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In our first Spring Training story of the year, six players recently signed by the Cubs to 2007 minor league contracts have received Non-Rroster Invitations (NRIs) to Spring Training: * bats or throws left # bats both Jason Anderson, RHP # Koyie Hill, C Ben Howard, RHP * Jason Smith, IF-OF * Les Walrond, LHP John Webb, RHP If some of the names sound familiar, it's probably because all six have at least some MLB experience. Webb and Smith are both one-time members of the Cubs organization, both have done time on the Cubs 40-man roster, and both were rated as Top 10 Cubs Prospects by Baseball America at various times (Smith in 1999, and Webb in 2001). Smith was one of two players sent to Tampa Bay for Fred McGriff in July 2001, and Webb was claimed off outright waivers by the Devil Rays in February 2004 after suffering a broken leg while walking his dog during the off-season. (Tough break). Now 27, Webb has evolved into a jouneyman AAA rotation starter, spending last season in the Cardinals organization. But Jason Smith would appear to have something to offer. An athletic left-handed hitter who started his career as a shortstop, Smith is capable of playing all four infield positions and both corner outfield spots. In 49 games with the Colorado Rockies in 2006, he hit .263 with five HR in just 107 PA. In 166 career MLB games with TB, DET, and COL (about equal to one full season's worth of games), Smith has gone 230/260/385, with 11 HR, 10 doubles, eight triples, and nine SB (12 CS). Depending on who else Jim Hendry is able to sign this off-season, Smith, who is now 29, might have an outside chance to win a bench job with the Cubs in 2007. A lefty "swingman" and a one-time Kansas Jayhawk, Walrond had some previous MLB experience with the KC Royals in 2003 before signing a minor league contract with the Cubs after the 2005 season. Walrond received an invitation to Spring Training with the Cubs, but was sent to Iowa after failing to make Dusty Baker's Opening Day pitching staff. Walrond had a decent year at AAA Iowa that earned him a September call-up with the big club, and Les showed a pretty good strikeout pitch with the Cubs (21 K in 17 IP). Unfortunately, between the punch-outs he was pretty bad (6.23 ERA and 1.79 WHIP). Walrond is 30 years old. A switch-hitting catcher, Koyie Hill played college ball at Wichita State and is a one-time BA Dodgers Top 10 Prospect (2003-04) who failed to seize opportunities over the past couple of years with the Diamondbacks after being acquired by Arizona from the Dodgers in the 2004 Steve Finley trade. Hill suffered a broken ankle in August 2004 shortly after arriving in Arizona, and that likely has had a negative impact on his career. But he is an MLB-ready catcher, and he could be a viable back-up catcher for the Cubs in 2007 in case anything happens to Barrett or Blanco. Hill will turn 28 during Spring Training. Jason Anderson, who pitched collegiately at the University of Illinois, got into 28 games (combined) as a middle reliever with the Yankees and the Mets in 2003, and Ben Howard is a one-time 2nd round draft pick of the San Diego Padres and BA Top 10 Padres Prospect (2002-04) who got six starts with the Pads in 2003 before getting traded to Florida in 2004, where he got into 31 games out of the bullpen (5.50 ERA & 1.54 WHIP). However, both Anderson and Howard have settled into life as AAA middle relievers, and "considerable AAA experience" is their primary attribute at this point. Both are presently 27 years old, although Howard will turn 28 in January.
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Comments

Hey Phil, amazing knowledge as usual. What is the significance for a marginal big player of an early invite to Spring Training? or an invitation at all? How does their answer to the invitation affect their baseball plans for the upcoming year?

read big LEAGUE player

Phil,

Thanks for yet another awesome piece. I did have a question for you, though, if you have time. I was just wondering about your thoughts on Joe Simokaitis. He was one of my favorite Husker baseball players ever, and was glad to see him drafted by the Cubs. I know he has a great glove, but a questionable bat. Is there any indication he'll put it all together at some point and become a viable ML-caliber player?

#1 of 3: By Bud (November 16, 2006 10:20 PM)
Hey Phil, amazing knowledge as usual. What is the significance for a marginal big player of an early invite to Spring Training? or an invitation at all? How does their answer to the invitation affect their baseball plans for the upcoming year?

=======================================

BUD: No real significiance to an early NRI, but it's what the Cubs had to give these guys to get them to agree to a minor league contract, because all six probably had other offers.

An NRI to big league camp is certainly better than going directly to the minor league camp. A lot of people don't realize this, but players (even the biggest of stars) do not receive a salary during Spring Training. They get an "allowance" instead. Just like your son or daughter. So one of the advantages of getting an MLB NRI is that the player gets the MLB Spring Training "allowance," which is about $250 per week, plus a $68 per diem for meals, and another $25 per day to pay for a room at the Flop House Motel 9, for as long as he remains in the big league camp.

An NRI also gives a guy who is likely to play at AAA (Iowa) a chance to make a positive impression and show the big club's manager (Uncle Lou Piniella) what he can do should he be needed later during the season.

