For the seven of you who read my column (HI MOM!), I’m sorry I missed writing something last week. Sometimes, stupid real-life gets in the way. Let’s open the insightful sarcasm door and see what’s on the other side…..
Jorge Soler & the Cubs Draft
When Theo Epstein was hired as the Cubs’s President of Baseball Operations, his plan was to build from the ground up, talent-wise. Unfortunately, the new draft rules dictate a spending limit for both the First Year Player draft starting this season and for international signings, which kicks in next year. One of Theo’s strengths with the Red Sox was building through the draft by overdrafting players and then paying them more money than their slot dictated. Basically, he could draft a player who had big upside that wasn’t planning on signing a contract and offering big bucks as incentive. That is no longer possible. Nor is overpaying international players. This season was the last time a big money deal could be offered to those players, of which two were considered prizes, both of whom are Cuban….26 year old Yoenis Cespedes and 20-year-old Jorge Soler. Cespedes signed with the A’s before spring training, but Soler needed to establish residency outside of Cuba before signing a deal. It became quite the story.
Jorge and the Seven Dwarfs doesn’t sound like a typical story, does it?
Why the big deal about Soler? Scouts have been raving about him for a few years now. He projects as a 5 tool guy…he can hit for both power(1) and average(2), run(3), throw(4) and field(5). While he may not develop all those tools, the consensus is that he’ll be a plus outfielder defensively and will hit for legit power on the major league level. He has a great work ethic and loves the game. Add in the fact he’s already 6’3″ and 225 lbs at 20 years old and you have a guy who most scouts projected as a top 10 draftee if he were eligible for the draft this season. It’s obvious why he was a much sought-after commodity that inspired a bidding war. The Cubs, Yankees, Red Sox, Blue Jays and Dodgers all were in the mix to land him. But the new-look Cubs front office went the extra mile…something winners do….and signed him to a 9 year deal worth $30 million. Basically, they signed the last, best guy that could be signed under the old rules. This is huge and a big indicator of the new direction and attitude the team has taken. The Tribune never would have even considered a move like this, let alone gone that extra mile and got it done. Well done, TheoCo.
Before the Soler signing, the draft took place. Going into the draft, TheoCo said their priority was to draft “impact”. With the #6 pick, they drafted 18-year-old Albert Almora, an outfielder with a big skill set that is exceeded by his makeup….a measure of a player’s attitude and work ethic, not this….
Almora is already a major league-caliber defensive outfielder, but is still 3 or 4 years away from Wrigley. Then, the team picked 7 straight pitchers, filling the system with what it was lacking….pitching prospects. This was a solid approach and shows the team’s commitment to building for the future. An actual plan for the future….I may wet myself with pleasure!!
Lance Armstrong, Cheating Douche
This week, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency filed formal charges against seven time Tour de France champ Lance Armstrong. Since anyone can remember, Armstrong has been suspected of cheating, whether it be blood doping, PEDs, Erythropoietin, also known as EPO, blood manipulation and everything under the sun. According to USADA, more than 10 cyclists as well as team employees will testify they either saw Armstrong dope or heard him tell them he used EPO, blood transfusions, testosterone and cortisone from 1996 to 2005. I don’t know about anyone else, but if there are ten people willing to testify, that’s a REALLY bad indicator. It’s tough enough to get ten people to decide on what kind of pizza toppings to get, let alone decide to perjure themselves.
What bugs me about this whole thing is that Armstrong, a cancer survivor, did so much good to raise money for cancer research and the like, but did it while likely being a complete phony and a hypocrite. He preached hard work and dedication, all the while cheating his ass off. So many sick and dying people looked to a complete fraud for inspiration. Think about all those people who bought those LIVESTRONG bracelets, donating money to the cause, believing in a guy who was constantly breaking the rules and figuring out how to beat drug tests. Think about the people who breathed their last breaths thinking about what Armstrong had meant to them during their struggle that they knew they were about to lose. It makes me sad to think so many invested themselves emotionally in this guy. People who were dying, people who were sick and the families of those who were sick were defrauded by a guy who called himself “Champion”.
I only hope that this guy will own up to what he did and be man enough to live with the consequences.