What a mess that the Cubs have right now. We aren’t going anywhere this year and probably not next year either. We had the chance to deal Carlos Pena to the Yankees, but decided to keep the great fielding, power bat and .225 average. Starlin Castro was railed on by Bobby Valentine on ESPN recently during a game where the young shortstop was lackadaisical on the field. Veterans Ryan Dempster and Aramis Ramirez have options for 2012 for $14 million and $16 million respectively. That’s a lot of money for a couple of guys in their mid 30s. Quade keeps getting ejected from games…6 for season now and it’s obvious that he is frustrated with this team’s performance. The bottom line is that this team is a mess and it’s going to take a while to clean it up.
Now for the good news! Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney seem to be a potentially really good double play combo for the next few years. Andrew Cashner may be be joining the Cubs in September after suffering a rotator cuff injury in April. Brett Jackson, Cashner, Chris Carpenter and Trey McNutt are some of our younger players scheduled to play in the Arizona Fall League this year. Tony Campana has had a positive impact on the Cubs this summer and has a strong chance of making the team in 2012. Tyler Colvin has been getting regular playing time and has hit the ball hard despite having a terrible average. Matt Garza is pitching much better than his record would indicate too.
Even with all our troubles we have a lot to look forward to. It’s just going to take a little time. I hope the Cubs are patient and make the right moves with our players and future General Manager.
Okay, the Cubs faced Chris Carpenter and the St. Louis Cardinals last night. We pounded out 13 hit against the Cardinal ace. That sounds pretty good, right? Well, all of those 13 hits were singles. Not a single extra base hit. That’s not a good thing.
The Cubs have begun to make cuts this week and the team is beginning to take shape. We still have some battles going on for the starting rotation and bullpen along with bench player spots for the hitters. We have two weeks to figure out who’s gonna stay and play and who’s being sent down or released.
I know everyone in the world has an opinion on Albert Pujols and his contract situation with the Cardinals. Will he sign with the Cards, how much money and how many years seem to dominate the baseball news everyday. I have no problem with that because I want to know too. So, I have a couple of scenarios regarding Albert and his next contract. Hope you enjoy.
Albert signs with St. Louis and Red Bird nation breathes a huge sigh of relief. He gets 7 years guaranteed at $28 million per year with a player option for an 8th year and a club option for a 9th year. This allows the Cards to be the favorite in the NL Central for another few years. However, the Cards may face some problems long term with this contract. The Cards already signed Matt Holliday for $17 million a year through 2016 and a team option for 2017 at the same price . Adam Wainwright has a $9 million team option for 2012 and $12 million team option for 2013. Wainwright will be a free agent after the 2013 season unless things change between now and then. Chris Carpenter has a $15 million team option for 2012 and will be a free agent after that season. Fortunately, they have young players in Colby Rasmus, Jaime Garcia and David Freese that will help offset the salaries of the Cards’ “Big 4”. At least until 2015. That’s the earliest year that Rasmus and Garcia can become free agents. So, I think the Cards will do great in the first few years of Albert’s contract, but it may hamper them financially in 2015 and beyond. I know resigning Wainwright won’t be cheap. He’s a great pitcher and a legitimate ace. If Rasmus, Garcia and Freese all continue to improve they should get substantial raises through arbitration or contract extensions. However, the Cards suffer more, in my opinion, by not signing Albert.
The Cards don’t get a deal done with Albert this spring. He hits the free agent market and the bidding goes crazy! Eventually, he agrees to sign with the Cards for $30 million a year for 10 years. The Cards try to defer some of the contract, but it’s such a large deal that it still hampers them finacially beyond 2015 . I don’t see the Cardinals brass caving in to 10 years and $30 million.
Pujols decides to give the Cardinals a break and sign for 7 years at $27.5 million a year. This is the best case scenario for the Cards. I can see this happening if the Cards work out some sort of vesting options for an additional 3 years potentially making it a 10 year contract. I can see something like Pujols having to play in a minumum number of games each year or driving in a certain number runs in order to guarantee years 8-10. If the Cards pull this off I think they will benefit greatly!
