Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Hot Stove Rumors a Flyin'

No, she can't hit or catch but she can sure shake things up.

Still, when Marquis, Vizcaino, Bradley, Miles, DeRosa, Peavy, Marshall and prospects all hit the press in the span of 24 hours, it still deserves at least a Wow! Just when everybody was in their break between post Christmas and pre New Year naps, all hell breaks loose. Of course we all know the problem of getting hyped up over rumors, but it has been such a dull and slow off season, unless you're from the Bronx, that this is a pretty eventful newsday for the Cubs. So let's try and sort the rants from reality.

There has been no mystery of the Cubs intention to show Marquis the door and the recent rumblings seem to point to a legitimate trade with the Rockies for RHRP L Vizcaino. From what we hear, the Cubs will clear around $5M of salary to pursue other free agents.

There also seems to be no mystery on the Cubs pursuit of M. Bradley and reports seem to think a deal will be done in a week or so. Of course I'm mush more skeptical of these reports than the Marquis deal but the movement of Marquis can only help with acquiring the best free agent position player available for the Cubs.

Now for some fact, A. Miles seems to have reached a two year deal with the Cubs. No numbers have been released apart from that but he is a versatile career backup that might be needed if the following rumor is in fact true...

...the Peavy talks on back on. During the winter meetings when the Peavy trade was front and center, DeRosa was mentioned in a possible trade in order for the Cubs to sweeten the pot with prospects for the Padres. This is probably the impetus behind the Miles signing.

If a Peavy trade is possible, DeRosa will likely be moved as I'm sure Marshall will as well. I only hope Hnedry holds fast on his reluctance to include Vitters in any such trade package for Peavy.

That's it for now, but as always feel free to opine with your take on the recent rumblings.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

In and Out?

Well we know now that Gathright is in, does this mean Pie is out?

I'm as sad as anyone to see Pie not turn out, but he was never developed right from the jump. Gathright does the little things that make the most of his abilities, like 15 bunt hits last year in 279AB's. Pie never took that approach and we can only wonder if it was his resistance to learning or the organizations incompetence of developing those skills.

I believe the latter, only because Pie isn't the first speed guy to come up through the organization who failed to deliver on all the promise that was projected. Patterson was the other example of a young speed guy that had surprising pop in his bat that only digressed when coming to the majors. Pie like Patterson, were both blessed with many tools but the organization never got them to develop them to best make use of them.

Now I'm not saying that all prospects that are blessed with abilities like Patterson and Pie are surefire major league studs, but it seems that with the Cubs long history of bringing so few position players of any value to the majors, that there is something fundamentally wrong down on the farm.

Anyway, if Pie is actually gone, I wish him and his package, ouch, nothing but the best.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Winter Meeting Observations

With the Peavy soap opera behind us at least for now, a few things that were not quite so apparent have come into more focus now.

First, there was the misinformation being disseminated from the Tribsters that with the uncertainty of the economy and sale of the Cubs, there may not be much money to improve the club. We have now come to know, that while the Cubs won't spend like 2006, there seems to be plenty of cash to address many of the Cubs needs.

Second, Hendry seems to be willing to wheel and deal but only from a position of strength, and that is never a bad approach. I have often bashed Hendry's approach in haphazardly throwing around dollars and length of contracts with little foresight to see how those decisions might hamper his ability to maneuver effectively in the future. He has seemed to learn his lesson here, at least with respects to Peavy and I must give him his due on this one.

It seems now Hendry can devote his full attention to his preliminary discussions to land Milton Bradley. Out of the remaining free agent LH outfield free agents, Bradley is if not the best, is at least in the top two offensively. Bradley is also the youngest, not turning 31 until April of 2009 and the best defensively. Bradley came up as a CF'er and has played all outfield positions. This will give Piniella a tremendous flexibility in the field and with Bradley being a switch hitter, the tough righty or lefty matchups with opposing pitchers will be a non-issue.

Next it would seem through the failed Peavy negotiations, that as many as 8 or 10 teams would be interested in DeRosa. There is no doubt that Derosa's flexibility is a plus for any organization and if the Cubs can move him to free up a spot for a legit lead off man, DeRosa's value will never be higher coming off of a career year. If DeRosa numbers don't fall off the planet in '09, he will probably price himself out of the Cubs lineup when his contract expires at the end of next year anyway.

Hopefully Hendry will explore what he can garner for DeRosa, and a possible target in need of some power out of 3B like the Angels, may be willing to go for DeRosa, allowing them to let Figgins walk instead of offering the free agent a new deal. Figgins brings much of the same flexibilty as DeRosa does to play all over the field and is better than DeRosa defensively. What Hendry would give up in power with DeRosa, Figgins would give the Cubs in more speed, athleticism and a proven lead off hitter.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Bang for the Buck!

It seems that economic conditions have given tremendous cover for Hendry and the Cubs to go on the cheap for improving the ball club for 2009.

Without discussing the validity of this spin we can assume that if the offense is significantly upgraded, Hendry won't be able to address both the need for a legitimate leadoff man and a left handed power hitting outfielder. That begs the question, if the Cubs can go after only one, which should it be?

Well there are two camps here, so let's do a little plus/minus with the present roster and see what conclusions we can come up with.

Realistically looking at the Cubs big free agent acquisition of last year, the best we can hope for is a modest improvement. This of course still doesn't make Fukudome worth the money, but if can cut down on the strikeouts and put the ball in play more often, it might make the expense a little easier to swallow. Fukudome is still a plus defensively and brings another LHB to the lineup. He should start next season as the everyday RF'er and if he doesn't improve, waive his ass.

The Cubs once again find themselves in a position of having too many second baseman, and our SS may be best suited to play there as well. This is a real problem as only Cedeneo has superior defensive range and athleticism as a middle infielder but is one of the weaker ones offensively. I think Cedeneo would improve offensively if given the chance to play everyday but the Cubs probably only have a two year window with it's big guns to win it all and I just can't see Piniella going this direction.

The Cubs do have a LHB that plays 2B and although his sample of AB's is not large (479), his line of 290BA 369OBP 826OPS with 34 Doubles 5 Triples and 12 HR's is not to shabby. It's in the Cubs best interests to give Fontenot every shot to be the Cubs everyday second baseman this spring and plan accordingly. I know we have DeRosa's bat that needs to be in the lineup, but with his defensively versatility in the field, I think he can get his AB's and still be productive. DeRosa is coming off a career year and considering he may revert to his norm, his role as a bench player may not be as big a loss offensively as it looks on first blush.

If we look at the Cubs defensive shortcomings other than the Fonz in LF, which no one will replace his offensive numbers, the middle infield is the most susceptible. Theriot like DeRosa, is coming off of a career year and both of their trade values will probably never be higher. If Hendry can get a left handed hitting, superior glove to replace Theriot, it would help the team immeasurably. The team's first defensive priority should be as strong up the middle as possible. With Fukudome able to play CF if Pie doesn't make the team or is traded, the Cubs would be an excellent defensive team while adding at least 2 LHB's to the lineup.

A player like Furcal, would give you more bang for the buck as he would be both an offensive and defensive upgrade to the team while being a similar cost to adding an Abreu or Ibanez. Neither of these free agent outfielders is superior to Fukudome. There is no doubt both Abreu and Ibanez have displayed an ability to rake, but Abreu at this point in his career is an average RF'er at best and Ibanez hasn't played but a handful of games in RF his whole career.

The Cubs have plenty of thumpers, but have serious shortcomings with their leadoff man and SS. Come next seasons trading deadline, it will be much easier for the Cubs to replace an outfielder than a quality defensive SS that can leadoff.

