Dealing With Strengths

Right now, few things are likely to be much further from the mind than the state of our starting pitching, which presently represents a definite strength. But by this time next year things could easily have changed, and the front office needs to be looking very closely at the future of our rotation, showing some foresight for once. Just so we're clear, Cubbies, as to what's meant by "foresight", this is not it... "Look, it's Monday July 25th 2005, we're 50-48, four and a half games out of a wild card race in which we're running fifth out of seven teams. We've placed Kerry Wood on the disabled list today after he left his last start with stiffness in his right shoulder, which has been troubling him all year, and which we now know will at some stage require surgery to correct the problem. But, damn it, Neifi hit a grand slam against the Cardinals on national television last night, we can still do this, we can still win the World Series! Oh my, I've just had a fine foresightful idea: how about we delay Wood's surgery until August 31st and use him as a middle reliever in the meantime?!" The company line has recently become that no one should count on Wood being ready for Opening Day. May heads roll. The increasing likelihood that Wood will not be ready in time for the start of the season is particularly significant because Wood is entering the final guaranteed year of his contract, and he needs a big season to make the Cubs' big decision a little easier: we hold a $13.5m option on Wood for 2007 versus a $3m buyout that would make him a free agent. It's entirely plausible that Wood will not have that big year, especially if he returns with the season already underway, hitters in their stride, without a proper Spring Training. So it's also entirely plausible that Wood won't be back in 2007, much as it pains me to say it when talking about such a ridiculously talented pitcher with time still on his side. Trouble is, Kerry Wood's not the only possible departee. Greg Maddux's deal is now entering its final year, and he probably shouldn't be re-signed, at least not to pitch. He eats his innings, but he's no longer the pitcher he once was, and he'll turn 41 within the first fortnight of the 2007 season. Glendon Rusch meanwhile, if he hasn't been traded, may well have pitched himself out of the rotation anyway. So this time next year, it's entirely possible that our starting pitching will consist of Zambrano and Prior, assuming good health, and three pitchers to be named later. Hendry needs to be alive to the possibility. Acquiring pitching via free agency has become prohibitively expensive. Before, next April rolls around, major league baseball teams will in the space of two offseasons have committed in the region of $600m to the following twenty free agent starting pitchers: Pedro Martinez, Roger Clemens, AJ Burnett, Kevin Millwood, Matt Clement, Jarrod Washburn, Brad Radke, Jon Lieber, Derek Lowe, Jeff Weaver, Paul Byrd, Esteban Loaiza, Kris Benson, Carl Pavano, Odalis Perez, Matt Morris, Kenny Rogers, Jaret Wright, Eric Milton and Russ Ortiz. And I'd only consider the first two bona-fide top of the rotation aces. At nearly $30m each for these twenty, the market is well established, and it's simply not worth getting involved with, which is why teams are already trying to ditch these contracts in spite of them scarcely being a year old! The Cubs, thankfully, have been able to avoid forking out such crazy money (Maddux perhaps aside) by virtue of drafting and developing their own young pitching. This is a far, far more cost-effective way of doing things, and it's given the Cubs a huge advantage over the last few years that they've spectacularly managed to squander. But if there's one thing that the Cubs shouldn't take from their recent failures, it's that they've got their pitching priorities wrong. Far from it, and that's why, especially with Zambrano and Prior starting to earn the big buck, if or when the Cubs have pitching holes to fill in 2007, they should look to fill them using the minor league system, using young, cheap pitchers. Spend the money on the offence. As of right now, with Andy Sisco, Ricky Nolasco, Renyel Pinto and Sergio Mitre recently gone for good, the Cubs are down to five young pitchers that are viable options for the 2007 rotation: Jerome Williams, Rich Hill, Angel Guzman, Sean Marshall and Jae-Kuk Ryu. It is possible that top prospect Mark Pawelek will fly through the system far quicker than expected, but his mechanical issues make that unlikely. It's possible that Carlos Marmol will continue with his giant leaps and bounds, but it would be a lot to ask. It's possible that Chadd Blasko and Billy Petrick will come back strong from injury, picking up where they left off in 2003 and 2004 respectively, but that's optimistic. And it's possible that someone completely off the radar, like Rich Hill last year, will break out and put his name forward, but don't hold your breath. Realistically, at this stage, it comes down to the first five names: Williams, Hill, Guzman, Marshall and Ryu. With potentially three spots to fill in 2007, even though these young pitchers could fetch a ransom with the widespread need for pitching, and could net us the right right fielder, Hendry needs to be conscious of our own need for pitching, in 2007, and balance that with our need for offence in 2006. In other words, it's not worth the Cubs using The Five to pay for a hitter that's not really going to make that much of an impact. You know, in the same way it wasn't worth using The Eight to pay for Juan Pierre.



Speaking of impact hitter Arizona Phil yesterday was. And I agree: the Cubs should extend Derrek Lee this winter. I see the chances of Lee walking away after another fine year in 2006 as too high, and the consequences of that - the hostile fan reaction, the price and difficulty that would come with replacing him - as too dangerous. That said, I think a deal for Lee such as the one Arizona Phil was proposing is just as dangerous. So here's the pretty complicated new contract I propose the Cubs try to get Lee to sign this winter... In 2006, a guaranteed $13m, a $3.5m improvement or so on what he's owed for 2006 under the terms of his current deal. From 2007-09, a guaranteed $7m per year, with another $2m per year if he reaches 550 plate appearances, another $3m bonus for each top ten placing in NL MVP voting, another $3m bonus for each top three placing (such that a top three placing would earn him $6m in total). A $15m mutual option for 2010 versus a $3m buyout. Finally, a full no-trade clause up until the end of the 2007 season, and the right to block a trade to, say, five teams of his choice thereafter. In total, the deal could be worth anywhere between $37m/4yrs and $73m/5yrs. I did warn you it was pretty complicated. [UPDATE: Trying to build in protection against injury is somewhat superfluous because of the existence of such a thing as insurance, it now occurs to me. Duh! Given also that Lee's recent health history is as good as they come, I'd have little problem guaranteeing the money tied to plate appearances, as such taking the guaranteed money up to $43m/4yrs.] Why might Lee jump at it? Well, he can boost his 2006 salary here and now, and so start reaping the rewards of his superb 2005 right away, which he'd otherwise have to postpone until free agency. He also guarantees himself a very considerable amount of guaranteed money from 2007-09, money that he could quite easily never see if he pushes for free agency but succumbs to injury or has a terrible year in 2006. At the same time though, Lee isn't having to give up on a big pay day for the sake of immediate long-term financial security: this deal allows him to earn $15m a year every time he puts up MVP calibre numbers over a full season, which is roughly what he'd be looking at via free agency based on recent deals given to Konerko, Delgado and Thome. Neither is he completely giving up on the idea of ever seeing free agency, since the deal only ties him to the Cubs through his age 33 season. At that point, if he wanted, he could decline his half of the mutual option and try to get a another big contract on the free agent market. Finally, by signing this contract now, Lee shows loyalty to the Cubs and the city of Chicago, doesn't portray himself as a free agent mercenary, and he can book himself a nice long break in the Caribbean next winter rather than worrying about where his next home will be, where his next paycheck's coming from. Why should the Cubs jump at it? The Cubs show the same loyalty to Lee, they commit to him in advance and they offer him a no-trade clause. But the real key to this particular deal for the Cubs is that has its own built-in insurance. If Derrek Lee was for real in 2005, and Lee rattles off .300/.400/.600 seasons over the next few years, he gets paid accordingly, up to $73m/5yrs. But there's also the very realistic possibility that Lee reverts back to his old .270/.370/.500 self, that he gets injured, that he simply declines with age. Because a lot of the money in the deal is tied up in bonuses and the option, such that Lee would end up with no more than the equivalent of a $27.5m/3yr [UPDATE: $33.5m/3yr) free agent deal from, say, the Dodgers next winter if he were to go Todd Hundley on us, the Cubs can avoid a good chunk of the bad contract-ness. That's still actually better than Lee's current deal, and an awful lot of money, a bad contract still to be sure. Not that Lee's agent is likely to see things that way, maybe arguing that his client can get a much more guaranteed money if he just holds out for free agency. That though would raise the interesting contradiction that Lee trusts his ability to stay healthy and to hit for one year (long enough to get to free agency), but not for three or four. In that case, why should any team, presumably less subjectively bullish than Lee himself as to his career prospects, make him any kind of long-term big-money commitment? In other words, if Lee rejects this kind of deal on the grounds that there isn't enough guaranteed money involved, he's forsaking loyalty and earning his corn for the possibility of financially exploiting the sheer stupidity that strikes other General Managers when the free agent market gets in motion. Greed. I really don't think that that's what Lee's about, which is why I'd offer him this deal, confident that he'd like it, but if it is what he's about, he's probably not what the Cubs really need anyway. No, if that is what he's all about, maybe what we need is some non-tendered Hee Seop Choi! Well, maybe not. I rant and I rave at you these days, Jim, but credit where credit's due, great trade.
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Comments

I agree with John Hill, I have been saying it all winter long, the Cubs need starting pitching, and badly. John Hill mentioned in his blog that we can probably only count on Zambrano and Prior, Prior was hurt last year, so you still have questions on his status, Zambrano, well this guy wants to win wants to pitch and will even do this hurt. He had nagging injuries last year but shrugged them off. JIM HENDRY..... WE NEED A COUPLE OF BONIFIDE STARTING PITCHERS FOR 2006 OR THIS CUB FAN AND THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS MORE WILL BE SITTING IN US CELLULAR FIELD NEXT YEAR INSTEAD OF WRIGLEY.

Finally, someone pointing out the elephant in the room. This is a rotation of ifs-
If Z keeps his head...
If Prior remains healthy...
If Wood can remains healthy...
If Maddux does not get worse...
If Hill is ready for the majors...
All this and no RFer also. Looking good for 2006 Hendry.
With the Cubs luck all those Wood and Prior are healthy all year, and then Z will go down. That's more likely than any playoff talk.

Please, please, PLEASE, don't play the greed card on Lee. If Derrek Lee wants to explore his market value for 2007, that is his collectively bargained right, and I wouldn't blame him a bit.

Besides, with their financial resources, the Cubs should be exactly the team that so-called greedy players break down the door to join.

If the Cubs want to sign Lee now, they need to overcome the lure of free agency with a lucrative deal, not with the threat of insults of greed should he decline to take an offer that limits his income.

The company line has recently become that no one should count on Wood being ready for Opening Day. May heads roll.

John only implied it, but it should be repeated with emphasis: When the Cubs moved Kerry Wood to relief last summer, rather than directly to the DL, it was because they openly stated that nothing Wood could do in limited use would make his arm worse or delay his recovery in any way.

Just to be clear on this, Jerry and jacos, I didn't actually say anything specifically about the 2006 rotation besides that it "presently represents a definite strength".

It is though implied that if you keep enough of the just about major league ready young arms around with an eye on 2007, they do conveniently provide depth for 2006.

Yes, there are a lot of ifs and question marks when it comes to our rotation, but the Cubs are still in a very good position relative to most other teams when it comes to starting pitching. Most teams would kill to have Zambrano and Prior and be asking "will Zambrano keep his head?" and "will Prior suffer another freak injury this year?".

deJesusFreak, for the record, the Cubs did actually place Kerry Wood on the disabled list, but later re-activated him so that he could pitch out of the bullpen.

I agree that the best way to fill starting pitching needs is through the minor leagues, but I think we are going to have to acquire at least one bonafide starting pitcher before 2007 either through free agency or trades.

The likelihood that three of the Five pan out into legitimate starting pitchers seems very low (esp. given the Cubs track record) while the likelihood that Maddux, Rusch, and to a lesser extent Wood are all washed up as starters seems comparatively higher. In my mind, a starting pitcher will have to be had somewhere, and I like AZ Phil's idea of snatching Jason Jennings better than paying out the wazoo for Millwood.

