Tagged: Hot Stove

Spending Spree

Hendry_thinking Jim Hendry has come bursting out of the gates, making more moves than any other GM, with more on the horizon. Apparently the Trib Company has given Hendry a little more dough to play with, and Hendry is coming out swinging.  Now whether those moves pan out or not is another question.  Let’s take a look at Hendry’s recent moves;

Trading Neal Cotts for David Aardsma

The Cubs and the Sox made a trade for the first time since 1998.  The Cubs and Cotts Sox exchanged relievers, with left hander Neal Cotts coming to the Cubs and the Cubs sending the Sox David Aardsma and minor league Carlos Vasquez. Like many of the White Sox pitchers, Cotts was lights out in 2005, but didn’t look too good in 2006. Some wondered if he was suffering from a confidence problem.  David Aardsma looked really good in spring training last season, but struggled in his appearances with the big league club.  Aardsma is 24 and Cotts is 26.  The last trade the Cubs made with the Sox, we gave them John Garland for Matt Karchner.  The last trade before that was when the Sox gave the Cubs Sammy Sosa for George Bell.  Will this trade be as lopsided as either of those?  Only time will tell, but the Cubs definitely needed some left handed relief help.

Cubs Resign Hank White

Of course I am talking about Mr. Henry Blanco.  I really wanted to see Blanco be a Blanco starter over Michael Barrett, since Blanco is a better defensive catcher, throws out runners more effectively, and handles the pitchers better.  At least we have the best backup catcher in baseball.  I was really happy to see Henry stay, especially since I figured he would be gone.  Blanco threw out 15 of 39 basestealers, and now has thrown out 41.4 percent in his career, the second-highest mark for active catchers in the Major Leagues behind Detroit’s Ivan Rodriguez (44.3 percent). 

Cubs acquire Mark DeRosa From Texas

The Cubs scouted DeRosa pretty heavily, and they are definitely taking a gamble with DeRosa.  DeRosa can play a number of positions, but is going to be used Derosa_fielding_1 primarily as a second baseman.  The problem the Cubs have is the same one that they have with Jacque Jones.  Jones can’t hit left handers, and DeRosa can’t hit right handers.  DeRosa has a .850 OPS against lefties, and a -.700 OPS against righties.  That is a negative .700.  Now with the majority of major league pitchers being right handed, this could be a huge problem, especially since a lot of people have him batting second in the lineup.  Apparently the Cubs think he has turned the corner, and that he is a hard enough worker that the new Cubs coaching staff can improve his OPS against righties.

Resigning Ramirez

This was the deal that Cubs fans either cheered about or shook their head.  Hendry is betting that Lou Pinella and his staff can get the most out of Ramirez.  Aramis_4 Ramirez agreed to a five-year, $73 million deal with a mutual option for 2012 for which Ramirez has a vesting option.  Ramirez will certainly be under the microscope for opting out of his contract and getting some more money from the Cubs.  I wonder how the Wrigley faithful will respond, especially if he continues to struggle early in the season. 

Deals on the Horizon

Can you believe all of these moves inunder a week?  Now the question is, what is on the horizon?  The Cubs and Pinella have made no secret that they want Alfonso Soriano, but after signing DeRosa, where would he play?  I thought he would work out at second.  I have heard ideas of the Cubs using Soriano as a centerfield in case Juan Pierre signs with another team.  I don’t want Soriano playing center field at Wrigley. I know he has a great bat and speed, but he is a defensive liability anywhere you put him.  Imagine how bad he would be in center field at Wrigley!!  That would mean he would play left, and Murton would Soriano_hitting_1 be out.  I have no problem with that.   A line up with Soriano, Lee, Ramirez, Barrett, and Jones could be deadly.  Speaking of Pierre, the Cubs are supposedly still talking with Pierre’s agent.  How much would you love to see a Pierre-Soriano one two punch?  There are also talks that the Cubs are aggresively pursing J.D. Drew, who just opted out of his contract with the Dodgers.  Let’s hope some of these gambles pay off.  Think about this though; The Chicago Cubs spent $95 million in four days on four players: Aramis Ramirez, Kerry Wood, Mark DeRosa and Henry Blanco.

