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   1. Walt Davis Posted: January 27, 2007 at 06:49 AM (#2287124)
As I mentioned in the Floyd thread, I think he's the full-time starter and the platoon is Murton/Jones ... especially because of the contract. I expect Jones to be traded to open this all up but if he's not, I'd also expect Pagan (or some legit backup CF) to make it in place of Ward. I know Jones could back up CF but I don't see the Cubs going into the season without a "real" CF.

As to 12 pitchers, not many teams seem to have a choice anymore. 4 of the last 5 seasons, the median number of relief innings per team has been in the 490-500. Meanwhile last year, only 13 relievers pitched at least 80 innings, only 53 pitched at least 70. You can do some monkeying around with options and guys going off and on the DL to get more innings out of a roster spot, but it's still going to be very hard to pitch 500 relief innings with 6 relievers and modern reliever usage patterns.

And it's generally the Daryle Wards, Josh Phelps, Hee Seop Chois of the world who get squeezed out of roster spots by that 12th pitcher.

As to the lineup, the Book suggests usually putting your top 3 hitters in the 1, 2 and 4 slots ... which would probably leave Soriano in the leadoff spot anyway (maybe Lee). It's really DeRosa at the top of the lineup that bugs me.
   2. Walt Davis Posted: January 27, 2007 at 06:55 AM (#2287126)
Now that I think of it, Soriano is a nearly perfect #3 hitter by the book's standards. For those that don't remember, the "problem" with the 3-spot is that it has a lot more 2-out PAs than other lineup spots (mostly in the first inning of course). So in that spot, you mainly want guys who are good hitters but whose value is largely tied up in creating their own runs. Soriano pounds lots of HRs, lots of doubles, and he can steal 2nd if he only gets to 1st. Meanwhile his low OBP will be a little less harmful in that spot.
   3. Dandy Little Glove Man Posted: January 27, 2007 at 07:24 AM (#2287134)
I don't think Barrett will bat 7th. I would personally like to see him hit 2nd when Murton is out of the lineup, but I think 6th is more likely. I would guess the current lineup against RHP will be:

Soriano
DeRosa
Lee
Ramirez
Floyd
Barrett
Jones
Izturis
   4. Andere Richtingen Posted: January 27, 2007 at 12:43 PM (#2287150)
I don't think Barrett will bat 7th. I would personally like to see him hit 2nd when Murton is out of the lineup, but I think 6th is more likely.

You could easily be right about Barrett batting seventh, it's just that managers will generally bat the catchers deeper than the OFers. Batting him sixth would force him to bat Floyd seventh, and on days off Piniella would either have to bat Blanco sixth or move the lineup around a bit. Is this really a problem? Of course not, but I wouldn't be surprised to see these factors considered.

I don't like the idea of DeRosa batting high in the order either, but if it isn't DeRosa it will be someone even less likely to get on base at a decent rate.

As I mentioned in the Floyd thread, I think he's the full-time starter and the platoon is Murton/Jones ... especially because of the contract.

You may be right given the current roster, but perhaps the most likely outcome is that we end up with an OF of Murton/Floyd in LF, Soriano in RF, and Dandy Little Glove Man (not the BTF poster) in CF, and Jones playing somewhere else.
   5. Dandy Little Glove Man Posted: January 27, 2007 at 05:20 PM (#2287237)
You could easily be right about Barrett batting seventh, it's just that managers will generally bat the catchers deeper than the OFers. Batting him sixth would force him to bat Floyd seventh, and on days off Piniella would either have to bat Blanco sixth or move the lineup around a bit.

In my scenario above, Floyd bats fifth and Jones seventh. I think the Cubs gave him that contract to put him in the middle of the order. Also, if there are only 2 true left-handed hitters in the lineup, I doubt Piniella would bat them consecutively. This is at least as much of a concern as the prospect of shifting around the lineup when Blanco plays. Many teams bat the backup catcher lower in the order than the starter, including the Cubs last year. Alternately, they could have a 3-4-5-6 of Lee-Floyd-Ramirez-Jones against RHP if Floyd demonstrates that he is back to his pre-2006 form. This would make it especially tough for an opposing manager to bring in a lefty from the bullpen to face Floyd, and if he waits for Jones to play the matchups, the Cubs can counter with Murton. I still would rather see Jones traded and Murton starting, but this is how I think Piniella would approach the lineup if the roster remains unchanged.
   6. philly Posted: January 27, 2007 at 05:59 PM (#2287245)
What's going on with Wade Miller? Can they option him down or continue his neverending rehab or will he hit the waiver wire if he doesn't make the 25 man roster?
   7. Walt Davis Posted: January 27, 2007 at 09:07 PM (#2287317)
I don't like the idea of DeRosa batting high in the order either, but if it isn't DeRosa it will be someone even less likely to get on base at a decent rate.

I agree that DeRosa will bat 2nd. I didn't mean to imply you were suggesting DeRosa for the 2 spot, it's just his likely presence there that bugs me. And if he hits like last year, it won't really bug me.

You may be right given the current roster, but perhaps the most likely outcome is that we end up with an OF of Murton/Floyd in LF, Soriano in RF, and Dandy Little Glove Man (not the BTF poster) in CF, and Jones playing somewhere else.

I agree, at least if they can pick up a "good" one with a Jones trade.

The Floyd signing is creating some cognitive dissonance. It's (potentially) a lot of money which signals they plan to start him whenever healthy. Meanwhile, in contrast to Baker, when Hendry went out to find a platoon partner (or move Jones to platoon partner) for Murton (or Dubois before that), Piniella spoke up in Murton's defense and promised him lots of playing time.** Meanwhile the Cubs could really use a real CF, which would require trading Jones, which would force Floyd into a platoon role or, alternatively, push Murton "permanently" to the bench.

This is why it wasn't such a good signing. This wasn't the player the Cubs needed to add -- it creates domino effects that probably downgrade the defense (Soriano to CF, probably Floyd to RF) while minimising the upgrade to the offense (Murton losing playing time). It probably adds up to a slight improvemet for 2007 (if Floyd's healthy and productive) but not much and not worth the potential payout to Floyd. And as I've said elsewhere, if it plays out like this, I think it dooms Murton to a 4th OF/platoon career.

A real CF (even Erstad if healthy) or a platoon partner for Jones (with Murton full-time in LF and Soriano in CF) would have been better than Floyd. And if they prefer Floyd to Jones, signing a real CF, trading Jones, signing Floyd was (and is) still possible. (well, if there are any "real" CFs still available)

Anyway, I think the Floyd signing signals they've settled on Soriano for CF -- high risk/high reward.

** Used to be the other way around. Hendry would sign Hollandsworth/Mabry but say good things about Dubois/Murton. Then the next day, Dusty would chime in about how important it was for Holly/Mabry to get playing time and he'd look at matchups and who was hot and ... all signalling a platoon. We know who tended to win that argument. So it was nice to see Piniella say Murton would continue to get lots of playing time ... I'm just not sure he'll deliver.

there are only 2 true left-handed hitters in the lineup, I doubt Piniella would bat them consecutively.

I agree. And, assuming Soriano/Lee/ARam are destined for 1/3/4, I'd love to see Floyd and Jones split by one of them being slotted into #2. All assuming Murton's not the regular starter. And my only real concern of starting Murton full-time over Jones is that it makes the lineup so righty-heavy and the Cubs will just get eaten up in the late innings.
   8. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: January 28, 2007 at 02:47 AM (#2287441)
I think give or take that's a pretty good guess at what the roster will look like. I wonder whether they'll find a spot for Pagan, or if he's simply squeezed out by the Floyd signing. As a switch hitter who can play all three OF positions, he'd be a useful piece. Ditto Scott Moore, who might have been a decent option as a bench bat (and hits lefty).

It's not really a well-constructed roster as much as it is a square peg, round hole kind of situation. The Cubs went out and got the "best" available players this offseason, and now they're going to find places to play them all. I still think the best solution to all of this is to move Soriano back to 2B, let Murton/Jones/Floyd handle the OF, and add an OF who can spell Floyd or Jones vs LHP. That person might well be Mark Derosa, who put up a .983 OPS vs LHP last season and an .876 OPS over the last 3 years (versus .686 against RHP). But they can't really use Derosa to sub for Floyd/Jones if he's the everyday second baseman.

I'd love to see something like this:

C: Barrett, Blanco
IF: Lee, Soriano, Izturis, Ramirez, Theriot, Derosa
OF: Murton, Jones, Floyd, Ward, Pagan

(Actually, I'd like to see them try to carry 11 pitchers, and then Cedeno or Moore can take that 14th spot, but that's not going to happen).

vs RHP:

Soriano
Murton
Lee
Ramirez
Floyd
Barrett
Jones
Izturis

vs LHP:

Soriano
Murton
Lee
Ramirez
Barrett
Derosa + Jones/Floyd (in here somewhere)
Izturis

-----------------------

On a sadder note, I know I'm dreaming with all of this. I'll give Pinella the benefit of the doubt for now, but I have about 1% confidence that Murton is going to be anything more than a glorified platoon hitter the next two years. So... at what point should the Cubs just trade him?

If they stick him in a platoon and he gets the reputation as a guy who should only play vs LHP, his trade value drops to zero. Now, he's a 25-year-old coming off a season when he led the team in hitting and showed good power in the second half of the season (playing basically every day). There have to be teams out there who would pay a pretty nice price to get a guy like Murton. If the Cubs aren't going to use him, shouldn't they trade him for something they will use?

It goes against their history, of course. Hendry has clung to some of these AAA/AAAA prospects until their value as young players with untapped potential had all but evaporated. It's the same old story - what's the point of developing guys who can play if you're not going to use them? I'm sure Murton would be a terrific bench piece the next two years, but if you're limiting him to 200 PAs a season, how many more wins added does he bring over someone like Angel Pagan (who looks like he should expect to have a career as a backup)? 1 or 2 per season, if that? That's hardly worth keeping him if the alternative might be a nice package from a team that needs a young player who has shown he can hit at the major league level.

It's possible the Cubs trade Jones, though if "inside sources" are to be believed the trade market for him this offseason was zilch. But if they can't move Jones, and they're not going to stick Soriano back at 2B, why not just go ahead and trade Murton at a time when his value is the highest? They're wasting a pretty valuable piece by sticking him on the bench.
   9. Dan The Mediocre is one of "the rest" Posted: January 28, 2007 at 05:19 AM (#2287476)
I think we should trade Barrett. I don't see him as a big contributer on our next winning team. I think he's going to get worse on both offense and defense until he becomes useless except as a DH on a crappy team. I think we could get a prospect who has a chance of being something useful, and if not at least we won't have any emotional attachment to Blanco when it's time to get a new starting catcher.
   10. Walt Davis Posted: January 28, 2007 at 06:33 AM (#2287488)
If we can get good stuff for Murton, trading him sounds fine.