Interestingly enough, the Cubs apparently told the Rockies that they are looking to keep Todd Wellemeyer for the time being which surprises me (and Rotoworld) as I thought he'd be one of the first pitchers dealt. Perhaps they are looking to let him compete for that fifth rotation spot?

Wellemeyer is probably the best example of an annoyingly persistent and detrimental tendency the Cubs have had in the last few years: trying to use minor league starters as major league relievers. As has been discussed here before, that is, in my opinion, a disastrous idea that has had disastrous results, and in my mind, bears a large share of the responsibility of why our minor leaguers have disappointed. Although Wellemeyer is now out of options, the Cubs should try to acquire another starter for 2006, and put the Five in the AAA rotation and leave them there. A full season of facing capable talent and of consistent routine would do wonders in giving two or three of the Five a chance at the rotation in 2007.

"they openly stated that nothing Wood could do in limited use would make his arm worse or delay his recovery in any way."

You're right, nothing Wood could do would delay his recovery...except not having his surgery right away.

Stevens--"Please, please, PLEASE, don't play the greed card on Lee. If Derrek Lee wants to explore his market value for 2007, that is his collectively bargained right, and I wouldn't blame him a bit."If the Cubs want to sign Lee now, they need to overcome the lure of free agency with a lucrative deal, not with the threat of insults of greed should he decline to take an offer that limits his income."

Firstly, the point is that it would only limit his income if he were injured and/or ineffective. And even in that instance, he'd still be getting quite a bit, the Cubs still assuming a good deal of risk. A great deal more than he'd get if, like, say, Nomar, he held out for free agency and then hurt his Achilles, and then his groin, and ended up with discount one-year deals.

If Lee's confident enough in his own ability to hit like he did in 2005 and stay healthy, then this offer pays him, probably more than he'd be able to get via free agency. This deal is in effect equivalent to $51.5m/3yrs or $63.5m/4yrs via free agency next year if Lee stays at his 2005 levels. That's a pretty fantastic deal, making him among the best paid players in the game and giving him another shot at free agency.

But if Lee's not confident in his ability to hit like he did in 2005 and stay healthy, then why should any team be confident in his ability to hit like he did in 2005 and stay healthy, and pay him accordingly? Let's face it, he'd be relying on the stupidity of other general managers, and he'd be doing so purely for the money. Sure, that's his right, as has become the way of the game and the way of America and a lot of the Western world as a whole, that all that matters is the money, and that the ends justify the means, but let's not pretend that doesn't say something about Lee.

Finally, to be clear, I went to pains to point out that personally I don't think Lee is greedy.

"...WE NEED A COUPLE OF BONIFIDE STARTING PITCHERS FOR 2006 OR THIS CUB FAN AND THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS MORE WILL BE SITTING IN US CELLULAR FIELD NEXT YEAR INSTEAD OF WRIGLEY."

I doubt that. Bandwagon jumping if the Cubs don't get raped on a Millwood contract?
Also, why does practically everyone act as if Williams isn't a real pitcher or a viable option. He's pretty good now with quite a bit of room for improvement... and 23 years old. Getting Jerome for Hawkins was a great move, one of Hendry's best.

"JIM HENDRY..... WE NEED A COUPLE OF BONIFIDE STARTING PITCHERS FOR 2006 OR THIS CUB FAN AND THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS MORE WILL BE SITTING IN US CELLULAR FIELD NEXT YEAR INSTEAD OF WRIGLEY."

IF this is the case, and if we start to express ourselves by not showing up next year, and if we actually have the intestinal fortitude to not fill the park every day regardless of the product on the field, then MAYBE the Tribune will get the message.

I personally am as guilty as anyone of going despite the flaws. I huck down my money at the beginning of the year for my season tickets, and I go, mostly because I love baseball. I have Sox tickets also, and go to games there as well. I sell of tickets and give away tickets. But unless we, the Cubs fans, stop showing up and start making our voices heard with real dollars, rather than internet posts, the Trib won't change it practices, Hendry/McPhail won't change their MO, and we will continue to see management take actions that are focused on generating specific results (sell-outs, maximize revenue, etc.) rather than activities that are truly focused on making this a winning baseball team. Sometimes the two are the same, but usually when the latter is the focus, the former is a side benefit. When the former is the focus, the latter is usually not a side benefit.

I am serious guys, I have had just about enough of Kerry Wood, in his injuries. Prior almost the same. Maddux age. I wished the Cubs had half of the White Sox starting pitchers. The Cubs and Jim Hendry will go into the 2006 season with broken Wood, Prior lingering injuries, and a handful of kids trying to jump into a major league rotation without AAA or very little. JIM HENDRY WAKE UP. If the Cubs go into the 2006 season with the lineup they have right now (with the additions of Howry, Eyre, Mabry, Pierre) they will not improve on the 2005 4th place finish.

"Prior lingering injuries"

What injuries does he have now? I agree with the rest of your points, that we have a lot of ? but isn't Prior healthy?

I'm more concerned about 3/4/5 than 1/2.

"Let's face it, he'd be relying on the stupidity of other general managers, and he'd be doing so purely for the money. Sure, that's his right, as has become the way of the game and the way of America and a lot of the Western world as a whole, that all that matters is the money, and that the ends justify the means, but let's not pretend that doesn't say something about Lee."

It says - the highest bidder wins, what else is new. Really, the same would happen if baseball was booming entertainment anywhere in the world, not just North America. The difference is that mid-eastern countries are barely even interested in feeding their people, let alone doing anything to offer them entertainment.

Erm, what do "mid-eastern countries", whatever they are, have to do with anything? If I'm criticising the fact that baseball, like America and the Western world as a whole, has become obsessed with money to the extent that it doesn't matter one bit whether it's rightfully earnt or otherwise, who or where it comes from, just as long as you get as much of it as you can, forget absolutely everything else, what's the relevance of saying "yeh, but, mid-eastern countries don't care if their people starve"?

Who is Lee's agent? Tell me its not Boras.

Since this seems to be the "live" thread of the day, I have an observation on Jim Hendry's penchant for mid-contract player free agent options, the subject of John Hill's (and 433's) other post today:

I think Hendry is philospohically against long-term contracts of any sort. I believe Hendry uses these mid-contract FA options precisely for the reason that he can offer and sign a player to a five-year deal, knowing that more often than not it will become a three-year deal.

Moreover, these clauses avoid player contract disputes mid-term: If the player in Year 3 believes he is "worth more" than what the contract will pay him, he has the ability to walk away and not kvetch or complain to management. I think Hendry's reasoning is that while the "market" in Year 3 might value this player more than the contract is worth, there is a decent, nontrivial chance that the "market" will be wrong and that this player will underperform his Cub contract in Years 4 and 5. As a result, letting this player "walk" after Year 3 is not necessarily a bad thing.

There is of course the risk of the player not exercising the option and the result of the Cubs "overpaying" in years 4 and 5. But if the structure of the deal results in "underpaying" for years 1-3, then that might not be such a bad pill to swallow. Moreover, you could structure a deal with a combination of player and club options that provide the type of flexibility that Hendry wants.

If I were the Cubs GM, I would be as creative with options as possible. To the Cubs, paying a few extra million dollars a year to buy out an option or slightly overpay a reasonably productive player for two seasons should not affect our ability to compete. Of the Cubs's $100 million payroll, they can afford $10 million of what my father would call "mad money".

The company line has recently become that no one should count on Wood being ready for Opening Day. May heads roll.

That's the problem in a nutshell. Heads don't roll in this organization. There is no accountability. If there were, Andy MacPhail would have been fired years ago.

David G: I think there's plenty of accountability, but it has nothing to do with baseball performance. The trib's coffers have to be overflowing from Cubs-related revenue during MacPhail's tenure.

John your contract fantasy is the dumbest thing I ever heard on Derrek Lee. You don't understand the one basic fact that every player looks at. Careers are short, cash in while you can.

Why would Derrek Lee even consider a deal that could cost him 20-30 million dollars if he gets injured when he could sign with another team for guarnteed money? Come on John, that is an insulting offer to Lee and a freaking joke. If he is offered a deal like that he walks in a hearbeat.

You want Derrek Lee to stay a Cub? You pay him top dollar just like every other 1b man in baseball, with guaranteed money.

No agent worth his salt is going to advise his client to sign a deal as stupid as that.

Stevens--"You cannot construct a deal and claim that if Lee rejects it, he will be greedy and then say that you don't think Lee is greedy."

Sure I can, if Lee I state that Lee would only be being greedy if he rejected it for a very specific reason (he wants all the money to be guaranteed), and if I state that I don't believe that Lee would reject the deal for that specific reason, both of which I did.

Stevens--"His health isn't guaranteed, regardless of his self confidence. He can have all the confidence in the world, but that doesn't mean anything. Confidence won't stop a fastball to the head or a basepath collision or anything else from taking away his health and a significant chunk of his income."

I appreciate that, but is Lee not capable of appreciating the interests of the club he's playing for, as opposed to just his own, and realising that if he's injured or otherwise ineffective he doesn't deserve to be earning $15m a year, or whatever? And it's not as though under the terms of the contract he'd be financially crippled. There's a guaranteed $7m a year in the deal. He can probably just about afford to feed his family with that.

Stevens--"And general managers should surely not be relying on a Lee's level of self-confidence in their contract decisions. That whole argument is silly."

Of course it's silly, which is why I never made such an argument. All I said was that a team's evalutation of a player's abilities is almost invariably lower than the player's own self-evaluation. As such, if a player doesn't rate his own chances of playing really well and staying healthy, then it's unlikely that his team will, since theoretically at least has less bias and ego involved in its appraisal.

"But according to your argument, if Lee had confidence in himself, he would sign with the Cubs. So the only way other teams would be interested is if they couldn't sign him?"

Mainly because I have no idea what you're actually trying to say with that sentence, I'm pretty sure that's not my argument at all.

"If the Cubs want to spare themselves that negotiation, they simply have to make a worthwhile offer to Lee, one devoid of any silly threats like "if you were confident in your ability, you'd sign with us" or "if you don't sign with us, you're greedy."

They're not threats at all. They're observations of contradictions by someone that's not involved in the negotiations. That entire paragraph is so far removed from what I originally wrote that it's not even worth me addressing it directly. All I'll say is that I never argued that the Cubs should emotionally blackmail Lee by taunting him in the most childish manner possible, which is what you've inexplicably written in the above amounts to.

I think it's interesting to mention something here in re the DLee conversation. One of the things, JHill, you seemed to be talking around but not stating is Loyalty. Both a team's and fans' loyalty to its players, and the players' loyalty to the team and the fans. One of the things that has frustrated me off and on for years is the Cubs seeming lack of loyalty to the players. Examples: not paying Greg Maddux after ('89, was it?) he had a break out year, and not paying Mark Grace after he had dedicated his whole lifetime .300/gold glove career to this city and this team. (It did make me terribly happy, by the way, since it couldn't be the cubs, that Grace did indeed get his WS ring that year)

As for the players' side, yes, it usually is about the money, but there are exceptions of remarkable loyalty to teams. It was one of the B's, or maybe both Bagwell and Biggio, I don't recall, that restructured their contracts a few years back to help the team and because they were happy there. See also what Chipper Jones did this year.

Point being, I love the idea of players and teams showing loyalty to each other, and the fans. But someone (in my opinion, the team) needs to step forward, make a show of good faith, and throw a little extra on the table for one of their own good players. I think DLee is the perfect current example of this. He's been awesome for the cubs, and shows signs of continuing that. He's not going to put up MVP nos. every year (most likely), so waiting till this upcoming summer would be prudent. But I say definitely offer him a 5yr deal or so, and look him in the eye, and tell him he's one of 2-3 guys we're building our future around.

