What the hell are the Cubs going to do this offseason?

I started blogging about the Cubs after the 2003 season. Myself and a couple others eventually started our own blog, but even after the 2003 season the direction the Cubs were heading was obvious. They had just come within 5 outs of reaching the World Series and they returned what was arguably the best rotation in baseball. They had acquired Aramis Ramirez, had a young and talented Corey Patterson returning from injury, and had extra money to spend thanks to postseason earnings.

The Cubs didn’t really fail in 2004 like so many have said. They just got beat by a far superior team in the Cardinals who ran away with the division. They did cough up the Wild Card late in the season. Still, they won almost 90 games and once again returned that great rotation, young CF, and Aramis Ramirez. They also acquired Derrek Lee would return, as well as Nomar Garciaparra. The future was bright and there was never a doubt in which direction the Cubs would move in.

After a disappointing 2005 season there was a little more question than before about which direction to head, but the Cubs were still a team that could do just about anything if they only had a healthy Mark Prior and Kerry Wood for the 2006 season. That didn’t happen and they had a terrible season.

Early in the following offseason the Cubs spent huge on Alfonso Soriano so the direction was obvious once again. They didn’t acquire Soriano and pay him that money to contend just in 2007, but also in 2008 and after. They won the division in 2007 so they would only try to get better

They had what was probably the best Cubs season most of us have seen. Perhaps they had a better season in the late 60s, and maybe one could argue the 1984 or 1989 teams were better, but it was easily one of the best we’d ever seen the Cubs assemble. After back to back division championships, the Cubs would only try to fill some holes and get better in whatever way they could.

Well, 2009 didn’t work out, but they were still a team that held first place in early August. That 2009 team was talented and although my preference following that season was to blow it up, there was perfectly good reason not. 

Jim Hendry had been the GM since I started blogging and there was never a question about which direction the Cubs would go. it was all about contention and every move they made was about that. As a result, it was really easy to write article about this team. It’s easy enough to evaluate decisions and see if they help the team meet their goals. It was easy enough to come up with ideas for what the team could do to help them out. There was a reason to be concerned about a player declining and writing at length about it. There was reason to be optimistic when a player performed better than expectations and to figure out if the performance could continue. 

The Cubs goal since 2003 has been to contend and as a blogger it was easy to write about. I didn’t always agree with the decisions made. I thought some were pretty bad. I thought some were really good. I was wrong sometimes and I was right. It was an easy position to be in as a blogger.

Well, that’s not really true anymore. Jim Hendry is gone, the team only has an interim GM and we know he’s not being considered for the job. The team won’t have a new GM until some time in November. The team meetings will presumably be underway or completed by the time that happens. The Winter Meetings will be just around the corner. Aramis Ramirez is a potential free agent. The Cubs will find some way to rid themselves of Carlos Zambrano. They’re reportedly eager to also rid themselves of Alfonso Soriano. Nobody knows who or even type of player will replace them. Your guess is as good as mine.

The organization could decide that completely rebuilding the team is necessary. That would be understandable given the state of the organization. They could also decide that they can contend in the near future. Maybe they can’t in 2012, but there’s no reason they couldn’t contend as early as 2013 if they went in that direction. That, too, would be a defensible decision given the market size and money available. 

What we have with the Cubs for the first time in about a decade is the potential for the organization to go in any direction. They could trade a lot of their players, call up some young players and further rebuild the minor league system through those trades and ameteur free agent signings. They could go all out and sign someone like Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder and maybe even CC Sabathia. They could trade some of their top prospects like Brett Jackson and Trey McNutt for veterans.

This makes writing about the Cubs a hell of a lot more difficult. I’ve thought of things seemingly every day that I wanted to write about, have done a little research and then reached the conclusion there was no point to write about it. I could write all kinds of things, but I’d prefer for them to be relevant. If the Cubs are rebuilding there’s not much point in writing more words about what Fielder, Pujols or Sabathis could add to this team. There’s little point in looking over the free agents list, or the guys who could potentially be traded in the offseason. At the same time, I see no point in writing about who the Cubs could trade if they wanted to rebuild if they have no intention whatsoever of doing so.

Yes, I’ve posted trade value pieces here and over at ACB, but that has a dual purpose. First, it shows what type of value the player has and second, it gives us an idea of what we could expect if the team traded him. I didn’t start writing trade value pieces in March. I waited until the team was pretty much eliminated, which left rebuilding as a viable plan moving forward. Neither year it happened, but I’d like to think people learned something from them. At the very least, I learned something.

I recently wrote about Starlin Castro and the possibility of signing him to a long-term extension. Regardless of which direction the Cubs go, signing someone like that is a topic worth discussing. Signing him to a long-term deal would make sense either way. That doesn’t mean it’s the right decision and I don’t know if it is or is not, but it’s something the organization could do one way or the other. Signing Prince Fielder only makes sense if the team intends to be contenders soon.

I’m intrigued by the idea of signing Matt Garza to a long-term extension and may write about that in the near future. I plan to write more about the Cubs top prospects when the minor league season ends soon. I also plan to publish a new poll and actually publish the results this time. As for the Arizona Fall League? I couldn’t care less. It’s a hitter’s paradise and it’s just a small sample anyway. Sam Fuld turned into Barry Bonds in the AFL so that tells you all you need to know about the league. May as well play 30 games on MLB The Show and then act as if those stats are representative of what the player will do. 

I have no idea what I’ll write about. If you haven’t noticed the amount of content on Obstructed View has slowed considerably. I’m not the only one having trouble figuring out what to write about. We started the blog at the end of March, but had a couple weeks to write several articles before we went live. In April we published 119 articles. We followed that up with 78 in May 71 in June and then just 65 in July. In August we published only 57 articles. By December we’ll be posting less than 0 articles per month. Hopefully the Cubs become more interesting by then.


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