Thursday, January 29, 2009

Clearing The Deck


The Cubs are trying to get as much value as they can from players that are out of options and are blocked by others that are a known quantity. It first happened with Pie and now Cedeneo is traded for Hendry's long coveted pitcher Aaron Heilman.

These moves can be questioned but IMHO, the Cubs are serious playoff contenders and in essence moving Pie and Cedeneo actually netted about as much as could be expected.

Heilman is only 30 and except for last season was very serviceable out of the pen for the Mets. Heilman has long wanted to start and the move provides him this opportunity while at the same time providing the Cubs pitching depth and legitimate competition this spring for the 5th. starters spot.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Bye, Bye, Miss American Pie



Unfortunately Pie's package, no not those five tools he was noted to have but his "ouch it hurts me to even think about it" almost gelding like surgery, is what we'll remember as the most significant bit of news for the Cubs most recent position player failure.

The Cubs sent Pie packing to "wrigley field east" where Andy McPhail is still looking for validation of his GM tenure when with the Cubs. The Cubs did receive two pitching prospects from Baltimore and when added to the three pitching prospects acquired from Cleveland in the DeRosa deal, might give the Cubs the prospects needed to pry Peavy from San Diego. In any event, Pie days with the organization were numbered and the prospects received for him probably was as much as could be expected.

Good luck Felix. You deserved a better shot at making it in the bigs with the Cubs.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Holy Triumphant!

Many teams success derives from having better players to be sure, but when constructing a team most people in charge stand by the principles of the Holy Triumphant, pitching first, defense second and offense last.

The dynamic of placing these three aspects of building a team in this order is based on the assumption that every run allowed requires the team to score two runs to overcome. We all cringe when our pitchers walk hitters and our defense gives the opposition extra outs in an inning through errors for this reason. Now it is certainly true that a superior offense can make up for some of these shortcomings in the other areas, the fact remains that scoring runs even with the most prolific offense is the most difficult facet of the game to rely on day in and day out. I'm not saying it's even possible to build the perfect team, but to gamble on the quality of the pitching and defense in favor of offense is just neglecting reality.

So if we apply this model to the Cubs as presently constructed, we get an idea of what can or should have been done within certain budgets constraints, to build the most competitive team.

Pitching...Starters

The Cubs rotation is probably one of the best in baseball. The talk of possibly adding a pitcher like Peavy would certainly improve the already formidable rotation and if the other areas of the team are up to snuff, it certainly makes sense to improve the biggest known factor in effecting the outcome of a game.

Pitching...Bullpen

The Cubs have certainly weakened the bullpen by not resigning Wood, but most teams have budgets constraints and usually other weaknesses to address. Still, we have seen over and over again how many a strong team has faltered repeatedly by not being able to hold a lead provided. I have confidence that Marmol will be an effective closer but that most certainly leaves a tremendous hole for the present setup candidates to fill with Marmol's departure to the closers role. Also the team is short of an effective relief specialist to negate many of the oppositions best LHB's.

Defense

One glaring hole exists at the most important defensive position on the field not considering the catcher and that is SS. While slick fielding SS's don't grow on trees, the Cubs SS is ranked as one of the worst fielding SS's in either league. This is an area that cries out for improvement and Hendry should deem this weakness as one of his most pressing needs.

Offense

Apart from a legitimate lead off man, the Cubs offense is poised to score a shitload of runs. The moves made this off season have addressed the unbalanced lineup and added a significant offensive hitter as well.

If indeed money is available to acquire a salary the likes of Peavy, we should also consider that money isn't the only thing that it will cost the Cubs. A tremendous number of players will be forfeited as well by trading for Peavy and if the Cubs feel they need to add another starter, I'd much prefer a FA.

In Conclusion

Still it is questionable if adding another starter is the best use of additional payroll. Our old trading partner the Pittsburgh Pirates, are desperately looking to dump J Wilson's $7M salary. The Dodgers were interested before they resigned Furcal and I think the Pirates might even eat a million or so of Wilson's salary if they could receive a couple of young pitching prospects and a ML ready SS. If it took throwing in a Pie and/or Cedeneo as well, it's still a deal Hendry should make.

Theriot is coming off a career year at the plate and his value will never be higher, and the Pirates are a small market team that routinely needs to move players they can no longer afford. Wilson's range and fielding percentage rank only behind Tulowitzki and Furcal and if Hendry has more payroll at his disposal, upgrading a position that anchors the infield defense with one of the best fielding SS's who will most likely replace Theriot in the 8 hole in the lineup would seem to be the best use of that payroll.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Bing, Bang, Boom

Happy New Year you Hammerheads. Two of most Cubs fans wishes for the new year have finally happened. Marquis is jettisoned a mile high to the Rockies and the big left handed banger has been signed to patrol RF for the second year in a row. Of course this year we signed a player who has actually hit MLB pitching, and boy has Milton Bradley hit MLB pitching by putting up the highest OPS in the American League last year.

Many have decried the signing of Bradley due to his checkered past but Bradley is only 30, can still play defense at no worse than a league average level, and is a stud from either side of the plate.

Marquis departure was purely a salary dump and the Cubs cleared around $5M as a result. The Cubs did acquire L Vizcaino, a RHP pitcher that has never been anything better than average if that, but like I said, this freed up payroll to go after Bradley. Marquis was probably one of the better 5th starters in baseball but at almost $10M was a no brainer to move when a younger LHP Marshall that costs zip, will probably be better than Marquis and give the Cubs a second lefty in the rotation.

All in all, a good day for the Cubs who have implemented many of the priorities this off season by balancing their predominant RH lineup and becoming more athletic. I think they could still upgrade the bullpen with another LHRP, but I'm more than willing to go to war with this new version in 2009.

Thursday, January 1, 2009