Something else that affects that loyalty I mentioned? Promoting from within. Yes, trading for talent is awesome (ARam, DLee) but how much fun is it (or would it be) to bring a guy up through the system that your team drafted, see him do well, and then pay him what he's worth? And then, because you did right by him, see him do right by you, financially, if needed to help the team win (or better yet, keep winning)?

This discussion, which is trending toward pitting "greed" vs. against a "hometown discount" is missing one important component of an extension for Lee -- the possibility of endorsements in the Chicago market.

Chicago tends to overwhelm its favorite Cub players with generosity and goodwill -- Mark Grace, Ryne Sandberg, Ron Santo. After Prior and Z, Derek Lee is the most marketable talent on the team right now (and there may even be some market research out there which shows that everyday position players do better with endorsements than starting pitchers).

It may be that these potential endorsement earnings do not appeal to Lee. But a reasonably long-term deal with the Cubs today can translate to years and years of future earnings down the road that he would not have if he signs with Toronto or Anaheim in 2007.

John, mid-eastern countries? The middle east? Does the abbreviation not work for you?
It has to do with Lee being a baseball player who's busted his ass for years and earned his payday. The same would go ANYWHERE in the world that had lucrative sports franchises. Not just because it's in the western world, whatever that is. The players would, more often than not, take the most money they can get. It's entirely relevant. It's human nature. It's not unique to the western world.
Don't act like you're not a believer in taxation without representation!

John, thank you for your response. It was almost thorough, though a little belittling. To your points:

is Lee not capable of appreciating the interests of the club he's playing for, as opposed to just his own, and realising that if he's injured or otherwise ineffective he doesn't deserve to be earning $15m a year, or whatever? And it's not as though under the terms of the contract he'd be financially crippled. There's a guaranteed $7m a year in the deal. He can probably just about afford to feed his family with that.

Entertainment contracts are not about need. Derrek Lee should be paid what he's worth, not what he needs to feed people. He can feed his family on a hell of a lot worse salary than 7 mil. I feed mine on considerably less. But I'm not generating revenue for the Trib co. based on people wanting to watch my performance. Lee deserves to receive his share of that revenue, which is his free agent market value, which is considerably higher than 7 mil.

The Cubs should provide a fair offer, as they did with Furcal, and watch Lee walk away if he can receive a better one, sparing us all the assessments of his person as being great with greed, as you described him if he were to reject your offer.

All I'll say is that I never argued that the Cubs should emotionally blackmail Lee by taunting him in the most childish manner possible, which is what you've inexplicably written in the above amounts to.

What you said amounts to Lee being greedy as well as showing a lack of confidence if he rejected your offer. That sounds like emotional blackmail to me. And that's why I asked you not to play the greed card. It is a tired, old sports radio trick.

DC Tom,

I think only national endorsement money is enough to interest these guys now. If the Cubs were good and in the postseason a few years in a row, you might see some of these guys become media stars. Sosa was the last Cub to really break nationally and it took the '98 drug induced homer derby with McGwire to do it. Then following that up with one of the most absurd string of seasons in baseball history.

But Tru-Link Fence and Z Frank Chevrolet can't pay guys making 10s of millions of dollars enough to make it worth their while to do all but a quick radio spot on the field - something that takes a few minutes and doesn't inconvenience them in any way.

MIKEC:
"Why would Derrek Lee even consider a deal that could cost him 20-30 million dollars if he gets injured when he could sign with another team for guarnteed money?"

I can't agree more....

Mike, Why have we started agreeing a lot this offseason? I think I am coming to the dark side or just have finally opened my eyes about Hendry. :)

Anyways, why would one of the top players in the NL take a contract that might only guarentee him $37/4 years??? WHY??? So he gets a raise this year, but then gets a pay cut teh rest of the years. Players compareable to him are getting guarenteed $15 million per year, but Lee should settle for maybe less than $10 million. You can throw all teh incentives in there you want, it is guarenteed dollars that is what matters.

I think some people live in fantasy worlds when coming up with trade proposals and contracts here on blogs. Even AZ Phil's contract the other day was way short of what Lee should agree to (especially in years), but at least much more realistic.

Like MIKEC said Lee's agent would be an idiot to let Lee take that deal. Even offering something like that would be such a slap in the face, it might just make up Lee's mind not to come back for sure.

Too little guranteed money. You're going to be surprised at the base salary Lee will command--and he deserves it.

Like I said before, 14 million base over 5 years is a good starting point and lowball offer.

Well I see that a little schooling is in need for some of you Cub fans:
Can you name...........
1-The last Cub 1st baseman to lead the league in any category, before Derrik Lee.
2-Now lets go to second base, can you name me The last Cub to lead the league in any category.
3-Shortstop-can you name me The last Cub to lead the league in any category.
4-Thirdbase-can you name me The last Cub to lead the league in any category.
5-Catcher-can you name me The last Cub to lead the league in any category.
6-Outfield-can you name me The last Cub to lead the league in any category, before Sosa.
7-Pitching-can you name me The last Cub to lead the league in any category, before Sosa.

The list is goes onward.........When you think about it, the reasons for the Cubs lack of post season play, it basically revolves around the players they put on the field everyday, every year. All the way back to when P.K. Wrigley owned the team to this day. Don't want to spend the money of the guys who can really get you there, but take the less than avarage players or has-beens with hopes of a miracle on Clark and Addison.

Sorry guys I got carried away with the copy and paste on my las post, Sosa wasn't a pitcher.

I agree with MikeC, Manny and others above that say DLee should make as much as he can while he can. And I'm what most people would call a Socialist. But that ain't the reality of the marketplace DLee's dwelling in. Did the Tribune give him a penny more than was stipulated in his contract when he won the batting title? No. So why should he spend one day of his life working for less than he's worth?

1. Grace, doubles in a season
2. Sandberg, home runs for 2nd baseman
3. Dunston, errors : )
4. Santo, attempts to reach hall of fame
5. Hartnett, most homers in the gloamin'
6. Dawson, homers in his MVP year (I think)
7. Pitching before Sosa? You got me there!

: )

Don't assume Maddux will be gone in 2007. IF he has
no decline this year AND the Cubs are decent my guess is he will stay but for a fraction of the 9 Million
Maddux has said he does not care if he is 5th starter
as long as he can contribute. I think it is more likely than
not he can be effective 5th starter in 2007 . It won't be
about money, it will about if he can pitch and how
good the Cubs are. Trust me he does NOT like to move
around. I do think he needs to kick up his physical regimen. I am kind of hoping Mike Maddux is working on him in the off season.

If Maddux can keep an e.r.a. around 4 and pitch
200 plus innings in 2007, he will be a lot more reliable
than what we would otherwise have in five spot

Jessica

"I appreciate that, but is Lee not capable of appreciating the interests of the club he's playing for, as opposed to just his own, and realising that if he's injured or otherwise ineffective he doesn't deserve to be earning $15m a year, or whatever? And it's not as though under the terms of the contract he'd be financially crippled. There's a guaranteed $7m a year in the deal. He can probably just about afford to feed his family with that."

Well - that's just not a realistic view of the world, or the baseball economic landscape.

If you want Lee to walk, make your best offer to him one that is significantly less valuable than the remainder of the market offers. Make it less guaranteed money than Anaheim, NY, Baltimore, Boston, Detroit, etc. will give him. Don't give him more than Paul Konerko got from the Sox and you can be assured that he will take his loyalty (and his bat and glove) elsewhere. That's just the way it is.

But on the bright side, that would just free up more payroll for Hendry to use to go out and get whatever guys who would play here under the terms of the contracts and offers that the Cubs seem to like to make. So, more mid-tier players, fewer stars...great...

Just wait until Prior and Zambrano start negotiating and the team puts out starting discussions around 3/30, while the players know they can get 5/70 on the open market. That ought to go over pretty poorly.

"Don't assume Maddux will be gone in 2007. IF he has no decline this year AND the Cubs are decent my guess is he will stay but for a fraction of the 9 Million"

He has had some decline each year for the past 4 years. Any assumption based on that trend not continuing is ignoring the realities.

And any assumption that Maddux will take significantly reduced money is also flawed. Greg has always shown that he does things on principle - and one of those principles is that he won't take significantly less money just to be somewhere. He didn't do that in 1993, and he didn't do it in 2004. Maddux could go to AZ or CA and be much closer to home for more money. He could do a lot of things. If the Trib's plan is to keep a 40+ year old consistently declining Greg Maddux as a 5th starter at some cheap rate, it will make me lose a lot of faith in the highly touted farm system we have that was so rich in SP.

IMHO, this will be Greg's last year with the team.

I can see Maddux sticking around in 2007 if everybody agrees that he's there as the #5 starter. I would hope that the 2007 rotation would be:

Zambrano
Prior
Williams
Hill or Guzman
Maddux

I just don't see paying Wood $13M, and if he becomes a FA some idiot owner is going to pay him $17M. Wood isn't Greg Maddux who we let go after winning the Cy Young... he hasn't proven that he can stay injury-free to deserve that kind of money.

Quick, which would you rather have for the same total salary:
a) Kerry Wood and Jose Macias
b) Miguel Tejada and Glendon Rusch

I would rather the Cubs keep Corey Patterson and platoon him in rightfield with one of Jim Hendry's has-beens/if's and spend the money on a bonfide starting pitcher or two.

MikeC--"You don't understand the one basic fact that every player looks at. Careers are short, cash in while you can."

I understand that perfectly well. Which is exactly why Derrek Lee would be taking an extremely big risk if he knocks back this kind of an offer and holds out for free agency. Here he's got a guaranteed $37m on the table no matter what happens, $27.5m more than he's currently guaranteed. I'd call that cashing in.

Sure, he could wait until next year and get maybe double that completely guaranteed, but that's conditional upon him repeating his 2005 next year. What if he suffers a career-ending or career-threatening injury in 2006? Or what if he goes back to hitting .270/.370/.500 as though last year never happened? What if he has a real down year, doesn't even hit that? Let's look at some scenarios...

The most probable scenario, assuming the Cubs don't extend him this winter, I think is that Lee hits something like .280/.380/.550 in 2006, he plays everyday, and he goes to free agency and gets about $50m over five years, and that's essentially his last contract (he'd be 36 when such a deal ended). Factor in the $9.5m he makes from the Cubs in 2005 and let's call it $60m.

Now, obviously, $37m is significantly less. But I think the most probable scenario under my contract proposal, with Lee reaching 550 plate appearances, say, three times ($6m), and having one or two more big years that see him place in MVP voting (perhaps because of reputation more than anything else, but let's say $3m), involves Lee earning nearer $45-50m. Then, after the Cubs decline his option for 2009, he becomes a free agent (having just turned 34), and gets a two year deal that, in total, takes him to around about the $55-60m mark. Not really much of a home-town discount at all.

The worst case scenario for Lee if he pushes for free agency sees him getting just $9.5m the rest of his career after something career-ending happens to him in 2006. Worst case scenario if he signs the contract extension is the $37m.

The best case scenario for Lee if he pushes for free agency is he gets his $9.5m for an absolutely mammoth 2006 season, he goes to free agency and gets a six-year deal worth $90m or so from some crazy team. And that's his last contract. The best case scenario under my deal is that he picks up $58m over the first four years of the deal, is still one of the best players in the game, so opts out having just turned 34 and some crazy team gives him more than the $32m (over 3 years, say) that he needs to come out ahead.

The only situation in which he doesn't come out ahead is if he suffers a career-ending blow after 2006. If he pushes for free agency, he'll already have his big guaranteed contract at that stage, plus $9.5m from 2006. If he re-signs with the Cubs this winter, he's limited to just the $37m plus whatever bonuses he could amass before the injury. Obviously that sucks for him, I guess. But it'd suck even more for the Cubs if he signed a massive fully guaranteed extension and then went Darren Dreifort on us. If Lee doesn't care about that, and cares just about his own interests and mkaing as much money as he can screw everyone else, then screw him, he's walking, too bad.

