You know, we all sat tight, kept our mouths shut, secretly rubbed our blue-dyed rabbit feet or whatever lucky talisman we personally own, and read all about the Rangers and the Brewers and the Orioles and the Mariners getting heated up about signing Prince Fielder - and some of us hoped that Theo and his band of Lesser GMs were just being stealthy about jumping into the game themselves.
We had been given no reason whatsoever to expect Fielder here. Theo said we were going to buy low and sell high, Jed said building the system was Job 1, Sveum (u-before-e-except-after-sv) said there were no talks about bringing him here. This is what you do if you want one of Scott Boras' clients, but don't want to be taken to the cleaners by Scott Boras. It's like going to buy a car. Never let them know how much you want to buy one. Act disinterested, verbally deny you're looking. That's what the boys were doing, right?
Apparently not. Detroit just drove several Brinks trucks up to the Big Prince, and the best hitting 27 year old unrestricted free agent since the A-Fraud is gonna be a Tiger, and not a Cub.
I suppose we are supposed to be happy with the fact that the pesky little franchise to the Nort no longer has him, and since the Hebrew Hotdog is most likely going to miss April and May, we just might be a lot closer to the Brewers than we were last year. Yay, for closing the talent gap between them and us, based on nothing we've done on our part. And yeah, I know they got A-Ram. The one man in all of baseball who plays a worse third base than Casey McGahee. All our right handed hitters are instantly 20 points higher hitters against Milwaukee than they were this year.
So, this is what I figured we'd talk about right now. Theo wants to pay for what a player WILL do for us, not for what he DID before. Certainly a great chunk of what Detroit is paying Prince is retroactive superstar money, which seems to go against Epstein-metrics. And sure, I am as fond of Bryan LaHair as anyone, and Anthony Rizzo is a good looking kid, if nothing else. And Prince is heavy, and it did end up taking 9 years to bring him home, which makes him 36 and if I were his knee tendons and I knew I was gonna carry his fat ass around the next 9 nine years with all the flopping and diving and two-foot-leaping onto home plate after walk-offs, I'd consider unionizing and going on strike.
But you KNOW that he is gonna rake. You know that he is gonna be the best hitter in the majors the next few years. With Miguel Cabrera to protect him in the lineup, everyday's a buffet and they're always serving meat. The underlying point behind Theo's "want to pay for future production" proclamation, to me, is twofold:
- Will this player help us get to the point where the Cubs are a contender?
- Once the Cubs become a contender, will this player play a role on a champion?
The probability that in regards to 27 year old Prince Fielder, the answer to both is a resounding "Yes", then he is worth signing. I'm fairly certain the answers to both in regards to 29 year old Bryan LaHair is "No", and although the admittedly handsome Anthony Rizzo is only 22, nothing in his professional performance suggests he will ever approach the productivity that Prince Fielder has and will provide as a first baseman.
I believe that this offseason for the Cubs has been as productive as any in my lifetime. I believe in the Theo Plan. I used to complain loudly that the Cubs did not spend money commeasurately with their revenues, but I have lived to see that happen. Jim Hendry spent the money, unwisely, so I no longer have that gripe. None of us have ever seen a true rebuilding effort, and there are several easily cited examples of successful organizations who did it through organizational depth. Although the continued existence of Jeff Baker rankles, I stand steadfastly in favor of the direction Tom Ricketts has chosen.
Yet I feel empty, and why is that? I never felt Albert Pujols would fit here; not with his punk Dominican birth certificate, so I felt elated when he signed with the Angels, taking him out of our division and, in fact, as far away from us on the American Continent as he can possibly be. When he finally explodes from overjuicing, we should remain clear from the flying muscular and connecting tissues. But Prince is good, and young, and exciting, and entertaining, and we would all love him as a Cub. I am certainly not implying that I or most of the rest of us have anything even remotely approaching the talent required to excel in the big leagues. And I love small quick guys as ballplayers as much or more than the next guy. But I cannot relate to whatever Tony Campana has, or can do. At seven years old, I weighed as much as he does now. But as a left handed hitter who always swung as hard as I as capable of, I love seeing another one play. I can relate in some small extent to the Prince Fielder Experience.
It is quite presumptuous to expect the Ricketts family to commit themselves to the two hundred and twenty million dollars to sign the guy, particularly when they are still paying Zambrano to pitch for Florida this year and also paying Soriano to swat at moths in left field for the next three years. It's easy to spend someone else's money, and fun, and I am fine with the Ricketts not going after Papelbon, Yu Darvish, Pujols, C. J. Wilson, and if they don't end up with the Next Big Cuban Refugee Bust, that's ok too. But the last time a guy Fielder's age with his level of productivity was for sale, Texas pulled up their britches and got A-Rod, and he made their previously lackluster franchise relevant and brought them to the last two pennants and.....
Yes, I kid. But hey, thinking out it, Prince would be even BETTER than A-Fraud, because he doesn't wear purple lipstick or date she-males. Bonus! I'll just accept the fact that rebuilding is kind of boring, at least at the start, and that we can't have nice things like Prince, not yet, anyway. Can't wait for some of them walk-off Ian Stewart bombs. Only a couple of months away now....
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