Back in October, ESPN ranked MLB’s franchises based on how well they are set up for success over the next five years. The Cubs came in at number four, behind only the Dodgers, Cardinals, and Red Sox, in that order.
After the offseason, the rankings have been updated, and the Cubs are up to third, notably overtaking the Cardinals, who fell to fifth. The Cubs are now behind the Red Sox and Dodgers, and just ahead of the Nationals and Cardinals. It’s not entirely clear why the Cardinals fell – the first ranking came out after the tragic death of Oscar Taveras – but it could just be the Cubs and Nationals having strong offseasons, whereas the Cardinals didn’t do a great deal in terms of improvement over the next five years. Impressions of the Cardinals’ minor league system, though, appear to have taken a step back now that we’re on the other side of rankings season. The Pirates, who land just behind the Cardinals on the list, held steady from the previous ranking
As for the Cubs, they obviously saw a bump in the big league talent level, which was the primary reason they saw their ranking rise. Check out ESPN’s rankings for more on the other teams, but I find the look at the NL Central to be the most interesting.
It wasn’t but a year ago that it looked like the Cardinals and Pirates had better under-25 talent than the Cubs, and were better set up for sustained success in the near-term. Have things really changed that much in a year?
At the time, I liked the Cubs’ chances to possibly be the best team in the Central over the next decade, but the Cardinals and Pirates did (and still do) look strong. If you fast-forward a year (recall, the Cubs weren’t expected to be any good in 2014, and they weren’t), and then shrink the window to five years, do the Cubs look like the best team in the Central? I think if the financial advantages the Cubs could enjoy in that time do start to emerge, then I could see betting on the Cubs as the best team in the next five years. I like the Cardinals’ and Pirates’ big league talent a touch better right now, but I obviously prefer the Cubs’ prospect talent.
We’ll see how the Cubs look early in 2015 as this five-year window begins. As we discussed this morning, they’ll sure see the Cardinals and Pirates plenty.