At the beginning of every MLB season, the ultimate goal of every team is to win the World Series.
As for the Chicago Cubs, it could be argued that the next few years will simply serve as a development period for their young and promising prospects.
The Cubs currently have an abundance of young talent in their farm system and are poised to be serious title contenders within a few years. That alone has Cubs fans salivating at the possibility of division titles, pennants and a brighter future as a whole. With Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein at the helm, Cubs nation has every right to be optimistic about future success.
With all things considered however, Cubs fans would be smart to lower their expectations for a number of reasons. For one, building a championship team isn’t easy and will likely take more than just a few years. But beyond that, the Cubs have been in this position before. They’ve had young, promising talent in the minors and have either traded them away or lost them to injury (Mark Prior and Dontrelle Willis). So before you pencil in the Cubs for a championship, you might want to wait and see how things unfold.
There is no denying that, on paper, the Cubs have arguably the best farm system in the majors. That is in large part due to a plethora of players that have the potential to be perennial All-Stars in MLB. Players such as Starlin Castro, Anthony Rizzo and Brett Jackson have already made a splash in the big leagues.
Castro, 22, has shown his value to the Cubs by making the All-Star team and racking up a few 200-hit seasons as well. He’s shown good speed on the base paths and his only weakness is his poor defense. He seems to possess the skill to be a great defender but he lacks the effort. Either way, this can easily be corrected. Taking a few extra ground balls can go a long way.
Rizzo and Jackson also seem like locks for their respective positions. Rizzo, 23, has shown no flaws in his game while Jackson, 24, has to continue to work on his swing. Many had issues with the extremely high amount of strikeouts from Brett Jackson; but his hard work during the offseason has hopefully made that a thing of the past. He has looked good thus far in spring training.
What’s interesting about the Cubs future is that most of their talent still isn’t even close to reaching the majors. Guys like Jorge Soler, Javier Baez and Albert Almora will likely spend the whole 2013 season in the minors. But if anyone has a chance for a call up this season, say, in September; it’s Javier Baez.
Baez, 20, is said to have lighting quick bat speed and above average power. His defensive instincts also seem to be superior to that of Starlin Castro. However, the Cubs expect Baez to outgrow shortstop and ultimately move to third base. If that is what ends up happening, along with Castro, Rizzo and Darwin Barney, the Cubs will have one of the best infields around.
Epstein and Hoyer have made it clear that Soler and Almora still have a ways to go before playing in Chicago. But they are major building blocks in this rebuilding plan. With Almora, 18, it’s still too early to tell what type of player he will be. He is said to have a good arm, impressive bat speed and decent power, but only time will tell how he translates into MLB.
Of all the prospects in the Cubs system, Soler is the one I am most excited about. At 6’4”, 215 pounds and only 21 years of age, Soler has all the makings of a baseball phenom. He possesses multiple tools including power, speed, and an incredibly strong throwing arm. Based on those skills alone, he projects to be another Alfonso Soriano except without the terrible defense and high amount of strike outs.
Considering the fact that all of these players are either already there or on their way to the Friendly Confines, it won’t be long before the Cubs start to make some noise in the MLB.
The Cubs' goal isn’t to win the World Series this year and it may not even be their goal next year. So instead of fans annually watching their beloved Cubs fail and sadly saying, “Wait till next year,” they should simply shrug their shoulders, hold their heads high and believe that within the next few years, brighter days are coming.