Tagged: Derrek Lee

2013-2014 TO DO LIST

I do this every year.  I come up with a “TO DO LIST” for the Cubs.  Each year, I am a little ambitious in my list.  This year, will be somewhat similar.  So, let’s do this!

1.  The Cubs need to hire a new manager.  Some of the names that have been floated around are Dave Martinez, Rick Renteria, A.J. Hinch, Mike Maddux and Manny Acta.  I would prefer Mike Maddux, but I have a feeling the Cubs will go with Rick Renteria.  Just think, we could have had Ryne Sandberg a couple of years ago, but Theo & Jed went with Dale Sveum.  We see how that worked out!

2.  The Cubs have a lot of holes on their roster.  Free agency cannot fill all of them realistically.  Yet, there are some potential moves that could happen.
Jacoby Ellsbury or Shin-soo Choo are both viable options to sign and become our new leadoff hitter.

3.  As much as I like Welington Castillo the idea of signing Brian McCann is enticing.  His bat in the lineup as a catcher would be an upgrade.  Yet, no matter if the Cubs make a big splash in free agency, we do not have the depth at pitching needed to compete with the Cardinals, Pirates and Reds in the NL Central at this point and time.

4.  Trade options.  Trading for David Price would cost the farm…..literally!  But it is an option.  Heck, trade Starlin Castro and Jorge Soler in a deal for him.  I know it would take more than just those two, but it is a start.  Don’t trade Javier Baez or Albert Almora though.  Those two have too much talent to lose.

5.  Stay patient and wait til our younger players arrive.  Javier Baez, Albert Almora, Jorge Soler and Kris Bryant all have high ceilings and are not that far off from playing in the big leagues.

Basically, the Cubs have a lot of money available to spend.  It’s hard to believe that the Cubs were 3rd in payroll in 2010 at just under $150 million.  Since then the Cubs no longer have to pay the huge contracts for Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster, Aramis Ramirez, Kosuke Fukudome, Carlos Silva, Alfonso Soriano, Ted Lilly and Derrek Lee.  The farm system has been restocked with hitters at every level.  Pitching is still a little bit thin, but it is improving.  I truly believe the Cubs are not that far off from competing.  But it’s going to take some work.  The Cubs have too many holes to fill in free agency this off-season.  I say let the young players earn their way to the big league roster and get their feet wet.  Our infield could have Javier Baez at SS or 3B, Rizzo at 1B, Barney at 2B and Castro at SS or OF.  The outfield could consist of Almora CF, Bryant LF or 3B and Soler in RF.

Whatever decisions are made I’m still a Cubs fan.  First things first though.  Let’s hire a manager.  I want Maddux but am predicting Renteria.

THOME AND MORE

First, I am really excited to see Jim Thome reach 600 homeruns.  He did it the right way in my opinion.  I have never suspected him of using PEDs to reach this historic number.  Thome and Griffey, Jr. are the two players from the steroid era that I believe did not cheat.  Maybe I am being naive, but I believe strongly in both players abilities without the use of steroids or any other PED.  With that said, CONGRATULATIONS!!!! JIM THOME!!!!!

On to some Cub news.  It appears the Cubs are going to keep GM Jim Hendry.  I don’t like it necessarily unless he can regain some of his magic that he used when acquiring Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez.  His history of trades has been decent but his big free agent signings and even one of his big contract extensions have been busts.  Kosuke Fukudome, Alfosno Soriano and Carlos Zambrano are all players that received nice contracts from Hendry.  That’s not good.

I still wish the Ricketts family would make Greg Maddux GM.  Imagine him bringing his brother, Mike Maddux, over from Texas as our new pitching coach.  That would be great!  I trust Maddux and would love to see him as our GM some day soon.

While the Cubs have been playing better baseball as of late I am not sold on our potential roster for 2012.  I know it’s early, but Ricketts and Hendry better come up with a serious game plan for the future.

TRADES??????

Okay, since the Rangers signed Adrian Beltre there’s been a lot of speculation that Michael Young would be on the trade market.  I don’t know if he is, but I think the Cubs should take a look at making a deal for him.  He could play second base next year and provide us with another good bat.  The last time we got an infielder from Texas was when we signed free agent Mark DeRosa.  That worked out okay and I think Young would too.

The Cubs have already discussed a deal with the Rangers for corner infielder Chris Davis and pitcher Darren O’Day.  Why not throw Young into the mix and make it a big deal?  If Hendry has proven anything in his time as GM for the Cubs, it’s his ability to make good trades.  Remember, that’s how we got D. Lee and Ramirez! 

