This offseason is still in it’s beginning stages. The Cubs just completed their organizational meetings and have decided on a course to take. I don’t know what that course is, but I have some suggestions for them if they were to ever listen.
We need a first baseman. One that is a left handed hitter preferrably. I have written about a few options availabe via free agency and Adrian Gonzalez, who we would have to trade for. My conclusion is that it would be best to trade for Gonzalez. Let’s trade some of our young pitchers. Casey Coleman, Jay Jackson, Christopher Carpenter and Chris Archer are four that we could start with. There are others like Jeff Samardzija and Andrew Cashner that could be included. I would want the Cubs to keep one of these two guys. And finally, if it meant we had to trade Hak-Ju Lee I am willing to accept that at this point. We have Castro at shortstop and DeWitt, Barney and Baker can all play second base. I know the long term game plan is to have Lee at short and to move Castro to second, but I would love to derail that plan and add Gonzalez at first. Having Aramis Ramirez and Adrian Gonzalez in the heart of the Cubs lineup would be great!
If we were able to get a deal done, then we would have to focus on another long term contract for Gonzalez. At least a five year deal at over twenty million a year. That’s a huge contract, but Gonzalez is only 28 right now.
Aramis Ramirez exercised his player option for next season. The amount is $14.6 million. He will be a free agent in 2012. I don’t have an answer for what the Cubs should do in 2012 yet at third base because of the gaping hole at first base right now.
The Cubs are wanting to add a right handed pitcher to the bullpen and the obvious answer is Kerry Wood. I believe the Cubs can get Kerry at a discounted price. It won’t be a huge discout, but enough to help the Cubs to save a little bit of money.
The Cubs have two huge contracts that are bothering me. Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Zambrano. Soriano, who turns 35 in January, is signed through 2014 at $18 million each year. I have read and even thought to myself that the Cubs should trade him for Barry Zito and his bad contract. On second thought, though, I think we should just suck it up and overpay for an under-producing, aging, left fielder.
Carlos Zambrano, who will turn 30 next June, still has a chance to earn his money if he can pitch a full season the way he finished 2010. Personally, I don’t know if he is mentally tough enough to do so. He’s going to make $17.875 million in 2011, $18 million in 2012 with a vesting option of $19.25 million for 2013. So, that’s a lot of money on two players!
We have several players that are arbitration eligible that will receive a payraise in 2011. Carlos Marmol is the biggest name, but Sean Marshall had a great 2010 and has earned a good increase as well. Tom Gorzelanny and Geovany Soto are among others who look to earn more too next season.
The Cubs owe Kosuke Fukudome $13.5 million next year and I want the Cubs to trade him this offseason. If we are unable to, then at least he won’t be here in 2012. We also owe Carlos Silva $11.5 million next year with a mutual option for 2012 worth $12 million.
So, between Soriano, Zambrano, Fukudome and Silva the Cubs over $50 million tied up in 2011. That’s going to make things tough for the Cubs.
If we are to have any success this offseason, it’s going to take a lot of work by Jim Hendry. I’ve lost some faith in Hendry this year, but I am willing to keep supporting him if he can make some good deals. He’s done it before and he can do it again…..I hope.
I have another option the Cubs could go after at first base. It’s
Victor Martinez. He will be 32 in December and is a career .300 hitter.
While he doesn’t possess the power in a traditional first baseman, he doesn’t strike out very much either. He could even spell Soto at
catcher once in a while if necessary. He’s getting older and keeping him at first is the best option. I don’t see the Cubs really pursuing Martinez, but he is a free agent that could fill the hole at first. And I know the Cubs could pay him the money if they wanted to.
However, like I have said before in other posts, I want the Cubs to get younger and better defensively. Adding Martinez would not accomplish either of these desires. There are still yet other first base options available. Paul Konerko, Aubrey Huff and Adam LaRoche to name a few. I still feel if we can not make a deal for Adrian Gonzalez then we need to fill the position internally.
Another option the Cubs could pursue at first base is
He will become a free agent in 2012 and it’s a strong possibility that
the will trade their slugger. The Cubs have a lot of
prospects that they could offer in exchange for the 28 year old
Gonzalez. I’m sure it would take a combination of hitting and pitching
to get a deal done with the Pads, but I think Gonzalez would be a great
addition to the Cubs. I would only make this dream of a deal if the
Cubs were able to sign Gonzalez to a long term contract. I am sure he’s
going to get over twenty million a year as a free agent. I think
Gonzalez would help solidify the Cubs need for a left . He would bat in the middle of the lineup for certain. I don’t see the Pads dealing him until the trade deadline next summer unless a deal was offered this offseason that they could not pass up.
