Cubs ask ‘what might have been’ as the Dodgers come to town

(Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Cubs were on the brink of becoming a dynasty. After making a deep run into October in 2015, the North Siders won it all and advanced to a third consecutive NLCS in 2017 before falling victim to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

At the time, we chalked it up to a World Series hangover. The team was visibly running on fumes by late in the year and it was nothing short of a miracle Chicago gutted its way past Washington in the NLDS that year. But since then, the organization has trended sharply downward – and faces a very uncertain future.

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Those same Dodgers come to Wrigley this week for a three-game series that’s sure to rub salt in the wound of Cubs fans. Los Angeles is widely considered to not only be the best team in MLB, but are the reigning champs and have perfectly blended prospect development with large market financial power to create an absolute juggernaut of a roster.

Meanwhile, the Cubs are on the brink of tearing things down to the studs. In a matter of months, Kris Bryant, Craig Kimbrel, Anthony Rizzo and Javier Baez could all be wearing different uniforms. While the Dodgers went out and signed Trevor Bauer to a record-breaking contract, Chicago traded its best starter in Yu Darvish – and now has a rotation that’s among the worst in baseball.

Cubs can’t even be mentioned in the same breath as the Dodgers

Five years ago, the Cubs and Dodgers were the toasts of the National League. Now, they’re a tale of two organizations – each of which made decisions with long-term consequences.

The Dodgers have created a pipeline of talent that’s among the best in baseball. They have shown a willingness to not only spend to improve the roster, but do so in ways fans in the Windy City only dream of – trading for and then extending Mookie Betts, signing Bauer and locking up key personalities such as Justin Turner.

Chicago’s farm system still ranks in the bottom half of the league and most of the top-tier talent is, at a minimum, a couple years away from reaching the big leagues. The team’s most notable names look destined to either get traded or depart in free agency and ownership has been completely unwilling to spend like a large-market team, instead crying poor at every turn.

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I hope I’m wrong and the Dodgers don’t steam roll the Cubs this weekend. But it’s hard to think Chicago can hang with a team like Los Angeles, even when they’re not firing on all cylinders. On paper and on the field, this team simply overmatched when it comes to the reigning World Series champions.