Here’s the Pitch

If nothing were to change during the off-season, and if all pitchers are healthy come Spring Training, the Cubs would probably enter the 2007 season with a starting rotation consisting of Carlos Zambrano, Mark Prior, Rich Hill, Sean Marshall, and either Angel Guzman, Juan Mateo, Jae-kuk Ryu, or Ryan OíMalley. In an interview with Len Kasper on WGN-TV last week, Cubs GM Jim Hendry was talking about 2007 and mentioned the need to upgrade pitching as (obviously) something he (obviously) would be trying to do. Obviously. With Ryan Dempster, Scott Eyre, and Bob Howry signed through 2008, and with four or five younger relievers (Will Ohman, Michael Wuertz, David Aardsma, Roberto Novoa, and Carlos Marmol) already on board and another half-dozen or so possible candidates (Federico Baez, Lincoln Holdzkom, Carmen Pignatiello, Clay Rapada, Andy Shipman, and Randy Wells, plus Guzman, Mateo, Ryu, and OíMalley if they don't start) likely to compete for a spot in the pen, I would imagine when Hendry was talking about addressing pitching, he was mainly talking about adding at least one veteran established healthy starting pitcher to the rotation, or possibly two. NOTE: I am not advocating any of this, it's just my take on what I think Jim Hendry might do... If Jim Hendry is given a 2007 payroll budget somewhere in the vicinity of $100m (could be a liitle bit less, could be a little bit more), and presuming that if Aramis Ramirez is re-signed to a contract extension after the season that it will likely be a "back-loaded" deal that won't significantly increase his $11m 2007 salary, as things stand right now, it appears that the Cubs GM will have about $20-25m in available '07 payroll to spend on re-signing an "in-house" free-agent (like Juan Pierre), signing one or more FAs from other clubs, and/or adding a player or players via trade. Hendry's M. O. seems to be that he does not like to compete on the open market for high-profile free-agents, probably because he does not like to give four or five year big bucks contracts to free-agents from other organizations. He saves those deals for Cubs players (like Kerry Wood, Derrek Lee, and Aramis Ramirez, and probably Carlos Zambrano next Spring Training). So when Hendry does pursue a FA from another organization, he will either execute a "first strike" to address a glaring weakness (as was the case last off-season with Howry and Eyre, arguably the two best FA non-closer relievers available), or else he will wait and sign someone who plays a position of need, but where there is a glut (or "buyer's market") for players at that position. (This happened last off-season with FA right-fielders, resulting in the Cubs signing Jacque Jones). Because the Cubs are usually willing to pay a little bit more than most other clubs to sign a player who plays a position where there is a buyer's market that particular year, they can usually be fairly sure of getting one of the better ones (such as they are) among the ones who are out there. When Hendry is unable to address a need in either of those two ways (either by virtue of a failed "first-strike" or because the player he is pursuing is not in a class where there is a "buyer's market"), he is less-successful. He was unable to sign Rafael Furcal (who would have been "one-stop shopping" to fill the perceived post-'05 need for a lead-off hitter and defensive upgrade at shortstop), and so he felt he was forced to make a trade for a lead-off hitter (Pierre) and take his chances with a rookie SS (Ronny Cedeno). And the trade for Pierre cost the Cubs one of their top pitching prospects (Ricky Nolasco), which probably wouldn't have been the case if Furcal had been signed. (Of course, Hendry still might have made the deal for Pierre even if he had signed Furcal). Not signing Furcal meant that the shortstop job was Ronny Cedeno's to lose, and it also meant that Todd Walker, Jerry Hairston, Jr, and Neifi Perez were guaranteed a chance to compete for playing time at 2B, which probably would not have happened if Hendry had managed to sign Furcal. (If Hendry had signed Furcal, Cedeno would probably have been moved to 2B in Spring Training, and Walker probably would have been traded prior to Opening Day for a "spare part" like Luis Matos). Which brings us to the forthcoming off-season. It has been kind of presumed that Hendry will sign a FA starting pitcher sometime after the season, and I think he will, either by a "first strike" as soon as the "open" free-agency signing period begins (15 days after the conclusion of the World Series), or by waiting for second-tier FA starters to glut the market sometime around Christmas or even into early January. If he fails in a "first strike" to sign a "premier" free-agent starter (like Jason Schmidt or Barry Zito), he will probably attempt to make a trade for a starting pitcher instead, possibly as early as sometime in late November, or else (probably more likely) during the MLB Winter Meetings in December. This way (by acquiring a starting pitcher in a trade if he fails to sign Schmidt or Zito), the need to sign a a FA starter becomes less crucial, and makes it less likely that Hendry will have to overpay for one come January. I believe Hendry will make an attempt to sign Schmidt or Zito, but will not offer enough in terms of years to get it done. I can't see Hendry offering either pitcher a five-year deal, and I would be surprised if he offers more than three years for Schmidt (because of his age). And therefore, Hendry will strike out in his bid to sign one of the two "premier" FA starting pitchers. Which means Hendry will then probably attempt to make a trade for an established starting pitcher sometime just before or at the MLB Winter Meetings in December. Here are the pitchers I believe Hendry might be most-likely to target in a trade, in case he can't sign Schmidt or Zito. Of course, the availability of each pitcher listed below is unknown, and even if available, it is not known what it would take to acquire any one of them. It would vary, depending on the team and the pitcher. For instance, to acquire Garcia, Vazquez or Garland from the White Sox, it might cost the Cubs Bob Howry and one pitching prospect. To acquire Dontrelle Willis from the Marlins, it might cost three top prospects (a couple of pitchers and a position player), but nobody from the big club. I have not included pitchers like Johan Santana, Roy Oswalt, Brandon Webb, Jake Peavy, Bronson Arroyo, Aaron Harang, Brett Myers, Chris Young, Erik Bedard, Chris Capuano, or John Lackey, because it is beyond reasonable doubt that any of them would be available at any price. However, if any of them were to somehow become available, Hendry would almost certainly make an offer, in some cases, a combination of any three pitchers or position players in the organization (other club's choice) not named Carlos Zambrano or Derrek Lee, or Aramis Ramirez (if Hendry can sign him to a contract extension, which I believe he will). Each of the Dirty Dozen I have listed below are either getting close to free-agency (like after next season), or are eligible for salary arbitration while playing for a club that usually isnít inclined to go to arbitration with their guys, or are signed to existing contracts but could be available because their clubs might be headed in a ìdifferent directionî and might want to dispose of ("dump") the contract. BTW, it is not inconceivable that Hendry might consider trading Mark Prior straight-up for one of these 12, too, just because Hendry might want a pitcher capable of making all of his starts or (if that isn't the issue) going deeper into games than Prior has generally been able to go during his career (due to high per-inning pitch counts). Personally, I think Hendry will hang onto Prior for at least another year, but you never know. The age listed is what it will be as of Opening Day 2007. RHP: Kris Benson (BAL) ñ age 32 2007 - $7.5m 2008 - $7.5m (or $500K buy-out) Kelvim Escobar (LAA) ñ age 30 2007 ñ $8.5m 2008 ñ $9m 2009 - $9.5m (FA after 2009) Freddy Garcia (CHW) ñ age 30 2007 - $10m (FA after 2007) Jon Garland (CHW) - age 27 2007 - $10m 2008 - $12m (FA after 2008) Tim Hudson (ATL) ñ age 31 2007 - $6m 2008 - $13m 2009 - $13m 2010 - $12m (or $1m buy-out) Jason Jennings (COL) ñ age 28 2007 ñ $6.5m, or else $100K buy-out with Salary Arbitration (FA after 2007) Jon Lieber (PHI) ñ age 36 2007 - $7.5m (FA after 2007) Matt Morris (SF) ñ age 32 2007 - $9.5m 2008 - $9.5m 2009 - $9m (or $1m buy-out) Javier Vazquez (CHW) ñ age 30 2007 - $12.5m (AZ pays $3m & NYY pay $3m of it, so it's really $6.5m) 2008 - Salary Arbitration (FA after 2008) NOTE: Because he demanded and received a trade a year ago per rights granted in the CBA, he cannot be a FA again until after 2008. Jake Westbrook (CLE) ñ age 29 2007 - $6.1m, or else $600K buy-out with Salary Arbitration (FA after 2007) LHP: C. C. Sabathia (CLE) ñ age 26 2007 - $8.75m 2008 - $9m (FA after 2008) NOTE: Up to $3m in performance bonuses each year 2007 & 2008 Dontrelle Willis (FLA) ñ age 25 2007 ñ Salary Arbitration 2008 - Salary Arbitration 2009 - Salary Arbitration (FA after 2009) NOTE: Made $4.35m in 2006 (was post-05 Super Two) If Hendry does not or cannot sign Schmidt or Zito (and I doubt very much that he will), and whether or not he is able to acquire a starting pitcher via a trade, he will next probably try to sign a FA starting pitcher. Here are (as of right now) the Top 10 most-likely Cubs targets amongst MLB post-2006 FA-to-be starting pitchers (grouped alphabetically by RHP & LHP). Note that pitchers who are signed for 2007 but where there is a club option (like Mark Buehrle, Tom Glavine, Mike Mussina, John Smoltz, and Tim Wakefield) are not listed here, although any of them could possibly become free-agents, in which case they would need to be added to the list. I have also not listed Greg Maddux or Roger Clemens, because I fully expect each will re-up with their current clubs (Maddux with the Dodgers, and Clemens with the Astros). Again, the age listed is what it will be for that player as of Opening Day 2007. (*) denotes "premier" FA starter, likely to be available to Cubs only on a "first-strike" in November. RHP: Miguel Batista (AZ) ñ age 36 Adam Eaton (TEX) ñ age 29 Jason Marquis (STL) ñ age 28 Gil Meche (SEA) ñ age 28 Vicente Padilla (TEX) ñ age 28 * Jason Schmidt (SF) ñ age 34 Jeff Suppan (STL) ñ age 32 LHP: Andy Pettitte (HOU) ñ age 34 Ted Lilly (TOR) ñ age 31 * Barry Zito (OAK) ñ age 28 Other than Schmidt and Zito (who are on another planet when compared to the others), I wouldn't expect anyone on this list to get more than three years (at most), or more than $8m per season (at most). Some will get even fewer years and/or less $$$. Of this group, I believe the most-likely candidate to be signed by the Cubs is Miguel Batista. Why Batista? Because if it turns out that one or more of the young Cubs pitchers emerges next season as a solid and reliable rotation starter, Batista can be moved to the bullpen. Batista has a "rubber arm," and is a versatile pitcher. In fact, he was the Blue Jays closer as recently as 2005. When used in the starting rotation (as he has been this season in Arizona), he makes all of his starts and usually pitches into the 7th inning (averaging 6+ innings-per-start). If not Bastista, any one of the others on the list (not including Schmidt or Zito, as I explained earlier) could be in the Cubs starting rotation next season. None of them are great, but those are the choices. In addition, I fully expect Hendry to exercise the club option to buy-out Kerry Wood's contract for $3m, and then offer Wood a one-year deal with a low base salary (plus incentives), with the idea of using Woody out of the pen in '07, possibly as the closer. Whether KW would accept such a deal just so he can remain with the Cubs past this season is the big question, especially since other clubs might offer him more years and/or more guaranteed money. After all, he is "Kerry M. F. Wood." Also, unless he pitches "lights out" as a starting pitcher for the Cubs the rest of this month and wins a spot in the rotation for next year (which seems very unlikely at this point), I would expect Wade Miller to be offered only a 2007 minor league contract with an NRI to Spring Training. Again, he might not accept that, but that's probably the best offer he's gonna get from the Cubs. But the bottom line (or last paragraph) is this: I expect Hendry to add two veteran pitchers to the Cubs starting rotation for 2007, one essentially replacing Kerry Wood, and the other essentially replacing Greg Maddux. Assuming Zambrano and Prior are healthy at the start of the season (and what happens when you assume?), and presuming Hendry does acquire two new starting pitchers via trade or free-agency, that would leave just one slot open for one of the young Cub pitchers. At this point, Rich Hill would seem to be the front-runner for that slot, with Marshall, Guzman, Mateo, et al either starting at Iowa or working out of the big club's bullpen. And acquiring two veteran starting pitchers via trade and/or free-agency will probably leave Hendry with only about $10m in available 2007 payroll to add a starting position player, either by re-signing Pierre to play CF, or by signing a FA like Gary Matthews, Jr to play CF or RF or Ray Durham, Julio Lugo, Ronnie Belliard, Craig Counsell, Adam Kennedy, or Mark Loretta to play 2B. But I doubt very much that we will be seeing Carlos Lee, Alfonso Soriano, or Gary Sheffield in a Cubs uniform next season.
Return to Homepage

