I must admit that I was a fan of Jim Hendry once upon a time. The playoff runs and the seasons above .500 have been great, but when I look at the financial commitments that the Cubs have made for 2010 and beyond I become a former admirer of Mr. Hendry. Throwing more and more money at this problem has been the solution over the last few years, but doing that only steals from your future.
How do the Marlins continue to win when they are only allowed to maintain or reduce their payroll? The Marlins GM could make a great deal of money from the big market teams by teaching a course on managing your finances and not sacrificing your future.
Zambrano $17.875 million w/three more years after 2010
Soriano $18.0 million w/four more years
Ramirez $15.75 million w/Player Option in 2011 and Club Option in 2012
Lee $13.0 million becomes a FA in 2011
Dempster $12.5 million w/two more years at $13.5 and $14
Lilly $12.0 million becomes a FA in 2011
Fukudome $13.0 million and $13.5 in 2011
Bradley $9.0 million and a $12.0 million Club Option in 2011
Miles $2.7 million becomes a FA in 2011
Samardzija $2.0 million w/another guaranteed year
This totals nearly $116 million in payroll for next year and over $90 million in 2011. And unfortunately we have nearly $11.0 million in contracts for players that are not even on this team, but yet we are paying.
Someone besides Hendry tell me that the above contracts are the answer to our future and I will feel better. The future is bleak with contracts like these on the books. Mr. Hendry, you got us into this mess by overpaying for Soriano, Zambrano, Fukudome, and Dempster. So, now how do you propose that you fix it?
The Cub fans need to see the process begin in August. We are not making the playoffs this year, which I wrote nearly two months ago. Not to mention, the club is not constructed to win a playoff series with their pitching staff the way it is today. No one fears Zambrano or Dempster in MLB, but yet we are paying them like they are Aces of a staff. What is sad is that Harden is our best pitcher when he has his stuff and he is not committed beyond this year, which is understandable since he has been injury prone over the last few seasons.
The first step should be placing every single player listed above on waivers. If a team claims them, then let that team have them for a cold Old Style and some peanuts. We need flexibility moving forward. This is not college football where you can simply reload. This is baseball and we have to tear it down, so that we can build up a strong foundation and be around for many years to come.
We need more players that are approaching their prime with a ton of upside. I know that it is easier said than done to fix a team because it takes two parties to do a trade. And, unfortunately I am not sure that anyone would take Zambrano or Soriano for what the Cubs paid. But, maybe they would be interested in taking a top-flight prospect and Soriano's contract from you for a player that has a year remaining and lower prospects. Many teams are making a push for the playoffs, so take advantage of them like they do you each season.
I also don't want to hear about the potential of a prospect. How many prospects have we had in the last few years in centerfield that are now with the Orioles for which we got squat because we didn't trade them in their "Prime." These youngsters are hit or miss anyway. Send them away and free up your future. The Cubs have the resources to build quickly, but only if we sacrifice now.