Cubs, Red Sox and Astros look forward to 2013 and beyond
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With the postseason within arm’s reach, many anticipate great match-ups. For the teams that miss out, they will undoubtedly turn to that famous refrain: “There’s always next season.”
The craziness of 2012 brought us game-changing rookies, a bundle of no-hitters and perfect games, an intense MVP race with one chasing the historic Triple Crown feat, a Giants hitter that was on pace to make history (just to find out it was all a sham), and we will see, for the first time, a second wild card team in each league make the playoffs. Looking to next season and beyond, there are three bottom-feeders that should look to rise from the depths of defeat to prove something they lacked this year.
The Cubs are going to finish the season second to last in the NL Central. They’re all too familiar with this spot.
Cubs fans still praise the addition of Theo Epstein this past offseason as a step in the right direction. And if they hold on, which they always have, this move will pay off soon. Throughout this season, Epstein has spoken of great things to come in Chicago, and when Theo, although rarely, predicts anything, it usually happens. While the team he and GM Jed Hoyer fielded didn’t amount to much, the Epstoyer, Hoystein, Jedstein or however you want to nickname the duo, methodically started to piece together a future contender, all while flying under the radar.
Cuban phenom Jorge Soler was on the Cubs’ want list early on. Many teams wanted Soler, but in the end, the Cubs were able to snag him and sign him to a nine year $30 million contract. Soler is a five-tool player, who many believe would have been a top-five pick in the 2010 draft, if he had been eligible. He might not start 2013 on the roster, but he’ll be there soon enough.
Unloading Geovany Soto to Texas was a move that brought on mixed feelings, but this payroll space will give the Cubs room to either bring in a proven catcher in free agency, or we’ll see what Welington Castillo and Steve Clevenger can do with a whole season behind the plate.
One of the most important goals on their season checklist was to re-sign shortstop Starlin Castro. On August 28, he and the Cubs agreed to a modest seven-year $60 million contract. This signing couldn’t have been more perfect. Castro isn’t yet a premiere shortstop in the NL, but is certainly on his way. The deal will keep Castro in Chicago through the 2019 season, which by that time he will be 29 years old. By then, the verdict will be out on whether he can be in the same sentence as Cubs great Ernie Banks.
Bryan LaHair, Anthony Rizzo and Josh Vitters are now essential parts of the team. These counterparts have been placed around Castro, who can get on base. Vitters and Rizzo were key call-ups this season who will only get better with experience.
On a final note, this might be a possible goodbye to 36-year-old Alfonso Soriano. There are signs here that point to a departure in the offseason. This $18 million of freedom will be nice. However, he still has two years left on his contract, and it’s hard to see any team wanting to pick up that burden.
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