Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Offseason Review: Chicago Cubs

Who did you really expect to see here? David DeJesus?
For a team that is in need of gradual and patient change, the Cubs sure made some drastic moves to get the ball rolling in that direction. On October 12th, 2011, just after the collapse that terminated the Red Sox season came to it's merciful end, Theo Epstein was granted his release by Boston and signed a five-year $18.5 million dollar contract with the Cubs. The replacement of longtime GM Jim Hendry with the refreshing, young and already highly decorated Epstein was heralded as a very welcome change by many Cubs fans. So does what does the infancy of the Epstein era mean for the North side of Chicago?

It's clear to people paying attention, and to the surprising tolerance by the usually short tempered Cubs fan base, that Epstein's actions aren't occurring with urgency in mind. David DeJesus and Ian Stewart are not the key acquisition a stagnant team would need to make before committing to competitive relevance. There are a ton of knots to untangle if Chicago wants to be anything besides a century old monument to incompetence, and signs are pointing to the assertion that they have the right man behind that untangling.
Veteran David DeJesus joins the Cubs in 2012
As soon as the Chicago's cursed Hendry era ended and the reign of Epstein began, the Cubs made the long since past due decision to cut out the loveable losers schtick and get down to business. Carlos Zambrano, thought to be immovable, was shipped out to the Marlins who apparently thought it would be a good idea to mix an insane wild card in to all of their offseason rebuilding. In exchange they got the mediocre Chris Volstad. This move almost made me want to be a Cubs fan, and seriously if I hadn't been born and raised a true blue brew crew fan, that consideration might stand. How Epstein was able to unload that walking liability is beyond me.
Chris Volstad comes to Chicago in exchange for stupid crybaby Carlos Zambrano
The mess Theo Epstein inherited is going to be around for a little while more. There is still a contract in the Wrigley front office with Alfonso Soriano and Jim Hendry's name on it. Soriano and an enormous chunk of his enormous contract was shopped around but no one took a bite. There were a few other names experimented with on the block, most recently Marlon Byrd, but the reorganization of the roster is going to be a waiting game. That in mind, key prospects in Anthony Rizzo and Dave Sappelt were acquired through trades. Moves like that won't show results any immediate fashion, but with a little luck and patience can develop the kind of core a team needs to start playing meaningful baseball again.
Carlos "trade-this-man" Marmol
As I'd mentioned in a previous entry, I'm not delusionally optimistic about Theo's hands being on Chicago's steering wheel. A lot of my hesitation lies in the ridiculous Carl Crawford contract he presided over last offseason before the Red Sox epic collapse. I'm not saying that he should have expected Crawford to be as comparably miserable as he was, but I am saying that it's irresponsible to invest such a huge portion of the club's budget in ONE outfielder. WHAT IS THAT?! What sucks even more for Boston is that Crawford started exhibiting his decline in the FIRST year of his SEVEN year deal. Theo better chill on that crap in Chicago, the fans don't want and don't deserve another Soriano. If I had to guess, Theo learned his lesson.
Prized trade chip Matt Garza
So that's basically it. Epstein and his staff effectively ushered in the rebuilding era for the Chicago Cubs. How successful that will be is yet to be determined, but his intentions seem obvious. There are a few moves I'd like to see go through If I were a Cubs fan. First off, trade Garza before he loses value. The Garza stigma is only going to be around as long as he is good, and that probably won't eclipse the amount of time it's going to take for the Cubs become a legitimate threat in the NL Central. Secondly, and screamingly obvious in my opinion is to trade the heck out of Carlos Marmol. All he is is a declining one time all star playing a position that isn't crucial unless you are actually ready to make a run at the playoffs, AND THE CUBBIES AIN'T THERE YET. If I were a fan I'd sit back and enjoy the Cubs bound toward fourth or fifth place this year, eagerly awaiting for 2015 to rear its head.

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