Wait Until Next Year, Cubs Fans

This wasn’t how it was supposed to end. The young Chicago Cubs Cinderella story was supposed to end with championship celebrations and curses deemed dead. That’s not even close to what happened. On Wednesday October 21, 2015, the Cubs were straight-up out hustled, out gunned, and out played by a better New York Mets team that deserves to be playing in the World Series this season. This wasn’t a case of some curse getting the better of the Cubs, not that I believe in it to begin with.  Sure, there were plenty of gaffes in the NLCS by the Cubs that cost them a shot of even competing against the Mets, but one fact remains above all else: the Mets were just the better team and exposed every one of the Cubs weaknesses in the absolute thrashing that was the NLCS.

Sure, the Mets got to Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta like no team was supposed to be able to, but the real story was the fact that the Cubs lack another quality option to back those two up. This was never more evident than in Game 4 when Jason Hammel struggled to even finish the first inning. Kyle Hendricks is still an unfinished product and has shown that he’s capable of pitching well… at least, well enough to be a fourth or fifth starter. What the Cubs need is more rotational depth. It just so happens that Zack Greinke, Jordan Zimmerman, David Price, and Jeff Samardzija will all be free agents this offseason. With plenty of bats in the order and plenty of cash to burn, it would be silly for the Cubs to not try to lure one or even two quality starters to the North Side.

The Cubs have a problem that may be a “good” problem to have, but is a problem nonetheless. They have too many quality middle infielders. What is going to happen to Starlin Castro and Javier Baez? Should one be traded? My answer to this question actually answers two questions for the Cubs this offseason. It’s evident that Kris Bryant is going to struggle from time to time at third. That’s not indicative of him as player; he’s just too large to play that position. The answer is to move him to left field, Kyle Schwarber to right, and Jorge Soler to center field. While Soler isn’t your stereotypical center fielder, and he’s got an absolute cannon for an arm and is a terrific defensive player. This shift would allow Baez to move to third and Castro to stay at second base, where he played terrific defense once he was moved into the starting role there. I know the popular choice would be to trade Baez or Castro for bullpen or rotational help, but with the kind of cash the Cubs have to spend I find it unnecessary to unload high quality talent for help.

The Cubs loss in the NLCS wasn’t a tragic ending. Sure, to see the Cubs go down the way they did hurt the fans and the players, but it offered a glimpse into the future of a franchise on the rise. Most teams go through growing pains on their way to greatness. Championships aren’t ever guaranteed, but the future still looks bright for the Cubs over the next few seasons. The talk of curses should be long forgotten. The NLCS wasn’t a case of a curse; it just represented a bump in the road and Cubs fans should feel extremely lucky to have witnessed the beginning of something special. This year should be a celebration of a team that made it further than anyone ever thought they would. “Wait til next year” has a different feel to it now and maybe, if we’re lucky, the next chapter in the history of this Cubs team WILL be the year that championship dreams become a reality.

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