One year ago, the Chicago Cubs were handed a 6-2 loss to the rival St. Louis Cardinals. The world was a very different place back then --except the Cardinals still managed to be beating the Cubs. The Cubs were sporting a 56-71 record, the Cincinnati Reds were five games under .500, and the Boston Red Sox were 27 games over .500. What a difference a year makes.
The big move had yet to come, seeing the Cubs wouldn't officially hire Theo Epstein to take over as President of Baseball Operations until October, but Epstein has wasted little of his 10 months on the job in getting the Cubs' rebuilding plan off and running. This time last year, the Cubs' starting pitching staff consisted of Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza, Carlos Zambrano, Rodrigo Lopez, Randy Wells, and, on occasion, Casey Coleman. Currently, it's Jeff Samardzija, Justin Germano, Brooks Raley, Chris Volstad, and Travis Wood. Garza remains on the shelf with his injury. Taken out of context, the change in the rotation alone would make you wonder what in the world Epstein and company are doing --I'm sure some of you think even when taken in full context.
The Cubs' starting lineup a year ago today? It was Starlin Castro, Darwin Barney, Aramis Ramirez, Carlos Pena, Reed Johnson, Marlon Byrd, Tyler Colvin, Geovany Soto, and Lopez.
The Cubs' starting lineup last night? It was David DeJesus, Josh Vitters, Anthony Rizzo, Alfonso Soriano, Castro, Wellington Castillo, Brett Jackson, Barney, and Germano.
While we might not all agree on every move Epstein and his staff make, you can't fault them for not making changes. The team is still early in the reconstruction and we've already seen a major overhaul. Coming from a team that hasn't finished within shouting distance of .500 since 2009, I think "major overhaul" is exactly what we want to be seeing.
As we approach the September call ups, we are basically seeing a free-for-all in roster moves. The Cubs' brass is in full "See-What-We-Have-Mode." The next five weeks is an important stretch for the Cubs going forward. It should ultimately reflect on many of the moves the Cubs will make (or not make) this offseason. It's been a strange year to be sure, but I'm excited to watch the team build in the direction of that elusive World Series title us Cubs fans want so dearly.
Brian is a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan, having lived in Illinois his entire life and having followed Major League Baseball throughout.