CUBS LAW: If any single MLB team makes a really bad decision, it's sure to be the Cubs. If several teams make really bad decisions, the worst one is going to be made by the Cubs. (Law first proposed by baseball fans on Cubs acquisition of sore-backed Ralph Kiner in 1953; defined in 1960 with the Cubs College of Coaches; confirmed by trade of Lou Brock for Ernie Broglio in 1964; proven innumerable times since.)
Like Doc Daneeka said about Catch-22, Cubs Law, it's the best there is.
This off-season continues to amaze for what roads the Cubbies are traveling. For a team that lost 96 games last season and finished with the worst record in the National League it would seem you'd have to do better in the coming season. You'd have to think that finally they'd take the right road. But now that's not so certain. Oh, for sure the Cubs will hit a lot more with Alfonso Soriano about to join the Cubs for $136 million for eight years (it's shocking just to write that) along with the staying-home Aramis Ramirez and the hopefully recuperated Derrek Lee. And with those three and Mark DeRosa, Michael Barrett Cesar Izturis and Henry Blanco, they'll cost a lot more; but with a pitching staff that has Carlos Zambrano as a definite starter and lots of not yets and many injured maybes led by Mark Prior and Kerry Wood, there may be little chance that they'll win much more.
GM Jim Hendry, by signing the offensively gifted, defensively challenged, attitudinally uncertain Soriano, is heading for the salary stratosphere with no pitching to speak of. And to nurse this group along, and wait patiently for the return to health of Wood and Prior and the meshing of Ramirez, Soriano and Lee, is the calm, re-assuring presence of new manager Sweet Lou Piniella.
You wonder sometimes what game all those GMs and other bright bulbs in Major League Baseball are watching but I don't think it's the same one I'm paying attention to. In my game, pitching wins; good pitching stops good hitting; and great pitching (or hot pitching but pitching) wins the World Series. The Cubs have not played in the World Series in 61 years and they have not won one in 98, so they may not know what it takes to win a pennant or a World Series, being so far removed from those accomplishments.
No one can doubt the innate talent of Wood or Prior. But The New York Times pointed out over the weekend that Wood has been on the DL 10 times in his 8 seasons--27 percent of his active duty. And last season was lost almost entirely with 4 starts and 162 days (out of 182) on the DL. Prior's career numbers are even worse--30 percent of his days have been on the DL, 8 times total in 5 seasons and 144 of 182 days last season. These are two of the pitchers the Cubs apparently are counting on. How about you Cubs fans? Are you counting on them?
Since hiring Piniella as manager, the Cubs have re-signed Ramirez, the third baseman, to a $75-million, five-year deal; added free agent second baseman DeRosa ($13 million over three years), acquired left-hander Neal Cotts from the White Sox and re-signed Kerry Wood ($1.75 million with a potential of $6 million) and Wade Miller ($1.5 million for a pitcher who appeared in 5 games last season and has been plagued with injuries the last three years), and backup catcher Blanco ($5.25 million over two years).
The Cubs moves, questionable as they all seem at first, are made even more curiouser by the uncertainty of the ownership, The Tribune Company. The media giant, struggling in so many areas, is reported to be shopping the Cubs after 25 years of ineffectual and ineffective ownership. So naturally, the team has gone out and burdened potential new owners with a bunch of over-priced contracts. Great business. But, hey, it's the Cubs after all.