Don’t look now, but the Chicago Cubs are playing good baseball. How long this continues remains to be seen, however it is a great sight. The starting pitching has been dominant as of late and the offense is starting to generate runs. Even though they dropped two of three to the Pirates, they have one of the best records in the National League over the past 30 games. The Cubs are not going to make the playoffs this year, but the past few weeks might be signs of good things to come on the North Side.
Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro have put up impressive numbers throughout the first half of the season and are making a case to be National League All-Stars. Castro has been moved to the cleanup spot in the batting order and has not disappointed. He leads the team in RBI’s with 43, keep in mind Castro only had 44 RBI’s last season. On top of that, his slugging percentage has increased from .347 to .484 mainly because he has already hit more home runs this year (11) than he did more than all of last year (10). Rizzo has been on a tear all season and has an on base percentage of .400. Even though 2014 will not be the year the Cubs finally break the curse of the Billy Goat, Castro and Rizzo have proved that they will be a force on the North Side for many years to come.
Jeff Samardzija‘s days as a Cub seem to be numbered as the trade deadline moves closer. Trading most of the pitching staff has been something Cubs fans are getting used to seeing in July, and this year will be no different. Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel will be the latest pitchers to get traded, and possibly Edwin Jackson (most likely only in a package deal). Most fans think that the Cubs recent hot stretch will come to a screeching halt after the trade deadline, but that might not be true. This trade deadline will be extremely important because it will show just how close the Cubs front office thinks they are to competing. If they trade Samardzija for young prospects then it is clear that the Cubs won’t be competitive for a few more years, but if the trade is for major league ready pitching prospects then the Cubs could be competing for playoff position as early as next year.
Over the past few years the Cubs have taken the “win from within approach,” bolstering their minor league system and shying away from free agency hoping to create long-term success. Since 2012 the Cubs have acquired several prospects they feel will bring a world series trophy back to the North Side. For fans it has been a long three years as we sit and wait for the prospects to finally reach the majors, but the wait may soon be over. Kris Bryant has dominated during his short time in the minors and is now playing for AAA Iowa, the last stop before the big leagues. Javier Baez is continuing to turn heads in AAA, and might get his first crack in the majors in September. Health has plagued several of the Cubs top prospects, but barring any further injuries (which is a bold statement in the sports world) we could be seeing several top prospects in the major leagues in 2015.
A few weeks ago, it seemed like another lost season on the North Side, but the Cubs are starting to turn things around. They are playing well at the major league level, and prospects continue to develop in the minor leagues. Even though their record is not something to brag about, fans should be getting excited about what the Cubs are doing because we are about to see “the plan” we have heard so much about.