And of course there is always the outside chance that the NRI dude makes a VERY favorable impresssion and makes the Opening Day 25 man roster!

#3 of 4: By Mark (November 16, 2006 10:29 PM)
Phil,

Thanks for yet another awesome piece. I did have a question for you, though, if you have time. I was just wondering about your thoughts on Joe Simokaitis. He was one of my favorite Husker baseball players ever, and was glad to see him drafted by the Cubs. I know he has a great glove, but a questionable bat. Is there any indication he'll put it all together at some point and become a viable ML-caliber player?

===========================

MARK: I don't think Joe Simokaitis has too much of a chance to get to the big leagues. He might get a promotion to AA in 2007, although he might also go back to Daytona again. But AA appears to be his ceiling. He just doesn't hit enough, and he's not a good enough fielder to overcome the lack of offense. I hope I'm wrong, though.

btw Jody Davis will be Daytona's manager next year

Also, Yanks apparently were going after Blanco, which might be why the Cubs struck quickly on that one.

Rob G.:
"Also, Yanks apparently were going after Blanco, which might be why the Cubs struck quickly on that one."

Didn't Ozzie also say he was really interested in Blanco? I have very little issue overall with the Blanco resigning. It was for too much money, but I think he was sought after by a few teams and Hendry just wanted to get it done. And if it helps re-up Z this offseason even a little bit, then that even makes it better.

http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/6180928

some stuff from Rosenthal on Cotts that he's probably not suited to be a starter and this nugget on Drew..

"If there ever was a person who wasn't meant to be in New York or Boston, it's J.D. Drew," the exec says. "I don't think he can take the catcalls that he'll get in those places.

Anyone up for placing bets on what new face will be added to the roster tomorrow?

I really like Blanco. When he's on the field, there's just a solid feeling that even comes through the tv at you. We're really filling his pockets with the new deal, but maybe he'll show longer stretches of consistency with the bat to go with is hot streaks.

Here's a bit on Jason Jennings, COL:

Rockies shopping him, though they may hold onto him until mid-season when he may potentially have more value. Rockies also discussing a long-term contract extension with him and have offered a 2-year, $16M deal with an opion. Astros interested and the Rockies covet Chris Burke. Twins (Jesse Crain), Cubs (Michael Wuertz and Felix Pie) and Rangers (C.J. Wilson) interested. Mariners also interested...

Full Story

Seeing the Rockies' need for a CF, I've been saying a Pie-for-Cook trade might make sense, but Jennings would do alright, too. I'd prefer Cook, though, because of his filthy sinker... made for Wrigley.

Juan Pierre has officially lost his mind. Seeking 3/30

Been a long time since I took math, but I'm pretty sure that's $10 mil/year. That's slugger money.

I am going to go doom and gloom. Theeee Jason Marquis will be a Cub.

He has "Cub" written all over him. He has 1 really good season under his belt (maybe 2, 2001) in which the Cubs think they can recapture the magic.

When you start getting into the area of barely striking out 100 and walking 70ish batters your days as an effective starter are pretty much over. Cuz all that means is you better have one hell of a defense and an offense that can keep up with the runs he will give up.

word be that Pierre was offered 3/30 by the Giants actually...

Ummm Ryno....that is what he is being offered. Good lead-off men are very hard to find.

I know, I know some people say he sucks some don't. But that is what teams are looking to pay him. He isn't demanding a damn thing.

"Been a long time since I took math, but I'm pretty sure that's $10 mil/year. That's slugger money."

Slugger money? Like Rafael Furcal and his 3 year 39 mil?

Get real.

I appreciate a good leadoff hitter and I really liked Pierre.

Still... 3/30 is too much.

I like Pierre also. Also think that is a tad expensive.

Hell, we knew crazy money would be floating around with a weak free agent class.

Jason Jennings for Wuertz and Pie? No thanks!! Jennings has had an ERA under 4.50 once in his career (yes I know COLO, but still). He will also be a FA after next year. I would pass...

Ryno:
"Juan Pierre has officially lost his mind. Seeking 3/30"

That is what he is getting offered. Not surprising to me...

this is so -NOT- worksafe its not even funny...

but it is funny...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uv23pqH9iG0

its called...um...Lee Elia Tirade - Chicago Cubs - 4/29/83

hehe...i havent heard this in years.

warning: this is VERY profanity laced...but contains some cool, funny, and embarrassing cubs (and other) images.

IF YOU'RE OLD ENOUGH YOU MAY REMEMBER WHEN TEAMS USED TO HAVE INFIELD PRACTICE BEFORE EVERY GAME....not no more...

general managers agreed that batting practice will start 15 minutes later next season, allowing more fans to watch their favorite players take cuts in the cage. The proposal was made by Milwaukee GM Doug Melvin.

