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   1. The Underground Man Posted: December 13, 2007 at 01:32 AM (#2643094)
And this is the horribly annoying side of the informed and/or sabermetric fan. Why should a fan care if Fukudome is better than Murton but not better value on a price per win basis? Everyone loves to play armchair GM and sites like Baseball Prospectus have ingrained in saber-friendly fans that it is important how much a player earns because a team is only going to spend so much money but is it really that important to us as fans? While I understand how if your team spends 10 million on a guy who sucks and your rival spends 10 million on a guy who is great you have something to gripe about, is it really something to gripe about when your team gets an upgrade in right field because he's less of a bargain than the guy they already had?
   2. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: December 13, 2007 at 01:59 AM (#2643122)
I don’t think a player like Pie has much of a chance of developing into anything in this organization

I think you're being overly pessimistic here. None of the Cub coaches who might actually work with a hitter were on the major league club working with the previous hacktastic prospects. I know the team as a whole has an abysmal record with respect to position players but there isn't a whole lot of continuity in the instruction at the major league level other than the laundry.

I don't know enough about the minor league organization & personnel to make any such claims there.
   3. McCoy Posted: December 13, 2007 at 02:07 AM (#2643126)
What matters is that the Cubs had money to spend, it is an upgrade, and there isn't a whole hell of a lot out there that the Cubs can pick up and simply shell out money for.

I can understand quibbling about dollars per win when the free agent market has 10 to 15 slightly below to good to great players available. Even though I have never liked the whole dollars per win thing anyway. But that really doesn't apply here. The Cubs had money to spend, if they didn't spend it on Fukudome then they don't spend it. Which means the Cubs don't get better, it isn't they don't spend it on Fukudome and instead spend it on Pujols or ARod.
   4. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: December 13, 2007 at 02:11 AM (#2643129)
Cub related not unworthy of its own thread:

CHICAGO - Media conglomerate Tribune Co. said Wednesday it anticipates closing on the sale of the Chicago Cubs baseball team as well as its stake in the local Comcast sports channel during the first half of next year.

A commitment to a Cubs sale was a condition that needed to be met in order for Tribune to be taken private in an $8.2 billion buyout led by real estate magnate Sam Zell.

Tribune said it also expects to complete the sale of the Cubs' Wrigley Field and related property during the same period.
   5. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: December 13, 2007 at 02:11 AM (#2643130)
That should be:

Cub related note unworthy of its own thread
   6. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: December 13, 2007 at 03:46 AM (#2643194)
Is Adam Everett worth a look? His fielding numbers suggest he may actually be an average overall shortstop.
   7. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: December 13, 2007 at 03:56 AM (#2643206)
Prior non-tendered.

I was way wrong.
   8. McCoy Posted: December 13, 2007 at 03:58 AM (#2643212)
I didn't think they would do it either.
   9. zonk Posted: December 13, 2007 at 04:04 AM (#2643221)
I'm actually with Pops. I feel pretty good that Fuko won't be another Kaz, and I can't see Soto being at least average. I'll give away an at-bat at SS or C if the defender is right, and everything says Adam Everett is one of the best glove men around. Between Marquis and Zambrano, I'm not so sure Everett shouldn't bat 9th 60-70 games this year though.

I'm not in love with any of the minor league kids, so I'd happily give a package for Roberts, but absolutely, positively not Hill. I'd prefer to hang onto Marshall and Murton, too -- but I would happily ship Gallagher, Pie, Veal, Colvin, you name it -- from the farm.

If it's to be a hell or highwater charge for a year of magic, screw the future (and the large, long contracts that pervade the 30+ crowd on the Cubs roster say it is) -- then there's nothing in the system that particularly excites me to the point of making an exception.
   10. Andere Richtingen Posted: December 13, 2007 at 05:02 AM (#2643320)
I think you're being overly pessimistic here. None of the Cub coaches who might actually work with a hitter were on the major league club working with the previous hacktastic prospects. I know the team as a whole has an abysmal record with respect to position players but there isn't a whole lot of continuity in the instruction at the major league level other than the laundry.

Sure there's continuity. The Cubs system has been extremely consistent in failing to produce position prospects. When you have a two-decade run not producing a star position player, I assume that there is something inherently wrong. And in the case of Pie, a player with raw offensive skills and poor plate discipline, I think the Cubs organization is the last place you'd expect to see him turnaround. I'd love to be wrong about this, but I've come to the conclusion that Cubs position prospects should be sold short.

While I understand how if your team spends 10 million on a guy who sucks and your rival spends 10 million on a guy who is great you have something to gripe about, is it really something to gripe about when your team gets an upgrade in right field because he's less of a bargain than the guy they already had?

