The Chicago Cubs are a team in need of changes. The organization was in the same position last season. Cubs’ chairman Tom Ricketts was the one to orchestrate the change. Ricketts fired former general manager Jim Hendry, and brought in Theo Epstein to be the President of Baseball Operations. Epstein then created a baseball department. Something the Cubs have lacked for most of this past decade. That is what the Cubs’ offense consisted of.
Epstein brought in his buddy Jed Hoyer from San Diego to be the team’s new general manager. Jason McLeod followed Hoyer to Chicago from San Diego and became the Cubs’ vice president of scouting and player development. Epstein, Hoyer, and McLeod spent the off-season removing the pieces from the previous regime.
The 2012 season is meant to be a transition season where the Cubs’ front office removes the final pieces from the previous regime and begins to implement their own pieces onto the Major League roster.
Their most noted piece is first baseman Anthony Rizzo. The Cubs acquired Rizzo from the San Diego Padres in a trade that sent Andrew Cashner packing. Since the trade, Cubs fans have been patiently waiting for the day that Rizzo takes Wrigley Field while donning a Cubs uniform. The Cubs’ front office has been patient. Epstein and Hoyer do not want to rush Rizzo to the Major Leagues. When Rizzo is recalled from Iowa, it does not just signal a changing of guard for the team’s first base position. The move is going to signal a changing of guard for the entire organization.
Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune tells us to expect changes after the June 4th draft. Sullivan mentions that the Cubs’ front office has their attention on potential draft picks, but will move their focus to the Major League team once they team has made first day selections. The Cubs hold the sixth overall selection in the draft and a consensus is forming that the Cubs will take center fielder Alberto Almora.
I, personally, wonder what changes Sullivan wants us to expect. It is not like all the dominoes will fall after June 4th and the picture to the Cubs long-term future will be clearer. There has been increased speculation that the Cubs are waiting to recall Rizzo until has first of free agency would be after the 2018 season, as opposed to being after the 2017 season. For that reason, that would mean that the Cubs would have to wait to call Rizzo up until after June 23.
The change could very well come in the mind-set of Epstein and Hoyer as opposed to anything Cubs fans will see on the field. For now at least, lets get to the one liners.
Cubs manager Dale Sveum told reporters on Friday that Joe Mather will get an opportunity in center field. For the time being, that would mean that the lineup we saw last night–with Castro batting second, and Mather batting third–may be one that we see over the next couple of weeks. Had top prospect Brett Jackson been performing well with the Iowa Cubs this season, it is likely that he may have been with the Major League team by now.
Tom Loxas over at Cubs Den had a really intriguing article. Paul Sullivan recently went on Chicago Tribune Live and questioned the moves of Epstein and Hoyer, alluding to the idea that Cubs fan stock in the pair of executives may be too high. Loxas counters Sullivan in saying that the Tribune reporter, like some Cubs fans, fails to see the long-term picture. Though, Loxas did ponder the thought that Epstein’s and Hoyer’s pedestal may be too high. Though, in my opinion, it is not time to question how we view Epstein and Hoyer. The former Red Sox executives told us that the Cubs were going to be bad this season, and now when they are proven to be right, they should not be questioned.
Remember Luke Blaize? The talent minor league writer that took his talents over to Bleacher Nation. In his daily minor league piece on Friday, Luke examined what Rizzo’s call up to the Major Leagues would mean for Junior Lake and Josh Vitters. Luke suggests that Lake could be called up to the Iowa Cubs upon Rizzo’s promotion. Lake, who some project as the Cubs third baseman of the future, would then split time at shortstop and third base for the Iowa Cubs. Such a scenario as Luke laid out would have Vitters shifting over to first base. Vitters future with Cubs organization has always been questioned. By the time Vitters makes his Major League debut, he may no longer be with the Cubs organization. Meanwhile, Lake appears to have a future with the Cubs.