A lineup that could feature up to four LHB's if Pie is able to make the team, you will have balanced the lineup significantly by replacing Theriot's bat with Furcals and DeRosa's bat with Fontenots. With Pie in CF, you've improved the overall team defense and speed, upgraded the leadoff spot and improved Soriano's RBI production. Against tough lefties DeRosa could spell Fukudome or Fontenot and Johnson could spell Pie. This allows Piniella offensive flexibility while still having the ability to make late inning defensive replacements.

Most people don't get second chances but Hendry does now. Go get Furcal now Jimbo, and don't make the same mistake twice.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Small Changes

Much has been made of two consecutive postseason sweeps of the Cubs with players, manager and fans, scratching their heads how a team on a roll entering the 2007 post season, and a team that won 97 games entering the 2008 post season could fail so miserably.

If we look at the pitching staff while not lights out, it's hard to say other than Dempster's walk-a-thon in the first game against the Dodgers, had very little to do with the Cubs losing the series. It can be argued that Piniella's game one decisions in 2007 and 2008 certainly didn't help the Cubs to victory, but the impotence of a season long productive offense, especially in 2008 was the big culprit.

It's not hard to understand that many players don't perform up to their regular season numbers during the post season as they are usually facing quality rotations where the 5th. and quite possibly the 4th. starter never start a game.

It doesn't discount the fine offensive season most of the Cubs had but it does shed some light on the fact that against quality pitching, many of the Cubs didn't perform as expected.

The point of this article is to see why, and explore some options that might help many of these same players be more productive.

First, there are very few playoff teams I can think of that start their lineup with a free swinging power hitter, even if he has speed. Sure there have been a few Ricky Henderson types, but anyone that isn't living under a rock understands that Alfonso Soriano isn't a Ricky Henderson.

The big boondoggle that has been perpetrated here is that Soriano is a leadoff man because he has so much experience hitting leadoff. Well if Soriano has all that experience, how come he isn't any fucking better at it?

Leadoff hitters work the count, not because they can't hit and are hoping to get a walk, but precisely the opposite. These are the most patient hitters on the team and they have the ability to spoil pitch after pitch until the pitcher makes a mistake or walks them. Building up those pitch counts for the opposing pitcher is the other important responsibility of a leadoff man and Soriano just fails at it miserably.

Of course Soriano has speed and when coupled with his power, it is the narcotic that clouds the minds of otherwise sane managers into thinking he can be a leadoff man, especially when the team doesn't have a proven option to replace him with.

Soriano has to move out of the leadoff spot. You just can't have an undisciplined whiff machine, getting more AB's than anyone else come the post season.

Second, it has been long acknowledged that a teams most productive hitter bats third in the lineup. You know the type, good average, low strikeouts, and good power with a knack to drive in runs. Do the Cubs have such a player? The closest player they have is Aramis Ramirez.

Derrick Lee has been the number three hitter since 2005 and while he still has a good BA and OBP, his power numbers have been declining and he still whiffs way to often. However if Lee hit in the 5 hole, he could provide protection for an undisciplined hitter like Soriano, hitting immediately behind him. If Soriano were to get on base, the patient Lee would allow Soriano to still run and possibly cut down on the 27 double plays Lee hit into last season.

This revised middle of the order would prove to be more effective with Soriano's power sandwiched between two of the more disciplined power hitters on the team and still afford Soriano plenty of AB's and opportunities to still steal a base.

Third, now that Soriano is out of the leadoff spot we need a replacement. As I mentioned earlier, you need a disciplined hitter to fill that role and for that matter the 2 hole as well. Ryan Theriot demonstrated last year that he can perform well for a whole season and actually had some experience, albeit with mixed results as a leadoff man. If Theriot was told from the jump that the leadoff role was his to lose, I think he could perform well there.

Many of the runs scored last year came as a result of having the high on base hitter Theriot, on base in front of the big bangers. If Theriot is inserted in the leadoff spot, the Cubs will need to replace him with an equally proficient on base machine in the 2 hole.

The righty/lefty tandem of Mark DeRosa and Mike Fontenot, would be the best suited to address the need for another disciplined hitter in that crucial 2 hole in the order. Both have shown discipline at the plate and of course that is the key ingredient of hitters at the top of the order.

Fourth, even without securing a power left handed bat, which I still hope is possible, I can't imagine Fukudome performing worse than he did the last half of 2008. If no acquisition is made, certainly Pie and possibly Hoffpauir, depending on how Fukudome is performing will see more time in the outfield. Of course the platooning of Reed Johnson in the outfield and DeRosa just about everywhere, will help the Cubs against the tough left handed pitchers.

This Cubs lineup is quite formidable and I haven't even mentioned our Rookie of the Year catcher Geovany Soto. He's a stud and will play most every game.

Hopefully a quality left handed bat for the middle of the order can be acquired before we enter next season but if not, the small adjustments mentioned above could get more consistent production out of the lineup against the top pitchers in the league.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Money, Money, Money, Monnnnney, MONEY!

It seems the Cubs quest so far to improve the team for next year is to make the bullpen weaker, resign a 31 year old starter for 4 years and $52M coming off a career year and Mark The Fuck Teahan?

Those of you willing to buy into this, we haven't sold the team yet and the economy is bad bullshit, are just as full of it as Hendry is trying to make us swallow this jerkshake of an explanation.

Do you really think that the Trib couldn't afford another $30M in expanded payroll for the one commodity that will bring them any significant return? Bullshit!

What I can't believe is how readily the papers, blogs and fans are buying into this nonsense.

Just ask yourself this, didn't the Cubs franchise turn a profit last year and maybe a bigger profit than ever before? Of course they did on both counts and crying poor mouth regardless of the countries economic conditions is just absurd. Even if Zell took the lowest bid to buy the Cubs, which is a deal that could be consummated immediately, he would still realize a tremendous profit.

So wake up folks and let your voices be heard. Payroll was recently expanded because Zell thought it would increase the value of the Cubs and maximize his fleecing of the next owner. Just because it's a buyers market, doesn't mean it's in Zell's best interests to not improve the team.

This is the problem that corporate ownership brings to a sporting franchise. It also is why a man like Cuban, even if squeaky clean would never be voted in as a MLB owner. The last thing MLB wants is another owner like Stienbrenner, who is hell bent on fielding a winner at any cost.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Budget Pressure

The big question for all Cub fans is how can the team be more productive in the playoffs? We've seen with horror how a fine 2008 regular season came crashing down in the playoffs, but can we excuse this outcome with the alibi that a short best of five playoff series is really a crap shoot?

While I believe that the short series format is absurd when MLB has extra days off built into the playoffs, but that's another issue for another time. The truth of the matter is that there is some validity to the belief that a team enjoying success throughout the regular season can still be only slightly better than 50/50 come playoff time.

If we breakdown the major aspects of any successful team we know it all starts with pitching, but the defense and offense can't be afterthoughts. Now there is no doubt that the Cubs where leaders or in the top echelon of MLB in all three of these categories during the 2008 season. So does the crap shoot theory in the playoffs explain the Cubs exit? Not hardly and here is why.

Yes it's is true that anything can happen in a short series and with that caveat, the better team isn't guaranteed to come out victorious. But let me ask you this. Did it look like the Cubs were even in the same league as the Dodgers? We know that the numbers said that the series should have at least been competitive, if not favor the Cubs outright. So WTF happened? Let's look at the following...


A definite strength of the Cubs, but who could have expected that Dempster would shit in his pants on the big stage? The Cubs down 0-1 at home placed even more pressure than the short series already has on any team and certainly contributed to the tight play of it's players in game two.