"Typically gates open at just about the time the home team batting practice ends, and the fans always say, `Gee, I wish I could see a little more of home team batting practice,'" baseball senior vice president Joe Garagiola Jr. said. "So now that 15-minute infield slot that never gets used will be filled up with batting practice, and if a team wants to take infield, they'll call ahead and say, `Hey, we're going to take infield today and rearrange the schedule.'"

http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/sp...

Good to know the Cubs aren't the only team who doesn't practice everyday.

No way Manny. Every team takes infield EXCEPT for a Dusty led Cub team.

Chad:
"No way Manny. Every team takes infield EXCEPT for a Dusty led Cub team."

Oh yeah, forgot where I was at (TCR).

Dear God, you're right! I had no right to be concerned that the 2006 Cubs, one of the poorest fundamental teams in the league, rarely took infield practice! Or that the club itself foreclosed opportunities for practice by holding on-field vanity camps for rich people! My objections to these things are really only grounded in blind hatred of Dusty Baker!

You've done it! You've used that one offhand remark by Garagiola to prove me a hypocrite! The highest purpose of the Internet, fulfilled!!

What I've come to conclude this year so far is that it is unfortunate that in a year when the Cubs seem willing to spend what it takes, or at least closer to what it takes (whatever that means), that the entire league seems to be doing the same. The new revenue sharing income and player aggreement has apparently inflated market prices and also increased a teams willingness to spend.

Anybody here wanna umpire in the Dominican Winter League?

"In related baseball news, four American Major League Baseball umpires in the country who were working for the Winter League decided to stop umpiring and leave the country after one of them was threatened by a gun-wielding fan. The incident took place on Tiradentes Avenue, and umpires Andrew Vincent, Steve Fritzoni, David Rackley and Russell Barret decided to leave the country as a result, according to Listin Diario."

And you wonder why Felix Pie struggles when he plays in the DWL? There is a slightly different kind of pressure down there than you might find at West Tenn or Iowa or playing for the Mesa Solar Sox.

Speaking of the Solar Sox, their last game was yesterday, and the Solar Sox lost, finishing one-game under .500. The game was called after seven innings because one of the teams ran out of healthy and rested pitchers.

However, six Cubs played in the game (the seventh--Adam Harben--has been out of action for a couple of weeks with a sore elbow), including Eric Patterson (2B), Scott Moore (LF), and Jake Fox (1B) in the starting lineup, and Lincoln Holdzkom, Carmen Pignatiello, and Clay Rapada out of the bullpen.

Patterson had a lead-off walk (strike-strike-ball-ball-ball-ball), a single, and a stolen base, and he took third on a short passed ball where the runner on first didn't even try for second. E-Pat is quite the instigator, a true lead-off hitter.

After starting the AFL season like a house afire, Holdzkom has totally lost command. He's still throwing in the mid-90's, but he is struggling with his release point and his fastballs are all pretty much high & outside and his slider is bouncing and sailing. It's obvious that his mechanics are a mess, and apparently there isn't anybody around to help him get straightened out.

Pignatiello looks great. He missed a couple of weeks in the middle of the AFL season with a cut hand, but has looked very good when he has pitched. The best thing is that he throws strikes with a nice little dinky compact slider. Even though he signed a minor league contract for 2007 (he was eligible to be a six-year minor league FA, but apparently chose to re-sign with the Cubs in exchange for a slot in the AFL and probably an NRI to Spring Training), but I'm not so sure he won't be added to the 40-man roster by the Monday deadline. If he isn't, he is a cinch to get selected in the Rule 5 Draft next month. Lots of MLB clubs are always looking for cheap effective left relievers, and that description fits Piggy to a "T" (or to a "P").

And of course Clay Rapada is THE best reliever in the AFL. A mostly (75% of the time) side-armin' funky lefty who is death on left-handed hitters, Rapada can pitch in the big leagues right now. I would be absolutely stunned if he was not added to the 40-man roster by Monday.

Jake Fox continues to have problems with his catching mechanics, and he still wails at breaking balls. But he also has plus-power (he is one strong dude) and a strong arm, and I can see him eventually evolving into an MLB back-up C-1B-LF-PH, or even an everyday or semi-regular MLB catcher if he can get his catching mechanics corrected. He is a long-term project at this point.
Fox played 1B yesterday, and made a nice pick on a short one-hop throw from the SS. Now he just needs to learn to do that when he's behind the plate!

Scott Moore has a lofty swing that leads to a LOT of long, high fly balls that sometimes go over the fence, but also leads to lots of strikeouts. But he also walks a lot, too. He is an extremely patient hitter, somewhat akin to Brandon Sing in that respect. With Aramis Ramirez having re-signed and with D-Lee signed through 2010, Moore's only hope to be an everyday or semi-regular player with the Cubs would be if he moves to LF or back to SS. Otherwise, his future (if he isn't traded) will be as a corner IF-OF back-up guy. Moore also runs VERY well and can steal bases. I think he gets traded, either this off-season, or sometime prior to the '08 season.

