Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Offseason Review: Chicago Cubs

President of Baseball Operations Theo
Epstein, the man in charge of untangling Jim
Hendry's ball of bullshit.
Spare the signing of Edwin Jackson the moves have been quiet on Chicago's north side, but the Cubs have been busy. Theo Epstein is entering his second year as President of Baseball Operations for the Cubbies, and much to the dismay their notoriously reactionary fan base it looks like it will continue to be an uphill battle towards relevance. When you inherit the disarray Epstein did coming in to the 2012 season the chore comes not only in righting a ship that's desperately off course, but doing so in a time frame that keeps seats filled and jobs in tact. What needs to be remembered is that that job can't be accomplished by crushing the free agent market and being impulsive with trades.

The only thing the Cubs can really do now is float on stop gap acquisitions and intelligent drafting. Signing players like Hisanori Takahashi and Brent Lillibridge isn't going to win a world series, but it will provide an infrastructure for young talent to develop. Granted these names aren't glitzy, but the time for glitz at Wrigley Field isn't now. If you were to substitute the above mentioned names for Zack Greinke and Josh Hamilton all you'd have a is an expensive and rapidly aging mistake, a tired theme for Cubs fans. The Cubs don't have a whole lot of wiggle room so it's hard to discuss exactly how well they are handling business. All Epstein and Hoyer can really do is maneuver their roster and it's develop intelligently and carefully whenever the window for that development opens.

Journeyman no more. The Cubs give Edwin Jackson a home
for the next four years.
The biggest move pulled off by Chicago this offseason was the signing of Edwin Jackson for four years  at $52MM. It's pretty easy to look at $52 million and say that's a relative overpay given Edwin Jackson's lack of overall dominance; but I think when you take in to consideration the Cub's specific situation that this is a good signing. At age 29, Jackson is more than likely still going to be at the very least a serviceable player by the time the contract expires. Edwin Jackson's resume is an extremely unique one. The Cubs are his eighth team since his debut in 2003. In 2010 Jackson authored a no-hitter with the Diamondbacks and in 2011 he won a ring with the St. Louis Cardinals. Experience like this is an invaluable off the field merit, perfect for assisting young talent in their maturation. 

All in all, the Cubs are doing what they need to do. No rational person expects a championship season out of Wrigley in 2013; but if the Cubs' fan base can refrain from acting on their stereotypical hot headedness and let the farm system build in to something meaningful, something good can happen.  I expect Soriano to get traded by opening day and Garza before the trade deadline. The Cubs finish last in the division, but with a better record than last year.

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