Chicago Cubs: The circumstances of this rebuild are not quite the same, but it will require a lot to go right for it to work
Let’s be real, this rebuild cannot directly be compared to the Epstein rebuild. The prospects and philosophy of the current plan are a bit different and there is at least more of a foundation in place than in 2012. Still, this rebuild might not feel quite as “safe” as the one Epstein did. Mainly the fact that the Cubs farm is filled with more teenage prospects with higher uncertainty than the likes of Rizzo, Bryant, Schwarber, Baez etc. who either were drafted out of college or had been developing for a few years already in the minors and had more solidified pedigrees.
This sets up more room for relying on chance.
Of the Cubs top-20 prospects (MLB.com), not one has played above Double-A and only a few are 22 or older. The system is deep but very raw. These guys have a lot of growing to do and their development will likely not be as linear as some of the players of the past regime. So these guys could very well be coming up in bunches, not around one general time like late-2014-2015. Not necessarily a bad thing, but it is hard to see the next “core” all come up through the system and hit right away at the same time like in 2015. Only time will tell for sure though, you never know how development can go.
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Good fortune will have to play in this somehow. Unfortunately, a number of the top prospects, including Pete Crow-Armstrong, Miguel Amaya, Brailyn Marquez are injured and not playing right now. Not to mention Nico Hoerner’s injury woes and newly-acquired Nick Madrigal being out for the season. This is already a concern. The likeliness of having the great bills of health with the next core is pretty unlikely, that was just remarkable. Especially after the pandemic year threw off everyone’s routines.
The Cubs organization has a lot of control of what happens, and development has to do their job. Like I said earlier, sometimes to get fortunate, you have to create it yourself. The better the organization does in growing their guys and investing properly, things can fall in place. But as we have seen as well, sometimes you just need fate on your side and things to go your way. That can happen again for this team but in different forms.
Maybe they are not going to be the healthiest team, or have a former Manager of the Year fall into their lap, but they can do what the Epstein regime struggled to do, find gold where it was not necessarily prospected for in their system. In other words, see star players emerge from non-top prospect guys in the system. These are just examples of course, who knows what the future holds. It is both exciting and nerve-wracking.
“Good fortune”, “luck”, “lightning in a bottle”, whatever you want to call it, there will hopefully be some of that in the future. Not all rebuild work, for various reasons, and the Epstein rebuild could have easily gone the other way with injuries, clubhouse issues or other misfortune. Heck, you can say the lightning fizzled out and that helped lead to the downfall of this organization. Not the only reason of course, but a factor.