The Marquis Conundrum
Contrary to my recent post citing the undeniable failure of Jim Hendry to draft and develop hitting prospects, I actually think he's pretty good at most facets of his job. Since becoming the Cubs GM, he has traded for a first and third basemen who have become cornerstones in the organization. He even took bold steps to give the Cubs the best shortstop the organization has seen since the days of Banks, until the guy tried to trip his testicles from his body in LA a few years back. Hendry went out and acquired one of the best pitchers available in 2008.
When the checkbook has been open to him, he's also gone out and acquired some impressive talent via the free agency market. He took a chance on Ryan Dempster, and we've seen how that's paid off. He delivered unto the Cubs Soriano, DeRosa, and Lilly all in one winter. He rolled the dice with Fukudome, and that still has time to pay off nicely. Oh, and he signed Jason Marquis to a weep-inducing three year deal before the start of the 2007 season.
In retrospect, Marquis isn't Hendry's only boner*, it's not even his most recent one**, but at this point it's one of the most frustrating. Surely by now we can acknowledge that the Cubs have enough pitching depth to not need Marquis, and it can even be argued that they had the necessary depth back in the winter of aught six when de Suck signed his 3-year contract.
(*Heh. I said boner.
**I've still got a bitter taste in my mouth over Hendry's Wood Boner***
***Holy cow, the jokes just keep ... er, coming... gotta stop now)
Anyway, I had a working theory back in October that I'm going to stick with, despite all the evidence to the contrary. The theory is this - there were a surprising number of good free agent pitchers available this year. Since good pitching is always in high demand, some teams in desperate pursuit of the best arms are bound to come up short, and rather than walk away with nothing maybe - just maybe - they'd settle for Marquis on the backside.
The only problem with this little theory is that teams aren't just coming up short in getting the good pitchers, but are also short of money. That doesn't spell doom for the Cubs, who still might be able to find a taker for Marquis, but it's going to be a lot tougher.
Ultimately, I think Hendry will probably have to pay most of de Suck's salary next year if he really wants him gone, or else wait until July and deal him at the deadline. Either way, I don't think we'll have a Marquis conundrum come October. At least, I hope not.