At last week's general managers' meeting in Orlando, the Cubs and White Sox were in such sorry states of repair that they almost mirrored the Indians in terms of headline appeal. This is said knowing the sexiest Indians rumor of the week was they were not interested in Eric Chavez.
Laugh if you want, but the White Sox and Cubs talk wasn't much better.
So here's what would make it livelier — one initial move, then a series of secondary deals:
•For starters, White Sox Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf (the man who was willing to allow the Marlins to talk to Guillen if they would give up the aforementioned outfielder-first baseman Morrison) should swap general manager Ken Williams to the Cubs for Jim Hendry.
This GM-for-GM switch would position both men in positions where they could have the most positive impact.
Consider that, as the White Sox's GM the steady Hendry immediately would end the organizational dysfunction that has arisen from the Williams-Guillen feud, which has arisen out of the unusual level of nepotism allowed under Reinsdorf.
Among Chicago's managers and GMs, no one is more respected than Guillen, who could become this generation's Sparky Anderson if only he would stop talking about himself and focus on the game as well as the traits and potential of his players.
Williams would do what Cubs fans criticize owner Tom Ricketts and Hendry for not doing — shaking things up. Plus, he could be the buffer for Mike Quade that he was to Guillen in 2004 — holding organizational high ground — and given the surplus of young talent Hendry and his staff have collected, Williams could have a blast trading a fresh supply of minimum-salary talent for veterans on the verge of free agency.
•With the GM deal complete, the second step to a new and improved offseason for both Chicago teams is one mind-blowing mother of a trade — specifically, the Cubs sending Carlos Zambrano, Kosuke Fukudome, Jeff Samdardzija, Geovany Soto, Randy Wells and Chris Archer to the White Sox for Jake Peavy, Gavin Floyd, Mark Teahen, Scott Linebrink and Tyler Flowers.
This 11-player swap not only would awaken the senses on both sides of town but also accomplish myriad purposes for Chicago's teams. The cash is essentially a wash, with an estimated $35 million going from the Cubs to the White Sox and $32 million going the other way. No-trade clauses could be an issue, but let's be honest — what member of the Cubs would be desperate to stay on the North Side, and vice versa?
Summarizing the benefits for the teams:
The Cubs, unlikely to overtake the Cardinals in 2011, could allow Peavy to take his time recovering from surgery to repair his detached lat and have him in shape to help them win a year from now. They could make the clubhouse more pleasant for everyone without Zambrano, and they could add a third-base option to allow Aramis Ramirez to move to first base as Josh Vitters and Marquez Smith take aim at being long-term answers at third. They would add a needed bullpen veteran and spare themselves the disappointment of seeing Soto never again reach his 2008 level.
The Sox would get healthy arms in Zambrano, Wells and Samdardzija who could help them compete against the Twins in 2011, with the ultimate upside that the well chronicled Guillen-Zambrano friendship could help Big Z become the force he was before his 2007 contract extension. They would add a left-handed bat in Fukudome, who they coveted before 2008 when they felt he was a perfect fit for center/right field at U.S. Cellular Field (and at worst would be a platoon player for one year), a potential Clayton Richard/Daniel Hudson/John Ely replacement in Archer (expendable because the Cubs project Andrew Cashner and their Chris Carpenter as better prospects) and would move unwanted contracts (Teahen and Linebrink) and a receding prospect (Flowers) for a catcher to replace A.J. Pierzynski. They would be out from under the Teahen and Linebrink contracts.
You think I'm kidding, right? Maybe. But conventional wisdom has produced one championship combined since 1917. This plan is crazy, for sure, but no crazier than letting either Chicago team continue on its current path.