Trading Away the Future
It’s safe to say that fans of the Chicago Cubs have reached an odd area in their fandom. This claim is backed up by the position that the team finds themselves in. They are contenders, but not dominant, and will be buyers on the trade market. The reason this puts fans in an odd area is because they want to have their cake and eat it too when it comes to prospects. Cubs’ fans have been put in a tough spot, they want the big league club to win, but they want the pipeline of young talent to keep flowing.
It’s easy to look at names like Duane Underwood, Jeimer Candelario, Ian Happ, Eloy Jimenez, Victor Caratini, and many more and think the Cubs minor league system is overflowing with talent. Truthfully, it still is, and as long as the present front office and scouts are in place I don’t think fans will have to worry about said pipeline drying up anytime soon. The problem is that Cubs fans place these young talented gentlemen into one of two categories, and they aren’t willing to budge on their labels.
The first category is untouchable, and it’s reserved for a select few. Anytime a potential trade comes up there are a flourish of posts or responses from fans about Jiminez being untouchable. Cubs’ fans don’t want to lose him, because he is the talent that they want to see on the big league club in the future. They follow Eloy’s exploits in the minors and they marvel at what is to come. The big league club could be going after Chris Archer and Clayton Kershaw in some hedonistic mega deal and these fans will still say, “Man, I don’t know how I feel about giving up Eloy. Isn’t there another way?” For this fan the long term approach outweighs any possible short term gains.
The other fan looks at every minor leaguer as nothing more than a trade piece. It doesn’t matter what Caratini is doing for the Iowa Cubs, all that matters is what the big league club can get in return for him. This fan is only concerned with the short term, because to them the short term helps the future they want to happen. The pipeline of talent exists to feed the big league club, and there’s no rule that says that sustenance needs to come from the minor leaguers directly. Players come and go, potential is never certain, but at the end of the day the big league club is all that must be sustained.
The reason Cubs fans so easily go to one extreme or another is because they’ve never had a front office they could trust. While arguments could be made that the Cubs current front office has serious issues with judging character or putting winning over personal misdeeds, they could never be accused of not knowing how to put winning talent on the field. They also know when to trade and when not to trade, when a talent is a piece to gain another player or a piece of the future puzzle. This is a foreign concept to Cubs fans, it must be one or the other, now or the future.
That’s why a certain section of fans still bristle at the dealing of Gleyber Torres, and another huffs and puffs at holding onto Kyle Schwarber at the expense of many years of Andrew Miller. Middle ground between those two takes does exist, and that middle ground is found in the minds of Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, and Jason McLeod. They have brought a World Series to this franchise, and they have shown that they understand talent.
So, to Cubs fans I say this; trust in your front office. Realize that they know the minor league system, they know every player throughout the franchise. They aren’t going to mortgage the future for the now, or let the now slip away for the potential to come. The truth of who they are and what the Cubs have become is somewhere in the middle of the two above extremes. Cubs’ fans aren’t used to a front office that can straddle the line between those sides. The future is in good hands, just as yesterday was, and today most assuredly is. The Cubs are here to stay, the pipeline isn’t going away, and the front office can be trusted. It’s ok Cubs fans, this is the world you now live in, one of a competent front office and a perennial winner, get used to such a delightful world.