We've all heard that you build your teams defense up the middle first, and while the Cubs were above average statistically, anyone with eyes to see understand the range and ability of our middle infielders was sub par.


Once again, the Cubs led most offensive categories, even the one least likely OBP. OBP had been a major Achilles heel for the usually free swinging Cubs, but during the regular season the Cubs made great strides in addressing this issue. So what happened in the playoffs?

When you look a hitters numbers over the course of a season you have to understand that much of their success comes from facing the weak sisters of baseball and that even when you play a potential playoff contender, quite frequently your team can often miss that teams number one starter.

When the playoffs role around, there are no weak sisters to play and your team will most certainly face the other staffs ace at least once if not twice. This can explain how a teams regular seasons offensive numbers can quite often be misleading. Superior pitching does in fact negate many teams hitters and that's why a balanced lineup can play such a key role in victory.

There just isn't much room for error with most playoff teams having superior rotations. So the teams that demonstrate the most patience at the plate and pay error free defense usually succeed. Looking back at a Cubs lineup that featured their least disciplined batter getting more AB's than most anyone else, you can see how that shoots to shit the idea of plate discipline and making the opponent's pitcher pile up his pitch count.

Soriano is like many successful hitters that fail miserably in the playoffs. He accumulates most of his good numbers during the regular season by beating up the back end of most opponent's rotations. When you consider the short supply of quality starting pitchers in the league, it's not hard to imagine how many above average hitters put up some pretty good numbers over the course of the season.

Did Soriano alone scuttle the Cubs offense this post season? Of course not. In any playoffs series, especially a short one when there is such a premium on every win and especially the first game, Piniella's decision to replace the highest BA and OBP hitter on the team Theriot, in the two hole with the worst hitter on the team Fukudome, really set the stage for the Cubs offense to fail. Not much chance for small ball with those two at the top of the order. This decision I suspect didn't go unnoticed by the rest of the lineup and once they fell behind in game one, it's understandable although not acceptable, that the team looked lost offensively.

The batting order on most teams places a premium on having their best OBP hitters at the top of their order, and with good reason. The Cubs lack of a true lead off man may not make the difference during the course of a long season, but in the playoffs when every base runner is at a premium, it is an absolute must that the top of the order have the hitters than can get on base by every means possible and work the count.

When considering the direction that Hendry has followed this off season so far, we only hope he understands the need to address the teams need for a quality, proven lead off hitter. More balance is also needed in a lineup that can fall victim to a predominant right handed pitching rotation. Hendry just can't secure any LHB to hit in the middle of the order, he has to acquire a quality run producer.

These two offensive weaknesses mightily contributed to the short circuit of the Cubs offense in the postseason. We can only hope Hendry has enough payroll left to address the Cubs biggest reason for their recent playoff failure. If not, committing the dollars to resign Dempster will have been for naught.

The way the rotation is set, there has been no significant upgrade and the bullpen may even be weaker. If the quality additions mentioned are not made to the offense, a likely repeat of last years playoffs is more likely than not.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Demp Gets His Due

Ryan Dempster is reportedly being resigned to the tune of 4 years at $54M. Now the question swings to if the Cubs could have spent that money more wisely.

Although Dempster may well not achieve a season like last year, there is every indication that he will perform as well as many the Cubs could have signed as free agents.

Here is a list of this years possible free agent pitchers...

Kris Benson rhp
1 year (2008)
released by Philadelphia 8/30/08
agent: Gregg Clifton
ML service: 8.000 (through 2006)

A.J. Burnett rhp
5 years/$55M (2006-10)
signed as a free agent 12/05
$6M signing bonus
06:$1M, 07:$12M, 08:$12M, 09:$12M, 10:$12M
Burnett may opt out of the contract after 2008
agent: Darek Braunecker & Mark Rodgers
ML service: 8.038

Paul Byrd rhp
2 years/$14.25M (2006-07), plus 2008 club option
2 years/$14.25M (2006-07), plus 2008 club option
signed as a free agent 12/05
06:$7M, 07:$7M, 08:$7.5M club option ($0.25M buyout)
2008 option may increase to $11M, with $1M buyout
agent: Bo McKinnis
ML service: 11.072

Shawn Chacon rhp
1 year/$2M (2008)
placed on release waivers by Houston 6/26/08, released 6/30/08
agent: Dan Horwits
ML service: 6.140

Matt Clement rhp
1 year/$1.5M (2008), plus 2009 club option
released by St. Louis 8/2/08
agent: Barry Axelrod
ML service: 9.024

Bartolo Colon rhp
1 year (2008)
signed by Boston as a free agent 2/25/08 (minor-league contract)
$1.25M on Major League roster ($18,000/month in minors)
deal includes up to $5.75M in roster, performance bonuses
contract purchased 5/21/08
placed on suspended list 9/19/08
placed on restricted list 9/25/08
agent: Mitch Frankel
ML service: 10.112

Shawn Estes lhp
1 year/$0.55M (2008)
free agent 10/5/08 after refusing outright assignment by San Diego
agent: Dave Meier
ML service: 10.101

Josh Fogg rhp
1 year/$1M (2008)
agent: Dan Horwits
ML service: 6.030

Freddy Garcia rhp
2008 contract purchased by Detroit 9/17/08
signed as a free agent 8/12/08 (minor-league contract)
agent: Peter Greenberg
ML service: 9.000

Jon Garland rhp
3 years/$29M (2006-08)
agent: Craig Landis
ML service: 7.071

Tom Glavine lhp
1 year/$8M (2008)
signed as a free agent 11/19/07
perks: suite on road
agent: Gregg Clifton
ML service: 20.052

Mike Hampton lhp
8 years/$121M (2001-08), plus 2009 club option
$20M signing bonus ($1M to charity, $19M deferred to 2009-18 at 3% interest)
01:$8M, 02:$8.5M, 03:$11M, 04:$12M, 05:$12.5M, 06:$13.5M, 07:$14.5M, 08:$15M, 09:$20M club option ($6M buyout)
agent: Mark Rodgers
ML service: 14.073

Mark Hendrickson lhp
1 year/$1.5M (2008)
ML service: 5.056

Livan Hernandez rhp
1 year/$5M (2008)
agent: Greg Genske
ML service: 11.097

Orlando Hernandez rhp
2 years/$12M (2007-08)
$1M signing bonus
07:$4.5M, 08:$6.5M
agent: Greg Genske
ML service: 9.117

Jason Jennings rhp
1 year/$4M (2008)
agent: Casey Close
ML service: 6.039

Randy Johnson lhp
2 years/$26M (2007-08)
agents: Alan Nero & Barry Meister
ML service: 19.020

Byung-Hyun Kim rhp
1 year/$0.85M (2008)
released by Pittsburgh 3/26/08 ($0.3M buyout)
agent: Scott Boras
ML service: 8.009

Jon Lieber rhp
1 year/$3.5M (2008)
agent: Rex Gary
ML service: 13.077

Esteban Loaiza rhp
3 years/$21.375M (2006-08), plus $7.5M 2009 club option
released by Chicago White Sox 7/25/08
agent: John Boggs
ML service: 12.052

Braden Looper rhp
3 years/$13.5M (2006-08)
signed as a free agent 12/05
06:$3.5M, 07:$4.5M, 08:$5.5M
$1M annually in performance bonuses (GF & other categories)
agent: Hendricks Sports
ML service: 9.012

