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Chicago Cubs need to learn from Oakland’s 2014 mistakes

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The Chicago Cubs may not want to look backwards considering how bright their future is.  But it would serve them well to look back to last year at the trade deadline and the end of the season for the Oakland A’s.  A hard lesson was learned last year when they put all of their eggs in their basket and went for a championship.  They traded away their top prospect in Addison Russell and another high-end prospect in Billy McKinney for the Cubs Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel.  They also traded Yoenis Cespedes for Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes.

Both trades seemed good at the time.  Oakland got a starting rotation built to shut down any team.  A lot of baseball experts were already crowning them the World Series champions – but Oakland found themselves being knocked out in the Wild Card game by the Kansas City Royals.  All of those trades to put them in the prime position to roll through the American League playoffs–and they were bounced out early.

So after trading their best prospect, another top prospect, and a young powerful All-Star outfielder – what do they have to show for it?  Not a thing.  Lester left to go into free agency and signed with the Cubs – as did Hammel. Samardzija was traded to the White Sox for short stop Marcus Semien, catcher Josh Phegley, Rangel Ravelo first base prospect, pitcher Chris Bassitt.  The return was nothing to get too excited about.

Oakland was a top team last year before the trade – after the trade they were the top team.  They had the itch to win now and it ended up hurting their future possibly.  The same cannot be done with the Cubs.

Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have worked unbelievably hard to get the farm system to the level it’s at today.  If the Cubs are to get close this year going into the trade deadline – will they feel the pressure from the media and the fans to make a move? If not this year – you know next year there will be pressure as well.  But they need to stay true to their plan and not go away from that – no matter how much outside noise there is.

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If the right trade were to come along – of course you listen – but you don’t make the trade unless you’re 100% sure that the payoff will be worth the price.  It has been the goal of this regime to not just build a one-season winner, but to build a franchise that will contend for a long time.  Oakland had that kind of farm system in place for a long time – last year they went away from that and gave into the pressure of win now and it didn’t work.

So far the plan is working.  There will be pitching available in free agency next year. This team with all it has going for them will be a desirable destination for many pitchers including David Price, Jason Zimmerman and maybe even a return of “The Shark” Samardzija.  If the Phillies called again ready to move Cole Hamels or Cliff Lee – the trade has to be done on the Cubs’ terms not Philadelphia’s.  Learn from other’s mistakes. Stay true to the plan.

Next: The Scott Boras factor

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