I only got to see Adam Harben pitch once. Not very impressive, but he does have three pitches in his aresenal.

Now that he has a sore elbow, I think Harben is a candidate to get dropped from the 40-man roster to make room for Rapada and any others Hendry wants to protect. Ryan O'Malley (who was shut-down in August with a sore elbow), Buck Coats (the poor man's Freddie Bynum--is that damning a guy with faint praise, or what?), Jose Reyes (the organizaton's best all-around defensive catcher but also a weak hitter with no power), Miguel Negron (a former Blue Jays #1 pick claimed off waivers in May, Negron--along with Pie and Harvey--has one of the best OF arms in the organization and is a superlative defender, but lacks the power and/or speed to be anything more than an MLB 4th or 5th outfielder), and (yes) possibly even Brian Dopirak (a true "DH" who will run out of minor league options two years before Derrek Lee's contract expires, and who can barely play 1B, much less LF) are the other prime candidates for trade, release, or outright assignment.

I think there's also a new national TV deal, but that happens so frequently lately I can't keep up. ESPN thinks Dusty could be a big star on Baseball Tonight. Of course, ESPN also thinks Joe Morgan is a good analyst, so I take that with a grain of salt.

"and he still wails at breaking balls."

I think you 'flail at' at or 'wail on'. Wailing at breaking balls would be yelling at howing at them as they go by. Of course maybe that's what he does instead of hitting them, but I guess maybe he first flails, then wails. 'Flail and Wail', the ugly step-child of 'Take and Rake'.

One other player who is having a strong winter ball performance that could earn him a spot on the 40-man roster is Casey McGehee in the Mexican Pacific League. One of the most fundamentally-sound players in the Cubs organization, McGehee has nothing more to prove at AAA. He probably will never be an everyday player, but I think he might make a good 3B-1B-RHPH and 3rd catcher.

The thing about Dusty as an announcer - he'll never say anything critical.

This would bode well for a successful, long career in broadcasting!

Rumors:

Mike Matheny is scheduled to undergo tests next month, but it appears the Giants will be forced to pursue another frontline catcher. The Chicago Cubs reportedly are open to the idea of trading catcher Michael Barrett for pitching help.
Full Story

One NL executive said he thought the Marlins might be willing to part with a young starter such as Scott Olsen or Josh Johnson in exchange for Tampa Bay's Rocco Baldelli to solve their center field needs. If Florida considered Lastings Milledge a center field option, the Mets certainly would offer him in a package, specifically for Johnson.
Full Story

Pie for Josh Johnson?

I was thinking Olsen if the Cubs get a long term centerfielder.

Did you folks catch...

Bruce Levine reporting last p.m. (8:50), "Cubs will be going deep into the Soriano bidding."

An exact quote.

#21----Crunch.

Excellent. Can you imagine LouPa and Elia in the same organization. Whether the Cubs win or not, this is going to be very entertaining.

Joey

The changes in the cubs organization are Multi-fold

"were playing are asses off out there, okay our record is 16-24."

"country c--ks--kers"

anyone else worried about that Barrett tidbit (cubs open to trading barrett for pitching)? Sooooo, who would catch then? Blanco? For the love of everything that is Cubbie Blue, do not trade Barrett....

I was thinking about it on my drive to work this morning, and I finally realized what it is I don't like about Hendry's approach to the offseason.

Yes, it is that he offers mediocre players more money/years than they deserve, but that's really only half the problem. The other half is that he signs these players before the bidding begins on the superstars. Thus, he paints himself into a corner once the superstars sign somewhere else.

This year, it seems that all the eggs are placed squarely in Soriano's basket (like Furcal's last year). If (when) Soriano decides to sign elsewhere, Hendry will be limited in the areas where he can upgrade because he's already signing mediocre FAs to play the other positions.

Guys like DeRosa will always be available, or at least guys with similar skill-sets. No need to strike first and get that exact guy because if you find out later that you really need a versatile, 30+ middle infielder, you can always make a trade for one. Hold off on making that signing until you know what your team's talent level really looks like.

Take care of the major needs first, then fill in the rest later.

On the other hand, you're taking a pretty signficant gamble if you wait to fill those secondary roles until after you find out about the big names. There's a good chance at that point that you're left with 4-5 holes rather than 1, the market has been cleared out, and you have to hope and pray there's someone out there that makes a decent trading partner. Sounds like a good way to get fleeced and/or deplete your farm system.

Tom C:
anyone else worried about that Barrett tidbit (cubs open to trading barrett for pitching)? Sooooo, who would catch then? Blanco? For the love of everything that is Cubbie Blue, do not trade Barrett....

I really think that rumor is BS. Who would be the backup catcher? Soto?

On the other hand, you're taking a pretty signficant gamble if you wait to fill those secondary roles until after you find out about the big names. There's a good chance at that point that you're left with 4-5 holes rather than 1

But every year there is a pile of replacement level players who are available after the big name free agents have been signed.

