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Chicago Cubs missed their chance to build like the Giants

(Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
(Photo by David Banks/Getty Images) /
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The MLB postseason is heating up and the NL Central has officially been eliminated after the Atlanta Braves took out the Milwaukee Brewers in four games. Milwaukee had the pitching but their offense was always a red flag and it finally came back to bite them in the NLDS. With the teams remaining, the San Fransisco Giants are the surprise of the season that still has a shot to win it all. They took a very interesting approach to their rebuild and unfortunately, the Chicago Cubs may have missed their chance to replicate their approach.

As we all know, the Giants had their incredible stretch in which they won three World Series from 2010-2014. They were dominant and had a dynasty built. However, since 2014 they’ve only made one postseason appearance – and that came back in 2016. Of course, Cubs fans know very fondly how that particular run ended for San Francisco.

Heading into 2021, the Giants had run off four straight losing campaigns so it’s safe to say this season has come as a shock to most as they finished with the best record in baseball at 107-55. How they got to this point is fascinating.

Bruce Bochy, manager for 13 seasons, finally announced his retirement after the 2019 season and Gabe Kapler took over in 2020. Kapler spent two seasons as manager of the Phillies, were he went 161-163 before getting fired. He went 29-31 in his first season in San Fransisco and now this storybook season in year two.

Not only is Kapler’s success seemingly out of nowhere but the Giants chose to build around their championed veterans. Buster Posey, Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford are three names that have been with the Giants through it all and just when everyone thought it was time for the trio to move on, they decided to build around them. Not only has this core been the foundation of great success but they’ve all resurrected their careers in the bay and have eyes on another World Series.

To add to the veteran core, Evan Longoria was another final piece of leadership and he finished 2021 with his highest OPS (.833) since 2014 when he was with the Rays. Not only did Longoria have a career year but Crawford had the best offensive season off his career batting .298 with an OPS of .895 and Posey hit above .300 for the first time since 2017.

The Giants chose to stick with their core when it seemed like it was the end of the road and they were all given new life. The Cubs were faced with a similar choice and went in an entirely different direction.

Jed Hoyer and his front office had a choice. Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez and Kris Bryant were at crossroads in their career. The Cubs could have chosen to build around them or start fresh and look for a new championship core. Hoyer decided to trade them away and build the pipeline in a lost season. We’ve seen how new scenery has benefited Baez and Bryant and this organization has to hope their absences can be filled.

While I’m not saying what Hoyer did wasn’t the right move, but we are witnessing how the Giants core has resurrected themselves when all hope was lost. Placing trust in them was the best thing for the organization and it’s paid dividends. Sure, the pitching has been sensational and young starts like Lamonte Wade Jr. have taken this team to the next level, but the veteran leadership with championship experience has been invaluable to build off of.

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The hope is that Hoyer can find a core that brings leadership along with championship DNA and that is a risk he took when he made those trades. Not saying those guys can’t come back but the relationship would need a lot of rebuilding if it were to happen. A lot of uncertainty is in Chicago right now but in the meantime we can enjoy a Giants team that nobody thought would be here.

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