Can The Reds Do What The Cubs Did?
By: Tyler Dugan
Welp, they did it, the Cubbies pulled it off. They found a way. 108 years in the making, the Cubs finally broke the curse. It was very much deserved, but it was never easy. Theo Epstein is a legitimate genius, and no GM can do what he does. He has a star studded lineup, and six of the eight everyday starters were 25 or younger. Amazing. So what’s next? People here in the Nati are curious. Can the Reds ever pull off what the Cubs did? I’m here to give you guys hope.
Now I just called Theo Epstien a genius… and he is, but it wasn’t easy for him or Cubs fans to get to this point. Theo joined Chicago following the 2011 season. In 2014, the Cubs finished 73-89, and LAST in the NL central. That was good for the 3rd worst record in the National League.
That was two years ago. In 2013, the Cubs finished 66-96, again, last in the NL Central. In 2012, 61-101, second last in the NL central (only because the Astros were in the division then, and they really sucked). So in Theo’s first 3 years the Cubs had a combined record of 200-286. Not stellar. How did it get better?
Well, it all started in 2012. January 6th 2012, just three months after Theo accepted the job, the Cubs traded Andrew Cashner and Kyung-Min-Na to the San Diego Padres, for a guy you might recognize now, Anthony Rizzo.
Also in 2012, they traded Ryan Dempster to the Rangers for Kyle Hendricks. Then in 2013 the Cubs got the #2 overall pick in the draft. They took Kris Bryant. They also decided to trade Steve Clevenger to the Baltimore Orioles and get 2 players, Pedro Strop and Jake Arrieta.
In 2014, the Cubs again had a very high overall pick, and they drafted Kyle Schwarber. Also in 2014 they made a huge blockbuster deal with the Oakland Athletics. They sent Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to Oakland for Addison Russell, Billy Mckinney, and Dan Straily (hey we know him).
Those guys sound familiar? Yup, that’s the Cubs’ core for the next 10 years. They didn’t throw hundreds of millions of dollars at free agency. They scouted. They had a system, and they stuck to it. They didn’t alter it, they never panicked, they did what they set out to do.
Bryant and Schwarber, the meat of the order…drafted. Russell, Rizzo, Arrieta, Hendricks…traded for. Guess what folks? When the Cubs made those trades, those guys were called “prospects”.
No one knew those names. The Cubs traded guys like Dempster, Samardjiza, Hammel, Clevenger, and Cashner to get those “prospects.” Those guys were vets who weren’t going to fit the rebuild, so the Cubs traded when the their value was highest. Sound familiar!?!
The Reds, prior to this past season, signed Dick Williams to be the new GM. Prior to that, Williams was the assistant GM to Walt Jockety. During that time the Reds traded Johnny Cueto to the Royals for Brandon Finnegan, Cody Reed, and John Lamb. Mike Leake to the San Francisco Giants for Adam Duvall and Kuery Mella.
Now, since Dick has officially taken over, the Reds have done even more. They traded Todd Frazier in part of a 3 team deal, and received Jose Peraza, Scott Schebler, and Brandon Dixon. They traded Aroldis Chapman to the Yankees for Rookie Davis (his name alone is a plus), Eric Jaigelo, Caleb Cotham, and Tony Renda.
In the middle of the season, we traded Jay Bruce to the Mets for Dilson Herrera and Max Wotell. We had the number 2 overall pick in this past draft and we drafted 3rd baseman Nick Senzel (that should sound scary similar). We are slotted to have the #2 overall pick in next years draft. The Reds currently have 4 guys in the top 100 prospects, according to MLB.com (Nick Senzel 3b, Amir Garrett P, Jesse Winker OF, and Robert Stephenson P). So I just slopped a shit of names on your plate, but what does any of that mean?
Well, it means that the Reds have four guys on the top 100 list that are highly regarded league-wide, not just in the Reds organization, which is promising. It means the Reds unloaded a shit ton of payroll, getting rid of contracts that Chapman, Bruce, Leake, and Frazier. (They’ve tried to get rid of guys like Brandon Phillips, but he is a douche, and refuses to get accept any trade deal.)
That list doesn’t include guys like Brandon Finnegan, Jose Peraza, Eugenio Suarez and Adam Duvall because they already played too many games in the Major Leagues. Young talent is there. In 241 at bats this year Jose Peraza hit .324 with a .352 on base percentage. He also threw in 21 stolen bases. Now, I get that is only about half the at bats an everyday player gets in a full season, but it is very promising. Nick Senzel was drafted this past June, so he didn’t even get a full season in the minors, but in that time he hit .305 in 243 at bats. Again, small sample size but promising. Amir Garrett had an unbelievable year in the minor leagues, and that earned him a spot on the futures all star team. We have other names like Lorenzen, Iglesias, Reed, Straily, Suarez, Duvall who all looked very promising during glimpses with the Reds this year.
Now, I’m not saying the Reds are going to be able to mimic exactly what the Cubs did, or do it as quickly. The Cubs have a much bigger market, and were able to bring in Lester, Zobrist, Heyward and Chapman to help get them all the way to the top, but they got their core in a way that is very possible for the Reds.
There are a few things that the Reds are going to have to do to make it work though. Cozart must get traded to clear space, and they need to make a spot for Jose Peraza to be an everyday starter. This 2nd overall pick must be very very good… no pressure. They have to develop these guys properly, and bring them up at the right time. The way the Cubs handled bringing up Bryant was genius, read up on it. Finally everyone must be patient. It isn’t going to be easy, there are going to be rough times, but I truly can see a core developing. I’m going to choose to trust Dick Williams. Trust what he sees. I don’t think the Reds will be bad for a very long time.
FYI, the Cubs aren’t the only team that built through draft and trades. Check out the way the Royals, Astros, Red Sox, Indians, and even the way the filthy rich Yankees are doing it/did it. Very similar tactics.
Final take: the Reds will win a championship before the Bengals. No clue when that will be, but I’m calling my shot right here right now. Until next time.