Trading Barrett is fine in theory, but I think it's too late in the offseason to do it. We can't have Blanco as the starting C, so trading Barrett now requires getting a lesser staring (or platoon or at least half-time) C plus something else in return. But I don't think that something else is gonna be all that exciting.
   11. The First Pitch Express Posted: January 28, 2007 at 04:22 PM (#2287601)
Oh man, that middle infield is going to be such a black hole of offense.

Just wanted to say thanks to Andere for posting what seems to me to be a very accurate projected 25-man roster (even though you're not accounting for the pitcher who will be replacing Prior when he goes on the DL). This will be a useful point of reference during spring training when the rosters contain 35,418 players.
   12. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: January 28, 2007 at 05:49 PM (#2287663)
What's going on with Wade Miller? Can they option him down or continue his neverending rehab or will he hit the waiver wire if he doesn't make the 25 man roster?

I noticed he wasn't on Andere's roster as well. He's been around long enough that I'm almost sure he'd be out of options. He might accept a demotion, though if he looks good this spring I imagine he'd rather pitch elsewhere. His contract is (surprise) based largely on incentives - $1.5M base pay, another $3.75M in incentive money.

If Miller and Prior are both healthy at the spring training, I have no idea what they'll do. Probably send Hill back to AAA to see if he can get his strikeout rate up to 2 per inning.
   13. Dan The Mediocre is one of "the rest" Posted: January 28, 2007 at 06:53 PM (#2287694)
Maybe package Miller and Barrett for a decent catcher and a B prospect? Miller has potential to be decent, and a team that wants to take a chance on a cheap starter and upgrade the offense at catcher would probably be willing to throw a prospect in along with a decent catcher. I don't think it'll ever happen, but it might be the smartest thing the Cubs could do.

As a caveat, I must say that I think Marquis is basically untradeable right now.
   14. Walt Davis Posted: January 28, 2007 at 06:53 PM (#2287695)
I thought Miller wsn't supposed to be ready until like mid-May or something. Do I have that wrong? A couple weeks ago I pointed out the problem if both Miller & Prior are healthy -- must have been around christmas so miracles were on my mind. :-) And yeah, if Hill has options left and everyone else is healthy, he'll go down which is dumb. I think he has one left. If he doesn't have options, maybe we'll have 4 lefties in the pen. I don't see the Cubs having enough sense to just cut Miller loose or trade him.

The dumb Marquis signing has created this situation. Unfortunately, just like the Floyd signing. UCCF's idea springs back up. Hill will be 27 this year. Coming off his second half, his trade value has increased. If the Cubs aren't gonna use him, it just might be time to trade him ... if that Christmas miracle comes to pass.

These are reasons why you just don't go out there and spend money for its own sake and buy the "best" available player (a joke in Marquis's case) -- these moves have consequences and domino effects. I won't deny that Hendry has improved the team this offseason but it's one of the worst-planned offseasons one can imagine.
   15. Andere Richtingen Posted: January 29, 2007 at 02:38 AM (#2287842)
I noticed he wasn't on Andere's roster as well. He's been around long enough that I'm almost sure he'd be out of options

I haven't heard anything specific about Miller. My guess is that if he shows up at Spring Training and performs at a level similar to what he showed in 2006, he will make the roster. I'm still pretty skeptical myself, but Miller might be a better choice than Wuertz.
   16. SouthSideRyan Posted: January 29, 2007 at 03:36 AM (#2287874)
Miller was healthy to end last year, why wouldn't he good to go for ST? I think Wuertz is the odd man out, not Hill if Miller, Prior, and Wood are all healthy. Moral of the story is Jason Marquis sucks.
   17. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: January 29, 2007 at 04:41 AM (#2287934)
Now, he's a 25-year-old coming off a season when he led the team in hitting . . .

Huh? Maybe I'm missing something, but I believe our hero hit .297 last year, while Michael Barrett hit .307 (and Ryan Theriot also outhit him, albeit in only 134 ABs).

Sorry to pick a nit, though.

At one level, I understand and agree with all the angst and hand-wringing about who is going to be getting all the playing time in the OF, but I do have to admit that I look at the calendar and see that it's January 28, and think that (a) Hendry will probably have another move or two that will either solidify things or confuse them further and (b) we'll learn things in Spring Training that will also add to the mix, whether it be an injury, a cold spell, or whatever.

As a result, to some extent I think this is like debating how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. Then again, because it's January 28, I suppose we have little else to ponder . . .

One of those issues, however, is Miller -- not only do I think he's on the team, but I'd guess that by May he'll be taking whatever role they have planned out for Marquis.
   18. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: January 29, 2007 at 05:03 AM (#2287960)
Huh? Maybe I'm missing something, but I believe our hero hit .297 last year, while Michael Barrett hit .307 (and Ryan Theriot also outhit him, albeit in only 134 ABs).

Barrett came about 100 PAs short of qualifying for the batting title. I also ignored Kerry Wood, who hit .500 (3 for 6), as well as Howry and Ohman who each were a perfect 1 for 1, since we're being complete.
   19. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: January 29, 2007 at 05:51 AM (#2288004)
Come on, give me a break. I didn't realize you were being hypertechnical, but I also didn't realize that there was a team batting crown that required 3.1 PA/gm. Then again, I did nit pick, so I guess I deserve it. I'm not sure if I deserved your snark, though.

Still, putting that aside and moving to your larger point, do you think opposing GMs are going to think that Murton was the best hitter on the team last year? How much of that was Murton and how much of it was the lack of PAs by Lee and, yes, Barrett?

More importantly, do you really think that one season of .297/.365/.444 (103 OPS+) hitting is going to convert him into a seriously valuable bargaining chip? If Jim Hendry and Lou Piniella are questioning whether he is a MLB starting OFer, what makes you think that opposing GMs would? (I realize I'm talking about Jim Hendry here, but my point still stands.)

I like Murton, I agree that he's gotten short-shrift by the Cubs, and I worry about him being wrongfully cast aside in favor of veteran stiffness, but off the top of my head I can easily think of 5-10 corner OF rookies or prospects that would have more trade value than Murton. He might be an attractive part of a trade package, but I can't see him drawing a lot standing alone.
   20. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: January 29, 2007 at 02:59 PM (#2288093)
I didn't realize you were being hypertechnical, but I also didn't realize that there was a team batting crown that required 3.1 PA/gm.

I was using the same standards that the league uses. I figured people would know that, since the team batting leader is virtually always going to be held to that standard, but around here I should know better than to not be as absolutely precise as possible. Hey, you tossed Theriot in, so obviously you were willing to go a lot lower than Barrett's 400 PAs. If you pick nits, expect to get snarked, particularly if you do it unreasonably.

And no, of course I'm not arguing that Murton was the Cubs' best hitter last year. That would be silly. But yes, I do think he is a seriously valuable bargaining chip. For one thing, he was a much better hitter in the second half than in the first half: .319/.390/.522 after the All-Star break. All of these stories in the media last April and May, about the Cubs working with Murton's swing - stories that Murton himself corroborated in the press - they seem kind of important when looking at that. It's like: "Look, Murton struggled in the first half while adjusting his swing. Then he took off in the second half and hit a ton." He showed more power - more power to the gaps, and more HR power. Again, that's just the kind of development you look for in a young player. And he's twenty-#######-five years old. The Cubs should be thrilled to have this guy giving them that kind of production for $400,000. If the Cubs actually gave him 600 PAs each of the next two years, I wouldn't be at all surprised to see him turn into a .320/.410/.550 hitter. He's heading into his prime.

And no, I'm not arguing that he's one of the best 5-10 corner OF prospects in the game. Again, that would be silly, and it misses my point. The point is that, whatever value Murton has right now, it will drop by 90% if they let him sit on the bench for the next 2 years and turn him into a platoon player. If they want to maximize their potential return on a guy they're apparently not going to be using, now's the time to do it. The loss of value on the bench won't be that much because once you limit the playing time it takes a pretty big drop off in performance for there to be a real impact on team performance. Let's say Murton would hit .320/.390/.520 this year in his 200-250 PAs, but we replace him with Angel Pagan who hits .250/.320/.430. It's a dropoff, but if he's only starting once a week and pinch-hitting a couple of times, how much are you really losing? I would say you're losing less than the potential value you could get in return if you traded Murton right now while he's still got some potential.
   21. Moses Taylor loves a good maim Posted: January 29, 2007 at 03:16 PM (#2288102)
Man, UCCF, nothing personal, but you are one pessimistic fan. Like djf said, it's January. You're constantly bemoaning Murton's fate and we know absolutely nothing yet. I think you're being unfair to Pinella by constantly assuming he'd make the same moves Dusty did. He has the benefit on the doubt from me until he proves us wrong. And now you throw out the possibility of Hill being demoted. You're bordering on the edge of paranoia here.

I fully believe the following:
1. Hill will be in the starting rotation until either (a) he gets hurt or (b) the All Star break if he sucks.
2. Murton will start *at least* 82 games and will have *at least* 400ABs.

If, after a month or so into the season, either of those things looks unlikely (simply because of roster issues and not sucking), then I'll start complaining about Lou. Until then, I'm not going to worry about it, and I'm going to try my hardest to not respond to any more of your negativity. If only for my sake.
   22. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: January 29, 2007 at 03:40 PM (#2288128)
What else are we going to talk about in January?

I'm not pessimistic. But after 30 years of watching the Cubs do the same #### time after time after time, I also don't think that a manager change and a fresh new payroll is going to change all that much. We're fighting an organiational philosophy here. Pinella is a baseball lifer, grizzled and leathery - when push comes to shove, it's hard for me to see him benching Cliff Floyd for Matt Murton, and it's even harder for me to see Jim Hendry encouraging him to do so. That incentive-laden contract is a big flashing neon sign: Floyd is going to play. Talk at the convention is all well and good, but what else would they say in front of a bunch of rabid fans desperate for some home grown players to cheer for? Free agents come and free agents go, but fans will always be most attached to the players they saw break in as rookies and blossom from there.

I hold out hope that Jones gets traded. Barring that, I see maybe 50 starts for Murton, 40 of which come vs LHP.

(I'm less worried about Hill, because the odds of both Miller and Prior making it through spring training without getting hurt or at least "left back" for some extended ST are about 1 in a million.)
   23. Moses Taylor loves a good maim Posted: January 29, 2007 at 03:58 PM (#2288140)
What else are we going to talk about in January?

Well, I've got the Bears and the Bulls right now. So maybe that's what I'm not concerned yet. And that's also why I haven't posted anything new. Nothing's grabbed my attention enough. There'll be plenty I have to say once ST and the season starts. Maybe all the optimism I have for the Bears and Bulls this year is spilling over to the Cubs.
   24. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: January 29, 2007 at 04:57 PM (#2288206)
Hey, you tossed Theriot in, so obviously you were willing to go a lot lower than Barrett's 400 PAs. If you pick nits, expect to get snarked, particularly if you do it unreasonably.

