Chicago Cubs fans’ emotional attachments are clouding their judgment
By Jake Misener
Emotions spilling over from the 2016 World Series championship continue to impact how Chicago Cubs fans evaluate rumors in the offseason.
When you wait more than a century to win a championship, it’s not easy to express emotions in a coherent way. As Kris Bryant threw across the diamond to Anthony Rizzo for the final out of Game 7, Chicago Cubs fans across the world erupted into tears and shouts of jubilation.
But, here we are, heading into 2018. The Houston Astros now claim the title of reigning champs. It’s time to move past what happened two seasons ago and start thinking about capitalizing again in this championship window. To do that, you’re going to need to control those emotions a bit better than you have of-late.
In the last week or so, I’ve lost count of Cubs fans up in arms over a potential Christian Yelich deal on Twitter. To narrow down the conversation, let’s focus in on the rumored package that has been floating around online. Mike Montgomery, Ian Happ and Albert Almora head to South Beach in exchange for the Marlins outfielder.
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Yelich fixes the perceived leadoff problem in Chicago. (Although, the Cubs ranked second in the NL in runs scored last year, trailing only Colorado). But that’s a debate for another time.
Not to mention, he comes with five years of control and is just 26 years old. A career .290 hitter with the Marlins, the outfielder takes a loaded Cubs lineup and makes it even better. Take a look at this potential batting order, for example.
- Christian Yelich – CF
- Kris Bryant – 3B
- Anthony Rizzo – 1B
- Willson Contreras – C
- Kyle Schwarber – LF
- Javier Baez – SS
- Jason Heyward – RF
- Addison Russell – SS
- Kyle Hendricks – P
What about the Cubs’ depth?
Yeah, I don’t know about you, but I’ll take that any day. Now, I know what you’re going to shoot back at me with: what about our depth. Even with a deal that sends both Almora and Happ to Miami, the Cubs could head into the spring with the following bench: Ben Zobrist, Victor Caratini, Tommy La Stella and any potential late offseason signing.
I still wouldn’t be shocked to see a Jon Jay-type signing in the next month, especially with the number of options still available. Now, on to the rotation.
Losing Montgomery opens up another spot in the bullpen – or, potentially, the rotation. Of course, the team is reportedly still in on Yu Darvish, Jake Arrieta and Alex Cobb. So that would round out the rotation. If you lose Monty, though, another proven bullpen arm is almost a ‘must’ in my mind.
There’s time left this offseason, despite what you might think. Chicago boasts, in my mind, the best front office in baseball. The pieces will fall into place before Opening Day. Remember when Theo brought back Dexter Fowler two years ago? Don’t sleep on him again in 2018.
Players peaking too early?
I understand being in love with Happ and Almora. The latter is one of my favorite young talents in the game. His desire to be a Cub and his high-level baseball IQ makes me giddy on a near-daily basis during the season.
But consider this. What if Almora is what he is. A roughly league-average hitter (he owns a career 101 OPS+) with a plus glove. That’s valuable, sure. Don’t get me wrong. But Yelich represents one of the best young players in the game. He carries a career 120 OPS+ and .800 OPS through five seasons and would cement himself amongst the Cubs’ sluggers for years to come.
As for Happ, I like his versatility a lot. But if you think back to the postseason, Joe Maddon barely let his utility man see a pitch. In the Cubs’ 10 postseason games, he saw seven at-bats. Seven. Now, he’s a rookie. That definitely factors into this equation.
Next: RUMORS: Cubs, Pirates talking about Gerrit Cole?
Too good to pass up
Everyone is going to have their opinion, sure. But Miami is unloading in a big way. The Cubs must capitalize on this championship window and adding Yelich to the lineup gets them closer to that goal.
Happ and Almora may very well continue to grow into star players. I hope they do. But player progression is near-impossible to predict and Yelich comes with control, a proven track record and he fits the bill for what the Cubs need atop the lineup. It’s time to put emotion aside and pull the trigger.