Wednesday, March 04, 2009

The Big Sleep

This place has been dark for a week because the Cubs are absolutely uninteresting right now. This is partially because, having blown two consecutive playoff appearances, the real fans are no longer satisfied with regular season success. And if the 162 game regular season schedule is just the appetizer, then spring training is waiting for your table.

It's also partially due to the fact that most positions are set and locked in. Sure, there’s some curiosity to how the three headed monster that is Kosuke Fukudome-Reed Johnson-Joey Gathright will perform in center. Yes, there’s some interest in Corey Koskie and Micah Hoffpauir backing up Aramis Ramirez and Derrek Lee. One supposes fifth starter and closer talk is always worth a column in the professional media. But other than that, 7 of the 8 position players are set.

But the unspoken reason that this spring training is unworthy of attention is, once again, tied to the sale of the team.

With the ownership in flux and the Cubs already sporting a high payroll, no moves can be made. Usually, a good portion of spring training talk is about potential acquisitions to improve the team. The last two spring trainings had nearly daily Brian Roberts rumors. Regardless of how probable the trade was, it did cause interest in following the players involved. If Felix Pie had a good day at the plate, was that the final straw to get Andy MacPhail to pull the trigger? If Mark DeRosa made another error, was that enough to get Jim Hendry to up his offer?

This year, with the payroll frozen at the current level, no trade rumors are possible. And the payroll will remain frozen until Tom Ricketts and his family close on the sale of the team. And even that is still a question mark (side note: TD Ameritrade stock has fallen by 35.8% from $17.97 per share a year ago to under $11.53 today putting a severe crimp on the Ricketts Family values).

Thank goodness we have the World Baseball Classic to "entertain" us until April. Good times!

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