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   1. Spahn Insane Posted: August 18, 2009 at 01:31 PM (#3296290)
Your headline, verbatim, is what was in my head when I read the Trib article. Minus the question mark.
   2. Andere Richtingen Posted: August 18, 2009 at 01:35 PM (#3296293)
As you said, the bullpen is only part of the problem. The offense is a major contributor to the stink. Both should be better than they are, but I think that 2008 is more of an aberration than 2009.

This is probably too deep a hole to get out of -- the Cardinals are gelling nicely, while the Cubs have squandered their post-ASB momentum. Looking more broadly, the window of opportunity the Cubs created by the massive spending 2006 spree is closing pretty quickly. Piniella has done a fine job as manager, but his expiration date seems to be looming. Hendry has his strengths, but he is way too old school, and his Ponzi scheme approach to building the major league roster is entering its collapse phase.

Assuming the Cubs don't make it, it's time for change, because 2010 is going to be another big step backward based on the Cubs current roster commitments. I'm not terribly optimistic about what will happen under new ownership, but I do hope it's an opportunity to clean house and rebuild.
   3. Moses Taylor loves a good maim Posted: August 18, 2009 at 02:34 PM (#3296381)
Your headline, verbatim, is what was in my head when I read the Trib article. Minus the question mark.

Well, I'm still playing the part of optimist. So I had to try and keep up appearances.

Assuming the Cubs don't make it, it's time for change, because 2010 is going to be another big step backward based on the Cubs current roster commitments. I'm not terribly optimistic about what will happen under new ownership, but I do hope it's an opportunity to clean house and rebuild.

I agree, but what can the Cubs do? Lilly and Lee would have a lot of value in trades (Lee has 10/5 rights, IIRC). I'd assume the Cubs would let Harden walk, they should probably offer Arb but there's a chance he'll accept (which is fine, I guess, maybe they can trade him then). The OF is stuck, unless there's someone out there that'd give up something for Fukudome. Theriot could have value. I don't see a lot of wiggle room unless the sale finally closes and the owner opens the checkbook (and at the risk of starting that discussion again, I don't see it opening very far). What should the Cubs do? I'd like to see a clean sweep of the front office, and that may happen when the sale is over. But it's going to be a painful rebuild.
   4. Bunny Vincennes Posted: August 18, 2009 at 02:43 PM (#3296391)
I'm thoroughly disheartened and drank enough Beefeater last night to prove it. I'm in a mood.
   5. Spahn Insane Posted: August 18, 2009 at 02:50 PM (#3296402)
I'm thoroughly disheartened and drank enough Beefeater last night to prove it. I'm in a mood.

Eh, #### it. The weather's still nice, football season's upon us, and a Knob Creek manhattan tastes great whether the Cubs are in the postseason or not.
   6. Spahn Insane Posted: August 18, 2009 at 02:56 PM (#3296408)
I'd assume the Cubs would let Harden walk, they should probably offer Arb but there's a chance he'll accept (which is fine, I guess, maybe they can trade him then).

Offering Harden arb should be a no brainer (insert your own punch line as to whether you think that makes it likely Hendry'll do it). The worst thing that happens is you're stuck with mediocre/injured Harden for a year. The best thing that happens is you're stuck with really good Harden for a year.

I'm not actually that bearish on the Cubs for next year, notwithstanding the Soriano albatross. Lee's convinced me he's not ready for the glue factory and won't be for a while, Soto and Bradley have to be better next year, Ramirez is still in his prime and can't have a more miserable (health-wise) season than he's had this year, and Fook should be fine. Second base could still be a black hole, but whatever. The rotation should be intact, and should remain a strength (though Harden's status is uncertain and we can expect some dropoff from wells).

It's 2011 where I expect things to get ugly.
   7. Bunny Vincennes Posted: August 18, 2009 at 03:00 PM (#3296413)
Eh, #### it. The weather's still nice, football season's upon us, and a Knob Creek manhattan tastes great whether the Cubs are in the postseason or not.

There is that. I look forward to coming down for the game on the 31st with my friend Solid so that he can get his Billy Williams bobblehead, and hopefully see a good ballgame.
   8. Spahn Insane Posted: August 18, 2009 at 03:04 PM (#3296419)
Ah, right--I've committed to selling my tickets to Meatwad for the 8/31 game.
   9. McCoy Posted: August 18, 2009 at 03:06 PM (#3296420)
In terms of rebuilding the Cubs won't be able to do much in 2010 but by 2011 the contract's for Lee and Lilly will be up with Aramis, Bradley, and Fukudome ending at the end of the season. So before 2011 or in the middle of 2011 the Cubs could be in full rebuild mode if this team isn't going anywhere. The problem is that as of right now there really doesn't look like there is going to any stud positional players down on the farm waiting to come up and play. So that means more expensive FA and lots of holes to fill.

1B
2B
SS
3B
CF
RF

If Jake Fox is for real then that solves one hole but that still leaves a lot of spots to be covered and that is still assuming that Soto is a major leaguer and Alfonso is still major league starter worthy in 2011.

As for this year I don't think they'll make the playoffs but I've written the Cubs off as dead before when they were in similar situations and they have come back.
   10. And You Thought Zonk Was Terminated? Posted: August 18, 2009 at 03:17 PM (#3296435)

I agree, but what can the Cubs do? Lilly and Lee would have a lot of value in trades (Lee has 10/5 rights, IIRC). I'd assume the Cubs would let Harden walk, they should probably offer Arb but there's a chance he'll accept (which is fine, I guess, maybe they can trade him then). The OF is stuck, unless there's someone out there that'd give up something for Fukudome. Theriot could have value. I don't see a lot of wiggle room unless the sale finally closes and the owner opens the checkbook (and at the risk of starting that discussion again, I don't see it opening very far). What should the Cubs do? I'd like to see a clean sweep of the front office, and that may happen when the sale is over. But it's going to be a painful rebuild.


I have to think Fukudome has some trade value... I know I have often found myself overly influenced by his 2nd half collapse last year, but the guy is hitting .274/.391/.466 -- good for an OPS+ of 120. Don't look now - but he seems to be worth his 12 million salary to me.

The Cubs big problem is that their millstone contracts - and here, I'm talking mainly the building Soriano debacle - is virtually unmoveable. I have little serious problem with Zambrano's contract, except that there's little need for a team that looks to be in for some lean years to be pay an ace 17 million.

Sooo... what do we do?

I'm all for offering Harden arbitration, and I wouldn't even mind offering him a Lilly-esque contract (something along the lines of 10 mil per over 3 to 4 years). Doubtful he'd take that, but who knows. I'm well aware of his injury problems, of course, but he's 27 now and just maybe he goes Cris Carpenter and has a couple seasons of health. I would imagine Harden will be either a type A or type B, so it's pick hoarding time.

Gregg and Reed Johnson are the only other 2 FAs I see (Cots' has Miles listed, but I don't think that's right... unless there's an option I don't know about?). Gregg, I'd offer arb -- he's not worthless, and there's a decent chance for compensation. Johnson walks.

FAs after 2010 would be Lee, Lilly, and Miles -- with Heilman and Cotts also up depending on arb situation. I would think that both end up non-tendered after this season.

I would think Ted Lilly brings a decent haul in prospects -- he's been fairly workhorsish, he's a lefty, and I would imagine most 2010 contenders could take on what would be about 6 million for a rent-a-SP.

Even with his bounceback this year - Lee is still going to be 34, even before dealing with his 10/5 status. What's more - I'm not seeing many probable contenders for next year needing a 1B (maybe NYM?).

Miles is a sunk cost.