Yes, you risk missing out on the backups you covet. But if in the worst case sinerio you end up with Craig Council instead of Mark DeRosa or Paul Bako instead of Hendry Blanco, is it really going to impact your ability to win a championship?

Vorare:
I don't entirely disagree with you, but if you give starting jobs to mediocre players early in the offseason, and then fail to land a premium FA, you're screwed as well. I can't imagine a guy with comparable skills to DeRosa would really wipe out a farm system. Now, if we don't land Soriano, 2B is just another position we can't really upgrade.

I guess it all comes down to personal philosophy. Do you fill gaping holes first when you have the most money and open positions available, and secondary holes later? Or do you fill smaller holes first, and hope that you can fill the gaping holes later, with fewer positions and dollars available? I'm of the opinion that the former is the best way to go.

I am not terribly concerned about the Barrett tidbit. I am sorry but putting up with his 50-60 RBI and his poor defense isn't a great loss.

Yadier Molina - 49 RBI
Michael Barrett - 53 RBI

Maybe those extra 4 RBI is what blows Molina out of the water to some people, I don't know.

It is not like Barrett is hitting like Brian McCann who had 93 RBI and hit .333 but still had 70 SB's against for a .220 CS %.

Give me a catcher who won't allow 89 SB's and only throw out 19% of them. Just to give you an idea Barrett did that in 852 innings. Blanco in 526 innings only allowed 24 SB's, threw out 18 for a 42% CS rate. So you just can't say it was all Maddux or the Cubs pitchers fault as Blanco caught the same guys.

If you double Blanco's playing time to 1000 innings he only gives up roughly 50 SB's, and Barrett gives up over 100. But 50 stinking RBI doesn't make up for putting 50ish more people in scoring position.

Why in the good Lord's name would the Cubs trade Barrett? say what you will about a Jake Fox or Soto. It is the dumbest thing I have heard in a while. Then again, if the defensive shortcomings are that bad--and they are at times--maybe you think for a moment. Barrett is no Mike Piazza, but his teams did ok with his mediocre plate skills

"But every year there is a pile of replacement level players who are available after the big name free agents have been signed."

Excellent point... except for the fact that the players in question aren't replacement level players.

DeRosa 4.1 WARP last year.
Blanco 2.7 WARP

Bako -.4 WARP

Carlos Lee 4.7 WARP last year, for your referrence.

I think your confusing the term 'replacement level player' with 'reserves'.

"I guess it all comes down to personal philosophy. Do you fill gaping holes first when you have the most money and open positions available, and secondary holes later? Or do you fill smaller holes first, and hope that you can fill the gaping holes later, with fewer positions and dollars available? I'm of the opinion that the former is the best way to go."

The deal is/was, the team got pathetic play from the SS and 2b position last year. Maybe Theriot was decent in the infield, but I saw a couple of times he as well couldn't get the ball out of the mitt, or threw weakly to 1st base.

Mark DeRosa offers a lot as a competent Swiss Army knife.

A player like that would not be available later in the process. Sorry, but it just ain't happenin'.

Lou Pinella above all things, is a consummate baseball guy. This was his call. It is a good fit NOW for what he wants to do on the North Side, and time will tell during the long sixth-month campaign if it was a smart move.

I have to think the guy will succed at Wrigley, and at the very least make the infield rock-solid with the end result being we will still be in the games in late innings.

I don't know for sure (and am too lazy to look it up) but I believe we lost quite a few one or 2-run games.

How many of those games did Cedeno/Neifi/Walker/Hairston/Thierot/Izturis cost us?

I would think we would inprove this area dramatically in '07. It IS STILL important.

#43 of 43: By Ryno (November 17, 2006 11:49 AM)
I really think that rumor is BS. Who would be the backup catcher? Soto?

--

RYNO: Actually, I would say probably Koyie Hill (former Dodgers Top Ten Prospect), one of the minor league free-agents the Cubs recently signed to a '07 minor league contract with an NRI to ST.

I have seen ALL of the Cubs minor league catching prospects, and while I don't particularly like any of them, Geovany Soto is definitely the closest to being MLB-ready. Soto--a converted third-baseman--is a decent hitter with occasional power (albeit a VERY slow runner) who has developed solid receiving skills and pitchers like to throw to him (Soto is Rich Hill's favorite catcher) and he is very familar with the Cubs young pitchers. But he is not good at throwing out base-stealers. He has a scatter-gun arm.

Jose Reyes is the next-closest to being MLB-ready, and he is the best all-around defensive catcher (cat-quick, athletic, strong accurate arm, good receiving skills), but he he is a lousy hitter with zero power, although he runs pretty well (for a catcher).

