Monthly Archives: June 2011

Cubs Sellers in a Buyers Market

Simply put, what the Cubs have not too many teams want.  It is buying and selling of assets.  In many ways it is a lot like playing the stocks.  The Florida Marlins have done it well. Buy low, sell high.  That is the idea.  Keep your minor leagues filled with assets.  Bring them up and start winning with them.  The final year under contract you ‘sell’ them to the highest bidder for more ‘prospects’.  This keeps the Marlins in the championship hunt about every 5 years or so.  The in-between can be rough but they eventually build winning clubs.

The other school of thought is one shared by the likes of the Yankees and Red Sox.  They don’t bring too many of their young assets up to the big club.  Their idea is to sell before they come up based on potential.  They get established veterans in return and acquire a few ‘high priced’ commodities from time to time to keep them in contention almost every season.

The Cubs have their own model which is not focusing on development of the young talent and paying way to much for marginal, veteran talent.  This school of thought has nabbed them a couple of winning seasons but not the big prize.  It also creates a hell of a situation when you have very little in the minors.  What you have is currently up and contributing and the vets you have are being paid way too much for the results they produce.  I know, they kind of sound like the Bear Stearns or Morgan Stanley of baseball.  If someone like Carlos Pena can earn $10 million per season what would someone like Ted Williams or Mike Schmidt be worth today?  $50 million a season.  It is ridiculous.

So now the Cubs have these high priced, aging, under-acheiving veterans and a few young pieces they might want to build around.  Add in the pathetic 30-42 record and you have an organization that is in quite a pickle.  What are they going to sell?  What are the other teams needs?

Well, based on an article on MLBTradeRumors.com most contenders are looking for a 3rd Baseman that can drive in runs.  Oh, wait a minute!  The Cubs have Aramis Ramirez.  He is a good 3rd basemen that can drive in runs.  He isn’t that old and his salary won’t scare off too many teams.  Great, they have a strategy.  Uh oh!  What did Aramis say?  He doesn’t want to be traded!  Mayday!!!  Mayday!!  Aramis is the guy that is going to bring the Cubs the returns they are looking for.  He is the guy that will bring in 3 or 4 decent prospects.  However, he doesn’t want to leave.  He wants to be a Cubby 4 Life.

Moving on the Cubs will free up a lot of money next season and they want to free up even more.  Soriano, Pena, Fukudome and Zambrano are all big money vets the team wants to move.  Who wants them?  Unless some of these contending teams like Boston, New York, Anaheim, Texas or Philadelphia get racked up with injuries their simply isn’t a play for them.  Not too mention they would have to eat at least 50% of Soriano or Fukudome’s contracts just to get teams to take them.  And what would they get in return?  Zambrano could net them a top prospect but most of these guys might only bring back a handful of mid-level prospects and a couple of other ‘bad’ contracts.

Some fans might think, “Who cares?  Cubs will have about $30 million to spend next season.”  There in lies the problem because that is what they do season after season and it doesn’t work.  Neglect of the minors and buying veterans only goes so far.  If the Cubs don’t get a lot in return for these over priced guys they currently have they are going to spend obscene amounts on guys like Prince Fielder and Grady Sizemore and then these contracts will look really bad in 4 or 5 years.  I’m not sure there is a right answer but they way they do business has to change.

Getting out from these terrible contracts is a step in the right direction.  Hopefully some opportunities present themselves where teams will have an immediate need for a DH (Soriano), left handed bat (Fukudome) or a starting pitcher (Zambrano, Dempster).  Another teams desperation is about the only thing that can help the Cubs in this buyers market.

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Rub-a-Dub Cub…

three jerks in a tub.

These three men have greatly assisted in the Cubs demise.  In many ways this photo should be a wanted poster.

I think at the beginning of the season we knew, right?  We knew this was a new administration who wanted to rebuild this thing.  The trade for Garza should have been another clue.  Furthermore, the acquisition of Pena at 1st base to a one-year deal.  Mind you we are paying $10 million for a guy who couldn’t hit a watermelon at a company picnic, but I digress.

Per usual the Cubs will be in “rebuilding” mode.  I say this has already begun.

This is a mode they’ve been STUCK in since 1945, the last time they played in the World Series. As Cubs fans we are used to this mode.  You take a few years, bring up a few young guys, sign a couple of veterans, catch lightning in a bottle, make it to the playoffs, lose and then repeat steps.  The only difference this time is that the Cubs have had a REAL chance to do something almost every year since 2003.  They were really close in both 2003 and 2008.  They had some young studs with some solid vets mixed in.  You’d think in 7 or 8 seasons time you would break through.  I mean it isn’t like they have the Yankees and Red Sox in their division.  They have the tight budgeted Cards, always overrated Brewers and the crappy until recently Reds.

So this season roles around and the “Tub Boys” Kenney, Hendry and Quade sing the same tune.  We’re gonna challenge for the division and make a push.  Yadda, yadda, yadda.  You don’t say that and then go acquire Pena.  Honestly, did they think the likes of Fukudome, Blake DeWitt, Carlos Pena and injury prone guys like A Ram and Alfonso are a “playoff” caliber team?  Maybe in Cubdom where the glasses are rose colored.  I will say adding Garza to a good starting staff was a good thing, at least at the time.  No arguments there.  But, the rest of it stunk to high heaven and I think the rebuild actually begun as far back as this past off-season.

It makes sense, right?  The Cubs have almost $100 million coming off of the books after this season.  Why add any long-term, expensive contracts?  They are also going to do there best to get rid of more salary before the trade deadline but they’re going to need Soriano to play and hit and they’re going to need Zambrano not to act like a psycho.  By August this will be a different team and by next March it will be a vastly different team.  Cubs admin was looking well down the road before this season began but was tasked with selling this season.  My problem?

Well, some sort of honesty would have been nice tub boys.  Telling fans that the Cubs were going to compete and so on was a mistake.  You don’t want to wave the white flag either but saying one thing and doing another usually a one-way ticket to Unemployedville.  Do you think Ricketts is going to let Hendry and Co. try again?  Is he going to let Quade run it?  My recommendation is for the tub boys to enjoy what little time they have left.  Enjoy general managing, field managing and whatever the hell Crane Kenney does.  Enjoy it.  Because all things must come to an end and it is obvious the Rickett family is in the mood to wipe the slate clean and…say it…say it…REBUILD without you.

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