Thursday, November 30, 2006

Tool Time!

Whether it's a do it yourself project at home or an assignment at work, your success is largely dependent on having the resources and proper tools to complete the task successfully.

As Jim Hendry heads off to the winter meetings next week he must be prepared, and make sure he leaves with the proper tools to construct a world championship baseball team, on the north side of Chicago.

It seems apparent Hendry has the necessary resources and we can only hope he is prepared. Hendry must now accumulate the other tools necessary to complete the job.

What's Hendry missing? Healthy, quality starters, three to be exact. Hendry must, through free agent acquisition or trade, get at least one superior starter and two other dependable inning eaters to have the tools necessary to construct a championship team.

I must reiterate, Championship Team, as the huge contracts doled out for positional talent will mean very little without an above average rotation. The Tribune has finally broke open the piggy bank and Hendry has to strike while the iron's hot.

If Hendry leaves Florida without three starters, his chances of acquiring the talent needed diminish drastically. All of the big moves by trades or free agent acquisitions are usually completed by the end of the winter meetings. Sure there might be a straggler here or there, but if they're of any value, the price is going to be through the roof.

I've debated some of the best available starters in other posts, so you know my feelings on who should be acquired. Hendry must read the instructions for constructing a championship baseball team. On page one it states clearly, without a solid foundation, quality starting pitchers, house, Cub hopes, go boom, you're out of a job.

So go to Florida Jimbo, and lay in the sun, better yet, go to a massage palor, whatever it takes to get your thoughts together and bring us the tools to build the Cub fans a winner.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Wells/Toronto Gap Widening!

Toronto, like most everyone is in the market to add a starter. Unfortunately for them, talks are not going well with Lilly. If they need to fill two rotation spots instead of one, Wells probably will not fit into their plans.

JP Riccardi indicates, there is only so much money to work with and with the price a free agent starters looking more and more likely to resemble the money free agent position players are getting, extending the Wells contract doesn't seem likely.

Good news for those teams, hopefully the Cubs, that can work out a package to trade for Wells. A scenario of Murton, Pie and a relief pitcher just might be able to get it done, who knows. But even though the Cubs priority has to be getting some quality starters, an opportunity to acquire a premier player like Wells, has to be seriously explored.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

We Need A Pitcher, Not A Belly Itcher!

Adam Eaton, $8 million a year for 3 years? Yikes! Randy Wolf, who I actually think has a great upside, $7.5 million for 1 year? Holy Snike's! Those signings make Hendry look like a genius with the W. Miller contract.

Let's see now, Henry Rowengardner was 12 in 1993, that makes him 27 in 2007. Any reports that he's still clumsy? If so, we could put him on our medical watch list and see if he brakes his shoulder before next season. Hell, I'm sure at his age now, Budweiser would be interested. We could even have our Rocket, Wood, mentor him.

Seriously though, the San Francisco Chronicle reports the Cubs rumored to be offering J. Schmidt, 3 years for $44 million. Over the past three seasons, Schmidt has posted; 610IP 514H 596K 242BB 55HR 3.73ERA.

If Schmidt can be had for roughly $15 million a year for 3 years, the Cubs would have a one two punch that could get you wins in 75% of their decisions. Then fill in the rest of the rotation with starters that can go .500 in their decisions, and you'd have a formidable rotation that could be a dominant force in getting to the postseason.

Now when you're in the playoffs, having two front line pitchers really pays the big dividends. First in the short 5 games series and second when you have the option of pitching not just one but two aces on short rest. It's definitely worth it for Hendry to spend the few extra million to sign another ace.

Monday, November 27, 2006

The One Year Deal!

The Cubs have signed a couple of players, K. Wood and W. Miller, to one year deals that can only work out well if both players remain healthy and return to past form. However, they can pick up another player for a one year deal that has no health issues and would help fill two valuable positions.

With the Cubs outfielder in a state of flux and the questionable wisdom of using one of the more prolific run producers, A. Soriano, in a leadoff role, K. Lofton would be a valuable acquisition that could be acquired for a one year deal with little or no downside.

