Cubs to Trade Sammy Sosa to Mets for Cliff Floyd?

Cubs intent on calling it quits with Sosa (Jay Mariotti, Chicago Sun-Times)

All you need to know is that Ryne Sandberg didn’t even pause. Asked if Sammy Sosa is the Greatest Cub Ever — remember, he has homered 574 times, helped maintain the franchise’s place as a cultural phenomenon and contributed to saving baseball from itself in the late ’90s — Sandberg was confident enough about his thoughts to respond instantly Monday. ”I think it’s Ernie Banks,” he said.

Well, yeah. Sosa was a home run machine for several seasons and was the sunny, funny half of a a fantastic chase to eclipse Roger Maris’ single season home run record, along with Mark McGwire. But Sosa was never the complete ballplayer than Banks was.

Such is the depth of the hole Sosa has dug himself with his latest blunder and lie. A Wrigleyville grave, you might call it. Everyone in Cubdom, including the rational and polite Sandberg, is disgusted by the way Sosa disgraced himself Sunday by walking out on his team during the final afternoon of a lost season. In fact, what we learned the day after is that the Cubs aren’t at all viewing his quit job as a momentary blip, an act of frustration soon to be forgiven with a shrug and exchange of heart taps. No, Tribune Co. is using Sosa’s petulant departure as a way of greasing the skids for an option thought impossible back in the days of mutual love and kisses. Taking in the near-consensus opinion among local fans and media that Sosa finally has worn out his welcome, the Tribsters appear eager to trade the future Hall of Famer and the $17 million owed him for 2005. It is eminently clear, despite Dusty Baker’s lack of control in the clubhouse all season, that the manager has the full backing of general manager Jim Hendry, the man who hired him. It’s also clear Sosa, whose health and production no longer are reliable elements as his body shrinks and breaks down, is having trouble getting along with Baker and won’t be able to co-exist with him.

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A parting of ways is best for Sosa and the club. He is obviously a bitter man, deeply hurt over what he considers disloyal fans and media. True, some of us who regularly saluted him in the past have found constant fault with him the last two seasons. But what are we supposed to do, blindly defend Sosa when cork is found in his bat and he hatches some b.s. story about a batting-practice mixup? What are we supposed to do, ignore the problems he has with his teammates? What are we supposed to do, sympathize with him when he abandons the ballclub and fans on the symbolic final day of an agonizing, abysmal season?

It’s hard to be sympathic to a guy who won’t even show up for work, especially when the job pays more for a single day than most Americans make in a year. Of course, it’s hard to trade a declining malcontent who makes $17 mil a season:

Assuming the New York Mets and general manager Omar Minaya, the man who discovered Sosa in the Dominican Republic, are interested in Sosa, they surely would want the Cubs to take on the salary of left fielder (and Chicago native) Cliff Floyd, who made $6.5 million last season. A more logical next stop is the American League, where he would be valuable as a designated hitter who could concentrate on hitting home runs and staying healthy. Whatever the case, the Cubs have to rid themselves of Sosa. If they must eat millions, then eat millions.

I suspect they’ll be eating millions.

Jeff Quinton

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.