Well, I wasn't griping about it -- I've pretty much written Murton off as a Cub and I'm glad to have Fukudome. But unless your team has unlimited resources, if you're going to think long-term you have to think about how money is spent.
   11. The Underground Man Posted: December 13, 2007 at 05:51 AM (#2643365)
Well, I wasn't griping about it -- I've pretty much written Murton off as a Cub and I'm glad to have Fukudome. But unless your team has unlimited resources, if you're going to think long-term you have to think about how money is spent.

I suppose it's an individual decision how much you pay attention to player salaries as we all play armchair GM. I think team budgets and financial plans are such a closed door phenomenon that it's usually just idle speculation on our parts when critiquing them. And therefore baseball analysts rarely have anything interesting to say about whether a particular contract was economically a good idea or not (and not just in terms of team bottom line, but when we talk about how spending today limits later spending, we're just guessing). I feel like it's something adopted from the salary cap sports where you know that if you team gives an old guy a long contract its gonna hurt because you can't spend your way out of it later.

That's not to say that I don't think work done on the sort of macro level of baseball econ is worthless or uninteresting, but the micro level of: should we spend $10 million on that guy to upgrade the team, if you agree with the move on a baseball level what else is there to say? I bet last year a lot of Cubs fans speculated Soriano's contract would preclude a move like adding Fukudome this year. We don't have the slightest clue of how important it is to the Cubs to get a good value by just sticking with Murton until we see them actually spend a ton of cash on Fukudome.
   12. Andere Richtingen Posted: December 13, 2007 at 06:53 AM (#2643409)
The Cubs financial situation is not stable. There will be new ownership soon. Almost all teams work within some kind of budget. For the first time since the early 90s, the Cubs have been very aggressive in terms of payroll, for about a year now. It's reasonable to suspect that this may end very soon.

As for Fukudome, I'm all for it. As I said in my post, I recognize that it is not a good deal on a win per dollar basis, but I also recognize the context. The problem I see is going too far. I think the Cubs are throwing a lot of money at a short-term winner, and not thinking at all about what will happen when they have a roster full of 33 year-olds making $15 million/yr. I don't know about you, but unlike Hendry, I'm in this for the long haul, and I'd rather see the Cubs emulate a model that has more long-term sustainability.
   13. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: December 13, 2007 at 07:17 AM (#2643421)
In some ways, I feel the same way about the Cubs this off-season, who pledged to stand pat, and have not strayed too far from that plan.

I disagree on both counts. When did they "pledge to stand pat"? They've made no bones about the fact that they needed help in the OF and still do.

As for "straying too far from that plan," they've already lost the guys who played most of the time in CF and RF.

The acquisition of Fukudome further marginalizes Matt Murton, whom we now have to guess is slated for a trade.

Not necessarily to the first half, probably on the second half. It's conceivable that the Cubs could make Murton the new RFer and move Fukudome to CF. I wouldn't bet on this, however.
   14. dr. bleachers Posted: December 13, 2007 at 09:04 AM (#2643461)
I don't really know how much of an opinion I have here, but why were the Cubs a good bet to improve otherwise? Is it Soto's presumed improvement on the catcher spot that you're citing here? CF? Jacque Jones was tremendous according to a couple of metrics, I believe. Soriano pulled up lame for a while there, IIRC, but it doesn't look like they faced a single major injury, which leads me to this.

I guess the main issue I have with that contention is wrt the starting staff, and Marmol for that matter. It's a good group, but if I were to bet on those four guys making an average of 33 starts and posting ERA+s all above 100 again (some well above, including Marshall's 19 GS), I'd definitely take the under. All things considered, it just looks like a perfect storm of sorts.
   15. Dan The Mediocre Posted: December 13, 2007 at 03:01 PM (#2643540)
I don't really know how much of an opinion I have here, but why were the Cubs a good bet to improve otherwise? Is it Soto's presumed improvement on the catcher spot that you're citing here? CF? Jacque Jones was tremendous according to a couple of metrics, I believe. Soriano pulled up lame for a while there, IIRC, but it doesn't look like they faced a single major injury, which leads me to this.

I guess the main issue I have with that contention is wrt the starting staff, and Marmol for that matter. It's a good group, but if I were to bet on those four guys making an average of 33 starts and posting ERA+s all above 100 again (some well above, including Marshall's 19 GS), I'd definitely take the under. All things considered, it just looks like a perfect storm of sorts.


Let's look at this position by position:

3B, 1B, and LF should all produce at about the same rate barring a freak injury. Ramirez and Lee did what they have done in the past, and Soriano had some really bad stretches and some really good stretches. He'll be more even this year, but will give about the same value.

