Nobody can spend other people’s money quite like a baseball writer.
Well, nobody other than Fred Wilpon.
It’s what happens, maybe, when you have so little of your own.
Point is, Theo Epstein might be gaining fast.
The Chicago Cubs, long believed to be a reasonable landing place for Prince Fielder(notes), both for what he would do to Wrigley Field and what the transaction would do to their NL Central neighbors – the Milwaukee Brewers – on Monday afternoon checked in on Albert Pujols(notes) as well.
Of course they did.
Look, if Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer had any ideas about building from within in a reasonable time frame, the restrictions on amateur bonuses in the new CBA blew that up. What the Texas Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays have done over the last several years just got a lot harder to do. General managers across the sport now believe they’ll need to build from the top down, which is bad news for operating budgets but good news for high-end free agents.
Like Fielder and Pujols.
While the Cubs in recent seasons haven’t spent with the Boston Red Sox, they’re certainly capable of it. And while the Red Sox haven’t been very good recently at evaluating those high-end free agents, I guess you don’t hire Epstein, make him your president, hire his preferred GM, and then tell him he can’t have a player, even if that player costs $200 million.
Anyway, the guy did a lot more good than not good in Boston, and these are inexact pursuits.
And, as Epstein learned in Boston, if you intend to be a big market, you act like a big market. When the likes of Fielder and Pujols are available, you’re in. I’m not saying the Cubs should sign either one. I’m saying they should be in on both.
You’re in because the player is better than what you have.
You’re in because the market could collapse and the player could fall into your lap.
You’re in because being in brings knowledge, and because sitting it out is for the little guys and the Dodgers, and you don’t hire Epstein to spend your money and then stand around and watch the other guys get better.
Asked Tuesday if the Cubs honestly intended on spending for one of the superstar first basemen, Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts told the Chicago Tribune: “Like I’ve always said, there is one person responsible for making those decisions, and one person accountable for the results. So, if [Epstein] believes strongly that’s what’s in the best interests of the team, then he’s got my support.”
So, believe what you will. Consider Epstein’s motivation. Think about his history. And give it a few weeks.
Now, maybe that had something to do with the sore elbow – he couldn’t pitch the way he wanted, so he was getting beaten and looking bat-shy doing it, and maybe he lost his nerve.
The Kansas City experience, then, should be a good one for him, assuming a sound elbow. He agreed with the Royals on Tuesday to a one-year contract worth $4 million ($1 million more with incentives). He’ll set up Joakim Soria(notes). The eighth inning in Kansas City is different than the ninth in Los Angeles, and ultimately that might be best for Broxton. …
Gary Matthews Jr.(notes), 37, is working out in Irvine, Calif., with the intention of giving the game one more shot. Matthews sat out all last season after splitting time in 2010 between the New York Mets and the Cincinnati Reds’ Triple-A affiliate in Louisville. I’d think he’d be worth a minor-league invite. …
Thanks to Brandon Phillips(notes) for keeping us current with his contract negotiations with the Reds. He tweeted Tuesday it “feels good to know that we’re moving in the right direction” for an extension.
- Theo Epstein