Derek Lowe rhp
4 years/$36M (2005-08)
signed as a free agent 1/05
05:$7.5M, 06:$9M, 07:$9.5M, 08:$10M
agent: Scott Boras
ML service: 10.100

Greg Maddux rhp
1 year/$10M (2008)
acquired by LA Dodgers in trade from San Diego 8/19/08
agent: Scott Boras
drafted 1984 (2-31)
ML service: 21.021

Pedro Martinez rhp
4 years/$53M (2005-08)
$3.5M signing bonus (paid 05-08)
05:$10M, 06:$14M, 07:$14M, 08:$11M
$10M of 06-08 salaries deferred at 5% interest
agent: Fern Cuza, SFX
ML service: 15.026

Mark Mulder lhp
2 years/$13M (2007-08), plus 2009 club option
re-signed as a free agent 1/07
07:$5M, 08:$6.5M, 09:$11M club option ($1.5M buyout)
agent: Gregg Clifton
ML service: 7.167

Mike Mussina rhp
2 years/$23M (2007-08)
agent: Arn Tellum
ML service: 16.066

Russ Ortiz rhp
1 year/$0.38M (2007)
agent: John Boggs
ML service: 9.125

John Patterson rhp
1 year/$0.85M (2008)
released by Washington 3/20/08
agent: Casey Close
ML service: 4.126

Carl Pavano rhp
4 years/$39.95M (2005-08), plus 2009 club option
signed as a free agent 12/04
05:$9M, 06:$8M, 07:$10M, 08:$11M, 09:$13M club option
($1.95M buyout)
agent: Gregg Clifton
ML service: 9.161

Brad Penny rhp
3 years/$25.5M (2006-08), plus 2009 club option
signed extension 6/05
$3M signing bonus (paid 2006-08)
06:$4.5M, 07:$7.5M, 08:$8.5M, 09:$8.75M club option ($2M buyout)
agent: Greg Genske, Brian Peters
ML service: 8.000

Odalis Perez lhp
1 year/$0.85M (2008)
agent: Pat Rooney
ML service: 9.027

Oliver Perez lhp
1 year (2008)
won in arbitration 2/22/08 ($6.5M)
agent: Mike Fischlin, Scott Boras Corp.
ML service: 5.034

Andy Pettitte lhp
1 year/$16M (2008)
agents: Hendricks brothers
ML service: 13.000

Sidney Ponson rhp
1 year (2008)
contract purchased 6/27/08
signed as a free agent 6/18/08 (minor-league contract)
agent: Barry Praver
ML service: 8.167

Mark Prior rhp
1 year/$1M (2008)
signed as a free agent 12/26/07
$4.5M in performance bonuses
agent: John Boggs
ML service: 5.131

C.C. Sabathia lhp
2 years/$17.75M (2007-08)
acquired in trade from Cleveland 7/7/08
signed extension 4/05 (Cleveland picked up 2006 option at same time)
07:$8.75M, 08:$9M
may earn $7.75M in award & performance bonuses:
up to $2M in 2006, $3M in 2007, $2.75M in 2008
award bonuses for top 5 finish in MVP vote or top 2 finish in Cy Young vote ($0.25M for 2007 Cy Young)
2007 Cy Young increases 2008 salary to $11M
$0.1M award bonus for All Star selection
agent: Scott Parker, Brian Peters, Legacy Sports
drafted 1998 (1-20)
ML service: 7.000

Curt Schilling rhp
1 year/$8M (2008)
agent: Ed Hayes
ML service: 17.134

Ben Sheets rhp
4 years/$38.5M (2005-08)
$4.5M signing bonus (paid in 3 installments, from 4/05 to 10/06)
05:$4.5M, 06:$8.5M, 07:$10M, 08:$11M
full no-trade clause 2005-07
limited no-trade clause for 2008 (may be traded to only 8 clubs)
agent: Casey Close
ML service: 7.000

John Smoltz rhp
1 year/$14M (2008), plus 2009 & 2010 options
signed extension with Atlanta 4/07
08:$14M, 09:$12M option, 10: club option
2009 option guaranteed with 200 IP in 2008
2010 option: $13M (200 IP in '09) or $12M (less than 200 IP in '09)
agent: Lonnie Cooper, Career Sports & Entertainment
ML service: 19.072

Steve Trachsel rhp
1 year/$1.5M (2008)
DFA by Baltimore 6/10/08, released 6/13/08
contract purchased 3/27/08
signed as a free agent 2/11/08 (minor-league contract)
1 year/$3.1M (2007), plus 2008 club option
signed as a free agent 2/07
07:$3M, 08:$4.75M club option ($0.1M buyout)
performance bonuses: $0.25M annually
agents: Levinson brothers
ML service: 14.017

Kip Wells rhp
1 year/$3.1M (2008)
signed by Colorado as a free agent 12/13/07
$1.5M in performance bonuses
signed by Kansas City as a free agent 8/19/08 after being DFA 8/10/08 (KC pays pro-rated portion of $0.39M ML minimum, with Colorado responsible for balance of Wells' $3.1M salary) released by Kansas City 10/24/08
agent: Hendricks Sports
ML service: 7.116

Randy Wolf lhp
1 year/$4.75M (2008)
acquired in trade from San Diego 7/22/08
agent: Arn Tellum
ML service: 8.115

Jamey Wright rhp
1 year/$1M (2008)
agent: Casey Close
ML service: 9.110

When you consider acquiring a free agent as fickle as a starting pitcher, I think Hendry decided to go with whom he knew. As you can see from this list, many of the pitchers are not in the same league as Dempster, many that are or have a more dazzling resume are on the wrong side of their career, and the few that do compare in age and salary range just didn't many any sense for Hendry to go a different direction unless of course Dempster would have forced the issue by trying to get every dollar possible.

Yeah there are some studs out there. The big one being CC Sabathia, will be asking for the moon, Derek Lowe is 36 and wants the same number of years Dempster took and AJ Burnett and Ben Sheets while talented, will not come much cheaper if at all and pose a health risk that make Kerry Wood look like a sure bet to stay off the disabled list.

The only other course of action for Hendry to take would have been to gamble on a youngster from the organization. Of course this is not Hendry's MO, especially when the team has to perform in the next year or two. Actually I would have prefered to trade Marquis and go with Marshall, but Marquis is due $9.5M. Unless the Yankees swing and miss on the 2 or 3 big starters left, what team would trade for him and absorb Marquis's salary?

The main problem with the Cubs having a rotation with over $50M committed, there isn't much payroll left to acquire the quality leadoff man and power hitting RF unless the budget is expanded. Even with a slightly increased budget, Hendry would still have to be creative with a trade to address the Cubs biggest postseason weakness, a balanced offense. More on that later.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

End of an Era...

KERRY WOOD is gone. You'll pardon the caps on WOOD'S name, but some one has to show KID K some fucking respect.

Is WOOD'S departure understandable? The conventional wisdom being spouted out by an organization that has been less than forthright with it's fans certainly would seem so. You know the company line, "it's a poor economy and budget constraints from the uncertain sale of the team, blah, blah, blah, blah blah." All this is true as far as it goes but what this reasoning doesn't address, is the piss poor manner in which this team was assembled with excessive, multi-year, back loaded contracts.

The shame of it all is that WOOD, went through hell to morph himself into a viable asset to this team and now is out the door.

Do I want what's best for the team as a whole? Of course I do. But when you look back at some of the knucklehead long term, expensive contracts for players of significantly less value, you wonder why at this time Hendry cries poor mouth over the only player that has gone through hell and back for the team and city he loves.

Of course this move is par for the course from an organization that holds back season tickets so their own ticket scalping firm, Prime Tickets, can stick it to their own fans.

