While other teams keep getting better, the Cubs still just keep waiting around for something good to happen.
Sure we traded reliever Arodys Vizcaino to acquire Tommy La Stella 8 days ago, but since then, all that’s happened is a non-occurrence — we didn’t get Russell Martin, our #1 free agent target. The Cubs next set their sights on free agent pitcher on Jon Lester and from most accounts, Theo & Co. could swing and miss on that one too. Lester will likely resign with the team that traded him to the Oakland A’s this past summer – the Boston Red Sox, unless the Cubs blow him out of the water with a contract that he just can’t turn down. And if that’s what it takes to get him, is it really worth it to overpay a 31-year old starter by $20-30 million just so you can appease your fan base with a move?
Speaking of the Red Sox, they announced 2 big free agent signings today (maybe desperate ones at that) to land Pablo Sandoval (5 years, close to $100 million) and Hanley Ramirez (4 years, $88 million, with a 5th vesting year). The Red Sox hitting was inconsistent and bad in 2014, thus leading to a last place finish, so the Red Sox addressed their hitting needs with 2 big signings. Maybe they’ll work or maybe they won’t. But they focused on a need and they did something about it. Assuming they sign Lester and trade away a few position players for another high level starter, the Red Sox could have the best winter of any team in baseball. The Cards traded for Jason Hey ward. The Marlins locked up their mega star Giancarlo Stanton with a mega $300+ million deal. And even the Cubs’ cross-town rivals have quietly added 2 important pieces — lefty Zach Duke to give some stability to bullpen and Adam LaRoche to give some protection for Current Rookie of The Year Jose Abreu. Everyone seems to be in on the action except for the Cubs.
I understand that there is still plenty of time this winter to get things done. And I keep reminding myself that ever though the team is improving and should be better under the guidance of Joe Maddon, in all likelihood 2015 really isn’t the year that everything will click. But I hate sitting back waiting for things to happen like this. It reminds me of another Chicago sports franchise hoarding their assets telling fans to be patient while it all comes together. The Chicago Bulls had a healthy MVP Derrick Rose and the “Bench Mob” leading them up against the hated Lebron James and the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals. Other teams were courting our bench-mob “assets”, but John Paxson and Gar Forman and Co. kept telling everyone “Sorry — they’re untouchable”. Well look what happened there – Lebron James single-handedly stopped Rose in that finals. And after 2 Rose knee injuries, the Bulls haven’t been back to the Eastern Conference Finals and all those “assets” are long gone with nothing received in return. If we can’t seem to lure a free agent here, then maybe Theo & Co. need to get creative. Sure Starlin Castro is a 3-time all-star, but maybe he could land us a Jordan Zimmerman or Doug Fister in return. Sure Javier Baez might go on to be a stud, but if he can be part of a package for a high level starter, let’s do it. If we truly have the deepest farm system in all of baseball, then using 2 or 3 of those chips this off-season to get better in 2015 should not really make that big of a difference in the long run. I’m not saying that Theo & Co. should just trade away chips on a whim, but if the right deal is there, they shouldn’t be afraid to make a move like that. I just don’t want to be sitting here in 2016 watching Javier Baez still striking out 200+ times while hitting .225 while his trade value plummets, when we could have used him to acquire a key asset in winter 2014. Do you?