Creeping Inexorably Toward A Worthwhile Sub-Heading.
Wednesday, November 26, 2003
Well, at least I didn’t call this thing “Waiting for Hee Seop.”
I would have posted something sooner, but I was trying to get a little perspective and look at this deal rationally.
That's not happening.
Fact is, I’ve been watching Choi’s career for several years now, and I’ve grown rather attached. I was really looking forward to seeing him grow and develop into very valuable player, maybe even a great player. This is something we, as Cub fans, have had little opportunity to see from position players for a long time. The last position player I can think of who was drafted by the Cubs and even became sort of interesting with the team was Shawon Dunston. Other players, who actually became good, came up through other team’s systems (Sandberg, Sosa, etc.).
There’s something to be said for following a kid’s career from the minors on up to your team and then to stardom. There’s a feeling of ownership involved, of extra investment. It’s as if they’re a part of your family, and you feel special for having “known them when.” It’s the sort of feeling that many fans, myself included, have about Kerry Wood. It’s the feeling I was starting to have about Hee Seop Choi.
The good news is, the Cubs didn’t trade Choi for a box of balls and a suitcase of Old Style. They got a real, live, All-Star quality first baseman who is likely to help them win for the next 3-5 years, if they can get him signed to an extension. That’s a big “if,” but I’m going to give it a pass for now. Derrick Lee can hit for average, he draws walks, hits for power, has surprising speed, and a Gold Glove™ at first. The only thing not to like about Lee is his age relative to Choi (his “baseball age” for next season is 28, vs. Choi’s 25), and his right-handedness, and I wouldn’t have a problem with the latter if the rest of the lineup weren’t extremely right-handed as well.
As it stands, this is a good short-term deal for both teams. The Cubs get a first baseman who is excellent right now, and the Marlins get a younger first baseman who will be productive now, and excellent into the future. In the long term, I’m afraid this deal could swing in the Marlin’s favor, and very heavily so, depending on who the player to be named winds up being. I doubt you’ll see one of the Cub’s “name” prospects, as Hendry seems very protective of the young pitchers he feels will make significant noise (Sisco, Guzman, even Cruz), but the Cubs have enough live arms that the Marlins could easily wind up with one of those guys, like Dontrelle Willis, who end up surprising you.
We’ll have to wait to see what the full impact of this trade is down the line. I’m disappointed because I would have loved to see Choi’s growth process, and I think he’ll be a hugely valuable player. However, despite my disappointment and trepidation, I do take comfort in one thing, and the rest of you should as well. In making this deal, whether you agree with the reasoning or not, for the first time that I can remember, the Cubs are trying to win right now. David Geiser wrote over at The Cub Reporter about Building an Ass-kicking Cubs team, and while this may not be what he or I had in mind, the sentiment sure feels right.