Back in 2012 the newly hired baseball executives at 1060 West Addison Street put the finishing touches on the Cubs’ written philosophy, a manual entitled The Cubs Way1. The holistic guide would stand to reinforce processes, plans as well as a commitment to more consistent coaching; immediate results be damned.
The Cubs went on to lose 286 games over the next three seasons causing impatient fans and skeptical analysts to lose faith in team leadership. The criticism streamed out over the last couple seasons–the Cubs won’t spend money, the Cubs won’t trade prospects for stars, the youngsters aren’t as good as promised. But Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and Tom Ricketts–the voices that matter–stuck to the plan, building around a young, talented core of prospects. And now, a year or two earlier than most predicted, The Cubs Way is on display in Wrigley Field.
The Cubs are headed to the post-season, their first trip back since an embarrassing sweep by the Dodgers in the 2008 N.L. Division Series. The current rendition of the north side baseball club somehow feels more battle-tested than the ones that failed to scare up a win in playoff series against the Dodgers (2008) and Diamondbacks (2007). With Tom Ricketts at the helm, club team ownership is settled, investing in the ballpark as well as the on-field product. And, unlike meddlesome owners, Ricketts took some not-so-insignificant financial hits to allow for some long-term success. For years now, baseball operations brass preached patience and a plan. The success of the Cubs’ rookie class–Bryant, Russell, Schwarber, Soler–coupled with key trades and signings–Rizzo, Lester, Arrieta, Montero, Fowler–along the way proved out that plan. And Joe Maddon has been everything we’ve been promised. A smart, gutsy manager that demands, and deserves, respect, buy-in and trust from his players and management along with fans and analysts. All that means little when the players on the field don’t perform. But this cast of Cubs rose to the occasion this summer.
The 2015 Chicago Cubs are a force to be reckoned with, both behind the plate and on the mound. If you’re having a hard time making your brain accept what your eyes are witnessing, check out the team rankings.
Home Runs (9)
Extra Base Hits (11)
On Base Percentage (12)
Batting Average Against (1)
Runs Allowed (7)
The hitters are hitting. The pitchers are pitching. And the union of strong bats and skillful arms mean confidence, opportunity and a whole lot of wins in Chicago. But it all comes back to The Cubs Way philosophy and the trust a new baseball owner put in young, successful baseball builders. Theo Epstein insisted on a full-scale rebuilding project, something that’s frankly not allowed for big market clubs with expectant fans. Jed Hoyer protected his prospects from undue pressure along the way. And Jason McLeod kept coaching and scouting consistent from Single-A South Bend up through Triple-A Iowa. The Cubs’ master plan is why the franchise will play meaningful baseball this fall. And the patience to see it through is why they’ll be back challenging the Cardinals and Bucs for seasons to come.
Niral Patel ~ SecCitySportsReport@gmail.com ~ @SecCitySports