Well, today’s the day we been dreaming about since last October. I hope that this day is the beginning of 162 days that will lead us to playing baseball next October. That’s really what it’s about. The expectation is that this is the year that the Cubs could get in the World Series. But I’m not going to agree with that statement because I think the next few years the Cubs will be in contention to get in the World Series every year. For the next five years, or more, the Cubs have lined themselves up to be a winning team every year. Here’s why:
1. A Ton of Youth – Aside from Dexter Fowler and David Ross, everyone is going to be back next year and Fowler could be – it’s a mutual option. And many of the players will be back for the next five years through 2021. Rizzo is not going anywhere, neither will Bryant, Schwarber, Russell, Baez, and Soler.
Cubs opening day position players by ages:
22, 23, 24, 24, 26, 26, 26, 27, 30, 32, 35, 39
And in a week probably a 23 will replace a 26.
— dabynsky (@dabynsky) April 3, 2016
2. Staggering – the Cubs have staggered their free-agent contracts in a unique way. For example, Jason Hammell is the only pitcher whose contract expires this year, John Lackey’s does next year. Arrieta still has another year but the Cubs can still extend him. Jon Lester goes through 2020 with a vesting option for 2021 if he pitches either 400 IP between 2019-20 or 200 in 2020. Meanwhile, the professor, Kyle Hendricks, goes through 2020. This staggering allows for the Cubs to slowly develop pitching in the minors and to be flexible in acquiring pitching throughout the year and the offseason. While most of the high end pitching prospects should be at short season or low A ball in 2016, there are a few names who could be the first pitchers drafted in the the Theo era to make it up this year.
3. 307 – At one point in the middle of February, the Cubs had 307 players under contract, the most in the major leagues. While the Cubs do have eight minor league teams and one major league team, they are going to continue to go out and continue to find talent to fill all those teams to continue to resupply the major-league team from within. It also means Cubs could use some of the talent to pick up a player or two at the break this summer. Think about all the talent the Cubs acquired this past winter. They did it all by only giving up Frandy Delarosa and Wander Cabrera. That’s it. This summer, the Cubs still have all of their top prospects in which to make a deal.
While I like the expectations that this Cubs team could be in the World Series this year, it is not going to be the last year. In fact, it’s going to be the second year of a long run sustained run. The Cubs will have the opportunity to get in the playoffs, and then win a couple series to get in the World Series. That’s what it takes. It’s not magical; it’s simple math. When I hear people say it’s a do or die season,” it’s not. Throughout my whole life I heard “This could be the year,” “There’s always next year.” You cannot think like that anymore. It is the 21st century and Theo and company are in charge. Winning has taken on a whole other dimension in the Epstein era. The Cubs are going to win this year, next year, and every year for the foreseeable future. They are going to have the opportunity to become champions every year. Cubs fans are not used to that kind of attitude, and really, who can blame them. Now, it is time to change that mindset.
The time has come where winning is here every year and so is the expectation to possibly win it all every year. Buckle up and enjoy this run.