Originally posted on World Series Dreaming  |  Last updated 4/3/13
Off days suck. The traditional day off after game number one by MLB schedule makers is always one of the toughest to make it through, but fate made it an especially difficult task for Cubs fans as two nearly Cubs from a year ago showed why the front office had interest in them. Yoenis Cespedes hit a long, hard line drive homerun to dead center in Oakland last night. Cespedes has ridiculous power, and runs well. A pure physical specimen as his Youtube promotional videos showed during the 2012 offseason. Cespedes would strike out in his other three plate appearance, and is only hitting .125 in his first two games. But that shouldn’t last long after hitting .292/.356/.505 with 23 HRs in 129 games last year. The spotlight was stolen by the near perfecto of Yu Darvish. Darvish was absolutely dominant in his performance with 14 strikeouts against the Astros. Only former Cub Marwin Gonzalez managed to get a hit on plate appearance number 27 for the Astros. A lot of experts were pointing to Darvish’s improved command in the second half as evidence of a potential breakout this season. The 26 year old looked every bit the ace with being able to easily reach back for 97 mph heat and wicked offspeed offerings, emphasis on the plural. I, like any baseball fan with DirecTV, was able to watch the end of Darvish’s perfect game bid. It was hard not to close my eyes and picture if things had gone slightly differently a little over a year ago. The Cubs finished by many reports second in blind bids for the Japanese ace. The Cubs were positioned to land Cespedes before the Oakland A’s made a surprising offer allowing him to reach free agency after only four years. A Cubs pitching staff featuring Darvish, Jeff Samardzija, Matt Garza and Edwin Jackson would be formidable. A young offensive core built around Cespedes, Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo would be intriguing. The rebuild would certainly be farther along with those two. It is up to you how to assign blame for this or if there is any. But the bottom line is that the Cubs missed out on adding two players in peak years that could have been part of that semi-mythic core Theo Epstein is building last offseason. We are left with the fact that there is no prize for second place.
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