Comments

The most important thing Hendry can do is stop envisioning Prior as a front of the rotation guy.

If he doesn't pick up a #2 (FA or trade), we are once again going to have a long season.

Of course as long as Dusty is let go, it will be a successful off-season.

What do you thnk the chances of the Cubs resiging Pierre are? I'd lvoe to see him back.
What about the manager spot? Dusty won't be back i dont think. Once again, i'd love to see Joe Girradi in the spot, but i doubt Florida will let him go.

I disagree CT Steve, the most important thing to do is stop envisioning Juan Pierre as a $10 million a year CF and leadoff hitter.

I don't agree that the Cubs are mainly in the market for starting pitching and a second baseman.

With Eric Patterson maybe less than a year away and with Theriot showing that he is serious about becoming a major leaguer (unlike Cedeno who has shown that he is less than serious about learning how to hit), I don't think the Cubs are going to invest in a veteran second baseman right now.

Where they really need to upgrade is at short, where they don't have anyone who can hit and steal bases as well as Theriot, let alone Patterson. If Miguel Tejada were a free agent, they would mortgage the newspaper to try to land him. As it is, they'll try again to trade for him. But this is where the Cubs have real problems, and Hendry has his biggest challenge: finding bodies to trade.

If Pierre and Ramirez were under contract they would both be trade bait. Since they're free agents, we have to sign them and keep them. Otherwise we get nothing for them, and Ramirez is worth a lot. Pierre, meanwhile, cost us a lot a year ago. He seems to be having a career year and looks good in a Cub uniform. I'm starting to think he'll be around a while. I can live with that.

You can't sign a guy and trade him. It doesn't make sense from the other team's point of view, since they could have signed him themselves.

I don't think Hendry intends to trade Hill or Pie, or he would have done it before now. I hope he doesn't trade them. I'm an old Cub fan and I've never gotten over Lou Brock, let alone Palmeiro, Joe Carter, Moyer, Holtzman and some others. (Maddux wasn't traded, he left on his own. I'll never understand the big welcome he received when he came back, having pretty much used up his arm in Atlanta.)

How Hendry is going to get Tejada for Jacques Jones I don't know, but I wish him luck.

Maybe they'll try to get another righty starter. We do have a pitching-rich farm system. How do you think all those farms teams ended up with winning records? There aren't too many hitters down there.

Zito is lefty, so forget about him. Hill and Marshall are already in the rotation to stay, I hope, and a can't-miss lefty named Veal is on the way.

It's a funny thing. We're a last-place team but we don't have anybody we're willing to trade except Jones and the guys who can't be traded because they're free agents or have sore arms. Murton is a keeper; so are Lee and Barrett and Zambrano and three or four prospects. Maybe Eyre and Howry will be on the block. Trade the old guys if you've got to trade somebody.

Maybe we're not so bad off. Get us a good new manager and we'll face the future with confidence.

None of the aforementioned SP's excite me that much except for Jennings from Colorado. His numbers for pitching in the launching pad are amazing. Pierre can take a hike, no interest in paying millions for a 1-dimensional player who will be on the decline. Prior, Wood who the hell knows? Plan on Prior not pitching and plan on Wood as a RP. I can tolerate a rotation of Zambrano, Jennings, Marshall, Hill and Mateo/Guzman/Ryu (O'Malley? Another Steve Engle or Joe Kramer or Jeff Pico IMO) How 'bout Loretta on 2B, Durham in CF and Pie nowhere near the MLB roster yet? I can see Durham handling CF ok with a late-inning defensive replacement. My 2 cents....

I say that I'd sign one of those pitchers to a deal, maybe Westbrook, Escobar, or Padilla, and put Hill and either Mateo or Marshall in the mix.

A lot of the other guys out there are either on the wrong side of 30, or not worth the money they'll be asking for.

Z
Prior
Hill
Free Agent
Marshall/Mateo

I don't care about Donut Jim's 2 year deal, this is a team in need of an overhaul, not a tweak or two.
Hill looks like he's got stuff to be a 3 or 4 pitcher, and Marshal has 8 or 9 quality starts this year...pretty good for a guy with little experience.

This team needs to grow from within, and AUGMENT what they have with free agency, not gut the farm system for fading veterans, and surrender draft picks for the likes of Jacque Jones.

Will Pierre be around next year to continue his tutoring? He's a free agent after this season, and his status, as well as that of Cubs manager Dusty Baker, is uncertain. Baker is in the last year of his contract.

"I haven't really thought about it yet," Pierre said. "I haven't sat down and thought about it. If Dusty's not back, [my decision is based] more on who are they going to bring in. It might be a manager who doesn't like to run. There are some managers like that. That would affect my decision making.

"I don't want to go to a team where I can't maximize my abilities," he said. "Some teams it doesn't do you any good to run because the lineup is so stacked. I still believe I still should run. I don't know any big guy who doesn't like a guy in scoring position with less than two outs. But sometimes the manager or the organization doesn't like guys to run."

This is from Carrie Muskrat's latest propaganda piece on Cubs.com. Glad to see that Juan Pierre's more focused on getting his steals than he is on whether those steals are actually helping the club win. This guy is a loser and we'd be way better off without him.

Marlins 2003 you say? Just cause a guy has a career year on a team stacked with pitching and everything else doesn't mean that he is now a "winner" and must "lead off" forever and ever. He still has yet to crack an .800 OPS. Let's face it. This dud is a fourth outfielder at best who hurts the Cubs with a) his weak arm, b) by getting out to much and c) his pathetic (for a self professed "base stealer) 74% SB success rate.

Wow I never thought 2007 would sound more depressing that 2006.

Virgina Phil,

I just read through your comment...

What leads you to believe that Juan Pierre is having a "career year" this season? What stats are you looking at?

