Siberian Baseball

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Mortgaging the future

One of the decisions I was able to respect as the Red Sox season started circling the drain was Theo Epstein's announcement that the Sox wouldn't risk the future for immediate help in 2006.

Given how the rest of the team fell apart at the seams, this is one of those 20/20 hindsight decisions that paid off. What good is an extra arm if Manny starts to pout and all the other bad luck things start comng down anyway?

I know, it's chicken and egg material, but dumping young players for a rent-an-arm isn't the best idea unless you're looking for someone to push you over the top. Sad to say, the Red Sox didn't have much of a chance once the Yankees knocked the shit out of Boston in that five-game series.

Theo's comments on July 31, according to

"We came close on a lot of things … countless opportunities we were pursuing …We have a long term plan and as much as we desperately wanted to do something to help our big league team, it would have been short-sighted to sacrifice that long-term plan. It just wasn’t worth it."

Very disappointing [not being able to make a deal]. We have a lot of people in the front office and scouts that worked very hard to get things done.

"In the end, we gathered around everybody, thanked them for their hard work. We’re proud of the process, and proud of the results… There’s always an opportunity for waiver deals."

Granted, there were plenty of players who were moved along and went on to good to great seasons (Anibel Snachez pitches a no-hitter, Hanley Ramirez does well in Florida and Cla Merideth holds strong in San Diego) but I took a degree of solace in a GM who has a basic understanding of building a strong organization from the farm up.

I'm not sure if it's as bad as Kevin Hench thinks - "Jon Lester is not Francisco Liriano and he never will be. Craig Hansen is not Joel Zumaya and he never will be. Manny Delcarmen is not Mark Lowe and he never will be. Sadly, Hanley Ramirez is Miguel Tejada, only way ahead of schedule." - but there are questions on Yawkey Way this fall

At least Theo has an office to start this offseason. You'll never convince me that being without a true GM for months last fall/winter wasn't the biggest reason that the Red Sox belly-flopped this year... and lost Johnny Damon...

Today, the rumors indicate that the Cubs are at a similar crossroads, hiring Lou Piniella, who has made no secret of his ongoing man crush on Alex Rodriguez.

If you listen to the buzz, the Yankess want Carlos Zambrano in exchange and the Cubs are just stupid enough to entertain that possibility. If the trade would go through, Chicago fans can save cash on tickets, chalk up another losing season and get ready to take the over on every betting line when the wind kicks up at Wrigley, because there'd be no saving them at that point.

While I'll drink gallons of Cubbie Blue Kool-Aid in the off-season and get my hopes up based on a healthy rotation anchored by Zambrano, Mark Prior and Kerry Wood, despite zero evidence to support this hypothesis - In fact, the top two headlines on the Chicago Tribune right now are Piniella takes over as Cubs manager/Prior to have shoulder examined - I can't see a single scenario in which trading Zambrano for Rodriguez results in a winning season, much less a division title.

While it's not a true apples to apples comparison, the Cubs need to snap out of it and not mortgage their season for the big splash signing. Honestly, the rumors that the White Sox are in line as well (Kenny Williams has man-crush on A-Rod, too) make much more sense with a stud third baseman looking for a ticket out of the minors, an extra arm in the rotation and enough support to keep the heat off his fragile ego.

So, while Red Sox Nation steadies itself with reassurances that "In Theo we trust" the Cubs fans aren't that lucky. They shouldn't trust much of anybody after nearly 100 years, especially an organization that hides behind goats and shell-shocked fans to cover for years of futility, bad decisions and foolish spending.

(Photos from /

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