Fukudome's contract escalates to 14 mil in 2010, and 14.5 in 2011. Like I said above - his numbers really aren't that far off such a contract - if he can finish strong, get off to his usual fast start - I could see someone desperate for CF help (NYY?) willing to take on the contract, perhaps with the Cubs eating a portion. Still - I wouldn't give him away... I think the Cubs could legitimately expect to receive something of value in return.

That leaves Dempster, Bradley, and Aramis... Bradley's myriad of issues probably make him tough to move, but as with <strike>Soriano</strike> Fukudome, if he finishes strong and has a good start -- maybe an AL team in need of a DH would at least sniff at him.

Dempster is overpaid - though not awful - but I can't see anyone taking on his contract without the Cubs eating a decent chunk of it... so he probably sticks around with Zambrano.

Rameriz is a tough case... I was one of the folks here that very much liked the deal he signed, and I still like his bat. However, he's 31 now - and I might start to worry those constant strains and pulls become of this year's significant missed time vs previous season's multitude of DtDs. I'm not sure he has an NTC, but if not - I'd certainly shop him. That said, he's the one piece of the lineup making a decent chunk of change that I'd be fine growing old with.

Beyond that?

There sure ain't much... Marmol's arb eligible for the first time - I see no reason to move him at this point, but I'd certainly be listening to offers. Marshall and Guzman are also arb eligible this year -- I'd see what I could do to lock them up for the remainder of their arb years if only to lock in a couple pieces while we restock.

BPJ has his major league contract through 2011 - with team options the following 2 years. I'm not enamored with him.... If his arm really excites someone, listen to offers.

In the end, I do hope the Cubs decide to seriously rebuild rather than the typical half-assery of one season of dumps followed immediately by spending on mediocre FAs. I'm fine with hanging onto a core of Zambrano and Rameriz - I wouldn't look to just dump either, thought I'd certainly listen to offers. I'd also keep Demspter if my only option is to eat a whole bunch of his contract -- I'd love to move him, but he's just not so awful as to warrant paying 20-30 million to watch him pitch elsewhere.
   11. And You Thought Zonk Was Terminated? Posted: August 18, 2009 at 03:33 PM (#3296474)
FA 2B/SS (figuring Theriot can - and maybe should - play 2B) this season:

Felipe Lopez and Orlando Hudson are about it... Scutaro in TOR, Tejeda in Hou - but I don't care for either. Hudson's likely to be too expensive (and I wouldn't be surprised if LA resigns him anyway).

After 2010, things get interesting at SS -- depending on signings... There's Reyes and Rollins - but still not much at 2B.

I guess that's the one plus about Theriot - I don't really see him as locked in SS, so I think we can really look at either SS or 2B.
   12. Lassus Posted: August 18, 2009 at 03:34 PM (#3296478)
I'd give Kruk's left nut to be six games out at this point.
   13. SUBJ is staring out his window, waiting for spring Posted: August 18, 2009 at 03:44 PM (#3296500)
Home/Road Splits:

Home- .268/.346/.438/.785 285 runs in 57 games- 5.0/game

Road- .242/.316/.391/.708 232 runs in 59 games- 3.9/game


Hitting Per Game Outcome Splits:

Wins- .294/.378/.509/.887 388 runs in 60 games- 6.5/game

Loss- .210/.275/.307/.583 129 runs in 56 games- 2.3/game Epic, epic fail.

That's stunning. And remember that the Cubs have been shut out 9 times this year. That means they're still only averaging 2.7 runs/game in losses when they're not shut out!

By conrast: Teams in NL Central- Runs Per Game Outcome Splits:

St. Louis- Wins: 6.0 Losses: 2.6 Difference: 3.4
Chicago- Wins: 6.5 Losses: 2.3 Difference: 4.2
Milwaukee- Wins: 6.4 Losses: 3.3 Difference: 3.1
Houston- Wins: 5.8 Losses: 2.7 Difference: 3.1
Cincinnati- Wins: 5.4 Losses: 2.9 Difference: 2.5
Pittsburgh- Wins: 6.8 Losses: 2.3 Difference: 4.5

The only other team in the division with a more "feast or famine" offense is the Pirates...not exactly company we want to be keeping.


Hitting w/RISP:

General: .240/.344/.388/.732- 1236 PA, 382 RS 0.31 RS/PA

1 & 2 : .245/.325/.399/.723- 346 PA, 78 RS 0.23 RS/PA

2 : .206/.329/.307/.636- 337 PA, 51 RS 0.15 RS/PA (pathetic)

3 : .286/.412/.514/.926- 136 PA, 47 RS 0.35 RS/PA

1 & 3 : .264/.361/.453/.814- 133 PA, 59 RS 0.44 RS/PA (darn good numbers for this one)

2 & 3 : .188/.357/.250/.607- 112 PA, 29 RS 0.26 RS/PA (barf, more epic failure)

Loaded : .277/.337/.461/.798- 172 PA, 118 RS 0.69 RS/PA (shocking, honestly)


Those RISP numbers are not nearly as horrific as I thought they would be (with a couple exceptions)...but I'd "love" to see road numbers only for those categories. They probably would be as bad as our nightmares.


Hitting in "High Leverage" Situations: .229/.312/.375/.687- 935 PA, 194 RS, 0.21 RS/PA

Hitting in "Late and Close" Situations: .243/.322/.391/.713- 759 PA, 72 RS, 0.09 RS/PA

Hitting in "2 Outs/RISP" Situations: .226/.357/.353/.710- 580 PA, 157 RS, 0.27 RS/PA


Finally, there are 9 (!!!) stadiums the Cubs have visited this year where their OPS is LESS THAN .700:

Petco Park (shocking) : .513
Citizen's Bank Park : .564
U.S. Cellular Field (!) : .590
Busch Stadium : .592
Turner Field : .643
Chase Field : .652
PNC Park (I know!) : .674
Great American Ballpark (I know!): .683
Landshark Stadium : .691

Meanwhile, the season OPS at Wrigley so far this year is .785. I KNOW all of the above numbers are small sample sizes (ranging from 3 to 6 games)...but that's a lot of smoke for there not to be a fire.

Bottom line: there has just been NO, zip, nada, consistency in this offense this year; which, strangely, both exacerbates the Kevin Gregg problem, AND makes it clear that Gregg is not the biggest problem on the team.
   14. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: August 18, 2009 at 04:09 PM (#3296537)
The Cubs and Brewers leadership should be taking a VERY hard look at the respective general managers. St. Louis was in complete disarray at the start of the season with a lineup of Albert Pujols and the 8 crackheads with Carpenter working to get back in the rotation. Somehow they muddled around .500, made some good moves and BAM! they are rolling.

Meanwhile, both of the teams mentioned puttered around waiting...............and waiting............and now it's over.

Ryan Braun took a lot of guff around here for voicing the obvious. It's d*mn hard to win in this league if you have to score 6-8 runs every night.

And Jim Hendry's job was easier than Melvin. He HAS the pitching. He just needed to score 4(!) runs a night. Couldn't make it happen.

If I was the Cubs Overlord I would explain to Jimmy that the current state is unacceptable. And let him know that the mailroom has empty paper cartons available between now and the end of the season........
   15. Andere Richtingen Posted: August 18, 2009 at 04:23 PM (#3296567)
I want the Cubs to hold on to Harden. You know why? Because it will drive me insane to see him start 35 games with the Cardinals and go 20-7.
   16. McCoy Posted: August 18, 2009 at 04:43 PM (#3296605)
The Cardinals went 16-7 in April and fell back 3 games in May after getting swept by the Brewers but quickly came back and have been in first place or right next to it for the entire season. The Cardinals were a good team but most people didn't think they would be heading into the season. I remember getting guff because I said that the Cubs and Brewers would face a serious challenge from the Cards before the season started.
   17. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: August 18, 2009 at 04:56 PM (#3296634)
Post 16:

Close to first place for most of the season in the NL Central meant being around .500. They are now 16 games over .500. This is a different team.
   18. McCoy Posted: August 18, 2009 at 05:01 PM (#3296646)
In April they were 9 games over .500 when they got swept by the Brewers they were 4 over. End of May they were back to 8 games over .500. June wasn't a kind month and they went down to 3 games over .500. July 6 games over and yes now they are on a tear. But it simply isn't true that this team was in complete disarray heading into this season or in the beginning of this season.

