The dawn of another new year is upon us. The start of the new year is traditionally viewed as a new beginning of sorts, and many people like to look at New Year’s Day as a time to wipe the slate clean. Everything that has happened in the past is forgotten, and everyone looks towards a new and brighter future.
It is also the time of year when it’s the hardest to find an available treadmill at the local gym, as just about everyone has a resolution to finally get in shape on their list.
For baseball teams, the new year also represents a clean slate. 2012 is officially in the record books now, and teams will start kicking preparations for the 2013 season into high gear. The free agents that are still available will be quickly gobbled up as teams make that final push before the 2013 season gets under way.
Everyone is in first place on January 1st. Remaining in first place once the actual season starts is another story.
Teams will reflect on 2012 and vow not to make the same mistakes in 2013 as they did last year. They, in a way, also make New Year’s resolutions.
The Chicago Cubs are coming off of one of their worst seasons in recent memory. Following a 101-loss season, one would imagine there are tons of resolutions written on a white board somewhere in Theo Epstein’s office. Here are just a few that might be written on that list.
Trade Carlos Marmol, Alfonso Soriano and Matt Garza
This is a resolution that is most definitely on the Cubs’ list for 2013. The team has made no secrets about having these three guys on the trading block since about the middle of 2012.
Had it not been for an elbow injury, Garza may have already been gone. Had it not been for a bad medical report on Dan Haren’s back, Marmol might have been gone. Had it not been for Soriano’s contract, he probably would be gone.
In 2013, Epstein surely has moving these guys high on his priority list. Trading one, two or all of the three is priority No. 1 for Epstein in 2013.
Avoid signing pitchers coming off of Tommy John Surgery and players coming off injuries
While signing free agent pitchers coming off Tommy John Surgery may be good for the bottom line, it may not translate to success for the baseball team.
It’s true that there have been major advances made in sports medicine through the years, but there is still a ton of risk involved for the team that signs on the dotted line when it comes to these players.
It’s also true that hearing a pitcher is coming off Tommy John Surgery doesn’t send teams running for the hills anymore–at least not the Chicago Cubs.
Epstein has created a market niche for signing players fresh off of injuries. It could be genius if the players pan out, but could also be detrimental if it doesn’t.
Epstein recently stated in the Chicago Sun Times:
“If you have to sign a pitcher who is coming off surgery, Tommy John is the one you want him to come off, because it’s a very predictable rehab with a very strong success rate — upwards of 95 percent.’’
After reading that last quote, it’s safe to say this resolution is one that isn’t on Epstein’s list. But it should be.
Don’t Lose 101 Games Again…Ever
This resolution is simple enough. The Cubs are starting with a clean slate in 2013 and the last thing the fans and organization want to see is another 100-plus loss season.
The Cubs have made moves to bolster the starting rotation, bullpen and outfield. Are the moves they made going to lead to a playoff spot? Probably not. But weirder things have happened.
The Cubs probably won’t lose over 100 games again in 2013, but it’s safe to say they probably won’t win 100 games either. And that’s OK.
The Cubs could catch lightning in a bottle in 2013, but it’s not likely. The good news is they are positioning themselves to be competitive again starting as early as 2014.
The moves the Cubs made this offseason were about making progress. Nothing more. They are taking steps in the right direction. That’s exactly what New Year’s represents—making progress.