X,
I am concerned with 1/2/3/4/5, not just 3/4/5.

" Don't want to spend the money of the guys who can really get you there, but take the less than avarage players or has-beens with hopes of a miracle on Clark and Addison."

I agree - and I'll take it one step further. It's not about creating a miracle - it is about making money. Adding a big-time impact player is much less important than meximizing revenues. If the addition of a 60mm contract doesn't project to add 60mm + the cost of capital over the life of the deal + a profit, it is not an investment that the Trib will make. It's just that simple.

Some owners are driven to win. Some owners are driven to entertain the fans. Some love to own a MLB team. Others are merely in it for the money. The Cubs ownership, being a publicly owned corporation, has a fine focus on profitability and no focus on winning.

The company line has recently become that no one should count on Wood being ready for Opening Day. May heads roll.

I'm not sure I understand this. I wouldn't count on Wood being ready for opening day even if he had been 100% healthy last year. That's the nature of the player. If Wood goes 24-3 with a 1.55 ERA next year I wouldn't count on him for 2007. Injuries are always going to be a threat with Wood, and if you don't go into the season with a back-up plan you are foolish.

In addition, given the pitching injuries the last two years I think the Cubs should want extra insurance. If we are going to lose next year, I want it to at least be in a new and creative way.

All I'll say is that I never argued that the Cubs should emotionally blackmail Lee by taunting him in the most childish manner possible, which is what you've inexplicably written in the above amounts to.

Then you should rephrase your piece, John, because that's exactly how you come across.

John

I think it would be great if contracts were design like you say, with about have the money performance realter, and half guaraunteed. But it only takes one GM to say, 'I'll gaurantee all the $,' or 'I'll offer a 7 year contract.' I'd compare your scenario with the Matt Leinart situation last year. The common consensus was 'Gee, i guess hes a good guy for staying, but hes crazy not to take the money.'

I looked at Lee and Konerkos stats, and they're virtually identiacl. The only thing that jumped out at me was Lees carrerr Ks 995, Konerko's Ks are 609. So Lee strikes out significantly more. As far as baserunning and defense, Lee is definatley superior, but contracts are based much more on quantifiable stats (offense) than defense or baserunning. Im not saying thats right, but just the way it is.

The Cubs have done a good job of keeping contracts short. Heck, 4 years ago theyd only give Sammy 4 years. Now they offered Furcal 5, so I guess maybe they will have to offer Lee 5. I think lee will get a little more than Konerko, for 3 reasons. First Lee is a little better, IMHO. Second, Konerko had a little more $ on the table from Balt and Anaheim. Finally, it will be a little later, so there wil be a bit of 'contract inflation.'

My final prediction -- 5 years $66M.

Stevens--"Derrek Lee should be paid what he's worth, not what he needs to feed people."

I absolutely agree. I also happen to think that a perenially injured Derrek Lee, or just a .270/.370/.500 Derrek Lee, wouldn't be worth $15m to the Cubs. I think Derrek Lee would acknowledge as much too.

If a person only cares about money, and he doesn't care how he gets, where it comes from or whether he deserves it, what would you think of him?

"What you said amounts to Lee being greedy as well as showing a lack of confidence if he rejected your offer. That sounds like emotional blackmail to me."

What I said, or at least what I meant, is that if Lee rejects my kind of offer out of hand on principle because it wasn't fully guaranteed, because he wants more money and doesn't particularly care whether it's deserved or otherwise, that'd be greed. Never at any stage whatsoever did I say that the Cubs should try and use my assessment of Lee's possible motives in their negotiations to slander him into accepting something else. If I didn't spell out what I meant clearly enough, apologies, I'm tired and irritated about something else.

Jessica

I think you might be right on about Maddux. I agree with the other poster that Maddux has declined. But he started as a pretty elite, HOF player so to say that he is now (or will be in 2007) a capable #4 or 5 starter would be accurate, IMO.
I dont think Maddux would take less than he makes now for his next contract from the Cubs as a home town discount, but rather as an aknowledgement that he's worth less now than he was three years ago.

I hope that they settle on a 1 yr $4-5M contract for 2007. If he stays trhough 2007, then Maddux would have as many years with the Cubs as with the Braves (11 each). i still hold out hope that he goes to the Hall as a Cub.

X
You could be right about Maddux declining but I think
it is very possible that he won't decline signicantly
(FYI while his tendance to give up homers is a big problem
he gave up 25% FEWER in 2005 than 2004) and still be
a valuable 5th starter

You are however dead wrong about the money. When
Maddux signed with the Braves in 1992 he took
FIVE MILLION LESS ( over 5 years) than the Yankee
offered ( back when 5 million was real money FYI )
He is neither greedy nor a fool and he knows
what the market is. You think he will take a few
million toplay in KC or Tampa? Unlike other Boras
clients he signs on his terms. Would have been
a LOT easier to shop him in 03 if he had not
said that he wasn't interested in ever playing in
the American league or with a non- contending team
( hey even smart guys make mistakes). I am not
saying the Cubs did not pay him very well to
re-sign but it won't be about money in 2007.
Which is not say he would play for league minimum
but if he has say a 15-13 season with an E.R.A of 4.15 then
something like 2 million. More than your standard 5th
starter I grant you but worth it for what you get in my
opinion.

I remember of his sarcastic comments after being told that
Hampton or someone made more than he did the year he
got 14 1/2 million. "Poor me . I will have to go out
and get a 2nd job".

If he is good enough AND the Cubs are good enough, he will
stay

John I am sorry but your living in a fantasy world with this idea and trying to pass it off as something that could actually happen.

Lee isn't being greedy he is only seeking his fair market value like any other normal person would.

John, you seem to have a lot of speculative vitriol over Lee's reaction to a contract offer that doesn't really exist. I admit that I have a lot of speculative defensiveness against said vitriol. No judgment. I just find it kind of funny how worked up we are about an offer and rejection that hasn't happened. Now, again to your points:

I also happen to think that a perenially injured Derrek Lee, or just a .270/.370/.500 Derrek Lee, wouldn't be worth $15m to the Cubs.

I think you're right, but with record revenues MLB is now getting, that player may indeed be worth 15 mil. Who knows? Your point, however, is valid. There's an inherent risk to any free agent contract in that the deal is guaranteed regardless of player performance. But if you're going to tilt at that windmill, you're going to take on the entire Collective Bargaining Agreement and decades of negotiation by the player's union to get where they are, a system where smart GMs can still get a lot of value for their money and teams don't pay extra cash outside a contract.

If a person only cares about money, and he doesn't care how he gets, where it comes from or whether he deserves it, what would you think of him?

I'd think such person would probably be a criminal, in that there's a lot of money out there in pockets and banks that someone who only cared about money and truly had no scruples could easily kill people and steal. I'm exaggerating, of course, but your description is also hyperbolic.

Derrek Lee should take whatever deal that presents the best combination of money, years, location, and intangibles in whatever order is his priority. If guaranteed money is a priority, I don't think there is anything wrong with taking more guaranteed money from another employer. I would do that. If location or something else is a priority, he should go that direction. I don't think Javy Vasquez is greedy, for example, for forcing a trade closer to his home. Nor do I think Derrek Lee would be greedy if he took a deal for more guaranteed money.

Why wouldn't he? Well, the Cubs would have to offer a deal that was more appealing--on the whole--than another club's guaranteed cash. Maybe your deal does that. But if the Cubs couldn't do that, why would he stay? That is, why wouldn't he go where he felt valued most?

im lost.

did lee reject an extenstion or are people flinging greed/hate upon him based on assumed contracts and assumed rejections and assumed values of what it would take to sign him.

no offense...the guy is good, but he's just a 1st baseman and his name isnt pujols. its doubtful hendry's gonna be filling out any contract extentions til he gets RF figured out or some money shifted anyway.

Does anyone see Maddux having a bit of a bounce-back year in 2006 like Glavine had last year? I don't expect it, but wouldn't be surprised if he does. At $4 mil., he might be worth bringing back depending on what other options the team has for 2007.
Also, I think everyone would love to see Greg go to the hall as a Cub, but it's not gonna happen.

John,

While I thought you were dead-on in your appraisal of the Cubs' pitching situation, your description of the market for Lee could not be more off base. This is a guy who was the best player in baseball last year. Moreover, the Cubs definitely have the revenue to pay their best player. The contract you presented would be laughed at by Lee. Even if he came down to earth from his peak season (where he posted a Bondsian 12.3 WARP3) and slid down to something like .270/.370/.500, a player like him is extremely rare in free agency. His speed indicates he'll likely age very well, he's a capable defender, and his downside is about 35 bombs and 80 walks. That sounds like a superstar to me, and start the bidding at a guaranteed 7 years $95 million. I'd be shocked if his dead didn't end up north of $100 million. I have seen his proposed deal compared to the one Pujols received, and that's a joke. The market's completely different.

I'm not certain about this, but if Lee were to be injured during a guaranteed contract, I'm relatively sure insurance would pick up a large amount of the money owed. Doling out these guaranteed contracs isn't as much of a risk as it seems.

In my view, it's best for the Cubs to wait and see if Lee replicates his MVP-caliber season. If he does, whatever they pay him will be worth it. If he doesn't, his price may come off what they would have to pay him in an extension right now. In any case, the Cubs have the money. I wouldn't have a problem signing Lee through his year 35 season personally, and I think Hendry's best plan would be to lock him up at any price. He's clearly the class of next year's free agent market. Lowballing him as you suggest is the worst possible decision to make.

"it only takes one GM to say, 'I'll guarantee all the $,' or 'I'll offer a 7 year contract.' "

Which is exactly why you don't let Lee go to free agency, let other teams bid on Lee, by offering him a deal now while you have exclusive rights. But the trouble with Lee is there's not really a way of knowing his actual value right now, because his 2005 is so out of line with what came before. A career year? A fluke? A breakout? A new baseline? I don't know.

The advantage as far as this kind of deal goes, in my opinion, is that it basically gives him the chance to earn what he deserves. If he's absolutely terrific, he gets paid as such. If he's not, he doesn't. And if he's injured, he gets paid even less. It's performance-related pay. The point is though that, whatever happens, he gets paid, because there's guaranteed money on offer here that won't be on offer again until next year, and a lot can happen in a year. Lee can answer those questions about his actual value, for starters. And he's not going to play himself into more money in the long run than is on offer in this contract. He could easily play himself out of that kind of money.

Suppose that Lee has a really terrible year in 2006, but bounces back in a really big way in 2007-09. Which contract is going to favour him then? The one that he got in free agency coming off a really bad year, or the one that the Cubs offered him that pays $15m for MVP-calibre seasons? The performance related pay works both ways, in Lee's favour potentially as well as the Cubs'.

I'm open to ideas as to how the Cubs can improve this contract offer. But there's just no way that the Cubs should be offering Lee a fully guaranteed contract right now when his value is probably at its highest. Then again, they can't afford to let him have another great year and hit free agency, because they should have absolutely no interest in paying the kind of stupid money it'd require to keep him above and beyond his actual value just because they're competing with other teams. But they should probably be looking to keep him, on that we're all pretty much agreed. A flexible solution is needed then, and I haven't seen anyone else come up with any proposals of their own that are potentially acceptable to both Lee and the Cubs.

One thing I'd probably be open to is guaranteeing the money that's currently dependent upon plate appearances. After all, Lee's proven himself to be supremely healthy over the last few years, you can probably get insurance to cover Lee in case of extremely serious injury, and it'd only $2m per year, not enough to quibble about. That'd shift the contract to $43m/4yrs.

One final thing I feel I need to point out is that you obviously you don't ring Derrek Lee and his agent up, tell them you're looking to extend him, and then fax over the proposition without having spoken at any length about what both sides are looking for in any deal. Some of you are talking as though you think this is what I'm proposing. No, what I'm proposing is that the Cubs work towards offering this kind of a deal.

