Jim Hendry and the Cubs filled the needs we had this offseason by signing Carlos Pena to play first base, Kerry Wood to bolster the bullpen and trading for Matt Garza to strengthen the rotation. I don’t think we will make any more major moves, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see another trade or two go down. I can see us trading Carlos Silva, Randy Wells and/or Tom Gorzelanny to make room in the starting rotation for Jeff Samardzija, Andrew Cashner and/or Casey Coleman.
Now that I am looking ahead I want to take a look at potential free agents after this upcoming season. I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself, but there are a lot of players out there that we could sign to make our team one of the leading contenders in 2012. We have a lot of money coming off the books at the end of this season and there are some big names that would be available that I would love to see playing for the Cubs. So, here’s my list of players in no particular order. If I’ve missed a player or two let me know.
Okay, I know that thinking we could land Albert Pujols is more of a dream than even close to reality. But this is my dream and I’m in control of it. Albert is the best player in baseball. It sucks for me because he plays for our Arch rival, the Cardinals. Yet, you have to love watching him hit. I’ve been to several games at Busch Stadium, I live a lot closer to St. Louis than Chicago, and the ball just sounds different when he hits it. So, if for some amazing reason, Pujols is a free agent after this season I say we load up an offer that would dwarf Alfonso Soriano’s deal. However, I see the Cards signing him before spring training, but I could be wrong.
If Pujols isn’t available, I say we go after Adrian Gonzalez. He hasn’t signed an extension with Boston yet, and he’s a stud too. He’s been an obsession of mine for quite some time now. He’s a great hitter and I think he would hit 40+ homers in Wrigley every year. Plus, he plays great defense. He’s two years younger than Pujols and a lefty. I don’t see this one happening either. Instead, I see Gonzalez pounding out homers and playing gold glove defense in beantown for several years to come. With Pedroia and Crawford batting in front of him I think he’s a potential leader for RBIs in the American League if not all of baseball.
Since I don’t think we have a realistic chance to sign Pujols or Gonzalez, I will give you my first serious potential free agent. It’s obviously Prince Fielder if you’ve looked at the picture to your left. If you can’t tell, I think the Cubs need to focus on first base at the end of this season. I am not completely sold on Carlos Pena as the long term solution at first base for the Cubs. Fielder is younger than Pujols and Gonzalez and would provide us with power from the left side of the plate. His defense is no where close to the previous two firstbasemen, but I can live with that if we are able to sign him. Just imagine Fielder, who will be 28 in 2012, as our everyday first baseman for the next 5 or 6 years. He would definitely give the Cubs a power bat in the middle of the lineup.
Since we traded Hak-Ju Lee to the Rays in the Matt Garza deal, it appears we will no longer look to move Starlin Castro to second base. So, we could easily sign another Brewer to play for the Cubs in Rickie Weeks. Attempting to sign both players may increase our chances instead of trying to sign only one of them. Weeks is a tremendous athlete with power and speed. He’s a better option at second than Blake DeWitt in my opinion and would give the Cubs another good player under the age of 30. He’ll be 29 in September of this year.
So far, I think we should seriously consider Prince Fielder and Rickie Weeks. That would cover first and second base. Starlin Castro is our shortstop and we could re-sign Aramis Ramirez to play third. There aren’t any thirdbasemen that interest me that will be free agents after this season. I would like to think we could hold on to Ramirez until Josh Vitters is ready.
The only outfielder that interests me is Grady Sizemore. He’ll be 29 in August this year and when healthy, is one of the better players in the game. With Marlon Byrd signed through the 2012 season I don’t see this one happening. However, Sizemore is a legitimate 30/30 threat and would give us another lefthanded bat in our linuep. We have Soriano signed through 2014 and I doubt we are able to move him unless we take on a huge chunk of his contract. Tyler Colvin is our rightfielder for the future. He’s also lefthanded and possesses some power, but I want to see what he does in a full season for us. We also have Brett Jackson who I see as our centerfielder of the future. While signing Sizemore sounds applealing, I doubt it happens. The main reason for this doubt is the Indians have a club option on Sizemore for 2012 at $8.5 million. I see them exercising this option. So, don’t count on Sizemore being a Cub.
There are a few starters I would love to add if the price was right. I personally have a mild interest in Edwin Jackson and Wandy Rodriguez. The only pitcher that I think would make a big impact is Roy Oswalt. Adding him to our rotation would be great. Maybe a 2-3 year deal would work, but I have a feeling he will stay in Philly.
Overall, I think we will have some moves to make after this upcoming season. We need to build our team for the long haul. Adding Weeks and Fielder would be a step in the right direction.
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!
