10 Reasons the Chicago Cubs Will Break Their World Series Drought in 5 YearsFebruary 6, 2013
10 Reasons the Chicago Cubs Will Break Their World Series Drought in 5 Years
It’s been far too long, 105 years to be exact, since the Chicago Cubs brought a World Series championship to the Windy City.
Of course, the game was different in 1908. Nonetheless, on its third consecutive World Series appearance, Chicago completed the four-game sweep of Detroit en route to claiming its second straight title.
Times have changed. The game evolved and the Cubs were left in the dust, still clinging to their early triumphs.
Since winning back-to-back titles in 1907-08, the Cubs appeared in the World Series seven times over the next 37 years, losing all of them. In 1910, the Cubs lost 4-1 to the then-Philadelphia Athletics. In 1918, the Cubs fell to the Boston Red Sox 4-1. Philadelphia got the best of Chicago a second time in the 1929 World Series, winning 4-1. In 1932, the New York Yankees swept the Cubs, 4-0. Three years later, Detroit got revenge, winning 4-2. In the 1938 series, the Yankees triumphed again with another four-game sweep of the Cubs. And in 1945, the Cubs lost to the Tigers in seven games.
Since that stretch, the Cubs have been the laughingstock of Major League Baseball. You can blame it on the curse of the billy goat, or the unimaginable collapse in the 1984 National League Championship Series against San Diego, where the Cubs held a 2-0 lead and failed to win another game. Better yet, you could blame Steve Bartman for extending his glove to catch a fly ball during the 2003 NLCS with the Cubs five outs away from going to the Fall Classic.
Any way you put it, the Cubs have a rich history of failure.
Their last appearance in the postseason was in 2008, when they won the NL Central Division with the best record in the league, 97-64. But the Cubs’ notable regular season proved misleading when the Los Angeles Dodgers swept them 3-0 in the NLDS.
Since 2008, the Cubs have had one winning season while racking up a hideous 290-357 record. They’ve gone four straight seasons without making the playoffs, including three consecutive losing seasons.
All bad things eventually come to an end, however, and the Cubs' trend of bad luck will finally dissolve in the next five years for multiple reasons.
In an effort to lift the franchise from its grave, Chicago hired Theo Epstein—formerly the general manager of the Boston Red Sox from 2002-11—as president of baseball operations.
Epstein’s inaugural season in Chicago proved unyielding. The Cubs lost over 100 games for the first time since 1966 and third time in franchise history.
But few expected him to revamp the Cubs in his first season. Completely rebuilding a franchise takes time, certainly more than just one season.
While in Boston, Epstein took control of a franchise with a lot of pieces already in place. The talent was there. All it took was leadership. And that’s what he gave to the Red Sox organization.
The result was a pair of World Series titles, including their first championship in 86 years when they swept St. Louis in 2004.
Epstein knows what he’s doing. He knows who the right people are for his operation. He just needs time; championship teams aren’t assembled overnight.
Count on him to make a splash or two in free agency over the next couple of years. Remember, Epstein was the man who signed David Ortiz, Mike Timlin and Bill Mueller in 2003 and Hideki Okajima in the 2006-07 offseason.
Manager Dale Sveum has to love the position he’s in.
Sure, he had a rough first season in the Cubs dugout, but with the help of Epstein, Sveum will have a chance to work with some young and promising talent along with quality veterans in the coming seasons.
Epstein saw something in Sveum that he didn’t see in other possible coaching candidates, including Sandy Alomar Jr., Pete Mackanin and Mike Maddux.
Shortstop Starlin Castro has the potential to be a phenomenal talent for the Cubs. He’s already shown what he’s capable of in his first three seasons in the big leagues.
Castro, a two-time All-Star, managed a steady .283 average with 14 home runs and 78 RBI in 2012. He also swiped 25 bases in 38 attempts.
The Cubs are a young club and Epstein will build around Castro.
Grizzled veteran Bryan LaHair went from starting first baseman to the bench last season. The Cubs even opened their ears to trade offers for LaHair, but didn’t find any takers.
LaHair will remain with the Cubs for at least this season, depending on his performance. He will be important offensively for the Cubs, who will need as much offense as they can get in 2013.
Experience and veteran leadership always provide a positive influence, especially for young teams like the Cubs. Right fielder David DeJesus fits the part. He spent eight seasons with Kansas City, one with Oakland and now enters his second with Chicago. Last season, DeJesus hit .263 for the Cubs.
Most importantly, DeJesus provides a veteran presence that will be a plus for the team, especially in the clubhouse.
Anthony Rizzo gave the Cubs a spark they so desperately needed last season. Last season, the 23-year-old cranked 15 home runs in 87 games.
Like Castro, Rizzo is a centerpiece for the Cubs in 2013 and in the future.
Veteran starting pitcher Matt Garza was a solid go-to pitcher, one the Cubs have lacked since Carlos Zambrano. Though he won just five games in 18 starts last season, he was a 15-game winner two years ago.
With a little offensive support, the Cubs should rally around him.
Travis Wood, who spent two seasons pitching for Cincinnati, joined Chicago in 2012. His first season with the Cubs proved troublesome with a 6-13 record in 26 starts.
The good thing about Wood is that he’s young and will be a valuable asset for the Cubs down the road.
Javier Baez has the potential to do great things as a pro. Touted as Chicago's best prospect, Baez was the ninth overall selection in the 2011 draft, and spent last season at Single-A Peoria and High-A Daytona. Baez batted .294 with 16 home runs and 46 RBI.
As a true shortstop, it appears a switch is likely for Baez, with Castro playing the position for the Cubs.
Cubs fans have been through so much misery and hardship over the years. When you mention the most loyal fans in baseball, Cubs fans are right up there, showing up game after game, loss after loss. They deserve a winner in the near future. They deserve more for their continuous loyalty and devotion.