This is a trick question, I think
As per young Kurt this morning: (with his question boiled down to its simplest version)
"Without Bradley and/or Dunn, would you agree that the Cubs should be favored to win the NL Central and reach the playoffs?"
This assumes the following:
- Bradley and Dunn are our only two available choices to play our Vacant Corner Outfield Position DuJour - currently regarded to be Right Field.
- That you, the gentle reader, are going to answer Yes, to complete the rest of Kurt's premise.
I think both are presumptuous in nature. I, for one, believe most strongly that the Cubs would NOT be favored to win the NL Central without acquiring a Strong Left-Handed Hitting Corner Outfielder.
I also believe that we would NOT win the Central, but that really isn't the question and is immaterial to this discussion. Would the Baseball World, at large, favor the Cubs in the Central if they do not obtain this elusive stud hoss?
I think the World at Large SHOULD favor the Cubs, but they will not. Why? Because the Baseball media has made such a big deal about the Cubs having to find this Left Handed Beast, that their failure to do so will prompt the media to overly downgrade us.
So, let's review, so far:
- If the Cubs do not sign a left-handed power hitting outfielder, then the National Baseball Media as a whole will downgrade the Cubs to the point that they will NOT be expected to win the Central;
- This downgrading, in and of itself, is unfair. The Cubs won last year without this Big Swinging Hoss, and they ought to be regarded as the favorites again this year, in a division marked by, at best, mild erosion;
- All this being said, even if every last media outlet in fact got smart and picked us to win again, we're not going to win squat without this guy.
Got that? We're not going to be picked to win a division that we should be picked to win, even though we won't, if we don't get some more left handed hitting help.
It also isn't necessarily correct that it has to be Adam Dunn or Milton Bradley? What about Bobby Abreu? Also, think about this: everyone thinks we traded DeRosa to get the parts necessary to pry Jake Peavy from Divorce Court. What IF, instead, we took all them arms, plus some of our own, and went after a non-free-agent corner outfielder?
What if - dare to dream - we tossed six guys at the Dodgers for mine and thunderbird's Man Crush DuJour - Andre Ethier? Or someone like that? Finally, why not completely show our ass - even though he ain't left handed, and he can't play right field with a backhoe, bazooka, and trampoline, why not Get Manny? He hits curveballs in the dirt 450 feet!! Throw him 30 milldo for the year, hire him a coupla hookers, a concierge, a psychic and his own Hamburger James, and watch him hit four hundred for us!!
Point is, none of the guys available either via free agency or being actively shopped are capable of playing a decent RF in Wrigley for 150+ games. Depending on who's doing the math, Dunn > Bradley or Bradley > Dunn or Abreu > Dunn and so on and so on, but all of the >'s are incremental, at best.
Suffice it to say: whomever we get out there will hit better than Fukudome, and will field worse than Fukudome, but the offensive boost will be larger than the defensive lapse, regardless of who it is.
It is just important for Hendry to get SOMEONE, for chrissakes. In baseball, as in life, Perception Is Reality, and if the Cubs don't get this Colossus of Clout, especially after dumping DeRosa, they themselves cannot possibly believe in themselves, after all has been said and written this winter.