Jake Fox has plus-power and an accurate throwing arm (better than Soto's), but he has the worst receiving mechanics I've ever seen. (Well, he MIGHT be better than Matt LeCroy). However, just because of his power, it would be worth it to wait and see if he is can improve his receiving skills over the next couple or three years (I'd get him a personal coach to work with him one-on-one), because IF he can, you got yourself a power-hitting MLB catcher. (Big IF, though). But even if he eventually improves enough to be an MLB catcher, that doesn't do the Cubs any good for 2007...

If I'm Jim Hendry, I hang onto Michael Barrett. That is, unless Barrett no longer has the balls to be a catcher.

Doug:

I'd agree with you more if Hendry had gone out and signed a CF or a couple crappy pitchers -- those are areas where there's plenty of room to upgrade via trade or free agency. We're talking about a backup catcher and a second basemen. The only real upgrade there would be Giles, and it isn't clear how much of an upgrade he'd be over DeRosa - especially when you factor in his trade cost.

"Yadier Molina - 49 RBI
Michael Barrett - 53 RBI"

Barrett produced 91 runs in 418 PA's, that is 1 run per 4.59 at bats. His CERA was 4.57

Blanco produced 54 runs in 261 PA's. That is 1 run per 4.83 at bats. His CERA was 4.98 Despite his superior CS rate.

Yadier Molina produced 72 runs in 461 PA's. That is 1 run per 6.4 PA's.

I once heard there is more to a catcher than his RBI total. Someone correct me if I am wrong.

I would be open to trading Barrett for Wells or someone, not for Jason Jenningish pitcher.

Molina:
.216/.274/.321 6HR, 49 RBI in 417 PA, 129 G
.267 RISP

Barrett:
.307/.368/.517, 16 HR, 53 RBI, 375 Pa, 107 G
.258 RISP

Say what you will...he is subpar defensively to be sure, but he is a MUCH better hitter than Molina.

Pffft, who gives a damn if Barrett has a nearly .300 edge on him in OPS. He only had 4 more RBIs!!

Michael Barrett is a first baseman crouching behind the plate. He's awful back there. And he's one of the few bits of trade flesh we have. If you can get something decent for him, you go for it. Not a Jason Jennings type, though. Somebody good.

Catchers ERA has more to do with the pitcher than the catcher. Just like range factor for a catcher, it is totally dependant on the pitcher.

Barrett has actually improved his defense a little bit since the 2003 season in which his CERA was 3.88 and RF was 9.01. So if his CERA and RF dropped the next two years does that mean he has gone from abysmal to nightmarish? No, not at all.

I would say Barrett has gone from abysmal to just plain poor. He doesn't have as much trouble blocking pitches in the dirt but still 50% of the time he just tries to "oley" his blocks which result in passed balls and wild pitches at the wrong times.

#241 of 242: By Jerry (November 17, 2006 11:29 AM)

It has been reported that Boston has offered JD Drew a huge contract, and the Cubs have matched it.

Obviously from another thread.

Has anyone else heard that we matched the BoSox offer on Drew?

Arizona Phil:
If I'm Jim Hendry, I hang onto Michael Barrett. That is, unless Barrett no longer has the balls to be a catcher.

Ouch...

Actually I don't want to drag this thread into another Michael Barrett debate. I have a long 3 year history of disliking his defense and he has done nothing to change that over the years. So I am just a tad bias.

His offense is acceptable, but won't be missed if he was traded. If he was more of threat with the bat I could live with it. But he isn't and never will be. He is just a decent hitting catcher with no real skills behind the plate and runs better than most other catchers.

Jeez, Phil - talk about a low blow.

Cubs ownership bidders are lining up-

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15758595/from/ET/

And Frank Thomas is a Bluejay....

AZPhil, After Baretts last season injury, he may not have the balls anymore ;)

Sorry couldn't resist.

Man am I slow....

Rogers or whoever made up some Barrett rumor cause he thought the Blanco deal was a little expensive. I'm not saying it's not possible, but if he gets moved, it's going to be in a mega-deal.

My previous offer still stands, on the pre-requisite that we extend his contract 3yrs, Barrett, Pie, and Wuertz or Marshall for V. Wells.

"He is just a decent hitting catcher "

Are there two Michael Barretts out there?

Here is a list of guys who had higher OPS than Barrett in each of the last two years:

...

Oh, sorry there's no one. Barrett was third in OPS in 05 and again in 06. He's one of the top 3 offensive catchers in the game, no matter what way you slice it.

Rotoworld and other stuff...

Lilly's agent says he could get 4/35 for him right now

Nomar close to a 2 yr deal with the Dodgers

Durham wants 2/18 (why the hell didn't we sign him?)

Drew now might sign a 2/30 deal with the RSox

Cubs have asked about Jason Jennings

Cards are making push for Padilla

I do NOT want to see Padilla in the Central unless he's on the Cubs!

PLEASE!!

Here is a list of guys who had higher OPS than Barrett in each of the last two years:
...
Oh, sorry there's no one. Barrett was third in OPS in 05 and again in 06. He's one of the top 3 offensive catchers in the game, no matter what way you slice it.

