It has been a long time coming. After five consecutive losing seasons and a playoff drought dating back to 2008, the Chicago Cubs have fallen on hard times in recent seasons. However, led by the brain trust of President Theo Epstein and General Manager Jed Hoyer, the Cubs are building a monster, and things are about to change in a big way.
Those of us who have followed the team closely have seen this coming for a while now. Since taking over the team prior to the 2012 season, Epstein and Hoyer have completely overhauled the organization.
Backed by absolute job security, the Cubs’ front office took their time and built the roster the right way. For the first time in a long while, the Cubs were not making outrageous go-for-it deals that help in the short-term while hurting the long-term vision. Epstein and Hoyer made it clear that the attention was being put in the future more than the present, and their moves backed that up.
Now, after a long rebuilding effort, the Cubs have built an impressive roster loaded with young talent. While top prospects like Jorge Soler, Javier Baez, and Arismendy Alcantara reached the big leagues last season, giving us hope for the future, it is the promotion of Kris Bryant that signals a new era in Cubs’ baseball.
Bryant will be called-up to the big league roster before the Cubs’ Friday afternoon game against the San Diego Padres. He will make his debut in front of an incredibly excited Wrigley Field crowd, with a ton of national eyes looking to see what he can do.
Considered by almost everybody to be the top prospect in the game, Bryant enters the big leagues with high expectations. The 23-year-old former second overall pick is a disciplined hitter who has great contact skills and massive natural power, as his 55 home runs in 648 career minor league at-bats shows.
Obviously, Bryant is a young player who will probably take some time to get acclimated to the big-league level, but he is an absolute superstar in the making. Simply seeing him on the field along with Soler, Anthony Rizzo, and Starlin Castro shows how far the Cubs have come compared to recent seasons.
The rotation looks great led by Jon Lester (I am not overly worried about his early season struggles) and Jake Arrieta, the bullpen is talented and has been lights-out in the early going and the addition of Bryant will make the offense downright dominant on some days.
No matter how talented guys like Bryant and Soler are, they are young. Inconsistency is to be expected with young players. The Cubs are a very young team as a whole, so while the future looks extremely bright; it is probably wise to temper expectations for this season a bit.
That being said, with this exciting roster, holding back optimism is proving to be very difficult.
Regardless of how things shake out this season, after so many years of being a complete afterthought on a national level, it is incredibly exciting to see the Cubs heading in this direction. The new era of Chicago Cubs’ baseball is here, and it looks like it is going to be a great one.