Even at the age of 39, Lofton would probably provide the only known quality defensive player to patrol CF. His one year deal also wouldn't stand as a road block for the hopeful ascension of F. Pie, at the latest in 2008. Lofton's performance over the last two years shows he still can demonstrate the skills necessary to be a quality leadoff man and more importantly allow Soriano's talent to be used as a run producer.

Soriano's speed isn't as valuable in the leadoff role as his run production is in the middle of the order, especially if the Cubs have alternatives. Also Soriano's high strikeout total is much more acceptable as a run producer than a table setter.

Lofton is a smart move Hendry can make to provide depth at a minimal cost and commitment.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Can Pinella Change A Culture?

If Hendry didn't interfere with Baker's lineup, it would be hard to imagine him advising Pinella on who to play.

With that said, will Pinella put the best player in the best position to succeed?

There are a lot of preconceived ideas for recently acquired players as to how they will fit into the mix, so let's examine them.

DeRosa has played 6 full seasons and is coming off a career year, where he posted a
296BA 357OBP 102K 44BB 4SB 13HR in 520AB. However his career numbers are as follows,
273BA 331OBP 286K 125BB 11SB 38HR in 1643AB.

Let's assume when the Cubs brake camp in Mesa, AZ to start the 2007 campaign that DeRosa numbers average somewhere in between his career year and his career numbers.

Now DeRosa was acquired reportedly, to be the everyday second baseman. If he is to be challenged at all, which I would hope Pinella would want, The Riot seems to be the most likely candidate.

The Riot's 2006 season was split between AAA Iowa and the Cubs. In Iowa he posted a
304BA 367OBP 34K 27BB 14SB 0HR in 280AB. With Cubs he actually improved and posted a
328BA 412OBP 18K 17BB 13SB 3HR in 134AB.

If The Riot outperforms DeRosa in spring training, what should Pinella do? Will Pinella realize that DeRosa's versatility makes him more valuable coming off the bench, or will he succumb to the pressure of not showing up his GM and start DeRosa instead of The Riot, deserving or not.

I realize this is a hypothetical situation, but there is at least a 50/50 chance that it could happen. It's not like DeRosa has Derek Jeter credentials, where a proven track record of success would earn him the right to be given some slack.

When you consider the replacement of Pierre in CF with Soriano, you'd be hard pressed to find many similarities except for their speed. But on closer examination, if Soriano were to fill Pierre's leadoff role, you may not be making the most of Soriano's most valuable asset, run production. When you look at the other most recent 40/40 man, Barry Bonds, do you think it was a mistake not to hit him in the leadoff spot because he had 40 stolen bases?

The role as a run producer was out of the question for Pierre, so his speed made a case for his role at the top of the order. But as a leadoff man, his poor OBP and high percentage of caught stealing, negated much of his effectiveness.

With Soriano, you have many of the same negatives as Pierre from the leadoff spot. However, due to Soriano's prodigious power, his value to the team, emphasis value to the team, hitting in a RBI spot in the order is enhanced. Patterson and to a lesser extent Pierre certainly didn't fill the leadoff role as effectively as hoped. The effective leadoff man's most important asset is to get on base at as high a rate as possible. Speed is a plus and so is power, but they both follow a distant second and third in determining the overall effectiveness of the leadoff man.

If Pinella is the baseball man we all hope he is, he will have to insist that his decisions as to who plays what position and where they bat in the order, is a function of their performance and what's best for the team to succeed.

That would be most certainly be a welcome change in culture.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Waiting For The Other Shoe To Fall!

You put your right shoe, you take your right shoe out, you put your right shoe and you shake it all about, you do the hokey pokey and you turn yourself around, that's what it's all about.

Well the Cubs certainly put their right shoe in with the Soriano signing and are waiting, as it seems is most everyone else, to see who puts their left shoe in concerning the big free agent pitcher contract.

It doesn't seem the Cubs are willing to put both feet in, but should they?

If they don't, can they expect to find another K. Rodgers?

There can certainly be an argument made for both cases, but let's look at the Cubs situation in a little more detail and see if we can find a best case scenario.

While there are no absolutes, usually when a team makes the playoffs, their success is quite often dependent upon the effectiveness of the pitching staff.