Every year it seems the fans of other NL central teams want to write off the Cardinals and every year it seems they are right there in the thick of things.
   19. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: August 18, 2009 at 05:08 PM (#3296659)
Oh for heaven's sake. Look in the archives. I was the one bucking up the spirits of Sheriff concerning his Cardinals using the same approach I have used for the last several years: best player. Best manager. Best pitcher. Period.

And this is amusing considering who was declaring that I was the moron for stating it was the Cardinals division to lose.

But by all means do let me know that I misunderstood those posts when I was basically termed stupid for suggesting such a thought........
   20. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: August 18, 2009 at 06:56 PM (#3296847)
It's not that six games with as many weeks left is insurmountable. It just is for this team.

Most of us have been expecting some big tear where everything just clicks together. The end of the regular season is coming into view and is still hasn't happened.
   21. Bunny Vincennes Posted: August 18, 2009 at 07:09 PM (#3296869)
Walks,

I was just on the phone with my Gramps, who probably has just a few years on Harvey. He said this 2000 era version of the Cubs reminded him a lot of the Cubs from the '60s and early '70s.
   22. Meatwad Posted: August 18, 2009 at 07:28 PM (#3296894)
jack your going to be at that game? gonna have to meet up for drinks either before or after
   23. Bunny Vincennes Posted: August 18, 2009 at 07:29 PM (#3296897)
Sounds good my friend. They guy I'm going with wants to make sure he gets his Williams bobblehead, so we will be in the park early, but plan to leave around noon. So, we'll probably be getting some lunch at Goose Island pre-game.
   24. Meatwad Posted: August 18, 2009 at 08:12 PM (#3296949)
not bad at all, but its a night game so that will be a lot of time to kill, may have to get there earily as well, but who knows whats gonna happen that day
   25. Spahn Insane Posted: August 18, 2009 at 08:17 PM (#3296956)
who knows whats gonna happen that day

Sounds like a threat to me. Meat's on the prowl!
   26. Harris Posted: August 18, 2009 at 08:22 PM (#3296964)
Soto and Bradley have to be better next year


Really? One is over the hill and the other has a total of one productive year, and now he's been injured.

All this rebuilding talk still doesn't address the problem highlighted in your thread...the lack of a closer.

Brad Lidge might be available.
   27. Spahn Insane Posted: August 18, 2009 at 08:24 PM (#3296967)
One is over the hill and the other has a total of one productive year, and now he's been injured.

You're a troll, so I'm not sure why I'm dignifying this with a response, but Soto was off-the-charts awesome in '07 (and was solid at AAA the two previous years, when he was young for his level). And Bradley's been powerless this year, but "over the hill" is inapt.

Of course, you never, ever fact-check anything you post, so whatever.
   28. Spahn Insane Posted: August 18, 2009 at 08:29 PM (#3296979)
For those scoring at home, Soto's AAA OPS in 2007 (449 PAs) was 1.076. He tacked on an 1.100 in 60 PAs in the show. Yeah, that's real "unproductive." Idiot.
   29. Walt Davis Posted: August 18, 2009 at 08:34 PM (#3296988)
And this is amusing considering who was declaring that I was the moron for stating it was the Cardinals division to lose.

Nobody declared you a moron HW. Well, I didn't. I said you were wrong. You were. And the Cubs have handily lost this division. But the Cubs had it all right there. They were in first (it wasn't that long ago), they had almost everybody healthy and Lilly was coming back and Gorzelanny had even pitched a good game (Aug 4, Cubs and Cards tied). Then things starting going to crap for the Cubs. The Cubs and Cards were still tied on Aug 6. The Cards are 9-1 since then, the Cubs are 3-7.

Though what "their division to lose" means is unclear anyway. If the Cards played 500 and still won would that be proof it was their division to lose because they didn't lose (games) but won anyway? If they played 500 and lost would that be proof it was their division to lose because they didn't play well enough? If they played well but another team played well too would that be proof it was their division to lose or their division to win?

Over the last 10 games, they've played great and the Cubs have played like crap. 10 games out of a 162 game season. To me, playing great looks like "winning a division" not "failing to lose one". Meanwhile the Cubs have been doing a great job of losing a division.

#21 -- yes, this is looking like a classic Cubs team (as I've suggested a couple times over the last couple of weeks) and a finish below 500 and behind Mil/Hou wouldn't surprise me at all.

On the future ... no it doesn't look that bright but it remains a pretty mediocre division.

Lee -- I don't say this sort of thing often but I think that, from both a professional and a human perspective (given the issues with Lee's daughter), the Cubs go to him and ask him if it's OK to shop him around. If he wants to stay, don't even shop him this offseason and ask him again at midseason.

Soto -- we have no choice but to hope he puts it back together. Even this "crappy" season, he's putting up average numbers for a C with a solid ISO and a great walk rate. As presumably you all remember, I never expected him to repeat last year but even I don't think he's any worse than this. Let's hope he gives us something like Ramon Hernandez's career with a shot at Javy Lopez. The interesting question with him will be after 2010 when he becomes arb-eligible -- how much will that great rookie season affect his arb price? There are probably worse ideas than taking advantage of his poor season and wrapping him up longterm at a bargain price. We Cub fans may have thoughts of Rick Wilkins, but even after his fluke season, Wilkins posted OPS+s of 83, 82 and 102 which are just fine for a C.

2B -- whatever we do, let's NOT offer DeRosa a big contract. :-)

ARam -- For now I'm assuming his future is 1B after Lee leaves. Any chance Vitters is ready by 2011?

Fox -- what an interesting case. The numbers have come down to earth a good bit but they also seem perfectly solid -- 1 K per 6, the on-contact numbers aren't ridiculous or anything. So let's assume he's a league-average or slightly better corner bat with below-average defense. For 2010, I'm fine with him as super corner sub (there should be plenty of time at 1B/3B/LF/RF for him) and he's instant Soriano insurance. It's 2011 that's the real challenge -- 1B for Lee, 3B for ARam (but Fox isn't likely to really cut it at 3B) or continuing super sub role?

Fukudome -- sure, shop him around, but if you're satisfied with his defense in CF, you probably hold onto him. We don't have anybody nipping at his heels and even last year's offensive numbers (on the season) are tolerable for a average defensive CF.

Dempster -- the contract has already worked out better than I expected, so trade him ASAP. :-)

Lilly -- I've become a Ted Lilly fan since I was in the minority (or so it seemed) in liking that contract. But he's clearly one of our more valuable trading chits so I think you have to find out what's available.

We're essentially stuck with Soriano and Z no matter what.

bullpen -- pens are weird. This same group of pitchers could all put up 120 ERA+s next year for all we know. You try to keep the talented guys, let the untalented ones walk. I would like a real, effective, standard issue lefty reliever next year though -- seems like it's been ages.

