When Pinella stated Jason Schmidt was really never being that hotly pursued by the Cubs, most of us just couldn't understand why?
I think all of us would agree that finally the Cubs were no longer holding on to nickels like manhole covers, so what was it?
Did we really think the Cubs were going to become the NL version of the Yankees?
While we applaud the Trib. opening the vault, they must certainly have a budget in mind and with the number of holes they had to fill, must have believed that the financial commitment to get Schmidt to leave the west coast, would cripple any further acquisitions.
If the Cubs truly had the green light to spend money without any budget restrictions, not signing Schmidt was a major mistake. If however the Cubs do have a budget ceiling, this didn't preclude signing Schmidt, but the Cubs lineup is still far from being considered set, and still in need of at least one more starter.
The herculean task of rebuilding a last place team with little minor league talent, into a world series winner in 2007, was just highly unlikely if the Trib. was only going to spend X amount of dollars.
Schmidt went for around $16 million per and we can only assume since Schmidt had already turned down the Yankees, that money wasn't the only issue. In any event, if the Cubs would've been able to sign Schmidt, it would've been for a bigger number than what the Dodgers paid him. Add a Lilly at $10 million per and you're financial commitment is $27+ million.
Therefore we must assume Plan B, was to sign Lilly and Meche for $20 million, leaving some $7+ million on the table to address the other holes in the lineup, even if the Miller/Prior/Marshall plan provide you the fifth starter.
Lofton's name has been bandied about and would help the outfield defense and allow Soriano to assume an RBI role in the lineup. Even though he could be had for a one year contract, I've heard he's looking for around $6 million per and the way the market is, I wouldn't doubt someone pays at least that.
You could go cheaper with a S. Finley and still not go more than a year out, however his numbers have fallen significantly more than Lofton and would only seem acceptable in purely a late inning reserve role.
It seems the Cubs are close to a $1 million, 1 year deal for Daryl Ward. He's a masher from the left side against RHP but struggles against LHP, has good hands but is slow afoot and seems to be little more than a LH power bat off then bench.
If Lofton, Finley and Ward are all signed, you're probably somewhere just shy of $10 million. That could have been the Cubs strategy all along going into the winter meetings. Sign two starters for $20 million and improve the bench by spending another $10 million.
Those of you that read here often know, I was strongly in favor of signing Schmidt. Unfortunately for us, I'm not the one setting the budget, and consequently this seems to be the most likely reason Schmidt was never seriously being considered.
The Cubs have seemed to have turned the corner and still have some trading scenarios that might help considerably. They're spending money like never before and hopefully a seed change has taken place. You can't tell me, if it took two years instead of one to win a world series you'd complain.