“Sooner or later you reach a point where you have to strongly consider sacrificing some of that depth to address needs elsewhere on the club. We’re entering a phase where we have to be really open-minded to that if it makes the overall outlook of the team and organization better.” --- Theo Epstein
General managers often fall in love "with their guys." To the point of overvaluing them; overprotecting them from the trade market; and hyping potential over performance.
The Epstein-Hoyer management has their own guys like Lester, Rizzo, Bryant, Schwarber and Happ.
Whether they will stick with their guys or move them will be the major story in the off-season. Much of the early blame to the playoff flame out was on the faltering bullpen and pitching staff (which led to the firing of pitching coach Chris Bosio.) But in reality, the offensive was so bad it would have taken perfect pitching to win against the Dodgers.
The Cubs go into the off-season with a lot of work to do.
The starting pitchers on the roster with major league experience as of this moment: Lester, Hendricks, Quintana, Zastryzny, Montgomery, Tseng.
Relievers on the roster with major league experience: Maples, Strop, Wilson.
From first glance, the Cubs have to sign three more starting pitchers this off season and find seven more major league ready relief pitchers in order to have pitching staff depth in 2018.
One of the great failures of the current Cubs front office is the inability to draft and develop starting pitchers. Approximately 48 percent of all Cub draft choices have been pitchers. The minor leagues is devoid of any can't miss pitching prospects. It puts pressure on the team to go out and trade or sign pitchers (which is the highest value commodity in the off-season).
The projected 2018 rotation is simple: Lester, Hendricks, Quintana, UNKNOWN, UNKNOWN.
The bullpen is more a mess considering Wilson was pegged to be the next closer, and he got dropped from the playoff roster because of his bad performance.
Another problem with the current Cubs team is Maddon's tendency to "over manage" his club. He likes players who can play multiple positions, even if they have never played it before or are not the best at it. Prime example was playing Zobrist in RF. At times, he was slow to break on balls and did not cover much ground. Heyward is a defensive gold glove, but has a concrete bat.
Both Zobrist and Heyward appear to be expensive bench players. Heyward and Zobrist both have not trade clauses. Heyward will make $21.5 million and Zobrist $16.5 million next year.
The infield is set with Bryant, Russell, Baez, Rizzo and Contreras. Caratini projects to be the back up at catcher and first. LaStella projects to be the second super sub off the bench.
The outfield appears to have only Schwarber, Almora and Heyward. Happ seems to Joe's new Tampa Zo, moving from infield and outfield game by game.
With so many major holes to fill with little left in the minors to trade, some contract controlled player will have to be moved in a trade. Schwarber, Baez or Happ seem to be the most likely candidates.
Theo has painted himself into a corner to make some hard choices. The championship hangover is now over. Fans expect the Cubs to be in the playoffs next year to erase the disappointing finish to this season.