Fate seems to be trying to lure the new Cubs management into more aggressive action. We’ll see if Epstein stays the course or decides increased boldness is warranted.
First, Albert Pujols left the hated Cards, weakening them. Now the Brewers, already facing a possible similar loss of superstar Prince Fielder, has learned that last year’s National League MVP Ryan Braun has tested positive for PEDs. Braun is appealing the finding, although no player up to now has done so successfully. If he loses that appeal, he will be suspended for 50 games, nearly a third of the season.
This is interesting stuff, even if it’s also literally inside baseball. Will the Cubs now show increased interest in signing Fielder themselves, to further weaken the Brewers? Will the Brewers feel they HAVE to resign Fielder now, just in case, and thus spend more money for a longer period of time then they had planned, hurting them in the future when he begins his almost inevitable decline? Will the Cubs try not to actually sign Fielder, but rather to bid up the price, if only to further hobble the Brewers if they do resign him?
Again, even in a much weakened division (assuming all this comes to pass; Pujols gone, Fielder gone or–very fancifully–on the Cubs, Braun suspended), I don’t think the Cubs are in a position to really make a successful post-season run even if we got there. Even so, this situation certainly adds to the temptation to stray from the rebuilding idea and try to do something big more immediately. I still think we should hold our fire and look to the future past 2012, but after several years of desultory baseball on the field, I have to say I’m finding the postseason entertainment quotient rather high this year.