I didn't toss Theriot in; I just mentioned him as someone else who outhit Murton -- as I said, in relatively low ABs. My point wasn't to say he was a better hitter than Murton, but to . . . well, I'm not entirely sure what my point was. It wasn't to invite comments about Kerry Wood, Bob Howry, and Will Ohman, just to the point of absurdity.

As I said, I didn't realize you were sticking to a 502 PA standard -- if there were official "team hitting leader" criteria, I would've. Your logic makes sense, but it isn't exactly like Barrett was a September call-up either. I think it's entirely reasonable to consider Barrett alongside of Murton -- he *was* the team's regular catcher, even if injured for a significant portion of the year. Yes, that doesn't match up to your strict criteria -- which, though reasonable, you didn't mention at the time.

I happen to think that for me to mention Barrett is reasonable, at least to the point that it required you to explain your rationale. Your additional observations about Wood, Howry, and Ohman were just snark and not really called for, IMO. No big deal, though; I didn't lose any sleep over it.

I digress. Let's get back to your point. You said "[t]here have to be teams out there who would pay a pretty nice price to get a guy like Murton." What kind of price are you talking about? Standing alone, do you think the Cubs could get a starting pitcher for him and, if so, what kind of pitcher (age wise and ceiling-wise)? Do you think the Cubs could get a starting position player -- if so, of what quality?

I guess what I'm really asking is for you to give me an idea of what you think "valuable" means and how valuable he is. If by "valuable" you mean "having some value," then Murton certainly is valuable. OTOH, if you mean something like "standing out amongst his peers," I'm not sure Murton especially qualifies.

You said that it would be silly to argue that he's one of the best 5-10 corner OF prospects in the game, but I have no idea what frame of reference you are using, so I don't think it's all that silly for me to ask you to clarify.

John Sickels's #22 hitting prospect is Felix Pie, and his #36 is Eric Patterson. His #29 pitching prospect is Donald Veal. Does Murton have similar value to any of these players? Veteran-wise, is he as valuable as Jacque Jones? Rich Hill? Michael Barrett? Is there a player on another team whom you would say has equal trade value?

We agree that Murton shows promise and that he deserves every chance to show it. We also probably agree that he's the best option *now*, let alone the future. I'm only curious about your observations of his trade value.
   25. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: January 29, 2007 at 05:12 PM (#2288229)
I'm not pessimistic. But after 30 years of watching the Cubs do the same #### time after time after time, I also don't think that a manager change and a fresh new payroll is going to change all that much. We're fighting an organiational philosophy here. Pinella is a baseball lifer, grizzled and leathery - when push comes to shove, it's hard for me to see him benching Cliff Floyd for Matt Murton, and it's even harder for me to see Jim Hendry encouraging him to do so.

30 years? I would think that Dallas Green operated on a vastly different philosophy and budget level than Bob Kennedy . . . or Jim Frey . . . or Larry Himes . . .or Ed Lynch . . . or Jim Hendry. Yes, the team has made similar mistakes for the last several years (if you said 20 instead of 30, I would be more inclined to agree).

Still, if a significant reason for your doubt is that "Pinella is a baseball lifer, grizzled and leathery," the observation means nothing and could just as easily be said about saber-favorites Davey Johnson and Larry Dierker.

Though I understand why he's still the GM, I have little but disdain for Jim Hendry. I also recognize that I've had little but scorn for Dusty Baker and that we've spent much of the last 4 seasons questioning whether the organization's problems originated from Baker, Hendry, or both.

We'll have a better opportunity to learn now. The team has promised philosophical change and a good amount of change has taken place already. Whether it is window-dressing or a real change, and whether it is a positive change or one that will hurt the team are all questions that are still somewhat open.

I have every reason to be wary about the future and to temper any optimistic thoughts with caution. I don't, however, think it's all that useful (or helpful to my sanity) to assume that everything Jim Hendry or Lou Piniella have and will do will be detrimental to the team. When's the last time you were optimistic about one of his moves anyway?
   26. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: January 29, 2007 at 05:18 PM (#2288239)
John Sickels's #22 hitting prospect is Felix Pie, and his #36 is Eric Patterson. His #29 pitching prospect is Donald Veal. Does Murton have similar value to any of these players?

I would say Murton has more value than any of these guys, because he's already shown he can perform in the big leagues. None of them are top shelf, can't miss prospects (even Pie, who still has parts of his game in need of work, and that's before considering that he hasn't taken the step up to the major league level yet).

Pie may have a higher ceiling than Murton, but there's some value in having a guy who is so far progressed toward what look to be his talent levels offensively. I can't find Sickels' full list for 2007 (that website is so hard to navigate), but without seeing the names if Pie is 22nd then I'd guess Murton would be (to me) equal in value to prosepcts #10-15, somewhere in there.

Put it this way - if I had Pie and you had Murton, I'd swap players and feel like I got the better end of the deal.
   27. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: January 29, 2007 at 05:41 PM (#2288264)
When's the last time you were optimistic about one of his moves anyway?

The only things this offseason that I've really hated are the Floyd deal, Derosa (who isn't a bad player, but it felt like Hendry rushed out to sign him and overpaid as a result), Blanco (I just can't see $2.5M/yr for a backup catcher), and of course Marquis. I can't say I'm optimistic about any of the other signings, though I don't dislike them. Even Soriano, though I'd be more optimistic if I thought signing him was part of a master plan that went beyond just throwing money at the best available player and figuring out what to do with him later.

The last time I was really optimistic (aside from trading Neifi Perez away, which is optimism in its purest form) about one of Hendry's moves was probably the Latroy Hawkins deal for Williams and Aardsma. Not that it came to anything. I may be forgetting something, but that sticks out in my mind.

My biggest problem is that, as always, there seems to be no plan behind Hendry's moves. It feels like he operates by picking a player he wants without worrying about whether the Cubs need him or not. So we'll go out and sign 3 or 4 backup infielders instead of one who should be starting, or go into an offseason where we already have 2 corner OFs and sign 2 more corner OFs. Or look at a rotation with 5 starting pitchers and decide we need another one just because he's a "proven winner." Darryl Ward? Nice guy, good bench bat. But we needed an OF to hit LHP and platoon with Jones, not RHP. What can Ward do that Angel Pagan couldn't do? Tomas Perez - why, on a team that already has at least 3 capable backup IFs? Neil Cotts - nice pitcher, but he's the 3rd or 4th lefty in the pen, hardly something we needed. Cliff Floyd? On a team without a CF, the signing made no sense.

I can't say I'm optimistic about this year. If the Cubs make the playoffs, it will be a result of playing in the worst division in baseball, not a result of good team building or savvy personnel moves. What's more, many of these moves will make it harder to contend in the future by tying up tens of millions of dollars in contracts for players who just aren't contributing on that level. We're looking at $120M payroll this year, and (assuming Zambrano resigns for approximately Zito money) already over $100M committed for next year. Those kinds of numbers should get you a team that feels a lot more complete than this one does, because they just don't leave much room for error.
   28. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: January 29, 2007 at 05:51 PM (#2288276)
I would say Murton has more value than any of these guys, because he's already shown he can perform in the big leagues. None of them are top shelf, can't miss prospects (even Pie, who still has parts of his game in need of work, and that's before considering that he hasn't taken the step up to the major league level yet).

Ok. I like Veal the best of those three, but can't really argue the point. Then do you feel Murton has the value of Justin Upton (#10)? Delmon Young (#2)? If comparing him to a prospect is apples and oranges (and I can understand how it might be), how about comparing him to a veteran? Jones? Barrett?

Maybe it's even more productive to ask who you think the Cubs could get for him? Do you think they can get a middle of the rotation starter? A useful guy like Chone Figgins? A guy like Austin Kearns? Mike Cameron? Rocco Baldelli? Aaron Rowand?

For that matter, what would you want to get -- a starter, a reliever, another corner OFer, a CFer, another IFer, a C, a good prospect?
   29. Andere Richtingen Posted: January 29, 2007 at 06:03 PM (#2288291)
Miller was healthy to end last year, why wouldn't he good to go for ST?

I'm simply thinking of the nature of his injury. Labrum issues are generally very difficult to resolve, and 20-some innings isn't enough to make me think he's got a green light. Again, we'll see, and I agree that if Miller is on the roster, Wuertz is the odd man out.
   30. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: January 29, 2007 at 06:19 PM (#2288307)
Then do you feel Murton has the value of Justin Upton (#10)? Delmon Young (#2)? If comparing him to a prospect is apples and oranges (and I can understand how it might be), how about comparing him to a veteran? Jones? Barrett?

It's hard to say without seeing the list. Young is too high - the top guys have so much ceiling that you just can't give that up. Upton feels a little high, though in the ballpark.

I wouldn't trade Murton for Jones, never ever ever ever ever.

Murton for Barrett is closer, if only because of the positional differences. Barrett has been one of the best hitting catchers in the game the last couple of years, and at 30 he's not quite to the age where you start to worry that the wear and tear of playing behind the plate will kill his bat. Of course, then there's the contract situation - Murton under team control for 5 more seasons, while Barrett is a FA after this year. I probably wouldn't, though I could see arguments the other way, particulary if a sign-and-trade deal got you Barrett for a reasonable price.

Specifically it's hard to say who I think the Cubs could get. I could go name by name and say yes, no, yes, no, but I don't know that it accomplishes much. Definitely more than Rowand. Kearns feels kind of like a push, but Murton's younger and Kearns is already into his arb years. I wouldn't trade Murton for Cameron, not at his age (34). Figgins is versatile, but even his best offensive season was no better than what Murton already did last year, and he took a step back last year. Baldelli is the only name there that really tempts me - the combination of defense and offense makes him attractive, and he's as young as Murton. I'd consider that if I was convinced there were no lingering effects from those injuries that kept him out for all of 2005. And giving up a corner OF like Murton for a CF like Baldelli would make sense from the team's standpoint (putting aside whether it makes sense just on purely objective terms).

As for what I'd want to get, there's obviously no point in trading for a pitcher or a corner OF. We're set at C and at the corner IF positions, and he's far too valuable to give up for bench upgrades. That leaves prospects, a middle IF, or a CF. We've got an offensive black hole at both infield positions vs RHP, and adding an infielder would free up Derosa to be the utility guy off the bench (and platoon with Jones vs LHP). A guy like Baldelli who could play CF would be nice, but it still leaves the problem of 4 OFs for 3 spots unless the Cubs move Soriano back to 2B (which, if they'd do that now, there'd be no need to trade Murton in the first place). Trade for Baldelli, then swap Jones for something... now we're getting someplace. We've upgraded the defense and gotten Soriano out of learning a new position for the second year in a row.