Excellent summary AZ Phil! (as usual).

I would think that Marshall would be ahead of Hill at this point, but it doesnt really matter.

If you are going to let Pierre go, I'd much, much rather see Matthews (or practically anyone)in center, than aging Carlos Lee or Gary Sheffield taking time away from Murton in left.

Champ,

I agree completely. Re-signing Sarge Jr. would be a great move.

I would rather keep Aram and lose Juan Pierre rather than keep JP and lose Aram. The truth is JP is putting up good individual numbers up high BA, Hits and SBs but since we acquired him as a leadoff man and paid a very high price for a leadoff man he really doesnt play that role very well. Since everyone knows he does not draw a walk to save his life his OBP is barely above his BA consequently IMO his value as a leadoff person is extremely low which means we should compare him with other CF available consequently, for the money I would prefer GMjr. to JP.

Counting on Prior for 2007 is like counting on Wood in 2006. Not smart.

The other thing about this sinking ship is that the bullpen arms might be a little worn out for 2007. So hopefully the starting rotation should do better in completing games, like you know more than zero.

I believe Sheffield is the ideal Hendry player for 2007 when he cannot sign with any team, Hendry will float a two year $18 million contract at him in late January.

Also I don't plan on Zambrano committing to anything less than what Zito and Schmidt sign in the off season.

Hendry better get his trading hat on make some of his old wonder deals. Other wise they will be talking about how .500 is a vast improvement(which it is) from the 100 lost season from 2006. And that 2008 will be the year they will be "competitive."

how does a guy who can run faster than almost anyone in baseball become a disadvantage for being on 2nd base 70+ times a year?

if pierre ran like b.molina him stealing bases wouldnt matter.

having a guy who can actually run on 2nd base 70+times a year is a tool you just dont get handed to you. and if he steal with 3/4 consistancy...why does that suck?

you cant look at a flat stat and treat juan pierre like bengie molina.

pierre can run 2nd to home on an OF single...

whether you respect speed or not, having a guy who can run 2nd to home with ease and has 70+ chances to do it...that's not nothing.

Jacos,
The pessimistic side of me agrees that you may be right about Sheffield.
However, I have to believe that Hendry will realize that in Murton he has a great hitter (a great CHEAP hitter) in left already. There is really no need to waste that 18 million which we could use for pitching or for second base.

guess that should be 80+ times on 2nd...

and yes i believe that's a LOT more important to guaging his worth vs. 17-18 times caught stealing or picked off 1st.

his speed puts him on base 50-ish times more than his bat will let him.

that's as good as a double PLUS what it does to the pitcher's motion and taking away pitches (like a changeup) he would ordinarily throw if he didnt have to worry about a guy who wants 2nd (or 3rd) off the pitcher.

Great summary.

And a question: a couple weeks back a poster posted a scatterplot showing winning % vs. payroll. Whoever did it, can you toss that link on the comments board again?

Thanks.

RORY:
"Wow I never thought 2007 would sound more depressing that 2006."

HA HA...I was thinking the same thing.

This team is major steps away from truly contending. And a tweak here and there ain't gonna cut it. If planning properly, this team could be true WC contenders in 2008 and be ready for the division in 2009, IMO.

Horatio:
"Marlins 2003 you say? Just cause a guy has a career year..."

What makes you think Pierre had a career year in 2003, when his 2004 season was even better in almost every category. And his 2003 season was right inline with his career numbers.

Pierre is going to get $8-10 million on the open market. His surge here at the end of the year (much like ARam) has made him good money. I would be all for resigning him (especially since we gave up so much for him), but we had better still upgrade at least at one other offensive postion.

so 07 is already over?

20+m to spend (assuming no raise, though a lotta money was cut late this year and how that will play in 07 still isnt known).

a solid pen...aram/dlee/jones/barrett anchoring the bats.

Z + ? ? ? starting seems to be the only glaring hole (much like the pen last year).

if you're gonna take that kinda attitude looking into 07 well...STL's really in a craphole, though they got 20m+ to spend themselves, and the rest of the division is in utter ruin.

hell, we dont even know what the 07 FA market will look like...lee/soriano's situation...hell, aram's situation.

prior/miller's role...the 2nd base situation...the murton situation...the CF situation...

there IS a base there in bats, pen, and D...

Interesting little exercise: if you take Pierre's current numbers and treat his stolen bases as doubles rather than singles and his CS attempts as outs rather than singles, his line changes dramatically.

His real line: .289/.333/.388 (.721 OPS)

Using the above calculation: .262/.307/.443 (.750 OPS)

You can make whatever you want of that. It looks like both sides are partialy correct--his anemic slugging is offset by the fact that he manages to get extra bases by the steal, but his average and onbase percentage take a substantial hit based on the number of times he gets caught stealing.

And, of course, none of this takes into account the intangibles of a basestealer--the effect on the pitcher, the opposing defense, etc.

jacos:
"Also I don't plan on Zambrano committing to anything less than what Zito and Schmidt sign in the off season."

Good point...

Also, you can take a look at Roy Oswalt's new contract as a good barometer for Z's signing (5 yrs/$73 million).

Champsummers:
"However, I have to believe that Hendry will realize that in Murton he has a great hitter (a great CHEAP hitter) in left already."

"great hitter"?????????

Don't you think that is a little much? Right now Murton ranks almost last among NL LF's in OPS. He might be a good hitter, but not based on his position. I wish he knew how to play 2B.

AZ Phil: If Jim Hendry is given a 2007 payroll budget somewhere in the vicinity of $100m (could be a liitle bit less, could be a little bit more)

Thinking about this solely from the Trib's perspective... if I'm spending $94 mil on a team that ranks dead last in the NL while teams like FLA are spending $14 mil on a WC contender, I'm going to stop spending. Seriously, why the hell would I? It ain't pretty, but it's the truth.

Whether KW would accept such a deal just so he can remain with the Cubs past this season is the big question, especially since other clubs might offer him more years

Wood wouldn't get more than $1-1.5 mil on the market. That being said, the Cubs should still save their pennies and let someone else rehab him. I'm not even fond of them keeping Prior around.

duane: And a question: a couple weeks back a poster posted a scatterplot showing winning % vs. payroll. Whoever did it, can you toss that link on the comments board again?

Scattogram of $/Wpct 2003-2006 (2003-2005 adjusted to MLB average)
Click Here

Crunch:
"so 07 is already over?"

No, not by a long shot, but IMO there are MANY more holes/question marks looking at 2007, then when I was looking at 2006. And we see hoe big of a disaster 2006 was. Of course injuries played a major role in that.

But yes, it is still early (hell 2006 isn't even over), but that $24 million will go very fast.

the murton issue could be damn pressing if he keeps showing what he's learned.

the murton of the 1st 1/2 of the season isnt the same one as now.

late last year murton fixed a hole on the inside zone he had. that was really promising.

this year he came into the season getting the entire plate for a few weeks that quickly turned to this constant pattern of pitching murt outside/low in a place he cant elevate (cuz he can hit to all fields). this resulted in a lot of crap on the ground...way too much for an average-at-best LF'r.

he worked really hard to change his approach at the plate, tinkered with various stances, and finally re-re-rechanged the scouting report on him. he reclaimed the whole plate.

he's starting to elevate the ball again...he's not just getting pounded in 1 area. pitchers/catchers have to actually think about how to pitch to him now. kid's always had a good eye.

fun stuff...should be interesting to see how he fits into 07 and in what capacity.

Sorry to sound pessimistic, but you have to be.
I mean I was the guy chanting Prior and Wood for the last 4 years and I'm just tired of it. So to count on Prior/Miller in the rotation and be effective (more than 25 starts each) is not good.

And to say the starting pitching is a hole for 2007, yes a Grand Canyon size hole.

To clean up the mess that was 2006,get Z signed, and be competitive I believe they will have to push the payroll to $ 110. Unless Hendry makes some jaw dropping trades.

Don't you think that is a little much? Right now Murton ranks almost last among NL LF's in OPS. He might be a good hitter, but not based on his position. I wish he knew how to play 2B.

He's also hitting .324/.381/.528 since the All Star break, and .302/.365/.457 over his first 530 MLB at bats. Outside of a horrible one and a half month stretch, I'd wager he compares quite favorably with other NL left fielders--especially when you consider his salary and potential for improvement.

Good analysis, Vorare. It shows pretty succinctly how little Juan Pierre's basestealing impacts his offensive performance. And whatever "distracting" effect JP might have on the basepaths (and why is only the pitcher allowed to be distracted? why not the batter?), it's negligible compared to his overall suckitude and certainly not worth $8 million per year.

Here's my prediction: no winning team will make an offer for Pierre for more than $4.5 million a year. Only the Cubs and other losing franchises would consider putting up $8 million and more for a non-factor like Pierre.

This is a bit scary:

Rusch: 3-8, 7.46 ERA, 1.79 WHIP, 33 BB, 59 K
Guzman: 0-5, 7.53 ERA, 1.82 WHIP, 30 BB, 57 K

For all the beating we give Rusch, and deservedly so, Guzman has almost identical numbers. SCARY!!

Completely agree with your assessment of Murton, Crunch. It has been/will be fun to watch him progress.

