I had a vision during the radio show this week. It flashed before me -- a high overhead shot from the Wrigley press box level.
Cubs game, early September. Anthony Rizzo was at first, Javy Baez at second, Starlin Castro at shortstop, with Kris Bryant at third base. Arismendy Alcantara was in the outfield along with Junior Lake.
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Cubs GM Jed Hoyer was on the show Friday, and giggled at this vision. He didn't guarantee a timeline, but admitted it's not far off from their thinking too.
He was asked about the potential for a paradigm shift in 2015. In these first three "Epstoyer" seasons, it has been better to be bad. Lose a few more games, then get that higher draft pick and that expanded pool of signing bonus money.
Even if 2015 is not a realistic target for contention, will it be time to actually try to win as many games as possible on the big league level?
"It's kind of a hard question to answer directly, since we're still figuring out what next year's team will be," said Hoyer, "but as we shift into becoming a really young team, we have to make sure we have veterans around those guys when they're ready to perform …. so that's going to be a focus of our off-season for sure."
He said the perception that they have to wait for the revenue streams of ballpark renovations and/or new TV deals to spend in free agency is not true.
"That line (of thinking) is pretty exaggerated right now. If there's deals that make sense this offseason, we'll try and add veterans and be aggressive. … If it's the right player at the right position, we'll have plenty of money to go after those kind of players."
Acquisitions this winter will not just be potential "sign and flip" guys, or prospects with distant arrival dates. There may not be a $175 million guy like Max Scherzer. But the goal has always been to augment the arrival of a young core with the right veterans to create a winning mix.
If that September daydream materializes, and those kids look ready, next April should be a new beginning. Your viewing time will be better rewarded.
In this corner:
We've got the makings of a good era for first basemen in town.
Rizzo has taken a leap forward, especially in how he's dominated left-handed pitching. His splits so far are stunning; they look like a right-handed slugger's stats.
Jose Abreu has bounced back from a slump. He'll be a guy that adjusts, and produces.
These next few years should produce good debates on who's best.
The standard is 1991 to 2000, when both Frank Thomas and Mark Grace played healthy seasons 71 blocks apart.
Grace averaged 189 hits, 87 RBI, made three all-star games, and won four Gold Gloves. Thomas averaged an absurd 34 HR and 114 RBI, made five all-star games and won two MVPs.
From 2004 to 2009, Derrek Lee averaged 26 HR, 86 RBI, made two all-star appearances and won 2 gold gloves. Paul Konerko averaged 33 and 95, and made two all-star games. They were the two consistently best players in the city.
Did Leon Durham and Greg Walker do anything for you? In the five-year stretch from '83 to '87, they topped 20 HRs seven times, had eight combined seasons with an OPS over .800, and each was part of a division title.
Many didn't quite cross over. Dick Allen's MVP summer of 1972, his first of three straight all-star seasons, came just after Ernie Banks finished up his eight years at first.
Zeke Bonura had a good run for the Sox in the 1930s, but Charlie Grimm's best days for the Cubs were behind him. And with all due respect to Jiggs Donahue, Frank Chance went unrivaled in the early 1900s.
Right now, even with the transformative presence of Abreu in that Sox lineup, give me Rizzo. Defense gets him over the top.
But check back in a month or two. And maybe for years after that.
• Matt Spiegel co-hosts "The McNeil & Spiegel Show" 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday-Friday on WSCR 670-AM. Follow him on Twitter @mattspiegel670.