All Cub fans, both long-suffering and noobs alike, have gotten accustomed to our winter free-agent binges. There's a new sheriff in town, and he has brung his posse. They are cleaning up Dodge, bringing in a new culture, and have chosen to just sit back on the front porch while C. J. Wilson, Pujols, Fielder, Buehrle, Papelbon, Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran, and so on rode through. No need to get on their feet and maybe round up any of them big hosses. Theo did manage to lift the brim of his ten-gallon up off his eyes to make a token bid at Yu Darvish, which honestly I am still puzzled about.
I'm not puzzled that they bothered to bid on him, but apparently they weren't at all serious when you consider that their reported bid was less than half what Texas bid to win the posting. I guess the front office figured that the Cubs would welcome the so-called Best Japanese Pitcher Ever only on their terms. As you know by now, Darvish ended up with his own terms, and once again, as in the case of Pujols, Fielder, and the rest, he is most likely being paid more than he will probably ever earn.
Thus, Epstein, Hoyer, et. al are not wiping their butts with Ricketts money, which I guess is a good first-winter strategy for an intended long-term relationship. If the new sheriffs right off the bat blow through a wad the way Hendry has the past 5 years, and it fails, then the Theo Era will be short, and with good reason. But that's, you know, kind of boring for us. Penny pinching has never been sexy. If you're like me, you've been spending your days rotating around all the websites with all the trade rumors searching for any little nuggets to munch on.
Which brings us around to the strange tale of Yoen(n)is Cespedes, former resident of Cuba, current Dominican Republican. Why aren't residents of the Dominican Repulican called Dominican Republicans? Kind of ironic, because if were up to most American Repulicans, the Dominican Republicans would never be allowed to step foot in our country, let alone make 250 million dollars like A-Fraud. But back to Yoen(n)is. First of all, we need to ask how many n's he wants in his first name? Is it one of them tilda-n's that sounds like a 'y'?
He's 26 years old, in Cuban years, which means he's 17 in Dominican years, and who knows how many in God's American years? Wonder if Theo's "Carmine" system has the built-in Birth Certificate conversion factors? So, theoretically, Yoen(n)is is shortly entering his physical ballplaying prime. This is important, because just last year Cespedes set the single season home-run record in Cuba. In case you were wondering, he's 5'10", around 190. And he's the biggest slugger ever in Cuba.
When he decided to defect and enter the MLB system, he had somebody put together a showcase video and sent it out to big-league talent evaluators. Sort of like what S. J. did in "The Blind Side", only in nothing closely resembling HD, but with a ton more cheezy Star Wars credits, several minutes of bizarre shout-outs and agent testimonies, and lots more Christopher Cross. (Kids, ask your folks who Christopher Cross was). This video has been described as "extraordinary", but I still haven't quite decided if it is extraordinary because of the exploits of the player, or its sheer ridiculousness.
However, in Cuba they allegedly call Yoen(n)is simply "The Talent" or "The Power". Do they also call him "The Steroid", I begin to wonder? Anyway, the video does its job. Nearly every big league club ships their scouts down to the DR for a workout day. Soon after, he is asked which teams are showing the most interest in him. In a winter of sluggishness, torpor and discontent amongst North Side fans, The Talent responds that "The Cubs" are most interested in him. Whoop! Alarms sound...Theo and the Boys are gonna do something big this winter after all!
The next steps for The Power are to begin play in the Dominican Winter League, then gain Dominican citizenship, whereby he can then become a Major League Free Agent, and can be bid on. Well, three weeks in, and The Talent sucks like LiLo on a bender. He's hitting less than .150, and didn't we just let Carlos Pena go? The other day, it was announced that Cespedes has gained his coveted Dominican citizenship (must be an ar-r-r-rduous process...what three ingredients go into a pina colada? Correct spelling preferred but not necessary) and is now an official free agent. He has had some neighborhood kids nail together a Lucy-esque lemonade stand which stands right in front of the Aguiles Cibaenas stadium where he plays, and for three hours before each game, he sits there in the hot sun patiently listening while officials from all 30 MLB teams line up to offer their pitch.
So when it is Theo's turn on the little stool next to the little stand with the crudely scrawled "The Talent is IN" sign, what questions are going through his head? Is this guy on the roids? How old is he, really? Where would he fit on our envisioned Championship Team of the Future (you know, the ones who are going to sweep Miami in the 2015 series. Yeah, "Back To The Future" said so. Although the thought of letting two NL teams play in the Series is really kind of cool). What level of the organization would we start this guy, who has been a Cuban international since 2003? Most importantly, how much are we gonna have to pay this guy to get him to Chicago?
It appears the two other major contenders for Yoen(n)is' services are: the dogass White Sox, who currently employ Cubans Dayan Viciedo and Alexei Ramirez but in a unforeseen but hilarious consequence, are now the possessor of more bad 8-digit-contracts than the Cubs; and the Marlins, who don't really seem to have a plan outside of offering piles of money to as many white pitchers and Latin position players as possible.
I guess I worry most about the Marlins outbidding us in this case, but the question is: should I worry? Is this the Big Move for 2012, or are Theo and his Band of Lesser GMs content with not spending any money this winter? Is Cespedes worth the risk of an offer that would make the Samardzija and Szczur deals pale in comparison? (And, for God's sake, is it a law that requires that if we are going to throw huge money at a rookie, he has to have an unspellable name?) I would assume that the Cubs will do their due diligence in finding out if he was really born in 1985, if his blood is clean, if his name really IS Yoen(n)is Cespedes, and if he isn't running away from the murders of two tranny hookers back in Havana. Next to most of all, I assume that if we do end up throwing what is rumored to be $25MM at him, that it is the right thing to do, because our new management has deemed him worthy, and thus he will be starting on Opening Day 2013 in our outfield.
But most of all, I must have faith that if we in fact do NOT end up with the so-called Best Cuban Prospect in a Generation, that it is because Theo doesn't find him worthy, and that he will not end up becoming a star. That part of the rebuilding process is proving to be the hardest part of all, at least to me. What about you?