The Two Chicago Cubs Presidents Reiterate: Rather Than a Lengthy Rebuild, Winning Again Soon is the Goal –

Posted: August 25, 2021 at 1:45 am

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The Chicago Cubs may not have a general manager, but they do have two presidents! Jed Hoyer is the president of baseball operations and Crane Kenney is the president of business operations. And together, they run the Chicago Cubs organization. Theoretically, Kenney has zero influence on the baseball side of things, but you can draw a straight line from his job (generating revenue, which helps set the baseball budget) to Hoyers job (using that budget to mold the Cubs into a winner), so their perspective on whats coming is useful fodder for discussion.

Recently, both presidents addressed the future of the club, and, at a minimum, demonstrated the sort of self-awareness youd hope to see out of those in-charge: Let me also say to our fans, Crane Kenney said, per NBCSC, we know our current play on the field is not what you expect or deserve. And we assure you that winning another World Series continues to be our No. 1 goal.

Empty words? Eh, maybe a little. It is, of course, the goal of every organization to win the World Series. But hey, even if youre one the more skeptical among us, and you believe that the actual No. 1 goal of Kenney/the Cubs is to make as much money as possible, well, winning the World Series is an extremely good way to do it. Period.

But Im not quite so cynical, personally. Although I didnt see the same championship-caliber roster when I went to Wrigley Field on Saturday, I do see an organization with a ton of flexibility in every conceivable way. The payroll is minuscule going forward. The prospect capital is as high as it has been in five years (and arguably going up). The roster has about as many vacancies as any team could imagine (which opens a lot of doors). And all this comes just ahead of a brand new Collective Bargaining Agreement. We may not like the way we got here, but now that were here, Im not actually sure the situation is quite as dire as it appears.

Heck, even on the field, things probably arent quite as bad as they seem: Were playing shorthanded, Jed Hoyer said, per NBCSC. And I think thats very clear. Were not going to be playing shorthanded going forward.

The Cubs, having traded away such a substantial chunk of their roster, are not playing with the kind of team you would otherwise construct at thestart of a season. Hoyer is effectively saying this group, plucky though they may be, is not exactly what youd put together for the Cubs in 2022.

Its not even just the guys the Cubs have traded away, either. At the moment, the Cubs are without Willson Contreras, Nico Hoerner, Nick Madrigal, and Adbert Alzolay. Would any one (or even all four) of those guys make a meaningful difference in the standings? No. Not likely. But lets not pretend like missing three starting-caliber position players and a starting pitcher is nothing. The team is likely better off at present than it appears on the field. Thats just the reality. It is *not* good enough. But it is not as bad as it seems.

And Hoyer knows that: My guess is that well find some interesting things over the next two months, Hoyer said. But those will be probably individual, one-off things that we can use going forward. And its exciting to let these guys have opportunities to play and to prove that.

The list of things the Cubs can find out or at least begin to find out is significant. In the rotation, they have four starters auditioning for long-term role: Keegan Thompson, Justin Steele, Adbert Alzolay, and Alec Mills. In the bullpen, there are three guys attempting to stake a claim on a seventh-inning or later role next season: Rowan Wick, Manny Rodriguez, Codi Heuer. And on the positional side, we still need to learn what kind of starter Nico Hoerner can be, what type of role Rafael Ortega, Patrick Wisdom, Frank Schwindel, and Michael Hermosillo can play, and whether guys like Ian Happ, David Bote, and Matt Duffy have any significant Cubs playing time in their future.

Now, even still, I concede that those aremostly peripheral roster decisions. When the Cubs traded away Kris Bryant, Javy Bez, Anthony Rizzo, and Craig Kimbrel (and probably also Ryan Tepera and Andrew Chafin) they let go of nearly all of their star/impact talent. And that means that even if every single one of those lets wait and see guys broke out, the team is still probably not good enough to compete legitimately next season.

But Jed Hoyer knows that. Or, at least, he responded with a Sure, when asked if the Cubs must add impact talent this offseason in order to avoid a 2012-style rebuild, which has been their refrain.

And thats sort of where Im at right now. I know so many of you are in Ill believe it when I see it mode, but Im just one-step more optimistic than that. The Cubs have SO MUCH money available to spend and enough prospects and young pre-arb players to make an impactful trade if they wanted to go that route, not using it doesnt really make any sense. Now, we can disagree on how they might go about spending their money some smart folks prefer the top-end shorter-term plays (think of how the San Francisco Giants went about this last offseason) as well as some meaningful starting pitching, but I think one truly big offensive addition makes sense if the guy is young enough and there are several options out there.

Either way, two things seem clear to the two Cubs presidents: (1) The current product on the field is sub-par, and (2) the only way to change that meaningfully before next season will be through significant external investment. Now its up to them to actually do it, and get it right.

Brett Taylor contributed to this post.

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The Two Chicago Cubs Presidents Reiterate: Rather Than a Lengthy Rebuild, Winning Again Soon is the Goal -

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August 25th, 2021 at 1:45 am

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