Wednesday, December 21, 2005

still hunting for a savior?

with this writer now seriously considering a hiatus until november 2006 for lack of interest and material (save, of course, the inevitable hi-jinks that will now ensue on april 3), any and all resources for maintaining interest in what looks for all the world to be another failing effort for the chicago cubs are to be exploited. many fans have already beat this page to the bottom of the barrel in looking for ways to keep a fading faith.

in times of trouble, frightened and depressed people, their anger past, begin to look for deliverance. so fundamental is the need of salvation in the human soul that the idea pervades the faith of all mankind in one form or another. baseball is surely no different -- and, for cub fans who have been persecuted for their devotion yet again this offseason by an ambivalent and profitable ownership, adding to a century of exasperation, it must seem high time for a helping hand from above.

the desire for deliverance, however, is frequently a chimeric hope. with charged emotion and baneful need driving analysis, phantasms and mirages appear in the eye of the desperate from all corners of the world, virtually all of them false. and, with ghost after saving ghost fading into shadow and then evaporating with the harsh light of reality, many of the beaten devoted have decided to cling to that last and perhaps grandest of hopes -- miguel tejada.

it's not purely coincidental that cub nation went into hysterics at tejada's outburst some weeks ago. with the previous, much more real potential of rafael furcal just having dissolved into the mist, many were anxious to find a newer-and-improved notion (if indeed a less likely actuality) to cling to in order to dull the pain of disappointment.

but this page -- driven, as always, to provide you, dear reader, with the most pragmatic analysis possible -- is compelled to ask: does tejada represent real help on the horizon -- or merely another glorious ghost, invented of the desperation of a battered faithful?

this article from yesterday's baltimore sun casts some light on the workings within the oriole player circle.

[Brian] Roberts, who is one of Tejada's closest friends on the Orioles, said that he talked to the disgruntled shortstop about a week ago and came away thinking that Tejada was simply speaking out of frustration.

"He said, 'I just want to win. If they are committed to winning, then I want to be here,'" said Roberts. "And I said: 'You know what? That's your right.' I can't hold that against him. I think he also understands that he signed a contract to come here and play, and he wants to win here.

"I don't think he wants to back out. Miggy is not a quitter. I got the feeling that yes, he's frustrated and maybe he shouldn't have said it, but I think he wanted to know where we're headed."

the article confirms that the cubs continue to inquire -- as they should -- but also that the team (which is under absolutely no obligation to trade tejada and frankly not very much pressure from the player himself) is determined to retain tejada short of an "overwhelming" offer.

one wonders what the cubs could package that would constitute an overwhelming offer. this page has already considered the dessicated higher levels of the cub farm system. a deal consisting of single-a talent has utterly no chance of prying loose a first-tier star with four remaining contract years. and what players from the major league roster would baltimore consider in trade for tejada? players like derrek lee and aramis ramirez are going to free agency at the end of 2006; chances are that they together would not be sufficient to land tejada.

in the end, there are really only two players in the entire cub organization around whom some kind of deal for tejada could be built: mark prior or carlos zambrano. both are young, fantastically talented, and still short of free agency, which would allow baltimore potentially to craft a long-term deal for them (a precondition, it is here imagined, for any deal to actually take place).

while this page would not move zambrano, it would consider prior expendable for the reasons there articulated, particularly as kevin millwood is still available in the free agent market at this moment. once he is gone, the window on a prior trade would seem (for this year at least) closed.

more relevant, however, would be how such a trade of one of this year's two perceived cornerstones of the franchise is considered between the cub braintrust of jim hendry and andy macFail. given that even the cubs mouthpiece is backing off tejada in puff-pieces, one is regretfully forced to think that hendry and macFail have deemed such a deal out of bounds. and with hendry, the career player-development man, prone to overvalue youth and potential at the expense of performance and durability, this writer cannot profess to be surprised.

in summation, dear reader, this page is compelled to say that the hope of a savior in the form of tejada is again yet another phantasm of need and desire more than any real prospect of help for 2006. we here now await the admission from the cub front office that they are essentially done with major moves, are "satisfied" with their squad's "competitiveness" and will thenceforth sit on their hands.

and this page is left to wonder why hendry, in the process of making a three-year offer to jacque jones, didn't realize that such a move constituted powerful evidence that he should instead be trading derrek lee and greg maddux to actual contenders.

No comments: