Monday, January 17, 2005

So what exactly does this guy have to do with the Cubs?

Quite a bit actually.

No, the Cubs aren't rumored to be in pursuit of Carlo$ Delgado. However, his final destination will have a considerable bearing on the Cubs 2005 line-up. You see, the current baseball landscape is comprised of a complex mosaic of interrelated strands - or dominos poised to trigger a series of interconnected falls if you prefer. Delgado is likely to be the first domino to fall (we are speculating he will end up in Florida), and once he does, look for the rest of the free agent landscape to firm up rather quickly. Chris De Luca makes essentially the same point:

FURTHER COMPLICATING A SOSA DEAL is the fact the New York Mets, once considered the front-runners, have become distracted by other names. After landing free-agent prize Carlos Beltran, the Mets began courting free-agent first baseman Carlos Delgado and are trying to land outfielder Eric Byrnes from the A's.

The Mets reportedly are offering outfielder Mike Cameron, the former Sox center fielder who long has interested A's GM Billy Beane.

The good news for the Cubs is the Mets still are looking to dump left fielder Cliff Floyd and the $13 million he is owed for the next two seasons. The Mets might show more interest in Sosa if Delgado signs with the Florida Marlins or Texas Rangers, two other teams making a strong push to add him.

I have said this before and I will say it again – I am adamantly opposed to dumping Sosa at all costs, especially if it means paying the majority of his contract and receiving garbage in return (and yes Cliff Floyd qualifies as refuse I’m sorry to say). Since Beltran is unavailable, and since there is a noticeable dearth of available outfielders who can produce offensively, the Cubs need to retain Sosa. His value is at an all-time low due to his lower production at the end of the season and especially since the Tribune publicly trashed him by releasing the video footage of him leaving before the last game even started (not particularly wise in hindsight). There’s a basic inviolable axiom at play here - one does not normally seek to trade items when they are at all-time low in terms of valuation.

If the Cubs are absolutely hell-bent on dumping him, why not wait 2 months into the season and hope that his value increases as a result of a return to his early season form of last year? Please remember that Sosa was hitting quite well before his sneeze sent him to the DL for an extended stay. His bat hasn't "slowed down," or any of that garbage. Are the Cubs absolutely convinced that Sosa cannot produce or that he will have such a negative influence in the clubhouse that he must be traded at all costs? I certainly hope not - because desperation is often palatably noticeable to trade partners and it breeds unwise decisions.

Delgado a Marlin?

Whatever the Cubs do with Sosa, I thought this was an interesting bit of speculation on how the Marlins might try to entice Delgado to take up residence in Miami:

They could also bring in the distant outfield fence in right-center. Over the last three seasons, left-handed hitters have accounted for a majors-worst 96 homers at the erstwhile Pro.

Throw in the undercoating if McKeon says it's OK. Don't salespeople always have to check with the manager on such matters?

All those extras are going to be important because if it comes down to money, the Marlins probably lose.

Considering New York's top income tax rate is 8.75 percent, the Mets would have to offer Delgado $38.4 million over the same three years to match the Marlins. That just happens to be an average of $12.8 million per year, or the same plateau Adrian Beltre reached with Seattle this winter in a deal Delgado's agent has termed the "baseline" for negotiations.

Modify ProPlayer to better suit Delgado? Seems rather dramatic to this commentator. In any event, the same article mentions the reported interest of the Marlins in Sosa:

If the Marlins don't wind up signing Delgado, they could instead spend some of that scratch on Javier Vazquez or Sammy Sosa, both on the trading block. Any substantial payroll addition this close to spring training would help energize the fan base, not to mention the Miami-Dade politicians.

Again I am for this only if it returns a quality player to the Cubs (which seems highly improbable to me at this point due to the widespread perception that Sosa’s value has decreased).

Therefore, note to Jim – please do not jettison Sosa at any old cost. Retaining his services may prove to be valuable in the long run.