I just received a phone call from my buddy Dave from Denver. He says, “Have you heard the news?” I said, “No, what news?” Well, I go to my computer and pull up MLB Trade Rumors only to discover that the Cubs and Rays are close to a deal involving Matt Garza. Now, I’ve obsessed about Garza earlier this offseason. I want him, but I don’t want to overpay! It looks like we are trading away at least 4 minor leaguers! Outfielder Brandon Guyer, that’s okay with me. Catcher Robinson Chirinos, I can live with this one. RHP Chris Archer, this one kind of stings. And shortstop Hak-Ju Lee……..OUCH!!!!!!!!! Losing Lee in this potential trade hurts. I truly believe he is a future leadoff hitter and excellent defensive shortstop. Heck, there may be more players involved in the deal and it’s not finalized just yet. As long as we don’t give up Brett Jackson or Chris Carpenter too! Anyway, at least Jim is making a move. I just hope he doesn’t trade away too much talent.
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.
Okay, I know everyone has their own “expert” opinions. Well, I have mine too! Here’s my projected position players, bench players, starting rotation and bullpen for the Cubs in 2011. Feel free to share your ideas and/or thoughts.
Starting Lineup Bench players
C-Geovany Soto (R) C-Koyie Hill (S)
1B-Carlos Pena (L) IF-Jeff Baker (R)
2B-Blake DeWitt (L) IF-Darwin Barney (R)
3B-Aramis Ramirez (R) OF-Kosuke Fukudome (L)
SS-Starlin Castro (R)
LF-Alfonso Soriano (R)
CF-Marlon Byrd (R)
RF-Tyler Colvin (L)
Starting Rotation Bullpen
Carlos Zambrano (R) Carlos Marmol (R) Closer
Ryan Dempster (R) Kerry Wood (R) Setup
Tom Gorzelanny (L) Sean Marshall (L) Setup
Randy Wells (R) John Grabow (L)
Carlos Silva (R) Andrew Cashner (R)
Well, I’ve listed only 22 players so there are three slots still open. Here’s a list of players that will be on the verge on making the team in spring training or getting called up early in the season.
Justin Berg (RHP), Casey Coleman (RHP), John Gaub (LHP), Scott Maine (LHP), James Russell (LHP), Jeff Samardzija (RHP), Jeff Stevens (RHP), Wellington Castillo-C, Sam Fuld-OF.
And here’s my sleepers.
Alberto Carbrera (RHP), Rafael Dolis (RHP), Brian Schlitter (RHP), Jay Jackson (RHP), Chris Archer (RHP), Chris Carpenter (RHP), Kyle Smit (RHP), David Cales (RHP), Robinson Chirinos-C, Brett Jackson-OF, Brandon Guyer-OF, Bryan LaHair-1B.
I’ve left some players off the list such as SS Hak-Ju Lee and CI Josh Vitters, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see them get called up later in the season as well as several other minor leaguers.
Overall, I believe our future is very bright. We are getting younger and more athletic. We have some really good arms in our system to be excited about and some position players that can flat out hit the ball. 2011 is almost here and things are looking brighter!
This is Brett Jackson. If you are a Cubs fan I suggest you remember this name if you don’t know it already. This is the guy that I think will be our centerfielder of the future. I know we have Marlon Byrd right now and he’s signed thru 2012, but this young man pictured above is the real deal. So far, in 702 minor league at bats, Mr. Jackson has managed a .303 batting average and an .893 OPS. He also has 38 doubles, 17 triples, 20 homers and 43 stolen bases during his short time in the minors. He’s only 22 and even if he doesn’t become our everyday centerfielder until 2013 I think he’s going to be roaming the outfield in Wrigley for quite a few years. He’s capable of playing any outfield position, but projects as a centerfielder with the ability to hit anywhere in the lineup. Imagine Colvin, Castro, Jackson and Hak-Ju Lee as the cornerstones to our team. And these four are just the beginning!
Every offseason I pine over players that I want the Cubs to pursue. In the winter after the 2008 season, I wanted the Cubs to go after Jake Peavy. Can you blame me? I guess it’s a good thing we didn’t get him. He’s only made 33 starts in 2009 and 2010 combined. This year I wanted the Cubs to attempt to trade for Adrian Gonzalez. I think he’s a stud and would have solved a lot of problems the Cubs have….lefthanded power, firstbase, good glove and clubhouse leader to name a few. Anyway, he’s now on the Red Sox and I see him signing an extension with them by next spring. The next player I am drooling over is Matt Garza. Ever since I read the first trade rumor that the Cubs may be interested in him I have been thinking how great he would be in our rotation. If we trade for Garza I hope we keep minor league shortstop Hak-Ju Lee unless we plan on signing Jose Reyes at the end of the 2011 season. He’ll be a free agent then. I’m not a big Reyes fan, but he would fill our need at the leadoff spot in our batting order. Personally, I would like to get a deal done for Garza without trading Lee.
As for firstbase. I know we signed Carlos Pena to a one year deal and it’s possible that he ends up being playing first for us more than next year. However, if he doesn’t work out and we don’t resign him after next year I think we need to strongly consider Prince Fielder. Fielder is young and provides a ton of power from the lefthand side of the plate. He’s not known for his defense and I’m not sure how good of a leader he is, but it’s an option.
Needless to say, I want Garza pretty bad, but am beginning to think it’s not going to happen. Only time will tell. Until then, I need to be patient and trust that Jim Hendry will make the right moves at the right time.