clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

At Last

The distractions, controversy, bad vibes, everything that's haunted the Cubs since the end of the 2004 season, are apparently over.

Sammy Sosa has apparently been traded to the Orioles, pending the approval of the commissioner's office and passing a physical, for ... well, that's not completely clear. Jerry Hairston Jr. is one of the players mentioned, as are two Orioles minor leaguers,pitcher David Crouthers and second baseman Mike Fontenot. Orioles closer Jorge Julio may also be part of this deal... but...

Rumors are also flying on a Tampa Bay Devil Rays message board that the two prospects, plus an unnamed "top Cubs pitching prospect" would be sent to Tampa Bay for outfielder Aubrey Huff, and possibly relief pitcher Danys Baez, which is Spanish for "Kyle Farnsworth".

This would be a terrific deal -- the 2006 option year on Sosa's deal would apparently be voided, the Cubs would owe approximately $10 million to Baltimore, and would acquire a terrific young (28 years old) player in Huff, who would take over in right field. Huff hits lefthanded, hits for power and average and draws walks.

So how do I feel?

Well, it's a shame, really. Sammy Sosa has played thirteen years with the Cubs, and the only players who have been with the club longer in my lifetime are Hall of Famers Billy Williams, Ryne Sandberg, Ernie Banks, should-be HoFer Ron Santo, and Mark Grace, all of whom are so identified and identifiable as Cubs.

Sosa should have been the same way. He's been so much loved over the last six or so seasons, because of the sunny personality he once projected, and because of all the home runs he hit -- steroids or no, and I suppose now we'll never know.

All the goodwill Sammy had built up after the 1998 season, and with his spectacular 2001 season, almost certainly the greatest offensive season in Cub history, started to fade away, first with his ridiculous "Sammy's in the house" proclamations when he arrived at spring training, to playing his boom box loudly in the clubhouse despite the fact that it grated on everyone else there, to the corked-bat incident in 2003, to injuries that seemed suspicious, and finally, with the well-documented walkout on his teammates, manager and we the fans on the final day of the 2004 season.

It is indeed truly a shame that Sammy could not finish what is certainly going to be a Hall of Fame career with the Cubs. Even with his clearly reduced abilities, he's going to hit his 600th home run this year, and possibly go on to 700 -- and that's part of the problem, as Sosa was quoted earlier this offseason as saying he wanted to play five more years so he could hit that many. No mention was made by Sosa about winning, which, after all, is what this game should be all about.

As was said on ESPNews last night (where I first found out about this deal), the Orioles have no pitching and aren't going to win the AL East or the wild card, not with the Yankees and Red Sox there, but Sosa will sell some tickets, and that's why Peter Angelos wants him, with Angelos' perception (rightly or wrongly) that the Washington Nationals will cut into his fan base.

It had been pretty much assumed all winter that the Cubs were going to deal Sammy no matter what, and now it appears that it was indeed a matter of waiting for the right deal to materialize. Yesterday, a "mystery team" got involved and it seems clear now that it's Tampa Bay -- this essentially becomes a three-team deal, presuming it comes down the way the rumors have it.

For the Cubs, as I've said -- it removes the controversy and distractions, it provides (with Huff) a suitable, if not better, player than Sammy Sosa, and ought to silence the critics out there who said that the Cubs didn't do anything this offseason. I do cringe a little bit when people say that Hairston could "solve" the Cubs' leadoff problem, and I can't imagine Todd Walker will be too happy to see Hairston in spring camp.

But for me, I'm happy. Now the Cubs can become a team -- and as I've pointed out, it was made perfectly clear at last weekend's convention who the bulk of Cub fans want to be the leader of this club -- Nomar Garciaparra.

Goodbye, Sammy. You did give us some memories. But it was time for you to go.