Clayton Kershaw has a problem with how the Cubs are handling their business.
Yeah, get in line buddy. The three-time Cy Young winner sat down with the Los Angeles Times this week and touched on a wide-ranging breadth of topics, but as far as the Chicago Cubs are concerned, it boils down to a question on baseball’s economics and teams tanking to speed up rebuilds.
“There’s a lot of smart guys in front offices. Figure something out that’s easier to do than trading away a [star]. Just, for example, a potential Cy Young [Award winner] in [Yu] Darvish, who has been one of the top five pitchers in baseball for a year and a half, for prospects that could potentially be good but they’re 17, 18 years old. And [Zach] Davies is a great pitcher, but to me, that’s just not . . . For the Chicago Cubs to do that, it’s not good. It’s just not good.”
That sentiment has been widely echoed by Cubs fans for months – if not years – as the team has largely seemed content sitting on the sidelines during the offseason, opting for incremental additions over sweeping changes or headline-grabbing moves.
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That approach has come to a head this winter under new president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer, who is faced with the majority of his core entering their last year of team control, a tapped-out baseball operations budget that’s been slashed by ownership and no clear expectation on what the goal is for the team in 2021.
Chicago’s pitching staff could be downright awful this year. They’ve lost Darvish, Jose Quintana, Jon Lester and Tyler Chatwood this winter. Filling those voids, at least right now, are the aforementioned Davies (who’s also in his last year of team control), Trevor Williams and potentially Shelby Miller.
Cubs started this tanking trend awhile back
Alongside Theo Epstein, one can argue that Hoyer was the first architect of a successful tanking effort – nearly a decade ago. After being brought in to helm the baseball operations team, the duo worked to extract any possible value out of veterans on the roster via trade while putting all their eggs in the drafting and player development side of the business.
It worked. Chicago won a World Series and, the very next year, the Houston Astros – who followed a very similar blueprint – did the same. Teams saw this as the way to the top and more and more teams began choosing this route.
“So, yeah, for every Astros or Cubs story. there’s going to be 10 other teams that don’t win and they’re just going to have to do it all over again. And how, as a fanbase, can you accept that? The whole rebuild, don’t spend money for a few years, get a bunch of draft picks and try to do it, it’s tired. Every team does it now. Every team. They need to be more creative. Figure something out.”
You’re right, Clayton. This shtick is tired. Cubs fans know it, you know it and all of baseball knows it. But the worst part is? Teams have zero reason to change their ways with how the game is currently structured.