A common subject that has been brought by just about every Cubs fan this season is the idea about a potential youth movement. A movement where Brett Jackson, Josh Vitters, Jay Jackson, Chris Carpenter, and a plethora of other top prospects in the Cubs system make their way to the major league roster. The fans were right to believe that a youth movement would occur this season as off-season comments made by Tom Ricketts hinted that the Cubs chairman wanted the Cubs to grow from within their organization. But that message became a bit unclear after Jim Hendry had a “win now” approach this off-season with the additions of Matt Garza, Carlos Pena, and Kerry Wood. While the trade for Garza was not done solely for this season, the Cubs were forced to give up their top pitching prospect in Chris Archer, and top prospects Hak-Ju Lee and Brandon Guyer in the trade. Going against the message Ricketts set out which was to build from within the organization.
Currently the Cubs stand at fifth place in the National League Central race at 20-25, 7 games behind the first place St.Louis Cardinals. With the trading months of June and July quickly approaching the Cubs will quickly have to determine what route they intend to go. Do they become sellers and begin their youth movement, or do they hold on to their veterans in hopes of putting together a run that gets them back in contention. While the Cubs may insist that they still are trying to determine what they have this season, the writing is on the wall. After two months of a season, teams generally get a good idea on whether or not they are contenders or not. With the exception of a few spots here and there, the Cubs have given off the appearance that they are not contenders this season. So will that impression be enough for the Cubs front office to begin a youth movement, assistant general manager Randy Bush has the answer.
"‘‘I think it’s way too early to look at the season in those terms,’’ assistant general manager Randy Bush said in the aftermath of the Cubs hitting bottom in Cincinnati last week in a series marred by ugly plays.Even before they regrouped to play errorless ball in a two-game sweep of the Florida Marlins, the first winning team they managed a series win against this year.‘‘We’re thrilled with the way Darwin’s playing. We’re thrilled with the way Castro’s developed. This is exciting stuff,’’ Bush said. ‘‘But at the same time I think we all feel we’re going through a rut right now where we can change this around very quickly. We really can.‘‘What we’re experiencing right now is a bunch of character, quality, veteran players trying too hard because they want to win. They’re trying to do too much right now, and you’re seeing some very poor decisions leading to some terrible plays by players who are way better than that.’’ Chicago Sun Times"
If the comments made by Bush are any indication, then don’t expect the Cubs to begin their youth movement anytime soon. This would be a huge mistake. Because of how poor the National League Central has been to start the season, the Cubs are giving themselves the wrong impressions by thinking they can contend against the Cardinals and Reds this season. The previous series against both of those teams this season should have been an indicator to the Cubs that they are not on the same talent level as the Cardinals or Reds.
This is why if the Cubs hoover around the .500 mark for the rest of the season, it may hurt the Cubs more instead of help them. Because that would continue to give the Cubs a belief that they are a just one run away from getting back into contention. From what the Cubs have shown so far this season, the Cubs do not appear to have the capability to go on a run to put themselves back into contetion. As along as the Cubs remain around the .500 mark, general manager Jim Hendry will be hesitant to pull the trigger on trades that involve any number of the high priced veterans on the team. With Hendry’s job potentially in jeopardy, the general manager may want to keep veterans on the team in order to give the team the best chance to win. Instead of doing the right thing by clearing money off the books and receiving prospects that you could use for the future.
We should not be surprised by the Cubs not wanting to start a youth movement anytime soon, as Hendry as been unwilling to do so at any point in his tenure. Hendry’s approach is usually to push back the youth movement by trying to find quick remedies in form of free agent signings. That approach may have worked for the Yankees in years past, but not for the Cubs. If the Cubs do not have some form of a youth movement this season, then that should only increase the motive for Ricketts to fire Hendry.