The valves are open. Kris Bryant and Zach Davies are also very likely to be treated, Craig Kimbrel likely will be, as will Javier Baez and Anthony Rizzo, if Chicago decides to avoid nostalgic tugs and prioritize resupplying a farming system ( and declining second-half payrolls) as much as possible in the days leading up to the July 30 no-waiver deadline.
So would end one of the greatest series in Cubs history, a six-year period (2015-20) in which they made the playoffs five times and ended a 108-year drought for the title in 2016.
I wonder if this period could provide some perspective on how we think about the Yankees. They have been continuous contenders for almost three decades. It may be over now, and I have certainly been among those who have dug for reasons, dug to explain what went wrong in 2021 and why.
But I admit they only had one massive sell-off in July in this sustained race. It was in 2016 when, among other transactions, they traded Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs.
Chapman, in Game 7 of the 2016 World Series, gave Cleveland’s Rajai Davis an equalizer in the eighth with a traumatic and dramatic two-point homerun. And the Cubs may only have won because of a 17-minute rain delay after the ninth inning that allowed them to regroup mentally and draw inspiration from a team reunion called at the looking forward and led by Jason Heyward.
The Cubs essentially won their only World Series victory since 1908 because they overcame a Chapman-authorized playoff circuit – helped by a rain delay. The Yankees haven’t won since 2009, in part because they couldn’t beat the epic playoff homers awarded the past two years by Chapman, Jose Altuve and Mike Brosseau.
This 2016 title was meant to be a stepping stone to a Cubs dynasty. After all, they had a young core built around Baez, Bryant, Rizzo, Willson Contreras and Kyle Schwarber. But this group was never really the same after 2016.
The Cubs have won a playoff round since, going 3-9 in that span. This does not include losing a one-game tiebreaker for the NL Central title to the Brewers in 2018 after collapsing not to win the division and then losing the wildcard game 24 hours plus. late against the Rockies. Both losses came at Wrigley Field.
The season after the Cubs’ victory, the Yankees advanced to Game 7 of the 2017 ALCS against the Astros. Did Houston cheat by illegally stealing signs to win? Either way, it looked like the start of a Yankee dynasty built around a young, positional core of Greg Bird, Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez, with Gleyber Torres (acquired in the Chapman trade) expected the following season. . But the Yankees have never been so healthy or successful, despite being 11-10 in the playoffs since then.
One of the reasons the Yankees haven’t done better is because they haven’t drafted or completed their starting pitcher enough and, arguably, have started to rely too much on an offensive circuit philosophy or of bust, which began to increase strikeouts and lower batting average. .
Theo Epstein is the most successful baseball executive of this century and he’s had the same issues. Epstein led the Cubs from 2012 to 2020. According to his draft, 19 players appeared in games in the first half of this year. Albert Almora (sixth overall), Bryant (second), Schwarber (fourth) and Ian Happ (ninth) were his top four draft picks (2012) and represent higher picks than the Yankees since taking over. Derek Jeter sixth overall in 1992.
Here are the 15 other Epstein Cubs draft picks: Pierce Johnson, Duane Underwood, David Bote, Zack Godley, Justin Steele, Dylan Cease, James Norwood, Justin Vosler, Vimael Machin, PJ Higgins, Zack Short, Alex Lange, Cory Abbott, Keegan Thompson and Nico Hoerner. The best, so far, is probably Cease, who was part of a failed trade with Eloy Jimenez at the White Sox for Jose Quintana – a starting pitcher’s move that didn’t work for Epstein and the Cubs.
At the same time, on offense, the Cubs became a team that last year, even winning NL Central in a shortened season, pulled off one in four batting appearances and had a .220 batting average.
This is not to denigrate Epstein. He is a Hall of Fame member by accomplishment between Boston and Chicago. This is just to emphasize how difficult it is – even with great financial means and a formidable intelligence – to win titles, let alone forge dynasties.
No team has won a back-to-back championship since the 1998-2000 three-round Yankees. Maybe the Dodgers will change that this year. These are the West Coast Yankees in their giant state. But until last season, the Dodgers hadn’t won since 1988 despite spending billions of dollars. They won the division from 2013 to 2019 without a title, earning a reputation for not being able to win it all. Like the Yankees, they may have fallen victim to the 2017 Astros’ cheating, just in the World Series.
But even with a terribly managed baseball operation, you see the Dodgers will face some issues, such as aging team icons like Kenley Jansen and Clayton Kershaw coming to free agency after this season, with the main basemen approaching. free agency (Corey Seager and Chris Taylor this offseason, Cody Bellinger and Julio Urias the next) and a big signing gone bad (Trevor Bauer).
The Yankees have sailed on similar topics for the past three decades and have remained a playoff team most years and never less than a playoff contender. If it’s over now, then maybe the Cubs liquidation offers a great tribute to what the Yankees were able to support.