With the way the Cubs are playing this season, I think it’s okay to talk about a contingency plan. Let me explain. I am not saying that we are throwing in the towel by any means. However, if another 6-8 weeks go by and we continue to lose more than we win, it may be necessary to start trading players and their contracts.
I think the list of guys that we could put on the trade market is a big one with some good players. Aramis Ramirez, Marlon Byrd, Kosuke Fukudome and Ryan Dempster being among the biggest names. I would love for us to be able to move Alfonso Soriano and his huge salary as well, but that would be really difficult. By potentially moving Byrd and Fukudome we would be opening up spots in our outfield for younger players such as Tyler Colvin, Tony Campana and Brett Jackson.
I would hate to trade Ryan Dempster, but I could see him help a team win a pennant and possibly the World Series. He just turned 34 a couple of weeks ago and is a great competitor and leader. I could also see the Cubs trading Randy Wells too. I don’t think Carlos Zambrano will be traded. I see him as one of the cornerstone players that the Cubs hope to build a championship caliber team around.
Our bullpen is relatively young with the exception of Kerry Wood and John Grabow. I want to keep Wood for multiple reasons. It’s already evident, that he will give the Cubs a home town discount and it’s good to have a veteran leader in the bullpen.
The Cubs are going to have a chance to sign a big name or two this upcoming off season. Whether it’s Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder or someone else, the Cubs have a ton of money that they will be able to spend after this season is over. I look for them to go on a spending spree!
Finally, we have Aramis Ramirez who could also be traded. I don’t want to lose him, but he’s being pitched around a lot this season with little protection in the lineup. His power numbers are suffering due to this. In the right lineup, I think he would return to form and help any team win.
When it’s all said and done, I don’t want the Cubs to be sellers. I won’t us to be buyers! I want us competing for the division title and a spot in the post season in 2011. I still think if our team is able to start winning. I still believe we can win the NL Central. A lot must go right, but it’s not impossible!
The Chicago Cubs appear to content with the lineup we currently have. I was kind of hoping we would trade Fukudome, but that does not seem like it will happen. I was also a little bit interested in Michael Young to play second over the platoon of Blake DeWitt and Jeff Baker, but that is not going to happen either. Another possible “solution” for second would be Luis Castillo if the Mets were willing to part with him. Personally, I don’t like this idea at all. The one move I still think the Cubs could make is acquiring Chris Davis from the Rangers. I think it would take catcher Wellington Castillo and another high minor league player.
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.
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!
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!
Okay, 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.
Bringing back Kerry Wood was one of the things I had on my “To Do List/Wish List” for this offseason. I even wrote that I thought we could “get him for a fair price”. Wow, did we ever! $1.5 million for 1 year. Now that’s what I call a good move by Jim Hendry.
Wood is the only veteran arm I want the Cubs to add to the bullpen. I think we need to let Marshall, Marmol and Wood be our 3 primary late inning relievers. John Grabow should figure into the picture somewhere especially considering he’s a lefty. We also have Andrew Cashner, but he may end up in the starting rotation. Personally, I like him better in the pen with his 98 mph fastball. However, we also have some young guys like John Gaub, Scott Maine, Marcos Mateo, James Russell and Jeff Stevens that could be used in the pen. So, I can understand the reasoning behind moving Cashner to the starting rotation. Especially since we now have Wood back.
Thank you to Kerry Wood for coming back. Maybe you can teach some of our younger guys a thing or two.