As we look at the Cubs pitching staff we find one stud starter, one second year starter that looks to be on the rise and a mash unit. The bullpen looks deep but might have a questionable closer. There are a lot of holes there and the Cubs don't have an unlimited budget, but an extra $5 million could be a determining factor. Can we afford to let $5 million stand in the way of having a superior rotation after what's been doled out so far?

The approach of signing a couple of middle of the road starters appears to be the tack Hendry is espousing but things have to work out just right for a rotation of Zambrano, and four number 4 starters.

If we use a template of the past World Series winners you'll find that unless the rotation's starters implode with an outlandish rash of errors(Detroit Tigers), the best staff won out.

It's true there are also some interesting trading options available and a deal with Cleveland could land a quality arm, but if the Cubs are to be considered a World Series team instead of just a playoff team, another front of the rotation starter should be pursued.

Numbers of course don't tell you everything when evaluating the two aces, Zito and Schmidt.

Zito is younger and has never been hurt but he also has not performed well during the playoffs and that is the main reason you acquire a stud starter.

Schmidt is older and has a nick or two but he's pitched 610 innings the past three years. He has an excellent track record in the playoffs and just because his fastball has lost a couple of MPH, so has Barry Zito's. Rodger Clemens like Schmidt, have lost a few MPH on his heater as well, but both are big game pitchers and have enhanced their repertoire. Clemen added the splitter and Schmidt the changeup, allowing both of them to remain dominant even with the loss in velocity. The Cubs could probably land Schmidt for a 3 year deal, instead of the 6/7 year deal Zito will command.

A rotation fronted with Zambrano and Schmidt is a recipe for success.

Put your left foot in Jimbo, and do the hokey pokey and turn this team around. That's what it's all about!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Rebirth Of The Old Fashioned Trade!

Gm's are starting to realize that with the cost and scarcity of quality free agents this year, even the most well healed teams will have consider trading to get the talent they desire.

Free wheeling Gm's like Theo Epstien of the Red Sox, "The market is forcing some teams into trade talks. The most aggressive teams in this market are the teams that can take a broader view because so many teams are trying to fill holes, the free agent market is so expensive and the teams that can lose something off their big league team and fill the hole for someone else, can get back a lot of value." and Omar Minaya of the Mets, "I don't think there's enough in the free agent market to fulfill those needs, so the only option is for trades." understand the need to adjust their thinking if they are to fill the positions most important for their team.

As you know, I have been long advocating for the Cubs to use the trade route, simply because they have some, not many but some areas of strength from which to deal. One such area of strength on the Cubs is their bullpen. It's a shame that Hendry's hands where tied by McPhail, otherwise I'm sure Pierre would've had his contract extended as soon as he came to the Cubs. Just think in the recent light of Pierre's 5 year $44 million contract with the Dodgers, what he would've fetched in a trade? Ok, Ok, what's past is past, and there is no sense in crying over spilt milk.

Cleveland, Pittsburg and to a lesser extent Toronto are three teams I've advocated dealing with in recent posts. Now that the mainstream is starting to take notice as well, evidently my site is being religiously read by the more forward thinking GM's already, Ha!, it behoves Hendry to move as quickly on the trade front, as he has in free agency.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Case for Felix!

Felix Pie's circuitous route to the Cubs MLB roster has been well documented, but thankfully now with the addition of Fonzie, the template used with Corey Patterson, won't be imposed on another prized CF prospect.

Pie, like Patterson, has a wonderful blend of speed and power. Pie also resembles his predecessor with his free swinging style. However, Pie's defense appears superior to Pattersons, primarily due to his cannon of an arm.

If the Cubs stand pat in the outfield with J. Jones playing CF, I doubt any of us could assume that Jones would be defensively superior to Pie.

We then have to ask ourselves, will Pie's superior defense offset the potential loss of offense if Jones is traded?

As I mentioned in previous posts, the Cubs have a likely suitor for Jones in Pittsburgh, who would be willing to part with any of their LHSP's for a LH power hitting right fielder.

I don't believe, with the Cubs pressing need to fix the rotation, that Hendry wouldn't pull the trigger on such a trade if he had a solid replacement for Jones bat. Hendry should take into account that superior defense is an offensive category as well and factor that into his decision.

