A big-time trade should hurt.
To get Cole Hamels, it should Addison Russell hurt. Or Kyle Schwarber hurt.
You say you can’t bear the pain of losing such promising young players? Then don’t go big-game hunting.
Those of you who want the Cubs to give up Starlin Castro or Javy Baez or both to get Hamels want it both ways. You want to add a great pitcher to help in the playoff push, but you don’t want to feel too much pain. Basically, you’d like to fool Philadelphia into taking Castro in exchange for Hamels, who is under contract through 2018. Unless the Phillies don’t have a scouting department or cable TV, that’s unlikely to happen.
Cubs fans might feel wistful if they lost Castro and Baez – we do remember your All-Star seasons, Starlin, and we once did have high hopes for you, Javy – but the truth is that many of them have moved on emotionally from these two infielders.
Theo Epstein’s much-admired master plan has room for trading big-time prospects. It’s what The Plan (that’s trademarked, right?) was built for. Play poorly for several seasons, stockpile high draft picks and build up “assets’’ you can use to acquire other players. The question, of course, is when to activate that part of strategy.
Let me play devil’s advocate for a second. What have you seen from Russell this season that makes you believe he’ll be a star? Don’t tell me how high he was drafted or where Baseball America ranks him or what his minor-league stats were. Don’t bow down at the altars of Theo and Oakland general manager Billy Beane, who drafted Russell. What stands out about the kid?
He’s a good fielder, certainly much more reliable than Castro is. But the hitting? We can’t know. His .232 average doesn’t tell us a whole lot, other than he’s a rookie and baseball is hard.
Trade for Hamels and go for it now? Or wait until next year, the Cubs’ eternal rallying cry?
Whatever your answer, be prepared to sacrifice.