The Cubs are in a "tough" spot. They've still got plenty of talent for 2010 and it's still not a strong division. But we can all see we're headed for an iceberg and we all know we only see the tip of the iceberg so we could hit it at any moment. I suppose it's better to dump all the extra weight over the side to change course "too soon" than too late.
   30. Meatwad Posted: August 18, 2009 at 08:40 PM (#3296999)
i mean with me, i put good odds on passed out in a bush somewhere as to what eventually transpires.
   31. SUBJ is staring out his window, waiting for spring Posted: August 18, 2009 at 11:26 PM (#3297212)
Over/under on the percentage of Harris posts placed in threads/Game Chatters that are Cubs-related? 50%? 60%?
   32. SUBJ is staring out his window, waiting for spring Posted: August 18, 2009 at 11:42 PM (#3297242)
#29-

* I really, really, really want to keep Ted Lilly. Seriously; guys been a rock since we got him. I was happier about that signing than I would have been for Gil Meche, much happier than for Jeff Suppan, and FAR happier than for Jason F. Marquis.

* On the other hand, I'm perfectly willing to trade away Dempster if someone wants him. I don't think he's ever going to have another 2008. Note: I'm NOT saying he's bad; he's a perfectly acceptable innings-eating 3rd/4th starter. But if someone wants to give something of value, I'll pull the trigger.

* I have no worries about Soto being a "two-year wonder". I do worry the same for Jake Fox...not to mention Randy Wells.

* Kosuke is our best outfielder right now. I see no reason to shop him if plan B is Sam Fuld. With the caveat that no one knocks Hendry's/Replacement GM's socks off with an offer.

* Gregg, Grabow, Marmol, Guzman, placed in the right roles, sounds like a pretty good start. The trick is selecting the right roles. I hope the plan right now is to throw Guzman out there and give him 9th innings to see if he can handle it.

After 2006, Hendry/McDonough pretty much sold the Cubs' soul that they would win the World Series sometime between 2007-2010. This year looks iffy (though I honestly haven't given up yet), and if it doesn't happen next year, I don't envy the man sitting in the GM chair who has to make a lot of hard decisions.
   33. dcsmyth1 Posted: August 18, 2009 at 11:50 PM (#3297260)
It's been a mediocre season for a talented team. This happens. The Cubs have average or above average players (true talent) at every position except 2b. How many teams have that? They have a pretty solid starting rotation, when healthy. The bullpen is a question mark, of course, but I would imagine that Lou and Jim will sort it out for next year, and make appropriate changes. I honestly think that there's no 'reason' that this years team didn't 'jell', other than individual players having subpar seasons at the same time, and more injuries than normally happens. I don't they should try to revamp the team for next year. I think they should try to fix the obvious problem areas (2b, closer, etc.), and try again in two thousand ten. There will be plenty of time to rebuild, but I wouldn't pull the plug on this core just yet.
   34. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: August 19, 2009 at 12:03 AM (#3297280)
Marmol officially dubbed the closer. Now Gregg can come in a blow leads earlier.
   35. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: August 19, 2009 at 12:05 AM (#3297283)
Walt:

You did not. The poster in question took that route.

The Cubs had everything break their way last season. This season the opposite.

We all hate it when natural forces work against our teams
   36. SouthSideRyan Posted: August 19, 2009 at 12:25 AM (#3297333)
I'd love to trade Dempster and sign Harden this offseason. I honestly don't think we'd have to eat that much salary. The SP market is awful this offseason. I'm sure some people wouldn't love this cause it leaves us a little thin for a 2011 rotation, even if you buy into Randy Wells, but you cross that bridge when you get to it. I'd be disappointed if we didn't have an internal option(i.e. not one of our 6 current starters, but in the system) taking a spot by 2011.

I will still put together something on the minors, quick point I want to make is that while the system has made a huge resurgence this year, the high end talent isn't likely to help much before 2011.(Jay Jackson could be a midseason '10 guy if he comes out hot next year, but probably not)
   37. Andere Richtingen Posted: August 19, 2009 at 02:11 AM (#3297562)
Rather than talking about what the Cubs should do, I'd rather talk about what they will do. All of it depends on what ownership dictates, and that is a huge unknown. I guess we could get new owners who would dictate that the roster be gutted, but otherwise, assuming that the organization remains under McDonough's leadership and major cuts aren't mandated, I don't expect anything but what we've seen in the recent past:

1. They will hold onto their starters unless someone comes along that makes one of them expendable. There really isn't anyone on the horizon in the minors with that status, so unless one is picked up via free agency, we will be looking at the same starters next year. That's fine with me; sure, some are a bit on the pricey side, but they continue to show up and do their jobs quite well.

2. Hendry will look for a closer in the off-season. Unfortunately, the chances of him coming up with someone better than Gregg or Marmol are not great. In any case, I expect one or two relievers picked up for retail, either as FA or in trades.

3. I wouldn't be surprised to see Soriano and Bradley both shown the door, likely in the sort of trade where the Cubs don't really gain much if anything in terms of salary. They made chicken salad out of chicken #### doing this with Todd Hundley, and who knows, it could happen again. I think this is more likely to happen after the coming off-season though. Maybe earlier with Bradley, who is more moveable.

4. There will be some middling trades and/or FA signings for the position players, but no big splashes.

In other words, the hand was pretty much dealt three years ago.
   38. And You Thought Zonk Was Terminated? Posted: August 19, 2009 at 02:38 AM (#3297610)

3. I wouldn't be surprised to see Soriano and Bradley both shown the door, likely in the sort of trade where the Cubs don't really gain much if anything in terms of salary. They made chicken salad out of chicken #### doing this with Todd Hundley, and who knows, it could happen again. I think this is more likely to happen after the coming off-season though. Maybe earlier with Bradley, who is more moveable.


There's just too enormous a difference between Soriano's contract and Hundleys.

I'll be the happiest Cubs fan in the world if we can find a way out from under the Sorialbatrass, even some way out from under even half the Sorialbatross, but I just cannot see any reasonable way it happens. I think Fonsie is on the fast train to mediocrity and it's about to happen so fast, I'd even take Vernon Wells straight up - if only because he's 5 years younger.
   39. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: August 19, 2009 at 03:09 AM (#3297635)
Andere:

I am curious under what scenario you envision another team taking Soriano.
   40. Spahn Insane Posted: August 19, 2009 at 03:39 AM (#3297655)
I'd even take Vernon Wells straight up - if only because he's 5 years younger.

Yeah, but he sucks. If the numbers are to be believed, he can't even play defense anymore, and his bat shows no signs of being able to handle a corner (Soriano at least has a chance to be corner-average for a couple more years, perhaps better). I honestly think Wells' contract is worse than Fonzie's at this point.

I am curious under what scenario you envision another team taking Soriano.


If the Cubs take Wells. (Well, probably not, since the Jays are evidently trying to shed salary. But a wealthier team might do that trade.)
   41. Andere Richtingen Posted: August 19, 2009 at 04:51 AM (#3297697)
I am curious under what scenario you envision another team taking Soriano.

Mike Hampton was traded. You do it by eating a good portion of the balance, taking other problem players in return, and/or adding other players on both sides.

Like I said, I don't expect it to happen this year necessarily, but we've seen Hendry consumed with "addition by subtraction" goals in some previous offseasons. He'd have to overcome the no-trade clause and find the right taker, but I believe we are eventually going to come to a point where he's going to try to make it happen if there's any chance at all of Soriano waiving his no-trade clause.
   42. Meatwad Posted: August 19, 2009 at 05:13 AM (#3297708)
Bear down, Chicago Bears,
Make every play, clear the way to victory!
Bear down, Chicago Bears,
Put up a fight, with a might so fearlessly!

We'll never forget the way you thrilled the nation
With your T formation.
Bear down, Chicago Bears,
And let them know why you're wearing the crown.
You're the pride and joy of Illinois
Chicago Bears, Bear down!
   43. McCoy Posted: August 19, 2009 at 05:28 AM (#3297715)
You did not. The poster in question took that route.