Let's look at the 2006 season numbers for both Jones and Pie to see what the difference actually is. Now I know Pie was at AAA and Jones was in the Bigs, however Jones was coming off his second best season ever and is on the wrong side of 30, where Pie's first part of the 2006 was below par after missing the last part of the 2005 season with a broken leg. Pie is only 21, and really heated it up at Iowa that last part of the season.

Pie 2006
559AB 33D 8T 15HR 127K 46BB 341OBP 283BA 451SLG

Jones 2006
533AB 31D 1T 27HR 116K 35BB 334OBP 285BA 499SLG

The question I'd like to ask all of you is this. Are the Cubs better off with a Z. Duke in the rotation and a Felix Pie in CF for a combined salary under $1 million, or are they better off with J. Jones in CF with no addition to the rotation for $5 million?

Monday, November 20, 2006

Soriano's Impact!

It is well documented the offensive talents Soriano brings to the Cubs. Defensively however there are some questions.

Pinella, in a "Score" radio interview Sunday, was asked where Soriano would play? Without hesitation, Uncle Lou said that his best arm in the outfield, Soriano, plays RF.

Which now without any further additions or prospects making the club in spring training, the Cubs outfield would comprise Murton in LF, Jones in CF and Soriano in RF. In comparing that outfield configuration with last years of Murton, Pierre and Jones, I sincerely doubt that we lose anything defensively. Whatever shortcomings Jones might have in CF, Soriano should more than offset just with his arm in RF. The leadoff situation with Pierre and Soriano is almost a wash, but the slugging numbers will go through the roof with Soriano.

This outfield will certainly cost more than last years, but Pierre already has a $10 million offer on the table. Soriano's contract will likely be seriously backloaded, so the difference in contracts should result in approximately $5 million additional to this years payroll.

The addition of Soriano's gaudy offensive numbers, will make that additional money spent seem like a spit in the ocean.

Constructing A Winner!

In a recent guest article I did for, "Goat Riders Of The Apocalypse," I compared the previous 6 World Series winners, to see if any similarities could be gleaned from each teams makeup. The purpose was to try and develop a template of the key ingredients to use for constructing a winner in Chicago, North Side that is.

By no means did the best team always win the World Series, but most had a considerable number of similarities.

One of the Cubs most glaring weaknesses last year was their rotation, with their top 5 starters only starting 109 games and accumulated just 651 innings in those starts.

By comparison, the last 6 World Series winners received 142 starts and 880 innings pitched from their top 5 starters.

Another glaring weakness of the 2006 Cubs was the amount of walks issued versus the amount of walks taken.

The reason I feel this is such an important stat is two-fold.

On the one hand, when your pitcher issues a walk, your defense has no chance to retire the hitter and the pitchers higher pitch count usually results in fewer innings pitched.

On the other hand, the table of events swings to your teams favor when your players exercise patience at the plate.

A dominant pitching staff can negate some of your teams offensive weaknesses, however the reverse is most certainly not true. Great offenses might accumulate a considerable amount of wins during the regular season, but the playoffs are a sprint to 11 wins where every weakness is magnified.

If there is one player that can dominate a game, the starter is head and shoulders above all the rest. If your starters can't control the game, your offense is always playing from behind.

Hendry must focus on acquiring starters that take the ball every 5th. day and have good HR and BB to innings pitched ratios. Then the Cubs could have a chance to win every game.

Their is a reason most playoff teams win most of their close games. It's called pitching.

Sunday, November 19, 2006


Read all about it. Cubs reach an 8 year, $136 million agreement with A. Soriano. Now the Cubs have signed the real Wood. More later, Grossman to Bradley, TD. Go Bears!

Hendry's Homework Assignment!

With the exception of all the fuss over the D. Matsuzaka posting, pitching moves have somewhat taken a back seat to position player signings. The rave about power hitting free agents seems to dominate the press. Our beloved Cubs seem to be in step with the rest of the league in seeking out the big bopper, but with their glaring weakness in the rotation, I feel it's like putting the proverbial cart before the horse.

If bludgeoning opponents with a barrage of runs, couldn't deliver a World Series Title for the New York Yankees this year with a suspect and unhealthy rotation, what makes Hendry believe he can go balls out for a free agent slugger and leave the rotation to be filled with hopes and dreams? Hendry isn't alone in this miscalculation of the universal truth, that a superior rotation is building block number one. But with the uncertainty and number of holes in the rotation, his miscalculations will cost the Cubs more severely than other teams.

