Lee Activated, Coats Sent Down

The Cubs activated Derrek Lee from the 15-day DL and optioned Buck Coats back to AAA, although I'm sure we'll see him again this weekend when rosters expand. That gets rid of one more wart on our starting lineup. Let's see what we can do about Bynum and Cedeno now.
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Rey Ordonez, Enrique Wilson, Neifi Perez, Jose Macias, Jerry Hairston, Ronny Cedeno, Freddy Bynum...

The hits keep on comin' from Jim Hendry.

Tonight's lineup: Bynum at 2B, Theriot as SS, Pagan in LF.

Please state your answer in the form of a question.

That gets rid of one more wart on our starting lineup.

I resent being called a wart. Now that Phil Nevin, maybe you mean't he's a wart.

At least I don't have splinters from sitting on the bench....ha, ha, ho, ho...I'm using a disguise name here, so only Ronnie Santo knows who I am.

$100 million doesn't go as far as it used to when Jim Hendry is your GM and you see the names Bynum, Pagan and Theriot on the same lineup card.

The problem with the cubs this year, we have depleted our reserve of good players on the pirates

OK, so who finally got around to telling Dusty that Theroit actually can play shortstop?

Ain't that the truth.

Bl Blue:

Theirot sucks too. Old-ish minor leaguer with weak arm and light bat. Like it makes any difference.

Only on the Cubs.

Pagan, Bynum, et. al. would not be as terrible as bench players. Its just that they're forced to be starters.

I could see Bynum as purely a pinch runner on a good team, for instance.

If there wasn't much other choice.

Bleeding Blue (#7): this blurb from Carrie Muskratlove at mlb.com:

"I'm baffled that Dusty Baker has put Cedeno back at shortstop until Izturis is back. If you're trying to teach Cedeno to become the second baseman of the future, shouldn't they put anyone else at short until Izturis returns? Couldn't Ryan Theriot play short? The Cubs have virtually no shot at going anywhere this year, and the move could and probably will slow Cedeno's progress at second."
-- Bill G., Camanche, Iowa

CM: "Until Izturis is healthy, Cedeno is the best option at short. Theriot is inexperienced, and it's not fair to the pitchers or the team to weaken two positions. It's only for two weeks."

This must be Ronnie's pennance for the ninth inning mis-play yesterday (though I'm not sure it was as big a misplay as the ESPN announcers indicated it was).

Myself, if Angel Guzman were not pitching tonight, I'd be rooting for Pittsburgh, because a Pittsburgh sweep increases the chances the Dusty will be fired on the Thursday off-day. But I like Guzman and want him to pitch well. It would be odd timing, but would permit them to bring up a minor league manager for the rest of the year. At some point, Hendry has to start dictating who plays every day for this team, because there are a number of question marks that must be answered, about players like Theriot (I'd like to see them try him at 2B), Pagan (platoon city?), Pie (keep Pierre?), Scott Moore (what if ARam walks), Dopirak (OK, no questions there...scratch him), and even Flyin' Freddy Bynum.

how about just plain old giving ronnie some rest as a reason he's not playing.

hell, his ineffective "oh no, but he's a kid and we gotta give kids their shot blah blah blah" ass has played almost every game he's been healthy this year.

suck is suck...i dont care what wrapper of age you put on it.

guy has more errors than extra base hits...there's plenty of places to start a "not ready" arguement just with that 1 statement.

I agree with the sentiment that Ryan Theriot is much to do about nothing. If folks are worried about the playing time handed The Riot then surely this team's fortunes are beyond bleak. The Riot is dime-a-dozen aging Triple A crap just like Michael Restovich.

Jim Hendry has to realize that this offseason is his final chance. Over the last 3 offseasons he has failed so ostentatiously, and in such obvious and avoidable ways, that he's really backed himself into a corner.

For two years running, Hendry has utterly failed to pursue top-flight talent. He refused to pay market rates to Tejada or Beltran, opting instead to overpay for known mediocrities. (Why pay Tejada $12M when you can pay Neifi and Rusch $6M?)

Eventually, Hendry will realize that, as the GM of a major-market team, it's often necessary to pay market rates for elite players. While I'd hope that he's finally learned his lesson (although, based on the BCB interview, it really doesn't look like it), he isn't going to have a ton of cash to bail himself out this time.

