Last week, the Chicago Cubs brought their managerial search to an end, appointing Brewers’ hitting coach Dale Sveum to the position. For the most part, the baseball world shrugged and moved on. Not that Sveum was a bad choice, simply that it was not an impactful choice that struck a lot of fear in anyone. One thing it did do was create a possible scenario in the mind of those focused on free agency.
The prize free agent on the market, of course, is St. Louis Cardinal first baseman Albert Pujols. As free agency began, many people speculated who would be interested in the powerhouse that has patrollEd Busch Stadium for the past decade plus some. Names of franchises like the Los Angeles Dodgers, Texas Rangers, and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim surfaced quickly. The Seattle Mariners and Florida Marlins have both been rumored to have an interest, though no one is sure if they have the funding. The one franchise that has struck fear in the hearts of every Cardinal fan is the rumored interest the Cubs would have in the man famous for being a Cardinal.
Plenty of good reason were given for the interest of the Chicago-land Northsiders. With a new, high profile, man in charge of the front office and a new general manager and field manager in town, the Cubs may look to make a splash quickly. A player the caliber of Pujols can change the direction of an entire franchise almost immediately. The Cubs will need a first baseman and would like to put into place a player that they can build the franchise around.
The appointment of the manager leads to a new thought process, however. The other big prize on the market also plays first base, comes from a franchise that has developed quite the rivalry with Chicago, and now has an established relationship with the man in charge. Many would say that Prince Fielder does, in fact, make more sense for the Cubs at this point.
Fielder and Sveum had a solid working relationship and both men respect each other immensely. The Cubs do have the ability under newer ownership to make a big play on a payday for the free agent first baseman and Fielder fits the prototype of a game changing player worth building around. Sveum recently was reported as saying (via MLB Trade Rumors):
“I think me being here can only help the process.” – Sveum in regards to Fielder possibly coming to Chicago
In the long run, the Cubs managerial move may have had a positive impact on the Cardinals hopes to retain Albert. It may have limited the number of teams competing for him. It may have been just what the Cardinals needed.
Time will tell.
Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball as well as the Assignment Editor for BaseballDigest.com.
He is the host of I-70 Radio, hosted every week on BlogTalkRadio.com.
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