So the Cubs traded their best lefty (Sean Marshall) for Travis Wood and then Travis Wood doesn’t even make the team. Is Theo doing it right?
Remember when Barack Obama first came into office and the U.S. and world economies were doing their best impressions of 1929? Well, that’s kind of where Epstein sits right now. It would be easier to just burn the place down and start over (which is always an option when you’re talking about Chicago) but there’s no way anyone would support that. So, he’s going to have to make the most of what he has and slowly try to rebuild.
That doesn’t necessarily mean simply accepting the situation, though. Normally, when you pay big money for a guy or give up a big name in a trade, the expectation is that new guy is going to play and you’ll just have to suffer if he doesn’t quite catch his groove right away. Think Carl Crawford on the Red Sox. Think Dontrelle Willis on the Tigers. Think Barack Obama with TARP. But leaders don’t always accept that situation. Sometimes they have to make the tough decisions and break with expectations. That’s what Obama did with GM and even made the government some money in the process. It appears like maybe that’s what Epstein is trying to do with the Cubs, too.
Sean Marshall is a good reliever. According to Epstein, he’s maybe the “most valuable left-handed reliever in all of baseball.” But what good is having the most valuable left-handed reliever in baseball if your starting pitching is terrible, your defense is atrocious and you can’t score runs? Epstein realizes the Cubs aren’t going to be a winning ball club this year. He realizes they probably won’t be a winning ball club next year either. But he’s setting himself up for success three or four seasons down the line.
Remind you of anyone else? Bailing out the auto industry wasn’t popular but three years later, after watching the recession crest and slowly subside, we now see hiring going back up and the economy beginning to grow again. That’s the difference between guys like Epstein and Obama and wannabes like Hendry. Attempts to implement quick fixes for immediate results more often lead to systemic failure. Epstein, like the president, has to slowly flush that through, suffering short-term difficulties for long-term success.
So, long story short, yeah, Theo is doing it right. But that’s not going to stop people from yelling and screaming during the first few painful years. Marshall is gone and Wood got sent to the minors. But they have more money to go after other important pieces, they have a solid prospect in the minors who could work his way back and they didn’t try to force someone into a role they simply couldn’t handle at this point. When you think about it, Theo seems positively presidential.
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