Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Here come the ... Cubs?

OK, OK. So I can read an agate page.

I've got the National League standings right here in front of me, in fact, and I know what they say. They say the Chicago Cubs are dead last in the NL Central, 14 games underwater and 14.5 games out of first place. I also know they're the Cubs, which means A) they probably belong where they are, and B) you should treat every ray of hope that surrounds them as an optical illusion at best and a fevered hallucination at worst.

But I've never been smart to believe in either my own lying eyes or conventional wisdom. So why start now?

Why not look at what the Cubs have in the pipeline, and declare that Theo Epstein is not some penny-arcade genius with the shine worn off him, but someone who, you know, actually knows what he's doing?

He rode into Chicago on a promise to rebuild the Cubs' wrecked farm system, and by all accounts he's done it. Anthony Rizzo is solid for the next decade or so. Javier Baez and Kris Bryant are apparently budding stars. And the Cubs just called up another ABS from Triple-A Iowa, Jorge Soler, who's been described by those who've played with him as a "freakish" athlete.

Thrown in Addison Russell, the young infielder acquired in the Jeff Samardzija/Jason Hammel deal who everyone seems to agree is the Next Big Thing, and you've got the makings of a team to -- dare we say it? -- look out for in the next two or three or four years.

Of course, the Cubs being the Cubs, you never want to say that out loud. And it's true Epstein's had to gut his pitching staff to do what he's done, and equally true that this leaves any supposed resurgence in the theoretical category for now, given that pitching, as ever, is the difference between contending for hardware and actually bench-pressing it.

But there's talent coming. And when, except sporadically, was the last time you could say that about the Lovables?  

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