Trading for a higher ceiling but less developed prospect wouldn't make a lot of sense given where the Cubs see themselves in the success cycle - we're built to win now, so any upgrade should really come at the major league level. So I guess my best case scenarios are (probably in order):

(1) Keep Murton, Soriano to 2B, Derosa to bench/platoon with Jones (that's always going to be my 1st choice)
(2) Murton for Baldelli, trade Jones, Soriano to corner
(3) Murton for a MI, Derosa to bench/platoon with Jones

(2) only works if they can trade Jones for something, which apparently they've been trying to do this winter without success. It might help things, though, if they were able to approach it from the standpoint of not needing to get major league talent in return - Jones for a couple of prospects could be an easier sell for a team that needs an OF but doesn't have a lot of major league players it can afford to give up in return. The only real downside to (2) is that we're giving up Murton for the non-walking Baldelli, and that's really not going to help the team's OBP problems. But we're swapping OBP for CF defense, which is a worthwhile tradeoff.
   31. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: January 29, 2007 at 06:27 PM (#2288320)
If the Cubs make the playoffs, it will be a result of playing in the worst division in baseball, not a result of good team building or savvy personnel moves. . . . Those kinds of numbers should get you a team that feels a lot more complete than this one does, because they just don't leave much room for error.

Complete? The reigning division champs had a catcher with a 54 OPS+, and corner OFers at 79 and 94. Their best stars -- including the best player in the NL -- missed significant parts of the season to injury and often had more than one out of the lineup at the same time. The previous offseason, they had resigned the backup catcher, who had an OPS+ of 54 and would go on to have another one. They had traded for their starting 2Bman, and when he went on to have an OPS+ of 75, they traded for another one who gave them an OPS+ of 71. They brought in a utility guy who, the previous season, had seen only 51 PA with an OPS+ of -23 (that's minus-23), and in 2004 was at 71.

For their pitching staff, they had only two starters with an ERA+ over 100. They had signed a veteran stiff coming off seasons with ERA+ of 67 in 2005 and 90 in 2004 -- he would go on to give them less than 70 IP with an ERA north of 5.00. They would give 33 starts and nearly 200 IP to a guy with an ERA north of 6.00, and the guy who they brought in a few seasons earlier to lead the rotation pitched less than 100 IP and had an ERA north of 7.00.

Playing in the worst division in baseball, the team would go on to squeak out 83 wins . . . and go on to with the World Series. They are far from a sound favorite to return to the playoffs, let alone advance, yet I don't think Cardinals fans are regretting how the team didn't look "complete" going into 2006.

As the folks at BPro often say, flags fly forever. It's been nearly 100 years since the Cubs saw one and it's never happened at Wrigley Field. I don't believe we need to have a juggernaut like the '98 Yankees to win the World Series.
   32. Dr. Vaux Posted: January 29, 2007 at 06:30 PM (#2288325)
All you've got to do is get the Trib to sell the team to Jeffery Loria.
   33. Andere Richtingen Posted: January 29, 2007 at 06:31 PM (#2288327)
I digress. Let's get back to your point. You said "[t]here have to be teams out there who would pay a pretty nice price to get a guy like Murton." What kind of price are you talking about? Standing alone, do you think the Cubs could get a starting pitcher for him and, if so, what kind of pitcher (age wise and ceiling-wise)? Do you think the Cubs could get a starting position player -- if so, of what quality?

I wouldn't be surprised to see the Cubs get high quality in return for Murton. He has a .303 career BA in nearly 600 AB, and he is well thought of by scouts. He was a first round draft pick. He has his shortcomings, but I think Hendry did extremely well in getting him in the Garciaparra deal as what many would consider a throw-in.

As for Murton's planned role for 2007, we can only judge based on what we hear, and the speculation I've seen is that Floyd is his platoon partner. Speculation is not fact, and this would not be the first time that reporters have speculated one outcome only for something very different to happen. However, with both Jones and Floyd on the roster, I find it hard to imagine a different plan in effect. I wouldn't take Moses' bet that Murton will get >400 AB though. I think it's likely that one or more of the following will occur, leading to Murton getting a full-time job at some point, in this order of likelihood: 1) Jones is traded, 2) Floyd gets hurt, 3) Floyd stinks up the joint, 4) Jones gets hurt, 5) Jones stinks up the joint. For now, all three are on the roster and there is no in-season context. However, the key elements for Baker's Ratchet to work are in place, namely, a veteran alternative and an organization that will have no patience for low early season numbers. I can see Floyd getting hot early, getting the majority of the playing time, and Murton's performance suffering due to disuse, further diminishing his role.

If I had to make a bullseye call for Murton's AB this season, I'd go with 425, but I think both <250 and >550 are definite possibilities.
   34. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: January 29, 2007 at 06:31 PM (#2288329)
Baldelli is the only name there that really tempts me - the combination of defense and offense makes him attractive, and he's as young as Murton. I'd consider that if I was convinced there were no lingering effects from those injuries that kept him out for all of 2005. And giving up a corner OF like Murton for a CF like Baldelli would make sense from the team's standpoint (putting aside whether it makes sense just on purely objective terms).

The Rays would laugh you back to the stone age, even if they wanted another OFer in return (they wouldn't).
   35. Andere Richtingen Posted: January 29, 2007 at 06:33 PM (#2288331)
Playing in the worst division in baseball, the team would go on to squeak out 83 wins . . . and go on to with the World Series. They are far from a sound favorite to return to the playoffs, let alone advance, yet I don't think Cardinals fans are regretting how the team didn't look "complete" going into 2006.

The Cardinals looking incomplete going into the season and the Cubs looking incomplete are two completely different animals.
   36. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: January 29, 2007 at 06:38 PM (#2288339)
I wouldn't be surprised to see the Cubs get high quality in return for Murton. He has a .303 career BA in nearly 600 AB, and he is well thought of by scouts. He was a first round draft pick. He has his shortcomings, but I think Hendry did extremely well in getting him in the Garciaparra deal as what many would consider a throw-in.

Agreed, but what is "high quality"? At a certain point, I agree with UCCF that it's pointless to compare him with specific players, but if they can't get a elite prospect, and you wouldn't want a lower-tier prospect, or any player over 33, what type of player do you think they could get -- and what would you want?

FWIW, I would rank your set of outcomes in this order of likelihood:

* Floyd gets hurt
* Jones is traded
* Jones stinks up the joint
* Floyd stinks up the joint
* Jones gets hurt
   37. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: January 29, 2007 at 06:44 PM (#2288351)
I don't believe we need to have a juggernaut like the '98 Yankees to win the World Series.

Of course you don't need a juggernaut, but your team's strategy should hardly be to try to eke in to the playoffs and then hope that luck is enough to carry us through to the title. For every 83-win St. Louis team that lucks its way through, there's are 5 teams just like them who get bounced long before the World Series. And I know there have been plenty of Wild Card champions recently, and it seems like the WS champion is becoming more and more random as time goes by.

Beyond which, nowhere did I say that you have to have a complete team to win the World Series. I said that, for $120M spent, you'd like to see a more complete team than the one the Cubs have managed to put together. They're two completely different things.
   38. Walt Davis Posted: January 29, 2007 at 06:50 PM (#2288361)
At this point, I don't care if we trade Jones for "anything." I just want him off to clear up the OF logjam.

The concern with Hill is that if Z, Lilly, Marquis, Prior, Miller and Hill are all healthy (enough to start) at the same time, I do not see them keeping Hill in the rotation. With 3 lefties already in the pen, he's not going there. He'll go to AAA (assuming I'm correct and he has an option left) where he can keep starting.

On Murton, even with 80 starts and 400 PA, he's branded a part-time player. His trade value will be zero (granted, I don't think it's nearly as high now as UCCF does) and his value to the team will be minimal (especially given decent-hitting part-time RH OFs shouldn't be too hard to find). And for him to get 400 PA means that he'd be taking about 100 PA vs RH away each from Jones and Floyd which, from a team production standpoint, doesn't make a lot of sense.

Anyway, yes, I'm still hopeful Jones will be moved. But as it stands now, the Floyd signing only makes sense if the plan is for Murton to be a platoon OF and RH bat off the bench. That is a setup which improves (maybe by a win) the 2007 and 2008 teams (assuming Jones still not dealt) while harming 2009-2011. If that one win is the magical one that gets us into the playoffs and we win the WS, then by golly, I'll be delirious.

Anyway, this is kinda looking like the 84 team I suppose -- solid rotation with 1 stud (a real one this time) and unspectacular but fairly reliable after that, good corners, Floyd as Matthews, Murton/Jones as Moreland (with some Hall), Soriano as Sandberg kinda. Of course the 84 Cubs were a lot like the 85 Cubs too. :-)

<i>already over $100M committed for next year.<>

And I don't think that includes Floyd's money if it vests.
   39. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: January 29, 2007 at 06:50 PM (#2288362)
The Rays would laugh you back to the stone age, even if they wanted another OFer in return (they wouldn't).

I know, it's not a deal that would work for them - they've got too many OFs as it is. In terms of value, though, that's the kind of player I'd like to see in exchange for Murton.
   40. Andere Richtingen Posted: January 29, 2007 at 06:50 PM (#2288363)
Agreed, but what is "high quality"?

An everyday player who would put up similar or better offensive numbers but for several times more money. This could be a very smart move for a team that's weak in the OF and on a budget. I don't have any brilliant ideas about who that might be, but an everyday CF, SS or 2B with similar or better position-adjusted numbers could work, assuming that money is not a major factor of consideration.
   41. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: January 29, 2007 at 06:56 PM (#2288368)
The Cardinals looking incomplete going into the season and the Cubs looking incomplete are two completely different animals.

Why?

I'm not saying that I want an incomplete team and that we shouldn't want to see a better, more rounded team. Certainly, the better quality and more "completeness," the better the chances. Still, just as it's silly to expect a world championship from the Royals this season, it's also silly to assume that a team with a legitimate chance at the division has no shot to go beyond that.

Also, it might be true that UCCF and I have different values on a World Championship -- over the last 9 seasons, he might prefer the Braves history (a largely "complete" team who made the playoffs all but last season, with one losing WS berth) two the Marlins (2 WS champs in 6 seasons, but complete crap outside of that).
   42. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: January 29, 2007 at 07:00 PM (#2288372)
I know, it's not a deal that would work for them - they've got too many OFs as it is. In terms of value, though, that's the kind of player I'd like to see in exchange for Murton.

You may have missed my point: The Rays wouldn't laugh at the Cubs because they don't need another OF; they would laugh because there is no way that Murton is worth Baldelli. He just isn't. He may be worth Cameron, Rowand, Kearns, or Figgins -- he may be worth more -- but he doesn't have trade value in MLB similar to Baldelli.
   43. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: January 29, 2007 at 07:06 PM (#2288376)
Still, just as it's silly to expect a world championship from the Royals this season, it's also silly to assume that a team with a legitimate chance at the division has no shot to go beyond that.

Where has anyone said that? As far as I can tell, you're arguing against yourself on this point.

Also, it might be true that UCCF and I have different values on a World Championship -- over the last 9 seasons, he might prefer the Braves history (a largely "complete" team who made the playoffs all but last season, with one losing WS berth) two the Marlins (2 WS champs in 6 seasons, but complete crap outside of that).