What about the Pitching?

Of course, one of the Cubs biggest problems is starting pitching.  With the Boston Red Sox paying 51.1 million dollars just to negotiate with Japanese phenom Daisuke Matsuzaka, the Cubs are looking at other free agent pitchers.  Intrestingly enough, it is believed that the Cubs bid 30 million for the right to negotiate with Matsuzaka, which many people originally thought would be the winning number to talk to Matsuzaka.  Luckily, the Cubs realize that signing Zito or Schmidt to outrageous contratcts would not be benificial to the the team.  Zambrano_6 The Cubs are looking to sign two, maybe three starter to a rotation that is nearly empty.  Hendry hopes to get three of the following pitchers; Jason Marquis (14-16, 6.02 for St. Louis, Ted Lilly (15-13, 4.31 for Toronto), Meche (11-8, 4.48 for Seattle), Miguel Batista (11-8, 4.58 for Arizona) and Japanese left-hander Kei Igawa, who is expected to be posted by the Hanshin Tigers on Monday.  Add three of those guys to the rotation, along Zambrano and the kiddies (Rich Hill, Sean Marshall,Carlos Marmol, Angel Guzman, Juan Mateo and Ryan O’Malley.  Just in case, the Cubs also have Prior and Wade Miller.  The point is that the Cubs would rather have more pitching than not enough, like last year.  Pinella appears to be happy with the work that Hendry is doing;

  "He’s like Pac-Man.  He’s just out there gobbling up players."

Hopefully he is gobbling up the right ones.

Advertisements

The Word of the Day

"My words fly up, my thoughts remain below: Words without thoughts never to heaven go." -Bill Shakespeare

Happy Holidays to All!  I figured since it doesn’t look like the Tejada deal is going to happen, I would focus on an important word- Potential

According to Webster’s Dictionary, potential is 1 : existing in possibility : capable of development into actuality

I picked this word because of the opposition many Cubs fans I spoke had about the Tejada for Prior trade.

Prior_2 The reason people did not want to trade Prior is because he has the potential to become a great, possibly Hall of Fame caliber pitcher.  Unfortunately, there is a down side. He may not become a great pitcher, he may be a bust, and an expernsive one at that. That would mean that Prior did not reach his potential. 

In 2003, Prior won 18 games.  In 2004 and 2005 combined, Prior won 17 games.  Yes, I know he was injured in both of those seasons, and last years injury was a fluke.  Can Prior return to his 2003 days?  Only time will tell.  What I do know is that in 2004 he had elbow problems.  That makes me nervous.  A pitcher with elbow problems is like a racing horse with a busted leg.  Yeah, occasionally you will get a Seabiscut, but more often then not they get shipped to the glue factory. 

Another Cubs pitcher with "potential" is Kerry Wood.  After striking out 20 Astros in 98, he was the second coming of Roger Clemens.  Then, arm trouble.Since 1998, Wood has never won more than 14 games.  In the last three seasons, Kerry has won 14, 8, and 3 games.  In that same three year span the Cubs have paid him 6, 8, and 9.5 million dollars. 

My point in all of this is that with Tejada, there is no "potential", there are only results.  He is one of the top players in the game.  These are his numbers in the last three years.

Last 3 years

Team

G

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

K

SB

CS

AVG

OBP

SLG

OPS

2003

OAK

162

636

98

177

42

0

27

106

53

65

10

0

.278

.336

.472

.807

2004

BAL

162

653

107

203

40

2

34

150

48

73

4

1

.311

.360

.534

.894

2005

BAL

162

654

89

199

50

5

26

98

40

83

5

1

.304

.349

.515

.865

Career

1260

4891

770

1370

281

18

216

852

375

698

58

22

.280

.338

.477

.815

These are results, not potential.  The Cubs could not score runs last season unless they hit home runs.  They could not advance runners. Look at Tejada’s RBI totals.  The Tejada/Lee/Ramirez combo would be deadly.  If Rameriz is injured again, all would not be lost.  The Cubs would still have enough pop in their lineup with Tejada and Lee.  If Ramirez stays healthy, then they have one of the most dangerous lineups in the majors.