Manny,
OK maybe I'm a bit premature with the 'great stuff'. You are absolutely right about Murton and the OPS. I can't defend the OPS, other than to say he's just a rookie, and taking that into account, I think that a great hitter is on the horizon.

We've seen Murton do well through the minors, adjust in the majors, and develop that 'power stroke' that we have all been yelling about.

I could be a bit too optimistic, but I believe it will be a big mistake to trade or platoon him.

That's all good Crunch, but what about the 30 extra bases his arm is giving away each season over an 'average' arm in center? When you add that to his offensive deficincies, you come out with a not very good player.

AZ Phil,

Why no mention of Maddux? I'd prefer him over half the righties you have mentioned there. Padilla would be fun, the team could get a travelling psychologist for him and Z.

Myers may be available because of the wife beating thing. Whether the Cubs and their fans would want him may be a different matter, but there were lots of calls for Monopoly Board here last off-season.

I could see us throwing four young player at the Braves for Hudson and Jones - like the Beckett & Lowell trade from last off-season. I don't think that Willis is available, but if he were to be,that would allow the Cubs to go after one of those boppers - I wonder if Soriano could play center? His arm can't be weaker than Pierre's and most coaches say that it is eaiser to play than the corners.

horatio...i have no idea where you come up with some of your theories on worth.

you're a bit out of touch if you think a team would even approach pierre with a sub-7m offer...anything less would be a waste of time, and yes...he probally will get 7-10m from someone.

the logic of taking a guy and treating him like his speed means nothing is astounding.

i'm not a fan of the high-priced speed guy, but he's far from a scrub/worthless...and his OPS has nothing to do with why he's employeed. its what possition he put himself in when on base that's keeping him employeed.

myself...i wouldnt cry to see him leave, but wouldnt say he's ineffectual to a game, nor a non-impact player.

he's not gonna make a team win, but he's gonna set a damn nice table. he's a guy who's only as good as the people behind him. that's how teams work sometimes...esp. if you're a speedy lead off man.

#34 of 34: By The Real Neal (September 11, 2006 12:32 PM)
AZ Phil,

Why no mention of Maddux? I'd prefer him over half the righties you have mentioned there. Padilla would be fun, the team could get a travelling psychologist for him and Z.

--

NEAL: I wasn't trying to diss Maddux by leaving him off the list of FA starters Hendry might pursue. I mentioned Maddux (and Clemens), but I didn't put Mad Dog on the List of Ten (FA) because I believe he is 99% likely to re-sign with the Dodgers, probably two years $15m. By re-signing with the Dodgers, he can enjoy his multi-million dollar beach house at Dana Point on off days and play more golf (very few day games in L. A.). If he does not re-sign with the Dodgers, the other 1% chance would be that he would sign a one-year deal with the Padres, but I feel very confident that he will re-up with his old pal Ned Colletti & da Bums.

Hendry just needs to use a Walt Jocketty strategy for the 2007 season. Prior isn't going to be healthy and therefore with at least 2 if not 3 (when Prior goes back on the DL in early March) rookies in the rotation 2007 will be nearly as hopeless as 2006 except I think Rich Hill will put up a solid season and pickup at least 12-13 wins with minimal run support. No need to load up on a big contract guy like C.Lee or Soriano when both will be overpaid with a subpar FA class. Save the $ for 2008 when the rookies will have a season's worth of experience and enter in a top flight FA class with Vernon Wells, Michael Young, J.Nathan, Ichiro et al in a deep FA class. Then you'll need only 1 or 2 FA's instead of the 5 or so that the Cubs would need to seriously compete for 2007. Look to '08. Picking up one starter is fine this off-season but a spending spree (even if Aramis opts out) would be idiotic.

"no winning team will make an offer for Pierre for more than $4.5 million a year"-
The White Sox are waiting for him.

I've been travelling and not able to see the day games has Murton improve hitting the inside pitch? Or is that tied into him hitting more hr's?

well, murt's current stance as far as i can tell...he chokes up on the bat about an inch or so...he's also got a bit of crouch in his stance and commonly keeps his legs planted wider.

when he makes contact on the outside he's driving it now insted of blooping it on the ground a lot more than he used to.

he's getting the inside plate back now and its giving him a chance to drive that, too.

when he first came up last year he was getting the inside a lot cuz he wouldnt drive it. when he adjusted to the inside he exposed a flaw that he will swing at an outside pitch he can make contact on...even if its weak contact.

it seems (speculation) that him choking up and shortning his coverage enables him to lay off some of the stuff on the outside he cant drive. just cuz you can hit it doesnt always mean ya should, etc etc.

now those hits on the outside are being smacked up the middle or elevated into the OF. he's no longer a sitting duck for a ground ball (though he's not a 50 double, 40 HR guy or anything).

he's not a superhero, but he's turning into a damn nice hitter who has shown a quick ability to learn, adjust, and most importantly apply it in games.

Thanks for the adjustment analysis, Vorare. I can't wait for Pierre to go away.

I'm always amazed when I see the "price we paid for Pierre" reasoning in the media. Why should the fact that the Cubs paid for him make any difference? Pinto, Mitre, and Nolasco are gone. They're sunk costs. The Cubs can either have a draft pick (if that's still around after the next CBA) or sign Pierre, but the fact that they paid 3 pitchers for him shouldn't have anything to do with it.

Right now Murton ranks almost last among NL LF's in OPS. He might be a good hitter, but not based on his position. I wish he knew how to play 2B.

Well MT (and crunch et.al.), I wish Pierre could play like a real leadoff man. Isn't that job all about SCORING RUNS? JUAN PIERRE has the Cubs #1 hitting spot dead last (by a wide margin!) in scoring runs and yet you're ready to pay him $10 million to stick around.

It's amazing but Juan Pierre has managed to be last in scoring runs this year even though our #3-#9 hitters are not last in RBI's.

In contrast, sometime this week his replacement on the Marlins, rookie HANLEY RAMIREZ, will score his 109th run and in doing so he will eclipse Juan Pierre's personal career best! In fact, Pierre has only scored more than 100 runs once even though he's on his way to playing 162 games for (I believe) the 4th year in a row. Cubs leadoff men combined to score 108 runs in 2002, 110 runs in 2003, and 104 runs in 2004 by way of comparison. And last year when they were totally inept they still didn't finish last in runs scored---the Dodgers did.

Nope, I submit that JP is an historically terrible leadoff hitter. A guy who didn't show up the first two months of the year when it might have mattered and who is now selfishly padding some of his stats while leading the Cubs offense into oblivion.

Manny - Don't you think that is a little much? Right now Murton ranks almost last among NL LF's in OPS. He might be a good hitter, but not based on his position. I wish he knew how to play 2B.

I don't know, according to ESPN out of every single person who has played LF in the NL Murton has an OPS of 19th out of 40. Ofcourse it has some players with 2 AB's or 30 AB's., but he certainly isn't almost last in that area.

Besides how many 1st year players were among the best at their position? What was Derrek Lee's ranking in his first 1000 AB's?

Murton has shown everything you want from a hitter coming to the majors. Adjusting his batting when things aren't working instead of plowing ahead with no changes like Cedeno is currently doing and Patterson did. When you find that in a young hitter you embrace it, because the sky is the limit. You can have all the speed, all the talent in the world, but if you can't adjust to the way the league pitches you, you aren't going to amount to much in this game.

I had to comment on the Murton bashing over at BCB and I threw out these stats...

Murton
RISP - .317 BA, .403 OBP
RISP/2out - .320 BA, .393 OBP

Carlos Lee - 143 AB's with RISP - 7 HR - 69 RBI
Murton - 101 AB's with RISP - 2 HR - 43 RBI.

Carlos Lee - 60 AB's RISP/2outs - 3 HR - 24 RBI
Murton - 50 AB's RISP/2outs - 2 HR 20 RBI

So Murton doesn't hit the HR's (yet), but he can come in pretty close to what Carlos Lee will do with RISP.

I am not saying Murton is better than Carlos Lee, just showing Murton isn't as bad as people make it out to be. He is surprisingly good for what he has done in the #7 spot compared to hitters in the #3 and #4 slot.

"Well MT (and crunch et.al.), I wish Pierre could play like a real leadoff man. Isn't that job all about SCORING RUNS? JUAN PIERRE has the Cubs #1 hitting spot dead last (by a wide margin!) in scoring runs and yet you're ready to pay him $10 million to stick around."

well, no..i wouldnt even give him 7m to stick around, but im not gonna say a guy who's on 2nd or 3rd 90+ times a year with his kinda speed is junk...he's gonna be on 1st a few time, too.

Ron Galt:
"The Cubs can either have a draft pick (if that's still around after the next CBA) or sign Pierre, but the fact that they paid 3 pitchers for him shouldn't have anything to do with it."

While very true, it does matter when looking back and grading what kind of trade it was. If Pierre is not resigned, I can't see how anyone can say it was a good trade. If they resign him and he plays for 3 more years and puts up his career numbers and is the leadoff guy for WS, or at least a couple playoff, teams, we could look back and say it was an outstanding trade.

But again, when Hendry made the trade, I can't imagine he was trading that much for a one year rental. he had to have in mind he seriously wanted to resign the guy for a multi-year deal. If not, he flat out gave up too much.

Thank you for the reality check Phil. Nicely done.

