Alfonso Soriano has returned to the Bronx. Matt Garza is somewhere deep in the heart of Texas. Several more Cubs and White Sox might be leaving Chicago before Wednesday’s trade deadline. Sports editor Jon Styf and columnist Tom Musick discuss:
Musick: It would be weird if everyday workers could be traded like baseball players. “Hey, Jim, you’re a great accountant and everything, but we need to add a couple of young number crunchers. We’ve traded you to Wichita. Your plane leaves tonight.”
Styf: Sometimes, I feel like I’ve lived that life, with four jobs in the past five years. But I’m glad I put that no-trade clause into my contract here. Like the Cubs, we’re building a strong base for the future with young power hitters such as you Tom. So far, the Cubs seem to be making the right moves. They own their place in the hierarchy now and know the more potential they buy, the better chance they have that some of that talent pans out later.
Musick: Didn’t you hear? The bosses are trying to trade me to the Daily Planet for a couple of vending machines. But I digress. I always thought Soriano was treated too harshly here – don’t blame the guy for signing a $136 million deal, blame the guy who offered it – but the Cubs are smart to free up at-bats for young guns such as Junior Lake (no relation to Crystal Lake or Wonder Lake).
Styf: Well, this thing is far from over. Jake Peavy and Kevin Gregg should be packing bags, too. Alex Rios, maybe. Who else?
Musick: If I’m the Sox, I get whatever I can for Peavy, Alexei Ramirez, Jesse Crain and anybody else who appeals to a contender. Their farm system is atrocious. Baseball America ranked it No. 29 out of 30 teams this spring, with only the Angels faring worse. If I’m the Cubs, I try to spin off Gregg and Nate Schierholtz for another arm or two. Does that sound fair?
Styf: You’re always fair, Tom. The Cubs should trade Wellington Castillo, too, his name’s way too formal for baseball. He should be playing croquet or cricket and talking about having tea. The Cubs need any kind of pitching talent they can find, so sell whatever major league value they have for that.
Musick: I know how much you love Edwin Jackson, so I assume he is one of the few untouchables on the North Side. So let’s fast forward a few years. The Cubs’ lineup includes Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro, Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Albert Almora, Mike Olt, Jorge Soler and others. The rotation includes Jackson (by that time a multiple Cy Young winner), Jeff Samardzija, and maybe a few arms acquired in the summer of 2013. Sounds like a contender to me.
Styf: Not taking the bait, not at all. Reality is that no other team would want Jackson’s contract. This isn’t the NFL, where you can just cut the underachievers. The Cubs would have to take a significant financial hit over a long period to rid themselves of “10-second Tom,” the pitcher who retains nothing. So it won’t happen. The geniuses have to live with their big mistake and try to build a rotation around (or above?) him.
Musick: Jackson is a stud. You don’t go 76-82 with a 4.45 ERA in your career without elite talent. And look at some of the guys who might join him if they sign with the Cubs as part of the free-agent class of 2015: Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer, Homer Bailey, Peavy. Those pennies the Cubs save from Soriano’s deal could go toward a spending spree in a couple of years.
Styf: The sarcasm has gotten out of control. It’s ending. Now.
Musick: I had like five more World Series wisecracks. Next time, next time.