I've put together a quick estimate of the 2007 opening day roster, and factored in all upcoming arbitration raises at the high-end:

These guys are back in 2007, and will definitely be on the 25-man roster:

Michael Barrett (2007 - $4.33M)
Derrek Lee (thru 2010 - $13M)
Scott Eyre (2007 $3.5M - $3.8M player option for 2008)
Cesar Izturis (2007 $4.15M & $5.45M club option for 2008 - should not happen)
Ryan Dempster (2007 $5M, 2008 $5.5M)
Bob Howry (2007 $4M, 2008 $4M)
Jacque Jones (2007 $4M, 2008 $5M)
--
2007 PAYROLL (running total, 7 players): $38.28 million

This guy may get DFA'ed or traded, but we'll count his cash toward the '07 payroll:
Glendon Rusch (thru 2007 - $2.75M. God damn it.)

2007 PAYROLL (running total, 7 players) - $41.03 million

These guys will be offered arbitration:

Carlos Zambrano (FA after 2007 - projected salary ~$12M)
Mark Prior (FA after 2008 - projected salary $3.5M)
Will Ohman (projected salary $1M)

2007 PAYROLL (running total, 10 players) - $57.53 million

This guy has a player option, and will use it to strongarm a raise out of Hendry:
Aramis Ramirez - (2007-2009 raise to ~$13M)

2007 PAYROLL (running total, 10 players) - $70.53 million

These guys are free agents and probably won't be back:

John Mabry - won't be back, made $1.075M in 06
Phil Nevin - won't be back, made minimum in 06
Kerry Wood - probably won't be back, made $11M in 06 - $3M buyout - (I'm hoping for $3M + incentives as reliever)
Henry Blanco (~$1M in 2007)

2007 PAYROLL (running total, 10 players) - $73.53 million

These guys are free agents and will probably be retained:

Juan Pierre - ($5.75 in 06 - assume raise to ~$8M)
Wade Miller - $1M in 06, I hope he doesn't get any more, assume $1.5M. It's Hendry, and he does not understand the term "sunk cost".)

2007 PAYROLL (running total, 12 players) - $83.03 million

These guys are auto-renewals at or near the MLB minimum, and are likely to be on the 25-man if retained:

Matt Murton
Ronny Cedeno (looking less likely)
Angel Guzman
Rich Hill
Sean Marshall
Carlos Marmol
Juan Mateo
Michael Wuertz
Angel Pagan
Ryan Theriot
Geovany Soto (why pay more for a no-hit backup C?)

2007 PAYROLL (running total, ~22-23 players) - ~$87 million

That leaves Hendry with 2-5 to fill, and about $15-20M to spend after raises and in-house retentions, assuming that payroll remains at or near $100M.

Based on my estimate, he'd have 2 catchers, 5 infielders, 4 outfielders, and 11 pitchers, as many as 7 of whom COULD start (Z, Prior, Miller, Marmol, Marshall, Guzman, Hill), with Dempster, Howry, Eyre and Wuertz as the pure bullpen guys.

If I were Hendry, I'd try to move Dempster to a would-be contender with closer issues, and re-sign Kerry Wood to fill the 9th inning role. But I'm not, and that would be, at best, a cost-neutral move. So it's irrelevant to this discussion.

Now, Hendry COULD spend that $15-20M on as many as 4 free agents - and in fact, that has been his MO lately. However, looking at this roster, there is really only one course of action that can improve the Cubs 25-man while holding the line on payroll:

1. Sign Alfonso Soriano, using the bulk of the $15-20M, and slot him at 2B.

2. Use the remainder of the available dollars to sign a middle-of-the-rotation guy, who can at least be a servicable, if inconsistent, #3-#4 starter. (Gil Meche?)

It's become clear that at least 2 spots in the Cubs rotation will have to be filled by the in-house young pitchers, simply because of cost. And frankly, they *should* be able to take the #4 and #5 spots in the rotation.

At the same time, the Cubs have to spend the vast majority of their free agent dollars on a player/position that will provide the largest impact.