I called you a moron? When the hell did I do that? I pretty much say every year that the Cardinals are going to be in the thick of it. I was saying in 2007 and 2008 that the Cubs needed to do something because their window of dominance was going to be very small what with the Brewers and Cardinals having the team and abilities that they had.
   44. McCoy Posted: August 19, 2009 at 05:40 AM (#3297720)
Before the season:
The Cubs as compared to the rest of the division have room to make mistakes, but I fear that is only on paper. At times this season reminds me of what it was like heading into 2004. At the time we looked at the rotation, we looked at Sammy and we thought hey this is a very good team. Sure some things might not go right but with a core like that we'll still win a bunch of games. It turns out the core wasn't so great. The Cubs have question marks and personally I like to answer as many question marks before the season starts. I think DeRosa is an answer, I think Fontenot does not answer that question just yet.
. . . . . .
I'm not using the 2004 comparison as a one to one match up. It doesn't matter if the players are not the same or if the weaknesses are not the same. That isn't my point. My point is that at the time we thought the Cubs strengths were so good that a few problems could be papered over, but what we didn't realize at the time was that we didn't really have those strengths. Prior and Wood were injured and Sosa wasn't the same. Sure they won 89 games but nobody thought the win total was going to be that low which is my point about this team. I'm not saying I think this team is going to win 75 games, I'm saying that if some of those strengths turn out to be not so strong then every point of OPS or ERA is going to be needed to maximize their wins.

I'm definitely heading into this season believing the Cubs are the #1 team of the division but that isn't my point in regards to DeRosa either. Like I said it seems to me to be an unnecessary risk simply to "save" a few million when in the short run and long run it could very well cost the Cubs millions.
And we still have the best in season GM.

Who now has a leash.




Mid May
I don't think the Brewers are going to go away. I think the Reds will and the Cardinals will be interesting because as long as they have Pujols and that offense they will be in contention.
   45. shozzlekhan Posted: August 19, 2009 at 05:50 AM (#3297723)
Did I just hear someone say they'd take Vernon Wells?

Done!

Now what are we talking about?
   46. Walt Davis Posted: August 19, 2009 at 09:27 AM (#3297796)
Sorry about that HW ... I was wondering why I was getting dragged into that fight. :-)

But how could I forget about Harden? Talk about a tough call. As I've said several times, Harden's the most talented pitcher in baseball (check out the K-rate, ERA+, hit-rate, etc. over the last few years). This year? Has he finally hit the wall due to all the injuries? Over the next 5 years, Harden is either going to be the best pitcher this side of Lincecum ... or the best pitcher this side of Lincecum for maybe 500 innings ... or a complete disaster. I guess I'd rather they'd gamble on a guy who could be teh awesome than sign another Dempster type. But I'm guessing he's gone unless he's willing to sign "cheap."

The Cubs had everything break their way last season. This season the opposite.

Well, not quite everything -- we chose a bad time to totally suck for 3 games.

But yes, the Cubs health last year was ridiculously good. Injuries have been a problem this year but not that much more than expected -- a little worse on offense maybe (ARam) but better on the pitching side (even Harden has 20 starts and the bullpen has been healthy). So I never expected them to match last year's record (I'm not sure they were better in true talent terms anyway) but, again, 12 days ago they were right there. Since then ...

As to Soriano ... yeah, you can kinda trade any contract. But what -- Soriano and $30 M for Gary Matthews? Soriano -- Zito? There aren't that many bad contracts out there these days. Soriano and Z are two of the 14 largest current contracts according to Cot's. We really have just a handful of options -- Wells, Zito, maybe Carlos Lee. Why would their teams rather have Soriano?
   47. Harris Posted: August 19, 2009 at 01:21 PM (#3297867)
...but Soto was off-the-charts awesome in '07 (and was solid at AAA the two previous years, when he was young for his level). And Bradley's been powerless this year, but "over the hill" is inapt.

Of course, you never, ever fact-check anything you post, so whatever.


Don't know that you can fact check 'over the hill'. I agreed Soto was good in '07, otherwise, being good in AAA doesn't mean a whole lot. It's just another hurdle to clear to get to the bigs. Is it possible it took Maj. League pitchers a year to figure this guy out?

Don't take everything as a personal attack on you. I just pointed out that you're "have to" might be a little misguided. It'd be like me saying "Lidge has to pitch better down the stretch"....

umm...no, not really. It's unfortunately possible that he could suck even more. You saying that he sucks won't result in a knee-jerk reaction from me calling you an idiot.

(Re: %age of Harris posts in Cubs threads...probably closer to 10-20%, I'd guess, don't think you're more important than you are :)
   48. And You Thought Zonk Was Terminated? Posted: August 19, 2009 at 01:27 PM (#3297872)
Bear down, Chicago Bears,
Make every play, clear the way to victory!
Bear down, Chicago Bears,
Put up a fight, with a might so fearlessly!

We'll never forget the way you thrilled the nation
With your T formation.
Bear down, Chicago Bears,
And let them know why you're wearing the crown.
You're the pride and joy of Illinois
Chicago Bears, Bear down!


Here Come the Hawks, the mighty Blackhawks
Take the attack, Yeah, and we'll back you Blackhawks
You're flyin' high now, so let's wrap it up
Let's go you Hawks, move off
Now all look out, Here Come the Hawks,
Here Come the Hawks, Here Come the Hawks, Here Come the Hawks, Here come the Hawks

Here they come movin', weavin', flyin' high and throwin' spray,
Blades flashin' sticks crashin' tryin' for the play,
And the Blackhawks, take control,
There's a shot, AND A GOAL!
   49. Andere Richtingen Posted: August 19, 2009 at 01:55 PM (#3297904)
As to Soriano ... yeah, you can kinda trade any contract. But what -- Soriano and $30 M for Gary Matthews? Soriano -- Zito? There aren't that many bad contracts out there these days. Soriano and Z are two of the 14 largest current contracts according to Cot's. We really have just a handful of options -- Wells, Zito, maybe Carlos Lee. Why would their teams rather have Soriano?

You're probably going to have to make it two contracts you pick up, allowing the other team to free up two roster spots, or eat more than half of it. I have no brilliant ideas -- all I know is that long after they started to give off a bad odor, banks kept buying mortgage-backed securities.

Of course, all of this becomes moot if/when we learn in the offseason that oh yeah, we forgot to mention this: Soriano needs some kind of reconstructive knee surgery. That might explain why he has thoroughly sucked and can barely even play LF anymore.
   50. And You Thought Zonk Was Terminated? Posted: August 19, 2009 at 02:07 PM (#3297910)
What's especially frustrating about Soriano...

Recall that there were multiple folks, including the saber-type folks, who were making the case that Soriano might not slot into normal aging patterns... Not that they didn't have a point, but age is age, and Soriano looks close to cooked.

However Jim Hendry is dispensed with, one thing that I think should happen is that a photo-copy of every Sorryano paycheck gets mailed to him until this contract opus is over.
   51. Spahn Insane Posted: August 19, 2009 at 02:35 PM (#3297943)
It's just another hurdle to clear to get to the bigs.

No. It is the highest level of competition in this country other than the major leagues, and a guy who OPS-es 1.076 in AAA is capable of being a very good hitter in the major leagues. As Soto has been through most of his major league career.

Is it possible it took Maj. League pitchers a year to figure this guy out?

Sure, it's possible, and it's also possible that I'll soon begin sh1tting a form of non-carbon based fuel that saves the planet from global warming. As has been pointed out, Soto's been an average hitter for a catcher even this year, when he's been healthy for about 17 minutes, and out of shape/lethargic the rest of the time.

Don't take everything as a personal attack on you.

I don't. I, do, however take everything you post as an attack on common sense and informed discussion, because nothing you post contributes to either, and is strictly an exercise in trolling. Which you have admitted in the past, if it weren't immediately obvious to anyone with a brain on its own merits.

