Organizational Rankings: #7 by Dave Cameron March 24, 2009 As we finish out the top eight, all of the remaining clubs earn an overall grade of A-, A, or A+. These eight franchises have separated themselves from the rest of the pack – there’s probably a bigger gap between #8 and #9 than between #8 and #4, for instance. If you root for any of the upcoming teams, you should be very pleased. The future looks bright for all the upcoming franchises. Rankings So Far #30: Washington Nationals #29: Florida Marlins #28: Houston Astros #27: Kansas City Royals #26: Pittsburgh Pirates #25: San Diego Padres #24: Cincinnati Reds #23: Colorado Rockies #22: Detroit Tigers #21: St. Louis Cardinals #20: Toronto Blue Jays #19: San Francisco Giants #18: Minnesota Twins #17: Chicago White Sox #16: Baltimore Orioles #15: Seattle Mariners #14: Philadelphia Phillies #13: Los Angeles Dodgers #12: Texas Rangers #11: Oakland Athletics #10: Los Angeles Angels #9: Arizona Diamondbacks #8: Atlanta Braves #7: Chicago Cubs Ownership: ? With the Tribune companies sale of the club to an ownership group led by the Ricketts, the team is changing hands one more time. Unlike with the Padres situation, we don’t really have anything to judge the new owners by, so I’m just working off the assumption that the Cubs will continue to be fairly well capitalized, based on their revenues and market. Front Office: B- Believe it or not, Jim Hendry has a good eye for talent. When he was the Cubs scouting director, the team acquired a significant batch of young talent, and he consistently built farm systems that were supplying the Cubs with impact players. Since being promoted to GM, his weaknesses have been exposed, however – the team has had problems in how the young talent is integrated into the major league roster and the team has shown questionable discernment in handing out contracts to free agents. He’s built a quality major league roster, but squandered a lot of assets in getting there. Major League Talent: A For 2009, this is the best team in the National League. The line-up is going to put runs on the board in bunches, and the team isn’t sacrificing defense in order to build an offensive juggernaut. They have a roster full of players who contribute on both sides of the ball with skill sets that age well. The rotation is terrific, and even without a proven closer, the bullpen has a solid collection of interesting arms. There are depth issues, and with Milton Bradley and Rich Harden involved, you know the team isn’t going to be at full strength on most days, but they’ve got a team on the field that could be the class of the NL for the next several years. Minor League Talent: C- There’s Josh Vitters and then a pretty large gaping hole. The lack of minor league depth hurt the team over the winter, as the Padres couldn’t find enough interesting pieces to ask for in a Jake Peavy trade and required an additional team be involved in order to get enough quality prospects headed back towards San Diego. It’s a good thing the Cubs have a loaded major league team, because they aren’t going to get much help from the farm system for a couple of years. Overall: A- The Cubs management has made a lot of mistakes, but their payroll gives them a lot of room for error, and they’ve managed to assemble a top tier major league roster even with their questionable judgments. If Hendry and company can stay out of the way, the team should be playing in a World Series in the next few years – there’s just way too much talent on the 25 man roster for them to not make it deep into October sooner than later. Given the state of the farm system and the lack of a great young core at the major league level, the fall-off could be pretty steep down the line, but for right now, they’re legitimate contenders for the foreseeable future.