"i still hold out hope that he goes to the Hall as a Cub. "

I don't think there is ANY chance of this happening.

Wins as a Cub - 124
Wins as a Brave - 194

Losses as a Cub - 101
Losses as a Brave - 88

CY Young as a Cub - 1
Cy Young as a Brave - 3

ERA Titles as a Cub - 0
ERA Titles as a Brave - 5

K:BB Rate Top 5 as a Cub - 2
K:BB Rate Top 5 as a Brave - 8

It goes on and on.

Maddux was a very good Cub at the end of his first stint. Maddux is currently amongst the better 5th starters in baseball. But Greg Maddux DOMINATED with the Braves for his entire career.

If someone has time, split out his ERA/WHIP from the Cubs to the Braves. My guess is that there is at least a full point difference.

Damn Larry Himes

" in 1992 he took FIVE MILLION LESS ( over 5 years) than the Yankee offered "

Maddux has always said he won't play in the AL or in NY. That doesn't mean he is going to give the Cubs any sort of discount. He didn't the first time. He didn't the second time. I see no reason to believe that's in is plan now. Do you?

He's a fine 5th starter. He's probably one of the best 5th starters in the game. The problems are that he is actually our 3rd starter (he's not so good as far as #3s go) and that he is surely going to ask for market value to stay.

You are right - with Greg it has not always been highest dollar bidder wins. But it has always been about respect. And respect, amongst MLB players, Maddux in particular, is about getting what he wants. That's why he left in the first place. That's why he came back.

I'm not certain about this, but if Lee were to be injured during a guaranteed contract, I'm relatively sure insurance would pick up a large amount of the money owed.

I believe contracts longer than 3 years are no longer covered by insurance. You can thank the Orioles and Albert Belle for that one.

Alas no chance he goes in as a Cub but maybe he could
wear a Cub tie or something. I suspect that
Cubs fans will out number Braves fans when the
time comesfor the ceremony ( 2015?) just because
there are so may more of us.

The actual details of how Himes SO pissed him off that
he walked are even beyond those of a stupid
GM ( in the last of the 3 instances he agreed to sign
the Cubs contract in 1992 they failed to even fax it
back by the requested time).

One of my off season pleasures has been playing
a VHS of his first start as Cub in 1986 that a friend
sent me. Got have something to do these days

im hating seeing maddux around, period...much less for 06. he throws 84-85mph now.

yeah, he never threw 95, but he bumped 88-90 pretty easily even up to 02. in 03 he lost velocity and its been steady ever since.

cubs are about to march out a 40 year old 84mph control pitcher and pay him 9m buck backloaded...ugg. i dunno what maddux's plans are after this season, but i hope it doesnt involve the cubs. maybe he can go join former cub jamie moyer in seattle.

"My final prediction -- 5 years $66M."

If that's where they get him, they will either sign him before 2006, or after a 2006 season where he completely regresses to his career averages. Cuz if his numbers are anything like his 2005 numbers in 2006, he is due for a lot more money than that.

The real question is, "Is 2005 Lee the baseline, or an aberration?" That will determine what he will get paid.

Hey Cruch - another big problem is that he has become a 80-85 pitch pitcher. He's a bullpen killer now.

He's a fine 5th starter. But he's a bad 3rd stater for a team with post season aspirations.

Scott de B.: I'm not sure I understand this. I wouldn't count on Wood being ready for opening day even if he had been 100% healthy last year. That's the nature of the player. . . . Injuries are always going to be a threat with Wood, and if you don't go into the season with a back-up plan you are foolish.

You're right, Scott, but I believe you are missing John's point. As I read it, John was saying that the Cubs need to have some foresight, and as an example of *lack* of foresight, he cited the decision to activate Wood off the DL in the hopes of making a wildcard run, oblivious to the fact that it may (and arguably is) make it less likely that Wood will be ready to go on Opening Day of 2006.

No one is saying that they shouldn't have back-up plans; John is simply saying that they need to have an outlook that extends beyond two months.

wasn't it spring 05 when maddux struck out 9 in 4 innings of spring training not throwing a single pitch over 83? If you know pitching, you would realize velocity is only one of the big three---movement and location, mad dog's forte, are what make him great. i couldn't care less if he throws 82 all year, he can still win games.

Himes earned some, but Stanton Cook deserves more vitriol for screwing up the Maddux signing than Himes does. Maddux had agreed to an extension before his last season as a Cub until Cook saw it and took it off the table. That was the story at the time, anyway.

Alex Carnevale--"This is a guy who was the best player in baseball last year."

Yes. It's also a guy that had never come anywhere near close to that prior to last year. And neither of those facts are at all relevant, because what's relevant is what Lee will be able to do for the Cubs, or any other team, over the next few years. So, will he revert to his old form (which is nowhere near "superstar", which is why Lee's last contract, which bought his last year of arbitration and two free agent years, fetched him just $22.5m), will be continue to put up .300/.400/.600 seasons, will be somewhere in between, will he be worse? Maybe if you were able to answer that with any authority then we could actually work towards a deal with a fixed and guaranteed dollar figure in each year. As it is, we can't, at least not safely.

Alex--"I'm not certain about this, but if Lee were to be injured during a guaranteed contract, I'm relatively sure insurance would pick up a large amount of the money owed. Doling out these guaranteed contracs isn't as much of a risk as it seems."

A fair point. Still, you're not going to do your insurance premiums any good if you're claiming on $15m a year contract for any length of time.

Alex--"Lowballing him as you suggest is the worst possible decision to make."

A contract potentially offering $73m/5yrs plus a chance to have another go at free agency after his age 33 season, all without him having to prove in 2006 that his 2005 was real, and it gets dismissed as "lowballing".

Alright, your point is that the guaranteed money is only $43m/4yrs (if I concede the plate appearances money). What then do you suggest would be a suitable base to offer him right now such that he wouldn't be so offended? What, the full $73m/5yrs (or whatever) because you think that a two-tiered contract is completely unworkable?

Maddux

ATL: 164-88, 2.63
CHC: 124-101, 3.53

He's going as a Brave.

Even if the Cubs expressed any interest in bringing him back in 2007, he might give them the finger and say no thanks. Between coming back and seeing 2 (3?) straight horribly under-achieving teams and the spouting that "he might wanna retire, dude" from Dustbag, he's probably seen enough.

"He's a fine 5th starter. But he's a bad 3rd stater for a team with post season aspirations."

with Z, prior, and wood around i wouldnt worry too much unless you wanna assume one is gonna be injured just cuz...well...just cuz. when everyone is healthy, he's a 4th starter...one making 9m bucks.

he's a hell of a replacement 3rd starter.

#26 - "John, thank you for your response. It was almost thorough, though a little belittling. "

Stevens - welcome to the fun of questioning a John Hill post.

Have fun buddy....

X
Absolutely it is about respect but unlike some of us
I think Maddux has a lot of respect for Hendry. Also
trust me on this, HE DOES NOT LIKE TO MOVE AROUND
or reajuct. He is not going to want to find a new team in
07 unless the Cubs are out of contention. So long as
he is offered what he thinks is close to value ( and
the Cubs want him) he stays. He does not go to
another team either for an extra million or to be
closer to home but he wants to win.

What determines if a pitcher is 1st, 2nd ,3rd, 4th or 5th starter?

Stevens--"I believe contracts longer than 3 years are no longer covered by insurance. You can thank the Orioles and Albert Belle for that one."

The Cubs might be able to get around that. Rather than ripping up Lee's old contract and calling it a new four year deal with an option, they could keep the old contract, give Lee the extra 2006 money via a signing bonus, and then call it a three year extension with an option.

"wasn't it spring 05 when maddux struck out 9 in 4 innings of spring training not throwing a single pitch over 83? If you know pitching, you would realize velocity is only one of the big three---movement and location, mad dog's forte, are what make him great. i couldn't care less if he throws 82 all year, he can still win games."

maddux is 40, he throws a 84mph fastball and his breaking stuff is in the high70s-low80s. yeah, he may K a few, but he's also gonna get hit. he's prone to the homer ball. getting hit, prone to the homer, and control pitcher rarely mix well. david wells isnt getting 7/9m a year.

maddux isnt junk, but having 3 years in a row of decline while giving up more solid flyball hits isnt my idea of someone you wanna keep around too long when theyre at age 40.

I feel safe in making the bet that Greg could pitch 200 innings in 2007. I'd really love to see both Hill & Guzman arrive this year and make all of this a moot point, but the Cubs probably won't give either a real shot unless Rusch is getting bombed.

Fair enough Jessica.

"What determines if a pitcher is 1st, 2nd ,3rd, 4th or 5th starter?"

There is no quantification...just rack em and stack em and then argue the nits and nats. In either case, when you rank em, P/Z are 1/2 in some order. Wood is 3. Maddux is 4. Rusch is 5. I don't think there is much debate to that, even though it isn't a scientific term.

Greg isn't what he once was. But he still can pitch in the back of my rotation. That is, provided my front end is solid, my pen can handle it, and I am not paying him much more than 4th or 5th starter money.

Studd

I think the chances of Maddux going to the Hall as a Cub ar 8-10%. He'd have to keep on trucking like Roger Clemens til age 43 or so maybe 2008. Of course he'd also have to stay with the Cubs. But then He'd have mor time as a Cub (13 yrs to 11), but still more wins as a Brave (approx. 190 to 150 figuring 13-15 wins for the next three years). All in all, not very likely. But I still hold out hope Stoney and Grace will occupy a Cub booth together someday. BTW, I guess Grace called somebody a MFer on the air this yeat (accidentally).

The Dude--"Stevens - welcome to the fun of questioning a John Hill post."

Yes, because when people twist my argument, exaggerate certain aspects to it, ignore others, particularly the important clarifications and caveats, dress stuff up in the stupid possible language so that they can say it's the stupidest thing they've ever read, make up a whole new argument I never said, try and use my background to mock me, and so on, I personally don't find that at all belittling. It doesn't frustrate or annoy me at all. In fact, I couldn't be happier when you do that. Really, just go for it.

I acknowledge that I can be very scathing and abrasive the way that I sometimes write, and it annoys people. But please don't bleat about things as you're doing, as though its the mere questioning that causes me to react the way that I do. I can normally argue my point of view in as civil a way as you'll find. But what you'll also find is that that requires you to be civil, true to what you're saying as well as what I've said, in the way that you do your questioning. It's a two-way street.

What background are you referring to, John?
Being British?
I hope you know the taxation comment was just a joke... no mockery intended.

The advantage as far as this kind of deal goes, in my opinion, is that it basically gives him the chance to earn what he deserves. If he's absolutely terrific, he gets paid as such. If he's not, he doesn't. And if he's injured, he gets paid even less. It's performance-related pay.

While it is possible to make the argument that everyone in baseball -- teams, players, and fans -- would be better off on average if players were paid for what they did, not what they might or might not do (assuming that compensation as a % of revenues were held constant), I don't believe that means that each individual team or player would benefit by so doing (in that respect it is a bit like a Prisoner's Dilemma).

Teams need to know how much to budget. The Cubs don't want to be in a situation where career years by a bunch of players increases their payroll by $20 million, even if they win the World Series in the process. You would also get perverse incentives -- the more you win the less money you make. Of course, winning leads to greater fan interest, but the curve of interest/marginal win varies for each team. Even if that were built into the system, some teams would be disadvantaged. One could argue that the Cubs, who draw well even when they are lousy, would be particularly penalized by such a system.

From a player's perspective, if they have a good year they can hit it big with a guaranteed contract, if they do poorly, they can hope to rebuild their value with a one-year cheap deal, a la Nomar. There's also insurance in a guaranteed contract, against both injury and a slump. Furthermore, a player doesn't have to worry that management will have the leverage of holding him out of games and reducing his compensation.