CF saw lots of Jones, Pie, and Pagan last year. Jones did very well defensively according to most metrics, but Pie was about the same based on those metrics. I think Pie will do about the same as Jones did last year (.285/.335/.400) which will mean CF improves a bit because Pie was awful at the plate last year.

RF hit .293/.375/.404 last year, which is worse than most metrics have Fukudome. His defense should also be better than that of Floyd and Murton.

SS hit .254/.309/.331. If Theriot is the SS, he should outperform that by just a bit. Roberts would easily outperform this, but his defense would be suspect.

2B was actually pretty good last year, but it will be a little bit down if it's DeRosa there. I don't think he'll repeat the year he had this year. If it's Theriot, it drops down to be closer to what SS was last year than .286/.353/.413.

C was awful both on offense and on defense, and I fully expect Soto to be a decent upgrade on both sides, which makes a pretty good upgrade overall.

Zambrano is a good bet to improve, given that last year was the worst he's had since his half season in 2002.

Lily has a weird pattern to his career, but in the end I think he'll drop off a bit. Not too much, but 4.15 seems like a good guess for his ERA.

Hill will be better, I think. Last year was his first full year, and he did pretty well overall.

Marquis was really goodlucky in the first half. He'll suck and then get replaced.

Marshall seems ready for a breakout year. I realize he was inconsistent, but even with those atrocious starts, he had a good ERA.

Marmol won't be the monster he was last year, but he, Howry, Weurtz, Wood, Dempster, and whatever lefties we come up with should form another solid bullpen.

Overall the Cubs now stand around 90 wins, or at least that's how I see it.
   16. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: December 13, 2007 at 03:08 PM (#2643549)
I guess the main issue I have with that contention is wrt the starting staff, and Marmol for that matter. It's a good group, but if I were to bet on those four guys making an average of 33 starts and posting ERA+s all above 100 again (some well above, including Marshall's 19 GS), I'd definitely take the under. All things considered, it just looks like a perfect storm of sorts.

The Cubs had one of the best defenses in MLB last year; it made the pitchers' seasons look better than they were.
   17. Dan The Mediocre Posted: December 13, 2007 at 03:11 PM (#2643553)
I should also note that the Cubs should actually have been at 88 or 89 wins last year, which pushes my projection up to 94 wins.
   18. Andere Richtingen Posted: December 13, 2007 at 03:32 PM (#2643581)
I don't really know how much of an opinion I have here, but why were the Cubs a good bet to improve otherwise?

What 15-17 said, but also the fact that the Cubs were on a pace to lose 95 games on June 2nd. I think their true level is more like the team that followed that point that what led up to it.

I disagree on both counts. When did they "pledge to stand pat"? They've made no bones about the fact that they needed help in the OF and still do.

Okay, fine -- no team truly stands pat. Would you argue with the statement that the roster has been unusually stable this off-season? Hendry said not to expect a lot of major changes, and for the most part that's what we've seen.
   19. Dan The Mediocre Posted: December 13, 2007 at 03:38 PM (#2643591)
Okay, fine -- no team truly stands pat. Would you argue with he statement that the roster has been unusually stable this off-season? Hendry said not to expect a lot of major changes, and for the most part that's what we've seen.


Did the Cubs really need many major changes? They had their starting LF, 3B, 1B, C, CF, all 5 SP, and 5 RP. They can probably fill out the bench with guys they already have, so all that was left was to figure out how to improve the team at RF, SS, and 2B. I think we all knew one of those 3 was probably internal (2B) and that RF would either be something like Murton/Jenkins or Fukudome. All that's left now are 2 relievers (probably both from the system) and SS, which may still be a position filled internally.

They haven't done much, but I don't think they needed to do much to put this team near the top of the league.
   20. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: December 13, 2007 at 03:44 PM (#2643597)
Assuming Theriot is the starting SS for now, and a 12 pitcher staff, the Cub bench looks like:

Ward
Cedeno
Blanco
Fontenot
Fuld/Pagan?
   21. Andere Richtingen Posted: December 13, 2007 at 03:53 PM (#2643609)
Did the Cubs really need many major changes?

I guess it's a truism that if your projection is right, then the answer is no. Right or wrong, I don't think anyone reasonably expected major changes this off-season, and so far those that have been made make the team better.
   22. Walt Davis Posted: December 13, 2007 at 08:21 PM (#2644340)
ooh, offseason optimism! :-)

Me, I'm a gloomy gus during the offseason. And it's a wintry day here in summery NZ. I think #14 has it more right than wrong. The Cubs had extraordinary luck with health, especially on the pitching side -- Guzman for a bit, Dempster for a bit. But 4 guys with 32+ starts, 6 relievers with 55+ appearances? Not going to happen again.

