Chicago Cubs’ president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer have succeeded in changing the culture at Wrigley Field. No long with the organization are the likes of former manager Mike Quade, third baseman Aramis Ramirez, and starting pitcher Carlos Zambrano. Replacing Quade, Ramirez, and Zambrano are a first-time manager in Dale Sveum, third baseman Ian Stewart, and three starting pitchers in Paul Maholm, Chris Volstad, and Travis Wood. Those moves along are enough to signal how the winds have changed in the home team’s clubhouse at Wrigley Field.
Sveum can not be any more different than Quade. Sveum is intent on being a very aggressive manager and the tattoo-sleeved, metal head will be a fresh sight from the nickname friendly Mike Quade.
While Ramirez is without the question the better offensive player, Stewart’s athleticism and defensive web-gems is what made him admired by Colorado Rockies‘ fans. Stewart just loves to play baseball and his love for games shows in the effort that he puts forth on the field. That was a trait that Ramirez was lacking, which is why most fans are excited that Ramirez is no longer with the organization.
No matter who the Cubs were going to replace Zambrano with, the organization stood to improve their clubhouse chemistry. While not much is known about Travis Wood, it is known that both Maholm and Volstad are widely considered to be good teammates on and off the field. Maholm has been praised by many in Pittsburgh for his off the field work in helping charities and improving community. Meanwhile, Volstad was a choir boy in High School.
But that change should not stop there. There is still one more player who needs to be removed from the Cubs’ picture for the 2012 season and beyond. That player is Alfonso Soriano. While Soriano may not be treated with as much disdain from Cubs’ fans as Zambrano or Ramirez were, the time has come for the left fielder and the organization to part ways. The disdain for Soriano is not because of anything character related, it results from the outfielder being liability. On top of still being owed $54 million over the next three seasons. If that is not enough to prevent Epstein and Hoyer from trading Soriano, the full No-Trade Clause that Soriano has in his contract will.
Soriano is in attendance at the Cubs’ Convention this weekend, and the left fielder addressed the issue of his no trade clause:
“They can do whatever they want,” Soriano said Friday at the Cubs Convention. “It has to be good for me and my family for me to agree [to a trade]. I’m comfortable with the Cubs
“I won’t go to just any team. I want to be with a contender. I also want to be in the playoffs again. So I’d have to be comfortable with both the team and the city I get traded to.” ESPN Chicago
Former general manager Jim Hendry’s mistakes still continue to haunt the Cubs. Not only did Hendry–or his superiors depending on who you believe–sign Soriano to a eight year, $136 million, the team had to issue a full no trade clause in order to sweeten the deal. But, Soriano is holding himself to a double standard. For whatever–may be because of Soriano’s willingness to talk–media members always seek out the veteran left fielder whenever there are team concerns. Last season, Soriano was approached on multiple occasions about Ramirez’s and Zambrano’s willingness to waive their no-trade clauses. Soriano told reporters the if he was in a position where the Cubs’ no longer wanted him, he would be more than willing to waive his no-trade clause. I do not know what rock Soriano has been living under, but even he has to realize that with all the movement around; the veteran left fielder is indeed in that position.
It was going to be extremely difficult for Epstein and Hoyer to find a way to trade Soriano, now it may be down-right impossible. Nonetheless, I still do not envision Soriano on the Cubs’ roster come opening day.