Now that Sam Zell and the Cubs organization have selected Tom Ricketts as the winning bidder for the purchase of the Cubs, how will that affect the product on the field? Of course The Ricketts Family still needs to get MLB approval, but assuming that happens, will the Ricketts family do “whatever it takes” to bring a World Series Championship to the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field?
The biggest player question now focuses on San Diego Padres ace Jake Peavy. Padres GM Kevin Towers and Cubs GM Jim Hendry conducted extensive negotiations during the 2008-9 Winter Meetings in December but couldn’t seal the deal. Towers has indicated that Peavy is off the trading block, but given the impending sale of the Padres, they still need to clear salary off the books in order to make any sale more palatable to potential suitors. Moving Peavy at some point this spring or during the 1st half of the 2009 MLB season would accomplish that.
When the Cubs acquired pitcher Garrett Olson from the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for Felix Pie, many saw that as a sign that the Cubs-Padres talks for Peavy would resume – Towers has mentioned Olson as starting pitcher the Padres would like to have in their rotation. But when the Cubs moved Olson along with Ronny Cedeno to acquire starter/reliever Aaron Heilman, that seemed to quash the Peavy trade rumors once again.
It also raised more questions about Rich Harden’s health. Did the Cubs acquire Heilman, a proven major league pitcher, to off-set the impact of any trip to the disabled list by Harden at the start of the season or at some point during the season? I guess these things will have to play out. Hendry will tell you that it’s always good for a major league team have a deep pitching staff with many different options to turn to as circumstances dictate. But given the Cubs past pitching injury woes with Kerry Wood and Mark Prior, most Cubs fans are always leery of the status of a player’s health when arm troubles appear. Harden has a history of injury, he was held out of starts at the end of the 2008 MLB season to “rest” the arm, and he is not playing in the World Baseball Classic in March because they don’t think he will be fully ready to participate on a regular basis. Do you hear those alarm bells ringing?
It’s great that the Cubs acquired Heilman in order to anticipate an adverse injury situation with Harden, but if that costs the Cubs the ability to land a #1 like Peavy, I seriously question Hendry’s judgment. I’d rather have a starting rotation of Zambrano, Peavy, Dempster, Lilly and than Zambrano, Dempster, Lilly, Marshall and Heilman (assuming Harden can’t go on a regular basis).
In any event, it should be an interesting few months on the north side of Chicago. We’ll keep you abreast of any action as soon as we hear it.