"so 07 is already over?"

I hate to say it but it's lightning in a bottle that everything would work out for the Cubs next year, and to compete everything must work out for the Cubs next year.

Unless Hendry can do something magical again this offseason (Rusch/Mateo/Cedeno/Guzman for Vernon Wells?) this team doesn't have enough talent + financial flexibility to look like a contender by March.

MikeC:
"I don't know, according to ESPN out of every single person who has played LF in the NL Murton has an OPS of 19th out of 40. Ofcourse it has some players with 2 AB's or 30 AB's., but he certainly isn't almost last in that area."

There are 12 LF's in the NL who have played at least 375 AB's this year (Murton has 390 AB's). Murton ranks 11th out of those 12, thus "almost last". If you look at the entire MLB, there are 25 LF's who have at least 375 AB's and Murton is 20th.

No Pierre?

Who bats lead off and plays cf openning day?

MIKEC:
"I am not saying Murton is better than Carlos Lee, just showing Murton isn't as bad as people make it out to be. He is surprisingly good for what he has done in the #7 spot compared to hitters in the #3 and #4 slot."

And considering you are one of the biggest advocate of seriously upgrading the offense first and foremost, LF is one of the only positions to upgrade this offseason. 3B, C, 1B, SS and RF are set or not going anywhere. That leaves 2B, LF and CF. Like I have previosly said many times, I am happy how Murton has come along, but he might be the odd man out as his position is the easiest to seriuosly upgrade. And I wouldn't mind him in a platoon with JJ and also be the 4th OF.

Horatio,

I called it a career year because he's leading the league in hits. He has more hits than Chase Utley, whom my kids think is God--or in terms of the Phillies, God Jr.

I'm not the biggest fan in the world of Pierre. He throws like someone whose right arm is hurt so he's using the left one temporarily. If he was under contract, it would be a no brainer to trade him and put Pie in center. But to just let him go--and Nolasco's already gone--I don't know, I'd rather trade Jones and get some more mileage out of Pierre.

As far as Pierre having goals--like stolen bases--that are not precisely team goals, I think that's a good thing. A player should have goals that are separate from what the team is trying to do. The two sets of goals can go together pretty well. My best example of a goal-oriented player is Pete Rose. After a couple of seasons, he did the math and said yeah, I can get 4000 hits. And then he literally collected hits every game of his career.

Like Pierre, he got a World Series ring along the way.

Thats a fair assessment Manny and I agree with it.

Ofcourse I advocate punting 2007, playing all the young players and see who sticks. Then fill in with impact free agents where needed in 2008.

I want offensive upgrades, but not at the point of taking playing time away from a rookie who has shown everything you want from a young player. Especially with an organization that doesn't produce minor league position talent anymore.

Murton is better than Jones right now. If anyone deserves to get benched its him. But we all know his contract and years will prevent any future manager from benching him. The easiest, or I should say, the most cowardly way to deal with who should play or not is to stick with Jones over Murton if we happened to sign Carlos Lee for LF.

There is only one player in MLB that can make me not care what happens to Matt Murton. That is Carl Crawford. If by some miracle the Cubs got him, Murton who? I would hope if we got Crawford and kept Murton, Crawford would play CF or RF and let both of them play together.

Beyond that, I don't think it is worth it in an upgrade for Carlos Lee.

Murton had a really bad June....

since the ASB he's got a 909 OPS whch puts him about 8th out of LF'ers who had any sort of AB's. Better since the break than Jason Bay, Adam Dunn, Carlos Lee, and Pat Burrell.

Since most 24-25 year olds get better who aren't named Korey Patterson, especially with Murton's strike zone judgement, I'd spend my money on 1-2 pitchers and whatever it takes to get Vernon Wells and Marcus Giles from their respective teams.

But I'm a dreamer....

While very true, it does matter when looking back and grading what kind of trade it was. If Pierre is not resigned, I can't see how anyone can say it was a good trade. If they resign him and he plays for 3 more years and puts up his career numbers and is the leadoff guy for WS, or at least a couple playoff, teams, we could look back and say it was an outstanding trade.

That's a good point, I guess I forgot a component of the trade. Whether Hendry realizes it or not, the Cubs traded for one year of Pierre's rights, an exclusive window for negotiations, the right to offer him arbitration, and the ability to sell t-shirts with a Recognizable Name Brand Guy With a Ring.

Pierre's already chunked the 2006 component. The way I'm looking at the situation, they only have the negotiation window left, and that window isn't worth nearly as much as the Cubs anticipated, since he hasn't done anything to prove he's capable of producing at 2003-2004 levels. If they somehow get to the Series despite paying Pierre $8 million, then Hendry's much smarter than he's acted for the past two years. If the Cubs end up holding the bag when he loses speed, this trade will be even worse.

And then [Rose] literally collected hits every game of his career.

The ensuing 3,000-game hit streak is the game's most cherished record.

cubs do get a 15th-30th draft pick and/or a suplimental 1st pick if pierre leaves.

the tallent can be replaced, but the whole experience will leave the cubs a few million shorter in the purse vs. keeping nolasco and not having pierre.

dont think hendry/crew were counting on dlee missing 3/4 of a year and wood/prior combining for 63 innings going into 07 with that gamble.

What is this fascination with batting lead-off? It's not like it's a special ability or anything. It's not like hitters 2-9 use a round bat while the "lead-off man" has to use a lacrosse stick. You don't look at a team and say, "well, they sure have a whole lot of good hitters on this club, but who's going to lead us off? We're doomed!!!" Just get a good hitter and bat him first, period. You don't have to be fast. You just have to be a good hitter. Unlike, say, Juan Pierre, who is a average to mediocre hitter. Playing catcher at a MLB level is a specific skill. Having a strong arm or a weak arm is a specific attribute. Throwing a knuckle ball and getting MLB batters out is a rare ability relative to pitching in general. Hitting lead-off is NONE OF THESE THINGS. It is NOT a specialized skill, nor is it an attribute of a only a subset of the larger set "good hitters," nor is it a rare ability (relative to batting in general). One is simply a good hitter or a bad hitter. There is no such thing as a good hitter who would perform poorly at the leadoff spot. You may want to prioritize power for the middle of the lineup, but that is no reason at all to deliberately seek out light hitting speedsters as if those individuals possessed some certain attribute making them uniquely qualified to bat first.

Crunch, I see that you simply refuse to accept the fact that the out generated by a caught stealing is way worse (3 times worse, to be exact)than the extra base generated by a stolen base. I'm not sure what to tell you at this point, but you can take it to the bank that 75% (3 SBs for every one CS) is the break even point for the basestealer's contribution to an offense. Right on that, and your contribution is zero. Any lower or higher and you're hurting or helping your team accordingly. Many mathematicians and statisticians smarter than me or you worked long hours to come to this conclusion. The fact that you are incredulous as to how this could possibly be accurate affects the truth of the matter very little.

"There is only one player in MLB that can make me not care what happens to Matt Murton. That is Carl Crawford. "

Miguel Cabrera also.

"Nope, I submit that JP is an historically terrible leadoff hitter. A guy who didn't show up the first two months of the year when it might have mattered and who is now selfishly padding some of his stats while leading the Cubs offense into oblivion."

I too was annoyed that Pierre was intentionally getting out early in the season and now intentionally is hitting well once the Cubs are out of the play-off race. Good catch there, CWTP.

horatio...its not an obsession, but your history of dismissing a player based on OPS dont touch dont work when evaluating a player.

when 1/2 your worth is determined by something you dont do, slugging...and the one thing you do very well, running, is ignored....well, youre not judging a guy based on the tools he brings.

no, he's not trash...

and you make confusing statements like...

"Crunch, I see that you simply refuse to accept the fact that the out generated by a caught stealing is way worse (3 times worse, to be exact)"

what? 3x worse? huh? what? huh?

i mean..you have these preconcieved notions about stats that refuse to allow you to consider speed as part of his game. that's really odd considering its his main tool.

MIKEC:
"Ofcourse I advocate punting 2007, playing all the young players and see who sticks. Then fill in with impact free agents where needed in 2008."

I wouldn't totally punt 2007, but not make moves only to try and win in 2007 as I don't think it will happen since Hendry has dug too big of a hole. Hendry should make some moves to position himself to with another offseason, and trade deadline could put them over the top in 2008. I wouldn't put all my eggs in the 2008 FA class though. Who knows how many of them will actually make it to FA. They could sign extenstions this offseason (like Zambrano) and then not be obtainible.

"Hitting lead-off is NONE OF THESE THINGS. It is NOT a specialized skill, nor is it an attribute of a only a subset of the larger set "good hitters," nor is it a rare ability (relative to batting in general). One is simply a good hitter or a bad hitter."

this is a big problem.

you act like once pierre is on base his contribution is over.

that a walk by bengie molina = a walk by pierre.

that a defense will cover these 2 players the same...that a pitcher will react with his pitching arsenal the same...that a double by a guy behind him will score pierre/molina both equally...that having a guy on 2nd/3rd 90+ times a year doesnt matter as long as his OPS is under .800.

dude...its not playstation...his impact does not end when he puts down a bat.

mannytrillo: This is a bit scary:

Rusch: 3-8, 7.46 ERA, 1.79 WHIP, 33 BB, 59 K
Guzman: 0-5, 7.53 ERA, 1.82 WHIP, 30 BB, 57 K

For all the beating we give Rusch, and deservedly so, Guzman has almost identical numbers. SCARY!!