What Hendry must understand is that baseball is a zero sum game. Every run you don't give up is one less run you need to score to win a game. Since successful hitting is a 30% proposition, no one player can effect the outcome of a game more than a superior starter.

When you look at the two big name starters available for free agency, B. Zito and J. Schmidt, you can certainly argue the point that they will be extremely overpaid and are they really true aces anymore. So what criteria should be used to determine if the rest of the free agents starters and those that could be possibly acquired through a trade be evaluated?

I believe the HR's and BB's surrendered per inning is the most effective yardstick.


Well HR's and BB's are the only two stats which do not allow your defense to make a play to retire that hitter.

If we look at B. Zito's and J. Schmidt's HR and BB frequency then compare it to the other starters that possibly could be acquired, I think we'd have a pretty good barometer of who compares favorably. See my, PITCHING OPTIONS post of 11/15/06.

You'll see the career HR and BB ratio of Zito, Schmidt and the Cubs, Zambrano. All three considered aces. Now while ERA most certainly can't be discounted, I'm sure you understand that a pitchers ERA is more likely to be higher pitching in the AL with the designated hitter than in the NL, where the pitcher hits for himself.

We see the only free agent pitcher that compares favorably with the above three is V. Padilla. Also a move back to the NL will most certainly reduce last years ERA. He's asking for $10 million a year and who knows if someone will pay it, but it would behove Hendry to seriously consider him as the number one free agent pitcher for the money.

The Pittsburgh and Cleveland trading scenarios could land another quality arm, as the Cubs seem to have the necessary players that would interest both teams. Hendry can earn his money on this one and make an acquisition from a position of strength if he does his homework.

Pittsburgh paid J. Burnitz $6 million last year and would be willing to part with any of their three LH starting pitchers for a LH power hitting right fielder. J. Jones is due $5 million in 2007 and trading him for Z. Duke would be a master stroke for Hendry. You'd increase the Cubs salary by maybe $6 million a year by adding C. Lee to play RF and have a quality LHP in the process. Hendry most likely wouldn't be able to add another free agent starter with Z Duke's numbers, not to mention his youth, for the increase in salary paid to swap out Jones for C. Lee.

Let me ask you this, would you rather have J. Jones in RF or C. Lee?

The other interesting quality pitcher that could be had via trade is J. Westbrook from the Indians. I discussed in detail, the possible makeup of this trade. See my post, TIME TO TALK TURKEY WITH INDIANS posted on 11/18/06.

These three starters, V. Padilla, Z. Duke and J. Westbrook, are the pitching acquisitions Hendry should be targeting, will he?

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Time To Talk Turkey With Indians!

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, the Cubs should begin talks of a trade with the Cleveland Indians. The Indians find themselves in a precarious situation with their RHP Jake Westbrook, who is in the last year of his contract. He will most certainly put a strain on Cleveland's resources if he goes to free agency, so the Cubs are in an enviable position to help the Indians a lot more than the pilgrims did.

Cleveland's situation with Westbrook is similar to Toronto's with Wells. However, Cleveland has considerably less resources than Toronto and therefore is probably even a better trading partner for the Cubs.

What will it take to make a deal with the Indians for Westbrook? Well first of all, Cleveland's bullpen is like a sieve and they have a couple of well thought of Starters that could possibly take Westbrook's place. They also are in need of an everyday SS.

Let's brake down the needs of an everyday SS first. If Uncle Lou is sincere about pursuing Lugo, it most definitely makes Izturis, I know, I know, all of you will be crestfallen if we lose Izturis, expendable.

Next the Indians need a LHRP. Hendry's recent trade for Cotts, gives the Cubs the luxury of moving one of their three LHRP's.

The Cubs making trades when they have the best of it, like in the Toronto and Cleveland scenario's, is what teams with financial muscle do.

Just remember the Clute Motto; "When you've got'em by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow."

So stop lollygagging around Hendry, and start using some of that big market muscle. If you do, who knows, maybe all the donut jokes will stop.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Will Cubs take advantage of the exchange rate?

