In December of 2007, the Cubs were reported to have four "untouchables" in the organization: Felix Pie, Rich Hill, Jose Ceda, and (for some reason) Sam Fuld.
In the Brian Roberts trade discussion, the first three were brought up as potential tradeable assets that the Cubs might part with, but sources in the Cubs' organization shot those rumors down, essentially declaring these players untouchable.
To this day, no one knows the reason why Fuld was deemed untouchable. He does have an unnecessarily large wikipedia entry (my favorite part: "He got his start when he and his grandmother played with wiffle balls." I don't really know what that means), so maybe he's more important than I thought.
The other three: Pie, Hill, and Ceda were considered too rich for Brian Roberts. Okay. Brian Roberts, two time All Star second baseman was NOT enough to get these three jewels of the Cubs' system. Totally understandable.
Fast forward one year and the Cubs have traded all three, for (essentially) the following players:
I don't know if its more of an indictment of the Cubs' talent evaluators or their talent developers, but Hole-Lee-CRAP what a drop off. You'd think that these guys' values couldn't possibly drop that far in a single year.
Then again, given the Cubs' history of minor league talent development, this shouldn't be all that surprising. I'm sure there are quite a few people still anxiously awaiting the Cubs' infield of the future: Hee Seop Choi, Bobby Hill, Luis Montanez, and David Kelton.
All in all, I don't think there's anyone out there who doesn't consider the Cubs to be the prohibitive favorite in the NL Central this year and one of the top three teams in the National League.
However, given this team's track record for player development, things might start to get ugly after this year when Hendry can no longer buy himself out of a crappy minor league systems.
And when those contracts (and no-trade clauses) he's been handing out the last few years start to become real albatrosses (how is it going to feel to be paying Alfonso Soriano $18 mil per year in 2011, 2012, 2013, AND 2014? Or paying Fukudome $13.5 mil in 2011?).
We may have to deal with at least a couple years of rough going.
So it would be nice to at least win one playoff game this year...Because the minor leagues don't look to be supplying a whole lot for the future.