Cubs: First-round shortcomings may have helped end the curse

(Photo by Brian D. Kersey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Brian D. Kersey/Getty Images) /
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Josh Vitters / Chicago Cubs
(Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs find some modest first round success: 2006-2008

From 2006 through 2008 things improved, as the Cubs drafted five first-rounders, all of whom would reach the majors. Only Josh Vitters (drafted in 2007) would fail to have a three-year career. He stayed in the majors just long enough to accumulate 109 disastrous plate appearances in 2012, with an OPS+ of 7 for those of you keeping score at home. Among non-pitchers with at least 100 career plate appearances, that’s tied for the eleventh-worst career mark in major league history.

The most notable success story from this group has been Josh Donaldson, who is at 44.4 career WAR and counting. In a classic later-for-now trade, the Cubs sent The Bringer of Rain to Oakland for Rich Harden and Chad Gaudin in 2008. Harden would help the Cubs to finish first in the NL Central that year, but would be gone after the 2009 season. Donaldson, a late bloomer with an uncertain position, wouldn’t establish himself in the majors until 2012. It’s easy to look back in sorrow at this trade, but it made sense at the time.

The two other players to reach the majors in this period were right-hander Andrew Cashner and outfielder Tyler Colvin. Cashner would contribute little directly to the Cubs, but he was the key piece in the trade with San Diego that brought back Anthony Rizzo. So Cashner ended up being a key cog in the World Series machine, even though he was long gone by the time the curse lay bleeding.

Colvin was a power prospect who got his chance to start in The Show near the end of the 2009 season after right fielder Milton Bradley inexplicably decided to tell the Daily Herald exactly what he thought of playing for the Cubs.  Colvin went on to have a good year in 2010 until a grisly injury ended his season.  Although he made a “full recovery” he would never be able to tap into his power consistently. After a horrible 2011 the Cubs shipped him to Colorado, where he would have one more decent season before entering permanent decline.