We wanted all three—Brian Roberts, Ben Sheets & Rich Harden—but the Cubs choose otherwise, not landing a single one due to scouting reports, money…or simply both.
Those decisions, as it turns out, proved wise on the Cubs part.
Roberts, although long coveted by Baltimore’s ownership, appeared available two seasons ago with the O’s slumping through another losing season….and with the All Star second baseman looking like the perfect fit for the Cubs’ rotating leadoff spot, trade speculation soared.
Jim Hendry, however, never appeared fully committed to making a run at Roberts. Despite remaining as one of baseball’s premier leadoff hitters, the switch-hitter was often injured…mainly suffering from a herniated disk in his back.
But who knew Roberts would rebound for a career-year in 2009…setting personal marks in doubles, runs and RBI? The Cubs, meanwhile, blew through Soriano, Theriot and Fukudome in the leadoff spot…none performing up to task.
Different story for Roberts in 2010, though. He’s back on the DL…the herniated disk flaring up and an abdominal strain to boot. Roberts return is reported as ‘months away.’
Ben Sheets wanted big money for his big arm…despite recovering from big-time elbow surgery!
His $10M asking price proved a big problem for the cash-strapped Cubs, and for most major league teams, too.
Yet, the Cubs became early front runners in the Sheets sweepstakes…watched him throw off a mound in Texas…then held preliminary talks with the right-hander.
Sheets’ asking price never came down…the Cubs passed…Oakland came calling…one-year and a whopping $10M bucks!
Missed opportunity, right? Not exactly, in six starts Sheets is 1-3 with a 7.12 ERA, which pales in comparison to any member of the Cubs’ current rotation.
Rich Harden was a nice addition in 2008. The Brewers recently landed CC Sabathia…and the Cubs needed to answer.
Harden did his part…shored up the rotation by pitching well and helped Chicago steal the Central Division crown from Milwaukee. Hendry, in all fairness, rewarded Harden’s efforts with another year.
Rich, however, dropped the ball last year. His pitched count soared through the first few innings of games…he regularly walked batters, and worse, was coddled from start-to-start. His performance no longer equaled his paycheck…and he was left unsigned following the season.
Now Texas is paying handsomely, $7M, for what the Cubs already know…Harden can’t last through the fourth inning, let alone an entire season.
Three players we all wanted…three players many of us thought the Cubs absolutely needed…and three players the Cubs are better off without.