The Chicago Cubs – one of the most popular and storied franchises in all of baseball. But the story to the Cubs isn’t a happy one for the fans. To fix that story, the Cubs had to bring in someone to fix the team from the bottom to the top.
To make that kind of improvements, you’d want to bring in someone who’s done that before to a similar situation. It would take someone who took another similar team who hadn’t won in that much time.
Who would be crazy enough to take on another project of building up a team that hasn’t won a world championship in over 100 years after they already had taken one-storied franchise who also had not won one in nearly 90 years?
If you didn’t know better, you’d probably say no one in their right mind – but that person does have a mind and it may be better than anyone else in all of baseball – that would be Theo Epstein.
Bringing in Epstein was the easy part – fixing the problems was going to be a different story. He had a plan and that plan first involved bringing in someone who could work next to him and think and act like he does – enter Jed Hoyer.
Now that the front office help was in place it was time to start the plan and make it a reality. Their plan in Boston was slightly different from the one they would make for the Cubs. In Boston, they had some established talents that were already all-stars but what Boston needed badly was the same as the Cubs. They needed to fix the farm system.
To say that the Cubs farm system was, a mess would be an understatement. While the Cubs had a few good players – there really wasn’t a lot that you could build your team with. That was going to take time and work.
What may have been the hardest job was going to be to sell the fans on the importance of patience. Not the easiest sell to a set of fans that have waited this long for a championship.
It was said to be a four or five-year plan – that it would take that long to get this team back up to where it should be. But the good thing was it wasn’t going to take the four or five years to build a team to win just one championship – this was going to build a team that could contend for many years to come.
"“€œThe toughest thing, €œis that fans here feel — and they’€™re right to feel this way — they feel like they’€™ve already been through enough. So they are saying: €˜Why are you ACTIVELY putting us through more of this?€™ And I don’€™t have an answer for that except that we think it’€™s the only way we’€™re going to win.” – Epstein via NBCSports"
True to his word he fixed the farm system – which is now ranked as the top among baseball scouts. They have an overabundance of riches that teams would love to have – power hitters that the whole league is lacking and are searching for.
While other teams were spending on the top names in free agency – Epstein stuck to his plan and went after the third tier free agents who needed to prove themselves again and signed them to one year deals. These players proved themselves in the first half of the season and were flipped for more prospects.
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This previous off-season Epstein didn’t go crazy with the checkbook – but spent wisely with finally getting the Cubs their much-needed ace of the staff with Jon Lester.
He also added more of the veteran players to small contracts – will they be flipped? Maybe – considering there are players in the minors to take their place – if the need is there, I’m sure they will get flipped. But the years of moving anyone they can get more prospects is over it seems.
As Epstein said, it would take four to five years to get this team fixed – it has been four. While this team may not win the championship this year – it will compete for the Central Division at least and maybe a wild card spot. But next year as long as the plan continues to work – year five could be a different story.
He came in with a plan – he’s worked that plan – and that plan is working. Just like he said it would.