All I Want For Christmas Is A Right Fielder
versus their replacements as of the close of 2005:Pos Player Age OPS
C Girardi 37 566
1B McGriff 38 858
3B Mueller 31 757
CF Patterson 22 676
Granted Pierre isn't much of an upgrade over Patterson, but if he returns to his 03-04 form he gives the Cubs an OPS in center of 757. Much has been made of Pierre's soft toss arm as allowing more runners to advance and I'll grant that, but his range factor in center is the same as Patterson's (league-adjusted per 9 innings) and Andruw Jones's for 2005. I have to see him as a net gain over 2004. At the other end of the spectrum, the Cubs replaced Jose Macias with John Mabry. While Mabry's 702 OPS is not going to make him a starting 1B, 3B or corner outfielder at age 34, he is certainly an improvement over the chronically anemic Macias, who in 190 plate apperances at age 33 last year staggered to a nearly sub-Mendozan 590 OPS. Mabry gives the Cubs both a solid left-handed bat for pinch hitting and a competent back-up for Ramirez, Lee, and Murton so that all of them can get rest this season. Tending to his own, Hendry re-signed Todd Walker (very good) and Neifi Perez (good, if Neifi only plays backup and defensive replacement), while letting go of Jeromy Burnitz's contract (good business decision). My thinking had been that the Cubs would try to re-sign Burnitz to a 2-year deal at a better price, but Hendry was determined to get a better right fielder. One other thing about tending to your own: kudos for recognizing that Matt Murton should be the starting left fielder and that Ronnie Cedeno gets to be at shortstop. Both kids played smart and hard during their 2005 call ups and earned the opportunity to start. On the pitching front, Hendry continues to add veteran middle relievers. Neither Bobby Howry nor Scott Eyre were overused in 2005 --Howry threw 73.0 innings in 79 appearances; Eyre 68 1/3 over 86 games-- and both had remarkable control in '05: Eyre averaged barely more than one baserunner per inning while Howry allowed .89 walks plus hits per inning. This is an improvement over the strikeouts uber alles philosophy that led them to signing high-K/poor-control guys the past couple of years. Again, Hendry was smart in keeping his own guys under contract. I was surprised at how easy the re-signing of Ryan Dempster was, but I'm guessing he gave the Cubs a discount for them being willing to sign him when he was in the midst of his arm problems. Picking up the option on Scott Williamson seems odd to me, given that Roberto Novoa seems to fit the same role, but maybe Novoa is slated for more time at AAA this year to refine his control. The real surprise among the pitcher re-signs, though, was Glendon Rusch's 2-year deal. Rusch had made it clear that he was interested in an opportunity to be a regular starter in 2006. Given that as of 10/31 when he signed the Cubs had a starting rotation of Mark Prior, Carlos Zambrano, Greg Maddux and Kerry Wood (depending on his shoulder surgery), along with minor leaguers Jon Koronka, Rich Hill, Angel Guzman, and Sergio Mitre (again, at the time), I was not understanding where Rusch was going to find his innings. Did he and Hendry think Wood wouldn't be ready for 2006 or that Kerry was slated for bullpen duty? Then new Phillies GM Pat Gillick announced that right fielder Bobby Abreu could be had and many things come to make sense. While Abreu is 31 years old, he has a solid track record of providing power and on base production --his career OPS is 923 with a slight dip in 2005 to 879-- and is a very healthy player, appearing in over 151 games in each of his past 8 seasons. A Cub lineup with him in the middle would be formidable indeed. The question is: can the two teams find a trade that both makes sense and doesn't get either GM lynched? Clearly, the Phillies want a top of the rotation starter. Just as clearly, the Cubs don't want to part with either Prior or Zambrano. Or do they? I'm of the opinion that all things being equal, an everyday position player for a starting pitcher is an uneven trade in favor of the team getting the position player. Clearly, the Cubs lose on age --both Prior and Zambrano are under 25-- but the question remains: who would I rather let go of in such a swap, Prior or Zambrano? Zambrano has been the healthier of the two, but that means his arm has been piling up innings. Prior's health has not been pitching-related, but he's yet to put together a full, uninjured season since 2003 and even then he sat out a few starts. Bothersome, but it does mean his arm hasn't been put under as much strain. Either way, if the Phillies want to do Abreu for either Prior or Zambrano straight up, I'd pull the trigger. I'd just do it a little quicker if I was giving up Zambrano rather than Prior. Ideally, the Cubs could do a several-for-one trade. I would be happy to package Kerry Wood, Corey Patterson, and either Angel Guzman or Rich Hill for Abreu. Now, would Gillick take that trade? Dunno, but likely not (although I have a hunch that something like that has been proposed). Current rumors are swirling around the Cubs signing Jacque Jones of the Twins to which I say, "Look! It's the younger version of Jeromy Burnitz." I'd be unwilling to do more than a 2-year deal as I don't want him in the way of Felix Pie. All in all, a very nice holiday hot stove season for the Cubs. I'm looking forward to 2006 already.Pos Player Age OPS
C Barrett 28 824
1B D. Lee 29 1080
3B Ramirez 27 926
CF Pierre 27 680
Not certain why the site has been slowed. Worked much of Wednesday on it and will continue today. Sorry for the inconvenience. I will probably take it offline for a while, but it will be up before the game against the Mets.
Mine has been really slow to load -- on different computers from different locations.
Anybody else have issues accessing the site this afternoon/evening?
Boras is 63, maybe he'll be retired or dead by the time Bryant, Russell, Almora, Albertos all hit free agency. Doubt he will be before Jake hits there though.
Interesting choices when guys get healthy.
LaStella, Fowler & Soler replace Coghlan, Almora and Sczcur? I assume they don't want Almora to sit.
Despite MIggy's demise, I assume they keep him around to mentor Contreras?
I believe Willson now has more CS than MIggy. The kid has an arm. Also, Russell is amazingly good on those plays at 2nd.
oh yeah...thanks joe/billy.
poor outing, still got the win, go cubs.
Although it felt like it, Jake didn't lose to them -- he got the W. (Assuming you are referring to Monday's game)
Arrieta didn't lose to the Reds. He got the win -- he just didn't pitch like we expect him to.
almora's 1st HR!
it's not like this CIN team is lost-cause horrible, but aside from defense and power this is a truly horrible team.
kinda crazy arrieta lost to them and yesterday's game had to go 15 innings for the cubs win.
It looked like Hamilton got screened by Duvall and that Duvall just barely deflected the ball off of his glove--redirecting it slightly without taking away much of its momentum.
At least it didn't turn into a Schwarber/Fowler situation. Hamilton and Duvall are both pretty important youngish players for the Reds.
he walked off the field on his own. aside from a concussion watch and some attention to his leg/knee that buckled a bit under him, the biggest thing hurt was probably his pride after the ball knocked off his skull.
After last night, an inside-the-park HR seems kind of run-of-the-mill somehow.
Sounds bad for Hamilton. Hope he's okay--listening on the radio.
SHOW ME THE MONEY: Jose Albertos has signed with Mega-Agent Scott Boras.
Albertos has already received his signing bonus and won't see any additional significant money until he reaches the big leagues, so this is a long-term investment for the Boras Corporation.
Other Cubs represented by Boras include Jake Arrieta, Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, and Albert Almora Jr.
I am glad Joe is managing this team and not Old and Blue!