I’m nearly caught up on Arrow episodes, which means I don’t have to binge through the entire run of the show in advance of this week’s new Flash and Arrow. Yay! I guess it’d be different if I had TiVo or Hulu Plus or something, but either way I was going to have to blast through 55 episodes in a short span to get up to date.
The act of plowing through an entire run of a show meant that I “rack disciprine” in trying to get to other responsibilities. That South Park clip always cracks me up because I am Asian and I find that level of humor hilarious, even if it is stereotypical and racial in nature. I think that it’s important to step away from this pedestrian humor though and talk about the Chicago Cubs’ front office, which has plenty of discipline.
By now, everyone’s heard of the Dexter Fowler trade from earlier this morning. John from Cubs Den had been banging that drum for weeks now, and if there’s one thing I have learned, it’s to trust his instincts because they turn out to be right most of the time. In this case, the Cubs shied away from their discipline in order to get a veteran who is still on the right side of 30 and who can at least play a passable center field while providing the offensive spark that the team has always said they needed. I’m kind of bummed that he doesn’t steal as many bases as I thought, nor does he play spectacular defense like you’d hope from a center fielder, but considering that the trade return didn’t torch the prospect depth and at first glance should legitimately help the team, the Cubs showed the proper restraint in pulling the trigger here. They also continue to show the great poker face, because even with John trumpeting Fowler all this time, the news didn’t actually leak until maybe an hour before official announcement. Now that’s a disciplined front office to keep a lid on things until they feel like letting the world know.
In addition to Andy’s blog linked previously, Patrick Mooney also has a good writeup on the deal and it includes this as a conclusion:
Looking at the big picture, the Cubs still haven’t broken up their farm system, leaving Epstein’s front office with plenty of trade chips for future deals. But this trade says a lot about where the Cubs are at now.“We’ve invested a lot of money in this team,” Hoyer said. “We’ve held onto our prospects. We’ve held onto draft picks. We’re very aware that we think we have a very bright future ahead for a long time.“We’ve always been focused very much on (years of club) control and very much on volume. (But) we felt like it was the right thing to do to balance out this team.”
Previously, Mooney had written about how at some point, these prospects should be used as currency to acquire proven talent, which I believe in as well. I think most of us realize that not all prospects will pan out, but we may disagree on when best to start emptying part of the farm to “go for it.” That’s why when the news that the Washington Nationals might trade Stephen Strasburg popped up, I wasn’t immediately freaking out that the Cubs would torch the farm to get him. For one, they didn’t pull the trigger back when Jordan Zimmermann was rumored to be available (and he still is), and similarly, they (along with most of MLB) have refused to meet the Philadelphia Phillies’ supposedly outrageous demands for Cole Hamels. For another, they didn’t cave when the Tampa Bay Rays dangled Ben Zobrist.
Indeed, I had written a long time ago about how the Cubs, on the verge of getting good, would need to change up their strategies in the future in order to continue acquiring strong amateur talent. This doesn’t seem to have escaped Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer, as they were willing to give up a second round pick this offseason for Russell Martin, but ultimately decided his price tag was too high for their needs and tried something else. It makes sense to keep this last crop of high-ish draft picks in order to keep the farm fresh while waiting for the next offseason, when more goodies are on the board. So while most of us may be hoping for Max Scherzer (oops, he’s gone!) or James Shields to be added to the mix, with so many options left in place, the Cubs front office can continue to stay disciplined and not be forced into anything, not even if most of Cubs Twitter can’t wait for Welington Castillo to get traded already.
I’m not sure if the projections have been updated, but at last check the Cubs were projected to win about 83 games in 2015. This may increase depending on health, managerial magic and other luck, but if you believe in the power of prospects, so much so that you love them as much as your wife and kids, then it’s certainly feasible. Even if you don’t believe in some of these guys anymore, that doesn’t mean the Cubs have given up on them. They won’t give up on Javier Baez because he struck out a thousand times. They haven’t given up on Arismendy Alcantara, who may become Zobrist Lite for Joe Maddon‘s Cubs. And despite the hype, they’re likely not going to break character and bring Kris Bryant up before his “seventh year” date passes.
In the meantime, even with tempered expectations, we can continue dreaming of great things:
It’s amazing how much even the promise of winning is having on the Cubs.
— Kevin Kaduk (@KevinKaduk) January 19, 2015
We know firsthand what ‘Duk is saying, because the Cubs Convention was packed to the gills this past weekend, and the attitude was overwhelmingly positive from the fans, the management and even the players themselves. The notion that the Cubs COULD win the division, and not just contend for the second wild card, is very real, and we can say this with a straight face even if we understand that many factors might prevent that from becoming a certainty. Theo Epstein knows this, and that’s why he’s telling us to hold him accountable even if he’s not going to make a blockbuster trade just yet.
So we can say with some reasonable certainty that the Cubs won’t cave on a trade for an impact pitcher or bat. We can also say that it’s unlikely that they’ll cough up a draft pick, and that they’ll carry three catchers before giving away one of them for less than fair value. Let us continue to be grateful that we have an intelligent, discipline front office that has proven that they know what they’re doing so far, and hope that what they’ve done translates into MLB awesomeness.
The Cubs have a new slogan this year, so with football almost over and spring training set to begin…LET’S GO.