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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Cubs sign Jacque Jones to three year $16M deal

Jones has a career .327 OBP, and that propped up by out of character .300 batting averages in 2001 and 2002.  If you assume he’ll platoon and ignore his numbers against lefties he looks a bit better, but even last year’s .814 OPS against righties was worse than 40 other outfielders (and was produced in a bit of a hitter’s park to boot.)  Its hard to see what he offers that’s worth a whopping $5M/yr more than a replacement outfielder now, much less in three years.  Adding salt to the wound, we now owe the Twins a compensation draft pick.

Jones is the kind of safe, known-quantity veteran mediocrity that the Cubs have been overpaying for as long as I’ve been a baseball fan.  If we had a $200M payroll and one hole to fill, bringing someone like Jones in would be understandable.  With a payroll half that size, committing to this much money for this long with as many other holes as the Cubs roster has improves the team little if any this year and hamstrings us for years to come.

Scott Lange Posted: December 21, 2005 at 02:38 AM | 56 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. SouthSideRyan Posted: December 21, 2005 at 02:58 AM (#1787465)
I didn't really sum things up well enough in the rumors thread. I'm gonna sum it up as lots of these #.
   2. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: December 21, 2005 at 04:40 AM (#1787563)
If you assume he’ll platoon and ignore his numbers against lefties he looks a bit better,

Nothing about 3 yrs/$16mm says "platoon." I'm only happy that Jim Hendry won't be around to see the end of this deal.
   3. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: December 21, 2005 at 04:44 AM (#1787570)
I'm copying this from the other thread:

The comment above that the Cubs managed to waste $30M this offseason without really upgrading is right on the money. That's the big complaint here - last offseason, all we heard was "we can't afford to upgrade at X or Y because of Sosa's contract. But there's all this money coming off the books for 2006, and that's when you'll see a big splash."

The big splash for 2006 turned out to be:

$5.5M to keep Ryan Dempster
$3M to keep Neifi Perez
$3M to keep Glendon Rusch
$3.5M to bring in Scott Eyre
$4M to bring in Bobby Howry
$3.5M for 1 year of Juan Pierre
$5M for Jacques Jones
$1M for John Mabry

That's about $25M in total (Dempster got $2M last year, so his is a $3.5M raise; Neifi got $1M, so his is a $2M raise), spent largely on castoffs and spare pieces, older relievers (while their corps of young arms goes back to Iowa to rot away or get traded for PsTBNL) and bench players.


That list just sickens me. I have no ability to comprehend how we managed to piss away $25M on overrated OFs, bullpen "upgrades" (though I'm not convinced that Rusch, Howry, Eyre is that much better than what we could have gotten for about $2M aggregate from all the arms that made the circuit back and forth last year), and bench fodder.

This team is barely better than it was when the postseason began, but all the money in the cookie jar is gone. We still have a woefully substandard outfield, a middle infield filled with question marks, a starting rotation with question marks, and a bumbleheaded manager who's only going to exacerbate the problems.

79 wins in 2005? Call it 78 wins in 2006, owing to Lee's certain slide back to less Ruthian output. The only thing that can save this team now is 650 innings, a 3.00 ERA, and 55 wins out of Prior, Zambrano, and Wood. And that's just not going to happen.
   4. Mike Isaacs Posted: December 21, 2005 at 05:39 AM (#1787692)
The comment above that the Cubs managed to waste $30M this offseason without really upgrading is right on the money.

The reality here is that there was little reason from the start of this off season to believe that we'd see anything different than what we've seen so far. Jacque Jones is the latest ho-hum example.

All of the ingredients were in place: A team with major holes to fill, a relatively low payroll coming off of a disastrous year, a manager and general manger whose jobs were on the line, a weaker-than-usual talent pool and a franchise who has a history of spinning mediocrity right into the baseball grave.

Many fans had a sinking feeling right after 2005's crummy season came to a merciful end, and for good reason. If the club wanted to contend, it required some gutsy and risky trading and better strategy in trying to acquire the few worthwhile free agents available. Otherwise, it would have been best to hold onto promising pieces of the future -- such as decent pitching prospects and even actual dollars -- and build for a brighter tomorrow.

Instead, the Cubs chose a more predictable path. Management was intent on pushing the payroll past the $100 million mark whether the talent justified it or not, and so we now are looking at yet another overpaid mediocre acquisition and the latest subject of a spin project. This is such an old song and one the Cubs never get tired of playing...no matter how many times they crash and burn.

I'm not so sure I agree that Jones is slated for full-time RF. It's very possible, even with the head-scratching salary coming his way, that Hendry may have a platoon in mind. Rumors today are hinting at a Kerry Wood for Jose Vidro and Ryan Church deal, the latter whom I would think would play RF against lefties.

