Since Arismendy Alcantara’s Cubs debut on July 9th, the Cubs has amassed a rather average record, going 14-15 in that span. While that doesn’t seem terribly good, there has been progress made. Lest we forget that it’s been nearly five years since the Cubs last finished above .500, so anything close to that is appealing. In that five week span, the Cubs have seen excellent performances from the supposed “future” of the organization. Javier Baez, Kyle Hendricks, Arismendy Alcantara, and Jake Arrieta have all impressed thus far, and with the September call-ups looming, we could see a few more exceptional outings yet.
If the Cubs can finish strong this year, it could bode well for the future, as we near the end of year three of the Theo plan. If everything goes to plan, the worst of it has passed. We have seen the 101 loss season in 2012, and we have made steady progress since then. In 2013, we saw the regression of Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro, which slowed the Cubs down, but they have since recovered nicely. And, in 2014, the Cubs have seen considerable progress.
While it was all but certain Jeff Samardzjia would leave the core group, what was unexpected was the haul the Cubs received. The Cubs farm system has been criticized by some for being too position player-centric; however, whatever pitchers have surfaced from the farm have been superb. Kyle Hendricks has been a revelation. After being called up following the Samardzjia deal, Hendricks has turned some heads, perhaps setting up a position in the rotation for years to come. Tsuyoshi Wada, while unlikely to be featured down the line, has been a key part of the Cubs rotation.
The Position Players
So far this year, we have experienced “Mendy-Mania”, which lasted up until “Baez-Mania” started up a few weeks ago. When Alcantara made his major league debut last month, it symbolized more than just the end of Darwin Barney, it symbolized the beginning of the future for the Cubs. Alcantara was the first of the big-name prospects to make his major league debut, and he has been effective. Perhaps more sure-handed than Javier Baez, Alcantara is a bit more contact-driven. Baez-Mania has dominated Wrigleyville, and will likely do so until the end of the year.
Baez has tremendous power, which is generated by the violent hack he takes. So far, he has been quite literally, hit or miss. Out of his 41 at bats, 17 have been either a homerun, or a strikeout. He still hasn’t taken a walk, but he’s only 20, so there’s plenty of development left. The anchors of the position players, Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro have both recovered from poor 2013 seasons, and were both selected to play in the All-Star Game.
So, yes, the Cubs seem destined to lose 90+ games, but all is not lost. With the purging of bad contracts, and the rise of bright prospects, the future is bright at 1060 W. Addison. If the current core of prospects can continue to perform at a high level, 2015 may be a winning season (the first since 2009). The dark days have passed, and the Cubs are getting ready to compete down the road. Of course, we cannot crush our prospects with our high expectations, we must be patient.