Who Can Save the Cubs?
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Who Can Save the Cubs?
The Cubs are currently in a state of stalemate.
Once Jim Hendry was fired the search began. What are the Cubs to do to finally get over the championship drought?
Two GM’s I’ve heard mentioned are AL East power-GMs Theo Epstein and Brian Cashman. Why would these GMs leave their close to perfect jobs to try to rebuild the Cubs?
One reason might be legacy. Theo already entrenched his legacy with the Red Sox by breaking ‘the curse’. What more can he prove in Boston? Imagine being the man who brought a World Series title to both the Red Sox and Cubs. With Cashman, he has won with the Yankees but he can’t build much of a legacy across baseball, only in New York. He will never go down as an all-time great GM by buying players. Why not try a new challenge?
Another reason for either of these GMs to consider it would be a promotion.
Why wouldn’t the Cubs offer one of these men the opportunity to be Team President of Baseball Operations? Maybe the Cubs need a whole change in culture. Cashman and Epstein have both in the past been advocates of keeping their youth but their bosses pressure them to make big deals - they could finally get the chance. Cashman would no longer have Hank Steinbrenner calling the shots and both men could show of their real talent evaluating skills.
It seems to me that Cashman won’t be back in New York next year; and Theo will most likely return to Boston. However, last time Theo’s contract ran out, he took a leave, the interim GM traded Hanley Ramirez and Theo returned wearing a gorilla suit. So who knows what he will do if he feels that the ownership isn’t compensating him well enough.
Once in Chicago, what’s the next step to rebuild this historic franchise?
It’s probably an owner’s nightmare, but the answer is fire sale. Don’t get me wrong, the Cubs have money to spend, but they are being tied down by too many bad contracts. The Zambrano and Soriano contracts are crippling their payroll and the Dempster contract isn’t helping. They have 6 players arbitration eligible. Randy Wells, Blake DeWitt are 1st time eligible, Soto is 2nd time, and Garza, Baker, and Hill are 3rd. Being Wells' 1st time, he’s worth an offer, Soto should get an offer and Garza should, the other three should not be given offers. Ramirez also has a $16MM mutual option and Dempster has a $14MM player option. It would be great for the Cubs if both declined but I couldn’t see Dempster declining.
The Cubs should be able to get their payroll down to about $50MM before free agency.
Once they let all those players go, they can sign some players. I would offer Prince a large contract, try to sign one of the better outfielders (like Cuddyer), and bring in a 2 and 3 starter (Buehrle, Pineiro). They could do these moves and still have a lower payroll than they have now. Brett Jackson could be the starting center fielder next year and he will add some skill to the lineup. I don’t think that the Cubs will compete next year but Castro and Prince would be great pieces to build a line up around.
With all of this said, the Cubs biggest problem is bad contracts and both Epstein and Cashman have signed some bad deals in their day. I would love to see how they would react to smaller payrolls with less leeway to make mistakes. Either man’s legacies would be timeless if they led the Cubs to a long awaited World Series.
To have your questions answered, email me at email@example.comBy Mike Lavery
- Alfonso Soriano, Aramis Ramirez, Blake DeWitt, Boston Red Sox, Brian Cashman, Carlos Zambrano, Chicago Cubs, Geovany Soto, Hanley Ramirez, Jeff Baker, Joel Pineiro, Koyie Hill, Mark Buehrle, Matt Garza, Michael Cuddyer, New York Yankees, Prince Fielder, Randy Wells, Ryan Dempster, Starlin Castro, Theo Epstein