The levels of regret - not all regret is as bad as others
In this weekend's Tribune, there was an article about the "Third founder of Apple". Really? There was a third founder of Apple, just like there was a fifth Beatle? Seems that there was; he was the 'business guru' part of the deal, along with Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. You know the Steves; this third guy was in the garage, too, but he got sick of the Steves always turning on and letting their minds wander into fancy thoughts. This third guy even designed the first Apple logo; but finally he got sick of all the talk about mice and pointing and clicking and let the Steves buy him out for $800. Now, this guy lives simply, on Social Security, and he says sure, he has 'regrets' because of course, the Steves are now richer than God. But, as the article explained, not all regrets have to be negative. He did what he thought was right at the time; all the knowledge he had at his disposal was that the Steves were a couple of burnouts, and that they were just gonna run through whatever little they had, and that would be the end of it.
If he had to do it over again, he'd make the same decision, because he went with what his gut said was right, and that is all he could do. For every Apple success story, there are thousands of other guys who get together for a few weeks, burn through their savings, and have nothing to show for it but a sack of empty beercans. So he doesn't let his 'regret' eat him up.
A couple of things got me thinking: the first being that we may now possibly have the oxymoron for 2010 - "Positive Regret", to go along with "negative success", one of my favorites (/eyes roll) from the past decade.
The second thing has to do with decisions; specifically sports decisions; even more specifically baseball decisions; well, let's get down to it - trading decisions, particularly those involving the Cubs. Those of you that know me know that I do exist somewhere on the near side of the ol' Autistic Spectrum, and that I love me some categorizations. Some kids played with Hot Wheels; I sorted them in boxes by color; then make and model.
Today I am going to sort some of the Cubs' trades over the years, in terms of regret levels, from positive regret (yo, don't let the door hitcha where the good Lord splitcha) to total Brock-for-Broglio-esque misery.
LEVEL 0: No Regret Whatsoever - total lopsided trades in our favor; ones that might be considered Level 4 or 5 by the other guys. DeJesus-for-Bowa, with Sandberg thrown in. Bobby Hill-for-Aramis Ramirez.
LEVEL 1: Regret as a form of blessed release - Turd Hundley-for-Grudz&Karros in 2003; Sosa-for-Hairston&Font in 2004; Bradley-for-Silva last winter. God help me, these are the trades that feel like curing cancer - chemo that works!
LEVEL 2: Meh-gret: most trades fall into meh-gret: a recent example would be Kevin Hart-for-Grabow and Gorzellany. What-ever...(NOTE: please do not confuse the trade for Grabow with the subsequent 2-year-contract for Grabow. That's a whole 'nother topic). This includes the vast majority of trades that don't work out well for either side.
LEVEL 3: Regret for some; Meh-gret for others: the DeRosa trade falls into this category. We give up something of value, and whether or not we get like value back, there will be some who will be disappointed for a long time. In the case of DeRosa, some 'fans' are still pointing to his departure as the crack in the windshield that broke up the 2008 juggernaut, as it were. Others, such as myself, while admitting that we gave up some measure of value, aren't going to lose a nugget of sleep over it. There haven't been many other recent Level 3's, unless of course you're one of the ten people left on Earth who still feel Jake Fox can play ball.
LEVEL 4: Now we're starting to feel the sting; giving up on a major league impact player. Garland-for-Karchner. Raffy Palmiero (AND Jamie Moyer!)-for-Wild Thing. Bill Madlock-for-Steve Ontiveros. Dontrelle Willis (as a throw-in!)-for-Clement & Alfonseca. You might even throw in Joe Carter-for-Sutcliffe. I would, you might not. Carter-for-Sut might be a Level 3 in your world, because 1984 simply does not happen without Sut. I understand that, and 1984 Chicago might mean more to any franchise than any other season in MLB history where a pennant was NOT won.
But it was pretty clear that Carter was the real deal, he did not immediately impress upon his first callup, we traded him off, and he then spent the next 12 years or so just KILLING fools.
But even considering the regretful nature of Level 4, there is:
LEVEL 5: Brock-for-Broglio. Letting Maddux walk in 1993, which is not in itself a trade, except in effect, it was when the "Maddux Money" was then given to Jose Guzman and Candy Maldonado. Letting a Hall-Of-Fame talent go is inexcusible under any circumstances. These are trades that just kill a franchise, and just EAT into your sleep.
Now then. Take a good hard look at your team today. I have recently come out here, myself and others, to accurately note that the offense for the Cubs sucks on toast, and what's more, outside of a couple of guys with large expiring contracts, and of course our "beloved prospects", we had nothing to offer in trade to improve matters any.
Now and again, someone like Phil Rogers will wonder out loud (in the paper) if there was any possibilities about someone like Fukudome being sent in a 3-way trade with Boston and perhaps Texas. You may think that Phil Rogers realizes what he does for a living, that if he publishes his idle thoughts, that there will be people who make the implication that there may be some substance behind them. I actually do not think so; I don't think Phil thinks that far ahead.
But back to our trade prospects now in 2010. I don't think we are going to be able to get rid of Fukudome, or Ramirez, or Lee, or Soriano, or Zambrano. Someone may try Lilly (especially after last night) or perhaps Nady. Neither one will bring much. Neither will the rest of the rabble: the Cajun boys; Tracy and Baker; the 10 or so feeble bullpen arms we've shuffled in and out so far this year; Three-Finger Hill. Any trades containing any of them falls under Meh-gret.
But what about Castro? Cashner? Colvin? Josh Vitters? What about Marmol and Soto? Could we possibly bring in a decent-hitting infielder, at any position, for one or more of them? Is it as easy as that?
This is the main point of today's column: any trade has risk. We could, hypothetically, trade Castro, Colvin, and Cashner for Albert Pujols today, and quite possibly once he puts on a Cub uniform, Pujols forgets how to swing a bat for the rest of his natural life. If that happened, there would be regret. The question is, how much?
Look at each one of our prospects. Are they certain future Hall-of-Famers? Are they certain impact big-leaguers? Are they even certain major-league contributors? How much regret would we feel if one or more of our so-called top prospects were dealt, in an attempt to make something out of this offense the next couple of years?
My take? I don't feel I am watching certain Greatness when I see Colvin, Castro, Cashner and Soto play. Marmol? Heh heh, God only knows. He has a unique gift - it may stay with him 10 more years, or it may leave him tomorrow. I wouldn't mess with him right now.
The rest of them? Aren't going to cost me any sleep, ever.