Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Here come the Cubs, Part Deux

They could still screw this up. They are the Cubs, after all.

But remember a couple of months back, when the Blob said the following?

 (Theo Epstein) 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, Jorge Soler, who's been described by those who've played with him as a "freakish" athlete.

 Throw 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.

 ...  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.

Well. Looks like Epstein and Co. just took a big step toward alleviating that little problem.

Comes now the news that they outbid the Red Sox -- the Red Sox! -- for Jon Lester, throwing $155 million across six years at him to come to Chicago and be the Arm for a club that is suddenly bursting with a lot of young Bats and Legs. That's two splashy deals in the last couple of months, if you count wooing new manager Joe Maddon away from Tampa Bay (and that's essentially what happened). And suddenly the pieces, or a lot of them, are in place for the Cubs to, well, not be the Cubs anymore.

Which is to say, it's winning time on the north side of Chicago. And, yes, a lot of people have said that before in December about the Lovables, only to see their hopes get crushed in June's ruthless fists.

But for the first time in a long time, it looks like there's an actual plan in place in the Friendly Confines. You can see its outlines, track its flow chart, thumb through a touchable blueprint. And if the weight of all that oppressive history -- of all that Cubness, if you will -- has KO'ed best-laid plans before, the best-laid plans look to have a puncher's chance this time.

Here come the Cubs?

At least for today, you can leave the irony on the bench when you say that.



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