I've been as disappointed as anyone regarding Wood's health record, but everyone knows his upside if he stays healthy. Deal him -- assuming he agrees to a trade -- if you get something back that will either get you to the promised land this year or help you build in a serious way for the future.

But that won't be the case.

This Cubs franchise has no interest in the future right now because the men making deals may not be around to see it. But you can bet there will be plenty of fans still here who will be agonizing over the results.
   5. HMS Moses Taylor Posted: December 21, 2005 at 06:59 AM (#1787794)
Rumors today are hinting at a Kerry Wood for Jose Vidro and Ryan Church deal, the latter whom I would think would play RF against lefties.

Church is also a lefty. If he were part of a platoon, it'll be a LF platoon.

That rumor is bogus for so many reasons. Jones is the everyday RF, I guarantee it.
   6. HMS Moses Taylor Posted: December 21, 2005 at 07:00 AM (#1787795)
The biggest reason would be Wood's no-trade clause. If he got an extension at his current salary (which is not going to happen), he'd waive it. Otherwise, he'll be happy to go into next offseason as a FA.
   7. Mike Isaacs Posted: December 21, 2005 at 02:10 PM (#1787921)
If he were part of a platoon, it'll be a LF platoon.

You're right -- it would be as a LF platoon. To correct myself, not only is he a lefty, but Church was used primarily in that role in Washington. He batted about eight more times against righties than against lefties so I'm sure his role would be to split time with Murton and back up Pierre as he also played CF. Thanks for the catch.

Is it likely to happen? Probably not because Wood would, indeed, have to sign off on the deal. What I'm unsure about though is whether the Cubs have contemplated a deal like this. If that's the case, I'm more disturbed about the mindset that entertains such a deal than I am about the reality of it happening.

The most disturbing aspect of the Jones contract is not Jones coming to the Cubs in a year that was not likely to amount to anything anyway, but the contract he signed. Three years at that cost is a worse signing than Burnitz's last year because it burdens the team for a longer period. At that pricetag, it's easy to assume that Jones will become a full-time player.

But doesn't even a desperate Hendry have to notice .201/.247/.617 against lefties last year? And should anyone think that Jones simply had a real down 2005, his three-year numbers show a whopping improvement at .238/.295/.658.

I still think there's a distinct possibility that Hendry goes after a right-handed bat for a platoon in RF, but we'll see who is right in short time. If I'm wrong, then I've given the GM a bit more credit than he deserves, which I didn't think was possible anymore.
   8. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: December 21, 2005 at 03:31 PM (#1788041)
If the club wanted to contend, it required some gutsy and risky trading and better strategy in trying to acquire the few worthwhile free agents available. Otherwise, it would have been best to hold onto promising pieces of the future -- such as decent pitching prospects and even actual dollars -- and build for a brighter tomorrow.

I agree. Purely as a basis of comparison, here is what kills me -- look at the following two teams:

Team A just came off a thoroughly disappointing season, below .500 in fact -- a season that the general manager said "will not be tolerated." It was their second disappointing season in a row, just two years removed from a playoff run that took them quite close to the World Series. They are one of the most popular teams in MLB, but have a restless, anxious fan base -- not only because of the last two disappointing years, but because of the recent success of their crosstown, lower market neighbors. This has translated into greater media and fan scrutiny on both the general manager and field manager, each of whom are entering the final years of their respective contracts with some fans and media looking for their heads. This team has the financial wherewithal to add a large amount of salary and a farm system that, while not what it once was, still has good talent and decent depth from which to deal.


Team B is the crosstown neighbor of Team A. Generally a mid-market team and viewed as the forgotten stepsister of their neighbor's, Team B has a smaller payroll with which to work. Nevertheless, they were able to make the right series of moves, get a little luck, and put together the first World Series winning team that the city has seen in 80+ years. Although the payroll isn't large, they have the financial wherewithal to resign existing talent, maybe even add some bench talent, and also have a decent farm system as well. Nevertheless, needless to say, the fanbase couldn't be happier about the state of the team and the general manager's and field manager's jobs could not be more secure.

These two teams made the following moves --

Moves #1: Traded their homegrown, quality CF as well as one of the top arms in the farm system to acquire a 35 year old 1B with Hall of Fame level talent, but coming off an injury-riddled, miserable season that saw his current team looking to move him (and the last 3 years of his high-salaried deal) in order to make room for the NL Rookie of the Year. In making this move, the team got several millions of dollars to make the salaries work.

After making this move, the team then declined the option on one of their existing power hitters, and bought out the expensive contract on perhaps the best and most popular player to ever play for the franchise (albeit a player who missed most of the 2005 season). They then resigned the incumbent 1B to an expensive 5-year deal, despite the fact that even at the top of his game, the player still did not rank in the top 4-5 at his position.

