But that doesn't mean the Cubs should hand Alex Rodriguez $350 million.
Someone will give A-Rod the money he's looking for. Hopefully that someone won’t be Cubs GM Jim Hendry.
Sure, A-Rod has Hall-of-Fame stats—but don't be fooled. He's proven he can't carry a team to the World Series, much less win one.
My two cents?
The Cubs should forget about Rodriguez—and target Curt Schilling and Mariano Rivera.
I realize that both players are nearing the end of their careers—but that's what makes them so intriguing for Chicago.
Rivera won't get anything more than a three-year contract, if that. Schilling stated on his website 38pitches.com that he'll retire after next season.
Schilling wants to stay with Red Sox, but even he knows they might not give him the $13 million he's looking for.
The veteran has already written letters to all his teammates thanking them for a great career—almost as if to announce that he'll likely sign with another team.
That other team should be the Cubs, who could be serious contenders to win their first World Series in 100 years if they sign Schilling.
Imagine the Cubs staff with Schilling in the mix. He won't get anywhere near as many strikeouts as Carlos Zambrano, Ted Lily, or Rich Hill—but he knows how to win games, and his passion and experience would greatly benefit the team.
That said, the real issue is the Cubs’ bullpen—specifically the closer role. Rumors have Bob Howry or Carlos Marmol replacing Ryan Dempster, but neither is good enough to help Chicago compete for a title.
Howry is inconsistent; his ERA was over 4.00 in May and July. He's a good seventh- or eighth-inning option when Marmol isn’t available, but he's no closer.
Marmol is too immature to close at the moment, as indicated by his performance against the Diamondbacks in Game One of the NLDS. He could grow into the role down the road—but until he's ready, the Cubs need an established presence in the ninth inning.
Like Mariano Rivera.
After a slow start in 2007, Rivera saved 30 games and was perfect in the playoffs. The Cubs will have to offer more than the $10 million the Yankees paid Rivera last year, but he's worth every penny—and still far cheaper than A-Rod.
And unlike A-Rod, Rivera has a knack for stepping up when it matters.
The young Cubs cannot afford to pay $350 million for someone who cares more about his stats than the success of his team. These Cubs aren't lovable losers anymore—they're a promising club looking to get over the hump.
Schilling and Rivera can help them do just that.