I just pointed out that you're "have to" might be a little misguided.

OK, Harris--you are correct that it's not 100 percent certain that Soto and Bradley will improve. It is merely very likely. You win this week's award for hyper-literal semantic fetishism. You may step forward to claim your prize.

And FWIW, by the same standard I would argue that Lidge also "has to improve," insofar as he's unlikely to post another ERA north of 7 (or whatever it is) next year (just as he "had to regress" after last year).

(Re: %age of Harris posts in Cubs threads...probably closer to 10-20%, I'd guess, don't think you're more important than you are :).

Percentage of Harris posts in Cub threads that amount to mindless trolling and/or ill-informed self parody: 100.
   52. Spahn Insane Posted: August 19, 2009 at 02:43 PM (#3297952)
We really have just a handful of options -- Wells, Zito, maybe Carlos Lee. Why would their teams rather have Soriano?

And why would the Cubs rather have any of those guys (and their contracts)? Suppose you could argue for Lee.
   53. Andere Richtingen Posted: August 19, 2009 at 03:05 PM (#3297975)
Not that they didn't have a point, but age is age, and Soriano looks close to cooked.

Age is age, and injury is injury. A disproportionate amount of Soriano's OBA was infield hits. With his loss of speed went his defensive ability AND a good amount of OBA. Maybe he can heal up and some of that can come back, but I don't know what's really wrong with him.
   54. SouthSideRyan Posted: August 19, 2009 at 03:07 PM (#3297981)
I'd much rather have Lee than Soriano.

That said, I think you guys are reading Soriano his last rites a bit early. I bet he bounces back next year close to his '07-'08 levels. Call me crazy, but I buy the knee injury thing.
   55. Moses Taylor loves a good maim Posted: August 19, 2009 at 03:12 PM (#3297995)
I'm glad this discussion has really taken off, too bad I'm too busy to be as involved as I'd like. I really like the thought process behind Andere's post 37, and it's something I've brought up at different times when discussion mid-season trade options. I don't know what we can realistically expect the budget to be for next season, and there's a good chance the team might not know if can absorb any contracts (you're welcome, Miles) when making deals (well, we won't know until they happen). I think most of Andere's post 37 is spot on, although I'd put the odds on Soriano moving in the next couple years much lower. I do think he'll be moved at some point, I just think it's more likely that later it is in his deal.

---

And if Harris can't get retro to admit anything, I'll give it a go. How about that Jeff Baker?

---

As for this year I don't think they'll make the playoffs but I've written the Cubs off as dead before when they were in similar situations and they have come back.

I'm in total agreement here. I can still see it happening, I wouldn't say it's likely, but it wouldn't be that much of a surprise if they got hot (24 of the last 40 at home, 23 of the last 40 against losing teams) and caught the Cards. I'm still holding out hope.
   56. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: August 19, 2009 at 03:22 PM (#3298005)
it's not 100 percent certain that Soto and Bradley will improve. It is merely very likely.

When you throw in the chance for injury, it's extremely likely that the Cubs will get more production from Bradley this year than any in his contract. I know he's missed 20 games or so, but this is a guy who has topped 100 games only three times in his career - he played 101 in one of them, and DHed in another.
   57. Stevens Posted: August 19, 2009 at 06:45 PM (#3298266)
I'm with Duff. Try to fix 2B and closer in the off-season. See about healing Soriano. Then just try the thing again. Hope to land somewhere between this year and last and win the division. I'll be very curious to see if the Cards re-sign Holiday and DeRosa, or if they part ways like CC and the Brewers.

Someone's probably already made the point, but the slow first half really hurt this team. Not only did it keep the Cubs down, but it kept the aspirations of the Cards up. If the Cubs had their July in May, and their May in July, perhaps the Cards don't make their trades. I don't know...it wouldn't affect the final Cubs standings, but doing better earlier in the year may dissuade some competitors from trying as hard.
   58. McCoy Posted: August 19, 2009 at 06:53 PM (#3298277)
Freddy Sanchez man, Freddy Sanchez. The bullpen they can fix, second base they probably can't or won't be able to. Not unless they then open up a hole at SS. Sure they could slide Theriot over but then you still have to find a SS. I could see the Cubs going with some kind of three headed monster of Blanco/Fontenot/Baker? or whatever else they have in the system, dear god hopefully not Miles for second base next year.

Soto has to bounce back, Soriano has to be healthy, and they need Fox to be real and have a spot somewhere in the lineup if they want an offense next year. If they don't have this happening then simply finding a secondbaseman and fixing the bullpen isn't going to jack in regards to this offense.
   59. Voodoo Posted: August 19, 2009 at 07:27 PM (#3298322)
I don't think the future is all that grim, at least in '10. The Cubs will still have one of the deepest and best pitching staffs in the league, and as others have pointed out players that (on paper at least) project to be above average at almost every position.

And despite the recent meltdown, this year is far from over. It's tough right now. After last night, I was saying the team is toast and they very well may be. But history is littered with teams that were five or six games out with six weeks to play and still managed to make the playoffs. A lot can still happen. 40 years ago, to the date, I believe, the Cubs had an eight game lead over the Mets...for instance.
   60. SouthSideRyan Posted: August 19, 2009 at 07:33 PM (#3298330)
McCoy, spending 8-9M on guys like Freddy Sanchez is exactly the problem with the team. There's only one epically(sure that's spelled wrong) bad contract, but when half the team is making 1-3M too much, then you wind up with no depth, and are a mess when injuries strike.
   61. SUBJ is staring out his window, waiting for spring Posted: August 19, 2009 at 08:43 PM (#3298429)
Boy, lots of good stuff here!

Harvey's-

The Cubs had everything break their way last season. This season the opposite.


Yes, and that's the pisser of it all. Not only was the team legitimately good top-to-bottom last year, but remember all of the "baseball magic": Kerry Wood's return, Dempster's improbable monster year, Jim Edmonds and Reed Johnson off the ####### scrap heap, the 9-run comeback vs. Colorado, Edmonds' 9th inning HR vs. the Braves allowing Len to do the "Hey, Hey! Attaboy, Jimmy!" tribute to Jack, the 4-game curb stomping in Milwaukee, the overall season domination of the Cardinals, Ward's shot off our old buddy Kevin Gregg, Z's no-hitter and the weird circumstances that brought about it, and finally, being able to clinch at home with the Cardinals as the victims. Those are the things that happen when it's "your year".

That's what made the playoff failure last year so bitter and this year so ####### frustrating; no one would give a #### about injuries, non-clutch hitting, Kevin F. Gregg, etc. this season if we'd won it all, or at least made the Series, last season. They must be feeling the same in Tampa this year: "it's the same team, or maybe better than last year's! WHY IS THIS HAPPENING?" But at least they have a pennant to show for it.


Walt Davis-

But how could I forget about Harden? Talk about a tough call. As I've said several times, Harden's the most talented pitcher in baseball (check out the K-rate, ERA+, hit-rate, etc. over the last few years). This year? Has he finally hit the wall due to all the injuries?


Since the break: 2-1, 1.95 ERA, 6 starts, 37.0 IP, 19 H, 11 BB, 47 K, 0.811 WHIP. I think it's entirely possible that he wasn't feeling great this season, but if he hit the wall, he's apparently busted through it. I feel good about him going forward and definitely want to roll the dice on resigning him.


