Choi is not a toy

Another entry into the idiot columnist sweepstakes is Jay Mariotti’s facile piece on how the Cubs’ not blowing wads of money on a slugger on the down side of his career when they’ve got a great young slugger at that same position and plenty of other holes to fill indicates their supposed unwillingness to win.

Yes, Jim Thome would be a great addition to the Cubs. It would be wonderful to have him back up Sammy in the clean-up spot. But even at the discounted rate he supposedly offered the Cubs (somewhere between $11 and $15 million annually for four years), the Cubs could get a good third baseman and two solid relievers. People seem to forget that the name of the game in baseball is the best team.

For all the money, Thome would still only bat four times a game. And he’s already 32. Certainly, such a deal would make a lot more sense if the jewel of the organization, Hee Sop Choi, didn’t already play that position. It is not a cheap-out to stick with the talent your organization has scouted and developed over an extremely costly free agent.

Phil Rogers offers up a bevy of options for signing Thome and trading Choi. At least he’s thinking, something Mariotti seems allergic to. And if the Cubs could pull off one of these deals, it might be worth it.

But I don’t blame the Cubs or general manager Jim Hendry for not rushing out there to take a chance on another organization’s hot prospect. It doesn’t matter how many home runs your first baseman hits if your bullpen blows the game in relief anyway. And good relievers come at a premium these days. Period.

Think Troy Percival. Think Robb Nen. Think Mariano Rivera. And, finally, think Byung-Hyun Kim, the only reason the D-Backs had to go seven games in 2001.