Next year is nearly upon us, and there's already been a fair amount of hair pulling over the 2012 Cubs. Sure, they're not going to inspire anyone to start scouting World Series seats, but, for once, I'm not worried about the state of Cubs, and you shouldn't be either. Here's why:
The front-office appears non-insane: Contrary to years past, when the front office annually insisted it had assembled a World Series contender, Cubs President Theo Epstein and manager Dale Sveum have been blunt about how far the organization has to go to compete. Epstein compared the righting of a baseball organization to turning an oceanliner. You can turn the wheel hard immediately, but it still takes a while to get the ship headed in the right direction. He should know; he's done it before.
There's a game plan: If Bunt-a-Palooza has taught us anything, it's that the Cubs have a clear idea what this team needs to work on: Fundamentals. Since the Cubs have been one of the worst defensive teams for years, this news should be greeted with the popping of champagne bottles. What's more, Epstein's infamous manual on how to do things "The Cubs Way" seeks to sync the way fundamentals are taught at every level of the organization. An entire organization on the same page? What is this, the Yankees?
Whippersnappers who can play: For the first time in recent memory, the Cubs have several highly touted prospects. And when I say "highly touted," I mean by someone other than the Cubs' scouting department. First baseman Anthony Rizzo has been listed among the top 10 prospects in the nation, and Cubs minor-leaguers Brett Jackson, Javier Baez and Trey McNutt also have received high marks from analysts. Given that Epstein assembled two World Series champs from home-grown stock, look for the Cubs farm system to become one of the best in baseball.
No, it's not going to happen overnight, but turn those frowns upside-down, Cubs fans. You're going to have a winner on the North Side. And it's only a few years away.
Julie DiCaro is a RedEye special contributor.