I remember the 2004 trade involving Nomar Garciaparra very well. “No-mah” was revered in Boston, and I was stunned that the Red Sox gave him up. And yet, just a couple months after trading him away, the Red Sox finally broke through and won the World Series. And there’s not a Red Sox fan alive who would choose having Nomar over winning the World Series.
Did the Red Sox win because they traded away Garciaparra? Of course not. But Theo Epstein knew the risk involved with trading such a popular player, and he pulled the trigger anyway. That’s the kind of moves I want to see him make when he comes in to take over the Cubs’ operations.
The difference in Chicago is that none of the veteran players here are especially popular with the fans. Soriano’s reviled because of all the money he’s due and not earning, the Carlos Zambrano show seems to have run its course already, and Aramis Ramirez clearly wants out and I, for one, will be glad to see him go.
I expect there will be a short learning curve for the National League style of play, and perhaps a playoff berth in 2012 is too much to ask. But win and win now seem to be what he would be brought to Chicago to do. He’s done it in Boston, and there’s no reason to believe that it can’t also be done here in Chicago.
The important caveat to this is that “winning” does not stop at division titles or even wins in the playoffs. No, anything short of winning the World Series will not count as winning for Theo Epstein and Terry Francona. The Cubs have won division titles, and even a wild card berth many years ago, but then were swept out of the playoffs. And every other franchise has won a World Series by now, except for Texas (that may happen this year), Seattle, and Montreal/Washington (but I don’t really count them, for some reason). The clock ticks louder with each passing year, and I hope everyone understands this before they come to Chicago.