Now if we are talking about throwing Felix Pie in the deal for Tejada, I was always against that.  I was ready to trade Prior, Williams, Patterson, and Walker for Tejada and Eric Bedard.

Cubs fans,we need to get offer some of the bad deals in the past.  I will talk more about that tomorrow.  In the meantime, realize that you are refusing to trade potential for a guy who has proven himself over and over again in the big leagues.  If I am wrong about Prior, I will be the first to admit it.

Prior OK, Zambrano No Way

Prior_1 When the rumor came up that the Phillies might be interested in trading Bobby Abreu for either Prior or Zambrano, Hendry made it very clear that neither of these players were available.  Fastforward a month later, Furcal is signed by the Dodgers and the Cubs are looking for some more power for their line up.  Now we here that Baltimore is interested in Zambrano but would take Prior if the Cubs spice up the deal.  The Cubs will no way trade Zambrano, but they seem to be considering trading Prior.  His name has come up in a potential deal with Baltimore, and in a three way trade with Chicago/Boston/Baltimore or Chicago/Baltimore/Oakland.  I just wonder how Prior is going to feel if the trade falls through.  I’m sure Prior realizes it is just business, but I wonder if it bugs him a little.

Thanks for all your comments on the Prior for Tejada trade.  True, pitching is at a premium these days, but can Prior ever return to his 2003 form?  Every comment I got felt that the Cubs should not trade Prior, especially if it is not a straight up deal.  Pitching does win championships, but what has Prior done since 2003?  Yes, he has been injured.  I have seen Prior pitch many games, including his first career start in the big leagues, his playoff games, and the last two seasons. I don’t know if he is still hurting, but the Prior I saw last year was much different than the Prior of ’03.  He didn’t seem to attack hitters the way he used to and seemed to stuggle in the 1st and 6th innings.  He did not look dominant.  He is not the best pitcher on the staff.  That would be Zambrano.  I remember a few years ago, there was talk about a Kerry Wood for Roy Oswalt trade.  Cubs fans were furious at the idea, but don’t you wish you would have taken that deal now?  Tejada is one of the premier players in the game.  Insert him in the lineup and the Cubs look dangerous.  The idea of having to pitch to Lee, Tejada and Ramirez would make any pitcher wet his pants.  If you could guarantee that Prior would be healthy, then I would not trade him.  But no one can guarantee that.  This is a tough debate that could go either way.  As for me, I am still on the fence.

Cubs Make A Big Pitch For Tejada

Prior Could it be, Mark Prior, the next messiah, being traded to the Baltimore Orioles for Miguel Tejada?  That’s the rumor according to Fox Sports Net

http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/5189112

According to the article, the Cubs would trade Prior for Tejada, yet the CubsTejada_2  also want left handed pitcher Eric Bedard and the Orioles want Felix Pie or a top Cubs pitching prospect. 

Another trade being discussed is a three way trade between the Cubs, Orioles, and Red Sox.  The Orioles would get Manny Ramirez, the Cubs would get Tejada, and the Red Sox would get Prior, Corey Patterson, and Ronnie Cedeno.  Ramirez

Wow, this is mind boggling.  Would you give up Prior and Pie for Tejada?  Prior has a history of injuries and not lived up to potential.  Pie is the golden boy of the Cubs farm system, a kid who is a five tool player with the potential to be an all star.  After giving up two top pitching prospects for Pierre, to the Cubs want to completly deplete their farm system?  Would Manny wave his no trade clause?  Would the Orioles be willing to take Prior, Patterson, Walker, and Williams?  Is Tejada clean or did he give Palmero some steroids? 

