Chicago Cubs: For Cubs fans, success of Christian Yelich stings

jmurray
CINCINNATI, OH - MAY 01: Christian Yelich #22 of the Milwaukee Brewers celebrates in the dugout with team members after scoring during the game against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on May 1, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - MAY 01: Christian Yelich #22 of the Milwaukee Brewers celebrates in the dugout with team members after scoring during the game against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on May 1, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /
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Christian Yelich has been a legitimate National League MVP candidate in his first season with the Milwaukee Brewers, as the club tries to catch the Chicago Cubs.

By the time you read this, Christian Yelich may have hit for the cycle again.

The Milwaukee Brewers outfielder hit for his second cycle of the season on Monday night, going 4-for-4 with four RBI in the Brewers’ 8-0 win over the Cincinnati Reds. Yelich’s last cycle on Aug. 29 also came against the Reds, making him the first player ever to hit for the cycle twice in one season against the same team.

Yelich has been instrumental to Milwaukee’s success this season. Entering Tuesday, he was batting .318 with 31 home runs and 93 RBI. He is, no doubt, a legitimate contender for the NL MVP award.

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Yelich’s success is troubling to Cubs fans in two ways. One, he has fueled the Brewers to many victories this season, and Monday night’s prevented the Cubs from gaining a game in the standings with their 5-1 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks.

But aside from that, news of Yelich’s cycle may bring a twinge of jealousy to a Cubs fan’s mind, because Yelich realistically could have been a member of the 2018 Cubs.

The one that got away

During the Miami Marlins firesale of the 2018 offseason, Yelich was mentioned early as a potential trade candidate for a contender to acquire. In five seasons with the Marlins, Yelich was an above average player, batting .290 with 59 home runs.

There was some speculation in the offseason that the Cubs could be the ones to acquire Yelich. As a solid contender, they were mentioned in the mix for a number of trade candidates.

However, it was ultimately the Brewers who acquired Yelich on Jan. 25, trading four prospects—Lewis Brinson, Isan Diaz, Monte Harrison and Jordan Yamamoto—for the California native.

Sure, the Cubs were not exactly looking for offensive firepower at the time. Chicago’s lineup is stacked with players that either are or should have been producing at the rate that Yelich is. But especially in the second half, many of those players have struggled, failing to produce at the rate expected of them.

Those struggles often bring to mind the what-ifs. What if the Cubs had acquired Yelich? Sure, it would have taken a haul of prospects from an already sparse Chicago farm system. But wouldn’t you give whatever it takes to pick up an MVP candidate, especially if it means blocking him from going to a division rival?

Got their priorities straight

In the end, the Cubs determined that what they really needed was pitching for the 2018 season and ultimately added pitchers through free agency rather than hitters like Yelich through trades.

In hindsight, that choice hasn’t exactly worked out great for them. Yu Darvish, signed on Feb. 13, has not thrown a pitch since May and will be out for the rest of the season. Tyler Chatwood, signed on Dec. 7, struggled early in the season and is now in a mop-up bullpen role.

Then again, it’s always easy to look back and assess decisions that are now in the past. Any logical person likely would have said in the offseason that what the Cubs needed was pitching, and that their offense was likely to come through in a big way throughout the season.

Still, Yelich was clearly an accomplished player before he ever came to Milwaukee, and it would have been worth whatever it took for the Cubs to get him.

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It’s going to continue to sting for Cubs fans to see the success that Yelich is having, especially with the Brewers chasing the Cubs in the standings. But if the Cubs stay ahead of Milwaukee in the standings and win the division, who can fault the Cubs front office too much for the decisions they made in the offseason?

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