One Move That Made the Cubs a Contender
Have you ever heard the saying, “Nothing good happens after midnight?” Well, recently, if you are a Chicago Cubs fan, then you know some good things happen after midnight.
At 12:19 am on December 10, former Red Sox and Athletics pitcher Jon Lester signed a 6-year, $155 million contract; it is the second largest contract that has been signed by a starting pitcher via free agency.
Lester joins a roster that has made multiple upgrades, including hiring Joe Maddon as manager and trading for veteran catcher Miguel Montero.
“We’re not hiding the ball. The fact that we haven’t won in so long helps define who we are. It adds meaning and resonance to what we’re trying to accomplish here, and I think it attracts players who aren’t afraid of that challenge and want to be here for the right reasons and it definitely attracted Jon Lester,” said Theo Epstein, President of Baseball Operations for the Cubs.
Lester has proven time and time in the past season why he can is deserving of the big money. Lester is simply a winner. He has proven himself on the biggest of stages, as he has the best ERA in World Series games, posting a stellar 0.43 while going 3-0 in those starts. He is a two-time world champion, and has over 115 wins. He is also a natural fighter. Many forget that he had battle with lymphoma in 2006 and rebounded to become one of the top pitchers in baseball.
“People ask if we’re all in for 2015,” Epstein said. “The best response is we’re all in for the future. The future starts in ’15. We’re going to do some things to put as competitive a roster as possible on the field to try to win. Our goal is to win the division and then as Joe (Maddon) said, the World Series.
Lester will be looked upon as the team leader. Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro lead this team in the field and rookies Jorge Soler and Javier Baez add some serious pop. Despite this wealth of youthful talent, the Cubs appear to be one big, veteran bat away from being taken seriously as a competitor in the National League.
The problem for the Cubs now is that the NL Central is much like the NFC West in the NFL; each team in the division is very strong, but someone has to struggle strictly because of the overall toughness of the division. All five teams in the division are very strong, this coming season looks like each team will be over .500 and in contention for the division title come September.
The Cubs have forever been known as the losers of the league, their success of 2003 forgotten by the infamous “Bartman Incident.” This move gives the Cubs a new buzz, a new identity. The Cubs seem to be turning the corner at last, as they look to erase the century long dry spell that has plagued the organization forever.