This could be the deal that affects the Cubs for the next four to five years.  Can Hendry pull this off and is he willing to take a huge gamble.  I thought this Tejada story was dead, but it appears that Lazarus is on Jim Hendry’s speed dial.

Help Hendry Cubs fans, what should he do?

Bon Jour Jacque, Adios Corey?

Jones As discussed in my last blog, the Cubs have officially picked up Jacque Jones from the Minnesota Twins.  The Cubs signed Jones to a three year 16 million dollar deal.  There are many positives to this signing.  First, Jones has a great arm. With Pierre’s weak arm in center, it is important to improve defensively in the outfield.  I wounder if they would consider putting Jones in center and Pierre in right.  Second, it gives the Cubs a legitimate hitter in the two hole.  Third, Jones is a patient hitter who knows how to work the count.  After watching the Cubs swing away like they were competing in a lumberjack competition, it will be nice to see some discipline at the plate.  Fourth, he is a left hand hitter.  Fifth, he is a career .281 hitter with runners in scoring position.  Sounds pretty good.  The drawbacks?  Last yea Jones hit a meager, .249.  According to Hendry, his scouts felt Jones tried to carry the Twins, who had to deal with injuries to key players such as Torii Hunter and Shannon Stewart.   Another drawback, his average has been going down in each of the last two seasons.  Is this a trend?  Here are Jones numbers for the last three years.

Last 3

years

G

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

K

SB

CS

AVG

OBP

SLG

OPS

2003

136

517

76

157

33

1

16

69

21

105

13

1

.304

.333

.464

.797

2004

151

555

69

141

22

1

24

80

40

117

13

10

.254

.315

.427

.742

2005

142

523

74

130

22

4

23

73

51

120

13

4

.249

.319

.438

.757

Career

976

3492

492

974

189

15

132

476

231

737

67

40

.279

.327

.455

.782

In general, the move seems like a good fit.  The Cubs will not be hitting as many homers as last year, but that is not a bad thing.  The Cubs hit the second most homeruns in the National League, but only ninth in runs scored.  Everyone who went to a game so the problems with the Cubs offense;  inability to manufacture runs.  If they hit the long ball, then they were in good shape.  If they couldn’t, they lost.  Period.  They could not bunt, hit and run,steal bases, hit behind the runnner, draw walks, sustain a rally, hit with runner in scoring position, or anything else for that matter.  It is important for GM’s to realize that the era of the juiced up home run hitter is over.  It is time that baseball returned to the day of manufacturing runs.  With experienced veterns like Jones and Pierre setting the table, this team will be able to do that. 

The Cubs batting lineup for 2006 looks like this

1. Pierre CF

2. Jones RF

3. Lee 1B

4. Ramirez 3B

5. Walker 2B

6. Murton LF

7. Cedeno SS

8. Barrett C

9 Pitcher

Now its time for the 64,000 dollar question;  What do you do with Corey?  Last year, watching Corey was like watching a train wreck.  Never in my 25 years of watching baseball have I seen a healthy ballplayer hit so poorly.  The Cubs organization asked Corey to play some winter ball and he refused.  After hitting .215 in 2005, how much of a demand is there for Corey?  He was the Cubs No. 1 draft pick in 1998, there have been flashes of greatness, but he has never really achieved what the Cubs thought he would.  What would he do as a bench player?  He wouldn’t pinch hit, that’s why they signed the Cardinals John Mabry.  I guess you could keep him on the bench, but how would he improve.  The only solution is to trade him.  The Cubs need another starter, the rotation of Zambrano, Prior, Maddux, Rusch, and Williams is shaky at best.  We need another starting pitcher.  Now brace yourselves Cubs fans, I am going to say it.  How about trading Corey, Jerome Williams, and Kerry Wood for a starting pitcher?  Is there some team who would be willing to part with a good young starting pitcher for those three players?  Kevin Millwood is the only arm left on the free agent market, so it seem like a trade would be the way to go.  Let’s do some shopping Jim.