Here’s a closer look at his stats. He’s a career .284 hitter. Over
the last five seasons, he’s hit between 24 to 40 homeruns. That’s at
Petco so, I am confident he could hit more at . He’s
driven in over 100 runs three of the last four years. In a better
lineup, I believe he would be closer to 120 RBIs a year. He’s also won
a gold glove at first base in 2008 and 2009.
He meets all the requirements of a stud player that the Cubs could go
after this offseason. The only other stud player I would like the Cubs
to get is Cliff Lee. It’s time we get serious about winning.
Another option the Cubs could pursue at first base is Xavier Nady. He played first base everyday after the Cubs traded Derrek Lee to the Braves. While he didn’t put up great numbers I personally think he still wasn’t completely healthy from his surgery to his elbow. Nady is a career .277 hitter and will turn 32 next week. If the Cubs were to pursue Nady I suggest it only be a two year deal. I don’t know what Nady is looking for in a deal, but the Cubs could offer him an incentive type of deal. I think he could hit at least 25 HRs at Wrigley Field and drive in over 90 runs while batting at least .280. Maybe I am being too optimistic, but I would prefer Nady over Johnson or Dunn. I think we could get him for a better price than Dunn. And I’m sure he would avoid the DL unlike Johnson. His defense isn’t the greatest, but I would be willing to live with it.
Another option the Cubs have at first is bringing back Derrek Lee. A sentimental choice.
Derrek is a great man, plays great defense, possesses good power and hits for a solid average. On the down side, DLee is 35 and his age did show last year before the Cubs traded him. He’s a career .282 hitter and I think he could bring his batting average up, but I don’t think he is the middle of the order type of hitter that the Cubs need. I would love to bring him back and for him to play well. However, there aren’t too many players that continue to produce at a high level after they hit 35. I am not discriminating against his age, just being realistic.
Nick Johnson, pictured above, is another player the Cubs are considering to sign to play first base. He’s 32 years old and has had an injury plagued career, hence the picture above. Johnson is a career .270 hitter known for his ability to draw walks, hit doubles and play above average defense when not on the DL. I had the chance to watch him in spring training in 2001 (I think that was the year) and I remember thinking this guy could be good. The best year Johnson has had in his career was in 2006. He batted .290 with 23 HRs, 77 RBIs, 100 Runs, 110 Walks and 46 doubles. He even managed to steal 10 bases that season. Unfortunately, his career has been sidelined numerous times due to various injuries. Last season, Johnson only played in 24 games loggin 98 at bats and only hit a dismal .167.
While I like Johnson and his potential when healthy, I don’t think he is even a temporary answer at first base for the Cubs. Yet, I have a feeling that Jim Hendry may pursue this guy too.
The Cubs may have an interest in the slugging First Baseman. I know he would provide the power they are seeking, but I wanted to take a closer look at Dunn and look at the pros and cons.
Dunn will turn 31 next week and he’s probably looking for a long term deal. He is a Type A free agent so the Nationals will receive two compensation picks if he signs with another team. That’s good news for the Nats in my opinion as they continue to draft well and look to strengthen their minor league system. I just don’t know if the Cubs want add another long term salary to the roster. We already have Soriano and Zambrano eating up a sizeable chunk of the Cubs future payroll.
Statistically, Dunn is a career .250 hitter. That’s not the type of numbers I want in the middle of the lineup regardless of his power. Since 2004 he’s finished just over 100 RBIs every season but one. The lone season he didn’t eclipse the century mark was in 2006 when he finished with 92 RBIs. Even though 100 RBIs sounds good, Dunn has never finished with more than 106 runs driven in. Combine that with his low average and unbelievable strikeout rate and you are looking at a guy who is underachieving in my opinion. He’s a guy that flirts with 200 strikeouts every year. He has yet to hit that mark, but he did finish with 199 this past season.
Defensively, Dunn is a dud. The former outfielder was moved to First Base due to his ability to not catch the ball. The Cubs need to upgrade their defense. Dunn would do the opposite in that area.
When I think of a middle of the lineup hitter I want someone with a solid average, good power, the ability to score runs and drive in runs. Dunn has a weak average, great power, above average ability to drive in runs and below average on scoring runs. Given his age, poor defense and below offensive numbers for his position on the field and in the lineup I think he would be a bad choice for the Cubs to sign.
However, the way this offseason has begun, I look for Jim Hendry to try and sign the slugger. If he does, it will be a mistake.