The team then traded away one of the better talented LH relievers in the game (who struggled in 2005) to acquire a versatile utility player. Not content to stop there, the team traded their top CF prospect along with one of their RPs and a famous SP (who may be a #4 starter) to acquire a top SP who has had disappointments of his own, plus cash to make the deal work. They then resigned their incumbent catcher for 3 years.


Moves #2: Gave their closer a 3-year extension at an excessive salary, despite the fact that this player has spent less than a year in the role. They then picked up the options on their 2B and one of their RPs (still rehabbing from injury), while declining the option on their starting RF who had a dramatic fall-off in the second half of the season. The team then gave a 2-year extension to a LH reliever/back-of-the rotation starter, promising him a shot at one of the starting roles (which he'll probably get if there is an injury).

The team then gave a two-year extension to one of the weakest hitting starting middle infielders of all time (and someone they first acquired in a minor league deal after he was released by his former team), albeit a veteran who played strong defense. They made this move despite having exercised the option on the incumbent 2B and having announced their preference that one of their promising youngsters get the SS job. They then gave 3 year deals to two aging relievers.

The team then dealt three of the top pitching prospects of the system to acquire a speedy CF whom his current team was looking to dump, then most recently gave a 3 year deal to a 30-yr old OF who is virtually the same player as the incumbent RF they bailed on at the end of the year.


Which of these moves was done by the team who won the World Series and which were done by the team with a restless fanbase and a GM in the final year of his contract?
   9. Andere Richtingen Posted: December 21, 2005 at 03:42 PM (#1788067)
Team B is the crosstown neighbor of Team A.

I'm never going to stop harping on this: Screw the White Sox. That is the wrong comparison to make.

The correct comparison is the Houston Astros, with whom the Cubs have shared a division for the entire MacPhail era. Over that span, they have put up a ~.540 win percentage and fielded a sub-.500 team only once, and in only one of those years (1995) did they have a payroll higher than the Cubs'. Over that same period, the Cubs' win percentage is something like .475, and they've fielded a sub-.500 team six times. And then there's the Cardinals...

This is SHAMEFUL. Hendry and MacPhail should be forced to walk around in sack cloth while Cubs fans throw tomatoes at them. They SUCK.
   10. SouthSideRyan Posted: December 21, 2005 at 03:46 PM (#1788077)
Mitre was not a top pitching prospect. And does Dempster's salary really look that excessive when compared to the other salaries handed out to bullpen guys this offseason?
   11. Andere Richtingen Posted: December 21, 2005 at 03:54 PM (#1788094)
Mitre was not a top pitching prospect. And does Dempster's salary really look that excessive when compared to the other salaries handed out to bullpen guys this offseason?

Mitre was perhaps less promising than the other two pitchers they sent to Florida, and he has value as a guy with talent who can fill in the gaps for a team that intends only to show up and play.

Dempster's salary doesn't look high comparatively, but people seem to assume that the Dempster of June-September 2005 is a sure thing from here on out. Have a look at the rest of his career. There is a significant chance that he will suck.
   12. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: December 21, 2005 at 03:59 PM (#1788099)
Hendry and MacPhail should be forced to walk around in sack cloth while Cubs fans throw tomatoes at them.

Somehow I found this very funny.
   13. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: December 21, 2005 at 04:56 PM (#1788191)
I'm never going to stop harping on this: Screw the White Sox. That is the wrong comparison to make.

You missed my point -- I'm not comparing the Cubs the White Sox because they are crosstown rivals.

I'm comparing them because the team that you would expect to be resting on their laurels is being aggressive and actively trying to improve their team, while the team that you'd expect to be desperate is being horribly uncreative and striving for mediocrity.
   14. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: December 21, 2005 at 04:59 PM (#1788199)
Dempster's salary doesn't look high comparatively, but people seem to assume that the Dempster of June-September 2005 is a sure thing from here on out. Have a look at the rest of his career. There is a significant chance that he will suck.

Agreed. They could have signed Dempster for one-year to see if he can retain his skills, or if he wouldn't go for one year they could have cut bait and made Howry the closer.

Either way, they didn't need to spend $15.5mm and three years on such a risk.
   15. Weeks T. Olive Posted: December 21, 2005 at 05:02 PM (#1788208)
I have no ability to comprehend how we managed to piss away $25M on overrated OFs, bullpen "upgrades" ... and bench fodder.

I do. Jim Hendry sucks at talent evaluation, roster management, financial allocation, long-term planning, and every other skill that makes a successful GM. Which means he's about as qualified to be an MLB GM as the geniuses that write those 'View from a Cubs Fan' columns in the Trib.

This deal doesn't even bother me for 2006, because there was no question that the Cubs would suck this year. The worst part of this deal is that Hendry has saddled the 2007-08 GM and manager with Jones.
   16. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: December 21, 2005 at 05:02 PM (#1788209)
Mitre was not a top pitching prospect.