Looking closer at Young, he’s 34 years old and won’t be a free agent until after the 2013 season.  He’s due $16 million each of the next three years.  That’s a lot of money for a guy who hasn’t played second base in several years and who is in his mid 30s.  So, who would we trade in a deal for Young that the Rangers would want?????

My first guess would be Alfonso Soriano.  He could play outfield or more than likely be a DH.  With his fielding abilities I think he’s better suited to be a DH and just focus on hitting.  He’s signed through 2014 at $18 million each year.  If we traded him in a deal for Young we would have to compensate the Rangers some to cover his salary. 

Getting back to the Davis and O’Day deal, I read that the Rangers wanted minor league catcher Robinson Chirinos.  I say let’s trade him!  He’s got Soto, Hill and Castillo in front of him.  No sense wasting his talent in the minors. 

So, adding these two potential deals together means the Rangers trading us Davis, O’Day and Young for Soriano, cash, Chirinos and maybe another player or two.  I don’t think this deal will happen.  Plus, I believe the Cubs are set on having DeWitt at second base for the time being.  My only other guess is that they are waiting for Hak-Ju Lee to take over shortstop and Castro to move to second in the near future.  If this is true, and works out, then I’m okay with having DeWitt at second for now.

I still keep reading that we have an interest in Matt Garza and Fausto Carmona.  Well, I have wanted the Cubs to trade for Garza ever since the winter meetings.  But after second thoughts, I think it’s best we hold on to our young talent.  That goes for Carmona too!  We have a bunch of young players that are close to making it to the big leagues. 

While I like the idea of getting Young, Garza and Carmona, I feel they would cost us too much.  However, I think we can get Davis and O’Day for a fair price.  So, go ahead Jim and make a deal.  It’s been a quiet winter and I know you are not finished dealing yet.      
 

A CLOSER LOOK AT JIM HENDRY: PART II-TRADE HISTORY

Well, yesterday I attempted to breakdown free agent signings and resigning of players.  It only leads me to believe that when Hendry makes modest moves he does well, however, when he tries to make a big splash in the free agent market it seems to backfire. 

Now, I am going to try and focus on his trade history as GM for the Cubs.  I won’t feature every trade just ones that I think that help define Hendry.  Hope you enjoy!

I’ll begin in December of 2002.  Hendry traded Todd Hundley and Chad Hermansen for Mark Grudzielanek and Eric Karros.  This was an excellent trade.  Both players helped the Cubs in 2003 make the playoffs. 

July 2003.  Jose Hernandez, Matt Bruback and Bobby Hill were traded for Aramis Ramirez, Kenny Lofton and cash.  Another excellent trade as both of these players helped lead us to the playoffs in 2003 and Aramis is still with the team.  Kenny Lofton became a free agent and I really wanted the Cubs to sign him, but we didn’t.  Oh well, still a great trade!

November 2003.  Hendry made another excellent trade this time moving Hee-Seop Choi for Derrek Lee.  Lee quickly became one of my favorite players for the Cubs and he still is. 

December 2003.  Traded Damian Miller and cash for Michael Barrett.  This trade worked out real well for Hendry until Barrett and Zambrano came to blows.  We did manage to get three consecutive years of 16 homers from Barrett before he was traded to the Padres in 2007.

December 2005.  Sergio Mitre, Ricky Nolasco and Renyel Pinto were traded away for Juan Pierre.  Terrible trade in my honest opinion.  We should have resigned Lofton to play CF after 2003 and bat leadoff.  Instead, we traded away 3 pitchers for Pierre who played one season with the Cubs then signed with the Dodgers as a free agent. 

November 2007.  Traded Jacque Jones for Omar Infante.  Bet you didn’t know Infante was a Cub!  Well, he didn’t last long because he was traded less than a month later along with Will Ohman for Jose Ascanio.  Then we traded Ascanio in 2009 along with Josh Harrison and Kevin Hart  for John Grabow and Tom Gorzelanny.  Maybe we should have held onto Infante to play secondbase.  This one’s a tossup.  I’ll let you decide for yourself.  

December 2008.  Very unpopular at the time by trading Mark DeRosa for Jeff Stevens, Chris Archer and John Gaub.  Both Stevens and Gaub pitched in the majors for the Cubs in 2010 and Archer was one of our best starting pitchers in the minors.  This may end up being a good move by Hendry.  Still too early to tell.

December 2009.  Milton Bradley for Carlos Silva.  GREAT TRADE!  “Meltdown” Bradley was a terrible free agent signing, but Hendry turned around and traded him for Carlos Silva and his bad contract.  The good news……after the 2011 season we can buy out Silva for $2 million!

