The Chicago Cubs may not have gotten much better at the major league level in their first year under team president Theo Epstein, but the recipe for success has been put into place, says Josh Timmers of Bleed Cubbie Blue.
Epstein, along with general manager Jed Hoyer, were brought in prior to the 2012 season to replace Jim Hendry, who had allowed the Cubs to become stagnant at both the MLB and minor league levels. Success didn't happen immediately for the Cubs, who finished the season with 101 losses. However, the former Boston Red Sox executives were able bolster Chicago's system by making several different moves:
Without question the draft and international signings of (Jorge) Soler and (Juan) Paniagua would have greatly improved the Cubs system just by themselves. But the front office took a third approach to building the system, which is through trades. In a sense, Epstein and Hoyer used free agency to grab their biggest haul, getting Arodys Vizcaino and Jaye Chapman from the Braves for Paul Maholm, whom they had signed as a free agent last off season.
The drastic improvement of the Cubs system is something that won't manifest itself for quite a few years, which may leave Cubs fans once again saying "there's always next year" multiple times in the near future. However, while the big league team endures its struggles, a bright glimpse of the future is starting to show itself in the levels below:
Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and the rest of the Cubs front office have undertaken a massive overhaul of the whole system of player acquisition and minor league development. It's actually quite impressive how far they've come in only one short year in turning the system around. But this isn't a quick fix for the major league team. Rather, it's the seed from which the major league team grows. While I know that no one around here wants to hear the word "patience," unfortunately that's the only answer to the Cubs woes right now.
The sheer optimism that is Wrigley Field in the spring will return on April 8, 2013, when the Milwaukee Brewers visit Chicago for the Cubs' home opener.