Cubs' Checklist for the 2nd Half of 2014
As June turns to July, teams around the MLB prepare themselves for the second half of the 2014 season. While some teams aim to make small boosts for a playoff push, other teams look to make moves to pay off in the future.
At 15.0 games out of first place, the Chicago Cubs are certainly not in a position to make a playoff push in 2014. However, a core of young prospects and talent puts the organization in a good spot for the future despite the futility on the field.
There's much more to discuss than just the team on the field, including the fate of Wrigley Field and the rooftop owners. Here we look at the Cubs' checklist for the second half of the 2014 season.
Start Renovating Wrigley Field
Remember that time when the city of Chicago woke up to find giant X's dug into the runway at Meigs Field?
Perhaps the Cubs should follow suit.
The Cubs have now been in a stalemate with the rooftop owners over the future of Wrigley Field, and it's time that that ends. The rooftop owners only need to concede 17 percent of the income they make off the Cubs, an amount that was agreed upon by the owners and Cubs years ago, long before the Ricketts family took over the team.
The thing to remember here is that these rooftop owners are not Cubs fans...they are businessmen and women. Let's face it, a real Cubs fan would let the team put curtains in front of his house if it meant that he would get to see the Cubs win a World Series.
However, that's not the case. The team needs to reach an agreement with the rooftop owners and begin improving Wrigley Field ASAP. Even the Cubs players themselves are upset about the delay in the renovations.
Of course, we all know that unhappy players win championships, right?
Utilize Manny Ramirez in Triple-A Iowa
If you asked the people living in the state of Iowa, it's likely not a single one would guess that Manny Ramirez would be his next in-state neighbor.
Ramirez was signed to be a player-coach with Triple-A Iowa and made his debut on Thursday. Let's face it, the point of signing Ramirez was not to bring crowds or give the 42-year-old another shot at the majors. Iowa manager Marty Pevey paraphrased Cubs president Theo Epstein when he said, per the Chicago Sun-Times's Steve Greenberg (h/t Nick Groke of The Denver Post), that he is a "coach first and player second."
Yes, Ramirez's reputation may be tarnished as a result of his drug suspensions, but the man's got talent. Steroids aren't the only thing that will give you 555 career home runs. You need to at least make solid contact 555 times as well, an art that the Cubs are hoping Manny will pass on to their young prospects.
Fix Javier Baez's Struggles in Triple-A Iowa
While young prospects Kyle Schwarber and Kris Bryant have already been promoted this season, the Cubs' No. 1 overall prospect, Javier Baez, is yet to receive his call.
After hitting .294 with Double-A last season, Baez's average is an unimpressive .239 in 2014. His home run pace has also decreased. Baez hit 20 home runs in 54 games last season while clubbing only 11 in 71 games this ear.
Cue Manny Ramirez as previously discussed.
Hopefully, the arrival of Kris Bryant to man the other half of the left side will be a little motivation and positive change for Baez's benefit. Perhaps a noticeable improvement in the second half of 2014 will be enough to get the young shortstop to the majors this year after all.
Decide the Fate of Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel
A report from CBS Sports' Jon Heyman suggests that starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija has already turned down an offer from the Cubs, and the refused number is enough to make anyone turn his nose at Samardzija.
A total of $60 million? Come on, the man has a family to feed.
The more offers that Samardzija turns down, the more likely it seems that the righty will be traded to a contender on or before the trade deadline on July 31.
Jason Hammel is another pitcher on the trading block for the Cubs. Buster Olney has reported (h/t John Arguello of Cubs Den) that the Cubs will trade Hammel early in order to maximize the market for Jeff Samardzija.
Go for it. In that case, next topic on the list is to trade Jason Hammel, followed by the onslaught of offers for Jeff Samardzija.
Develop Prospects, Develop Prospects, Develop Prospects
Albert Almora. Arismendy Alcantara. Javier Baez. Kris Bryant. C.J. Edwards. Pierce Johnson. Kyle Schwarber. Jorge Soler. Logan Watkins.
The youth of the Cubs organization runs as deep as the tradition at Wrigley Field, an encouraging sign for Cubs fans around the world.
Fans know that it's going to take another couple of seasons to become a contender, but the potential that awaits in the minor leagues is enough to get even the most pessimistic fan excited for the future.
More than ever, the Cubs need to be smart with the development of their prospects. Their time will come, and when it does, the time for the north side of Chicago will come with it.
Developing prospects is the most important task for the organization in the second half of 2014 and beyond.