I’ve gotta be honest with you folks, this has not been a fun last couple of days for yours truly. You see, this blog isn’t my primary gig. As a part of said day job, I’ve had to deliver a great deal of bad news, devastating news, and I’ve had to do it over and over again. Add to that some frustration with yet another enterprise I’ve recently become a part of, and I’m little more than a mix of frustration and confusion.
Perhaps that’s fitting, given the timing of the baseball season right now. We’re forced to cut through the constant stream of rumors and predictions, searching in vain for that which is good and true. The hot stove is really getting going though, trades fanning the fires of our collective imagination even higher. The Cubs haven’t really been active yet, at least not in terms of actual moves, but they’ve certainly been in the middle of the conversation.
Scott Boras, constant gardener
It’s a tale as old as time: everything’s hunky-dory until the serpent comes slithering in talking about ersatz baseball and the apogee of wrongs. But while Scott Boras may have shed that derogatory skin, he’s still waxing metaphorical about the Cubs and what they could/would/should be doing this offseason.
“[The Cubs have] put themselves in a position where they’ve got just a budding garden of talent,” the abrasive super-agent said. “Certainly, they want to get better. And good for them.
“Whenever you look at ownerships and you evaluate them. It usually takes time, because a part of that garden isn’t only the players. A part of that garden is the ownership.
“When you’ve been in the garden a long time, you probably know a lot more about when to move — and when not to move — than someone who’s been in it a short time.”
Boras wants the Cubs to be players in the free agent market, even if it’s not for his free agent players. You could really insert any big-market team into that role, but the Cubs are in a unique position, what with their collection of young (read: cheap) talent and a need to add pieces to improve on a 97-win season. The temptation to splurge is very real, particularly with news about a forthcoming TV network and and end to debt service payments in the next handful of years.
I am not a fan of Scott Boras. Truth be told, I think he’s a huge douche. Impropriety aside, the guy is really good at what he does, which is to make boatloads of money for the athletes he represents. The good thing for the Cubs is that they’ve got their own incredibly smart group of people working to counteract the agent’s serpentine wiles.
Epstein in win-now mode?
The Cubs are already very good, at least at their core, but they have some very clear opportunities to improve the team. And, wouldn’t you know it, the current free agent market is rife with exactly the players Theo Epstein and Co. could use to fill out the roster. But will they just push all the chips in and go crazy or will they continue to stay the course?
“One way to look at it is (this) might be the best opportunity to have the single most talented roster that you can,” Epstein explained. “But things get a little more complicated as you move forward.
“We’re out there trying to put the best team we can on the field, given the resources that we have.”
But what exactly are those resources? Oh, Theo, you sly dog. Or perhaps you’re a mongoose. Thing is, the Cubs have an advantage now that they haven’t in several years: sex appeal. They don’t need to pay a premium just to get guys to sell their souls for a paycheck. Guys want to play for the Cubs. Guys like David Price and Ben Zobrist. This isn’t a high school dance though, and it’s not enough to steal a few clandestine glances through your respective gaggles of friends.
The Cubs will have to pay, one way or the other. But exactly how much they plan to pay remains to be seen.
An extension for Arrieta?
Not all the deals Boras will try to score involve free agents. One in particular involves a guy the Cubs already have in the fold. Jake Arrieta broke out in a big way this past season and may be looking to lock up some guaranteed money now rather than sit through the next two years of arbitration. I wrote a couple weeks ago about what a deal for Arrieta might look like, and now Bruce Levine weighs in on the possibility of such an extension.
While it’s sort of hunchy, Levine shared a few thoughts on the possibility of the two sides reaching an agreement in the near future:
I’ve known Boras for 30 years. Before Wednesday, I’ve never heard him so wishy-washy on any player’s situation like this one.
Boras didn’t pontificate or go on a long tangent about Arrieta, and that leads me to believe a deal between the two sides will get completed this offseason. Arrieta’s a practical guy who has busted his butt to become the best pitcher in baseball. He has too much common sense to let an opportunity like this go by the boards without obtaining generational wealth for himself and his family when the opportunity presents itself.
On a team filled with down-to-earth cats, Arrieta comes across as perhaps the down-to-earthiest, a guy who wants little more than to be a normal dude. Well, as normal a man with a badass beard and a badder ass cutter/slider can be. I will guarantee you this: Jake Arrieta could walk away from the game tomorrow and live a fulfilling life. But he’s also a fierce competitor who wants to drive himself and his team to the highest levels of his chosen profession. Put those concepts together and you’ve got the recipe for an extension that makes sense for both player and team.
Cubs interested in playing in Cuba
Theo Epstein confirmed on Thursday that the Cubs would have interest in playing against the Cuban national team in Cuba during the upcoming Spring Training. I think this is awesome. I mean, really awesome. Given the international influence in the game, particularly the increasing presence of Cuban players, taking advantage of the eased trade restrictions with the Communist isle makes too much sense. Can you imagine how amazing such a homecoming would be for Jorge Soler? I want to see that.
My only requirement for a game like this is that the visitors rock their mid-90’s throwback uniforms. Comment if you get it.