Harris-

(Re: %age of Harris posts in Cubs threads...probably closer to 10-20%, I'd guess, don't think you're more important than you are :)


I wish you thought we were less important. Like 0%


Meatwad and Zonk- "Fight Songs"

I'm interested in the Bears...but damn excited for the 'Hawks. I suffered through the years of the "ABC line", Jocelyn Thibault, Adrian Aucoin, etc. Last spring was the most exciting time on ice since that OT in '96 when Roenick was breaking in on Roy and completely tripped all on his own without any interference at all from that Colorado defenseman. *Rolls eyes*. Let's beat the ####### Wings and finish the job this year, huh?


SouthSideRyan-

I'd much rather have Lee than Soriano.


I don't recall...why DID we sign Soriano over Lee? Dude tears it up in Wrigley. (I know: cue the snark about him facing the Cubs pitching staff.)


Moses Taylor-

How about that Jeff Baker?


No kidding. It's too bad we're wasting his "En Fuego" run.


VoodooR-

And despite the recent meltdown, this year is far from over. It's tough right now. After last night, I was saying the team is toast and they very well may be. But history is littered with teams that were five or six games out with six weeks to play and still managed to make the playoffs.


And 2 weeks ago we were tied with the Cardinals in first place. Cold teams catch fire and hot teams cool off, both of them can and do happen in an instant, and most of the time no one has any idea why. Only 4 out in the loss column in both the division and wild-card races with a relative eternity of 45 games still left.

Sometimes, you just gotta believe.
   62. McCoy Posted: August 19, 2009 at 09:02 PM (#3298461)
McCoy, spending 8-9M on guys like Freddy Sanchez is exactly the problem with the team. There's only one epically(sure that's spelled wrong) bad contract, but when half the team is making 1-3M too much, then you wind up with no depth, and are a mess when injuries strike.
It is a one year contract. You can afford to overpay, if it actually is an overpay, on one year contracts.

What will hurt the Cubs are the multiyear contracts for players that are performing at a level that doesn't deserve multiyear contracts or are such huge risks that they should have been given multiyear contracts.

Miles
Bradley
Soriano
Dempster


Two of those players are making starter level money and effectively block the team from look elsewhere for production. Miles is sucking up money that could go elsewhere and Dempster's contract is an overpay and too long.
   63. SouthSideRyan Posted: August 19, 2009 at 09:10 PM (#3298471)
The Cubs can't really afford to overpay anyone for any amount of time right now. (Though this goes back to the unknown ownership situation)

Regarding the 4 you listed, that's the awful contract(Soriano), and the 1-3M overpays I mentioned (Miles should be making negative .5M/Y, Bradley 7-8, Dempster 10) None of them are awful contracts, but you add the overpays of just those 3 and you have the ability to have a Freddy Sanchez.
   64. McCoy Posted: August 19, 2009 at 09:27 PM (#3298490)
It is arguable that Freddy Sanchez for one year at 8 or 9 million is an overpay. If it is it is only an overpay by a small handful of millions. Considering that we really cannot go out and lock up a Ryne Sandberg or young Biggio/Alomar the only way improve second base is by getting a player that is going to get paid a lot. If I had to choose between paying someone 8 or 9 million for one year or paying someone 30 million or more for 2 years or 3 years or more I'd generally rather take the one year option withi this team and the way it is constructed.

The Cubs either go blackhole at second and pay very little or get someone close to blackhole and have it cost them 5 million or so or they could have had Sanchez and spent 4 million or extra dollars and increased the ability of their offense which the increases their chances of making playoff revenue. I would have gone with Sanchez.
   65. SUBJ is staring out his window, waiting for spring Posted: August 19, 2009 at 09:40 PM (#3298503)
Why are we worrying about second base? We already have Aaron Miles.
   66. Andere Richtingen Posted: August 19, 2009 at 10:22 PM (#3298549)
I can see the Cubs turning Miles into unknown minor league cannon fodder in the off-season, and then picking up someone like Adam Kennedy. A Kennedy/Baker platoon at 2B wouldn't bother me particularly.
   67. Andere Richtingen Posted: August 19, 2009 at 10:46 PM (#3298570)
I'm in total agreement here. I can still see it happening, I wouldn't say it's likely, but it wouldn't be that much of a surprise if they got hot (24 of the last 40 at home, 23 of the last 40 against losing teams) and caught the Cards. I'm still holding out hope

Baseball Prospectus Playoff Odds reports put the Cubs at somewhere between a 12.2 and 14.1% chance of making the playoffs. Not impossible, but if things continue as they have for the last week+ on the rest of this road trip, you're going to see that drop precipitously.
   68. Walt Davis Posted: August 21, 2009 at 12:28 AM (#3300156)
they need Fox to be real and have a spot somewhere in the lineup if they want an offense next year.

Leaving aside the "real" bit (and whether "real" is better than an average corner bat) ... what spot? Opening a spot for him requires trading one of ARam, Lee, Soriano or Bradley. Soriano is the only guy that Fox might be an upgrade on and we've already discussed the possibility for that.

Before someone suggests catcher, recall that Lou sent Koyie Hill on the Bataan Death March rather than give Fox a single start -- safe to say the Cubs don't think he can cut it defensively. So for "creativity" that leaves 2B ... and if they don't like his defense at 3B or a corner OF spot, he'd probably be the worst 2B since the Mets tried Murphy over the winter.

[Harden] Since the break: 2-1, 1.95 ERA, 6 starts, 37.0 IP, 19 H, 11 BB, 47 K, 0.811 WHIP.

Oh I'm well aware. And hopefully we're at least back to "awesome when healthy". In terms of "true talent" the only thing that worries me is the HRs but that's all that's worried me all year. Even during this run it's 5 HRs in 44 IP -- not bad, but that's when he's been hot. And of course first half it was 16 in 74 which is staggering.

I don't recall...why DID we sign Soriano over Lee?

Lee was the same age, equal as a hitter, was slower and a much poorer defender, and wasn't a good bet to age well. I didn't like the Soriano contract but I did prefer it to the 6/$100 Lee contract. Shows what I know. (Actually, as good as Lee hit last year, he played only 115 games so, with defense counted, Soriano probably provided at least as much value. This year not so much.)

By the way, how is it we are getting Freddy Sanchez on a 1-year contract?

And I never gave Andere's #37 the attention it deserved:

1. They will hold onto their starters unless someone comes along that makes one of them expendable. There really isn't anyone on the horizon in the minors with that status, so unless one is picked up via free agency, we will be looking at the same starters next year. That's fine with me; sure, some are a bit on the pricey side, but they continue to show up and do their jobs quite well.

I generally think they'll let Harden go unless perhaps they can trade most of Dempster's salary. Depends a lot on what Harden is looking for.

2. Hendry will look for a closer in the off-season. Unfortunately, the chances of him coming up with someone better than Gregg or Marmol are not great. In any case, I expect one or two relievers picked up for retail, either as FA or in trades.

Hendry does love to meddle with the pen -- justifiably so this year. The chances of him wasting money are high, the chances of him fixing it are low. This might eat up whatever payroll cushion the Cubs might have (especially if they also sign Harden).

3. I wouldn't be surprised to see Soriano and Bradley both shown the door, likely in the sort of trade where the Cubs don't really gain much if anything in terms of salary. They made chicken salad out of chicken #### doing this with Todd Hundley, and who knows, it could happen again. I think this is more likely to happen after the coming off-season though. Maybe earlier with Bradley, who is more moveable.

Bradley should be tradeable (Texas?) and, yes, that would open a spot for Fox (sorta). I just don't think Fox is better than Bradley.

4. There will be some middling trades and/or FA signings for the position players, but no big splashes.

I'm not sure there are any splashes to be made at positions the Cubs need. Sanchez would be as big as it gets. I wonder if the Cubs would go for Adam Kennedy after his nice season in Oakland. (I'm hoping not but that seems a Hendry move.)

And to clarify: I agree that the 2010 Cubs could/should be just fine. But the iceberg is visible -- this is not a roster with a long-term future and the farm isn't a mess but doesn't seem to have any impact players on the way.