No, I would prefer the Marlins history, as would every rational baseball fan in the world. But, if we had a time machine and went back to 1997, and we had the option of picking either team's next 9 years without knowing how any postseason would play out, I'd pick the Braves, and so would you.

That's the situation we're at now, trying to decide what kind of team to put together without the benefit (detriment?) of knowing that some fortunate bounces, surprising performances (both good and bad), and other wholly unpredictable occurrences would turn one into a two-time champion and the other into an 8-time loser.

Your argument seems to be that the Cubs should do everything in their power - including mortgaging the future to some extent by turning a guy like Murton into a bench part - just to reach the playoffs, and then hope that the chips fall right and they win it all. So shouldn't they be shopping Veal and Pie and Patterson in hopes of squeezing a few more wins out this year? I bet a package of those three would get a team to turn over a much better 2B or SS than Derosa or Izturis is, and it would greatly improve the Cubs' chances of making the playoffs this year, and maybe next year as well.
   44. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: January 29, 2007 at 07:06 PM (#2288378)
Of course you don't need a juggernaut, but your team's strategy should hardly be to try to eke in to the playoffs and then hope that luck is enough to carry us through to the title.

What makes you think this is the Cubs strategy? It may be the end result, but it doesn't mean it's their goal, nor does it mean that we should assume the worst doom and gloom scenarios if the team ends up with 83-win talent.

It's one thing to say that you'd like to see further improvements from the team. It seems, though, that you've generally had such a sour outlook on almost everything the Cubs have done for the past 3 seasons. I've had the same attitude many times. I just don't believe it's altogether fair or healthy to constantly have a tone and attitude as if the team is a complete train wreck. It isn't.
   45. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: January 29, 2007 at 07:13 PM (#2288385)
No, I would prefer the Marlins history, as would every rational baseball fan in the world. But, if we had a time machine and went back to 1997, and we had the option of picking either team's next 9 years without knowing how any postseason would play out, I'd pick the Braves, and so would you.

Yes, I would. OTOH, I won't simply assume that every potential pitfall will occur, every veteran will be unproductive and/or injured, and every decent young player will be pushed aside simply because it's happened before. Yes, it has, but this is also the same team that -- over the same 30 years -- has pushed aside veteran stiffs to make room for Sammy Sosa, Mark Grace, Ryne Sandberg, Carlos Zambrano, and Kerry Wood (to name but a few) and gotten surprising seasons out of Jerome Walton, Mike Bielecki, Rick Wilkins, and Joe Borowski.
   46. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: January 29, 2007 at 07:19 PM (#2288390)
You may have missed my point: The Rays wouldn't laugh at the Cubs because they don't need another OF; they would laugh because there is no way that Murton is worth Baldelli. He just isn't.

I got your point, subtle though it was. I don't agree. The only way I see Baldelli as so far above Murton that I'd be laughed back to the stone age is if his half-season of power numbers in 2006 represents a new level of production that he's going to maintain. If he's 20-25 HR, 20 SB, .340 OBP Baldelli, then I don't see him as that different from Murton, who has the same power potential but probably will run 50+ points of OBP higher (which is offset, more or less, by Baldelli's defensive value).

OTOH, if Baldelli's going to hit 30+ HR with 80+ XBH overall, then it would definitely take more than Murton to get him even if the Rays needed an OF. But the jury's out, especially on a guy who missed 18 months with some pretty serious injuries.

(And yes, maybe that's not fair, since I'm also projecting Murton into the future somewhat based on less than a full season of performance. But they're not so far apart as to make a trade proposal objectively hilarious.)
   47. Bwef Posted: January 29, 2007 at 07:20 PM (#2288392)
As a former Seattle resident who saw "Lou" manage for 10 years, you might find him to be the anti-Dusty. He will play rookies if they play smart - don't run themselves into outs, throw to the right base, take the extra base when it's there, know how to bunt... He will get a new call up into the game the first or second day he's there. He especially prefers players who can hit to those who can't. That bodes well for Mr. Murton's PT.
Where is have to watch him is bullpen usage. he likes to go with the hot hand. Unless he has a strong pitching coach, Lou can burn out his best reliever by June.
I got to add that after looking at the Cubs pitching staff, I don't feel quite so bad about the Mariners.
   48. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: January 29, 2007 at 07:37 PM (#2288412)
I got your point, subtle though it was. I don't agree. The only way I see Baldelli as so far above Murton that I'd be laughed back to the stone age is if his half-season of power numbers in 2006 represents a new level of production that he's going to maintain. If he's 20-25 HR, 20 SB, .340 OBP Baldelli, then I don't see him as that different from Murton, who has the same power potential but probably will run 50+ points of OBP higher (which is offset, more or less, by Baldelli's defensive value).

I'm not talking about ceilings. I'm talking about trade value -- on January 29, 2007. We're talking about a young CF, a top prospect since the day he was drafted and now established in MLB since 2003, with 1600 PAs of (.289/.329/.451), plus speed, and plus defense . . . and you think that his trade value is equal to a kid who has spent a little over a season largely as a part time LFer with no speed and shaky defense?

Go around BTF -- post in the Mets, Yankees, and Red Sox forums. Ask them if they would rather have Matt Murton or Rocco Baldelli.
   49. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: January 29, 2007 at 07:51 PM (#2288428)
I just don't believe it's altogether fair or healthy to constantly have a tone and attitude as if the team is a complete train wreck.

Again, you're taking me to task for things I haven't said. Complete train wreck? Because I'm saying that they wasted a bunch of money filling holes that didn't exist while leaving other holes unfilled? It's not a great team, but it's certainly better than last year (which I would characterize as a complete train wreck).

What makes you think this is the Cubs strategy? It may be the end result, but it doesn't mean it's their goal, nor does it mean that we should assume the worst doom and gloom scenarios if the team ends up with 83-win talent.


To some extent, I think it was their strategy. I don't think the Cubs would have been nearly this aggressive this offseason if there was a clear favorite in the division. But with the Central largely up for grabs among St. Louis, Houston, and Milwaukee, the Cubs decided they'd take a shot as well. And I think watching an 83-win Cardinals team hoist the World Series trophy only solidified that strategy for them - you don't have to build a great team, just a good enough team, and then hope for the best.

OTOH, I won't simply assume that every potential pitfall will occur, every veteran will be unproductive and/or injured, and every decent young player will be pushed aside simply because it's happened before. Yes, it has, but this is also the same team that -- over the same 30 years -- has pushed aside veteran stiffs to make room for Sammy Sosa, Mark Grace, Ryne Sandberg, Carlos Zambrano, and Kerry Wood (to name but a few) and gotten surprising seasons out of Jerome Walton, Mike Bielecki, Rick Wilkins, and Joe Borowski.

So you're taking Sandberg, Grace, and Sosa as the shining examples of position player growth here? Sosa's the most recent, and he came to the Cubs in 1992 and pushed aside... no veteran stiff, given that he played in only 69 games that year. The starter in 1992 was Andre Dawson, who was 37, in the last year of his contract, and pretty clearly on his last legs. The other starting OFs were Doug Dascenzo and Derrick May, who was all of 23. In 1993, the starting OFs were May, Dwight Smith (29), and Sosa, with only 36-year-old Candy Maldonado on the bench as a real alternative. Grace pushed aside, not a veteran stiff, but another youngster in Palmeiro. Sandberg... well, if your best example happened 25 years ago, then you're not making much of a point.

(And Kerry Wood was the most heralded Cub prospect maybe of our lifetimes (at least until Mark Prior came along). They would make room for him just like they did for Corey Patterson, and just like they will for Felix Pie. It's the perk that comes with being the top prospect.)

---------------------------

As for me assuming the worst, stop already. How did you manage to drag this from my complaining about Floyd pushing Murton out of a job to my predicting that "every potential pitfall will occur, every veteran will be unproductive and/or injured", etc.? I may not be optimistic about this season, but stop making me out to be some doomsaying ninny who sits at home in the dark dreaming up ways that things will go wrong this year.

As far as I can tell, these are the possible issues I've pointed out:

(1) Floyd is displacing Murton, which is a waste of a good young player
(2) Hill may be bumped from the rotation if everyone is healthy
(3) The Cubs have put together a $120M payroll but still have a team with problems because Hendry doesn't seem to have much of a master plan

Lock me up and throw away the key for making such insane observations. Better put me on suicide watch while you're at it, because I'm clearly depressed about this season's prospects. Every possible pitfall and every unproductive and injured veteran will all converge on the team this year to create a vortex of suck from which wins cannot escape. I said that, right? It's in #1 or, wait, #2? #3? Oh, between the lines. Yeah, that's where you found it.

In other words, enough already with the "UCCF as doomsayer" nonsense. It got instantly old.
   50. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: January 29, 2007 at 07:59 PM (#2288433)
I'm not talking about ceilings. I'm talking about trade value -- on January 29, 2007. We're talking about a young CF, a top prospect since the day he was drafted and now established in MLB since 2003, with 1600 PAs of (.289/.329/.451), plus speed, and plus defense . . . and you think that his trade value is equal to a kid who has spent a little over a season largely as a part time LFer with no speed and shaky defense?

Boy, you just glossed right over that 18 months lost to injury, didn't you? He missed an entire season, plus half of the next one. How's it going to affect him long term? He had serious arm surgery - will that hurt his defensive value? Will it make him change his swing in the long run? He also had serious knee surgery - what effect will that have on his speed? His defense?

He came back and put together half of a good season. I'd want to see another full season before sticking him back up on the pedestal where you (and probably Rays fans everywhere) apparenly have him. But I'd never give up full value for a guy coming off of that much missed time unless I knew there weren't going to be any lingering ill effects.
   51. Biscuit_pants Posted: January 29, 2007 at 08:38 PM (#2288462)
I may not be optimistic about this season, but stop making me out to be some doomsaying ninny who sits at home in the dark dreaming up ways that things will go wrong this year.
you do tend to assume worse case scenario when you evaluate the team more than a best case scenario.
   52. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: January 29, 2007 at 08:49 PM (#2288474)
I think everyone is missing the obvious...Hendry is planning on diving into the Helton sweepstakes.

Then the Cubs will play Helton at 1st, obviously. Lee will have to go to third. Ramirez can probably play RF, we can move Jones to 2nd (his noodle arm will be less of an issue there). Play Soriano at CF and move Murton to short (keeping Izturis on the bench as a late innings defensive sub.) That will give us the following lineup:

Soriano CF
Murton SS
Lee 2B
Helton 1B
Ramirez RF
Floyd LF
Barret C
Jones 2B

Won't that be sweet!
   53. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: January 29, 2007 at 09:01 PM (#2288486)
I just don't believe it's altogether fair or healthy to constantly have a tone and attitude as if the team is a complete train wreck.

