The Dodgers coming to town this week coincided with Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler and Javier Baez all being at Wrigley Field at the same time. It gave me a glimpse into both the past and the future.
You see, as a kid I was always in complete awe of the Dodgers farm system.
There was always talk in baseball of the “Dodger Way”. The pride that the organization took in producing and developing their own wonderful talent was clearly evident.
When I first started watching baseball in the early 80’s, the Dodgers infield was entirely homegrown. You had perennial All-Stars Steve Garvey, Davey Lopes, Bill Russell, and Ron Cey playing together for nearly a decade. It was quite a core.
The Dodgers then churned out four consecutive Rookie of the Year award winners from 1979-82.
Rick Sutcliffe, Steve Howe, Fernando Valenzuala, and Steve Sax were part of the next wave, along with other talent like Greg Brock and Mike Marshall who would fill out the Dodger lineup.
The Dodgers would then actually surpass that early accomplishment by having five consecutive Rookie of the Year winners from 1992-96. Eric Karros, Mike Piazza, Raul Mondesi, Hideo Nomo, and Todd “Holly” Hollandsworth. I could go on all day about how prolific the Dodgers farm system has been throughout the years.
However, getting back to my original thought, the Cubs are finally starting to put together something that can resemble what those Dodger teams embodied.
A young core of talented and dedicated teammates that will thrive off each other. The Cubs could actually boast a three-fourths homegrown infield next year if Starlin Castro, Bryant, and Baez all play together. An infield like that could set the Cubs up for a nice a run just like the Dodgers had in the 70’s and 80’s.
The continuity and camaraderie that develop are just some side benefits of having a young core grow together. The chemistry between Baez, Bryant, and Jorge Soler and the enthusiasm they share about soon playing together on the big stage in Chicago seems evident.
We could now be looking at what Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have dubbed…”The Cubs Way.”
“Everything there is about the game, how we’re going to approach it the same way as an organization from the Dominican Summer League to [Class] A ball, Double-A, Triple-A and up to the big leagues. Playing hard is a big part of it; playing the game the right way and teaching it consistently is important,” Epstein says.
“I think the public will know about it when players who we’ve drafted and signed come through our system learning the Cubs’ way and play that way at Wrigley.”
“They should hold us accountable; we should have good results. They should see our players playing the same way in the Minor Leagues and when they get to the big leagues. They should see a fundamentally sound team, they should see smart and aggressive baseball.”
As the Dodgers once again prepare for the playoffs, this Cubs organization is making plans for a perennial run of young talent and playoff appearances themselves.