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While the jury is still out on the efficacy of Theo Epstein & Company‘s plan to rebuild the Cubs into a consistent contender by replenishing a woefully depleted farm system, no one can argue the first part of that long-range plan hasn’t been wildly successful. Friday’s blockbuster trade of RHPs Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to Oakland for 2012 first-round pick SS Addison Russell, 2013 first-round pick OF Billy McKinney, pitcher Dan Straily and a player to be named later marks the latest—and quite possibly greatest—maneuver to assemble arguably the best farm system in the Majors that now boasts 5 of the top 30 prospects in baseball.

Some short-sighted pundits or those with an axe to grind are questioning why Theo & Co. would add another SS to a system that is already bursting at the seams with huge infield talent.  My only response to that would be to ask — when has having TOO MUCH talent ever been a problem? Senior Baseball Analyst for ESPN Insider Keith Law concurs and has an idea of the Cubs will do with their embarrassment of riches:

“The Cubs are quite loaded in the infield, with Javier Baez currently playing short in Triple-A, natural shortstop Arismendy Alcantara playing second and former shortstop Kris Bryant at third. Russell is the best shortstop of the entire group, so his arrival could hasten a chain of position switches with Baez going to third and Bryant to right field. It also could put Starlin Castro, who is showing signs of life with the bat again, on the trade block in the next 12 months, depending on Russell’s health and progress in the minors.”

Shortstops are generally the most athletic players on any team, thus switching positions early in their development shouldn’t be much of an issue.  It certainly isn’t the same dilemma as having too many plodding 1B prospects who have to be hidden defensively. Epstein addressed it specifically in a conference call with reporters today:

“The nice thing about having impact players that are athletic who can play in the middle of the field, and who can hit, is that you have options. You can never have too many shortstops. We feel Javier Baez is a shortstop but we’re also confident he can play second base or third base or the outfield if he has to. Starlin is another guy that is athletic enough and has enough tools to play a couple spots on the diamond but I don’t foresee that any time in the near future. He’s getting better at shortstop, he’s a weapon at shortstop. This trade had nothing to do with Castro. It had to do with acquiring impact young talent. The good thing is these guys can all fit on the field together and really be an impactful group together because of their athleticism and versatility.”

You may or may not agree with the philosophy of the complete rebuild, but it’s inarguable that Theo & Co. have a plan and they’re sticking to it.

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