And I am worried about Zambrano even if he stays healthy (or "healthy"). Two straight seasons with 100+ walks. K-rate was down a good bit last year. The HR rate continues to creep up -- still good but getting close to 1/9. This is not the same pitcher we saw in 2003-4 and he's got a lot of mileage on that arm now.

3B, 1B, and LF should all produce at about the same rate barring a freak injury.

I don't buy that last part. "Freak" is too strong a term. It would be wonderful if somebody could even just compile basic injury rates, but my guess is it's close to a 20% chance that at least one of those guys misses a significant chunk of time. Maybe more given that ARam already seems to require a lot of tender care. Add in ages of 30, 32 and 32 and the chances of at least one declining are surely also pretty good.

Not that there's really much the Cubs can do about that. Every team sinks and swims with their star hitters and at least he Cubs offense shouldn't suck at too many other spots so they'll be reasonably well-placed to survive any injuries.

Wow, Cubs' RF had a 375 OBP last year? Who knew? I'm actually not sure KFuk will improve on that though he'll be better defensively.

But the pitching staff is where we have most of our disagreement I think. I don't expect a bounce back from Z particularly. I hope so. Lilly I'm not really concerned about. I thought he was under-rated coming in and he did nothing last year to make me lower by expectations. Maybe I'm just overly influenced by the fact that his career pattern is almost the stereotype of late-developing leftie (Wells, Rogers, etc.). I would be stunned if Hill does better -- nothing specific to do with Hill, just that a 119 ERA+ is already outstanding and he K'd a ton with a near 3/1 K/BB ratio. If he gets any better, he's with Cole Hamels as the 2nd best lefties in the game (or am I forgetting someone?).

Marquis will be toast, Dempster will be toast, then it's a parade of kids who, being kids, will probably not pitch well.

As we've looked at before, teams usually get a ton of starts from really awful pitchers -- as in about 45 starts from guys with ERA+ of 85 or worse. Last year the Cubs got 7. Plug 38 replacement level starts into last year's team and it gets awfully close to 500.
   23. UCCF Posted: December 13, 2007 at 08:40 PM (#2644402)
As we've looked at before, teams usually get a ton of starts from really awful pitchers -- as in about 45 starts from guys with ERA+ of 85 or worse. Last year the Cubs got 7. Plug 38 replacement level starts into last year's team and it gets awfully close to 500.

That's my biggest worry. They had 152 starts from their top 5 starters last year, each of whom put up an ERA+ over 100 (which is clearly above average for a starting pitcher). That's unsustainable, not with these arms.

The offense and defense (which was already very good last year) are going to have to show a pretty decent level of improvement just to make up for the expected regression by the starting staff. I don't feel confident calling this a 90 win team, not yet, and I don't think Fukudome alone changes that.

In a more competitive division, I wouldn't see the Cubs as serious contenders at this point.
   24. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: December 14, 2007 at 12:08 AM (#2644934)
They had 152 starts from their top 5 starters last year, each of whom put up an ERA+ over 100 (which is clearly above average for a starting pitcher). That's unsustainable, not with these arms.

Perhaps that's true but I think the Cubs can get better than replacement level from two guys outside the rotation (Gallagher & Marshall - if he's on the outside) plus whatever contributions Kevin Hart can make.

I think people are overly pessimistic about Z's health prospects; he's had a lot of usage but has a very good health record.

And finally, I think there is an unlikely but not negligible chance that Dempster is better suited to a starter role and could be a pleasant surprise.
   25. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: December 14, 2007 at 06:10 PM (#2645680)
Let's see if we can get a non-Mitchell Report thread going...

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that "the Cubs are interested in trading for closer Joe Nathan if he's available."

It does look like the Cubs are going for the pennant this year. At least they're targeting good players this time around.
   26. Dan The Mediocre Posted: December 14, 2007 at 06:35 PM (#2645707)
That would give them Nathan, Wood, Weurtz, Marmol, Dempster, and Howry as RHRP. I think this would mean Dempster goes to a starting role, which would be a mistake.
   27. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: December 14, 2007 at 06:46 PM (#2645724)
I think this would mean Dempster goes to a starting role, which would be a mistake.


I think he already does.
   28. odds are meatwad is drunk Posted: December 15, 2007 at 09:54 PM (#2646768)
im expecting the pen to be just as good this year as last year. when wood was finally healthy and in shape he was looking nasty out there, plus wirth no dempster that means we have a closer who wont give us heart attackes on a daily basis. though i would rather see him traded then in the rotation.

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