No More No-Mah

Nomar Well, Nomar Garciaparra is no longer a Cub.  I was there at his first game a year and a half ago.  It looked like he would be the final piece of the puzzle, but it was not to be.  Then after ripping his groin early last season, Nomar spend most of 2005 rehabbing. Now I know a lot of people think that Nomar is going to be a good pick up for LA, and that maybe the Cubs should have offered him something.  I believe Hendry was right.  Nomar may have a great season, but at what position and can he stay healthy.  The Cubs have ben like a  MASH unit, so many injuries hurting this team, that I do not want to waste any more time and money on Nomar.  Plus, where could we use him?  It is time to see if Ronnie Cedeno can play at the big show. Some people would want Nomar to play right, yet after watching Sammy butcher the position for so many years, why would you want someone who has never played the outfield and is injury prone to play right field?  I still believe the Cubs should pick up Julio Lugo for Walker, Williams, and some minor leaguers.  The Orioles demands for Tejada are too crazy and Lugo would be a great fit.  Worse comes to worse, keep Todd Walker at second and have him bat second.  Now we need to focus on the right field question.  Do we keep Corey, bat him seventh, have him play right, and pray to the Baseball Gods that he finally reaches his potential?  Do we throw him to the scrap heap?  I looked at the perspective free agent right fielders and the picking are slim.  Rumor has it that the Cubs are looking at Jacque Jones, yet last season he hit only .249.  Now that is definately better than Corey’s ******** .215 average and Jones did have 22 homers and 73 RBI’s, but that still is a pretty low average.  Can anyone give me any suggestions on who should play right?

Good bye Nomar and good luck.  One more positive thing about Nomar leaving is that there will not be another Mia Hamm day at Wrigley Field.  That was one of the stupidest, most pointless promotions I have ever sat through.  I came to watch a baseball game, not a boring ceremony designed to entertain 12 year old girls.  Maybe they like that stuff in LA LA Land.Hamm

Washington’s Mistake Could Benefit The Cubs

Soriano In a bizarre move that has Crawly scratching his head, Texas has traded second baseman Alfonso Soriano to the Washington Nationals for outfielders Brad Wilkerson and Terrmel Sledge.  Trading two outfielders and already having Jose Vidro at second, it apperas that the Nationals would like Soriano to move to the outfield, only one problem; No one bothered to asked Soriano if he would be willing to move into the outfield.  Soriano has said, and I quote:

"I didn’t change positions when I came to Texas from the Yankees, why would I change now? I’m an All-Star at second base." In an interview in the Star-Telegram, Soriano also said  "Obviously, I have the control. Of course I’m not going to play the outfield."

Washington GM Jim Bowden replied by saying

"We all want to do certain things in life and we all don’t get the exact positions we want sometimes but you do what’s best for your organization to try and win. When we get to that road, there will be unhappy people, but our job is to win. Our job is to have a team, not individuals. Baseball is a team sport. A lot could happen between now and Spring Training."

Not exactly a great start to Soriano’s career in Washington.  Soriano wants to play for a contender, and Washington has no manager and possibly no stadium.  He does not seem happy with the trade and Washington may want to rethink keeping him on the team.  Well, what does this mean for the Cubs?  Well, a few possibilities enter my mind.

Situation #1:  Soriano wants out.  Washington will need pitching, an outfielder, and a back up second baseman in case Vidro’s legs fall off.  Could the Cubs get Soriano by trading Jerome Williams, Todd Walker, Corey Patterson, and maybe a few young pitchers?  These are Soriano’s stats from last year.

   G       AB      R      H     2B   HR   RBI   BB    K     SB    AVG      OBP    SLG    OPS

156 637 102 171 43 36 104 33 125 30 .268 .309 .512 .821

He’s got power and speed.  His average dipped last year, but he would be a major threat hitting second in the lineup.

Situation #2  Texas now has too many outfielders and need pitching.  Could the Cubs trade some pitching for right fielder Kevin Mench or Brad Wilkerson?

Keep an eye on this Cubs fans.