WOOD exemplifies everything Hendry and the Cubs organization isn't, CLASSY!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


It's unrealistic to expect much movement this early into the offseason, but the Padres desire to trade Peavy as soon as possible is certainly feeding the rumor mills in the cities of Atlanta, San Diego and Chicago.

One question that most of us here in Chicago have to concern ourselves with is, other than the Padre's intent to slash payroll, why the rush?

The Cubs must be very careful and leave no stone unturned to determine if Peavy is completely healthy. It's not as if Peavy hasn't had a couple of episodes on the DL with both his shoulder and elbow.

The Cubs already are relying on Harden, who most likely will need to have at least some accommodations made in his rest between starts to keep him healthy. If their is any question about Peavy's health, is it wise for the Cubs to pursue him?

There is no doubt if Peavy is healthy, he is a certifiable ace. Still, health issues aside, Peavy's Home and Away splits are not so great. Petco Park is definitely no Wrigley Field and if his present away numbers become the Cubs home numbers, Peavy certainly is no bargain at sixty-some million.

It's not like the Cubs don't have other options and the full court press by the Padres to move him ASAP, should give cause for concern.

What are your thoughts?

Monday, November 3, 2008

Off Season Musings

I'd like to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of what players the Cubs already have, to determine if they have reasonable alternatives to some of their present starters. If they do, we could possibly achieve a better balanced lineup while freeing up money for a Free Agent or two.

The 2008 starting rotation was a strength last year but we have R. Dempster filing for Free Agency. He most certainly deserves a big, long term payday, but is resigning him in the best interests of the team?

There is no doubt his numbers were awfully good last year, 17-6, 2.96 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, .227 BA and 200 + innings. With that said let me ask you this question. Did anyone think Dempster's line would look anything like that? I know I didn't, and this is the problem with signing a player at 31, who is coming off a career year.

We also have to consider Dempster's own admission that the significance of the playoff moment made it a problem for him to stay focused. A pitcher's biggest asset is his ability to out think his opponent, regardless of the stuff he has on any given day. Therefore if he is rattled, he loses one of his most important weapons. Dempster's Free Agent status makes resigning him an expensive risk that needs to be seriously questioned.

If the Cubs don't resign Dempster, could S. Marshall have a similar breakout season? It's a tall order I know but at least Marshall demonstrated that the pressure of the moment in last year's playoffs didn't faze him. Marshall also has been ready to assume a starter's role with the Cubs, but has had big money contracts in the rotation blocking him.

IMHO, replacing Dempster with a LHSP like Marshall who costs nothing, is no more of a risk than last year's gamble that Dempster would work out. With the difference in salary and commitment between the two of them, it's a no brainer for the Cubs to give Marshall the opportunity he has earned.

I know everyone has an idea concerning J. Marquis's value to the Cubs, but at $9.5M for 2009, I just can't see who would take him in a trade without the Cubs eating at least half of his salary. Marquis may not be worth what the Cubs are paying him, but when you consider eating over $4M if they trade him, his real cost is cut in half. At that cost, the Cubs could certainly do worse for a #5 starter.

No matter what course of action the Cubs take on the rotation, the bullpen was also was one of last year's team strengths, and it too has an expensive Free Agent in K. Wood to consider resigning. Wood like Dempster, deserves a big multi-year contract and again we have to ask ourselves, if it's in the best interests of the Cubs to resign him.

If the Cubs have any strength in their organization it is pitching. With Marmol chomping at the bit, it wouldn't be a stretch to see him as effective as Wood in the closer's role at a fraction of the cost.

There are other holes in the bullpen if Howry and Lieber are not resigned, but I doubt anyone would shed a tear to see either of these past their prime pitchers leave. Gaudin should be healthy, Guzman looked good after his September call up and Samardzija should only be more effective after him getting his feet wet this season. The bullpen is short of lefties and although Cotts is serviceable, he is not the typical shut down LHRP the Cubs need. There are Free Agent LHRP's available in Feuntes and Marte, that could fill that role and I can't believe they would cost the Cubs anywhere near the money that a commitment to Wood will.

If these moves in the rotation and bullpen are made, the Cubs could save some $15M to 20M in payroll and have more flexibility to address balancing the lineup with a legitimate lead off man and more productive LHB's.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Dollars and Sense?

The spin from the Trib recently is trying to brace the faithful that money needed to be spent for next years version of the Chicago National League Ball Club may not increase very much. No hard rational is being given for this approach, but it seems that the Trib is hoping the Cubs fans will buy into the fact that the 2008 Cubs won 97 games, and only some minor tweaking will be necessary to get them to the World Series.

Well I'm not buying it, are you?

If we breakdown the current roster we notice that without resigning Dempster, Wood, Howry and Lieber, the payroll due to backloaded contracts will increase from $104M in 2008 to $111M in 2009. Now the Cub's total 2008 payroll was $118M, which means that some $14M went to the other nuts and bolts on the team. If that ancillary $14M remains static in 2009, the payroll would sit at $125M without doing a thing to upgrade, or replace Dempster, Wood, Howry and Lieber.

Pretty grim facts for Cub fans when the bean counters feel they only need a moderate increase in payroll to tweak the team.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Well now that we have the top of the organization locked up for good or bad, how are the Tribune bean counters going to approach the budget? Changes are going to be made and to what extent an increase in budget is necessary, Hendry has to make his case that "whatever it takes" is the attitude the Tribune should have. The Tribune has deemed Hendry 'The Man," so to tie his hands with a limited payroll would be the ultimate slap in the face of every loyal Cub fan.

Here is a list of the contracts for 2008 and 2009 for the major players on the Cubs.

$15.000 2008
$17.750 2009

$14.000 2008
$15.650 2009

$13.000 2008
$16.000 2009

$13.000 2008
$13.000 2009

$7.000 2008
$12.000 2009

$6.000 2008
$11.500 2009

$5.500 2008

$6.375 2008
$9.875 2009

$4.750 2008
$5.500 2009

$4.500 2008
$7.000 2009

$4.500 2008

$4.000 2008

$3.500 2008

$2.800 2008
$3.000 2009

$103.925 2008
$111.275 2009

As you can see the back loaded contracts are increasing the payroll even without the resigning of three relief pitchers, Howry, Lieber and Wood, and the one starter, Dempster. Of course the ancillary contracts of the rest of the team will remain somewhat static and the main increase of the budget will come from Hendry's acquisitions through trades and free agency.

As I've noted in previous posts, even if next years pitching staff performed as well as last years, the Cubs have to deal with the lack of productive LHB's.

So here is your chance to play GM and tell us all what you would do. I'll post my thoughts later.

Monday, October 20, 2008

2008 World Series Matchup

Well here we are on the eve of the fall classic with the worst to first Tampa Bay Rays vs. every baseball fans favorite team, the Chicago Cubs. What an historic event, hey?

Of course the 2008 World Series does not have the Chicago Cubs representing the National League, it has the first franchise to 10,000 losses, the Philadelphia Phillies. A point that should not be lost on those few faithful left in Cubdom, that milestones of futility don't necessarily mean good things can't happen.

When you look at the series matchup you are however struck by some striking differences in how these teams are constructed opposed to the Cubs. There are a number of stats for sure on the face of it, that you could argue the Cubs compare quite favorably. However, on closer examination the raw numbers, BA, OBP, Runs Scored and ERA don't accurately show the true makeup of the teams.

Characteristics like balance, managerial decisions and that never give up attitude are hard to quantify but let me try.