So is it no one or is he third?

Besides if all your looking at is OPS then your not seeing the whole picture. Is Barrett better than Victor Martinez with the bat? If you just looked at OPS then Barrett is until you look at the rest of his Martinez's numbers and he beats Barrett like a red headed step child on offense.

Why do red-headed step children always get the short end of the stick? Do blonde haired step chidlren have something on them?

Barrett's defense is sub-par, he can hit, if we had healthy pitchers the last 3 years, he'd be one of our favorite players.

Tom C:
"anyone else worried about that Barrett tidbit (cubs open to trading barrett for pitching)? Sooooo, who would catch then? Blanco? For the love of everything that is Cubbie Blue, do not trade Barrett...."

Yeah, I am a bit worried. Barrett is one of our top hitters and basically one of the best offensive catchers in the game. I don't see who we would replace him with. Also, Hendry loves the guy, so I would be surprised he would get rid of him.

So I am assuming the rumor stated by "Jerry" that the Cubs have matched the BoSox's offer on Drew is unsubstantiated?

it would be nice if Jerry told us where he heard that or read it, that kind of goes for everybody. Even if you don't want to spend the time getting the link, just mention where it came from.

Yadier Molina - 49 RBI
Michael Barrett - 53 RBI

Catchers ERA has more to do with the pitcher than the catcher. Just like range factor for a catcher, it is totally dependant on the pitcher.

Come on MikeC, you can't be serious.

You really are going to use RBI to say that Barrett essentially the same level of hitter as Molina, and then you're going to complain when CERA is used because is dependant on other factors?

http://cubs.scout.com/2/591660.html (subscription required)

I guess poor Aardvark was a huge Cubs fan growing up, oh well.

Maybe I should have said "in both of the last two years"? Anyway, you should have been able to figure it out from the context.

"Is Barrett better than Victor Martinez with the bat?"

Victor Martinez took 234 more PA's than Barrett to hit the same number of HR's. He did use those extra PA's to hit into 15 extra double plays, though. If Barrett gets traded to the AL next year and gets to DH 20 games, he'll probably put up similar counting numbers to Martinez, more HR's and RBI's but fewer walks and doubles.

Interesting link from Yellow-Chair Sports (blog) via Deadspin:
http://yellow-chair-sports.blogspot.com/2006/...

It illustrates my points about how it is wasteful to spend $4m/year on a guy like DeRosa and not pony up the huge cash for impact players like Beltran, Tejada, Soriano, et al. Kind of convoluted, but a decent read.

Doug D,

There are a few problems with that list of Free Agents, let me see if I can list them.

1. Rolen was never a free agent
2. Where's Mike Hampton, Mo Vaughn?
3. There's only what, 4 world series winners in that list? That may seem like a lot, but as we I just pointed out it's not really an all-inclusive list.
4. There are two franchise crippling busts in there, not including the guys from #2.

"Why bother spending money on a supposedly established player if his established reputation is a player only equal to or marginally better than a replacement making a fraction of the price?"

As I already mentioned, there is lot of confusion over what 'Replacement level' player is. Buck Coats and 2006 Angel Guzman are replacement level players. How many teams have won a world series with 9 of them on the roster? Don't bother with the research, it is none.

http://www.dfw.com/mld/dfw/sports/baseball/16...

Rangers making big push to keep Padilla

http://feed.insnews.org/v-cgi/feeds.cgi?feedi...

Boston has offered J.D. Drew a huge contract -- and Lou Piniella's Cubs have matched it.

probably what Jerry was referencing...

Igawa is being posted Monday btw...

anyone care to dream about an OF of Drew, Soriano and Jones?

I'd miss Murton as much as the next guy and hopefully he'd stay with the team, but you also know you have a decent team if Murton is coming off your bench.

And yes, I'm sure if we sign Drew it would be instead of Soriano and I'd be thrilled with that. Just hope it doesn't mean Izturis is our leadoff guy.

How many teams have won a world series with 9 of them on the roster? Don't bother with the research, it is none.

Is anyone advocating using 9 replacment level players?

The whole point is that instead of spending money on "top backups," you make sure you get the best starting 9 that you can.

Then for your backups, you go with the best that's leftover, even if it means getting some replacement level players.

Again, Blanco's a great backup catcher, but the overall quality of the team would not be substantially hurt if instead they went with a replacement level player, like a Paul Bako.

I think if the Cubs were to sign both, Murton wouldn't wind up as the 4th outfielder. At least if Pinella lives up to his reputation of letting the best guys play.

Barrett is one of the top offensive catchers at a time when there aren't any great offensive catchers. There's no Bench, Pudge (either one) in their primes, no Piazza in his prime etc... So he's the tallest midget offensively and is well down the list defensively. If you can get a good pitcher for him, by all means...

anyone care to dream about an OF of Drew, Soriano and Jones?

Sure that would be great, but would it be enough to overcome a rotation of Zambrano, Meche, Hill, Marshall, and Miller?

