Two of the biggest stories in Cubs camp Monday involved Tony Campana and Alfonso Soriano. The former is leaving, while the latter would do so only grudgingly, and both represent object lessons for Cubs fans and management.
Actually, Campana and Soriano represent embarrassments for Cubs fans and management, but I was overcome by a spasm of charitability just there.
Campana was traded to the Diamondbacks for pitching, and a lot of Cubs fans were saddened. If not a lot of fans, then a vocal bunch. This is wrong. Stop it. You shouldn't feel sad that Campana was traded, you should rejoice.
Campana can do one thing: run fast. He cannot hit major-league pitching and he can't do enough defensively to deodorize his, um, shortcomings. The fact that the Cubs got anything for someone so limited is amazing. Bad pitching prospects are a better gamble than a bad major-leaguer.
Cubs fans always adore mascots. Cut it out already. Root for actual baseball players. Learn the difference. Anthony Rizzo, yes. Jorge Soler, yes. Root for five-tool players. Stop falling in love with Beanie Babies.
Cubs fans ought to be smarter than that. Cubs fans should save their biggest cheers for real talent, not someone they can pet.
While legions of idiot Cubs fans might never learn the Campana lesson, it's harmless compared to the Soriano disaster that management can never repeat.
The problem with the never-ending Soriano episode is just that: It's never-ending. Soriano signed an eight-year deal worth $136 million, but the deal always seems to have eight years left on it. Soriano is nothing close to what was advertised and he sounds like he might never leave.
He had a chance to do so last year, but he refused to ditch a team headed for 100 losses, exercising his no-trade clause to San Francisco. Soriano said the Bay Area's cold weather would aggravate his knee problems.
Yes. Well. You wouldn't want those knees hindered while running onto the field to celebrate a World Series.
Here's the deal: The Cubs should never again want a player who would rather play for their hopeless cause than take a shot at winning. Clean out the loser mentality that feeds an embarrassing culture.
There are other lessons from the Soriano mess that seem just as obvious, but they bear repeating because they can kill a franchise's future. Do it again, and you might as well change "Welcome to the Friendly Confines'' to "Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.''
No more no-trade clauses. No more big-money free-agent deals that pay for past performance instead of future production. No more looking at free agency as the shortcut to competing every year. No more bidding against yourself.
The Cubs' new management is following those rules while trying to get rid of Soriano. But remember, Theo Epstein committed that kind of clown signing in Boston. Take a bow, Carl Crawford, but don't pull a hamstring doing it.
Since taking over the Cubs, Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer have acted consistent with their word. They have tried to build up the farm system through the draft and trading of assets, claiming they will add free agents only to complete a winning team. We'll see if they remain as disciplined as they're talking.