First, when you see the Phillies in 5 games dispatch the Dodgers, who had just swept the Cubs, you have to ask yourself, WTF just happened?

Second, when you see the Red Sox down 3 to 1 come back from a 7 run deficit with just a handful of outs left in an elimination game, then almost win the damn series you have to ask yourself, WTF just happened?

Third, when you see the Rays bring in a rookie pitcher that had only one month of MLB experience into a bases loaded situation in a 2 run game in the 8th inning then, let him close out the game you have to ask yourself, WTF just happened?

When you take a closer look at the Cubs you can see how these intangibles while they do not alone take the place of talent, are key ingredients in a teams ability to advance against the elite teams vying for a championship.

First, the lack of balance in Cubs lineup really pokes you right in the eye when looking at the above mentioned teams. The Cubs lack of quality LHB's in their lineup made a good Dodger RHP staff all look like Cy Young.

Second, I think we all saw the value of defense throughout the playoffs and I can't think of one team that wasn't extremely strong up the middle.

Third, where was the fucking passion and grittiness of the Cubs? Outside of the helmet bashing, bat flinging of Lee in game 3, were the rest of these lames sleep walking or what?

Lastly, can you ever imagine Piniella relying on the rookie pitcher Price, in a do or die situation?

Still Hendry and Piniella are given extensions, WTF!

Friday, October 17, 2008


After witnessing the dominant RH pitching staff of the Dodgers getting pantsed by the Phillies, we must realize that one of the Cubs most glaring weaknesses is not having a balanced lineup.

The Cubs had five players that hit 20 or more HR's and all of them were right handed.

Soto is a young quality defensive catcher that doesn't cost anything so moving him makes no sense.

DeRosa's versatility defensively is invaluable and isn't much of a hit to the payroll either.

Soriano's contract makes it almost impossible for the Cubs to move him.

Ramirez plays a position that there aren't many in all of baseball that could come anywhere close to his production, not to mention the ones that do aren't free agents or a LHB.

That leaves Lee. If there ever was a position with the exception of LF where you could afford to not have a Gold Glover, it would be 1B. The Cubs have a young power hitting LHB in Hoffpauir that certainly does not compare favorably defensively to Lee, but playing 1B is still his natural position. Hoffpauir doesn't cost anything and Lee, even with his no trade clause could garner some significant talent in return if he granted a trade.

If Fukudome doesn't improve much and Edmonds retires, the Cubs will have a less balanced lineup than last year.

Fortunately free agents have no conscience and with money as their mantra, there are two that would greatly help balance the Cubs lineup.

1) R. Furcal is a switch hitting SS with great range, a cannon arm and is a legit lead off man.

2) M. Bradley has better power numbers than anyone presently on the Cubs roster and is the type of outspoken feisty leader I think the Cubs sorely need. I know he has a history of injuries but is a stud when healthy. For a frame of reference, JD Drew also had such a past, but it didn't stop the Red Sox from signing him and as this post season has proved, Drew can come through in the clutch.

A CF and RF consisting of Bradley, DeRosa, Johnson and Fukudome, could produce the flexibility needed for Piniella to mix and match his lineup effectively.

You could let Fontenot compete with Theriot for the 2B job and have a legit backup when the dust settles.

Unfortunately Pie is out of options, which further exacerbates the foolishness of the Fukudome signing. Great job scouting department. I'd be willing to give Pie a shot but Fukudome isn't going anywhere, and you'd be hard pressed to think Pie would put up numbers as productive as Bradley. If Bradley is signed, Pie and Cedeneo should be packaged to a small market team where hopefully the Cubs take a quality arbitration eligible player that the small market team could not or would not be willing to pay up for.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Is It Chess Or Checkers

I've always been of the belief that during the season, a team with a decent amount of talent wins without much difficulty approximately 4 out of every 10 games. On the flip side, that same team loses another 4 out of every 10. These games both on the win and lose side are essentially blowouts. It's the other 2 out of 10 games where the manager can have a profound affect on the teams success or lack of.

Some managers, just like players are better than others and when as much as 20% of your games hang in the balance, it's important as hell that we have a manager that can not only rally his troops but is strategically one step ahead of his opposition if possible.

Probably no other aspect of the game magnifies these strategic decisions more than late game pitcher changes. I have my own opinions of Piniella, but I'd like to encourage all of you to give your assessment if you think Piniella is playing chess or checkers when making his strategic decisions. After you've all had your say I'll post my thoughts.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Two Thru Nine

As we look over the Cubs starting position players we will first look at how each of them rate at their position, then later look at how they compliment each other from a team aspect.


It's hard to complain about a catcher that is above average defensively and has the power numbers of Soto, but to have a catcher like Soto that performs that way as a rookie is outstanding. Soto also handled the pitching staff like a veteran. He is young and it seems willing enough to accept instruction to fix some of the holes in his swing. Soto is a real keeper and it gives Cubs fans a sliver of hope that the organization can actually produce some position player talent.

First Base...Lee

Lee is a superior glove man and again put up good numbers offensively, but at a position like 1B where the league has an abundance of power hitters, Lee rates out little better than average. High strikeouts have always plagued Lee and although he still carries a high OBP, his power numbers have gone down. If we look realistically at Lee's career numbers we find that before his 2005 season, he batted in the 5 hole. Comparing Lee to elite first baseman that play solid defense and hit in the 3 hole as Lee presently does, ie; Berkman, Pujols and Howard, to name just a few, Lee's $13 million salary is hefty and since he has 2 years left on his contract with a no-trade clause, he may not be easy to move. Still, the organization should explore all interests in him and if unable to trade him, move him down in the lineup to no higher than the 5 hole.

Second Base...DeRosa

DeRosa is coming off one of his finest offensive years but only plays average defense at second base. His real value to the team, sorry to say this Mark, is as a super sub or a corner outfielder. The problem is the Cubs have a shitload of money tied up in left and right field. DeRosa could get some steady playing time in RF if Fukudome struggles this spring and is willing to go down to AAA and see if he can get his stroke straightened out. However, the prospects of a $12 million, 32 year old being able to change his approach at the plate or the organization being willing to dump him is highly unlikely. With the Cubs in short supply of LHB's, Fontenot's performance this year should stand him in good stead at next year's spring training to win the 2B job outright.

Third Base...Ramirez

Ramirez has steadily improved to a quality defensive third baseman. His power numbers and low strikeouts make him a dangerous middle of the order presence and he even hustles on the base paths now. Ramirez had about half of his HR's hit after the 7th inning this year, and while many Cub fans are on the rag about his and many of the other teams big bangers not producing in the playoffs, let me share this little bit of information. Ryan Howard is 2 for 19 with zero HR's, 1 RBI and 7 K's this postseason.


Theriot had an outstanding year offensively, but there may be no other SS in baseball with as little range as him. With almost 3/4 of his hits being singles and his propensity to take the ball to RF, he is an ideal hitter in the 2 hole. Still defensively Theriot is best suited for 2B, and if he were moved there, it would bring back the nightmares of past Cubs teams that had no SS and a half a dozen 2B. Rafeal Furcal is a free agent after this season. Furcal hits left handed, has loads of speed, is an accomplished lead off man, and is a superior glove man with a strong arm. The Cubs should make every attempt to sign him this off season.

Left Field...Soriano

Almost 200 post season AB's is not a small sample and Soriano's numbers are abysmal. He doesn't run like he used to and his total lack of plate discipline make him a nightmare in the lead off role. Once again we have a monstrously expensive back loaded contract with a no trade clause that would make it almost impossible to move him, not that any other GM would be interested in assuming that contract. The Cubs are going to live and die with Soriano for the next 6 years, and a more suitable spot down in the order is a must for the Cubs roster to be as productive as possible.

