Forty years on this planet have taught me a few things…
1) All reality TV is lousy (except for maybe “Deadliest Catch”)
2) There is no such thing as a bad beer or a bad meal
3) The most frightening words in the world are “The Cubs have acquired…”
The list of rotten Cub trades and signings is longer than Lindsay Lohan’s rap sheet. Over the next few weeks, we’ll revisit some of those stomach-turning transactions (some might call this exercise “therapy”).
MEL ROJAS (signed by the Cubs in December of 1996): Nothing scares true Cub fans like a new closer. In 1996, Mel Rojas saved 36 games in 74 appearances for the Montreal Expos. He allowed only 56 hits and five homers in 81 impressive innings, striking out 92 and walking only 25 (unintentionally). So when the Cubs signed Rojas the following offseason, I was actually excited. Sure, previous closer moves had tanked like that “Cavemen” show (see Calvin Schiraldi, Goose Gossage, and Dave Smith), but this was different. Rojas was a powerhouse reliever in the prime of his career. What could possibly go wrong? It didn’t take long to find out. Rojas was so bad that he didn’t even finish one season in Chicago. After 55 innings, 30 walks, and 11 homers allowed, the Cubs cut their losses in the summer of 1997 and shipped the former bullpen ace to the New York Mets in a deal for Lance Johnson. Two years later, Rojas was out of baseball.
So what’s the moral of this story? Appearances can be deceiving? Look before you leap? Know which way the wind blows? Never pet a burning cat? I’m not really sure. However, I do know this…Every time the Cubs acquire a relief pitcher, another year ticks off my life.