Quibbling. He's the most polished of the three, though with the lowest ceiling. I could have said "three of their better pitching prospects" -- Mitre's not in the top 3, but he may be in the group.

Either way, my real point wasn't to debate the Pierre deal; it was the point I expressed in Post #13.
   17. Andere Richtingen Posted: December 21, 2005 at 05:09 PM (#1788229)
I'm comparing them because the team that you would expect to be resting on their laurels is being aggressive and actively trying to improve their team, while the team that you'd expect to be desperate is being horribly uncreative and striving for mediocrity.

Fine, but I'm tired of White Sox comparisons of any kind. Anyway, the Astros have a pretty good track record of refashioning themselves and succeeding as a result.

This deal doesn't even bother me for 2006, because there was no question that the Cubs would suck this year. The worst part of this deal is that Hendry has saddled the 2007-08 GM and manager with Jones.

Not to mention Pierre. Let's assume that Murton turns out exactly to be the player we would all hope for. An outfield of Jones/Pierre/the best player Murton could possibly be is likely average at best.
   18. Starlin of the Slipstream (TRHN) Posted: December 21, 2005 at 05:33 PM (#1788291)
I know why everyone is complaining, but I think there's an overreaction here. The Cubs underperformed their EqR totals by 44 last season, presumably because of inefficient lineup construction and bad luck. So the starting point for evaluating the Cubs should be an 86 win team. Sure, Derrek Lee will give a lot back, but that should be more than made up for by the difference between Murton, Jones and Pierre and UJ, CoPat and Burny. The key for the Cubs is 35 starts each out of Z and Prior and full healthy seasons from Lee, Barrett and Aram.

Although Pierre is a less than ideal solution, he should be at least adequate as a leadoff hitter. In fact, Pierre might be a bit underrated since most of his value is in his average and the hit factor for Florida is .84.

Jacque Jones, who put up a .270 Eqa last year, was essentially a league average offensive RF. Considering he can boderline cover CF, his defense in RF should be superb. Overall, he should be an average RF and an upgrade over Burnitz.
   19. Andere Richtingen Posted: December 21, 2005 at 05:41 PM (#1788304)
I know why everyone is complaining, but I think there's an overreaction here.

Go back and read post #3. That's why everyone is complaining. The Cubs spending big bucks to tread water or marginally improve on ~86 wins (your assumption, not mine, at least at this point) is a good reason to be angry.
   20. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: December 21, 2005 at 06:06 PM (#1788353)
Fine, but I'm tired of White Sox comparisons of any kind.

I agree that the Astros have done more with less (though they began with more than the Cubs had when MacPhail came into power). Other teams have also probably done the same thing. Of course this is true and a reason to condemn the whole MacPhail regime.

All I'm saying is that for someone who had to employ "some gutsy and risky trading and better strategy in trying to acquire the few worthwhile free agents available," to use Mike Isaacs's phrase, Jim Hendry has failed miserably at this. If anything, he has demonstrated a remarkable lack of creativity and vision for someone entering the last year of a contract and with an increasingly impatient fan base and the urgent need to improve *immediately*.

I'm also saying that it is certainly possible for someone in Hendry's role to have taken such risks and have shown better strategy and vision -- it was/is being done elsewhere by other teams.
   21. Starlin of the Slipstream (TRHN) Posted: December 21, 2005 at 06:07 PM (#1788358)
I know why everyone is complaining. But how are the Cubs treading water? Their OF last season was one of the worst ever offensively. Now it's borderline average. What should they have done? Signed Giles, who wasn't taking more $ to leave San Diego? Traded for Manny, even though they don't have any good prospects (and didn't before the Pierre trade, those guys are decent but not great prospects)? Signed Damon? Maybe trade Aramis Ramirez for Terrmell Sledge, Ryan Church and Brad Wilkerson? It's doubtful that the Cubs could have turned Pinto and Nolasco into anything that much better than Pierre.

The Cardinals and the Astros are both slipping back to the pack. Even though the moves the Cubs made were less than ideal, they'll be better poised to win this year than they were coming into 2005.

Burnitz: 17.5
Murton: 14.7
Hairston: 5.7
Dubois: 3.5
Hollandsworth: .5
Gerut: -2.2
Lawton: -2.2
Macias: -5
Patterson: -10.6
2005 OF VORP: 21.9

Jones: 17.7
Murton: 14.7
Pierre: 20.6
2006 OF VORP: 53

That's three wins right there. And that's if Murton regresses and Pierre's new, lower level of production is permanent. Add in improvements to the bullpen, a full season of Williams and an improvement from Prior and the Cubs could be very good next year.
   22. Andere Richtingen Posted: December 21, 2005 at 06:12 PM (#1788366)
That's three wins right there.

I'd call that a dead cat bounce in the OF. I think I am right to be dissatisfied with average.

