As the smoke cleared from the night sky from thousands of fireworks shows across the United States, an unexpected show started on the North Side of Chicago. This firework display took shape in the form of a trade-deadline blockbuster about three weeks ahead of the actual deadline date of July 31st. Unlike the shows you may have watched this weekend, this one will be going on for perhaps a few more weeks.
Theo Epstein and company traded away Cubs’ ace Jeff Samardzija along with veteran starter Jason Hammel to the Oakland Athletics for prospects and a draft pick. One of these prospects just so happens to be shortstop Addison Russell, the top prospect in all of Oakland’s organization. Along with Russell comes a former Cy Young candidate turned reclamation project in Dan Straily and yet another outfielder named Billy McKinney.
Fans all over the Internet slew nothing but positive reactions towards the Cubs’ front office and for the first time since the day he arrived in Chicago Theo Epstein is being made out to be a hero.
I am not one of those fans.
Organizational depth never hurts a team until it hurts the actual product on the field. It’s great to have a plethora of young talent to ship off for proven veterans once your young team plays like “buyers” before the July deadline. It’s all well and good until you start to challenge your future stars like Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo who just survived two years under a hostile manager threatening to demote said star players by adding a team’s top shortstop to chase your future with yet another meaningless fire.
To be fair, Epstein told reporters that he would have preferred to get back young pitching. Nonetheless, the Cubs could not refuse Addison Russell despite Starlin Castro’s all-star caliber rebound from two mediocre years under a fool of a manager.
I fear that Theo will see his bundle of young shortstops as replacements for Castro, using him as trade bait to land the pitching he sought after with Oakland. I am afraid that the Cubs are building a farm system with no real idea of building the Major League club.
Are my fears justified? Should I let the men upstairs continue this rebuild promising competition now and tomorrow?
Not that I have much of a choice on the matter, but I go into this summer wondering what indeed the Cubs will do next.
I did not expect a winning season from the Cubs this year, nor did I expect a year without 90+ losses. But in recent weeks when I saw this team start to play winning baseball, I had a glimmer of hope that maybe this season would be the stop-gap year right before the team becomes watchable again. But with this trade and the return that the Cubs got from this deal, I fear that we are simply repeating 2013. I’m frustrated, tired, and this team is wearing on my nerves.
Forgive me for the ranting nature of this piece. But after 106 years of poor management, I have no faith or trust left to give Theo and friends any benefit of the doubt.