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updated: 7/9/2014 5:42 AM

Is Cubs' plan really that hard to understand?

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  • Nobody probably even knew who former Cubs pitcher Jason Hammel was when he signed a deal with the team at the start of spring training. Yet it's tragic to some that Hammel is now with Oakland after being traded.

    Nobody probably even knew who former Cubs pitcher Jason Hammel was when he signed a deal with the team at the start of spring training. Yet it's tragic to some that Hammel is now with Oakland after being traded.
    Associated Press


Reasonable people can certainly disagree.

But when it comes to Chicago Cubs baseball, reason departed sometime between the rise of the Carolingian dynasty and the French Revolution.

On the other hand, it might simply have been the moment Larry Himes decided Jose Guzman could replace Greg Maddux.

Give or take a century.

Theo Epstein is getting a firsthand look at the folly that hundreds of Cubs players, managers and GMs have experienced, the distinct displeasure of fans and media experts, quick with a rebuke but silent when surveyed for an alternative plan.

It probably helps if one is young or astute enough to comprehend the overwhelming complexities of maddening concepts like on-base percentage, and the advantages of scoring more runs than an opponent.

Generally, the only offer involves the spending of more money -- which is the eternal answer to every Cubs question.

Just. Spend. Money.

It works every time, except not really.

Few among the self-proclaimed geniuses probably knew who Jason Hammel was when 29 teams passed and he took a pay cut to sign a flipping-friendly deal with the Cubs on the day pitchers and catchers reported to spring training.

Yet today, it is tragic that Hammel -- only months from free agency -- has been traded for the likes of Dan Straily, who is six years younger and has five more years of team control.

When the Cubs signed Scott Feldman -- he of the 6-11 record and 5.09 ERA -- in November 2012, there was laughter in the streets and in the papers. After his solid start to 2013, there was open weeping when Feldman was dealt for Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop.

When Epstein arrived and gave Jeff Samardzija the chance to start, the chuckles were citywide. Samardzija was a bust and this experiment would never work.

Once the Cubs created value in a starting pitcher and Samardzija declared that he would sell his wares in free agency, barely taking notice of an $85 million offer from the home team, Samardzija was suddenly the untouchable ace worthy of a better package than the Cubs got from Oakland, which included two huge prospects and a starting pitcher who finished fourth in AL Rookie of the Year voting in 2013.

The trade is an unmitigated disaster, according to some, but the alternative plan is as distant as a manned mission to Neptune.

Mostly, the Cubs simply need to pay for players immediately, even if these are just stopgap measures.

They need more of Edwin Jackson, Carlos Pena, Marlon Byrd, Milton Bradley and Kosuke Fukudome, to name just a few of the players money has bought in the last few years.

Money is always the answer to everything.

The truth is you can't begrudge anyone their anger over a sell-off when the team was playing its best baseball in a few years, and you can't blame anyone for refusing to watch or pay for such a product.

Similarly, those who don't like the rebuilding plan or think it will never work have every right to wonder, as there is no guarantee it will work in the long run.

But for the love of Cliff Johnson and all that's holy, at least there is a plan in place for the first time since Dallas Green put together two division winners in five years, the first titles of any kind in four decades.

What's staggering is the inability of many to understand something so simple, or the absolute refusal to even try to grasp the obvious, while conveniently forgetting the spending calamities of the past.

Eventually, the Cubs will shop and purchase and it will be a necessary part of consistently competing for a postseason spot, and rest assured that some of that will not go well.

When you buy players, especially the really expensive ones, the risk is often high and the reward too frequently negligible.

And you know when it happens that there will be screaming about the awful expenditure of money and the terrible planning behind it.

Therein, after all and in perpetuity, rest the wise observations of Chicago Cubs baseball.

• Listen to Barry Rozner from 9 a.m. to noon Sundays on the Score's "Hit and Run" show at WSCR 670-AM.

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