Let me start by saying this; I have been a Cubs fan since the day I was born and I will grow old being a die-hard-bleed-Cubbie-blue Cubs fan. That said, it is usually at this point in the baseball season, as the trade deadline approaches, that I, as well as many fans of their own teams can attest, can see whether or not this season is going to amount to an exciting playoff run, or just admit the season is a wash and begin looking forward to the off-season moves as well as the beginning of football and soon after, hockey.
I have two comments based on my previous statement. First; for the cubs, the 2011 season is officially yet another lesson in futility. The only thing we can hope to save is a shred of dignity in finishing above the Houston Abysmals (I mean Astros). Second; it kills me that in recent memory the Cubs have signed a few players to such lucrative contracts that when they under-perform and the trade deadline approaches we can’t eat enough of their salary for anyone else to take them off our hands (i.e. Fukudome and Soriano). Many people would argue that Zambrano belongs on this short list as well. Despite shortcomings in his performance at times, he has constantly shown a desire to win and win in Chicago. To me that heart and dedication are shown by too few players today, and fewer in the Cubs organization.
While the lack of ability to rid the organization of players with contracts that are too big for their stats there are definitely some bright spots of the season. Carlos Pena is doing exactly what we’re paying him to do, hit home runs, get on base, and save a few errors from Starlin Castro’s overzealous arm and still developing defense. Aramis has warmed up with the weather and is rumored to have rejected advances by the Angels, invoking his 10-and-5 rights. The middle infield in Castro and Barney may be developing into the new Sandberg/Dunston combo we’ve been missing up the middle of the diamond. And while criticized Garza has come almost completely as advertised and it would be prudent to continue to build a rotation around him.
I would definitely agree that this team is far from perfect as proven by their record and overall lack of defense, but as always there are pieces that are in place for the future. We just need to keep them there as hopefully Rickets takes a lesson and some advice from McDonough of the Blackhawks and looks at the deficiencies and gets players that are the best fit for the organization, not just the ones that look the best on the paper, by the stats, and numbers. We’ve proven time and time again that that doesn’t work the majority of the time.
I wrote this this morning before the Fukudome trade was announced. Of the 4.7 mil left on his contract it looks like the Cubs are eating 4 mil of that. I’m still surprised that a deal got done if you look at the Fukudome’s numbers at home versus on the road.
There has also been some talk this evening about Aramis Ramirez not explicitly saying he would reject a trade, but that no one has come to him with one. The Cubs and Rickets should take note in regards to Aramis, that there is no on waiting in the wings to take over for him should he be traded – at least not as a full time replacement. This was something pointed out in an article I read a few weeks ago, but I believe that article also mentioned a slim off-season market of third basemen. The organization should remember his willingness to take a hometown discount on his last contract, lock him up for a couple more years until either a replacement becomes obvious or a free agent acquisition proves it could fill the offensive hole that Ramirez’s departure would leave.