The Cub scenario! The Cubs sign him for 10 years at $30 million a year. The ONLY way this would work for the Cubs, in my opinion, is to front load the deal. Ramirez, Silva, Fukudome and Pena are all free agents after this season (Ramirez and Silva each have options for next year with buyouts). That would free up around $40 million dollars for next season. That’s a lot of money to be used on Pujols. Soriano will become a free agent in 2015 clearing up another $18 million a year. Carlos Zambrano will become a free agent in 2013 or 2014. He has a vesting option for 2014 at $19.25 million. So between Soriano and Zambrano the Cubs have over $35 million coming off the books soon. I think the Cubs could make this work financially if we spend our money wisely. We have one of the largest payrolls in baseball and I know we could afford Pujols. The real question is, Do we want to? Do we really want to spend that type of money on the best hitter in the game who will be aging for the majority of his contract? Do we want to risk another Soriano type of contract? Do we want to add fuel to the fire in the Cubs/Cards rivalry? I don’t know! I do know this. I would like to see what Albert could do offensively playing 81 home games at Wrigley Field. But I don’t know if I would be willing to pay the price.
I know there will be a lot of teams willing to make an offer to Albert if he doesn’t sign with the Cards. The Angels, Cubs, Rangers and Nationals are the teams I have as frontrunners, outside of the Cardinals, to make a serious run at Pujols if he does become a free agent. Yet, I consider myself a baseball purist. And as a baseball purist I want to see Albert play his entire career in St. Louis. I also want the Cubs to beat the Cards with Albert still wearing a Cardinals jersey. That would be just fine with me.
This is the week many of us baseball fans have waited for all winter. Pitchers and Catchers Report! I love those words. It let’s me know that baseball is back, spring is close and warm days are soon ahead of us. Baseball is one of my passions and I am a diehard Cubs fan. Each season brings hope. Going into 2003 I did not think the Cubs would make it as far as they did. In 2009 I thought we would go farther than we did. Last year, well, I was disappointed to say the least. Yet, winter is almost over now and that is something to be excited about.
The Cubs reached a three year extension with Carlos Marmol avoiding arbitration. I think the deal is a fair one and both sides should be happy. I know some believe we overpaid Marmol, but I think we may have paid even more in arbitration if he has another great season. I guess we will find out if it was a good deal over the next three years.
I read that C.C. Sabathia may opt out of his contract at the end of this season. That is something that surprises me personally, but being the greedy Cub fan I am, I wouldn’t mind this happening. As I’ve said numerous times over this winter, we have a ton of money coming off the books after 2011. We could go on a big shopping spree and C.C. should be on our shopping list if he does opt out. Other guys I would like to see us sign are Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder or Adrian Gonzalez and Rickie Weeks.
Since I mentioned Albert (again) I am surprised that he and the Cards haven’t reached an agreement yet. If I’m the Cards I offer the 9th and 10th years that Albert wants. I try to make them vesting options if at all possible. Have a minimum games played option or something similar to that.
Even though our minor league system lost several key players in the Matt Garza deal we still have some talent that could reach the majors this season in Jay Jackson, Brett Jackson (no relation to my knowledge), Chris Carpenter and Trey McNutt. So, we still have talent available that can help our team. We also have a few guys that I really like in the lower levels. I think I will write a post on them soon.
Yesterday it was in the 50s where I live. I had the opportunity to take my son, 3, outside and pitch to him for a little bit. He loves to play baseball and that make his daddy happy. We played for only a short time, but it was still great to play a little baseball in February.
Finally, I wish everyone the best this upcoming spring training. It’s a time of hope for every team and their fans!
Going into Spring Training I am confused by the overload of pitchers the Cubs have to choose from. I know that may sound odd to say, but I do have my own biased reason behind these words. We’ve invited several pitchers as non-roster invitees that we are trying to catch “lightning in a bottle” with, but I would rather see us let our younger pitchers compete for a spot on the team’s pitching staff over these guys. Braden Looper, Todd Wellemeyer and Scott Rice are three pitchers that I don’t think will make the team nor should they. Looper and Wellemeyer are veterans trying to land with a team and Rice is a career minor leauger trying to do the same. Rice is a lefty and younger than both Looper and Wellemeyer and is the only one of these guys I would like the Cubs to hold on to. Let him start the year at AA or AAA and see what he can do as a lefty reliever.
We also have Carlos Silva, Randy Wells, Andrew Cashner, Jeff Samardzija, Casey Coleman, James Russell and Thomas Diamond that will be competing for the 4th and 5th spots in the rotation. Obviously, Dempster, Garza and Zambrano will be the top three starters for us. I expect the competition for those two spots in the rotation to be fierce. And any of these guys that doesn’t make the rotation will be competing for a spot in the bullpen as well.