When teams have a coveted player that is in the last year of their contract, they are often caught between a rock and a hard place when deciding to extend their players contract or allow him to become a free agent. The Toronto Blue Jays find themselves in this situation with V. Wells.

Toronto most certainly is trying to stay competitive in the fierce AL East, but like most clubs, have a finite budget and many holes to fill.

Can the Cubs help ease Toronto's angst over what to do with Wells, by compensating them with enough talent to fill their other deficiencies?

For a summary of Toronto's situation please access the link, Http://

You'll see that Toronto needs 2 starters, yeah what a news flash, who doesn't. A catcher and second baseman and/or shortstop. With signing Frank Thomas, they may not have enough payroll room to fill the rest of the holes and still resign Wells to an extension?

A player of Wells stature, will never be available under better circumstances for the team that can offer the right deal.

The Cubs have a golden opportunity to not only acquire a young, five tool outfielder, but free up payroll to be the major player in acquiring the best starters available to fill out their rotation.

The Cubs could trade Barrett, Marshall, and Pie. Toronto gets a quality offensive catcher, an inexpensive left handed starter and a prospect to play CF. The salaries of Barrett and Wells, will be close to a wash and the need for the Cubs to commit $12 to $15 million dollars for a power hitting center fielder, will now become available to acquire another ace to go along with Zambrano.

Of course the Cubs would need to resign Wells to an extension immediately, but it wouldn't be a hit to this years payroll. The Cubs could then stockpile the rotation, their number one need by the way, allowing them after the 2007 season, to assess who best fits in the 2008 rotation.

The Cubs will have no trouble during next year's off season, unloading whatever starter doesn't fit into their future plans. Allowing the Cubs to recoup the payroll flexibility needed, when Wells new contract kicks in.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Time for a big trade?

I'm sure we're all a little concerned with Hendry's decision, to fore go the acquisition of a B. Zito or J. Schmidt, due to the anticipated large commitment of payroll needed to acquire a Soriano or Drew. Quality as well as health, needs to be foremost in Hendry's thinking when acquiring starters.

A forward thinking trade, could accomplish both the need for a power bat in CF and free up necessary payroll for Hendry to pursue a front of the rotation starter via free agency.

With the signing of Blanco for 3 years, it opens up the possibility of moving Barrett. Don't get me wrong. I like Barrett and think he's a natural leader and quality stick in the lineup. However, Barrett finished 29th. as a catcher this year defensively.

Toronto is in the market for a LHRP and is concerned they won't be able to resign V. Wells before he becomes a free agent next year. If the Cubs trade S. Eyre and M. Barrett with prospect F. Pie to Toronto, we could likely land V. Wells. The payroll for each team would be a wash and help both teams. This would allow to the Cubs to re-focus their payroll towards acquiring the quality starter they need.

Payroll Developments

The Cubs payroll could expand to $120 million according to Phil Rodgers in today's Chicago Tribune. Hope the extra money is used wisely.

Roster Update

Cubs trade D. Aardsma and prospect J. Vasquez to White Sox for N. Cotts.


How does Hendry trade Aardsma, who has closer potential, and a prospect to a team like the White Sox, who are definetely in need of bullpen help, and end up on the short end of the stick?

Hendry must have been on a suger rush after a hangover and thought Williams said Buehrle instead of Cotts. What other explanation can you give me?

In all seriousness though, unless Hendry has a suitor for Cotts, unlikely, or has a deal in the works with Eyre, posiible, I just don't see how this move helps the Cubs.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Pitching Options

I have long advocated the need of an effective, if not superior dependable rotation for the Cubs to be considered a viable playoff contender. History shows that no matter how prolific your offense is, without a quality rotation, you're unlikely to win the big prize.

With that said, let's look at some of the options available to upgrade the Cubs rotation. Of course the higher the number of innings pitched per HR and BB, the better.

