Jeff Samardzija clearly is too good to pitch for the Cubs much longer.
Why else would it seem inevitable that Samardzija will be playing somewhere else after the July 31 trade deadline?
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The debate for a long time has been whether to re-sign Samardzija for a lot of money or deal him for a lot of prospects.
How about neither?
Seriously, the Cubs could choose Door No. 3: Hold on to Samardzija for the rest of this season and all of next season.
If he becomes a free agent after that, so be it.
This is heresy, of course. The prevailing theory is that a team can't let a valuable commodity escape without receiving compensation for him.
Assuming Samardzija pitches the way he has so far this season, he can help make the Cubs at least resemble a major-league team on the days he's on the mound through 2015.
Isn't there some value in that? Or does Cubs management dismiss any notion of being respectable for a couple of, for a few or even for several more years?
Maybe I'm crazy, but the Cubs appear closer to being watch-worthy than most imagined entering this season.
Not good, mind you, but bearable.
Yeah, sure, the Cubs are aiming higher than that. The goal is sustained success.
Isn't it impossible to do both: Be respectable on the major-league level while stockpiling prospects on the minor-league level?
The Cubs have been trading older players for younger players for nearly three seasons now.
We've been told over that period of time how good the youngsters are and how bright the future is.
Kris Bryant is a monster. Javier Baez has remarkable bat speed. Albert Almora is a leader. Jorge Soler just has to grow up a little.
Enough is enough.
It's time to stay the course for tomorrow but finally start providing for today.
When Dallas Green was Cubs general manager in the 1980s he projected urgency because of what he perceived as Cubs fans' impatience. He was wrong because back then Cubs fans were the most patient in all of sports.
Three decades later these same fans -- minus the ones who died off and plus the new ones who replaced them -- truly are impatient.
When Cubs baseball president Theo Epstein was hired and talked of rebuilding, the impression was that he meant trading veterans for major-league-ready prospects.
That way the Wrigley Field faithful wouldn't have to wait an eternity to witness the future.
OK, so Epstein is going to do it his way on his clock. Still, the foundation should be pretty much in place by now.
Another layer of buffer shouldn't be necessary anymore if the Cubs really have made astute draft choices and international signings.
While waiting for the future to arrive, the Cubs can start being less embarrassing in the present.
The Cubs could have the makings of a pretty good starting rotation next season if they hold on to Samardzija, re-sign Jason Hammel, continue to help Travis Wood mature, and Jake Arrieta develops.
The bullpen is stocked with promising young power arms the Cubs acquired in trade for veterans.
The offense is deplorable, but if Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo keep improving, only a few savvy moves are necessary.
Yes, this is an optimistic viewpoint, but if Epstein really is the smartest guy in the room, he should be able to accomplish all this now without compromising the future.
It starts by keeping Jeff Samardzija for a while (through 2015) or forever (on a long-term contract).
Cubs fans who stayed could begin feeling good about paying big bucks for tickets and those who fled could feel good about returning.
Door No. 3 is a lot better than Cubs players continuing to be too good to keep playing for them.