And that's if Murton regresses and Pierre's new, lower level of production is permanent. Add in improvements to the bullpen, a full season of Williams and an improvement from Prior and the Cubs could be very good next year.

I agree that they could be very good, it's just that precious little has been done to ensure it.
   23. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: December 21, 2005 at 06:22 PM (#1788384)
The Cubs underperformed their EqR totals by 44 last season, presumably because of inefficient lineup construction and bad luck. So the starting point for evaluating the Cubs should be an 86 win team.

BPro does credit them with 85 third-order Pythag wins, but I don't necessarily buy this. Also, this presumes that the inefficient lineup construction and bad luck won't continue next year.

Still, while I see this more pessimistically than you and BPro, let's assume you are correct and this is an 85-86 win team. At that point, as Nate Silver has pointed out, spending $30mm should be more likely to get some meaningful bang on the buck than the same money spent on a worse team. Among other things, $30mm should put them much more in position to be a meaningful playoff contender.

What they got instead was maybe 2 wins from the bullpen and 2 wins from the CF slot, but are treading water in RF and (hopefully) treading water in the starting rotation. I'm also assuming break-even performance at 3B, with health being the issue there.

They will lose 1-2 wins when Derrek Lee regresses to human numbers and are still taking huge risks in both Murton and Cedeno. Murton as a full-timer can't be worse than what they had last season, but if Cedeno fails, another year of Neifi/Walker will probably be another 1-2 wins worse than the miserable level from last year.

Overall, despite the $30mm, I don't see the team improving by more than 1-2 wins, and even if you figured them to be an 85-win team last year, that's still not enough to give them more than an outside shot at the playoffs (and a first round exit).
   24. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: December 21, 2005 at 06:26 PM (#1788400)
My numbers aren't precise (nor did I intend them to be), but my point remains the same -- for the money they are spending, they aren't improving all that much.
   25. Starlin of the Slipstream (TRHN) Posted: December 21, 2005 at 06:53 PM (#1788474)
BPro does credit them with 85 third-order Pythag wins, but I don't necessarily buy this. Also, this presumes that the inefficient lineup construction and bad luck won't continue next year.


It's not just BPro. The Cubs had a 101 OPS+ and a 101 ERA+. Juan Pierre in the leadoff spot should do a lot to fix inefficiencies in the lineup. Neifi in the two hole could give some of that back, though.

I agree that they could be very good, it's just that precious little has been done to ensure it.


I agree in general. This is a team filled with risk, but with a lot of upside. This could be a 100 win team if they get a good season from Williams, a full healthy season of Ramirez, repeats from Z and Lee, a bounceback from Prior. and if Murton's '05 was not a fluke. The downside is significant, too:injuries to Ramirez, Prior, Zambrano, regression from Murton, injury to walker and poor play from Cedeno could make the Cubs a 70 win team. The thing is, the Cubs already have a champioship caliber core. They needeed to fill in around with average players and although it's disappointing they didn't do better, it's still a modest success.

Projecting to be an 86-7 win team is really good, since projections tend to tamp down the extremes. A projected 90-95 win team is typically one of the 2-3 best in baseball. Sure that falls short of ensuring the playoffs, but it's still very good.

Compare the problems the Cubs are having with the Cardinals who have question marks in Rolen, Miles, Bigbie, John Rodriguez and Molina. They also have issues with their rotation and bullpen. Every team has a lot of risk.
   26. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: December 21, 2005 at 07:13 PM (#1788534)
The Cubs had a 101 OPS+

It was 102 (at least according to bb-ref), but was based largely on SLG. In OBP, they finished a teamwide 10th in the NL, and even swapping Patterson for Pierre isn't going to improve that dramatically.


This is a team filled with risk, but with a lot of upside. This could be a 100 win team if they get a good season from Williams, a full healthy season of Ramirez, repeats from Z and Lee, a bounceback from Prior. and if Murton's '05 was not a fluke.

You're high. When you speculate that all these things could happen -- simultanously -- why not also assume that the Cedeno/Perez/Walker keystone combo hits a collective .320/.390/.440 and that Kerry Wood throws 200 IP?

Could they win 100? Yeah, I suppose, but I'd lay 30-1 odds against it. You pick the dollar amount you want to wager -- I'm willing to put up my mortgage if necessary.
   27. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: December 21, 2005 at 07:15 PM (#1788542)
Compare the problems the Cubs are having with the Cardinals who have question marks in Rolen, Miles, Bigbie, John Rodriguez and Molina. They also have issues with their rotation and bullpen. Every team has a lot of risk.

I'd swap teams with the Cardinals. I don't think the Cards fans would take me up on it, though.
   28. 1k5v3L Posted: December 21, 2005 at 07:20 PM (#1788559)
Is it a given that Corey Patterson will get traded now? Any ideas where he'll go? I haven't heard about that many teams being interested in him.
   29. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: December 21, 2005 at 07:25 PM (#1788574)
Pierre might be a bit underrated since most of his value is in his average and the hit factor for Florida is .84.

