Chicago Cubs: 4 Moves Theo Epstein Should Make for 2012
I've already discussed the flip side of Theo Epstein's arrival to the Chicago Cubs, with seven moves to prepare for the future. Let's imagine for a moment, that along with Epstein's experience in Boston, he came with Boston's checkbook. What if Chicago wanted to become Fenway Midwest?
What if the Cubs played the money game?
While in past interviews Epstein has stated "This is a Process," but what if that process were to win immediately, as in, 2012?
Here are four moves Theo Epstein should make to win the World Series in 2012.
Sign Prince Fielder at First Base
Prince Fielder is not an Adonis by any means. Prince Fielder is, however, a workhorse.
The Milwaukee Brewers first baseman was the only player in baseball to play in every game of the regular season. 162 games played, and his stats were astounding—38 HR, 120 RBI.
While his fielding is average at best, he is actually a much more athletic player than he is given credit for. Coupled with his aversion to injury (Fielder has played more than 157 games six seasons in a row), Fielder is your first basemen of the present, as well as the future.
Sign Albert Pujols, Move Him to Third Base
I've been thinking about this idea for a long time. Pujols started his career at third base, since Mark McGwire was still in the fold. His fielding statistics during the seven games he played at third in 2011 are not spectacular, but if the Chicago Cubs want to win now, this is a viable option.
With some defensive adjustments allowing Starlin Castro to have a larger range on the left side of the diamond, Pujols defensive statistics would be a worthless way to judge his impact on the team. With Fielder and Pujols batting Nos. 3 and 4 in the order, the Cubs would hit their way to the title and view pitching as an afterthought.
Buy out Zambrano and Soriano
Most Cubs fans agree that something has to be done regarding the mammoth contracts of Carlos Zambrano and Alfonso Soriano. Combined they are scheduled to make $38 million in 2012, which is a lesson in how not to run a front office.
With speculation both contracts could be effectively bought out in return for unseasoned minor league players, this move accomplishes multiple goals stated by Epstein regarding the future of the Chicago Cubs.
By getting rid of your two biggest non-performers and replacing them, in essence, with two of the best clutch hitters in baseball, you've bettered the team in the present.
With whatever prospects come from unloading these two, you restock a farm system in order to build for the future.
With $38 million off the payroll (The buyouts must be considered a sunk cost and have no bearing on payroll.), along with $10 million off the payroll without Carlos Pena, you've covered the cost of your two biggest superstars while maintaining a payroll close to your 2011 number, which, if you'll remember, helped the team finish fifth in the NL Central.
Bet the Farm
The Cubs are by no means stocked in the farm system, but they have a lot of talent to fill in the gaps. In order to not only win now, but also prepare for the future beyond Pujols and Fielder, the Cubs must play their young players.
Tyler Colvin, Tony Campana, Bryan LaHair, and DJ LeMahieu, can form a solid, albeit underwhelming outfield platoon.
With Pujols and Fielder in the lineup, that doesn't matter. If either of these players are mashing the ball, you can't pitch around them, and while the aforementioned platoon lack the power outfielders usually possess, they all have speed and can get on base. It's small ball meets the power game, and it could be a very efficient system.
Your 2012 Chicago Cubs
Theo Epstein has publicly said that he will search for young talent and to pay on potential. The preceding ideas were anything but that. It was AL East methodology at its finest, and it's something that would be baseball's version of the Miami Heat.
While it would never happen, here would be your projected Opening Day lineup.
1. Starlin Castro, SS
2. Tyler Colvin, OF
3. Prince Fielder, 1B
4. Albert Pujols, 3B
5. Brett Jackson, OF
6. Tony Campana, OF
7. Darwin Barney, 2B
8. Koyie Hill, C
9. Ryan Dempster, SP