By nature sports are measured in wins and losses. Ultimately, they all come down to that … fair or not, right or wrong.
In those terms, the Chicago Cubs had an average week. They were 3-3 heading into Saturday night’s game at San Francisco.
Not so fast.
In truth it was the best week the franchise has experienced in a good while, certainly in the Tom Ricketts/Theo Epstein/Jed Hoyer era.
- On Monday came the trade of pitcher Matt Garza to Texas for some promising young talent, led by third baseman Mike Olt. He immediately moved into the No. 5 slot on the Cubs’ top prospects list according to MLB.com.
That may not have meant a lot two years ago, but is significant now with the talent Epstein/Hoyer are stockpiling in the farm system.
Also in the deal were right-handed pitchers C.J. Edwards and Justin Grimm, with at least one player to be named later. Edwards in particular is intriguing, a 21-year-old who was 8-2 with a 1.83 ERA and 122 strikeouts in 93 innings at Class A Hickory.
Is he Wrigley ready? Not even close. But in two, three years, when this massive rebuilding project is nearing fruition, he could be.
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- On Wednesday came city council approval of the Ricketts family’s $500 million renovation of Wrigley Field and construction of a 175-room hotel across the street.
Included is a Jumbotron in left field, a large advertising sign in right and expanded clubhouse and training areas. In short, it ushers the quaint, 99-year-old ballpark into the 21st century in terms of convenience, facilities and, yes, revenue stream.
There are details to work through with neighborhood rooftop owners, but make no mistake: this was a monumental victory for Ricketts, the Cubs and those who “root, root, root” for them.
- On Friday a deal to send Alfonso Soriano to the Yankees was finalized, at long last cleansing the organization of the mess former GM Jim Hendry left behind.
Yes, the Cubs will pay much of the money owed Soriano — sending nearly $17.7 million to the Yankees — yet you cannot put a dollar amount on what his departure symbolizes.
The eight-year, $136 million contract Hendry gave Soriano in 2007 has long been an albatross. There was a sense among fans, media and likely the front office that only by divesting it could the Cubs truly move forward.
By all accounts Soriano was a good teammate. To his credit, he never ran from the media, even when he wasn’t running to first base. As much as Cub fans don’t want to hear it, he had some pretty productive seasons. He just wasn’t worth $136 million.
He had to go and now he’s gone.
- Throughout the week, a whirlwind of enthusiasm, promise and production infused the team following the call-up of Junior Lake from Triple-A Iowa.
The 23-year-old outfielder was hitting .417 prior to Saturday night’s game with 15 hits in 36 at bats. Included were two home runs, five RBIs, a stolen base and a few bunt singles sprinkled in.
Did he make mistakes? Sure. But if this guy is merely the No. 9 prospect in the Cubs system — MLB says he is — imagine what Javier Baez (1), Albert Almora (2), Jorge Soler (3), Kris Bryant (4) and Olt, etc., might do one day on the north side.
Cub fans should be excited.
And Cub detractors?
Get your jabs in now. Later may be too late.