Tuesday, December 20, 2005

That sound you just heard...

was the sound of the Cubs 2006 season flushing down the toilet. You see, the Cubs just inked Jacque Jones to a 3-year deal:

MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota Twins right fielder Jacque Jones declined arbitration with the club, then agreed to a deal to play for the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday.

Jones' agent, Dan Lozano, said the Twins were only offering a one-year deal and that his client has several multi-year offers on the table. Jones accepted a deal with the Cubs for three years, but financial terms were not disclosed.

The Twins offered arbitration so they would be assured a 2006 first-round draft pick when the 30-year-old outfielder signed with another team. Jones made $5 million last season, but almost assuredly would have received a raise had he accepted the offer.

Jones was drafted by the Twins in 1996 and broke into the majors in 1999. He led the team with 23 home runs last season and hit .249 with 73 RBI.

Why are prospects for next season swirling down the johnny as a result of this signing?

Because it signals most of all that Jim Hendry just doesn't understand the extent of the problems with this team as it is currently constructed and managed.

This is not a team on the cusp of playoff contention in need only of minor improvement (and it is arguable how much improvement [if any] Jones provides over the underwhelming Jeromy Burnitz).

This is a team that is deeply flawed - and deeply flawed on a number of levels. It is especially flawed in terms of offense (or lack thereof) - but it is also a team that has a very questionable starting rotation. That's never a good combination. It's certainly not a team that will contend.

Here's the bottom line - Jacque Jones isn't the answer to what proved to be an absolutely horrendous (from an offensive standpoint) OF last year. The offensive production was downright offensive last year, if you get what I mean. And Jones isn't going to substantially improve things.

In fact you can write this down - because it comes from a baseball realist - this team as presently constructed will struggle to finish third in the division next year (and that's assuming no injuries).

You don't like that prognosis? Go over to fantasy land and get your fix of continually deferred hope. For my part, I don't deal in fantasy - only reality - and sometimes it really does bite folks.

I suspect that Jim will tell us in the near future just how "satisfied" he is with the team as presently constructed. Just like last year in fact. He was satisfied with what he had then - in fact he was pretty sure the club could "survive" when Wood, Williamson, and Garciaparra returned in early August. And that turned out splendidly as we all know.

And to be honest, I don't know why he wouldn't be "satisfied."

After all, who isn't satisfied with fourth place in the division!