--Again, you're taking me to task for things I haven't said. Complete train wreck? Because I'm saying that they wasted a bunch of money filling holes that didn't exist while leaving other holes unfilled? It's not a great team, but it's certainly better than last year (which I would characterize as a complete train wreck).


Oh, come on. You really think you're not a doom and gloom pessimist, assuming the worst of every move and situation? You have *got* to be kidding me. No, I don't believe you've ever used the words "complete train wreck," but do you recall any of your posts over the last few years?

Let's take a stroll down Memory Lane and take a look at some the Cubs threads during just this offseason:

* January 15, 2007: "If you look at the players the Cubs are bringing in - Lilly, Marquis, Soriano, Derosa, Ward, Cotts - they're not going to be able to turn this team around alone."

* December 20, 2006: "If I'm Murton, I pray I get traded this offseason. The Cubs are going to create for him the reputation that he has to be platooned, and that's the sort of thing that can haunt a player for his entire career whether or not it's true.

And do we really think Floyd is coming for just one year? Murton's looking at limited playing time for the next 2-3 years in all likelihood."

"What more does a young player have to do to get a chance with this team? Is Hendry in the mindset that playing Cedeno and Murton last year was the reason the team lost 97 games and finished in last place, so he's not going to make the mistake of trusting playing time to youngsters again? All this lip service paid to Murton's "development" - does Hendry honestly think that Murton will develop better sitting on the bench most of the time?

I really hoped this kind of ######## would end when Baker left, but apparently the problem went higher than that."

* December 10, 2006: "And the team may be GREATLY improved, but it's not IMPROVED to the POINT of being a PLAYOFF CONTENDER."

* November 13, 2006: "Zero chance. Unless they go payroll crazy in the offseason and just start adding the best players (Soriano to 2B, Zito or Schmidt to the rotation plus that second Japanese pitcher, Igawa I believe), there are still too many problems."

"If they go 81-81, they should consider it a very successful season."

* October 31, 2006: "[Jones's] trade value will never be higher than it is right now. I know it opens another hole, but if the Cubs would just accept they're not going to be contenders in 2007 that's not a big problem."

* October 13, 2006 (Responding in the "A World Series in 2007 . . . Realistic?" thread): "I haven't read anything in this thread, but...

Not realistic. They won't make the playoffs, and .500 would be a major accomplishment.

And if they cling to the delusion that they'll contend next year, they'll only make moves that hurt the team in the long run."

* October 2, 2006: "The Cubs are in terrible shape and should prioritize half a dozen things (at least) well ahead of pursuing a corner OF bat."

* October 1, 2006: "The thing that worried me about today's press conference was MacDonough saying he expects the Cubs to be contenders next year, and to win the World Series in the near future.

Maybe that's just public relations BS, the kind of thing he has to say. But if he really believes it, then I think we're in trouble. There has to be someone in that organization who can step back, look at what happened this year, and say 'let's not worry about shooting for 2007. Let's plan for the future.'"

Yeah, you're a real Pollyanna.
   54. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: January 29, 2007 at 09:10 PM (#2288495)
What makes you think this is the Cubs strategy? It may be the end result, but it doesn't mean it's their goal, nor does it mean that we should assume the worst doom and gloom scenarios if the team ends up with 83-win talent.

-- To some extent, I think it was their strategy. I don't think the Cubs would have been nearly this aggressive this offseason if there was a clear favorite in the division. But with the Central largely up for grabs among St. Louis, Houston, and Milwaukee, the Cubs decided they'd take a shot as well. And I think watching an 83-win Cardinals team hoist the World Series trophy only solidified that strategy for them - you don't have to build a great team, just a good enough team, and then hope for the best.


I'm not sure that I expressed my question clearly enough. I agree that it's the Cubs strategy to push for a playoff berth, particularly given the lack of strength in the division. I don't believe anyone denies that and team management has explicitly said it.

My question was what makes you think that it is the Cubs plan to only make themselves "just a good enough team" <b>and stop there<b>? As much as I doubt Jim Hendry's capabilities and have questioned the Tribune's motives at times, I've never thought that they only wanted to assemble talent that would get them a decent shot to make the playoffs.

As I said, it's their explicit goal to win the World Series and I think they sincerely believe that. It may very well be true that they have not assembled WS-level talent, but it is also possible -- likely, even -- that we haven't seen 100% of Hendry's master plan. (Gosh, I hope he has one, even though I trust that it is a bad one.)

Put another way, Hendry may believe he needs 10 things to make the team a perennial WS contender. Perhaps by Opening Day, he'll have crossed only 4 off that list. It doesn't mean that he won't continue to try to improve and that he's only interested in squeaking into the playoffs.
   55. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: January 29, 2007 at 09:23 PM (#2288506)
OTOH, I won't simply assume that every potential pitfall will occur, every veteran will be unproductive and/or injured, and every decent young player will be pushed aside simply because it's happened before. Yes, it has, but this is also the same team that -- over the same 30 years -- has pushed aside veteran stiffs to make room for Sammy Sosa, Mark Grace, Ryne Sandberg, Carlos Zambrano, and Kerry Wood (to name but a few) and gotten surprising seasons out of Jerome Walton, Mike Bielecki, Rick Wilkins, and Joe Borowski.

-- So you're taking Sandberg, Grace, and Sosa as the shining examples of position player growth here?


Is it possible that you might get just one of my points, or am I speaking Portuguese?

Sosa was acquired for George Bell, remember? One example of the team moving a (somewhat) big name veteran for a kid still trying to break in.

When Grace and Palmeiro were MLB ready, both were called up. The team didn't keep trotting out Leon Durham until these guys were in their late 20s. The same could be said about Shawon Dunston, for that matter -- they didn't keep Larry Bowa any more than was absolutely necessary.

When the Cubs made the Sandberg deal, it was their primary intention not to acquire Bowa, but to acquire a young prospect that the team could build around.

Yes, it happened 25 years ago, but *you* were the one who said they've been doing the same thing for 30 years.

Yes, I realize these instances are too few. Still, while the Cubs have blocked everyone from B (Roosevelt Brown) to Z (Julio Zuleta) and have acquired any number of veteran stiffs who didn't work out. Again -- my point is that although the Cubs have made some horrible decisions through the years, it isn't healthy to simply assume that every future decision will be ill-advised and/or turn out badly . . . such as, for instance, to assume that Murton will get no playing time. You may be right, but can we at least keep the jury out until Opening Day before we call Lou Piniella a fraud who poops his pants?
   56. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: January 29, 2007 at 09:26 PM (#2288508)
Boy, you just glossed right over that 18 months lost to injury, didn't you? He missed an entire season, plus half of the next one. How's it going to affect him long term? He had serious arm surgery - will that hurt his defensive value? Will it make him change his swing in the long run? He also had serious knee surgery - what effect will that have on his speed? His defense?

He came back and put together half of a good season. I'd want to see another full season before sticking him back up on the pedestal where you (and probably Rays fans everywhere) apparently have him. But I'd never give up full value for a guy coming off of that much missed time unless I knew there weren't going to be any lingering ill effects.


I'm going to follow up on my earlier suggestion and ask those in the other forums if they would rather have Murton or Baldelli. I'll report answers here.
   57. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: January 29, 2007 at 09:38 PM (#2288517)
Yeah, you're a real Pollyanna.

You're being a real jackass right about now.

Absolutely nothing is accomplished by taking quotes out of context from four months worth of threads, not to mention that most of them do nothing to prove your point, whatever it is. Hell, take the first one, from the 1/15/07 thread. Let's see the whole post from which you so carefully pulled words in hopes of proving something:

The Cubs are hoping that internal improvements push them over the top:

* Prior comes back, if not in his 2003 form then in 12-15 win, 4.25 ERA form
* Lee comes back and puts up a .950 OPS or so
* Pie comes up and plays well in CF
* Miller comes back from injury and gives them good starts in the back of the rotation
* Wood comes back and pitches in relief like he did during the brief time he tried it earlier
* Hill steps up and shows he can pitch like he did in the 2nd half for a full season

If you look at the players the Cubs are bringing in - Lilly, Marquis, Soriano, Derosa, Ward, Cotts - they're not going to be able to turn this team around alone. There's maybe 10-12 wins there over last year, a big chunk of it from the upgrade that Lilly should be over the 2006 rotation. That gets them to about 75 wins, and the rest is going to have to come from returning players and from whatever bounce they get out of hiring Pinella.

If they get half of the things on that list, they've got a chance at 90 wins. If not, they'll scuffle along around .500 barring some really good luck.


You pulled one line out of that and got gloom and doom, utter pessimism, and everything else, and just skipped the rest of it, which isn't pessimistic at all. If the Cubs can get good performances from returning players, they might be a 90 win team, but if they don't they'll probably be a .500 team? Wow, talk about pessimistic.

I'm even going to bother with the rest of the quotes, except to say that they can be divided into two categories:

(1) The Cubs should let Murton play instead of platooning him with Jones/Floyd (whether you agree with me or not, taking that position hardly makes me a gloom and doom pessimist who sees the worst possible outcome from every situation)
(2) The Cubs needed a whole lot of improvement from 2006 to become a contender in 2007

I can't imagine there's anyone around here who would have disagreed with (2) back on 10/1, or even now. I said the Cubs should prioritize things over finding another corner OF - that was hardly controversial, given that both of their starters were returning. On 11/13, I said unless they go payroll crazy they'd have zero chance to contend. Now, flash forward about $300M, and they have a chance. So I was wrong... how? If they hadn't added Soriano and Lilly and the rest of the additions, would you be able to sit there and argue that the Cubs were in good shape for this year just from hoping that internal solutions would fix all of their problems? Of course not.

You're confusing a lack of optimism with pessimism. There's a whole big rainbow in the middle between those two endpoints, and that's where I am. I have no idea why is bothers you so that I still see problems with this team, but again: enough already.
   58. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: January 29, 2007 at 09:49 PM (#2288526)
Is it possible that you might get just one of my points, or am I speaking Portuguese?

You might as well be speaking Portugese, for all the sense you've made in this thread.

I'm going to follow up on my earlier suggestion and ask those in the other forums if they would rather have Murton or Baldelli. I'll report answers here.

You do that. I'll be all a-tizzy waiting for the results.

On second thought, I think I'll take a little BTF break until the season starts. If I make more posts, you'll just clip them apart, ransom note style, and use them to prove whatever you want. Just write things that you can pretend I said, and use those. It will save us both time.
   59. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: January 29, 2007 at 10:29 PM (#2288550)
On second thought, I think I'll take a little BTF break until the season starts. If I make more posts, you'll just clip them apart, ransom note style, and use them to prove whatever you want.

I'm sorry that I was so abrasive. I just happen to believe that, while I like Murton, he's not as valuable in a deal as Baldelli. I also think that, while it may be the case that he'll get benched too often as Jason Dubois, Julio Zuleta, and many other Cubs had before him, I also figure that it's still January and there are several shoes left to fall.

