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Chicago Cubs = San Diego Padres?

October 18, 2016

What do the Chicago Cubs have in common with the San Diego Padres?
As the World Series draws near, similarities have emerged between championship hopeful Chicago Cubs, and the San Diego Padres.

By Chris Eidson

The Cubs historic rise back to the top tier of professional baseball is nothing if not remarkable. As any Cubs fan will tell you (whether you ask or not), the Cubs haven’t won a Word Series since 1908, and “this is their year”. This is the same team, that from 2010-2014 never broke .500 and ranked 23rd or lower during that same period. The organization was in crisis mode and needed a change.

In 2011 the club brought on Theo Epstein as President, he had previously been a part of the Red Sox Organization. He immediately began implementing changes in the ball club, starting with seeking out young talent. The Cubs began to seek out young players and draft prospects. This was no small endeavor; the team began to stock their whole system. These new acquisitions weren’t limited to on the field either. In 2014 the team hired Joe Madden as team manager. Joe had shown an affinity for working with young talent during his previous stint with Tampa Bay.

The acquisitions weren’t solely free agency and drafts however. Chicago was forced to trade away big name stars to acquire the players they knew they needed to create a contending team. A trade in 2013 saw Chicago trade Steve Clevenger and Scott Feldman, in exchange for Jake Arrieta, Pedro Strop, and two international bonus slots from the Orioles. Other notable big trades that were criticized at the time included: Chicago’s acquisition of shortstop Addison Russell, for Jeff Samardjiza from the Oakland A’s, and a 2012 trade that sent veteran Ryan Dempster to the Rangers for Kyle Hendricks. Many fans at the time were unhappy seeing some of their best players being traded away, it would be a while until they fully realized Epstein’s plan.

Oct 15, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs right fielder Jason Heyward (right) slides into third base with a triple ahead of the throw to Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner during the second inning in game one of the 2016 NLCS playoff baseball series at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Now here were are, 5 years after Epstein was first hired to rebuild a failing franchise, and the Cubs have made it to the Playoffs back-to-back seasons, and are tied at 1 game each with the LA Dodgers in the National League Championship Series. It’s a miraculous story of how an organization can turn their fortunes around by completely rebuilding their system from the ground up. The Cubs traded away major talent to clear up the money and roster to bring on new, young talent. Fans were forced to sit through several years of losing seasons as the club cultivated and grew their prospects into a cohesive and potent team.  Today the Cubs have a shot at the World Series title, and next season doesn’t look too bad for them either. They have a robust, young, and healthy system that will dominate for years to come.

 

The process of the Cubs rebuilding their entire club should sound familiar. The Padres have begun the same process and are currently following in the Cubs footsteps. This year alone fans saw the Pads unload veteran players that were just too costly and too old to be a part of the new team they are cultivating. Players like Matt Kemp, Melvin Upton Jr., Drew Pomeranz, and James Shields, were all traded away this year alone. Along with these trades the team also spent $80 million on new acquisitions during the 2016 season. The Padres now have one of the best farm systems in Major League Baseball. Some of the new talent acquired in recent years was displayed at the end of this season. Players such as Ryan Schimpf, Hunter Renfroe, and Alex Dickerson all showcased their incredible talent as the season came to a close. Fans can expect to see plenty more of these young players, as well as many other stars as they rise through the Padres farm system. In just a few short seasons the Padres will find themselves where the Cubs were at the beginning of this year; heading into a season with an incredibly dominant roster stacked with new talent ready to bring home a Championship.

           

If the Cubs’ rise to the top seems unachievable, keep in mind several facts:

  •        From 2005-2014 the Padres finished with a better record than the Cubs 8 out of 10 years
  •        Before 2015 the Cubs had not had a winning season since 2008
  •        The Padres last had a winning season in 2010
  •        Before 2015 the Cubs spent 5 seasons never ending a season ranked higher than 23rd
  •        Since 2009 the Padres have only had 1 season they finished ranked below 23rd 

Clearly the Padres and the Cubs have many similarities. If the Padres can stay on course and rebuild this team the same way that the Cubs rebuilt their team; the Padres will not only be a winning team, but a Playoff team, and even a World Series Team.