Well, that sucked.
Last night’s 11-1 drubbing at the hands of the new best team in baseball, the Los Angeles Dodgers, seemed like the appropriate punctuation to a series that saw the Cubs being completely dominated in every aspect of the game.
But to use those four losses to characterize the 2017 season and the franchise in general as an abject failure—as some troglodytic fools on social media have attempted—is just stupid. While the defeat is bitterly disappointing, it doesn’t invalidate the accomplishments of the last three seasons.
Not only were the Cubs the first World Champions to make the playoffs the following year since 2009, winning the most regular-season games in MLB over the last three years, taking two division titles, advancing through six playoff rounds, 19 playoff wins, and making the NLCS for the third consecutive year, but they also have that World Series trophy in the cabinet. Any franchise would drool over those accomplishments.
Still, Theo Epstein & Co. can’t (and won’t) rest on their laurels. Getting their asses kicked won’t sit well with the brain trust and illustrates the work ahead. Addressing the likely exodus of free agents Jake Arrieta and John Lackey will be their biggest challenge.
With over $50 million coming off the books going into 2018 and the large wallet of owner, Tom Ricketts, at his disposal, Theo might tap the free agent market to fill out the rotation. Yu Darvish and Lance Lynn are interesting possibilities, but I don’t think they’ll go that route. Instead, I believe they’ll opt to reserve their immense coffers for even bigger fish in the future… More on that in a minute.
With the farm system harvested for all its worth, the Cubs may finally trade from the major league roster and address the elephant in the room: Kyle Schwarber. It pains me to admit it because I love the kid, but the Schwarbeast just isn’t meant for this team. It’s as obvious as the chin beard on his face that he’s simply not a major league outfielder. And with stalwart Anthony Rizzo manning first base for the foreseeable future and no DH slot available in the National League (yet), Schwarber needs to be dealt to the AL.
My trade target would be Tampa Bay Rays’ SP, Chris Archer, who is under reasonable contract control in his prime years through 2021. I’ve been on the Archer bandwagon for years now and think he would be the perfect compliment to a rotation that already boasts Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, and Jose Quintana.
Obviously, the Rays aren’t in a position where they have to trade him, so presumably, Schwarber won’t be enough. But with an incredibly deep roster, Ian Happ might be expendable and enough to make it an offer the Rays can’t refuse. If you’re concerned about removing 50+ home runs from the lineup, I have one question for you: can you say #HarperToTheCubs in 2019?
Just as he promised on day one, Theo has built his platform for sustained success and we’ve all seen the rewards. Now it’s time to make some minor tweaks and keep the Big Blue Train rolling.