Why get all worked up right now? If it turns out that, by May, we see that Murton is getting ass-splinters (your term, I believe), we'll have plenty of chances at that point to lay into Lou Piniella. I'm sure we'll be doing it for other reasons anyway. I just figure that he should at least be considered "innocent until proven guilty," so to speak.

I think we agree that although the team was wretched, they have improved -- I don't know how much -- and that they have a chance to make the playoffs and, if so, the World Series. I don't understand, however, why you've questioned the Tribune's motives, accusing them of merely wanting to build a team that is "just good enough" to make the playoffs and not more. I don't know how you substantiate this.

Beyond that, you also opined, albeit hyperbolically, that the organization has operated in the same manner for the last 30 years. I responded to the hyperbole by pointing to specific examples in which they broke their modus operandi, and in doing so got us into another relatively trivial debate that's really neither here nor there at this point.

Why does your skepticism bother me? I don't know -- that's a good question. Perhaps it's because I like you, respect your knowledge of the team and sport, and care about your opinion. No doubt part of it is due to the fact that until last year, I saw myself getting too worked up and frustrated about the state of the team, realize it hasn't been all that healthy for me or for BTF, and figure that if I can head off my frustration until events actually pan out, I would be better off. I'm guessing the same could be said about many others in BTF.

Either way, I apologize.
   60. dcsmyth1 Posted: January 29, 2007 at 11:09 PM (#2288603)
===="I just want him off to clear up the OF logjam."

Why is having 4 starting-quality OFers a negative? To me, all it means is that they are pretty-well covered in case of injury, and can take advantage of platooning.

Why not platoon Murton with Floyd/Jones, if that is the best way to optimize production? Why do the "owe" anything to Murton? If I'm the Cubs, I'm not real concerned with "developing" Murton, since he is pretty well developed as it is, and since he doesn't project to be a big star anyway.
   61. dcsmyth1 Posted: January 29, 2007 at 11:50 PM (#2288628)
The same thing with the pitchers. Why complain that they have 6 starters, and so the one who is squeezed out (Hill?) might not be the most deserving. The recent articles on rotations show that the inherent instability should give ample opportunity for the #6 man (Hill?) and even #7 (probably Guzman) to contribute. I've seen the stats of J Marquis, and I'm suitably skeptical of him...but I'd rather see him get the first shot over raw 'prospects' like Marmol and Mateo.
   62. Andere Richtingen Posted: January 30, 2007 at 01:25 AM (#2288702)
Why is having 4 starting-quality OFers a negative? To me, all it means is that they are pretty-well covered in case of injury, and can take advantage of platooning.

I think this is more true in this case than some give credit, but it isn't necessarily true. The obvious case is one where the fourth best on that list takes playing time away from one of the other three.

But the problem here isn't that simple. It's that there are four starting OF, and really, they are only qualified to play two of the three OF positions, and nothing else.
   63. david coonce Posted: January 30, 2007 at 03:11 AM (#2288782)
Nobody has mentioned who takes over at second when DeRosa flops. I mean, his season last year was an incredible fluke, and with his age and history he's not likely to repeat. It doesn't mean he's a bad signing - a good utility guy is hard to find - but I think his offense is going to be poor and his glove at second won't keep him there. At that point do the Cubs go to Theriot or Cedeno, or look outside the org?
   64. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: January 30, 2007 at 04:21 AM (#2288809)
Nobody has mentioned who takes over at second when DeRosa flops. I mean, his season last year was an incredible fluke, and with his age and history he's not likely to repeat. It doesn't mean he's a bad signing - a good utility guy is hard to find - but I think his offense is going to be poor and his glove at second won't keep him there. At that point do the Cubs go to Theriot or Cedeno, or look outside the org?

I think the Cubs need not worry about a dearth of middle infielders.
   65. Walt Davis Posted: January 30, 2007 at 06:14 AM (#2288845)
why you've questioned the Tribune's motives, accusing them of merely wanting to build a team that is "just good enough" to make the playoffs and not more. I don't know how you substantiate this.

The entire history of the Tribune's ownership with the possible exception of the 84 team? Since the Trib took over, the Cubs have topped 90 wins twice (84 and 89) and of course had back-to-back winning seasons once -- that's a pretty good indicator of an organisation which isn't dedicated to building truly talented, consistent winners (and/or complete organisational incompetence). It's always possible that after last year's embarassment and the desire to sell the team, they've changed their tune (though last year's embarassment was no worse than 2002, 2000, 1999, or 1997). But yeah, 25 seasons suggests an organisational pattern to me.

Why is having 4 starting-quality OFers a negative? To me, all it means is that they are pretty-well covered in case of injury, and can take advantage of platooning.

Why not platoon Murton with Floyd/Jones, if that is the best way to optimize production? Why do the "owe" anything to Murton? If I'm the Cubs, I'm not real concerned with "developing" Murton, since he is pretty well developed as it is, and since he doesn't project to be a big star anyway.


1. This is the best plan for 2007 given the personnel on the team. It is not a good plan for 2008 and beyond. And it's a waste of resources in 2007.

2. The upgrade from Murton/Jones to Murton/Jones/Floyd is minimal and (potentially) expensive. That money would be better spent filling other holes.

3. It forces Soriano to CF which he may or may not handle. True, he might have ended up there anyway.

4. The Cubs have a long history of using overpriced declining veterans instead of giving young players a chance which usually hasn't improved their short-term performance (a reasonably likely outcome with the Floyd signing) and certainly not their long-term performance, and this has all the earmarks of another such move.

As to the rotation ... oh sure, over the season, all these guys will get plenty of starts. The chances of Miller & Prior (much less all 6 of those guys) being healthy at the same time is low. The main problem is, yet again, wasting damn good money on Marquis, when he's not an upgrade on the AAAA pitchers, instead of addressing a real need. And under the scenario that all 6 are healthy, it will be the younger guy, possibly the 3rd best starter, who I think will suffer.

In short, the Cubs should get every start out of Rich Hill this year that they can; they've created a situation where it's possible that a healthy Hill will lose starts to Marquis/Miller.

And I'm sorry, unless Marquis sucks to Russ Ortiz type levels, he's gonna be in the rotation all year if healthy.
   66. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: January 30, 2007 at 06:52 AM (#2288853)
Since the Trib took over, the Cubs have topped 90 wins twice (84 and 89) and of course had back-to-back winning seasons once -- that's a pretty good indicator of an organisation which isn't dedicated to building truly talented, consistent winners (and/or complete organisational incompetence).

I guess what I'm saying is the failure to put together a perennial contender doesn't necessarily mean that the organization -- past or present -- doesn't have perennial contention as a goal. To me, the last 25+ years evidences an organization that has simply lacked the ability to plan effectively and commit to that plan. Instead, the organization has generally looked for the short-term quick fix.

I do think that they would like to be a consistent World Series quality team, but they don't have much of a clue how to get there other than to patch up the leaks from the previous season. They obviously have other priorities as well -- marketing and PR chief among them -- but I just think it's pretty cynical (and in this case wrong) to feel that the Cubs are only interested in putting together 85-90 win teams that occasionally make the playoffs.
   67. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: January 30, 2007 at 07:00 AM (#2288855)
One analogy (probably a lousy one) might be to look at Neifi Perez and conclude that he has no interest in being a consistent .300 hitter because he's never done it. There is a difference between desire and ability.
   68. david coonce Posted: January 30, 2007 at 02:45 PM (#2288924)
And I'm sorry, unless Marquis sucks to Russ Ortiz type levels, he's gonna be in the rotation all year if healthy.

Ummm - hate to bring this up, but have you looked at Marquis' numbers from last year? He's pretty much in Russ Ortiz territory now - and moving to a better hitter's park than he's been in.
To refresh: Jason Marquis 2006
194 IP, 312 baserunners allowed, 88 extra-base hits allowed, including 35 homeruns and an astounding ten triples, 130 earned runs allowed (for an e.r.a. of 6.02), the ba/obp/slg% against him: 289/364/509. That means the average hitter against Marquis last year was Pat Burrell, circa 2005. Pat Burrell was really good that year. And Marquis' splits in 2006 were even - righties lit him up to the same percentages as lefties.
In short, this was an historically bad season, made historical by the baffling decision to give him 194 innings, Surely the Cards had someone better in their system? People - specifically GMs and baseball media - overvalue by an absurd amount the value of an "innings-eater." What's the value in pitching a lot of innings at such a terrible level? I'm sure Glendon Rusch and Jerome Williams could "eat up innings" too, and for a much cheaper payday, but nobody's clamoring to see them back on the mound for the Cubs. I won't even mention that Marshall or Hill, given 200 innings, would almost certainly do better than this. For a team that doesn't really have a center fielder or leadoff hitter, spending 7 mil on a fifth starter who almost certainly won't make it through the season in the rotation seems foolish and wasteful - an inefficient use of resources, to say the least.
   69. Walt Davis Posted: January 31, 2007 at 07:18 PM (#2289402)
I do think that they would like to be a consistent World Series quality team, but they don't have much of a clue how to get there other than to patch up the leaks from the previous season. They obviously have other priorities as well -- marketing and PR chief among them -- but I just think it's pretty cynical (and in this case wrong) to feel that the Cubs are only interested in putting together 85-90 win teams that occasionally make the playoffs.

And how do you substantiate that? Historically, the Cubs have been cheap for a team with their resources -- until this season, the Trib has never committed the financial resources for even good quick fixes. They've never signed the major FAs, they've regularly brought in mediocre, rather than good, players to paper over cracks. What actions have the Tribune taken during their ownership that lead you to think they've been trying to win it all (almost) every year?

I have 25 years of actual decisions to support my belief. Do you have anything other than faith and some PR to support yours?

It's possible you're correct and they've tried to build WS-quality teams for 25 years -- and have failed miserably at it with the possible exception of 84. As I said, it could be constant and thorough organizational incompetence. Such incompetence would give us more, not less, reason to be realistic (pessimistic in your view) about this year's team. I'll grant you, given the shape of the Trib Corp as a whole, constant and thorough organisational incompetence is a real possibility. It doesn't provide me much comfort if they have a history of trying hard but having no idea what they're doing.

Ummm - hate to bring this up, but have you looked at Marquis' numbers from last year? He's pretty much in Russ Ortiz territory now

Amazingly enough, he has to get 10% worse by ERA+ to reach Ortiz. Even moreso by other standards -- Marquis's WHIP was an unhealthy but not spectacularly bad 1.5; Ortiz's were around 2 in the end.

And there's no reason to believe that was Marquis's true talent -- of course it's possible that, like Ortiz, he has fallen off the cliff.

And perhaps most importantly, the Cubs clearly don't think he's fallen into that territory. Heck, they clearly think he's reasonably valuable. The D-Backs signed Ortiz to a big contract but he was coming off consistently pretty good seasons at the time. The Cubs looked at Marquis's numbers, listened to Rothschild and decided Marquis was a reasonably valuable piece of their rotation. It will take a huge amount of sucking for them to give up on him (and $20 M). Marquis is defnitely capable of it but he's more likely capable of carrying an ERA in the 5-5.50 range.