I hear what you're saying, but Rusch's poundings have been due to him not getting anything on his pitches. He can no longer compete at the major league level. Gooz on the other hand has great stuff, but can't locate. Put another way, Rusch can be expected to become worse while Gooz can be expected to become better.

What I've noticed about Guzman is when he is "on" and pitching well it is when he can locate his changeup. In the minors you can blow a guy away with 4-5 95 MPH fastballs, but in the majors, guys like Andruw Jones and Pujols can hit that unless you set it up with a changeup.

In other words, unless you are a contact pitcher, you need to have a good changeup or good slider.

Rich Hill will ultimately need to develop his changeup into a reliable pitch.

Re #58

Manny, that is the new New York Mets model. I think it may have worked for them a bit. I see no reason why we can't do the same thing.

Ooohhhh, to have Vernon Wells in a Cub uniform...

It'll never happen, but dreaming about it is kind of nice.

Chad:
"Manny, that is the new New York Mets model. I think it may have worked for them a bit. I see no reason why we can't do the same thing."

Exactly, I was talking to a NYM fan the last home game I went to the other week. He was thrilled with the way the team was built and for not that much money (2006 payroll of $101 million). If you really think about it, they did a good job of mixing in top FA (Pedro, Beltran, Wagner) with stud minor leaguers (Reyes, Wright) with players acquired via trade (Delgado, Green).

The only problem is we usually don't get neither stud minor leaguers or top FA's...:)

crunch: dude...its not playstation...his impact does not end when he puts down a bat.

Exactly. I think it's due to fantasy baseball or video games, but people tend to forget all the intangibles when measuring the value of a ball player. I remember game 1 or 2 of the season, the Red's catcher dropped a routine foul ball because he was trying to keep track of what Pierre was doing. D.Lee hit the next pitch out.

Also, how many more fastballs does the #2 batter see with Pierre @ first? That's why I think Todd Walker batting behind Pierre was such a dangerous combination. The Cubs need to find a solid fastball batter to hit behind Pierre, end of story.

I don't know, we have lots of young pitching and an OF'er that could replace him in their organization. It may cost us Murton though instead of Pie as Murton would seem more to J.P.'s likings.
But who knows what they want for him.

With draft pick compensation gone either this year or next, he's certain to be traded. I just hope we could sign him to an extension.

"I wouldn't put all my eggs in the 2008 FA class though"

Great point, and when the dream FA's come out the Cubs come in "second" for their services.

I remembered who the Cubs last big FA signing-

Todd Hundley

(screaming)

"No Pierre?
Who bats lead off and plays cf openning day?"
-Jacos

I would really like to see Dave Roberts get 450 ab's in CF for the Cubs next year. He is a CHEAP option and has put up good numbers over the past 2 years playing against righties and occasionally against lefties for the Pads.

Roberts
2005: 411 AB's - .275/.356/.428
2006: vs RHP .304/.379/.409 vs LHP .298/.306/.745

Pierre
2005: .276/.326/.354
2006: vs RHP .293/.330/.406 vs LHP .288/.342/.361

He also has lost no speed on the basepaths. He has a 89.4% SB success rate this year (42/47). Pierre is only at 73.9% (51/69).

Somehow the Cubs are little strapped for cash...amazing for a team with a $95 million payroll! So, 450 AB's of Roberts for far less than the ~$9mm Pierre will command (probably around $3mm for Roberts) might make more sense for a team that may need some spare $$ to address 2B, 2 SP slots, and possible SS.

The question then turns to finding a player to take the remaining 200 AB's in CF when Roberts is sitting.

1st of all, Crunch, I don't own a Playstation. I only play one computer game and that is Civilization IV.

Your statement "that a walk by bengie molina = a walk by pierre" may be true, but ONLY IF PIERRE SUCCESSFULLY STEALS MORE THAN 75% OF THE TIME!!!!!!!!! I do not know hao to make this more clear. If you are not safe on a steal more than 75% of the time, you're better off staying at first. Since JP hovers right around 75% for his career, it turns out that a walk by Bengie Molina really does = a walk by Pierre (notwithstanding the fact that Pierre doesn't walk that often).

Junior-

How is ROberts's defense?
Arm?

Ryno,

The impact of the baserunner on the game may exist, but it is next to nothing when compared with just plain ol' regular hitting talent. We're talking pennies on the dollar here. A rounding error. If you've taken any accounting classes, you'll know the meaning of the term "material." Well this distracting the pitcher crap ain't material. Are you honestly saying you'd rather have "speedy" Pierre (who's not even that great a basestealer) at .720-.750 OPS over Vernon Wells at .900+ OPS?

Plus, who's been hitting 2nd most of the year? Are you trying to tell me that they have excelled due to Juan Pierre's theatrics on the basepaths? Seriously, did Neifi hit above or below his career average? How about Bynum? Womack?

Your statement "that a walk by bengie molina = a walk by pierre" may be true, but ONLY IF PIERRE SUCCESSFULLY STEALS MORE THAN 75% OF THE TIME!!!!!!!!!

Horatio:

It's more than just steals. It's gettin from first to third on a single, or first to home on a double. It's being able to tag from first to second or second to third on an outfield fly. It's the double plays that don't happen because Pierre gets to second so quickly. It's the sac bunts that never end with the lead runner getting thrown out, or the fielder's choice plays where they can't risk trying to get the lead runner. Etc. etc. There's a lot more to speed than stealing bases.

Horatio,

I am all for sabermatics, but your numbers aren't correct. The studies that conclude you need a 75% success rate (and I actually think it's a bit lower, 73% but I haven't looked recently) are based on averages, and don't include play-by-play data. Pierre, isn't an average runner, he is more likely to score from 2nd on a single, therefore having him on 2nd is more valuable than the average runner, making his breaking point success rate even lower.

And you're totally missing Crunch's point, there is a 0% chance that Molina would score from first on a double, and probably a 30% chance that Pierre would, therefore a Pierre walk is worth more than a Molina walk. Having a basestealer on first also makes the guy behind him a better hitter (according to BP study last year), and Pierre is less likely to get doulbed up than Gary Matthews or Benji Molina or Matt Murton.

I agree that he's more of a problem to the team than Matt Murton is, and there's not much sense in re-signing him.

I don't think he'll get 3 times as much as Roberts will, but who knows?

"Your statement "that a walk by bengie molina = a walk by pierre" may be true, but ONLY IF PIERRE SUCCESSFULLY STEALS MORE THAN 75% OF THE TIME!!!!!!!!!"

uh...no.

Horatio-
What about Pierre going 1st to 3rd on a single or almost defintely scoring on a single from 2B or from 1B on a double or on a SF from 3rd. There are many other factors invlolved than just SB%.

I too was annoyed that Pierre was intentionally getting out early in the season and now intentionally is hitting well once the Cubs are out of the play-off race.

I assume that was an unintentionally stupid comment.

And by the way, of the 11 Qualified NL leadoff hitters this year JUAN PIERRE ranks 10th in getting on base even though he is first in hits. How's he going to score runs if he doesn't get on base? And boy does he NOT score runs. His career average per 600 AB's is a paltry 88 RS.

He'll be lucky to score 88 in 700 at bats this year. But maybe he's "hitting well" with runners in scoring position:

.223 .290 .286

er, ... no.

Jacos:
"I remembered who the Cubs last big FA signing-Todd Hundley"

I think Moises Alou was the last big FA signing (12/2001), but the point remains no big FA signings have happened since Hendry became GM.

What about Pierre going 1st to 3rd on a single or almost defintely scoring on a single from 2B or from 1B on a double or on a SF from 3rd. There are many other factors invlolved than just SB%.

What part of LAST in the National League in scoring runs do you not understand Mannytrillo?

CWTP:
"What part of LAST in the National League in scoring runs do you not understand Mannytrillo?"

I understand the Cubs offense is bad, they are last in runs...wee...go Hendry!!!

The other point remains that it takes several years of 'big free agent signings' to make your team any good.

The thought, 'Hendry has not signed any big name free agents, so he will not sign Schmidt', I don't think is valid. He hasn't felt a need to address the starting pitching because of the presence of Wood, Prior and Zambrano - but now with one of them gone, and one of them not reliable, it's possible that Hendry will take the money 'saved' on Wood and Maddux and go after Schmidt. I am not saying it's a guaranteed or even likely, but just because he didn't sign Beltran, doesn't mean he won't sign Schmidt.

I understand the Cubs offense is bad, they are last in runs...wee...go Hendry!!!

Well, JP starts the offense. No wonder it's bad. JP has been killing offenses his entire career.

Take this year for example. The median average runs scored from the leadoff spot in the National League will be right around 108 runs. And five teams have already scored 108 runs.

That's the most runs JUAN PIERRE has ever scored. HIS CAREER BEST is just average.

And to think, he only cost us Nolasco, Pinto,...

Horatio-

Who in the bloody blue hell said that they'd want Juan Pierre over Vernon Wells?

As for Bynum, Neifi, Womack...you can't make chicken salad out of shitty ballplayers...

