I’ve been around long enough to have seen some shit. As a Cubs fan, it’s mostly all I’ve seen, to be honest. In the last four decades the Cubs have been good approximately eight times.
Oh, how humiliating.
For the last three years they have been terrible, even by their own miserable standards. But I’ve largely enjoyed it. Why? Because for the first time in my life, the Cubs are being run–baseball-wise at least–like a real Major League franchise. Some of the exploits on the field have been tough to watch, but it’s all been with a noble end in mind. Accumulate assets, develop into a regular postseason contender, and set up the infrastructure to stay that way.
So while some fans have been clamoring for the arrival of hot shot prospects like Javier Baez, Jorge Soler and Kris Bryant for many months, I’ve sat back and felt a very odd feeling for a Cubs fan.
Confidence. And some indigestion. Smokie links should be eaten in moderation, gang.
Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer know what they are doing. When a player is ready, they’ll bring him up. No amount of foot stomping from the lunatic fan base, or weird, terribly veiled, heavily agendized writing from the Sun-Times was going to change their plan.
Some of the “kids” are up already. The first big arrival happened three seasons ago when Anthony Rizzo was summoned from Iowa. Arismendy Alcantara showed up last month to fill in for Darwin Barney for a few days while Darwin’s wife had a baby. Darwin’s in Albuquerque right now wondering what the hell happened. The bullpen is stocked with young power arms. Jake Arrieta was stolen from Baltimore. Starlin Castro’s been around long enough that most fans like nothing more than to bitch about him non-stop.
Oh, the team is still bad. They have their moments of competence like this last weekend in LA, but they’re not good.
But tomorrow feels like a symbolic turning of a page. The first of the big four or five or whatever, key prospects, will make his big league debut. Javy Baez isn’t going to make a bad Cubs team good. In fact, he’s likely to struggle. But his track record says he’ll figure it out and even while he’s just figuring it out he’ll still treat us to a prodigious blast here and there.
His promotion makes things more interesting. And it won’t be long now before Jorge Soler arrives (probably in September) and Kris Bryant (probably June of 2015–to save service time and to piss off Scott Boras) and Addison Russell (sometime next season) and Albert Almora (sometime in 2016)…
Some of them are going to be really good, some won’t meet expectations, or so we’re told (what if they all flopped…what if they all were awesome?)
The Cubs are more interesting now. The first two thirds of the season were spent shopping Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel and finding out what veterans might be of long-term use like Chris Coghlan and Justin Ruggiano might be. But now it’s about these prospects.
Javy didn’t get called up because fans bitched or a newspaper writer took time off from his weird deification of Carlos Villaneuva to whine that the time had come.
Theo and Jed don’t work that way. Javy had been destroying AAA for a couple of months, and they felt it was time for him to set his sights at the next level. They gave him a few weeks at second base and he gets a sniff of the big leagues.
Part of me has been dreading this day. Because Cubs fans as a group are pretty fucking dumb. Any struggles by Javy or any of these guys will result in a lot of stupid shit. And young players struggle. Well, except Mike Trout, but you know what I mean.
I could write about how this makes me feel as a Cubs fan, but I’m not a nine year old idiot.
This going to be fun.
It’s just the beginning and even if this works it’s going to take a while, but it should be fun, and that’s supposed to be the point. At least that’s what we’ve been told by fans of other teams who occasionally win things.