They could go after Carlos Lee, which would be great. But the offense would be far better served with Murton in LF and Soriano at 2B, (with Cedeno on the bench) than it would be with C-Lee in LF and Cedeno at 2B (and Murton on the bench.)

Hendry *must* add one more elite bat to the lineup, but the impact of adding a power-hitting 2B cannot be overstated.

Hmm - my running total of players gets off track, as I debated whether Ohman would return as the LOOGY, and ultimately put him in the "yes" column.

Frankly, this is all for naught, anyway. Hendry made it clear that he "won't set any records" in pursuing talent.

DILLON1998:

We need to see this as an Excel doc., please.

Interesting scenario opinion.

However, I believe a successful closer should not walk folks. See Howry and Dempster for recent examples.

Kerry Wood has control issues. He would not have the luxury of nine innings for his offense to "catch up" for the scoring that will happen due to his walks.

It would be a mistake to make him a closer.

Also, if they can get him cheaply enough, I believe that they'd make an offer to Nevin.

I don't know why Carrie Muskat still has that job. All she does is disagree with the sharp criticism of the stupid moves our organization, front office and manager do; even the fans who live farthest away (note that one of the comments was sent by someone in Berlin!) notice them, and Carrie just disagrees. And disagrees.

Fire Carrie Muskat.

"The Riot is dime-a-dozen aging Triple A crap just like Michael Restovich. "

Theriot never had a .900+ OPS in the minors. Personally, I would take Restovich over Pagan and Bynum.

CARLOS:

You can't fire a Cubs apologist if you're the Tribune!

How will she get a gig, man?

And, if the Cubs get swept in Pitt. - they'll only be 1.5 games ahead of the Pirates - who have the worst record in the NL.

I'm sure she can find a job as a librarian somewhere.

Nice sexist comment Carlos. Should she just be sent back to the kitchen?

Nice narrow mind, Steven. Should I pretend to care that you read a sexist comment there?

Carrie Muskrat writes for Cubs' company web site. By definition she is a shill, a writer of press releases, not a journalist. Nnor is it particularly dishonorable for a journalist to go over to PR and then back to journalism, as long as you clear on the distinction. What is dishonorable is the way Dan McGrath has let the Tribune Company's suits, in particular Andy McPhail, to interfere in their newspaper's sports pages this year.

I agree with Dillion1998 about the last two off-seasons. The 2003 post season I would give Hendry a B, as he aquired Lee, Todd Walker, Michael Barrett, and Greg Maddux. But he had an opportunity get an A+ and to address what could easily be foreseen after Sammy's declines in 2002 and 2003: the need to replace Sosa with a big star, and a great big star was available relatively cheap, Vlad Guererro. Also, it would have been the moment to sign Ivan Rodriguez, a hall of fame catcher, to help those young pitchers. Then you could have made a salary dump trade of Alou, in the last year of his contract, for some bullpen help. Yes, it may have busted the budget for one season, but flags fly forever and it was the Cubs' opportunity to be a contending team for the rest of the decade. Instead, the Tribune and the Cubs decided to make a few million more and the collapse of 2004, followed by the disappointmetn of 2005, and the debacle of 2006 follows. As Joe Shaheen in this week's column in BaseballProspectus.com writes, this is now a very bad organization as their mistakes pile up on mistakes and they arrogantly insist they have made none. I appears that they repeat mistakes so apparently to prove a point (hence the dismissal of OBP in evaluating offensive talent).

And that is the basic problem, the Cubs management has little motivation to lose that self-satisfaction and go that extra step to be a winner. In the off-season, they do some moves, hope they get lucky with some of their journeymen level signings, the fans hope builds, and soon the $50 seats are filled and the advertisers are paying preminum rates for TV and radio and web space. Owning the Cubs is a license to print money. That is why the Cubs marketing department is so strong and professional, and the player development and the training/medical departments are weak and amateurish, as they have found what produces income is the marketing not the players who can be used up and spat out as long as they have Wrigley Field to sell the team.

You can't fire a Cubs apologist if you're the Tribune!

and

Carrie Muskrat writes for Cubs' company web site. By definition she is a shill, a writer of press releases, not a journalist.

I am pretty sure that this is not true. She works for MLB (i.e. not Tribune/Cubs), the owner of cubs.com.

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