Monday, December 04, 2006

winter meetings begin

this page has become a much more managable workload since the contributors collectively and unconsiously cut posting down to once or twice a week, dear reader -- to that extent, this writer is somewhat happier for it. maybe quietude is the aftershock of the twin ramirez and soriano deals. maybe it's waiting for something else spectacular to happen, for another shoe to drop. maybe it's the nervousness of actually having expectations again after what seems like an age of having nothing to risk.

regardless, winter meetings have begun and the cubs are, expectations or no, still at least a couple proven quality starters and perhaps more from completing anything like a successful plan of a single-season turnaround. it has been noted here that, upon preliminary examination, even the offense plus soriano is some distance trailing the national league's best. make no mistake: as it is, this offense would need a truly stellar rotation to really win, an improbable and scintillating metamorphosis from one of the worst staffs in the nl last year and even from the incarnation as of this date.

is the door still open? unequivocably, yes -- despite the signings of a handful of possible targets, there is enough cream left atop the free agent churn to radically alter the destiny of the 2007 cubs.

but it is disconcerting at best to hear the cubs making offers to players like ted lilly while other reports put true potential difference-makers like barry zito and jason schmidt at arm's length. the likes of lilly or gil meche simply won't be enough -- if one or both are in the rotation on opening day, this page will say with the sole exemption of other stupendous acquisitions that the cubs would have every expectation of staying home in october next.

curiously, this page has as yet heard of no connection to the southsiders, who have a starter to deal whose quality is every bit that of schmidt or even zito. the sox apparently could use a young centerfielder -- pardon the rumormongering without substantiation, but is it unreasonable to think that felix pie might be the linchpin of a mutually-beneficial deal here that might include more pitching from the pool of inexperienced cub hurlers who tasted the majors in 2006? if the future truly is now for jim hendry, why should he be averse to trades (though hopefully not for jason jennings, who is no better an idea that meche or lilly)?

the winter meetings are sometimes all about striking such brave deals -- but are more often still about disappointment and even disillusionment. coming home without a star starter is permissable, certainly -- but coming home with lilly or meche in tow would take the shine off of soriano very quickly and signal that the cubs may yet prove this page essentially correct in its advocacy of a deep rebuilding by demonstrating that they have -- for all their new willingness to reinvest profits into the product -- not the firepower after all to follow through on what many have perhaps prematurely hoped to be a stunning reversal of decades of poor practice and evil fortune.

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