The deal was Hee Seop Choi and a PTBNL to the Marlins for Derrek Lee. I can't decide if I think this is the sort of move the Cubs should be making or not. On one hand, it's painfully obvious at this point that Dusty Baker is simply never going to be comfortable relying on young position players unless he's given absolutely no other options. He can protest all he wants that it's not the case, but everything we've seen from him as a manager says otherwise.

Lee is arbitration eligible this year, and could be looking at a contract in the $7 million range, which seems about right for a Gold Glove first baseman who hits 30 homers and drives in 100. He's a good hitter, and doesn't need a platoon, which means that we've probably seen the last of Randall Simon. There's a lot of like about Lee as a player, especially as he's coming into what should be his peak. A strong glove over there could be a big help for Ramirez at third, and another run producer is crucial for this offense.

Will Choi ever be a star? That's the real question here. If you think he will be, then this is probably a bad deal, as the Cubs have only guaranteed themselves one year of Lee, before he hits free agency after 2004 (although Chicago will likely try to sign him for a longer term before next season). If Choi breaks out in Florida, which he very well might, then the Cubs might have cost themselves millions of dollars over the next five years.

But there's another way to look at the situation. The Cubs have pretended to be a medium-market team for years, which is a load of crap. There aren't five teams in baseball with a better financial situation than the Cubs.

Maybe they finally have the go-ahead to spend some of that money. This is a deal that should be made by a team with money. Teams with money don't have to hope that their prospects pan out, even prospects as good as Choi. Teams with money can let other teams take that risk, which is exactly what Hendry is letting Florida do. If this trade means that the checkbook is open on the North Side, then I say bring it on.

AuthorMark McClusky