B. Zito age 29:
2006: 3.83 ERA 221 IP 27 HR 99 BB
Career: 3.55 ERA 1 HR every 9.7 Inn. 1 BB every 2.6 Inn.

J. Schmidt age 34:
2006: 3.59 ERA 213 IP 21 HR 80 BB
Career: 3.91 ERA 1 HR every 10.9 Inn. 1 BB every 2.6 Inn.

J. Weaver age 30:
2006: 5.76 ERA 171 IP 34 HR 49 BB
Career: 4.58 ERA 1 HR every 8.2 Inn. 1 BB every 3.7 Inn.

J. Suppan age 32:
2006: 4.12 ERA 190 IP 21 HR 69 BB
Career: 4.60 ERA 1 HR every 7.6 Inn. 1 BB every 3.0 Inn.

T. Lilly age 31:
2006: 4.31 ERA 181 IP 28 HR 81 BB
Career: 4.60 ERA 1 HR every 6.5 Inn. 1 BB every 2.5 Inn.

G. Menche age 28:
2006: 4.52 ERA 191 IP 23 HR 60 BB
Career: 4.65 ERA 1 H every /5.7 Inn. 1 BB every 2.5 Inn.

V. Padilla age 29:
2006: 4.50 ERA 200 IP 21 HR 70 BB
Career: 4.06 ERA 1 HR every 9.6 Inn. 1 BB every 2.9 Inn.

R. Wolf age 30:
Came back fron TJS 2006 pitched in 4 games. Missed significant time in 2004 and all of 2005.
2003: 4.23 ERA 200 IP 27 HR 78 BB
Career: 4.21 ERA 1 HR every 7.5 Inn. 1 BB every 2.7 Inn.

There are 5 interesting trades possible. Pittsburgh is looking for a LH power bat to play RF and Cleveland is looking for bullpen help.

Pittsburgh has three LH starters and would consider trading any one of them for a LH power bat in RF.

Z. Duke age 24:
2006: 4.47 ERA 215 IP 17 HR 66 BB
Career: 3.72 ERA 1 HR every 15 Inn. 1 BB every 3.3 Inn.

P Maholm age 25:
2006: 4.76 ERA 176 IP 19 HR 81 BB
Career: 4.27 ERA 1 HR every 10.3 Inn. 1 BB every 2.7 Inn.

T. Gurzelanny age 25:
2006: 3.79 ERA 61 IP 3 HR 31 BB
Career: 4.52 ERA 1 HR every 16.8 Inn. 1 BB every 2.0 Inn.

Cleveland is open to trading RHP Westbrook or LHP Lee for bullpen help and some prospects.

J. Westbrook age 29:
2006: 4.17 ERA 211 IP 15 HR 55 BB
Career: 4.35 ERA 1 HR every 11.7 Inn. 1 BB every 3.3 Inn.

C. Lee age 28:
2006: 4.40 ERA 200 IP 29 HR 58 BB
Career: 4.39 ERA 1 HR every 7.3 Inn. 1 BB every 2.9 Inn.

There is some real quality in this list, with a majority of them being middle of the order starters. The youngsters, and Wolf having come back from TJS, could have a big upside for what we'd either have to pay or trade to acquire them.

Let's contrast the two know starters in the Cubs 2007 rotation, Zambrano and Hill, and the prospect Marshall.

C. Zambrano age 26:
2006: 3.41 ERA 214 IP 20 HR 115 BB
Career: 3.29 ERA 1 HR every 13 Inn. 1 BB every 2.2 Inn.

R. Hill age 27:
2006: 4.17 ERA 99 IP 16 HR 17 BB
Career: 5.12 ERA 1 HR every 6.5 Inn. 1 BB every 2.5 Inn.

S. Marshall age 25:
2006: 5.59 ERA 125 IP 20 HR 59 BB
Career: 5.59 ERA 1 HR every 6.3 Inn. 1 BB every 2.1 Inn.

With a quality start these days considered 6 innings, a HR to IP ratio of 6 would result in a HR yielded every start. Not a good thing. Also combining a low HR to IP ratio and a low BB to IP ratio is a recipe for disaster.

If any of you have any other criteria you think might be helpful in evaluating this list, please contribute it along with your comments.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Payroll Update

Hendry has signed signed Mark DeRosa $4 million and Henry Blanco @ $1 million more than Blanco was being paid last year. This brings our 2007 payroll to $78 million, leaving $37 million available of the projected $115 million the Cubs say they will spend this year.


