paul sullivan of the tribune is reporting comments by general manager jim hendry citing the possibility of installing korey the klown in right field for opening day 2006.
this page said at the conclusion of 2005 that the continued employment of patterson by the cubs would be the surest indicator that 2006 would be absolutely no different than 2005 -- and further, that the current cub organization simply does not give the slightest shit about winning, instead content to concentrate on the efficient sale of nostalgia.
in offering patterson arbitration, hendry would kill what meager value korey still has for this organization in ridding itself of him. one of the biggest reasons the cubs can't trade korey is because he makes $2.4mm -- and who would pay that for a fifth outfielder/pinch runner/likely triple-a player? i'll guess that those teams who would bother to take a flyer on korey were counting on his being declined and going into free agency, where they could sign him for a few hundred thousand dollars plus incentives.
by offering him arbitration, hendry has fixed korey's salary at a minimum of $1.9mm -- per the basic agreement, the maximum reduction of player salary in any arbitration year is 20%.
now -- who the hell is going to pay the klown $1.9mm to take up the 25th man's seat -- and give up something to do it? this will put most of the potential suitors out of the game. the cubs, had he signed after being declined arbitration, would have at least received draft pick compensation. korey is now only a possible chip to be used in a major salary dump by some other team onto the cubs -- and, realistically, considering the level of interest proffered by clubs to this point, he's not even very valuable as that.
those who believe arbitration is a precursor to some trade deal should consider this point carefully. most who would have tried patterson in 2006 thought little enough of him to not risk any salary on him; how many would then make him an object of trade acquisition? i think the offering of arbitration to patterson is a concession by hendry not that he is bargaining for more value out of patterson in trade -- but that his search for a right fielder has been completely fruitless, and that he is forced to now consider patterson a legitimate option.
this page warned two weeks ago when brian giles signed that he was the only valid free agent upgrade at the position, and his signing bade ill for the cubs. we then further made the case that abreu should be gotten for the price of mark prior, followed by a free agent signing of jeff weaver -- but hendry has refused to consider that option. as hendry stood still, the league moved on. cincinnati resolved its outfield logjam by sending sean casey and moving adam dunn to first, effectively taking hendry-favorite austin kearns off the market. trade candidate and object of dusty's smooth pitch milton bradley was moved to oakland. jacque jones has apparently received from kansas city the three-year offer he was asking for. cliff floyd is unlikely to leave the mets unless in trade for manny ramirez, reports sullivan. preston wilson remains on the free agent market, but is expensive, will want multiple years and represents a downgrade from burnitz. luis gonzalez might be available, but is set to earn $11.5mm in 2006 and in decline, again representing no real upgrade from burnitz. a rumored deal for texas' kevin mench probably involved todd walker, then leaving hendry with yet another hole to fill -- and mench too is no improvement on burnitz and righthanded as well.
the field of viable candidates had narrowed to one real option -- aubrey huff, a left-handed reasonable-obp power bat who could play right servicably. tampa bay, his current employer, is probably not ignorant of the cubs situation, and almost certainly has felt free to raise the asking price as other options faded into obscurity. a high asking price in prospects is a difficult one for hendry to meet, as we have articulated in detail recently. other teams have been in on the bidding.
this page now considers that hendry's offer of arbitration to patterson and his further comments probably indicate that the huff talks have stalled or even died. if this is so, the cubs will enter the 2006 season, in all likelihood, a rightfielder that is a downgrade from jeromy burnitz (if it is not again burnitz himself, who remains unsigned).
in any case, if patterson if offered arbitration, he will most likely return to the cubs in 2006. putting aside hendry's ridiculous commentary on patterson's "potential", he could only be an end-of-the-bench contributor -- his record shows that he will never be a good player.
but if the cubs further aggravate the mistake of retaining patterson with putting him in right field to start the new season, cub fans should feel free to retaliate against the team in any way possible. such a move would be a clear sign that the current management, like the french monarchs of the late 18th century, view them as a hoi polloi deserving of an attitude that varies between indifference and contempt. this writer, for one, could not brook attending wrigley field under any circumstances if such management were allowed to remain in place. i am not a devotee of this team only to be repeated spat upon by its fabulist, dilettante administration.
however, others are. read the comments in this diary at bleed cubbie blue. if this banter does not, once and for all, prove that cub optimists are among the most delusional of god's creatures, i don't know what could. the idea that korey deserves another chance -- will actually flourish if only we could be more supportive -- is exactly the utterly destructive uncritical thinking that plagues the cub organization from its fan base and fosters the creation of terrible teams by removing impetus for the club to do something constructive and successful. patterson is one of the very worst outfielders of the past century. it is a classic case, yet again, being born just now as it becomes apparent that the cubs are in real trouble in right field, of wishful team-need-based evaluation of players, being totally ignorant of the factual record of the player himself.
such grateful slaves love their chains even as they strengthen them, and this page vigorously urges you, dear reader, not to submit to such sophistry. if the cubs work to earn your hatred, deign neither to love nor despise them -- rather, pity them as the pathetic and amoral engine of mere profitability that they are, and move on. life is better spent loving that which deserves to be loved.