The Chicago Cubs Death Star is Nearly Operational

Good evening!

I woke up to the news that the Cubs have signed free agent outfielder, Jason Heyward to an 8-year, $184 million deal. What struck me most about the news wasn’t how great of a deal the Cubs got for one of the best young players in the MLB, it was how inevitable it all seemed in retrospect. It’s not even all that shocking that Heyward reportedly took less money to come to the Northside. This is an organization that can now draw top shelf free agents at a bargain.

That sounded weird when I said it out loud. Let’s try that again:

The Chicago Cubs can now draw top shelf free agents at a bargain.

We truly live in interesting times.

When Theo Epstein came to the Cubs in 2011 the goal was to rebuild the team with draft picks, and create a sustainable core with which it could build around. When you look at the guys who were leading the Cubbies to their improbable playoff run last year: Kris Bryant (age 23), Kyle Schwarber (age 22), Javier Baez (age 23), Addison Russell (age 21); you see a team that is built for a decade long run. It takes so much talent to be able to build up an organization like this. Everyone from Theo to GM Jed Hoyer, to the scouting and development departments all have to be on the same page when it comes to this kind of rebuilding plan.

The ultimate coo for Epstein may have been singing Joe Maddon last year. There is no better manager for this team. His calming influence over the clubhouse and understanding of advanced metrics makes him the kind of manager that modern sports fans salivate over. When super utility man Ben Zobrist signed his four year, $56 million deal this Wednesday it was Maddon who got on the horn to convince Zobrist to take the Cubs deal over better offers from perennial NL powers Washington and San Francisco.

There are no scarier three words to a sports fan of a long troubled franchise than, “trust the process.” All you have to do is look at the shit show that is currently taking place in Philadelphia with the 76ers as evidence that rebuilds can be long, bloody affairs. But what happened in Chicago was a true rebuild, that was meticulously thought out by talented architects who were given the time and control to properly build up franchise that could contend over a long period of time.

There are no guarantees in baseball. Having a super talented team does not guarantee a championship. You can have a murders row for a lineup and the best pitcher in baseball and still not make it to the World Series – sorry Cubs fans, I had to needle a little. You can’t necessarily build a team to win now like you can in the NBA, and to a lesser extent, the NFL. What you can do, and what Theo and Co. have done so brilliantly in these five years, is give your team as many spins at the playoff wheel as possible.

So here we go. It’s winter 2015 and the Chicago Cubs are Vegas favorites to win the World Series next year at 9/1 odds. All of a sudden Cubs fans are the envy of the baseball world. If you are a Cubs fan out there just sit back and enjoy the next couple of years, because your franchise earned this.


One Night Only: Yankees-Astros Playoff

Greg BirdTonight the New York Yankees play the Houston Astros in the MLB’s first Wild Card game of the postseason. As a Yankees fan I am excited to see my favorite team back in the playoffs for the first time since 2012. As a fan of advanced statistics I am excited to see the Astros organization’s patience be rewarded in the form of a super exciting young team headed up by probable Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel, who will be taking the mound in this winner-take-all game.

I haven’t watched a ton of Yankees games this year, but it’s been fascinating following the team throughout the year. This team is like the island of really expensive misfit toys. To think that Alex Rodriguez at 40, coming off of an entire year away from the big leagues could hit 33 home runs, and carry a team for weeks at a time is pretty incredible. You could say the same about 35 year old, Mark Teixeira who stayed healthy just long enough to put the Yankees in a position for a playoff run. When Tex finally did succumb to a season ending tibia injury, the bombers got a huge push from the relatively unknown call up Greg Bird, who was able to come up with some really big hits in the 46 games he’s played.

You pair the Yankees patch work lineup and pitching staff with the an above average bullpen that boasts one of the best set-up man to closer bridges in the majors you get yourself just enough to make the playoffs in this modern day, 5 team playoff bracket.

And now New York goes up against their foil in the Houston Astros, a team with a loaded farm system players like short stop, Carlos Correa, second baseman, Jose Altuve and the before mentioned Keuchel. The Astros spent years building up their farm system, and now have most of that talent on the field for tonight’s game.

This is a fun way to start the MLB Postseason, with two teams that have gotten hear by drastically different means. Both teams will be heavy underdogs to the defending AL Champion Kansas City Royals, but baseball is a really goofy game, and typically doesn’t care much about which team is favored. It would be great to see this group of misfits make a run at the pennant.