So, that’s a quick summary of trades that help define Jim Hendry as a General Manager.  If history tells us anything, I look for Hendry to make a move before the new year.  I see us trading or signing for another starting pitcher soon.  Anyway, I think Hendry has made some good trades for us and maybe I need to be more patient with our GM.  He’s done pretty good with his trades.  We may need to limit him to modest free agent signings though!   

A CLOSER LOOK AT JIM HENDRY: PART I-FREE AGENTS

Jim Hendry.jpgOkay, I’ve been a little critical of our GM, Jim Hendry, this year.  I’ve been frustrated with him and the fact that I feel we should have been in serious talks with the Padres about Adrian Gonzalez.  I also want him to go after Matt Garza as well.  Anyway, I decided to dig a little bit and look at his “stats” as a GM.  I decided to breakdown his trades and free agent signings over the years and what success or failures he’s experienced. 

I’ll begin by taking a closer look at his free agent signings.  This will be in chronological order, but I will only list signings or re-signings that I think are relevant to this post.  Beginning in 2003, he signed LaTroy Hawkins to a 2 year/$8 million deal.  At the time, this was a needed move.  In 2004 he signed Ryan Dempster after he was released by the Reds.  Dempster only pitched 20.2 innings in 2004 and was our closer for three years before moving to the rotation the last three where he has really succeeded.  This was a great move and Dempster has been a key part of the Cubs rotation.  In 2004, Hendry also signed Greg Maddux.  This was a good move for a lot of reasons.  First, it was 3 years/$24 million.  Not bad in my opinion.  Maddux has always been a fan favorite in Chicago and it was great to bring him back home.  Maddux now works for the Cubs and I can’t help but think that his relationship with Jim Hendry is one of the reasons why.  In 2006, Jacque Jones was signed to a 3 year/$16 million deal.  Not a bad price and Jones performed really well that year hitting 27 homers and batting .285.  He was later traded by Hendry in November of 2007.  So, I chalk the signing of Jones up as another good move by Hendry.  There were 3 more significant signings in 2006 that have helped define Jim Hendry and the Cubs.  First was Mark DeRosa to a 3 year/$13 million deal.  GREAT MOVE!!!! DeRosa became a fan favorite and a lot of that had to with his willingness to play anywhere on the field and his success at hitting too.  Then Hendry made his first mistake.  Signing Alfonso Soriano to an 8 year/$136 million deal.  I understand that a big move needed to be made at the time.  I agreed with that idea at the time as well.  However, 8 year deals don’t work out very often and that’s why you rarely see a player get one.  So, Soriano’s signing was necessary at the time, but was too long of a deal and has come back to bite Hendry a little bit.  The next signing was Ted Lilly for 4 years/$40 million.  This was another great move.  Lilly was a solid pitcher and provided us with a good lefty in the rotation.  Also, before I forget, Hendry resigned Derrek Lee to 5 years/$65 milion and Aramis Ramirez to 5 years/$75 million in 2006 as well.  I like both of these moves because they were only 5 years and I don’t feel we overpaid for either player.  Then 2007 rolled around and Jim signed Jason Marquis to 3 years/$21 million.  It wasn’t necessarily a bad move, but wasn’t a great one either.  We also resigned Carlos Zambrano in the summer of 2007 for 5 years/$91.5 million.  Okay, I know the Cubs needed to keep Big Z at that time.  He won 18 games in ’07 and just had his fifth straight year with over 200 innings pitched.  However, between 2008 through 2010, he has only won 14, 9 and 11 games and hasn’t reached 200 innings since the ’07 season.  He got his money, but hasn’t produced.  This move has made Hendry look bad, but at the time I agreed with it.  Longer deals for pitchers are a big risk and this one is a perfect example.  In the winter of 2007 we signed Kosuke Fukudome for 4 years/$48 milllion.  With that kind of contract and from what I had read, I expected him to be a combination of Ichiro and Hideki Matsui.  Some speed, some power with a good average.  Well, he’s not panned out that well and he’s finally in the last year of his contract.  This is another move that Hendry took a risk on and it’s backfired.  Soriano, Zambrano and Fukudome have all hurt Hendry and the Cubs at this point.  Then with have 3 more moves that I want to focus on from 2009.  The first is the terrible move of signing “Meltdown” Bradley in 2009 to 3 years/$30 million.  I wanted the Cubs to pursue Raul Ibanez or Bobby Abreu that offseason.  Instead, we ended up with Bradley and we all know how that turned out.  Hendry was looking to add some pop from the left side and ended up with a “bust” in Bradley.  Then Hendry resigned John Grabow after 2009 season to 2 years/$7.5 million.  That’s not much money when you first look at it, but he’s a setup man at best!  Plus, he spent almost all of last year on the disabled list.  Sean Marshall filled the role of lefty setup man beautifully.  Goes to show you that sometimes you need to trust the players you already have in your organization and spend the money elsewhere.  Grabow has the chance to rebound this year, but I doubt it happens.  And then in December of 2009 Hendry redeemed himself by signing Marlon Byrd to 3 years/$15 million.  Byrd plays the game the right way and was a great price! 

