Year 2 of Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer’s rebuilding plan has shown plenty of promise. The Major League Cubs aren’t in contention but have played remarkably well considering with a much-improved offense and starting rotation over last year. The Cubs have actually led the NL in extra-base hits for most of the summer, starter Travis Wood is having a breakout season, Junior Lake has reinvigorated the lineup with energy, and there have been many other positive surprises to speak of, namely, Dioner Navarro’s bench power, Nate Schierholtz, Welington Castillo, Kevin Gregg, James Russell, Blake Parker, and even Chris Rusin recently. Who knows where the Cubs would be if Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro, and Darwin Barney had hit as well as expected in the first half of the season. But the Cubs also got a major haul in return in trades for Scott Feldman, Steve Clevenger, Matt Garza, Carlos Marmol, Alfonso Soriano, and Scott Hairston, both Minor and Major League talent. Those prospects are in addition to super prospects Javier Baez, Jorge Soler, Albert Almora, and Kris Bryant, four guys Cubs fans are following intently as they progress through the minors.
In just a year and a half the Cubs’ farm system has taken one of the most dramatic turnarounds in recent history. While Lake isn’t one of the more well-known prospects in the system, he began his career on a torrid offensive pace that sparked excitement for upcoming Cubs youth. Next year could see the Major League debuts of Baez and Soler. Meanwhile, the topic of Wrigley Field renovations has been one of the biggest storylines in Chicago baseball this year as the Cubs finally won out on a privately-financed $300 million renovation deal which will add a luxury hotel, all kinds of new suites and clubs, and signage and video boards all over the park. Most notably is the new JumboTron in left field which could be in place by next season. The renovations will be completed over the next five offseasons, meaning the Cubs could have all that young talent in the Majors by then. While they may miss the playoffs for the fifth straight year the building blocks are in place for the future and fans know it. Wrigley Field could soon be the center of the baseball world.