Center Field...Edmonds/Johnson

Theses two players that were picked up off the waiver wire provided about as much defense and offensive production as could be expected from most full time CF's. Still Edmonds probably will retire and it's time to see if Pie is a legit major leaguer. Pie will most likely platoon with Johnson and the defense will be solid, but there will be a drop off in the power numbers. If Pie can approach his plate appearances like Johnson and learn to steal bases, that's a big if I know, the team will do just fine. Otherwise it looks like a platoon of Fukudome and Johnson in CF and all I can say is YUK! How many pitchers do you think we need to trade for Josh Hamilton?

Right Field...Fukudome

Well Fukudome certainly is no Suzuki or Hideke Matsui. Not even a Iwamura or Kaz Mutsui. Still, Fukudome has 3 years at $12 million with a no trade clause left on his contract. K. Matsui also struggled when he first came over with the Mets and was booed out of town. After arriving in Colorado, he went down to the minors and resurrected his career. I don't know if Fukudome at 32 can do that, but if he can't the Cubs will have the most expensive defensive replacement in baseball. How many pitchers do you think we need to trade for Josh Hamilton? I know that's a redundant question but the Cubs sorely need a LH power bat.

In Summary...

The Cubs need a lead off man, more speed and LHB's in the lineup.

Furcal addresses all of these needs and the only thing it will cost the Cubs is money. Furcal should be priority number one.

The Cubs also need more power from the left side.

If Lee can be moved, there is another free agent on the market this off season, Mark Teixeira. Teixeira is a switch hitting monster first baseman and again would only cost the Cubs money.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Bullpen Decisions

The Bullpen this year for the most part didn't sabotage many games and quite often was a strength. Still, middle relief started to raise some questions by years end.

Wood and Marmol, with the exception of some minor blips performed admirably. Wood is a free agent, and with the evaluation process of predicting a relief pitchers effectiveness from one year to the next pretty much a crap shoot, the Cubs would be well served to resign Wood.

Cotts being the only LHP in the pen will most assuredly be back and performed about as expected. Still Cotts is not would be described as a LH specialist and the Cubs could really use such a reliever. Fuentes of the Rockies and Marte of the Yankees are two excellent LHP candidates and either one would greatly help balance the bullpen.

Gaudin was performing well until his freak accident and should provide some quality middle relief innings.

Samardzija is raw but shows tremendous upside and should be able to land on spot on the 2009 roster.

Guzman, Hart and Wuertz should be battling for the final bullpen spot if a lefty isn't signed this off season. Howry's spotty performances in 2008 coupled with the fact he had a large contract and is now a free agent makes it hard to see how he's in the mix for next year.

The following is a list of the potential free agent relief pitchers...

Jeremy Affeldt CIN
Tony Armas Jr. PIT
Luis Ayala WAS
Joe Beimel LAD
Joe Borowski CLE
Juan Cruz ARZ
Brendan Donnelly BOS
Alan Embree * OAK
Scott Eyre CHC
Kyle Farnsworth DET
Casey Fossum DET
Brian Fuentes COL
Aaron Fultz CLE
Tom Gordon * PHI
LaTroy Hawkins HOU
Mark Hendrickson LAD
Trevor Hoffman SD
Bobby Howry CHC
Jason Isringhausen STL
Steve Kline SF
Brandon Lyon ARZ
Damaso Marte * NYY
Tom Martin COL
Julio Mateo PHI
Guillermo Mota MIL
Will Ohman CHC
Hideki Okajima * BOS
Darren Oliver LAA
John Parrish SEA
Chris Reitsma SEA
Dennys Reyes MIN
Juan Rincon CLE
Francisco Rodriguez LAA
Brian Shouse MIL
Rafael Soriano ATL
Jorge Sosa NYM
Mike Stanton * CIN
Salomon Torres * MIL
Derrick Turnbow MIL
Oscar Villarreal ATL
David Weathers CIN
Dan Wheeler TB
Dave Williams NYM
Matt Wise NYM
Jay Witasick TB
Kerry Wood CHC

Once again I'd like your thoughts and we'll discuss the potential starting position players next.

Update On The Rotation

Well it seems Harden doesn't need shoulder surgery and the Cubs have exercised their 2009 option for Harden for $7 million. I still think we need to make a strong push for CC Sabathia, especially if we don't resign Dempster and trade Marquis. Trading Marquis with only one year left on his contract and coming off one of his best seasons seems like a no brainer, especially with Marshall ready to move into his slot in the rotation.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

What Happens To The Starting Rotation?

The 2008 Chicago Cubs starting rotation was at or near the top of the league all year long. If there is one area of the Cubs that needs the least tinkering. Dempster is a free agent, Harden has an option the Cubs could pick up, Marquis is in his walk year and Zambrano and Lilly seem to be no brainers.

Although Dempster seemed to have crumbled in the bright spotlight of the postseason, his value this year was undeniable. Much will depend on what the terms are of resigning him. If other options are available the Cubs need to look at them, but barring any outrageous hard line negotiations, I think he deserves to be resigned and will be a valuable asset to the team.

Harden has ace like stuff but his durability has to be a concern. I can't see how his option can be picked up when the Cubs can and should make a run at Sabathia. As valuable as Harden can be, do we really want to be holding our breath when his next start will be?

Marquis may have been more effective than any other fifth starter in baseball, but if trading him can improve the team elsewhere, Marshall seems more than ready to fill that role.

The following is a list of the potential free agent starting pitchers available this off season...

Kris Benson PHI
A.J. Burnett TOR (may opt out)
Paul Byrd BOS
Ryan Dempster CHC
Jon Garland LAA
Tom Glavine ATL
Mike Hampton * ATL
Rich Harden * CHC
Orlando Hernandez NYM
Jason Jennings TEX
Randy Johnson ARZ
John Lackey * LAA
Esteban Loaiza CHW
Braden Looper STL
Derek Lowe LAD
Pedro Martinez NYM
Mike Mussina NYY
Jamie Moyer PHI
Mark Mulder * STL
Carl Pavano NYY
Brad Penny * LAD
Odalis Perez WAS
Oliver Perez NYM
Andy Pettitte NYY
Mark Prior SD
Horacio Ramirez CHW
C.C. Sabathia MIL
Ben Sheets MIL
John Smoltz * ATL
Julian Tavarez ATL
Steve Trachsel BAL
Brett Tomko SD
Claudio Vargas MIL
Randy Wolf HOU

So share your thoughts folks and we will discuss the bullpen next.


There are some broad guidelines a GM would use when constructing a team that can advance deep into the playoffs. Of course input from his scouting department and field manager are important but the GM should understand what makes for a quality playoff contender.

Good players are simply not enough. Most playoff teams have plenty of talent or they wouldn't be a playoff team in the first place. The eventual champion usually doesn't have a major deficiency ie; power, speed, bench, rotation or bullpen, and their manager and coaching staff have instilled a team philosophy that promotes heads up play that the players buy into.

When assessing the 2008 Chicago Cubs, it was fair to say that they didn't have a major deficiency. But the lineup wasn't balanced and the manager didn't have a game plan. Hitters were undisciplined and the pressure of the moment seemed to affect key personnel, including the manager.

Much of these shortcomings were a result of not having a game plan and team philosophy. If these little things that have nothing to do with talent were stressed during the season, players incapable or unwilling to adhere to the game plan could be replaced. The team then would be better able to handle the postseason pressure knowing if they were off their game, another teammate is more than capable of stepping in and doing the job.