With the bidding for free agents most likely to be absurd, the Cubs need to be judicious in allocating their resources. It's true the Cubs have an increased budget, but even if it's not a Yankee or Red Sox size budget, there is still plenty of money if used wisely.

The Cubs went into 2006 with a $94 million budget. Gone is Maddux,$10+ million, Wood, $11+ million, the three headed second baseman, Perez, Walker and Harriston Jr., $9 million, and Pierre at $6 million. Those cuts dropped last year's payroll to $58 million and, our GM tells us the Cubs will have up to $115 million to spend for 2007. That leaves Hendry, $57 million to work with in order to rebuild the mess the Cubs are in.

Resigning Ramirez even if the extension isn't backloaded, which they most always are, will eat up $4 million. Wood's buyout of $3 million, plus his resigning at almost $2 million, is another $5 million and Miller was resigned for an increase of about $1 million as well. Izturis is costing us about $5 million, so as it sits today, the Cubs payroll stands at $73 million, leaving the Cubs $42 million under the 2007 budget.

Now that Ramirez has been locked up, we only hope Hendry does the same with Zambrano. An extension should increase Zambrano's salary around $6 million, most likely to be backloaded as well, and bring Zambrano's salary in line with Roy Oswalt's $13 million. Budget now stands at $79 million.

That still leaves Hendry, $36 million to work with. So what are the Cubs biggest needs to fill?

Well if history teaches us anything, it's that superior pitching will usually negate superior hitting.

With that in mind and last years demise of the rotation, it seems imperative for Hendry to acquire at least one stud starter, one second tier starter and an inexpensive and dependable
insurance innings eater. This will insulate the rotation from turning into the mash unit it did in 2006.

What will adding these kind of pitchers cost Hendry? Well it looks like a stud, Zito or Schmidt, will be in the $13 to $15 million dollar range. A second tier starter, and this is where it's tricky, Hendry is definitely going to have to do his homework, could be had for anywhere between $6 and $10 million. A dependable, insurance innings eater starter can be acquired for about $2 million.

So if Hendry does his homework and gets a stud for $15 million, a second tier pitcher at $6 million and a dependable 5th. starter at $2 million, he will spend approximately $23 million.

Now remember we most certainly will get some 2007 payroll relief from the backloading of the big contracts for the two expensive starters acquired, as well as the extensions for Ramirez and Zambrano. I would expect on average, a minimum of at least a $2 million in relief for each of the four big contracts mentioned for 2007. That reduces the $23 million hit to upgrade the rotation about $8 million and leaves Hendry, roughly $21 million for further acquisitions.

With a solid, if not superior rotation in place, Hendry can move to address last year's other most glaring weaknesses, another power hitter and quality bench.

It should be emphasized, that although the good offensive clubs usually have a dynamic 3, 4 and 5 hitter, the rest of their lineup, especially at the top, is usually comprised of hitters with good OBP's.

Besides the power outage last year resulting from D. Lee's absence, the top of the order's OBP was miserable. That needs to change. While it is easy to look at Soriano and see he could fill the power numbers, Hendry also needs to be mindful that rounding out the bench with disciplined hitters who can play the fundamental part of the game, ie; catch the ball, advance a runner, take a walk and an extra base, are what QUALITY TEAMS are all about.

It would be good if Hendry had a well thought out plan, with contingencies in place, for the monumental task facing him.

I'd like to hear your thoughts in detail, if you were in Hendry's shoes.

PS. In the upcoming days, I will be evaluating, not just the stats of, but hopefully with some insight from the media, the available talent to be considered by Jim Hendry.

Remember, no lollygaggers need to opine.

Monday, November 13, 2006

New Look and New Hope

On this first day of the baseball meetings in Naples, Florida, Lolligaggers, has replaced my first blog, The Cubs Daily Reader. The reasons were mainly do to technical difficulties, but with Ramirez and Wood signed, it appears Hendry's hands are no longer tied. Therefore, I've decided to give my blog a new look and name.

My main focus, will still be to encourage intelligent banter concerning our beloved Chicago Cubs.

Welcome to all who have read my posts on GROTA, 1060 West, BCB and View from the Bleachers, under the pen name, Clute.

Hope you all enjoy the lively and informed discussions and remember, our duty is to alert everyone when we see any lolligaggers in blue pin stripes.