Yikes, checking Cot's -- it's really scary. The Cubs are already committed to $119 M for 2010 with 7 arb-eligibles (they'll non-tender Heilman and Cotts though I hope). So they're already locked into as much payroll as they had this year. They're already locked in for $96 M in 2011. The blow-up date is fast approaching.
   69. And You Thought Zonk Was Terminated? Posted: August 21, 2009 at 01:34 AM (#3300247)
Before someone suggests catcher, recall that Lou sent Koyie Hill on the Bataan Death March rather than give Fox a single start -- safe to say the Cubs don't think he can cut it defensively. So for "creativity" that leaves 2B ... and if they don't like his defense at 3B or a corner OF spot, he'd probably be the worst 2B since the Mets tried Murphy over the winter.


Has Lou ever really tried anyone out of position since Mike Fontenot's one game at SS last year? I remember that one so clearly because I was at the game - I said to my buddy as I noticed Fontenot at SS "I'm not so sure that's such a good idea" - and sure enough, the Astros got a first inning run because of a single that I think a sleep-walking Julio Lugo could have gotten to.

I don't know why that's stuck with me so much, but it almost seems like Lou has also since become gunshy about moving people around.
   70. McCoy Posted: August 21, 2009 at 01:45 AM (#3300266)
Leaving aside the "real" bit (and whether "real" is better than an average corner bat) ... what spot? Opening a spot for him requires trading one of ARam, Lee, Soriano or Bradley. Soriano is the only guy that Fox might be an upgrade on and we've already discussed the possibility for that.

Hence the problem. Fox is playing a position in which they either can free up for him or they have to move someone who is already adding runs to the offense. But if there is an answer that answer involves Milton Bradley going away.

By the way, how is it we are getting Freddy Sanchez on a 1-year contract?


Because that is all he has left on his contract.

As for getting old the Cubs have done a nice job of developing talent and do have the next generation of players up and are rather cheap.
Soto, Fox, Theriot are all cheap and will be cheap for awhile. The Cubs have the live arms to put together a cheap bullpen and cheap back of the rotation. They have all the parts inhouse to put together their secondbasemen hydra cheaply. The only position that is locked up for quite awhile is Soriano's spot. After 2011 the Cubs have only 3 guaranteed contracts (Zambrano, Soriano, Dempster) unfortnately those three players will lock 50 million dollars. Aram could be the 4th with another 16 million.

The Cubs face a slight budget crunch over the next season but with new owners in place they might not care or they will be prepared to spend for the next generation after the 2010 season. Plus with the way the Cubs have done it they can easily backload the contracts like they did before. Back when the Trib thought they were going to sell the Cubs after the 2007 season they signed Aramis and Soriano to contracts that only paid them a combined 17 million for that season. With the Cubs knowing huge amounts of dollars will be coming off the books after 2011 and even more dollars coming off the books in 2012 they will probably be much more likely to spend for the future after the 2010 season.
   71. McCoy Posted: August 21, 2009 at 01:47 AM (#3300267)
I don't know why that's stuck with me so much, but it almost seems like Lou has also since become gunshy about moving people around.

Well, he did send the pitcher out to left field this year and he did move Soriano to second and third this year.
   72. And You Thought Zonk Was Terminated? Posted: August 21, 2009 at 01:54 AM (#3300274)

As for getting old the Cubs have done a nice job of developing talent and do have the next generation of players up and are rather cheap.
Soto, Fox, Theriot are all cheap and will be cheap for awhile.


Soto might might be 'core-esque', but I don't see Theriot or Fox as much more than something that won't scream upgrade. I certainly don't think the team goes far if Theriot or Fox are among your top 5 position players.
   73. McCoy Posted: August 21, 2009 at 02:05 AM (#3300282)
And they don't need to be. Theriot is a perfectly adequate middle infielder that won't cost 12 million a year. Jake Fox if he pans out will be at the minimum a perfectly adequate corner outfielder/1bmen and won't cost 10 million a year. They are 3 players that look to be of major league caliber and not cost tens of millions of dollars a year.

The farm system hasn't produced a Pujols but it has done a very good job of developing pefectly fine everyday players. Doing that helps keep costs down.
   74. Andere Richtingen Posted: August 21, 2009 at 01:48 PM (#3300564)
I think the Giants are happy with one year of Freddy Sanchez in 2010, particularly if they stay in the playoff hunt.

I'm not drinking the Jeff Baker Kool-Aid just yet, but if he maintains anything like he has the last few weeks, I have no objections to giving him the short end of a platoon. Enter, Adam Kennedy...

I generally think they'll let Harden go unless perhaps they can trade most of Dempster's salary. Depends a lot on what Harden is looking for.

It does, but I think it also depends a lot on what Harden does the next month and a half. If he keeps going like he has since the ASB, it's going to be very difficult for Hendry to let him walk away. If the budget doesn't allow it, I guess it doesn't matter how hard it is. If they were to trade Dempster, I'm not so sure that Harden is where you want to put the proceeds though. The Cubs are a good fit for him because they have SP depth and can usually afford not to have to rely on him.

But yeah, I agree with everything Walt said. Still, watching last night's game, and seeing Soriano lifting his front leg before the ball even left Weaver's hand, and then swinging at the ball a foot of the plate on the tips of his toes: Hendry is watching this stuff. It's unbelievable, and he's got to be thinking that he can't possibly watch this for the next five years.
   75. And You Thought Zonk Was Terminated? Posted: August 21, 2009 at 02:08 PM (#3300586)
But yeah, I agree with everything Walt said. Still, watching last night's game, and seeing Soriano lifting his front leg before the ball even left Weaver's hand, and then swinging at the ball a foot of the plate on the tips of his toes: Hendry is watching this stuff. It's unbelievable, and he's got to be thinking that he can't possibly watch this for the next five years.


Increasingly, I suspect the chances of Hendry being around to watch it for even another year are getting rather slim.

The best thing about this west coast swing debacle?

The team's so in the crapper and the games are so late that I haven't subjected myself to a single one yet.

My sympathies are definitely with those that are being subjected.
   76. Bunny Vincennes Posted: August 21, 2009 at 02:23 PM (#3300610)
I seriously thought I was going to vomit when they gave up the grandslam last night. I was having a delightful evening up to that point. Then there it goes. Ugh.
   77. Andere Richtingen Posted: August 21, 2009 at 02:50 PM (#3300643)
Increasingly, I suspect the chances of Hendry being around to watch it for even another year are getting rather slim.

Maybe, but he's signed through 2012. I have no idea how much they're paying him, but that's a long time.
   78. McCoy Posted: August 21, 2009 at 03:13 PM (#3300683)
Yeah that contract was definitely a golden parachute for Hendry on behalf of the outgoing Tribune company.
   79. SUBJ is staring out his window, waiting for spring Posted: August 24, 2009 at 09:06 PM (#3303824)
"SportTicker: Cubs fans being treated for clinical depression."

I was going to write up a post updating the hitting w/RISP numbers after the Road Trip of Death, and perhaps introducing another completely made-up cockamamie stat involving "Runs-to-Baserunner Ratio"...and then I decided, "eh, #### it".

ALL ABOARD THE FAILBOAT!
   80. Moses Taylor loves a good maim Posted: August 24, 2009 at 09:15 PM (#3303833)
I was going to write up a post updating the hitting w/RISP numbers after the Road Trip of Death, and perhaps introducing another completely made-up cockamamie stat involving "Runs-to-Baserunner Ratio"...and then I decided, "eh, #### it".

That was my exact conclusion when I was considering a new post this morning. Not quite the right time to recap the season, but nothing worth talking about now. Oh well.

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