Discover more from Pointless Exercise
Dear Cubs, f-Yu
These Cubs aren't even savvy enough to pretend to be trying to win
If you can’t be really good, be fun, and if you can’t be really good or fun, be the Cubs.
Four long years ago the Cubs won a World Series with a young, talented team, and an ownership group that still had the good taste to be mostly privately xenophobic and petty and the future seemed bright.
A year later they won another division title, beat the Fighting Dusty’s in the NLDS and finished it off with a bang with rent-a-closer Wade Davis striking out Bryce Harper to end it.
Then, Jose Quintana’s wife had a panic attack on the flight to Los Angeles for the NLCS, the plane was rerouted to Albuquerque and for all intents and purposes they might as well have just slammed it into a mountain.
The Cubs were overmatched in that NLCS, the next season they blew a division lead over the Brewers in the final weekend, lost game 163 to them, played 14 innings of patty cake with the mediocre Rockies and lost in the Wild Card game, missed the playoffs altogether in 2019 and rode a brief 16 day bout of competence during a pandemic to a playoff berth in 2020 only to be humiliated by a Miami Marlins team that spent the first two weeks of the season licking doorknobs.
Theo Epstein told Tom Ricketts to keep the last $10 million they team owed him to get out of town, Jon Lester bought a round of cheap macrobrews for fans on his way out, Kyle Schwarber has to play with firetrucks in some other city next season and now Yu Darvish is off to the Padres for a haul that includes San Diego’s 11th, 13th, 15th and 16th best prospects—wait, that can’t be right [checks again], can it? Oh, come on [checks yet again], oh bullshit.
Oh, and the Cubs are adding 5’4 inch Zach Davies to their rotation of 80 MPH studs like Kyle Hendricks, Alec Mills and, uh, I assume, Ian Happ, maybe?
You can make an argument that trading Darvish, a 34 year old pitcher who threw a billion innings in Japan before he even came to the US and who has had two serious arm injuries for younger players isn’t a terrible idea.
BUT…the only way that makes sense is if the trade isn’t a pure salary dump, which, this clearly is, or if the return haul includes top prospects and MLB ready or nearly MLB players and none of these guys are. Hell, I’m not even sure Davies is, and he’s in his seventh season.
And, there’s also the not unimportant fact that Yu is just a lot of fun. He’s a great pitcher, and he’s a cool guy, and both of these things should count for something for a franchise that supposedly isn’t ever going to have to rebuild again.
The fact of this distressing matter is that the garbage family that owns the Cubs has been saying without saying, “we won you your World Series, and now we don’t owe you shit” for at least three years now and they’re going to keep saying it without saying it (except for Todd who is always a threat to say the quiet part out loud) for as long as they continue to own the team, which, given how easy it is to squeeze revenue out of, will be for fucking ever.
The return the Cubs got for Darvish is purposefully young so that they can sell us on the idea that these great prospects are on the horizon for as long as possible. None of the teenage boy band of Reginald Preciado (I do NOT Preciado this trade at all, by the way), Owen Caissie, Yeison Santana and Ismael Mena are going to be in the big leagues for years and that’s just the way the garbage family likes it. They’ll be selling the bright future of these four prepubescents and Ed Howard on their TV network that nobody watches, and some of us dopes are going to be buy it.
Hell, we already saw this stupefying scouting report on one of them last night:
This was nothing more than a salary dump. The Cubs not only save Darvish’s $59 million over the next three seasons, but they also save whatever their dental plan was going to bill them for trying to fix Victor’s overbite. I shudder to think of that expense.
This trade now means the Cubs have one good starting pitcher and I’m pretty sure that teams need more than that. The other shoe that’s sure to drop is the Cubs announcing in a few weeks that Lester is coming back, and they’ll assume that will satiate the fanbase. I love Jon Lester as much (probably more) than the next guy, but at this stage of his career, if he’s the answer, you’re asking the wrong questions.
The DH is sure to return to the National League whenever baseball finally resumes and the one good thing about shipping Victor to the Padres is that David Ross can’t waste those at bats on him. But I’m sure Josh Phegley can pick up the slack.
It boggles my mind that the Cubs, a franchise so devoid of pitching traded for five guys and none of them are a live armed prospect. Not one. Two shortstops and two outfielders. Fine, I get it, young shortstops end up at all kinds of other positions—remember when the Cubs had “too many” in 2016 and in 2018 ended up having to play Mike Freeman there? But when the Rays or A’s make trades like this they always load up on arms. Hell, the Rays did it yesterday!
The garbage family is counting on the rest of the NL Central being ass (and it will be) and that they can shed salary and still be on the fringes of contention (and they will be), and that will be enough to keep us fans happy (it shouldn’t, but sadly for many it will be.) But the idea isn’t to contend with the Cardinals, Brewers, Pirates or Reds. It’s to contend with the Dodgers and Nationals and Barves, and now, apparently, the Padres. Nobody gives a rat’s ass about division titles. The Cubs won one last year and that went poof amid 18 innings of scoring one run in a half-assed playoff series.
Today, the day after, is the day the baseball bloggers who delve into prospects and such convince themselves that “hey, this trade is actually pretty good for the Cubs.” The truth is that it isn’t. Even if one or two of the west coast branch of Menudo that the Cubs just acquired turns out to eventually be kind of good. It’s the day the Cubs dropped even the pretense that they’re trying to win. It’s now all an exercise into how cheap can they be while still getting us to give them money for the thrill of watching an 82-win team get eliminated from the playoff race with six games to go in the season.
When they get the media to Tweet stuff like this:
If the Cubs have a real balance sheet that shows a billion of debt I’ll eat Kap’s cryo chamber. They might have one stapled to the back of one of Todd’s property tax appeals. Accountants can do lots of crazy stuff with balance sheets, but come on. And the idea that because they “bought up most of Wrigleyville” and now they don’t have any money is laughable. So is the idea that they’re poor, cash poor or otherwise. They could cash out tomorrow and make another fortune but they won’t, because they’re already making a fortune. Even if they lost considerable money in 2020 they didn’t in 2015 or 2016 or 2017 or 2018 or 2019 and they won’t in 2021 or 2022, etc. If you can find a business that guarantees a huge profit EVERY year well, you should invest in that. Billionaires don’t buy teams so they can lose money. They buy them because they can use them to make money in many ways.
The Cubs didn’t just get worse, they got much less fun, and things aren’t likely to get better from here.
Yesterday was our regular Bears podcast and Mike Pusateri and I talked Bears-Jags and Bears-Packers and about Ryne Sandberg for some reason, so you should check that out.
And then because of the Yu news, Sam Fels and I jumped on to do an emergency Cubs pod which features us saying a lot of very mean things and the Cubs deserving them all.