The Chicago Cubs have a singular problem that they need to fix. They need people to hit in the postseason. Above all, this is what manager Lou Piniella and GM Jim Hendry and the whole fan base want. They don't want to just go to the playoffs every year. Every year is Next Year is This Year, or something like that. Put more simply: They want to win now.
So Hendry and company have a process ahead of them. What will become of Kosuke Fukudome? How best to shore up the pitching? Where to find that elusive left-handed reliever? Will Alfonso Soriano ever produce in the playoffs? If not, what then?
The answer may be the goofy, dreadlocked personage of one Manny Ramirez, esq. If the Tribune's Phil Rogers is right, the Cubs are at least giving some thought to signing the 36-year-old slugger. Hey, sounds great! More hitting the better! Throw the money around, Jimmy!
Not so fast. A few issues here:
1. Manny Ramirez is looking for exorbitant, Alex Rodriguez-style sum. He wants $25 million a year for the next six years, a contract that would take him up to age 42. His agent, Scott Boras, is justifying this as equivalent to A-Rod's and Barry Bonds's deals, which is probably a fair argument, given how good Manny really is. But still, that's some heavy coin, especially when ...
2. ... Alfonso Soriano plays Manny's position. Signing Manny without dumping Soriano would result in -- and this is just a rough estimate here -- approximately 800 percent of the Cubs' revenues going to pay for two players who are not particularly great left-fielders. Clearly, Soriano's contract would have to be dumped, but after yet another paltry playoffs, that looks more difficult than ever.
3. The Cubs have bigger issues. The idea that Manny hits in the playoffs is true -- he leads, all-time, in postseason home runs -- but from a purely logistical standpoint, he's redundant to the Cubs. Another power-hitting right-hander is not what they need. (They have Soriano, Geovany Soto, and Aramis Ramirez, and even Derrek Lee still qualifies.) Adding Manny doesn't really solve the Cubs' left-handed lineup problems. It's not a huge deal, because Manny hits everyone, but for $150 million Manny addresses no perceptible need besides "clutchness," the sort of thing that remains nebulous and fuzzy anyway.
In all, it sounds great: Manny plus Cubs equals World Series! But to get Manny, the Cubs would require a serious shake-up. Since when do we do that to 97-win teams?