As we move closer to opening day for the 2011 baseball season, fans across baseball are starting their discussions as far as who should make the team, and who should not. So far, if you have been following my blogs the past few weeks, you will have seen who I feel will make the club, and who should be starting where amongst them. I have yet to take a look at the pitching staff, as there are still several spots open for competition, and there are a few candidates that could make either the rotation or the bullpen. So I am holding off on those topics of conversation for likely another week.
However, I must clarify my positioning on these players. While I blog about them being players who I feel will make the team, as they are obvious choices, that is not saying that I want them to make the team. Much like with every fan with every other team across baseball, there are players who are likely to make the Chicago Cubs who fans, for the most part, want to see sent packing. In case you are unsure who they are, the three musketeers are Carlos Silva, Jeff Samardzija and Koyie Hill.
There is not a day that goes by that I do not hear someone mention that one of these three should be cut, as they will be doing more harm than good for the team. They do not care how much money they would need to be given, nor what the aftermath would be following their departure, they just want them gone faster than the time I would need to actually write this blog.
With Hill, he is making around $850,000 and would be the easiest person who could be cut, with the least amount of financial damage. He would also be the player who would be the most easily replaced on the roster, because we have a good young catcher in Wellington Castillo would be able to easily do just as much as Hill on any given day. Being the back up catcher, you never want to see him in the game more than what is necessary, so if there was any sort of dip in production from the backup catchers role, that would be almost too small to see unless you study the statistical lines day by day and break down the WAR numbers to the millionth percentile. Basically, there would be no drop off if this move was made. Unfortunately, because he was tendered a contract, the Cubs management team obviously feels he adds value to the team.
Samardzija is an absolute eye sore to the roster, and has been ever since he was first brought up to the majors. He has never shown the promise that scouts saw in him when he was drafted, and continues to give the fans of the Cubs stomach pains every time his name is brought up. Unfortunately, he is out of options and can not be sent back to the minor leagues, so the team would have to try to sneak him through waivers if they chose not to carry him this yera. That should not be a problem because what team would take him and that contract? If he clears waivers they can send him back to the minors, or chose to walk away. In either of those cases he would still be paid which is the same as just deciding to outright cut him and eat the $3.5 Million that he is still owed. Sadly, they are apparently deciding to keep him on the roster and throw him into the bullpen where he can hopefully do the least amount of damage. Personally, I would only use him in mop up duty when the Cubs have a big lead or a unthinking deficit that is not likely to be overcome. Cubs could easily replace him, because he has not done much to warrant his stay on the Cubs roster. Surely the team could find a pitcher that can do the same job, only better in the minor league system.
As far as Silva goes, the best thing I can say about him, is that at least he is not Milton Bradley, though he is hated in the clubhouse almost as much, if not more, that Bradley ever was. The standing ovation they were reported to give Cubs General Manager Jim Hendry when he announced that Bradley was gone, will easily be repeated if the same news is given about Silva. When he was brought here in a trade last off season, fans were just thrilled to get rid of Bradley and did not care what, if anything, they got out of Silva. Fortunately for the Cubs, they got a hot start out of the oversized pitcher, and he started 8-0. With the Cubs seemingly looking like a nose diving team, I was leading the charge of the thought that he should immediately be traded while he was actually looking like a competent pitcher again. Obviously that did not happen, and he is still around tormenting those fans who thought that he should not have been traded. Much like with Samardzija, he would be a tough pill to swallow as he is still owed about $8.5 Million (which includes the $2 Million buy out). Finding a replacement for him should not be difficult either as he is a pretty pathetic pitcher. Thomas Diamond, or another young gun could easily slide into his spot and do things more efficiently as well.
If you add up all the money that these less than wanted players are to make in 2011, you have a grand total of close to $13 Million. Writing that high dollar amount on a check would be painful no matter how much money you have. Now the thought process would be, that you are going to have to pay them the money anyway, so why not just pay them to go away and replace them with someone of more talent. One flaw, is because you would be paying them, as well as the players who would be taking their place. Granted, their replacements would all be minor leaguers who make the league minimum so there would not be too much more to spend.
Sadly, I do not think that these players will be cut between now and opening day, so we will sadly have to live with them for the duration of the season. However, there is good news. All three of them will likely be gone come the end of the season, and that will be $13 Million coming off the books; granted that would be seven months later than what would have been appreciated. The only one of them who even has a glimmer of hope to remain with the team next year is Hill. But that would be very unlikely as the Cubs do have Castillo who is banging on the door waiting for his opportunity to stick with a big league team.
Maybe the logic that these players are bad will strike the Cubs, and they will surprise me. Perhaps they will give the fan base what they are desperately craving and satisfy their taste for blood. Considering the talent level of these three is severely lacking, that could only help the prospects for the 2011 season.