This offseason we’ve signed Carlos Pena to a one year deal worth $10 million and Kerry Wood for 1 year at $1.5 million.  I’m cautiously optimistic about Pena’s deal and really excited about Wood coming back. 

When I look at all the signings and resignings Hendry has made it’s up in the air.  Here’s the names of guys that I don’t think worked out too well:  Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Zambrano, Kosuke Fukudome, Milton Bradley and John Grabow.  And the names of guys that did work out:  Ryan Dempster, Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez, Mark DeRosa, Ted Lilly and Marlon Byrd.  So, I guess it’s about 50/50 when Hendry signs or resigns players.  I’ll breakdown his trades later today or tomorrow.

MOVE SORIANO TO FIRSTBASE?

Soriano Dropping Ball.jpgSince trading Derrek Lee there has been a lot of talk about who will be the Cubs next firstbaseman.  I’ve written several posts regarding this issue.

Xavier Nady didn’t perform well last season after taking over for Lee and I don’t see him getting another shot. Derrek Lee is 35 and is unlikely to be picked back up by the Cubs either.  Adam Dunn, Lance Berkman and Adam LaRoche are all still available but not players that I want the Cubs to pursue.  I was hoping we could try Victor Martinez, but the Tigers have him now.  I have even suggested moving Tyler Colvin to first, but I would prefer to keep him in the outfield if at all possible.  My favorite idea is to trade for Adrian Gonzalez, but I know that’s not happening anytime soon, if ever.

So, this is my great idea.  Move Soriano to firstbase.  He is a liability in leftfield and by moving him to first it would open up a spot in the outfield for one of our younger guys, make us better defensively in the outfield and save us from spending money on any of this year’s firstbase free agents.  We could use that money for 2012 or spend it on strengthening our pitching staff this year. 

Let me know what you think the Cubs should do at firstbase and what you think of this idea or if you have any new suggestions for firstbase.  I’m sure we will have a better idea of who will be playing first after the winter meetings that are coming up soon. 

GREG MADDUX….GM OR PITCHING COACH?

Ever since Larry Rothschild left the Cubs for the Yankees I have heard, read and even written that it would be great if Greg Maddux became the next pitching coach for the Cubs.  Maddux was a player/pitching coach the last several years of his career.  He is a guy that dominated with out having Nolan Ryan heat during his playing days.  So, it would be great to have him as a pitching coach.

On the flip side, Maddux is known for his high baseball IQ.  The man simplye loves the game.  I remember when he was with Atlanta he would go and watch little league games.  People didn’t always recognize him either.  He looks/looked like an “everyday joe”. 

When I think about all the troubles the Cubs have had I have to place a lot of the blame on Jim Hendry.  Sorry Jim!  I know you have had a lot of pressure from the fans and it’s got to be difficult trying to win a World Series for a team that hasn’t won one since 1908.  Yet, the signing of Alfonso Soriano to an 8 year contract hasn’t panned out.  Signing Milton Bradley didn’t work out.  Signing Kosuke Fukudome hasn’t gone over well either.  It leads me to believe that Hendry is better at making trades than free agent signings.  Hendry traded for Lee in 2003 and we definitely got the better end of that deal.  Hendry also traded for Aramis Ramirez in 2003 as well and we got the better end of that deal as well. 

When it comes to making a free agent signing splash Hendry’s track record isn’t all that great.  However, he knows how to make a trade.  Maybe he should let Maddux take over signing free agents. 

Anyway, in my estimation, Maddux is learning all the ins and outs of being a General Manager.  Maddux already knows the game and how to play it.  Once he becomes the GM I could see him getting his brother Mike, current pitching coach for the Rangers, to come over to the Cubs.   I trust Maddux.  I think he will eventually be our GM and I think he will have a greater impact as a GM as opposed to being a pitching coach.  Plus, I don’t think he wants the pitching coach gig right now.