Will the Cubs seriously go after Prince Fielder?

Well, no, probably not. The team is still way too flawed to be “just a player,” or even two players, away from doing anything.

That said, the Cards losing Albert Pujols means the rest of our division is now much weaker. I still think we’re too far away to risk the sort of crazy long term contract Fielder would require. However, the new guys running the Cubs are a lot smarter than me, so we’ll see what they do. For what it’s worth, I would think that at best we’d offer the fairly young Fielder a crapload of money per year, saying $25-30 million, but maybe for five years instead of the seven year or longer contract he might be looking for. So even if we do that, he might well opt for another deal elsewhere.

Unlike many Cubs fans, I’m more interested in seeing them focus on building the team into a perennial contender than I am worrying about what they’ll do in 2012 or even 2013. So I’m entirely happy to see Pujols go elsewhere, and if we don’t sign Fielder or any other big player that’s cool with me too. Basically I just want to know that there’s a coherent plan they’re following, and to see improvement on a year to year basis until we get to where we should be.

We’ve a huge hole to dig ourselves out of–one way or the other, for instance, we’ll be paying Soriano huge money for three more years–but given our market size and the front office talent we now have, there’s no reason we shouldn’t end up being, if not the presumed division winner every year, then the team that at the beginning of each season is considered the powerhouse our division rivals have to get around.

All last season, even before we got rid of former GM Jim Hendry, I was saying the baseball would suck, but that the post-season stuff would be enthralling. Luckily, that at least has come true, more so that I had even hoped. It’s not so much getting a new superstar GM. It’s that for the first time in my life we have both a great GM and an engaged owner working together to build the team into what it always should have been. That doesn’t guarantee anything, but it offers us a lot more realistic hope than we’re used to.

Interesting times ahead.

  • Terrahawk

    Everyone is nuts to pay Pujols that sort of money.  It’s a good bet that by year two into his contract his numbers will be down and he’ll miss half the season with an injury.

    Fielder is going to be in the same boat even though he is younger.  That weight is going to break him. 

    In the long term, it might have been better to have both the Cardinals and Brewers tied down with expensive contracts for broken-down players.

  • Marsden

    I like baseball but when I try to wrap my head around the concept of paying someone to play a game, no matter how good they are, it just baffles me.  Cops, soldiers, paramedics and firemen get paid a lot less and do a lot more.  Sorry, Ken.

    How about the Cubs farm system?  I’m told one of the best way to build a good team, rather than buying it like the Jerkees, is have your young players in your AAA and A league teams and work with them in the orginization so that hopefully mutual benefit of the player and the club will keep them together and working well.  I don’t know any thing about the Cub’s other teams.  Do they have one in the International League?

  • Anonymous

    First, I agree with you about the crazy money…to an extent. However, the fact is that (and I know how insulting this is on some level) more people can be good cops, firemen, soldiers and paramedics than can be good ball players. At least in sports there’s a bit more balance between salaries and results than you often see in the film, TV or music business.

    That said, there’s also the issue of wealth creation. I remember when Michael Jordan retired, Forbes did a special issue where they concluded that Jordan had created 10 billion dollars of wealth throughout the world economy by playing for the Bulls. Assuming that’s anyway near true, would it be crazy for Jordan to demand a tenth of that? It’s still a billion dollars, which seems insane, but it’s hard to argue a man shouldn’t receive 10% of what he created.

    I completely agree with you on team building, which is why I’ll be completely fine with the Cubs *not* signing some superstar player anytime soon. Great teams generally have a mix of top market stars and homegrown talent. Signing the former before we have the latter strikes me as the sort of short term thinking that has been the hallmark of the Cubs as long as I’ve been alive. Even so, that approach takes patience on the part of fans, which is often in short supply even for teams that have won recently, like the White Sox.

    Meanwhile, apparently the new CBA restricts (of course, at the worst possible time for us) how much money can be spent on things like drafting new talent and oversea talent acquisition. This just when the Cubs’ new administration was going to be the first ever really to focus on such things.

    I don’t really, truly fear the fans will stampede Ricketts and Epstein et al into trying to “do something now.” I actually trust them not to listen to that.* However, it does irk me, and I wish the fans would be a bit more realistic. It took a long while to dig us into the hole we’re now in, it will take a while to dig out way out of it.

    [*On the other hand, because I *do* trust the new guys, if they were to really go after Fielder, which I don’t expect them to do, I would have to assume they knew more than I do.]

  • Marsden

    That’s interesting, Ken.  I didn’t realize that a sports player could generate that kind of economy, and as things are it would be ridiculous for the players to ask for less.  A big part of my problem is I can still remember when football players had “real jobs” during the off season because playing football didn’t pay enough to get you through all year and so on.  I know we can’t go back, I just don’t like where it’s gone.  I also meant but neglected to elaborate that any entertainment medium where the people are paid millions of dollars for stuff.  Sports are different, but it’s still entetainment.  But it’s all supply and demand, a lot of people will willingly fork over hundreds of dollars for tickets or jersey’s but not want to pay taxes to support those other kind of jobs.  Goverment misuse promently figures in there too. 

    I’m a bit more of a football person, and my team is going through a stupid long time of sucking, with the owner buying terribly overpriced over the hill players that don’t preform but take home tons of money.  I just wonder where it all comes from and where does it go.   Last, I read recently that 80% of football players declare bankruptcy with in a few years of leaving the league, it really is crazy. 

  • AndrewS

    There is an even more important reason actors and sports stars get such money. Let us say, in your opinion, your teacher in high school gave you $2000 worth of value, while Brad Pitt gave you maybe $1 of enjoyment. So you pay each that amount. However, as teacher can, at best, teach 30 students, and so earns about $60K, while Brad Pitt can give $1 of enjoyment to 30 million people, and so gets $30M dollars. Same with sports stars. They may objectively give much less benefit to each individual than a cop or firefighter, but a cop or firefighter will benefit a lot fewer people.

    It is the same reason Sam Walton earned a lot more than your neighborhood hardware store owner. (He may have personally made less per unit, but he sold a lot more units.) Or look at McDonald’s versus a much better local restaurant. The same applies here. Famous individuals may bring less benefit than a lot of unsung heroes, but they reach so many more.

  • Anonymous

    Andrew, that is spot-on correct. I meant to write something similar, but I don’t think I’d have stated it as well.