Wow r these comments from Hendry undercover or the trib managemnet... So keep everybody add 1 or 2 itchers and that solves the everything.... all this great offense ive seen this season comes back and we win...GEEZ IF the trub didnt write these comments i would be dumbfounded..... If were not gonna get some more power and spend then dont bother buying a single ticket next year and save all your comments and juct change the name where u bashed Dusty to whoever the new manager is because it is gonna be a replay of 2006 with a new manager and a couple of new 2nd rate pitchers.... I cant believe as Cub fansa u people would even consider tolerating anything but major improvement no matter how much more than need to spend... well if things go the way u say then i wont even bother watching the cubs next season because fane or not IM just not gonna waste my energy pulling for an organization that doesnt want to win... and if they only do what u guys think FORGET IT

Junior-

How is ROberts's defense?
Arm?

-Jacos

___________

Let me put it this way. Have you ever seen Pierre's arm in center. Roberts does not have a good arm, it is below average, but the Cubs would not see a drop-off in center as Pierre has one of the weaker CF arms in the NL. The only defensive downside is that Pierre covers more ground.

My interest in Roberts is that he will probably save the Cubs $6 million for production similar to what we can realistically can expect from Juan Pierre. It would also not require a 3 year deal (Pierre will command 3-4 years), so if Pie is truly ready for the big leagues come mid-2007 or 2008, he will not be completely blocked.

Havent you people seen enough minor leaguers all season and now you want to bring some more untested up and that solves this problem? LOL we have everbody from the minors playing now except PIE.... wow ...Im amazed after reading 2 months worth of comments on all these boards about the cubs...If the fans are resigning to thesemoves than why should Hendry do anything ... Hey lets just wait for wood and prior 5 more years ..Why not? ill be dead and the slogan will still be wait til next year if the cubs keep this mess and bring more minor leaguers to start

"The ensuing 3,000-game hit streak is the game's most cherished record."

Gold!

The great Rickey Henderson when he stole 100+ bases was barely scoring. 111, 119, 105 runs scored in those seasons. He had speed and the great OBP.

You figure a guy with that combination of speed and OBP would be scoring 150, 160+ times.

So if you want to use runs scored as a method of tearing down Pierre, you are standing on some mighty thin ground. You can argue it, but it doesn't carry much weight. Plus it shows how ignorant you are of over 100 years of baseball.

Teams are built from speed and contact guys from the top, power in the middle, your worst hitters at the bottom. It was like that then, it's like that now, and will be like that 100 years from now. Because its a proven method of building a consistent lineup. It's hard to find the power hitters, and the don't come cheap. You have 8 other positions to fill on your roster and you aren't going to pay 15 million for someone to lead-off unless its an extremly rare example like Soriano.

Most importantly you wont find a single GM, scout, or employee of the game that will tell you Juan Pierre is trash and isn't one of the best players in baseball at his position. You may scoff at that, but thats reality. And you can scream to the wind like banshee's and say it isn't so, and it won't make one single bit of difference.

"Most importantly you wont find a single GM, scout, or employee of the game that will tell you Juan Pierre is trash and isn't one of the best players in baseball at his position"

The Red Sox have been pretty down on Coco, but I bet they don't get anywhere near the Pierre 'Sweepstakes' this off-season. Maybe not 'trash' but I think there are more than a few GM's who would scoff at the notion of paying Pierre $8 million annually for his contributions.

If you're trying to make me laugh, by all means continue to compare shit sandwich Juan Pierre with All World Hall Of Famer Rickey Henderson.

horatio...you're still not seeing the forest for the trees in your view.

you're treating all players equal independant on stats you choose to apply...reguardless of how it effects team play. it not only effects the team he plays on, but the team he plays against...that's a pretty big imapct to ignore on how a guy fits into the game.

you're sidestepping criticism of your points, too.

Has anyone ever led their league in hits while ranking 62nd in on base percentage? (Source - Sun-Times) Not sure Juan helps you win, and by the time this team is ready (2010 or so) he will be sliding downhill.

Oh, that's right, walks crowd the bases, especially lead-off walks which can become double plays. Sorry, Dusty, lost my head.

"independant"

dependant, rather...

Can we please stop talking about how the great Juan Pierre streaks around the bases from 1st to 3rd, scoring on doubles and all manner of baserunning theatrics? Truth be told, Juan Pierre is indeed a pretty damn good baserunner, and I've read a number of studies making this very conclusion in terms of runs added to an offense.

BUT...

The main point is that even after all that, it doesn't matter very much. It's immaterial. Pissing into the ocean. Whistling into a hurricane. One star in a galaxy. IT DOESN'T MATTER. If the Cubs want to win in the near future they have to hire better players and show the crappy players the door. This includes getting rid of the out-generating, prospect-costing, non-run-scoring, can't-even-crack-75%-SB-success-rate scrub that is Juan Pierre.

horatio...can we please quit talking about the points you choose to ignore?

answer: no.

your points have been constantly counterpointed.

you took all of what mikec presented to you...that whole post...and all you got outta it was...

"If you're trying to make me laugh, by all means continue to compare shit sandwich Juan Pierre with All World Hall Of Famer Rickey Henderson."

you didnt even address the issues. you didnt address the counterpoints...hell you didnt even address the point!

Horatio,

Do you have a solution or just more Pierre bashing? You forgot to bash his arm in that last post though - that's the main reason I think he should go. If he could throw like Ichiro I wouldn't mind him too much.

Horatio want's to control the arguement and shut out everyone else's point while putting his center stage in which no one can challenge.

This is cool arguement. I know how to solve it.

Your clueless, end o subject.

On to more serious matters-

Where are Bynum and Pagan batting tonite?

All Four New York "born" teams could make playoffs-
http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/columns/story?i...

If the BoSox could somehow make it in, ESPN may ignore the NFL until November.

Rickey Henderson was the best leadoff hitter of all time because of his combination of on base percentage, power and speed, all of which enabled him to score a lot of runs.

Rickey Henderson had a career OBP of .401 over 25 seasons. His ten best seasons in OBP were .439, .432, .426, .423 (at age 40), .420, .419, .414, .411 (twice) and .410.

Henderson averaged 121 runs scored per 162 games played. He may not have ever scored 150 runs in a season, but he came close. His ten best seasons in runs scored were 146, 130, 119 (twice), 118, 114, 113 (twice), 111 and 105. To put that in context, 150 runs is a lot. Only two players have scored 150 or more in a single season since 1940: Ted Williams in 1949 (with 150) and Jeff Bagwell with 152 in 2000. It happened several times in the '20s and '30s. A player has exceeded 140 runs in a season only 11 times since 1940.

Henderson had a career slugging percentage of .419. What's more, his career rate stats would undoubtedly have been better had he retired 5 years earlier than he did.

Juan Pierre has averaged 100 runs per 162 games entering into this season. He has a career OBP of .355 and a career slugging percentage of .375. While I think his OPS numbers may understate his importance, any difference is probably slight.

Pierre
Bynum
Ramirez
Lee
Jones
Pagan
Izturis
Blanco
Hill

In addition, Rickey's career SB success rate is over 80% (and I think that too would hve been higher had he retired earlier).

In the final analysis, JP's not very good, is part of the problem and should not be re-signed. It saddens me that 1) so many people on this board think he should be, and 2) he probably will be.

Real Neal,

The solution is what I've been saying all along: stop settling for out-machines like Pierre and J. Jones and all the rest and go get some better players.

In the final analysis, JP's not very good, is part of the problem and should not be re-signed. It saddens me that 1) so many people on this board think he should be, and 2) he probably will be.

What final analysis? Yours? And who the hell are you?

Get a load of this tard.

Senator:
"Has anyone ever led their league in hits while ranking 62nd in on base percentage? (Source - Sun-Times)"

Ichiro is 2nd in MLB in hits right now (by one hit) and is 60th in OBP.

Ichiro was 2nd last year in hits in MLB and was 70th in MLB in OBP.

Jacos:
"If the BoSox could somehow make it in, ESPN may ignore the NFL until November."

You are sadly probally right. But it is funny, since Curt Schilling snapped at a reporter when asked about the Al Wild Card after the game on August 15th, the Red Sox are 8-17.

I stated at the time: "And to me Curt snapping at the reporter shows they might be feeling some pressure there in Boston, being both 2 games out of the division AND WC right now. And maybe a little antsy with a big series vs. NYY on tap for this weekend." Then went on to get swept in that 5 game series and the tailspin was on.

Since some of you wanted me to address MikeC's post, I suppose I will. To begin...

The great Rickey Henderson when he stole 100+ bases was barely scoring. 111, 119, 105 runs scored in those seasons. He had speed and the great OBP.

111, 119, and 105 runs in a season is "barely scoring?" I'm not sure what to say here.

You figure a guy with that combination of speed and OBP would be scoring 150, 160+ times.

There have been exactly 19 seasons in the modern baseball era where a player scored more than 150 runs and nearly all of these were big OPS guys like Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Ted Williams (hmmm, imagine that) so actually no, not in my wildest dreams would I have figured Rickey to be scoring 150 runs annually.

So if you want to use runs scored as a method of tearing down Pierre, you are standing on some mighty thin ground. You can argue it, but it doesn't carry much weight. Plus it shows how ignorant you are of over 100 years of baseball.

