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Nomar Analysis

Saturday, July 31, 2004


From time to time I have a little difficulty figuring out how to express myself eloquently, but today is one of those times when eloquence is not needed... its just too good to be true.

I have 37 million thoughts running through my head on this trade, but I am going to try and slow down long enough to make them coherent. Its been 4:44 minutes or so since I woke up, and checked ESPN.com to find that the Cubs had not done anything at the trade deadline... or so I thought.

My roommate was in town, helping to clean the carpet in our apartment, which we are moving out of in a 11 days, and he is only a half Cubs (casually interested, but also roots for the White Sox, not a huge baseball fan) fan. He was asking me what I thought about the Cubs lack of a trade, and I said dejectedly... "I was hoping they would do something, but unless they were going to trade for Nomar or Cabrera, any other trade they are gonna do can happen as a waiver deal. I don't really want Cabrera, because to get him the Cubs would have to overpay... and to get Nomar, I don't want to give up Clement, plus... its Nomar, he's not actually going anywhere."

Ten minutes later, my phone rings, and my best friend Chris yells something that sounded a little like

"Noooomaaaaaaaaahhhhh!!!!" a pause, "Nomar, Nomar, Nomar, the Cubs got Nomar!"

To which I reply, "Holy (Byron has developed a potty-mouth at college)! Are you kidding me? You're kidding me!"

"No, the Cubs got Nomar!"

"Did they give up Clement? They didn't give up Clement did they?" (pleading) "You're kidding me right?"

"No, I am not joking, they didn't have to give up Clement either!"

--- "Holy (Byron has really developed a potty-mouth at college)!"

"They sent Alex Gonzalez and some minor leaguers to Boston for Nomar! It was a four team deal!"

"!!!Uh-Oh, which minor leaguers... they're not all the same, was it Guzman, Brownlie, Pie? Not Sisco?" I worried.

"Uh, I think Brownlie was involved..."

Anyhow, the conversation went on like that for about 5 minutes before we started looking for the actual facts. When we did find out what happened, I was even happier. Bobby Brownlie remained a Cub, so did my other prized prospects, and Matt Clement was stickin around Chi-Town for a crack at the World Series.

My post below this discusses the actual trade details, so I am not going to repeat the trade specifics again, but analysis follows.

  • Jim Hendry - Full Fledged Deity: Up until now, all Cubdom has really loved Jim Hendry, and even referred to his deity status (none of this minor deity stuff anymore, we're talking full-fledged deity status now!) However, before today's deadline, Hendry's successes have been mainly anecdotal, or easily countered by a skeptic.

    For instance, signing Dusty... brilliant play? or the only team still hiring when Dusty becomes available? Trading for Aramis Ramirez and Kenny Lofton, could have just been lucky that the Pirates were dumping salary. Signing Greg Maddux... the only team with the money... should have signed Pudge... etc. However, today's trade illustrates clearly, and unreproachably that Jim Hendry is the second best GM in baseball (you can't argue with John Schuerholz 12 consecutive division titles and in the running for another one...).

    Ever since Hendry inked Dusty Baker, I have always talked about how his greatest asset was his willingness to be patient. There is so much pressure in baseball to do things right now, that the impatient GM always pay too much. However, like the Baker signing, Ramirez trade, and Maddux signing, Hendry's patience worked again. Hendry realized that the Expos and Red Sox absolutely wanted to move their shortstops, and that if he simply waited until they paniced, he could have either for a rock-bottom price. As it turns out, Hendry kept the best one.
  • The Same Uniforms... but: Is this really the Chicago Cubs? In view of the Maddux signing, the Ramirez trade, the Nomar trade, and the competitive teams two years running... the post 2002 Cubs are acting like contenders. Like a big market team, like the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, and Giants have, like... well, not like the Chicago Cubs.

    In fact, I think you can date this change of attitude back to 2001 when the Cubs let Mark Grace go. The move (which was performed unprofessionally) was the first serious un-Cub like move(aside from the generally incompetent, arch-villain Larry Himes and the massacre of 1992.)
  • The Nomar trade is such an excellent trade because it meets the two imperative criteria for a team trying to build a dynasty:

    1. Never make a move that will hurt your ability to compete/win THIS YEAR (a.k.a. sending Clement to Boston).

    or 2. Avoid at all costs making a move which will impair your ability to win in the next two years (like trading Guzman or Brownlie). Any time horizon beyond two years is pure speculation (like trading Jones).
  • GM Evaluations: I have told a few folks over the last couple of weeks that I felt that Theo Epstein was a bit overrated, and had made some serious errors in ostracizing his stars (Manny, Nomar, and Pedro) by doing things like attempting to trade them, or waiving them. Anyhow, the rumor is that Theo was forced by ownership to trade Nomar because Nomar was unhappy in Boston and wouldn't be coming back. That unhappiness must be pegged on Theo. Anyhow, I also feel that Theo's star has faded a bit after this trade, he didn't get a lot, but he sure gave up a bunch (he got a subpar shortstop and a defensive first baseman, giving up an all-world shortstop and a very good prospect.

    I feel Omar Minaya's evaluation must receive a great boost for this trade. The Expos made out like bandits in this trade, and here is why: they gave up nothing to get 2 prospects. Career numbers indicate that A-Gone! is the same player as Cabrera (the main reason I was against a trade with the Expos) but they got two prospects and the same player back.

    Since A-Gone=Cabrera

    Expos - Cabrera + A-Gone! + Beltran + Harris = Expos + Beltran + Harris.

    Hence, Minaya essentially got two prospects for nothing. Cabrera was leaving anyway after the season ends, his team is horrible, and it is moving after the season... so winning now is not crucial, but having a better stocked minor league system is important. Additionally, the prospects Minaya got from the Cubs are ready for AAAA (4 A) ball in Montreal.

    Terry Ryan's stock might go down a bit as a result of this trade. The Twins are in contention, and they didn't improve their club with this trade. I can't understand moving a component of your roster for a prospect when you are trying to win a division. However, since Mientkiewicz was a back-up and Jones is supposedly an A+ prospect, you can't really evaluate Minnesota's trade yet.

    Jim Hendry's stock should be going through the roof... as explained above.

Posted by Byron at July 31, 2004 7:44 PM | Bookmark and Share | BallHype: hype it up!
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