Isolating the hit factor may be a tad misleading because parks also affect the walk and strikeout rates. Any idea where to find the BABIP for Florida or, better yet, a way to get a player neutral BABIP a la park factors? I see Pierre (and slap hitters in general) as likely to underperform in Wrigley's tall grass. Keep in mind that Pierre did not benefit from Coors field as much as a normal player would be expected.

The Pierre signing is ridiculous. Sure, Giles chose to stay for less money but there have been a bevy of outfielders traded or publicly shopped. The Cubs used their desirable expendibles on filling a CF hole that isn't as large as they think (IMO). On the other hand, there was right field which had no solution at all sitting on the roster.

I wonder where this all leaves Jerome Williams, Corey Patterson, and Todd Walker?

Hendry looks like he's willing to sacrifice the future in his attempts to keep his job. That's an awful lot of longish contracts he's handed out to aging players. The Cubs will be handcuffed by the Dempster, Howry, Jones, Eyre and likely Pierre extension for a long time.
   30. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: December 21, 2005 at 07:26 PM (#1788577)
Is it a given that Corey Patterson will get traded now? Any ideas where he'll go?

The only GM that I have heard is specifically interested in Patterson is Bowden. I'm not sure what Washington has in that cupboard that Chicago would want.
   31. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: December 21, 2005 at 07:28 PM (#1788584)
The Pierre signing is ridiculous.

That should be Jacque Jones. I have Pierre on the brain.
   32. Randy Watson and Sexual Chocolate Posted: December 21, 2005 at 07:31 PM (#1788595)
Could Eric Byrnes be an acceptable lefty-mashing platoon partner in RF? He's been non-tendered, and I can't imagine he'd be terribly expensive. His three-year split vs. LHP doesn't look too bad, and he has the sort of reputation as a Gamer that will prevent the Chicago media from making fun of the signing, which appears to be the #1 front-office priority.

I dunno. If Cedeno and Murton do as well as the most optimistic projections, if Pierre bounces back to his career average OBP, if we hide the blatant and obvious weaknesses of our new starting RF, if the lineup construction improves, and if we get great production from every single pitcher, the Cubs could be good.

If ifs and thoughs were pimps and hoes, the world would be a Jay-Z video.
   33. 1k5v3L Posted: December 21, 2005 at 07:33 PM (#1788605)
Actually, Pops, the Dbacks have inquired about Patterson as well. He could sort of help them as a platoon player for a year, especially if he's put low enough in the lineup. And does it matter what the Cubs would want in return? Beggars can't be choosers, really, and Hendry's pretty much told everyone and his mother that Patterson can be had for crumbs.
   34. sunnyday2 Posted: December 21, 2005 at 07:34 PM (#1788608)
This is clearly a match made in Chicago...er, I mean, in heaven. Where's Baba Wawa when you need her?

As for the Twins, they probably won't be better in RF, but at least they'll be cheaper.
   35. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: December 21, 2005 at 07:35 PM (#1788611)
If Cedeno and Murton do as well as the most optimistic projections

Cedeno would be putting that projection up at second base. He is certainly Walker's defensive superior but I think it would be a mistake to start him over Todd. A platoon would be a tidy solution but we all know how influential those hot streaks can be to the field general.

If Cedeno has a major impact on this team it will be because something went horribly wrong (Todd injured, traded, benched or used elsewhere) or wonderfully good (Neifi benched). I see the former as the more likely scenario.
   36. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: December 21, 2005 at 07:41 PM (#1788622)
And does it matter what the Cubs would want in return?

We're ostensibly talking about the Cubs here, so... yes.

I imagine that Chicago will trade for a 22 year old lefty in low A with walk rate north of 4/9 IP.

Corey is clearly gone.
   37. Starlin of the Slipstream (TRHN) Posted: December 21, 2005 at 07:41 PM (#1788623)
You're high. When you speculate that all these things could happen -- simultanously -- why not also assume that the Cedeno/Perez/Walker keystone combo hits a collective .320/.390/.440 and that Kerry Wood throws 200 IP?


What does upside mean? Everyone is focusig on the downside risk of this team as if it doesn't have any upside.

Why can't Williams, Prior and Zambrano all have good seasons? Obviously all three are capable of pitching well.
What are the odds that Murton is above average offensively? His minor league and major league numbers suggest he's capable of it.
What are the odds that Lee does a decent impersonation of last season? a 3 year weigheted average would give Lee a 13 run dropoff or so from last season.
What are the odds that Ramirez stays healthy?
He'll probably get injured, but it might not put him on the shelf for a significant portion of time.

Sure, a lot of this is hopeful, but the cubs don't need all of this to happen to be a great team. They do need to get breaks, but all teams need things to break right to be great teams.