Arms out of the bullpen will be Sean Marshall, Kerry Wood and Carlos Marmol for certain. However, we have several players trying to land a spot in the pen as well such as, Justin Berg, John Gaub, John Grabow, Scott Maine and Jeff Stevens. I think our bullpen may be really young in 2011.
We also have a few of our minor league pitchers that are non-roster invitees this spring as well. This includes Chris Carpenter, Trey McNutt and Jay Jackson. I think Jay Jackson is the closest to being ready for the big leauges of these three. I imagine he will start the season in Iowa though.
I know there is a handful of pitchers that I have not mentioned. But the bottom line, is that we have a lot of guys competing for a limited amount of spots. I know this happens every year, but I wish the Cubs would let the young guys fight it out and not worry about Silva, Looper or Wellemeyer. I believe the talent is there with some of our minor league pitchers is we would just give them the chance to play in the big leagues.
If you’ve read any of my posts over the last month or two you would know that I wanted the Cubs to trade for Adrian Gonzalez and Matt Garza. Well, the Red Sox made a deal for Gonzalez trading away their top pitching prospect Casey Kelly. It was a great trade for both teams in my opinion and I only wish the Cubs would have made the deal. During the winter meetings in December, we discoverd that the Cubs and Rays had talked about a potential deal for Garza. Immediately I was excited. I wanted Garza bad! The only thing I didn’t want the Cubs to do is overpay. Well, the trade saw the Cubs send 5 players to the Rays for Garza and two other players. Here’s my “expert” analysis!
Garza will be under team control until 2013. He’s due a raise this year via arbitration. It’s been estimated to be around $5-6 million a year. He just turned 27 in November and isn’t in his prime yet. He had a 15-10 record in 2010 with a 3.91 ERA in the AL East. He’s going to be be with the Cubs for a few years at least and should do well in the National League. He makes the Cubs rotation significantly better and is a good start to improving the Cubs for the future. Remember, we have a ton of money coming off the books at the end of this season. Can you say, SPENDING SPREE?
Chris Archer pitched great for the Cubs in single A and double A in 2010. He’s 22 and some say has the making of a top of the rotation starting pitcher. However, we didn’t draft him. We got him in the Mark DeRosa trade after the 2008 season. At the point in his career, Archer had never posted an ERA below under 4.29 in the minors and his career minor league record was 5 wins and 18 losses. Losing Archer doesn’t bother me too much, but I hated to lose him after the success he had in 2010.
Hak-Ju Lee is a 20 year old shortstop from Korea. He’s got the making a leadoff hitting, slick fielding future All Star! This loss really hurts me, but we have Castro at short and you must trade talent to get talent.
Brandon Guyer, who turns 25 later this month, has the potential to be a solid outfielder in the major leagues. However, we already have Tyler Colvin in RF and 22 year old Brett Jackson working his way up the minors. Losing Guyer wasn’t that huge of a loss.
Robinson Chirinos is a 26 year old catcher that hit the cover off the ball in 2010. But remember, he did this playing against younger players and this wasn’t his first time playing for double A Tennessee. He spent parts of the 2007, 2008 and 2009 seasons with the double A affiliate too. I’m glad we were able to package him along in this deal. I hope he does well.
Sam Fuld is a 29 year old outfielder that is a 4th outfielder at best. The Cubs received outfielder, Fernando Perez, from the Rays in the 8 player deal and he pretty much is a 4th outfielder at best as well.
The other player involved was left handed pitcher, Zach Rosscup who turns 23 in June. He’s pitched well in rookie ball for the Rays and could be the difference maker in this trade.
Overall, we gave up a lot of talent for Garza. I hated to do so, but we kept Starlin Castro, Andrew Cashner, Brett Jackson and Chris Carpenter. And just because a guy has potential doesn’t mean he’s going to be successful in the major leagues. Remember Corey Patterson, Felix Pie, Sean Gallagher and Ryan Harvey are just a few prospects that the Cubs were hoping would become stars. So, while we traded away talent none of them have a proven resume like Garza does. I give Jim Hendry credit for trading for a young and talented pitcher. Remember, pitching wins championships and I think this is a good move for the future of the Cubs.
BOTTOM LINE: THIS WAS NOT A GREAT TRADE, BUT A GOOD ONE FOR THE CUBS!