Lastly, if you ask that Lee be paid only what his present performance deserves, then by rights you should treat Prior and Zambrano the same way, rather than paying them peanuts while you hold their rights. Acting otherwise would be trying to have your cake and eat it too.

As I read it, John was saying that the Cubs need to have some foresight, and as an example of *lack* of foresight, he cited the decision to activate Wood off the DL in the hopes of making a wildcard run, oblivious to the fact that it may (and arguably is) make it less likely that Wood will be ready to go on Opening Day of 2006.

I understand, but my point was (to express it somewhat hyperbolically), is that a meteor slamming into the Earth and destroying all life is no more likely to be responsible for Wood not starting Opening Day than playing him in 2005 was.

For the record, Derrek Lee's agent is Casey Close, who works for IMG. According to Cot's Baseball Contracts, he's also the agent of Derek Jeter (last deal was $189m/10yrs after 2001, bought out final arbitration year), Richie Sexson ($50m/4yrs after 2004, FA), Eric Milton ($25.5m/3yrs after 2004, FA), Geoff Jenkins ($23m/3yrs after 2004, FA), Dustin Hermanson ($5.5m/2yrs after 2004, FA), Kenny Lofton (getting new contract right about now), Mark Redman ($11m/3yrs after 2003, bought out two arbitration years), Terrence Long ($11.6m/4yrs after 2001, bought out three/four arbitration years), Jamey Wright ($0.55m/1yr after 2004, FA), Jeff Niemann ($5.2m/5yrs after 2004, major league contract out of draft), Bryan Bullington ($4m signing bonus out of draft) and Josh Hamilton ($3.96m signing bonus out of draft).

Maybe John Hill is right, maybe you offer Lee a two tiered contract, and give him the chance to turn it down, or accept it. If it turns out he want garaunteed money, it doesnt mean he's greedy.

I think he is motivated to get a deal done before the season starts because he's got to know that it is likely he will perform somewhere between his career average and his 2005 next year. He will probably want to strike a long term deal coming off his excellent 2005 season than gamble on getting more in the FA market next off season, but having to worry about injury or drop off.

You should never make someone a formal offer that you KNOW is so sub-market that they will turn down. It's just bad negotiating. You back-door it, ask his agent if he is even amenable to this discussion. When he says, "No, my client has earned more respect than that." then you drop it, and pretend it never happened.

Crunch--i agree--we have no business keeping him around for more than this year. but i won't be rolling my eyes every time he takes the mound this season. he does have a tendency to give up big innings--but he's durable and capable of throwing gems, which is plenty to say for a 4/5

Lets not forget about D.Lee, but lets not worry or wonder, please, D.Lee just wants to win, and if Jim Hendry and the Cubs don't field a better team than they currently have and they finish like they did last year or if not worse, D.Lee and most of the Cubs will not want to come back.

yeah, thats exactly what Im talking about. I'm just saying, dont make the decision that a particular offer will offend Lee for him. If he tells you that when you ask, then you'll know for sure.

As far as Maddux, I know he takes preperation, both mental and physical, seriously. I also beleive him when he say hell retire if he doesnt think he can compete anymore. So that's why I'm assuming only marginal decline on his part.

John, I disagree that the cubs need to start buying pitching now. Pitching is the most volatile of all commododities and trying to lock in pitchers can be a risky proposition. Frankly, if the cubs could find a buyer for Kerry Wood, I'd be willing to explore that deal. Especially if we can get a left-handed right-fielder.

I'd much rather see the Cubs build their offense so as to Dusty-proof it as much as possible.

For the Cubs to be Championship contenders in 2006, the must moves and must be done, are.
-One or two quality starting pitchers. A MUST!!!!
-Catcher that calls a better game than Barrett.
-Rightfielder that doesn't strike out over 100x.
-Better shortstop or sencond baseman, or better utility/insurance (not N.Perez or J.Hairston).

*** I'd much rather see the Cubs build their offense so as to Dusty-proof it as much as possible. ***

I'd much rather the Cubs didn't have to "Dusty-proof" a lineup.

As for Maddux, yes, he deserves the respect of being able to pitch his last year with the Cubs. I look for him to replace Dusty in '07. Or at least Chris Speier to replace Dusty.

Wood's injury.

Labral repairs usually take 4 months to play catch and 6 months to pitch, which would put Wood at March 1st. That's why the sentiment is that he won't be ready for opening day. I'm not sure the surgeons knew the extent of the shoulder until they operated on it.

Scott--"If you ask that Lee be paid only what his present performance deserves, then by rights you should treat Prior and Zambrano the same way, rather than paying them peanuts while you hold their rights. Acting otherwise would be trying to have your cake and eat it too."

I agree that the current system isn't fair. I have a hard time feeling too sorry for Prior and Zambrano though, who will in all likelihood make nine figures out of the game. Without having really studied the issue in any great depth, I'd assume that controlled rights distort the distribution of the game's money in favour of those that are good enough to sustain success long enough to reach free agency as an elite player, and that therefore it's those that have their best seasons then fall by the wayside before reaching free agency that suffer. My guess is also that if controlled rights were abolished, the free agent market as we know it would collapse. But I don't really know. I'm reasonably confident though that Prior and Zambrano will be extremely rich men, assuming they stay healthy. They'll just have to wait a little while.

"One or two quality starting pitchers. A MUST!!!!"

20 teams in MLB dont even have a zambrano/prior...even more dont have a maddux/wood behind them...even less have a rusch/j.williams/r.hill behind that. SP is far from a must for this team. 2/3rd of MLB would love to pick the cubs top2 for their top2...

"Catcher that calls a better game than Barrett."

barrett's one of the best deals in baseball for what he does, how he hits, and the way he plays. im sure some people would love to have one of the worst game callers in the game, irod. i can hear the "but..but..but.." right now in my head to that point.

"Better shortstop or sencond baseman, or better utility/insurance (not N.Perez or J.Hairston)."

you should probally find another team if that's not acceptable cuz theyre gonna be around...hell, hairston could be the team's 2nd baseman before its all over with. there are no SS/2nd out there to have...none. just ask boston and their purse strings how their SS hunt is going...or STL and their 2nd base situation.

OT: Rank the following from 1-5 with 5 being the worst and 1 being the best

McCaskey (____)
Reinsdorf - Bulls (____)
Reinsdorf - Sox (____)
Tribune (____)
Wirtz (____)

Questions for the "experts":

1. Freel signed for $3MM over 2 years. Why would we pay Neifi $6MM over same? Is Neifi more veteran? Do "veterans" command a senior level pay? They seem to fit the same role to me.

2. Citing an ESPN article that Adam Eaton is not happy in SD... Would the Cubs be wise to go after him as an addition to the rotation for 06 or 07?

Thx

"1. Freel signed for $3MM over 2 years. Why would we pay Neifi $6MM over same? Is Neifi more veteran? Do "veterans" command a senior level pay? They seem to fit the same role to me."

Ryan Freel has yet to be a FA. His price has been, up until this season, dictated by league rules. Now it is decided within the framework of the arbitration process - thus leaving it within a certain set of expected boundaries. Vets make more money because the vet minimum is higher, and because they can be FAs where teams can bid on them. In our case, Neifi makes more because...well...um... I have no frigging clue. I thought it was a stupid signing when we did it. But you can't compare it to Ryan Freel. It isn't apples to apples. Compare him to Graffanino. That's probably the best analogy out there I can think of off the top of my head.

Eaton - 4.5 ERA in one of the best pitchers parks in the game - and about ready to become a FA? I'd look at him, but I wouldn't give up too much for him.

John Hill:
"what's relevant is what Lee will be able to do for the Cubs, or any other team, over the next few years."

But baseball and almost all sports don't pay a player based on what they think he will do. They get paid on what they did the past few years. Do you think Maddux deserves the $9 million this year? No, but he performed well in the past to base that salary on.

You are way off base on this salry deal for Lee, and Lee will most likely not take any deal this offseason for under $13 per year guarenteed. I think he has enough confidence in himself to stay healthy and perorm well to be a very attractive FA next year if needed. Also, he can always take insurance out to protect an injury. Based on his healthy, he can get it cheap.

The Dude:
"Stevens - welcome to the fun of questioning a John Hill post.

Have fun buddy...."

:)

Mannytrillo:

"But baseball and almost all sports don't pay a player based on what they think he will do."

Sports salarys are almost completely based on what they think that player will do. They just based what they think he will do on past performances. Whether a player lives up to those expectations and deserves his salary is a different question.

Maddux isnt getting paid 9 million to reward him for his great years in Atlanta. He's getting paid that much because the Cubs hoped he would be worth that much to the team in 2006.

More circumstantial evidence today to support the rumors that Nomar and steroids had a close personal relationship.

Comment by an MLB Scout,

"You know what, he (Nomar) is just like Jason Giambi. He's built his body up the same way. I saw him in Double-A and he looked like he was about 160 pounds. He was very skinny. He couldn't play seven days straight because it would wear him down. He was a skinny little guy. The next year, he was in the majors and it looked like he was up to 200 pounds. "

maddux is getting that money cuz he refused to sign anything but an overpaid 2-year contract or give him that 3rd year.

the point where its worth it to pay a guy 9-10m a year for 2 years or 7-8m a year for 3 years is a weird form of bargaining. is it worth more to overpay and get out while you can or overspend overall, yet end up "only" kicking a nominal amount you'd pay vs. the 2 year deal to guarentee the 3rd.

for argument's sake it would have probally cost 18-20m to have maddux for 2 years or 24m for 3 years. nothing official about the 1st set of numbers, just a general gist given the guy made almost 15m in 03. maddux waited a looooong time in offseason to get the deal he wanted...the 3 years seemed to be very important to him for some reason.

TO ANY AND ALL INTERESTED IN A 2006 SEASON TICKET FOR THE CUBS-

For those who don't know I am a season ticket holder of the Cubs. My seats are in Section 233, Row 10, seats 101-102 (pretty good aisle seats just past 1B, right under the edge of the overhang). I had the nights and weekends package.

Well, I just got off the phone with my Chicago Cubs season ticket customer service rep. I asked him if I can upgrade to the Daily Plan this year and get tickets for EVERY game (and in turn one for every playoff game). He said yes, so I jumped on that of course!! But I also asked him about the 3 seats next to mine that I thought were open (no season ticket holder). He said that seats 104-105 did have season tickets, but seat 103 (right next to my pair) is availible and since it is a single, he would offer it up to me to add to my account.

I really have no interest in it as 3 tickets is a hard number to try and resell if I don't go to the game. And my wife and I usually go to most games together. But I figured I would open it up to anyone here in Cubdom to see if they had any interest.

I would sell that seat (Section 233, Row 10, Seat 103) to you for the face value of $2,216.00 and you can have that seat and the tickets for the entire 2006 season (ALL 81 games). The ticket will stay in my name and I will have the rights to ANY playoff tickets for that seat. But it is a great chance for realitvely cheap to see the Cubs this year.

If I don't hear back from anyone in the next couple weeks (I will post this a few times in that period here at at Bleed Cubbie Blue) I will just turn the ticket back over to the Cubs for them to sell it as a single when the on-sale happens.

This is not a scam, ask others on here as some have even sat in my seats. If interested let me know ASAP at [email protected]. I will then give you my phone number and we can talk about it.

Go Cubs!!

McCaskey (__4__)
Reinsdorf - Bulls (__1__)
Reinsdorf - Sox (_2___)
Tribune (__3__)
Wirtz (_5___)

As of 2005.

