Despite promising beginnings and similar methods the Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros find themselves in completely separate situations in 2019.
After 2017, the Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros felt as if they were walking the same path to greatness. Both teams had been stuck as the perennial losers of the league for years despite having powerful rosters and both had just come out of a lengthy period of extreme losing.
Both featured a new core of homegrown stars looking to do what, for the Cubs, hadn’t been achieved since 1908 and, for the Astros, had never been accomplished. Both cores augmented themselves with veterans like Jon Lester, Justin Verlander, David Ross, Brian McCann, Dexter Fowler and Josh Reddick to guide and support young studs like Kris Bryant and Carlos Correa.
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The teams were both hailed as models for how to build success by failing according to ESPN, winning the World Series in 2016 and 2017 respectively. That’s where the similarities end, however, and while the Cubs would see their imagined dynasty begin to crumble, the Astros saw their own rise.
Ok, so it’s too early to say that the Cubs dynasty is completely dead, but it was certainly put on life support after that disappointing wild card loss in 2018 and after missing the playoffs entirely in 2019. For a team that looked like a perennial contender, this simply wasn’t the vision.
Yet in Houston, a new empire is rising, powered by dominant pitching and a frightening core of batters, both of which seem to consistently restock themselves every year.
The Astros are back in the World Series and are heavy favorites to win it all again. They once again restocked their holes with incredible talent like Michael Brantley and called up Yordan Alvarez who, of course, started mashing right away.
Compared to the Cubs, the Astros have done almost everything right and had everything go right, but the big key for them has been player development. Looking at former top Cubs prospects like Albert Almora and Addison Russell as well as free agent signings like Jason Heyward, you start seeing how the big moves haven’t panned out for the team.
Chicago quite clearly has a player development problem, especially considering how quickly their farm system dropped in overall ranking and how quickly their former top prospects have flamed out. That is, except for some of those traded off, like Jorge Soler, who flourished upon leaving Chicago.
If the Chicago Cubs want to somehow resurrect their dynasty, they may now instead have to look to the Astros for how to right the ship. Whether it require a soft rebuild or an overhaul of staff, the Cubs need to be able to better develop their own players and sustain their team if they ever want a chance at what we all thought was coming after 2016.