I'd swap teams with the Cardinals. I don't think the Cards fans would take me up on it, though.


Besides Pujols, Edmonds and Eckstein, there's no one on the Cardinals I'd take over their Cubs counter part. I;d rather have Jones than Bigbie. Rather have Murton than Rodriguez. I'd rather have Walker than Miles. I'd rather have Ramirez than the even more injury prone and ineffective Rolen. Rather have Barrett than Molina. Z than Carpenter. Prior than the Card's #2. Even Dempster than Izzy. I'd probably prefer Jocketty to Hendry, though.

The same thing happened to Sox fans and BJ fans before '05. Their teams severly underperformed in '04 and everyone said, it's over this team sucks, etc. The Cubs were a good team with bad luck last year. They've upgraded a whole lot from that team. Sure, it could not work out; the Cubs could be unlucky again, etc. But everyone's first premise seems to be, the Cubs are not very good. The Cubs pitching staff, offensive core and secondary numbers from '05 suggest otherwise. They are making bad decisions, but they're still a good team.
   38. Randy Watson and Sexual Chocolate Posted: December 21, 2005 at 07:42 PM (#1788625)
I'm assuming that Walker is gone -- everything I've read leads me to believe that the Cubs are quite determined to deal him.

Unless there some sort of deal in the works for, say, Julio Lugo, I am assuming that the middle infield will be Perez/Cedeno.

The Cubs didn't have a plan for SS if Furcal didn't work out, or so it seems.
   39. Andere Richtingen Posted: December 21, 2005 at 07:55 PM (#1788662)
Could they win 100? Yeah, I suppose, but I'd lay 30-1 odds against it. You pick the dollar amount you want to wager -- I'm willing to put up my mortgage if necessary.

Well, I wouldn't put up my mortgage on a 30:1 shot. I'd say the chances of the 2006 Cubs winning 100 is close to what it was for the 2005 White Sox, and that almost happened. 30:1 (or worse) sounds about right.
   40. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: December 21, 2005 at 07:55 PM (#1788663)
I'm assuming that Walker is gone -- everything I've read leads me to believe that the Cubs are quite determined to deal him.

FWIW, not much but hey, RotoWorld was saying just last night that he is the starter at second base next year.
   41. Andere Richtingen Posted: December 21, 2005 at 08:00 PM (#1788673)
Actually, Pops, the Dbacks have inquired about Patterson as well. He could sort of help them as a platoon player for a year, especially if he's put low enough in the lineup. And does it matter what the Cubs would want in return? Beggars can't be choosers, really, and Hendry's pretty much told everyone and his mother that Patterson can be had for crumbs.

I actually now wonder if he's been devalued to the point where Hendry won't unload him.

The same thing happened to Sox fans and BJ fans before '05. Their teams severly underperformed in '04 and everyone said, it's over this team sucks, etc. The Cubs were a good team with bad luck last year. They've upgraded a whole lot from that team.

I was with you up to that point.
   42. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: December 21, 2005 at 08:07 PM (#1788695)
Actually, Pops, the Dbacks have inquired about Patterson as well.

That was before the Vazquez deal, no?
   43. Randy Watson and Sexual Chocolate Posted: December 21, 2005 at 08:13 PM (#1788707)

FWIW, not much but hey, RotoWorld was saying just last night that he is the starter at second base next year.


Yeah, but wasn't there a beat reporter from one of the local papers who described him as third on the 2B depth chart behind Cedeno and Hairston?

And: the beat reporters seem to be taking subtle shots at him, which is usually a sign of a guy they think they're not going to have to deal with for much longer.

And^2: commenters on the Cub Reporter blog and posters to a decidedly non-sabermetric-oriented mailing list I read have pretty much unanimously decided that he does not Hustle and is not a Gamer.

And^3: Hendry's been saying stuff all off-season about how he wants guys who can "catch the ball" while at the same time talking about the second base position as if Walker won't be there. This has been fairly consistent. And there is one small reason to move him: he's about the only trading chit the Cubs have left who isn't a star and isn't useless and isn't an Untouchable Prospect For The Future.
   44. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: December 21, 2005 at 08:20 PM (#1788723)
What does upside mean? Everyone is focusig on the downside risk of this team as if it doesn't have any upside.

Sure there is upside -- but the upside is probably 89-90 wins. 100 wins is fantasy land.

Yes, all the things you list could happen. Williams can throw 150 innings with a sub 4.00 ERA. Prior and Zambrano can both stay healthy for a full season. Murton can prove that his performance in a largely platoon role last year was legitimate for a decent corner OF. Ramirez can play more than 140 games for the 4th time in his career. Lee could duplicate last year.

Heck, I'll add more -- it's certainly possible that Kerry Wood can be a starter and pitch 200 innings next season and that Dempster, Eyre, and Howry all retain their 2005 performance. It's also possible that Ronny Cedeno gets the starting job and hits .300/.350/.425.