This is also asking who is the tallest dwarf.
"20 teams in MLB dont even have a zambrano/prior...even more dont have a maddux/wood behind them-is that a good or bad thing? One injury plagued pitcher and one pitcher on the down side of his career.
How many teams of those drew 3 million fans last year and have not a money tree but a money forest?
You can point at the bad contracts the Yankees and Bosox gave Clement and Pavano last year, they atleast made the playoffs.

i still see NO issue whatsoever with the cubs pitching. not even a slight concern.

look at this staff...look not only what other teams are fielding, but competitive teams.

hell, the dodgers are throwing 30m just this season on FA signings and look at their starting-5...hell, look at their 3-arm pen.

not a lot of teams have a zambrano/prior 1/2...even less have the 3-6 the cubs currently hold...and r.hill/a.guzman/t.wellemeyer are still in the picture bringing up the rear 7-9 of depth.

a lot of teams out there...their #4 and/or #5 pitchers are rookies with no proven value or guys that make rusch look pretty decent. and on a lot of those teams, they dont have much in the way of backup arms.

A contract potentially offering $73m/5yrs plus a chance to have another go at free agency after his age 33 season, all without him having to prove in 2006 that his 2005 was real, and it gets dismissed as "lowballing."

Please know John that I enjoy your work and respect your point of view. But contracts that are heavily dependent on incentives (let alone ones that demand MVP caliber numbers to reach said incentives) are usually offered at players who have had injury problems, not ones who have had no problem staying healthy and are at the top of the free agent market.

My point is that is even if Lee cannot continue playing at an MVP-caliber level (and I actually don't see much reason that this improvement isn't "for real") his market value is 5 years/73 million. The only thing Lee is risking is injury. Even if he doesn't stay at his performance-level, he's due a large raise. Hell, even if he DOES get injured he probably has a decent shot at a deal that big.

It's a lowball offer, yes.

As has been said in this thread, this is a hypothetical. There is absolutely no way Lee isn't going to wait and become a free agent. Again, he'd be the best free agent on the market by far.

So assuming I'm right and he does become a free agent, John, what would you offer him if

(1) he replicates his 2005, hitting .320/.410/.620

(2) he reverts back to his established level of performance, hitting .276/.380/.520 with 35 homers.

?

Reinsdorf - Bulls (__1__) - The man who ran Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Phil Jackson out of town?

At least McCaskey let Payton retire as a Bear.

Crunch
The Giants did offer Maddux more money over two years
( no idea of the exact figure) but he was indeed holding out
for the 3rd year, not for the money per se but for the
stability. Like I said before , he does NOT like to move
around. Now it is perfectly fair to play the what if game
and it would go something like this. Maddux signs with
the Giants and in 2004 Juan Cruz is the Cubs only available
5th starter. I have no idea what other rabbits they
could have pulled out of the hat but I think
that pretty much takes them out of contention
for the season. They blew it of course but with
Cruz instead of Maddux it would have
been one boring season. I would also guess that in
2004 the Cubs do re-sign Clement for 3 years and
22 million or close to whatever he got from the Red Sox
because they can not afford to lose him

I don't argue that 8 million ( which is really what he is
getting each of the 3 years) is a bit much for his
numbers but I would give some thought to what
the team would be like without him. OH I forgot Hill, Mitre
& Guzman would be starters by now. After all I have
been hearing for the last two seasons how having Maddux
was blocking all those great MLB ready kids we have
stacked up in the minors

I know this may not be the most welcome, but I have to celebrate with my man John Hill on how awesome Newcastle United is (the English football team we both happen to support). Michael Owen worth every last bit of that 16mm! Still have to shore up that defense--Titus Bramble not getting the job done and we still have to live with Lee Bowyer.

Hopefully we can put together a charge in the second half of the season and qualify for Europe. Also, how excited are you for World Cup play when we have Rooney and Owen striking fear into defenders around the world?!!

On a Cubs related note, I think it's important to mention that though it may not have been foresight, it sure was fun to see Kerry Wood dominating from the bullpen. That was honestly a blast. I wouldn't want to see it again in 2006, but boy was it exciting for a while.

X,

Wirtz- 5
Mccaskey-4
Sox ownership group-3
Bulls " "-2
Trib-1

Crunch,

Your right on the SP what we have for our rotation is top 10. Not everyone can have 4 aces. Look at The Sux last year they got really lucky with the way Contreas and Garland stepped up. If Guzman and Wood can stay healthy are rotation will be as good as theirs.

BTW Grossman will start Sunday for those who are interested and if they win they win the North in Lambeau off all places! That would be sweet!

From RotoWorld

Dr. Timothy Kremchek was pleased with the progress of Kerry Wood (shoulder) after examining him last week. Would is expected to begin throwing next month.
When Wood underwent surgery, it was with the goal of being ready for Opening Day. However, the Cubs probably aren't even going to let him try to begin the season in the rotation. Instead, they'll use Glendon Rusch and Jerome Williams behind Carlos Zambrano, Mark Prior and Greg Maddux in the rotation. Dec. 19

I think we all expected Wood to be absent from teh rotation for at least the first month but for those that think he'll be out the entire season...doesn't appear that way.

"Trib-1"

Are you kidding me ChiFan?

"they got really lucky"

No - those are two very good pitchers who developed under a great pitching coach who actually helps his guys fix their problems.

"If Guzman and Wood can stay healthy"

Yeah...right

Even still, Guzman is a rookie, Maddux is in rapid and consistent decline and Rusch is terrible. I still don't see how this staff is good enough given that it is supposed to be our strength. If we were known as a team that scored 6 runs per game and only needed to give up 5, that would be one thing. But we aren't Boston. We need to hold teams since we aren't built to score a lot of runs. We need to find ways to win tight games - and that happens only with good pitchers going deep into games. Even at their healthiest, Wood and Maddux don't do that. Neither goes deep into games. Maddux goes 85 pitches. Wood takes 100 to get through 5 innings.

This pitching staff may never again be as good as it was in 2003. It may never live up to its expectations.

I can't believe ANYONE is comfortable with Z Prior Maddux Williams Rusch. I hope I'm wrong but this looks like a TERRIBLE rotation. Yeah 1-2 are solid but this is not the NFL we have to play 6 hames a week not one. We need another Ace caliber starter!!!!!!!!!

"I think we all expected Wood to be absent from teh rotation for at least the first month but for those that think he'll be out the entire season...doesn't appear that way. "

I'm sorry - an isolated report on Wood from rotoworld in December is worthless to me. This guy has missed too many games in the past few seasons for this to have any significance.

my point was (to express it somewhat hyperbolically), is that a meteor slamming into the Earth and destroying all life is no more likely to be responsible for Wood not starting Opening Day than playing him in 2005 was.

Really? Can you support this? I seem to recall several times in which the Cubs were saying last summer that using Wood in relief (a) would not worsen his injury and (b) would not affect his ability to pitch for the Cubs on Opening Day.

Now they are saying that they hope he might be ready . . . but, as RotoWorld points out, they probably won't even risk trying him. What changed?

a doctor's report carries no significance based on injuries to parts of his body not operated on in the past?

i get the point of the statement, but c'mon...yeah, woods a walking bandaid, but he's not even the #1 or #2 counted on guy in the rotation and when healthy he's a hell of a #3. if a guy like wood goes down on most teams out there, that's the end of that team's #1 starter. in the cubs case, maddux becomes the #3 guy.

"The Associated Press reports Houston Astros owner Drayton McLane promised SP Roy Oswalt before Game 7 of the NLCS if he won, he would buy him his dream tractor he's always wanted. McLane fulfilled his end of the bargain, getting Oswalt a new Caterpillar D6N XL with a giant red bow on top of the cab."

#1 hahahah

1. Pierre CF
2. Cedeno SS
3. Lee 1b
4. Aram 3b
5 Walker 2b
6. Murton LF
7. Patterson Rf
8. Barrett C

If we get another starter capable of winning 15 games (Millwood, etc) then I would be OK with this starting lineup. Good OBP. Good power. Excellent defense in cf and rf (Pierre could play toward left center to help out Murton and Cpat could cover the RF gap) Cedeno strong at SS.

Relief looks fine. Just get us a damn starter.

Z, Prior, Millwood, Maddux, Williams Is a very good improvement and throw wood in #5 for 1/2 of the season (Down the stretch) and you are in great shape.

"Reinsdorf - Bulls (__1__) - The man who ran Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Phil Jackson out of town? "--
And won six champsionships and McCaskey won one but let Wilbur Marshall go over money, hired borderline retarted coaches and general management. (Lovie not included, but listen to Angelo and you will know what I mean.

The should rename the Cubs the Chicago If's. And the rotation, just behind right and left field, is the biggest if on this team. You have Z and Prior, with Wood no where in sight until May, Maddux will need a suit of armor from all the line drives that will be coming back at him and then we are pinning our hopes to rookies that may or may not be good and may or many not be healthy. C'mon. Once again this is not the Tampa Devil Rays. This a large market team which drew 3 million fans last year, and Hendry/McFail/Trib are going about this like a Sunday 16" soft ball team.(Maybe Corey could play right)
Which to you think has the Trib's attention and concern right now the construction of this team or the new bleachers?

Reinsdorf is garbage. Yeah, his GM engineered a WS win. But Reinsdorf's sins are endless. Here's 8 of them.

1) Tore down Chicago Stadium. Could have opened the ends and expanded seating and turned the first balcony into two levels of skyboxes. Wanted to build his second sports mall instead.

2) Claimed that the old Comiskey was falling apart and dangerous. Had several cement specialists and structural engineers inspect the place and they all said the same thing: The place was actually in great shape for such an old facility. Reinsdorf continued shopping for someone who would pronounce the place unsafe and finally found one.

3) Still gets teary eyed talking about his beloved Brooklyn Dodgers moving west but wasn't above threatening to move someone else's beloved team, the White Sox, to Florida as he held up the city and state for tax breaks and new taxes to help pay for his stadium. Always jokes about spending only OPM- Other People's Money.

4) Nixed the plans for Armour Square Park, designed by the same team that did Camden yards, that would have been a beautiful ballpark with a view of downtown. Sent them back to the drawing board to come up with something on the cheap. The result: the Cell.

5) Engineered the lockout that may have cost White Sox fans a trip to the WS a decade earlier.

6) Promised to help McCuddy's, the great old bar that used to be on 35th St. across from the old park, find a new home when it was torn down to build his base mall. Never lifted a finger for them once he'd gotten what he wanted.

7) Bitches endlessly about the evil Chicago media favoring the Cubs which results in their higher attendence but never admits that he made a mistake in building a terrible park and in not wanting bars around the park because it cuts into his concession profits.

8) Not being unhappy with the horrid job Krause did in building a team in the post-Jordan era. In fact, the team made more money in those years than they did during the championship years.

TBONE: 1000000% DEAD ON THE MONEY!!!!!!!!!!!!

Jacos: Letting Wilbur Marshall walk was HORRIBLE. But Wilbur is not even on the same plane of existence as Michael, Scottie and Phil - all will be Hall of Famers. McCaskey is horrible, don't get me wrong. But trying to figure out who is worse, is like trying debate who was worse:

Stalin
Hitler
Saddam
Pol Pot
LBJ (just kidding - although, I'm not a fan)

I seem to remember Reinsdorf had a good buddy in St Petersburg when he was threatening to move the Sox there, they had a real palsy-walsy relationship, it's always been about the money for that jagoff.

I hate the Sox, Reinsdorf just makes it easier.

I do admit I like the makeup of the current Sox TEAM though, in a strict baseball lover's sense, setting aside my vitriol for the team's history and their loathsome fans. Solid pitching, just enough hitting, and a deep bullpen, that's what it's all about. Too bad Hendry can't figure this out.

*As of right now, with Andy Sisco, Ricky Nolasco, Renyel Pinto and Sergio Mitre recently gone for good, the Cubs are down to five young pitchers that are viable options for the 2007 rotation: Jerome Williams, Rich Hill, Angel Guzman, Sean Marshall and Jae-Kuk Ryu*

I wonder what Hendry will get when he trades off these five guys. So far we've got Juan Pierre and a big fat bag of nothing for the rest of them.

