There’s a lot of talk about John Lester, Max Sherzer, and all of the other players the Cubs will be pursuing in the offseason. “Payroll flexibility” seems to be code for “dollars to throw at players who will need to be persuaded to play for the Cubs.”
But there’s one thing that no amount of payroll flexibility can solve. And to describe what that is, I point you to Oscar Tavares of the Cardinals. No, I don’t want to acquire him for the Cubs, and I’m pretty sure that all of the Cubs’ prospects couldn’t pry him away from St. Louis, anyway. But what Oscar Tavares does have–by virtue of a pinch hitting at bat in the seventh inning Friday night against the Dodgers–is postseason experience. None of the Cubs’ position players have as much postseason experience as Oscar Tavares.
Forget about Molina and Holliday for a moment. These guys are loaded with experience playing in October, and they have the rings to show for it. If the Cubs ever want to give the Cardinals, Giants,and Dodgers a run for their money someday–and noit just in the regular season but in October, as well–they need to get to the post season, right way. None of this “Maybe we’ll contend next year, and maybe we’ll get there in 2017.” No. We’re behind the curve already, and the gap between where the elite teams are and where the Cubs are will get wider and wider this October.
Playoff success depends on playoff experience. And the Cubs in general are helpless about that until next season. So I’m expecting the postseason in 2016, before the gap becomes even more pronounced than it is already.