I never did use runs scored to tear down JP, just his paltry OBP, his utter lack of power, his noodle arm, and his proclivity for being caught stealing.

Teams are built from speed and contact guys from the top, power in the middle, your worst hitters at the bottom. It was like that then, it's like that now, and will be like that 100 years from now. Because its a proven method of building a consistent lineup. It's hard to find the power hitters, and the don't come cheap. You have 8 other positions to fill on your roster and you aren't going to pay 15 million for someone to lead-off unless its an extremly rare example like Soriano.

Actually, great offensive teams almost uniformly have a high OPS. That doesn't mean you can't win with great pitching and just decent hitting, but scoring a lot of runs correlates statistically to OPS by about 96%. In other words, you try to get 9 Babe Ruths in your batting order if you can (obviously impossible, but the point being that you don't purposely prioritize light-hitting speed guys at the expense of acquiring high OPS guys).

Most importantly you wont find a single GM, scout, or employee of the game that will tell you Juan Pierre is trash and isn't one of the best players in baseball at his position. You may scoff at that, but thats reality. And you can scream to the wind like banshee's and say it isn't so, and it won't make one single bit of difference.

Well, it's really all about money. If JP was making the league min., allowing the Cubs to throw big bucks at a premier FA, I probably wouldn't be that down on him. But the Cubs are talking about giving him 8 million bucks for each of the next three years. All that does is hamstring the Cubs ability to get good players. And, no, sorry, JP is NOT "one of the best players in baseball at his position," not even close. He currently ranks 18th in OPS out of MLB CF's. Are you seriously trying to claim that Juan Pierre is in the same class as Grady Sizemore, Carlos Beltran, Vernon Wells, Andruw Jones, Johnny Damon, Torii Hunter, Mike Cameron, Ken Griffey Jr.??? Even Dave Roberts and Ryan Freel? Are you joking? (by the way, guess who ranks 17th...that's right! Korey!)

Sorry to annoy everyone with the constant ranting about JP but I can't understand why the large market Cubs continually settle for crap while the Yankees go out and get Johnny Damon. Why can't WE get Johnny Damon? This is the way we should be thinking. When we get someone like Pierre we should be pissed that we are yet again made to settle for 2nd division talent.

Why can't WE get Johnny Damon?

1. He plays for the Yankees
2. He would have blocked Pie and or Murton had we outbid the Yankees
3. The difference in those contracts essentially went to Eyre and Howry
4. Damon's arm makes Pierre's looking like a Howitzer.
5. Damon's numbers wouldn't look as good playing in Wrigely and batting in front of Neifi Perez.

But I agree. If the Cubs had outbid the Yankees for the Yankees current team, they would headed towards a showdown with the Mess (M.E.S.S Mess Mess Mess) in the for the Pennant. You and Ed may be on to something here.

You mean you wouldn't have wanted Johnny Damon? How about Beltran?

I think it's reasonable to assert that Juan Pierre is a below-average defensive CF. But is he a below-average leadoff hitter? In my humble opinion, the most important thing to me for a leadoff hitter is to GET ON BASE ANY WAY HE CAN AS MANY TIMES AS HE CAN. I don't care about slugging n that particular spot in the order, and therefore not about OPS when it comes to somebody I want batting leadoff. Sure, doubles would be great, but let's face it: somebody with 40+ doubles usually hits 3-4-5-6. And I want a guy who can play every day and not platoon, because the other guy in the platoon is likely NOT a leadoff hitter type.

A quick look at some guys found at least occasionally batting leadoff in the NL these days, min 300 PA
Player, Team, OBP
Roberts, SD, .370
Furcal, LA, .365
Soriano, WSH, .362
Clark, MIL, .355
Ramirez, FLA, .353
Reyes, NYM, .352
Giles, ATL, .351
--- big gap ---
Rollins, PHL, .335
Pierre, CHC, .334
Tavares, HOU, .330
Byrnes, ARI. .323
Finley, SF, .320

At this point in his career, Pierre appears to be second-echelon guy at getting on base. Guys like Willy Tavares are a dime a dozen. Remember Tom Goodwin? In his 5 1/2 years as a full-time starter not in Colorado, he had a OBP .334 or better 3 times.

So does that mean the Cubs should dump him? Not necessarily. But it means the Cubs should keep him only if he's a value proposition. He's below average as a fielder, and second echelon as leadoff man. If they'll save $4-5M by getting an Eric Byrnes to play CF for a year until Pie is ready... that's $4-5M that can go into getting a better 2B, or a #2 starter, or sucking up an awful contact at the trade deadline to get the guy you need.

Meanwhile, the current Cubs who has an OBP of at least .325 and the least amount of isolated power is Murton. I'd rather see Murton hit leadoff and a combination of Eric Byrnes giving way to Pie hitting 7th in 2007 than see Juan Pierre get $7-9M to be below average.

All hail Nick, who has distilled the JP question down to its bare essence.

Seriously - good post, Nick. I agree with literally 100% of what you had to say.

TOM C: "Pierre can take a hike, no interest in paying millions for a 1-dimensional player who will be on the decline"

You can look this up, but many leadoff men play MUCH LONGER than average compared to other position players.

Juan Pierre has a while to go - maybe five years, if then - until he will be "declining".

He has a bad arm, indeed. But he'll catch most anything hit near him. He just needs to hit the cutoff man. Is Pie "ready" in a year? Are you the scouting director? Are you willing to bet $100 that Pie will be outplaying Pierre in 2 years? 3? 5?

How do you know? He might still SUCK. Like Cedeno! He's in the Cubs farm system! Pierre is proven and is a career .300 hitter. The team has not had a bona fide leadoff man since Kenny Lofton - who you probably said was in "decline" in 2004 (so you could save "your" money - and not sign him), and will be making the PLAYOFFS at Age 39 in his 15th season (12 years OLDER than Pierre).

You guys think you're such fucking know-it-alls with the Tribune's money making your financial "decisions" based on "I'D rather not spend the money..."

$8MM will be the "going rate" for leadoff guys in the upcoming market. It is market conditions - just like the gas you put in the car. If you were one of the ones here bitching about the JJones signing (ADMIT IT!) the "market" drove deals to THREE YEARS. Either pay or don't play.

Just like the THREE YEAR deal Juan Encarnacion signed with the Cards - and the two players have nearly identical stats offensively in 2006.

Again, as I've stated on TCR, it is widely held that the Cards would have signed Jones had the Cubs passed.

I'm only saying, before getting rid of a very decent leadoff man, who has experience and a World Series ring, find a real replacement first.

You can look this up, but many leadoff men play MUCH LONGER than average compared to other position players.

Lead-off isn't a position. Plus, Murton or Theriot could hit at the top of the order just fine and probably with much better results seeing as they doesn't get out nearly as often as JP.

Lead-off isn't a position....seeing as they doesn't get out nearly as often as JP.

"Seeing as they doesn't" doesn't work.

Thierot is a bench utility player. He will be that next year.

Murton needs to be further down in the lineup.

Why exactly does Murton need to be further down in the lineup? He has a good OBP, and less isolated power (SLG-BA) than the probable 3-4-5 of Lee, Ramirez, Jones. If my choices are:

- Murton leadoff, real 2B batting 6th, Pie 7th
vs.
- Pierre leadoff for $8M, Murton 6th, Cedeno 7th.

I'd rather see Murton lead off.

Now, if Ramirez walks and they end up stuck with Scott Moore at 3B and batting 7th, that's a different story. Then I think Murton does have to bat 5th, and they can afford both Pierre to lead off and a good 2B to bat 6th.

Murton leading off . . . usually it's a speed guy. I haven't seen that rule broken very often.

I could see Murton in the second spot, on the same theory that has Biggio batting second: your best hitter who doesn't hit it over the wall very often. I seem to recall Jeff Kent batting second earlier in his career.

Of course, Dusty would never do this, since he considers number two a throwaway slot, interchangeable with number eight. Let's see, should I bat Izturis eighth today, or second? Recall that he even had Cedeno batting second earlier this year. There are many ways to lose a hundred games, and that's one of them.

"Recall that he even had Cedeno batting second earlier this year. There are many ways to lose a hundred games, and that's one of them."

Except of course Cedeno was batting over .300 when he got moved to the 2nd spot- and Lee was out which prompted Dusty to use the 2nd hitter, Walker as a third hitter.

Horatio,

Yes, I did not want to sign Damon. I would have preffered Beltran but at the time he was a FA the Cubs still had hope for Patterson. Neither player would put the Cubs in the playoffs this year, both of them and Ricky Nolasco wouldn't have either.

E-Man, I don't understand your logic that Murton must hit down in the order.

Tell me, does it make any sense at all to put the guys most likely to make outs in position to get the most PA's? Are you trying to create runs or are you trying to create outs?

Real Neal, I was holding out hope for Patterson too and I guess at the time I might have passed on the FA's and given him a chance. I guess if I've learned anything from this it's that you take the sure thing (Beltran) over the project (Patterson) every time. Let's just hope the Cubs don't make the same mistake twice.

Speaking of speed, doesn't it make more sense to have speed at the bottom of the order? That's when things need a little boost, as opposed to the meat of the order, where a SB doesn't matter much right before a home run.

X
  • Sign in with Twitter