You know, back in '97 when I first started reading usenet and sites like these...people used to just GUSH about the wealth of talent coming up the farm system. Mind you, this was before it was fashionable to call someone a kool-aid drinker. I used to wonder just how the Cubs could possibly screw-up such a bright future.

Well, apparently a combination of "all those prospects stunk" and "Jim Hendry" is the answer to that question.

Even worse, the only pitcher worth a crap that came out of the Cubs system during all this time is currently pitching for a team that stole into a World Series that we were supposedly "dustined", errr, "destined" to play in. What a joke.

X,

The trib spends money and since Mcphail has come to town they have let their baseball people run the team. More than I can say about the other teams in this town. Look the Bulls had some money to spend this off-season and could have went out and got a 20 point a game scorer that the team needs but did not make a run at Ray Allen or Michael Redd. The Bears should have went out and got a Kurt Warner or Jeff Garcia the last 2 years and didn't. They also have the 2nd dumbest GM in Pro Sports and they only saving grace is the dumbestest is in their division(Matt Millen). Wirtz is terriable and to show how cheap he is he just gave out the largest contract in Franchise history this past summer AFTER the league implemented a Salary Cap which also meant a Salary Floor meaning he had to give someone a "max contract" which in the NHL is 7 million a year. For years Reinsdorf ran the SUX like they the D-rays, but got lucky this year. Somewhere in his mind he must be pist because he had to spend money to keep Konerko. A sox fan friend of mine told me that they would have gone for a youth movement if they missed they would have had their typical year last year. Utimetly Chad is right it is like choosing who is the worse dictator. As for Contreas and Garland they were both 1 half wonders last season both those guys are nothing special. In Garland's case he never was and in Contreas's he was misused by Castro. He had to pitch every other game for the Cuban national team. The only good thing about the Sux WSC is that it must have pist offed that old bastard big time to watch 2 of Cuba's best pitchers win it.

"I'm sorry - an isolated report on Wood from rotoworld in December is worthless to me. This guy has missed too many games in the past few seasons for this to have any significance."

I guess me, RW, and the Dr who is in charge of examining Wood aren't quite in the circle of information than your professional opinion X. RotoWorld isn't quite MLB Rumors..they're pretty accurate usually and this info is also posted on Cubs.com.

Alex Carnevale--"My point is that is even if Lee cannot continue playing at an MVP-caliber level...his market value is 5 years/73 million."

Woah! This is seemingly at the heart of our disagreement, because I don't think there's any way that the market values the old Derrek Lee anywhere near $15m a year. Look at all the contracts at first base. Ignore Helton, that's just a terrible contract. Pujols tops out at $16m a year in his deal, and he'd put up three consecutive years of brilliance to earn that. Thome's at $14m, likewise as regardless years of brilliance. Delgado's $13m, likewise again. Sexson and Konerko are at $12m. Old Lee's about as good all told as Sexson and Konerko, maybe a little better, but his numbers just aren't anywhere near as sexy (less home runs), and he's 31 going to free agency, they were 29. Oh, and Konerko was coming off winning the World Series.

All that fits in with the fact that when Derrek Lee got his current deal, already at that stage established at .270/.370/.500 with Gold-Glove and plus baserunning, just 28 years old at the time, he got just $7.5m a year. Sure, he wasn't on the open market at the time, the open market being more expensive, especially of late, but come next winter he'll be 31. So, if Derrek Lee continuously hit at around the .270/.370/.500 level from 2002 through 2006, I think he'd this time next year be getting somewhere in region of $9-10m a year for 3 or 4 years. That fits in with his value relative to Sexson and Konerko.

That's why I used that $37-43m/4yrs as the base amount for my deal. That's what I think old lee is worth, to answer your question. The point of the incentives then was to reward Lee appropriately if he continues to hit like it's 2005. So $73m/5yrs is what I think new Lee is worth. That's the whole point of the deal's multi-tiered nature.

All of which raises the question what on earth do you think new Lee is worth if you think old Lee is worth $73m/5yrs? And, er, why?

Jerry,

I want to play!

Grace= Doubles, and I think Intional Walks one year
Sandberg = Home Runs (League not just for 2b)
Dawson= Home Runs, RBI's
Catchers = Catchers never lead the league in anything because they don't play enough - stupid question unless you're a phillies fan
Pitchers- Have you heard of Kerry Wood and Mark Prior? - check out the strike-out leaders in 2003
You've got saves leaders (Myers) you've got IP leaders (Maddux) you've got Winning % leaders (Sutcliff), ejection leaders (Zambrano)

Maddux lead the league in Starts and Fewest Walks per 9 in 2005.

Ok School's over.

#102 of 121: By Alex Carnevale (December 19, 2005 02:37 PM)

So assuming I'm right and he does become a free agent, John, what would you offer him if

(1) he replicates his 2005, hitting .320/.410/.620

(2) he reverts back to his established level of performance, hitting .276/.380/.520 with 35 homers.

John Hill,

There's been a lot of back and forth on your Lee argument. I agree with those who think Lee should take the best package available as a FA (based on assorted factors, including money), and don't think this is "greed" or wrong for him to do. But that's not what I want to get into; you have an idiosyncratic view in this respect (I think you'd agree with that) and seem to want to stick with it.

I do think, however, your scenario suffers from the fact that you undervalue what Derrek Lee would get on the open market even if he reverted back to 2004 form. Even if he does so, I think you can look at the Konerko deal (itself below-market value) as a floor for what Lee could expect as a FA. I'd be interested to hear what you'd expect not the Cubs but the market to offer D-Lee on the above two scenarios.

John Hill,

'Oh, and Konerko was coming off winning the World Series.'

check out this link:

http://mlb.mlb.com/NASApp/mlb/mlb/ps/y2003/in...

Konerko's bat this year was almost identicle to Lee's in 2003.

I agree that the Cub's shouldn't pay him $14 million a year though. If he wants that he needs to come close to duplicating 2005. If he goes .290 .400 .580 the Cubs should give him 4 more years at $50 million.

J-Damn the funny thing about your post, is that before KC picked up Andy Sisco, he was a "big fat nothing". Your arguement is weak.

"I guess me, RW, and the Dr who is in charge of examining Wood aren't quite in the circle of information than your professional opinion X. RotoWorld isn't quite MLB Rumors..they're pretty accurate usually and this info is also posted on Cubs.com. "

Well - if you have the time, let's play "Describe the injury - Cubs Style"

The numbered items are the descriptions that we read - match it to the lettered REAL injury status.

1) Mild "arm" soreness

2) Slight foot pain

3) Aggrevated forearm

4) Strain due to overuse of the internet

A) Torn Labrum

B) Achillies Tendon issues

C) Moronic Stupidity and inability to control ones emotions

D) Frayed rotator cuff

" the Cubs should give him 4 more years at $50 million."

If that's the best we offer him, he will be playing for NY, Boston or Anaheim and Kevin Millar will be our cheap option at 1B.

http://www.sptimes.com/2005/12/19/Rays/Rays_v...

interesting article about how a lot of things w/ the TBDR could shake out by Jan 8.

X

Sorry, I hate to break it to you but a labrum is aneural. That means it doesn't have any nerves, that means it doesn't have any pain sensors. So mild arm "soreness" can never equal a torn labrum. A torn labrum can possibly have some pain issues because the long head of the biceps partially inserts into it. The pain comes from tendonitis of the biceps muscle not the labrum structure itself.

For the last freaking time, look at any literature. The time table for playing catch with a labral repair is 4 months, putting Wood right at January 1st. Pitching is 6 months, i.e. March 1st, about two weeks past Spring Training.

I still believe that the Cubs are two players away from having a potential championship-calibre team (on paper, of course): 1 solid starting pitcher, and a big bat in the #5 hole.

I know that is not an unheard of notion, but with the supposed "$20 million" to spend, I wonder just who that guy may be. What are the chances the Cubs can pull off a trade for Huff/Lugo - there are no more arms that the Cubbies can spare, IMO. I would honestly rather have CP in RF than J. Jones, at least until he starts swinging at flies.

Ah, I am rambling on my first post. Nice site, guys.

you can pretty much count on 7-ish of that almost 20m to go to zambrano...2m-3m to hairston/patterson.

still, that leaves well more than enough to take on or sign a good RF'r. chances are it wont be anyone flashy...the 25+HR, good D, nothing special guy with pop. hopefully it'll be someone better, but with 2 35+ HR guys, a so-far decent selection of ob%, and 3-4 15-25hr guys to support it...its not a bad group of players if they can keep their health.

whether patterson's overpaid OF bench stater-insurance or off to another team for who knows what remains to be seen. either way wouldnt suprise me...only thing that would is if patterson became the starting RF'r.

btw...has anyone else noticed since the cubs missed out on furcal and the talks with texas hit a roadblock it seems the t.walker chatter has died severely?

shame that the club that needs a 2nd baseman the most (stl) the cubs wouldnt trade anyone that high-end with pre-season anyway...not like they got an OF'r worth a damn to trade anyway.

So the Tribune reveals that Prior is available for arbitration this offseason. So instead of making ~5.5 million in 2006 for the final year of his contract, he'll get close to 7 million through the arbitration process. And he's up for arbitration again next year with Zambrano.

"Prior is entering the final year of a five-year, $10.5 million deal he signed as the Cubs' top draft pick out of USC in the summer of 2001. He earned $3.55 million in '05 and could receive a significant raise if he exercises his player option and files for arbitration, as expected."

...as a great mind once said "oh snap."

If Furcal is worth $13M/3yrs. then Lee is certainly worth more. Honestly were probably looking at $15/3yrs for Derrek w/ an option for a 4th year.

"$15/3yrs for Derrek w/ an option for a 4th year."

I'd be stunned if all he gets is 3 years guaranteed. At his age (30) he is probably looking for a bit more time in the deal. My guess is he gets a 5 year deal (as most top tier FAs seem to be getting (See Konerko, Paul)) and over 14mm per. I'm betting Boston, Baltimore or someone in NY gives him 5/75 or more. 3/45 probably won't be enough.

Merigold -

1) I used to bowl over there a bunch with some of the Yakzees waitresses. Nice place you have there. (assuming that's what your name is...)

2) 1 did not match to A - you had to reorder them as you felt they matched.

3) I was being merely trying to prove a point, not give medical diagnosis. The point was that you can't believe one word that the Cubs and their medical staff deliver seeing how they have either misdiagnosed, mislead, or outright lied so many times about so many of our player's injuries.

I'm not a Doctor. I don't even play one on TV. I know very little about medicine. I do know that the Cubs diagnosises are almost always wrong, and are usually not even close.

Da Krone,

I wonder if I can sue Hendry for copyright infringement if he signs Perez and Jones to play right w/out giving me any credit.

X,

Do you understand the meaning of the word 'context'? People who break apart phrases from sentences and then argue with them are fools of the highest measure.

"he will be playing for NY, Boston or Anaheim" care to bet on that?

"People who break apart phrases from sentences and then argue with them are fools of the highest measure."

I'll ignore the ad hominem attack. I thought this place was above that.

""he will be playing for NY, Boston or Anaheim" care to bet on that?"

Pot - Kettle... I will stand by my statement that, "If that's the best we offer him, he will be playing for NY, Boston or Anaheim." But I am not about to engage in a bet with a stranger on the internet.

Personal attacks really don't benefit the blog as a whole.

*J-Damn the funny thing about your post, is that before KC picked up Andy Sisco, he was a "big fat nothing". Your arguement is weak.*

Your memory is weak. Sisco was hyped up pretty good by the chattering classes in cyberspace (mind you, this was by the same cadre of goofs who hyped Christiansen, Choi, Kelton, Harris, Montanez, et al). There was general shock and dismay that he was left unprotected.

Got anything of merit you'd like to attempt to append to your own big fat nothing statement?

X
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