But mark my words. Let's say it's the end of May. All 6 starters are healthy. Marquis is carrying an ERA of 6.20 and Hill one of 4.50 ... Marquis will get the starts.

In short, you can't have any faith in the idea that Marquis can pitch like last year and he'll be removed from the rotation when the Cubs looked at those same numbers and signed him for 3/$20. The idiots who signed him are the same people who decide whether he pitches. Why would you expect them to act rationally in June/July when they didn't in December? If he sucks for the entire season, then they might just eat the contract.

(Note, even after Ortiz sucked in 2005, the DBacks still trotted him out in 2006. Teams take a lot of convincing before they'll eat that much money.)
   70. Spahn Insane Posted: January 31, 2007 at 07:31 PM (#2289413)
I didn't realize you were being hypertechnical, but I also didn't realize that there was a team batting crown that required 3.1 PA/gm. Then again, I did nit pick, so I guess I deserve it. I'm not sure if I deserved your snark, though.

I don't think applying the same PA/G standard to team batting average leadership that one applies to league batting average leadership is "hypertechnical." I also didn't think UCCF's response was particularly snarky. FWIW.
   71. Spahn Insane Posted: January 31, 2007 at 07:41 PM (#2289422)
That incentive-laden contract is a big flashing neon sign: Floyd is going to play.

Couldn't one argue that it's therefore in the team's interest NOT to maximize his PT (especially if he doesn't do well in whatever PT he gets)--both financially and to avoid having his '08 option vest?

I'm familiar with your argument that "The Cubs will want Floyd to reach his incentives so they won't be known as the organization that signs players to incentive-laden deals and then keep them from making them." I don't find that argument persuasive in the least in this particular instance, because (1) Floyd is exactly the type of player who should expect to be signed to an incentive-laden deal (wrong side of 30, injury-prone, coming off a year in which he was both injured and a subpar performer), (2) even if the Cubs are known as The Team That Signed Cliff Floyd to an Incentive-Laden Deal and Then Gave More PAs to Matt Murton, they'll also be known as The Team that Gave 3 Guaranteed Years and 20 Feckin' Million Dollars to a Pitcher Coming off a 6.02 ERA (to say nothing of the other FA contracts doled out this winter).

Look--Floyd, when healthy, is a capable bat. The incentives are in there, in part, because if he's even healthy enough to reach his incentives (a big if, given his history), he's likely to be worth the total amount he gets. I do not think the Cubs view getting Floyd sufficient PAs to vest his option and pay him the maximum amount as an organizational goal.
   72. Spahn Insane Posted: January 31, 2007 at 08:49 PM (#2289456)
Where is have to watch him is bullpen usage. he likes to go with the hot hand. Unless he has a strong pitching coach, Lou can burn out his best reliever by June.

Fortunately for the Cubs, the bullpen's the one area where they've got some depth. (Well, that and one of the OF corners.) Really, any of Dempster, Wood, Howry, Wuertz or Eyre could end up being the Cubs' best reliever this year.
   73. Spahn Insane Posted: January 31, 2007 at 09:14 PM (#2289470)
You may be right, but can we at least keep the jury out until Opening Day before we call Lou Piniella a fraud who poops his pants?

You know, no matter how often I read it, that particular turn of phrase never gets old, and never ceases to make me smirk. I suppose I'm actually five years old at heart.
   74. Spahn Insane Posted: January 31, 2007 at 09:20 PM (#2289473)
Nobody has mentioned who takes over at second when DeRosa flops. I mean, his season last year was an incredible fluke, and with his age and history he's not likely to repeat. It doesn't mean he's a bad signing - a good utility guy is hard to find - but I think his offense is going to be poor and his glove at second won't keep him there. At that point do the Cubs go to Theriot or Cedeno, or look outside the org?

Or move Soriano to second, and either stick Jones in center (if he's still around) or call up Pie.

And as another poster said--the Cubs have 10 billion potential second base candidates anyway.
   75. Spahn Insane Posted: January 31, 2007 at 09:23 PM (#2289475)
It's always possible that after last year's embarassment and the desire to sell the team, they've changed their tune (though last year's embarassment was no worse than 2002, 2000, 1999, or 1997).

Yes it was. The W-L record was about the same, but the seasons you mentioned weren't on the heels of what was supposed to be a budding perennial contender after the tease of '03 and the near-miss of '04. And they were not accompanied by anything like the level of fan discontent that clearly registered on TribCo's radar last year.
   76. Walt Davis Posted: February 01, 2007 at 08:07 AM (#2289820)
Yes it was. The W-L record was about the same, but the seasons you mentioned weren't on the heels of what was supposed to be a budding perennial contender after the tease of '03 and the near-miss of '04.

Says who? The 1999 team was off the heels of the "magical" 1998 team -- you might recall Sosa hitting a few HRs, Wood's 20 K game, and the thrilling 1-game playoff to win the WC ... an event the Cubs treated as if it was the 7th game of the WS. You don't think there were expectations coming into 99?

The 2002 team followed the 88-win 2001 team again led by Wood and Sosa. That's as many wins as the 2003 team had though obviously expectations weren't as high coming into 2002.

The 2006 team was coming off a sub-500 2005 team, a team that featured a great season from Lee but also possibly the worst OF in baseball.

I don't think the fans got pissed because the team didn't meet expectations in 2006, those were pretty low -- the Cubs made no significant offseason additions last year. The fans got pissed because the Cubs didn't make any major offseason additions then refused to make even the simplest traditional scapegoating moves when the team struggled. The fans were happy to let them scapegoat Sosa then Patterson, but it was high time the manager was fired but the Cubs sat on their hands. Also, their offense stank, not a Wrigley fan-pleasing move.

I'm not questioning that fans were more pissed last year than previous debacles. I'm questioning what the #### took them so long.

And despite all that anger, the attendance was 3.1 million. That's a little MORE than 2005. Only 47,000 less than 2004. MORE than 2003.

It's quite a mystery why the Trib hasn't invested the resources to build a consistent winner.
   77. Spahn Insane Posted: February 01, 2007 at 07:04 PM (#2290110)
Says who? The 1999 team was off the heels of the "magical" 1998 team -- you might recall Sosa hitting a few HRs, Wood's 20 K game, and the thrilling 1-game playoff to win the WC ... an event the Cubs treated as if it was the 7th game of the WS. You don't think there were expectations coming into 99?

Not nearly on the level of post-03/04, no. The '98 Cubs were a fluke, Wood and Sosa's heroics notwithstanding, and I think most people knew it. They were not a young team, the pitching staff wasn't particularly strong, and they barely squeaked into the postseason anyway. The '03 team had the best starting pitching in baseball, and Patterson, etc. apparently on the upswing. THe '04 team was even more talented. The system appeared replete with young pitching talent, which bore the promise of perennial contention. There is no way the expectations for the post-98 bunch were in any way comparable to those for the post-04 teams, nor should there have been.

And despite all that anger, the attendance was 3.1 million. That's a little MORE than 2005. Only 47,000 less than 2004. MORE than 2003.

Yes, but those figures are based on tickets sold, not bodies through the turnstiles. The Cubs probably sold 3 million tickets before opening day last year. As we all know from the copious empty seats from August onward, there's no way there were more bodies in the seats than in those other seasons. (That attendance was lower in '03 isn't surprising; attendance boosts tend to be year-after-title phenomena.)

I don't think the fans got pissed because the team didn't meet expectations in 2006, those were pretty low -- the Cubs made no significant offseason additions last year. The fans got pissed because the Cubs didn't make any major offseason additions then refused to make even the simplest traditional scapegoating moves when the team struggled.

The latter point is clearly true; I disagree with the former. Though the team made no significant changes in '06, there's no way the expectations for that team were in line with what actually happened. You think your average Cub fan saw the team finishing last, behind even the sad-sack and/or cheap Pirates and Reds last year?
   78. Walt Davis Posted: February 02, 2007 at 08:54 PM (#2290899)
Though the team made no significant changes in '06, there's no way the expectations for that team were in line with what actually happened.

Of course not, but anyone who expected that team to play substantially above 500 was a bit nuts. And 500-ish teams tanking happens all the time.

You GREATLY oversell the talent of the 03-04 Cubs though I'll agree that the 05 expectations were quite high (though you coveniently forget the scapegoating and trade of Sosa following 2004 and of course your typical Cub fan knew absolutely squat about their supposed minor-league talent).

Haven't looked at it closely this year, but still not a very talented team and probably only 500ish in terms of true talent. By breaking the bank, I assume they've raised fan expectation.

By the way, doesn't really matter how many fans show up, matters how much ticket revenue is produced.
   79. Dandy Little Glove Man Posted: February 03, 2007 at 04:20 AM (#2291154)
The '03 team had the best starting pitching in baseball, and Patterson, etc. apparently on the upswing. THe '04 team was even more talented.

You GREATLY oversell the talent of the 03-04 Cubs though I'll agree that the 05 expectations were quite high


Well, the 2003 team didn't have the best starting pitching in baseball -- 36 horrendous starts from Shawn Estes, Juan Cruz, and Sergio Mitre prevented such an accomplishment -- but it did have the best top 3 guys and perhaps the best top 4. The 2004 team was outstanding, and it certainly had the best starting pitching in the league. Zambrano, Wood, Prior, Clement, Maddux, and Rusch combined for 153 starts, and the lowest ERA+ among them was 113. The team ERA+ was the highest in baseball at 118. The bench had some lousy hitters, but Ramon Martinez was the only offensive liability in the starting lineup. The Cubs were 9th in baseball in OPS, and their pythag record was 94-68 (5 games better than the actual record). I don't see how you could claim that the 2004 team was not especially talented and/or overrated. The free agent losses of Clement and Alou, injuries to Wood and Nomar, and Patterson's sudden regression contributed heavily to the 2005 descent from excellence to mediocrity.

On a separate note, has anyone checked out the PECOTA projections? PECOTA loves Eric Patterson (293/358/479), Felix Pie (288/342/480), and Scott Moore (267/344/487). Conversely, it hates Ronny Cedeno (270/307/400), Ryan Theriot (272/331/360), and Cesar Izturis (277/329/357). I thought this was worth mentioning somewhere.
   80. greenback needs a ride, not ammo Posted: February 04, 2007 at 09:15 PM (#2291807)
Having just read the news that Prior might be sent to Iowa...

And there's no reason to believe that was Marquis's true talent -- of course it's possible that, like Ortiz, he has fallen off the cliff.

At the risk of being accused of being hypertechnical, there is a reason to think 2006 was indicative of his true talent. Marquis is effectively a one-pitch pitcher, nothing besides a fastball, and he lost a couple MPH off that pitch in 2006.
   81. BreakOut Posted: February 05, 2007 at 09:46 PM (#2292382)
It's Miller time, baby. Fifteen wins in 2007.

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