Maybe I was the only one, but I was just a tad deflated when the Cubs took Kris Bryant with the 2nd pick yesterday in the draft. Not that I watch any amateur baseball or can do anything other than read the same scouting reports that everyone else can. These guys are all a piece of paper to me. That’s the thing about baseball and the development of players. We hear the names, but it’s a while before they become actual people to us.
There’s a couple reasons. As this rebuild drags on into its second season, after a disastrous 2010 season where the Cubs backed up so much it’s a wonder they didn’t clear out the neighbor’s garage much less their own, you can’t help but feel it’s a little interminable at times. You know there’s light at the end of the tunnel, you believe in Epstein and Hoyer and you know one day it’s all going to be worth it. But 2014 and 2015 don’t get closer, at least that’s how it feels.
The thing about Appel or Gray is that they were likely going to be up at some point next season. They would have been tangible. Once a promising, dominant starting pitcher actually makes it to Wrigley, there would have been a definite feeling of, “It’s on.” Just as it was in 2002 when Prior came up even though the Cubs were pretty awful that year. The big piece was in, the rest was window dressing. Finally things were starting to hum.
It’s unfair on Bryant. He could be a star. The reports are pretty glowing, and he won’t be too far behind what the pitchers were projected to be. Maybe it’s 2015 instead of the middle of 2014. But it’s another season where we can’t see what’s blossoming before our eyes. We have to depend on minor league box scores and reports.
The second angle is that this Cubs rebuild is never going to be out of third gear until there are pitchers arriving. You can’t be the Giants without Lincecum, Cain, and Baumgarner. And the Cubs don’t have any of those, at least anywhere close. Their best pitching prospect is still recovering from Tommy John. You can produce all the position players you want, and the Cubs have some of those but they’re not really close either, but it means nothing without the hurlers. That’s the Royals, and how’s that look right now?
Of course, any of the pitchers the Cubs take today or the one they got yesterday could turn into Randy Johnson for all I know. It’s just going to take time. I’m willing to do the waiting. I’m happy to do it. I know it’ll be worth it. But that doesn’t mean it’s a pleasant process the entire time. Every fan is allowed a moment of despair because the end of the tunnel is still far away. It’s getting closer, but don’t you always want things like this to go a little faster?
One day. That’s all we can tell ourselves. And believe it. One day.