After a disappointing season in 2011 Cubs fans were excited to see big names on the free agent market. The stage had been set for the Cubs to snatch a big player from a division rival (Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder) to beef up the lineup and then grab a big name pitcher (Mark Buerhle or CJ Wilson) to bolster their rotation with Matt Garza.
Then the chips started to fall when Buerhle went to the Marlins, Pujols to the Angels, Wilson to the Angels and, finally, Fielder to the Tigers. The Cubs were left without their big name. Or were they?
As a baseball fan I think the Cubs made the biggest move of the entire offseason. Theo Epstein coming to the Cubs is by far the biggest pick up of the 2011-2012 offseason. I can hear my critics already. “Players win championships, not coaches or front office.” Touche. However, someone has to be able to scout players and put together a staff that can go get those players.
Theo proved he was willing to do whatever it takes to win in Boston and he knows how to assemble teams, even if he does it in a way that may make fans scratch their heads. Look at the Nomar Garciaparra for Doug Mentkiewicz and Orlando Cabrera trade at the 2004 trade deadline that sprung the Red Sox to a title. He knows what he’s doing.
As of now Theo and the gang have gotten rid of a headache in Zambrano, traded a reliever in a walk year in Marshall, traded a fourth outfielder in Colvin, and a young pitcher with shoulder problems in Andrew Cashner. In the process of doing this he was able to make the team younger for the future and still not punt the current season (more on that in a later post.)
The Cubs wisely passed on what I call cannonball free agents. These are the free agents that make a big splash at first, and then just leave the club soaking wet, weighed down by their huge contract (think Soriano.) Instead, they went for a staff that could improve the club for years to come.
How could Theo Epstein not be the biggest pick up of the offseason?
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