The Miami Marlins are the only team that is known to have talked to Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes so far, and while they say they want him, they don't think they have to have him. In other words, if the price is right, "Yeah, we'll take a chance."
Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen mentioned on ESPNChicago.com the team sent an entourage to watch him play. While Guillen thought he had some skills, it didn't sound like he came away overly impressed:
"We went to the Dominican Republic, myself and 10 guys. He's pretty impressive. They compare this kid with a lot of people. They compare him with (Raul) Mondesi. I think Mondesi was better than him. That's my own opinion. Mondesi had a better arm, faster, but this kid is pretty good."
Doesn't sound like a ringing endorsement to me.
Mondesi was a very good ballplayer, but was always considered a bit of a disappointment for what he was projected to be. He came to the major leagues at 22 years of age and played against top-flight competition right from the start.
Cespedes is said to be 26, and has played against suspect competition in Cuban baseball. How he projects to playing against the best day-in and day-out is a matter for concern, especially if it's going to cost you a big outlay, to see if he has what it takes to make it in the big leagues.
That's where the Cubs come in, because many believe they are one of the front-runners for his services.
They were burned before when they "won" the Kosuke Fukudome sweepstakes, spending 48 million for four years of very mediocre production.
Japanese baseball is considered to be played at a higher level than Cuban baseball, so if he struck out, what is the likelihood of success for Cespedes?
He also carries baggage. Cespedes seems to be big-league ready in all the wrong ways.
Spotted in Miami checking out the Marlins new facility, he was sporting sunglasses, diamond studs, and the requisite big necklace.
He seems to be coming in with a world of confidence, saying, "I'm not coming to the United States to play in the minor leagues."
It's good that he wants to play with the best and seems to believe in himself, but is that just false bravado based on his already large ego?
Can the Cubs afford him, not only for his salary, but the possibility of adding another distraction to the team if things don't work out to his satisfaction?
They already got rid of Carlos Zambrano and let Aramis Ramirez walk. Alfonso Soriano is next on the culture exchange program, but they haven't found a taker for him yet.
Do they want to take a chance on adding a player that combines the worst of Soriano and Sammy Sosa, but probably won't put up the numbers they did?
In evaluating Cespedes, Guillen said:
"The tools are there. But you never know what's going to happen. How's he going to handle major league pitching? How's he going to handle major league media? We don't know. There's a lot of ifs"
This line from Guillen perhaps summed it up best. "Whoever signs him is gambling."
If the Cubs don't want to crap out, I suggest they play the pass line.