9:28 AM CDT, July 30, 2012
Maybe you blame Cubs team President Theo Epstein for failing to take every step required to execute the trade of Ryan Dempster to Atlanta.
Maybe you blame Dempster for failing to live up to his word that he would waive his no-trade rights for certain teams and not stand in the way of the Cubs’ getting better.
Truth is, it doesn’t matter whether you blame Epstein or Dempster for the embarrassment last week because Epstein is going to get the blame. Dempster is still here, and so is Matt Garza. One day before the trade deadline, Epstein hasn’t used his most valuable trading assets to make the Cubs better.
Epstein still has time, of course. The non-waiver trading deadline comes Tuesday at 3 p.m. After that it become more difficult, but Epstein still has until Aug. 30 to deal the likes of Dempster, Garza, Paul Maholm, Reed Johnson, Jeff Baker, player, player, player, name, name, or name except Anthony Rizzo.
So, something still might happen, but it doesn’t look like it will be as good as it might’ve been, which makes it even worse for a team supposedly armed with two of the most valuable arms on the trade market.
Interestingly, White Sox general manager Ken Williams has no money and allegedly no prospects, but he seems to come up with young players that other teams identify as prospects. He comes up with deals. Williams traded for Kevin Youkilis to create the kind of big-boy lineup required in the American League, then Brett Myers to add a veteran set-up man/closer, and just last weekend Francisco Liriano to help a rotation get better and more rest.
Whatever anybody thought of the Sox farm system, it has been good enough -- and Williams has been smart and creative enough -- to produce young talent that can help the big league team now, either in trade or in Sox fatigues. Kind of like a parallel front. Good phrase, that. Yeah, a parallel front -- winning in the race to develop young talent and winning at the major league level. Quick, someone pass along the idea to the Cubs.
The amateur draft in June appeared to be Epstein’s World Series, the biggest event of the season for the new honcho and his new pals charged with rebuilding the Cubs. But that was their event. For Cubs fans, it was no more than looking at someone else’s high school yearbook.
The trade deadline, however, would be tangible moves. The trade deadline would be some kind of fans’ World Series. It might be no more than the exit of known players for unknown prospects, but even the holes in, say, the rotation would represent progress, and here’s why:
You can’t build a team for future sustained success without getting rid of the stuff that contributed to the recent sustained losing.
In June, Dempster agreed to waive his no-trade clause for certain teams, then went on the disabled list. At that time, I urged Epstein to trade Garza so he didn’t risk another injury to a pitcher who was worth a lot more in another uniform. Oops.
Dealing Garza a month ago should’ve given Epstein the persuasive argument that the team acquiring the Cubs right-hander would gain greater value by getting more starts than if it waited until the deadline.
But no. Garza got hurt, too, and now he won’t test his cramping triceps until after the non-waiver trade deadline. Dempster is scheduled to start the Cubs’ first game after that Tuesday deadline.
It might not be considered a big failure by Epstein if those remain issues for the Cubs instead of another team after Tuesday’s trade deadline, but that’s the way to bet.
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