Before the Chicago Cubs broadcast this evening, I put WGN radio on, and a couple of their Sports Central hosts, Glen Kozlowski and Jim Memolo, were chatting away. One of them brought up the reliever James Russell and said that he'd heard there was interest in him from others teams, but he'd also heard that the Cubs wouldn't be interested in trading him.
The other guy was incredulous. Why wouldn't the Cubs be interested in trading James Russell? If they traded Sean Marshall, a better and more experienced pitcher, surely they'd trade Russell. Neither announcer could figure out why not. Maybe it's because the Cubs needed at least a few good pitchers on the team, that was the best they could come up with.
There are actually two answers. One is that maybe the Cubs would trade him, and what the guy "heard" wasn't accurate. (They did at least mention that possibility.)
The other reason is...well, the real reason.
Two years ago, the Cubs got a new team president, Theo Epstein. At the time, he made very clear -- and it's been made clear since -- that the ballclub has a plan which is building for the future. Three to five years. They traded Sean Marshall two years ago because, good as he was -- the team didn't need him. As a relief pitcher, it didn't matter how many games he saved for the team. The Cubs were bad, and they weren't going to get into the playoffs, let alone compete for the World Series. So, you trade Sean Marshall, who does you no good, and get a young prospect or a player who can fill a greater need. Then, if four years, maybe you can get Marshall back, if he's a free agent.
But two years later -- today -- you're now just a year or two from your "three to five year" plan. So, if you now have a good, young reliever...you keep him, because you may need him next year, or in two years.
That's why. And it wasn't rocket science to know that.
I'm not suggesting that everyone would think that through, although it's not hard to, if you follow the Cubs, or baseball in general. But when it's your job, when you're The Sports Guys Who Have a Sports Talk Show on the radio station...yes, you should be able to grasp that easily.
That's not just true for sports analysts, but any analyst or commentator. If it's your job to think...then, do so. It's amazing what you can accomplish.