Everyone must know by now that the Chicago Cubs are probably primed for a pretty good season.
They’re set to meet up with the Boston Red Sox in the World Series. And part of the reason for that might be because they actually look a lot like Red Sox teams of the past.
At this point, it would really be fair to call them the Red Sox of the National League. Their most recent move, signing Shane Victorino to a minor league deal with a Spring Training, certainly helps put them over the top. The right-handed outfielder was a key part of the 2013 Red Sox World Series team.
They look like a strong team — and on the mound, their No. 2 starting pitcher, Jon Lester, used to be the Red Sox ace. Yes, the Lester who helped lead the Red Sox to two World Series rings. And his favorite personal catcher, David Ross, is the team’s backup catcher. Yes, Ross is still alive. Ross was the Red Sox backup catcher in 2013.
The Cubs also bolstered their rotation this offseason with John Lackey. Yes, John Lackey. Lackey may have been public enemy No. 1 in 2011 for the Red Sox (see: the fried chicken and beer scandal). But he really stepped it up and was a key arm on the 2013 World Series team after he worked hard to recover from Tommy John Surgery.
Their power hitting first baseman, Anthony Rizzo, might not have ever played a game at the Red Sox top level. But they drafted him, only to deal him to the San Diego Padres in the Adrian Gonzalez deal.
Why is it that they seem to go after some Red Sox players? That’s actually pretty simple: team president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer both used to be Red Sox executives, of course.
Take a look at some of the Cubs’ other Spring Training non-roster invitees too. Pitcher Stephen Fife and catcher Tim Federowicz are like Rizzo. They were drafted by the Sox and played in the system. But they were dealt in the legendary Erik Bedard deal.
The other guy on the mound the Cubs have that has some shades of Red Sox is NRI Jean Machi, the lights out closer from last year.
And who could forget about Matt Murton? The outfielder was drafted by the Red Sox and spent time in the system. But he was dealt in 2004 alongside Nomar Garciaparra. Talk about a flashback Friday to 2004.
For those of you who are dying to know what ever happened to Murton, it went a little like this: he did alright for the Cubs for a short while, struggled a bit, went to Japan, became an international legend and now, he’s back to prove he can play in the bigs again.
Here’s Murton breaking the Japanese single season hit record:
On top of players, 2007 World Series champ Eric Hinske is the team’s assistant hitting coach while Kevin Youkilis and Darnell McDonald are baseball operations assistants. Not to mention Manny Ramirez is a hitting consultant who spends time in the big leagues and the minors.
Not bad Cubs. Not bad at all.