I am resigned to the fact that Chicago Cubs are not going to be a playoff team this year, which makes them sellers for the upcoming trade deadline, and it is this idea of “selling” that makes me mad. We knew that Cody Bellinger was only going to be with the Cubs for a year and if he played to any amount of his capability would be a mid season trade, so his leaving is not a problem. What I don’t want to see is the Cubs trading Marcus Stroman.
Starting pitching is the foundation of a MLB team and the Cubs have no real pitching prospects in their farm system. Every free agent pitcher not on their team that the Cubs sign is an unknown. Jameson Taillon is the most recent case in point, the Cubs didn’t really know what they were getting when they signed Taillon but they hoped he would be as good as he was in previous seasons. When you sign a player not on your team you hope they will perform as you expect, but hope is not a strategy!
Stroman has been the best Cubs pitcher the last two years. You can make the claim he is one of the best pitchers in baseball and the Cubs should know best about his health, his mental make up, and his skills. In other words, Stroman is a known asset, and when you are building a team I think general managers should bias what they know about the players on their team.
If the Cubs trade Stroman, to me that not only means this season (2023) is down the drain, it is also that they are not closer to making the playoffs in 2024. What such a trade tells me is that the Cubs continue to tread mediocrity and have no real plan for returning to the playoffs. Further, if the Cubs trade Stroman and thus are sellers at the deadline ownership must make a change in the front office and the manager. I don’t think Hoyer has any real idea how to build the team, he is just hoping to improve, and hope is not a plan.
The “buyers and sellers” phenomenon is not good for Major League Baseball. The way teams treat free agency is destroying how they build their teams and farm systems for continued success. Now, because most teams in baseball are not very good, most teams are unloading their best players mid season for prospects that might never make it to the majors or at best won’t be on their team until 3 years down the road. Every off season teams buy a bunch of free agents (basically creating new rosters every year), all who are unknowns, and hope they perform well enough to form a competitive team. Most teams find their hopes were ill conceived and they rinse and repeat.
Put it another way, nearly all MLB general managers are doing their job no differently than fantasy baseball managers. Problem is, fantasy baseball is not the real world. MLB does not build rosters based on a draft of the entire pool of available players. Right now the Cubs, and most MLB teams, are building new rosters each year from a small pool of unknowns. I am looking for leadership from the Cubs with a real plan and the funding from ownership to stick to the plan. It is looking more to me that Hoyer does not have a real plan and Ricketts has to find another person to run team who has a plan, otherwise he is no better than all prior owners of the Chicago Cubs.