Jed Hoyer, Theo Epstein and the rest of the Chicago Cubs front office built the team into what they thought would be a dominant squad for years. But after winning the World Series in 2016, the Cubs haven’t gone on the run many expected. On Tuesday, Hoyer conceded Chicago’s current core was running on out time.
During an appearance on 670 The Score Hoyer was asked if the Cubs were running out of time to reach their potential. His response: “Yeah.”
He also said the team hadn’t exploded offensively like the front office believed it would back in 2015:
The lineup — which includes Kris Bryant, Javy Baez, Anthony Rizzoand Kyle Schwarber — hasn’t lived up to expectations. The Cubs currently rank 14th in runs scored this season, while also sitting at eighth in on-base percentage, 10th in slugging and ninth in OPS as a team. With as much firepower as that lineup has, that’s simply not good enough.
Back in 2015, the Cubs made their first playoff run under the Epstein-Hoyer regime. They reached the NLCS and were swept by the New York Mets, but showed a lot for a young team. Bryant won NL Rookie of the Year, Rizzo looked like a perennial All-Star, Addison Russelllooked to be a budding star, while Schwarber appeared to be the second coming of Babe Ruth after mashing 16 home runs and posted an OPS of .842 in his first 69 major league games.
On top of that, Baez was starting to break through, and Willson Contreras was on the way. In the offseason, the Cubs sunk $184 million into an eight-year deal with Jason Heyward, and gave $56 million over four years to Ben Zobrist. It looked like the Cubs were young, stacked and poised for a number of World Series runs.
They got one in 2016, but haven’t turned into the dominant force we all thought they’d be. They fell to the Los Angeles Dodgers in five games during the 2017 NLCS, and failed to make it past the Wild Card Game in 2018. Chicago current sits three games behind the St. Louis Cardinals for first place in the NL Central and owns the NL’s second Wild Card spot.
Obviously, the Heyward and Zobrist deals haven’t aged well. Both guys have contributed, but neither has paid back the full value of his deal in production. Meanwhile, Russell has been a disaster on and off the field, and Schwarber can’t stay healthy and has posted a .227 batting average and 419 strikeouts over the past three seasons.
Rizzo, Baez and Bryant have lived up to their All-Star billing, but that has created a decent to good offense– not the otherworldly, unstoppable juggernaut Epstein, Hoyer and company were expecting. In fact, Chicago’s best offensive player in August was Nick Castellanos, a rental picked up at the trade deadline.
Hoyer and company are right to be worried. This Cubs roster has not aged well and has never reached its immense potential. The fact that this core ended the franchise’s ridiculous World Series drought will certainly give it a lot of leeway with fans. But it’s obvious that since then, things haven’t played out as expected.