It's that team philosophy and belief in the manager's game plan that inspires the confidence our 2008 Chicago Cubs seemed to lack.

Posts in the future will address the team's coaching staff, pitching and position players. So I encourage all of you to start formulating your own opinions and telling me where you agree or disagree.

Monday, October 6, 2008


Due to work related issues, I took leave from this site to contribute occasionally on John Dooley's GOPN site. But since the wild ride of 2008 has come crashing down with a thud for our beloved men in blue, I thought I'd recommit to posting regularly here on Lollygaggers.

Something is wrong with our Cubs and we all need to vent our opinions and offer suggestions to the new fearless leader who buys them.

So have at it folks and I'll follow up with my observations right after they release me from the mental ward.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Does D. Lee Belong Hitting Third?

If you believe so, you might want to consider the following...

A Ramirez

G-145 AB-547 R-99 H-174 2B-32 TR-1 HR-36 RBI-103
TB-316 BB-49 K-62
.373OBP .578SLG .318BA

A Ramirez

G-123 AB-463 R-72 H-140 2B-30 TR-0 HR-31 RBI-92
TB-263 BB-35 K-60
.358OBP .568SLG .302BA

A Ramirez

G-157 AB-594 R-93 H-173 2B-38 TR-4 HR-38 RBI-119
TB-333 BB-50 K-63
.352OBP .561SLG .291BA

A Ramirez

G-132 AB-506 R-72 H-157 2B-35 TR-4 HR-26 RBI-101
TB-278 BB-43 K-66
.366OBP .549SLG .310BA

Ramirez averaged over the last four years, a 362OBP, 564SLG and 305BA. More importantly, Aramis has only averaged 63 K's. Lets face it, the man puts the ball in play. This would create more opportunities for opposing defensive miscues that could lead to cheap RBI's.

For comparison, our current number three hitter D. Lee, excluding his injury shortened 2006 season, has posted an average over that same time of a 391OBP, 560SLG, 310BA and 117K's.

Pretty comparable numbers with one exception, Strikeouts. It's also safe to assume that Ramirez would have even a higher slugging percentage hitting in front of Lee instead of behind him along with a corresponding jump in his RBI totals.

We also have to remember Lee has benefited from Ramirez hitting behind him, where Ramirez has had no such protection in the lineup. Sandwiching Soriano, between Ramirez and Lee, would provide him with the much needed protection he doesn't receive in the leadoff spot.

Who then bats leadoff? Fukudome, is the easy choice. The Asian import is an on base machine with sufficient speed to handle the leadoff role. Fukudome also has enough power to drive in runners that most assuredly will be if on base with at least one if not two outs.

I also believe Pie and The Riot, should switch hitting second and eighth. Pie would benefit hitting with the big bangers immediately following him versus the pitcher.

The Riot, is slowly showing none of the discipline to be a top of the order hitter. Pie, hasn't shown much plate discipline either, but his ceiling is significantly higher and being left handed, would make the job of advancing the leadoff hitter much easier.

Piniella has shown a disdain for piss poor performance and I can only assume if this club continues to struggle offensively, changes like these aren't far from becoming a reality.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Lineups, Lineups, Lineups...

What's poor Piniella to do? After last season's college of coaches experiment with the lineup, Uncle Lou has pledged to have a more set lineup and rest his star players more frequently to keep them fresh for the stretch run.

If this is true, let's see who on the present roster would be a productive replacement and how the everyday lineup should be set to provide the most production.

First let's look at our likely everyday lineup.

There is no getting around the fact that if Pie and Theriot don't improve, when considering the pitcher's spot, the Cubs have three easy outs. That is at least one to many, no matter how you rearrange the lineup.

If this is a correct assessment, it shows Hendry does not understand the need to make use of the window of opportunity for the Cubs to win now and make a trade for a legitimate leadoff hitter.

The absence of addressing this issue is what will derail any legitimate hopes of the Cubs advancing deep into the playoffs.

It's no surprise that powerhouse teams like the Yankees and Red Sox, produce runs by the boatload because they lead the league most years in walks, not HR's.

Piniella's hands are going to be tied with his present options and Hendry must do whatever it takes to address the team's piss poor lack of OBP, especially at the top of the order. Piniella needs to have the two best OBP hitters in the lineup hitting 1 and 2 period.

With the present lineup, that would mean hitting Fukudome in the leadoff spot and D. Lee second. Even then, the weak bottom third of the order with Theriot, Pie and the pitcher, would suck major donkey dick.

If a key addition is not made, what bench players are going to make a difference without weakening the defense as well?

Ward can replace Lee, Fukudome or Soriano to give them a day off here and there and most certainly should be used more frequently than last year, but that move doesn't improve the team offensively or defensively.

DeRosa likewise can replace A-Ram and Theriot, but that even further weakens the offense and defense.

The key is for the Hendry to add a legitimate leadoff hitter. Much has been made about Hendry paying to high a price for Roberts, but could he possibly pay more for Roberts than he did for Pierre?

It's time, way overdue in my opinion, for Hendry to ship up or shape out.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Tradin' Times

We all realize that the free agent crop this year was sparse and how that development has brought back the trade as the more prevalent venue for teams to upgrade their rosters.

Now more than ever, a GM must be as knowledgeable and shrewd as possible.

With that said, who should our fearless leader be willing to part with and for who?

Most of the trade talk surrounding our beloved men in blue this off-season has centered around B. Roberts, 2B Orioles, so that is the trade I'm going to address.

Everyone needs pitching and the Orioles are no exception, especially with the impending departure of Bedard to Seattle. Still, the Orioles are looking to dump high priced players and Hendry should use that to his advantage in his negotiations.

The most valuable prospects the Cubs have are Sean Gallagher and Felix Pie, but that doesn't mean they should be included in a deal, especially for a 30+ year old who mans a position the Cubs already have a competent player in DeRosa.

The Cubs don't have a center-fielder and Pie just has to much upside. Gallagher has excelled at every level and is probably the Cubs best pitching prospect. Not to mention both of them are only 22 years old.

If the Orioles won't make the deal for Marshall, Veal and some other assorted cast then screw 'em.

Point is, Hendry not McPhail is bargaining from strength and if the Orioles don't want to deal on the Cubs terms, let them see if they do better elsewhere.

Hendry has to remember, trading players is a game of chess, not checkers.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

CF and OBP

Like most of you, I would like Felix Pie to win the starting CF job outright next year. Still, there are serious questions about his ability to get on base with enough regularity to justify him getting the job, no matter how much his upside might be.

Now I think if we ask ourselves how successful organizations would treat this situation, we might find some answers. Did Boston start J. Ellsbury last year? He was quite highly thought of but Boston went with a competent veteran.

Wrigley Field does not have an enormous CF, so Pie's most MLB ready part of his game, defense, may not overcome his offensive weaknesses.

The Cubs should go out and sign an adequate defensive player to patrol CF who possesses many of the attributes the team does not have, speed and OBP.

A solid veteran like K Lofton, would provide another LHB who last year still posted in 490AB's, a 296BA, 367OBP and 23 SB's.

Lofton may not patrol CF the way he used to, but considering the Cubs need for a LHB with speed and a high OBP, he would be a solid pickup that could still bat leadoff and allow Soriano to move down to a more productive part of the order.

1060west RIP (archives)
a crappy/unpopular Chicago Cubs baseball blog. (RIP: 10/7/04--1/21/08)

Just wish to express my gratitude to CCD, for the opportunity to contribute at 1060west. I know many who had visited there, will miss it as I do.

Go Cubs