Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Somewhere, a rotation of the ages is born. Elsewhere, envelopes containing x-rays pile up

The Phillies, who once had Cliff Lee, then moved him along elsewhere because they felt they could not afford him AND Roy Halladay, changed their minds and decided, yes, they COULD afford both of them.  So now, there they are, along with fairly recent World Series Ace Cole Hamels and longtime stud hoss Roy Oswalt.  Will it work?  Who knows, really?  It certainly seems as if it should.  Keep in mind, though, that just going back two years, Hamels, Lee, and Oswalt all had an mediocre-to-bad season.  Only the Doc is concrete cyanide every day, every way.

Now, watch, because the Baseball Gods never seem to let anything work out like this.  It would be typical if, this year, it was Halladay who somehow forgets how to pitch.  It is kind of like the White Sox this past year: they stacked up Peavy and Buehrle and Denks and Gavin Floyd and were supposed to pave over a weak AL Central, and it ends up that they needed to get Edwin Jackson simply to finish out the season.

What does any of this matter to us?  Because although red-hot all-male offseason action doesn't necessarily equate to wins and titles, it certainly does buy fan enthusiasm.  And, if for some reason you have only been a fan of the Cubs since, say, 2001 or 2002, you have been treated to a truly special time.  We won the division three times the past decade (more than our share!!) but even more, it was weee who led not only our division, but the entire NL in offseason noise! 

Cubs bring in World Series manager Dusty Baker!  Cubs sign Maddux; compile "Five Aces" rotation!  Cubs bring in Lou Piniella!  Cubs sign Soriano to record deal!  Cubs win Fukudome sweepstakes!    For a franchise accustomed to retreads and can't-miss prospects who consistently miss, the past several years have been like hanging out with a lottery winner on a bender. 

It's been a lot of fun, and easy to get excited about, and write about on a million Cubs blogs like this one.  Of course, keep in mind, in the end, we won nothing of any real significance, and in the end, the last big Hendry move turned out to be the worst.  On one hand there is reason to consider bringing in the man who led the majors in OPS the previous year.  On the other hand, you might want to stop and pause, to consider exactly WHY the man who led all humans in OPS in 2008 would be available to the highest bidder that same winter?

It was a particularly painful way to remember a rather simple truth: that money and offseason buzz alone does not win pennants.  It may help, but other things, like leadership, character, and perhaps a leadoff man that had some plate discipline, also need to be in place.

So here we are, at least I am, in below zero temperatures, rehashing the latest GROTA theme: we're all busy people these days, times have definitely changed, and there just isn't enough going on in Cub world for any of us to risk losing our jobs writing about it.  (And yes, Cub blogging played a part in my losing a job several years back, longtime readers may recall).  Thing is, though, it is one thing to ignore a few phone calls because my favorite sports team just went out and spent nearly 150 million dollars on a 40-40 guy.  It's another thing to endanger a livelihood debating over whether it was worth it to bring in a guy who hit .196 last year, as opposed to just letting Brad Snyder hold down first base until some of the big contracts come off the books.

Between the Super-Recession and our new jobs, new babies, and in my case, fulltime grad school at age 46 (?!?), the notion that we may bring in the corpse of Brandon Webb to replace Tom Gorzellany isn't going to generate enough buzz to compel us to fill this space with scintillating baseball expertise.

Good news (maybe?), though?  I have a month where I don't have to study, do homework, or try to sneak inconspicuously down hallways packed with kids less than half my age.  Even though I in my heart believe the Ricketts family have no inclination whatsoever to improve the team in 2011, I admit I was surprised they even considered signing Carlos Pena, even for a deferred one-year deal.  I had resigned myself to a year of Adam LaRoche, a completely useless piece of crap whose game I have always hated.  Why?  Precedents.  Because: even before they became Cubs, I hated Sammy Sosa (self-centered), Derrek Lee (balls of silly putty), Alfonso Soriano (Sosa-esque hollow stats), Jason Marquis (too walky), Jim Edmonds (really?  seriously?), and last but not least, Milton Bradley (how's your fambly, homes?).  So why not LaRoche?  Hey, Aaron Miles worked out so well for us.

So yeah, even though Pena will most likely make many of us long for the DPLee days, at least I don't have to watch the impossibly stiff LaRoche stand at the plate in pinstripes until say, mid-June, hitting below .050.  Yes, then somehow while nobody is looking, he then manages to hit about 21 quick homers and ends up with a batting line ju-u-u-st respectable enough that some other loser gives him a job the next year.

So, at least for that, alone, I thank Tom, Todd, Laura, and Pete.  Thank you, you wacky uber-Chads. 

We'll discuss Kerry Wood tomorrow.

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