With a softly hit ground ball to third base, an illuminating smile on the face of one of the best young players in the game and a perfect throw across the diamond, a 108 year old curse was broken.
For most people–really almost everyone–this was the first time that the Commissioner’s Trophy had made its way to Chicago (the good part of Chicago, at least). It was a historical moment that few will ever forget–it has been written about thousands of times on thousands of blogs (including my own), and will continue to be written about for quite some time. People are basking in the glow emanating from the reflection of the trophy, and for good reason. It had, after all, been 108 years–generations of Cubs fans have come and gone without seeing a team win a World Series, and few of us are interested in letting it get that far again.
Fortunately, looking at the team the Cubs are fielding, we won’t have to wait much longer to see another.
Few things can kill a team’s postseason hopes faster than the loss of star players–be it through free agency, trades or injury.
The man who threw the final pitch of the 2016 season, Aroldis Chapman, falls into the first of those three camps, having been signed to a five year deal by the Yankees.
The loss of a closer–particularly one as dominant as Chapman, can be debilitating. But the Cubs determined they’d quickly right that ship, trading Jorge Soler for incredibly underrated relief asset Wade Davis.
Though the Chapman–Davis swap likely won’t hurt the Cubs much (Davis is an All-Star and has two top 8 Cy Young finishes in the last 3 years), the loss of Soler and Dexter Fowler–who left via free agency–will affect the Cubs outfield and lineup.
Fortunately, those losses won’t hurt the Cubs too badly, as the wealth of young farm talent on the team is more than enough to make up for any holes. Ben Zobrist could slide into an outfield role to replace Fowler, while Javier Baez–one of the numerous playoff heroes for the Cubbies–can take his spot at second. Albert Almora, another young talent can also provide outfield depth with a now-healthy Kyle Schwarber and Jayson Heyward playing the corner spots.
The overwhelmingly young Cubs roster isn’t just primed to play well next year, it’s in a great position to do so for years to come. Move over Yankees, there’s a new powerhouse team in Major League Baseball.