If *all* these things happened, the Cubs would be a 100-win team. Then again, I'm sure I could make similar statements about 20 other teams in MLB.

When I think of *team* upside, however, I'm not thinking that each and every person on the roster will have a peak year -- I'm thinking that they will have 3-4 guys match this level, get lucky on injuries, and have the other guys either have minimal decline or at least nothing falling off a cliff. For the Cubs, that scenario probably translates to 89-90 wins and a decent wildcard shot.
   45. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: December 21, 2005 at 08:27 PM (#1788737)
Well, I wouldn't put up my mortgage on a 30:1 shot.

Ok, point taken -- even if TRHN was willing to put up the several thousand necessary for me to put up my mortgage, I probably wouldn't do it.

OTOH, up to $1,000, I'll lay 30-1 (meaning I'll lay $30k if he puts up $1k) -- anything over $50 from him requires our moneys to be held in escrow, however.
   46. 1k5v3L Posted: December 21, 2005 at 08:29 PM (#1788741)
That was before the Vazquez deal, no?

I don't think it matters, dJf. The Dbacks will start Chris Young in AAA anyhow, and they need a centerfielder for 06. Preferably a left handed hitter who can be platooned, if needed, with Luis Terrero. That is why the Dbacks were after Lofton, and that's why they were rumored to be after Jeff DaVannon. Depending on what Patterson costs, the Dbacks would certainly be still interested in him.
   47. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: December 21, 2005 at 08:29 PM (#1788742)
And^2: commenters on the Cub Reporter blog and posters to a decidedly non-sabermetric-oriented mailing list I read have pretty much unanimously decided that he does not Hustle and is not a Gamer.

this is RDF
   48. Andere Richtingen Posted: December 21, 2005 at 08:42 PM (#1788778)
Sure there is upside -- but the upside is probably 89-90 wins. 100 wins is fantasy land.

Very rarely is a team projectable to 100 wins though. I'd say that for any team with the potential to field an excellent pitching rotation, and this is the case for the Cubs, the upside is going to be in the mid-90s. 100 wins could happen.
   49. Andere Richtingen Posted: December 21, 2005 at 08:50 PM (#1788797)
He's in love with mediocrity - whoa-oh!
He's in love with fourth place - whoa-oh!
He's in love with Jacque Jones - whoa-oh!

He's just trying to keep his GM job now!
   50. HMS Moses Taylor Posted: December 21, 2005 at 08:52 PM (#1788799)
Ok, point taken -- even if TRHN was willing to put up the several thousand necessary for me to put up my mortgage, I probably wouldn't do it.

OTOH, up to $1,000, I'll lay 30-1 (meaning I'll lay $30k if he puts up $1k) -- anything over $50 from him requires our moneys to be held in escrow, however.


If you were a poker player, I'd say you're on a Tilt. You lost the Patterson bet to me (beer) and are now getting crazy and lazy with your better in an attempt to get back on a winning streak. These things rarely turn out good.
   51. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: December 21, 2005 at 09:00 PM (#1788815)
I suppose there is a factor I'm omitting -- the possibility that the Cubs can make another deal that would shake up the roster (maybe even positively).

Let's see where we are in spring training.
   52. Andere Richtingen Posted: December 21, 2005 at 09:04 PM (#1788825)
I suppose there is a factor I'm omitting -- the possibility that the Cubs can make another deal that would shake up the roster (maybe even positively).

The Tejada rumors keep coming.
   53. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: December 21, 2005 at 09:06 PM (#1788831)
precisely
   54. paytonrules Posted: December 21, 2005 at 11:18 PM (#1789091)
I don't get the "Trade Wood to win now" crowd - isn't the entire window the Cubs were supposed to be contenders the pitching? Isn't that what the Cubs were built around in 2003, 2004, 2005? If you trade Wood to improve the lineup suddenly you've got average pitching (at best as they were average last year) and maybe an above-average-but-not-the-Red-Sox-lineup. That doesn't make the Cubs World Series contenders.

If you want to trade Wood and admit the plan was flawed I understand that - but I don't see how you become a WS contender next year by trading Wood and getting as suggested above a couple improvements in the lineup.
   55. odds are meatwad is drunk Posted: December 22, 2005 at 02:38 AM (#1789397)
death to hendry
   56. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: December 22, 2005 at 03:44 PM (#1790019)
while at the same time talking about the second base position as if Walker won't be there

I've noticed this as well. I'm not convinced he's going to be moved because the Cubs have ostensibly filled out their lineup. I'm not sure what they would be looking for in a Walker swap.

I don't get the "Trade Wood to win now" crowd

I believe he has more value to the team as an unknown with big upside for the rotation than he does on the trade market. There's also the no trade clause which will probably require giving him more money or an extension.

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