as free agents - Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist.
We're still waiting to see if Jed and Theo have managed to draft any big-time major league contributors in anything other than the first 10 picks of the first round.
But there is a great chance that won't matter, at least until the young Cubs stars start hitting free agency in four years.
The Cubs will probably need more pitching but their biggest concern going into Sunday's 13-6 victory over the Brewers was Jake Arrieta, who has struggled out of the gate with command and velocity. And of course, given the Cubs' charmed life of late, Arrieta threw six innings of solid, one-run ball.
Otherwise Jon Lester has been as good as usual, Kyle Hendricks has rounded into form of late, John Lackey has been the innings eater that they need him to be and Eddie Butler has shown plenty of potential as a fifth starter. If that rotation stays healthy, the Cubs will contend for everything again.
Yes the bullpen can't completely collapse but the Cubs have lots of depth there and Theo and Jed have shown they are absolute masters of turning over the pen, year after year after year.
Oh, and Joe Maddon has been proving again that he is the best orchestrator of regular-season pitching in the majors.
What a time to be a Cub fan.
Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.
This is what progress looks like.Continue reading "Times Change" »
Posted on Jul 24, 2017