Quite frankly, considering his history, offering JD Drew a "huge" long term contract just doesn't seem like a good idea to me. I'd rather have Carlos Lee, and move Jones back to CF. Even with the horrible resulting defense, at least you could count on that OF to play 140+ games a year.

"Again, Blanco's a great backup catcher, but the overall quality of the team would not be substantially hurt if instead they went with a replacement level player, like a Paul Bako."

Now, I don't mean to be a smart ass, really, but have you heard of the 2006 Cubs? What happened when Lee (our highest paid regular) and Wood (our highest paid pitcher) weren't able to perform. We used replacement level players. How did that turn out?

I guess you can say 'Well if we didn't sign Howry, Eyre, Dempster, Neifi, Jones, Mabry and Rusch we could have had Giles and Furcal', but if we had those two guys and a group of AAAA players as backup plans for Lee, Prior and Wood, as well as playing crucial roles in the bullpen, we would have been even worse.

I'm thinking if you have Murton around as a backup (and Pie waiting around), rolling the dice on Drew's injury history is just fine in that scenario.

Yes, it depends on the budget and I'm more interested in that 2/30 Drew rumor if by some miracle it would be Drew AND Soriano.

And the only reason I brought it up (and yes this is all off rumors), but IF the Cubs matched Drew's Rsox offer and they plan to be in the bidding for Soriano until the end, it does sound like they're looking for 2 OF's, not one.

This is all very far-fetched, just having fun with the hot stove. I was even trying to guess the impact on our pitching staff, I'm just assuming we're the Yanks or Rsox for the moment.

Lugo, Drew, Soriano, trade Izturis, 2-3 starting pitchers....

Hey, it worked on my PS2. :)

#79 of 79: By Doug Dascenzo (November 17, 2006 01:51 PM)
Interesting link from Yellow-Chair Sports (blog) via Deadspin:
http://yellow-chair-sports.blogspot.com/2006/...
It illustrates my points about how it is wasteful to spend $4m/year on a guy like DeRosa and not pony up the huge cash for impact players like Beltran, Tejada, Soriano, et al. Kind of convoluted, but a decent read.
----
Just playing devils advocate here, but you could also look at instances where spreading out your payroll, rather than ìponying up the huge cash for impact playersî has been shown to be more beneficial.

The Texas Rangers are the obvious example that comes to my mind. 2002 Payroll of over $105 million = 90 losses. 2003 Payroll of over $103 million = 91 losses. 2004 payroll of just over $55 million = 73 losses.

Iím sure there is no need to discuss the main reason for the drop in payroll, but my point is, ìponying up the huge cash for impact playersî is by no means guaranteed to work.

Would I spend the big money to get a guy like Soriano? You bet your ass I would.

Is spending $4 million out of a payroll projected to be close to $120 million on a guy who can play multiple positions ìwastefulî? Not in my opinion, especially given the market rate established up to this point for guys like DeRosa. (See Wes Helms)

In my opinion, the blog you quoted above cherry-picked examples to make his point. While I certainly did the same above, by only citing the Texas Rangers pre/post Arod, at least Iím honest about it.

My point? We havenít been given any indication that DeRosa is going to block the ability of Hendry to sign Soriano, Drew, Lee, etc. Calling the $4 million ìwastefulî is fine if you donít feel the addition of DeRosa is an asset to the roster (which I disagree with). But calling the $4 million wasteful because it was spent on ìa guy like DeRosaî instead of ìponying up the huge cash for impact players like Beltran, Tejada, Soriano, etcî just doesnít seem to be well thought out criticism in the given circumstance.

Now if we hear from Hendry any indication that the money given to DeRosa blocked the signing of Soriano, Iíll jump right on the bandwagon with ya. I would guess however that if we fail to sign Soriano it is because either: 1) he didnít want to come to Chicago or 2) the organization had a pre-set limit they were willing to spend and another team went over it (see Rafael Furcal). I just have a hard time believing Mark DeRosa is going to be the difference between signing a top free agent or not this offseason.

I do have to think that Hendry and McDonought are drooling over the idea of bringing in Drew after the Furcal deal last year.

"Cubs will be going deep into the Soriano bidding."

Yeah Levine also mentioned that Meche looks to be Hendry's targeted FA pitcher. When asked about the Cotts/Aardsma deal he noted apparently Cotts showed up last spring out of shape and somewhat smaller (cue juicer rumor) which is another reason why K.Williams soured on him so quickly....of course that .263 BAA against lefties didn't help matters either. Hopefully he will be of no consequence and will be flipped in a SP deal.

What happened when Lee (our highest paid regular) and Wood (our highest paid pitcher) weren't able to perform. We used replacement level players. How did that turn out?

And who are the backups that would have made that any different?

While I don't see any sincerio that would have really made a difference after losing Lee, would it have been easier to win if Soriano was playing RF with Mabry at 1st, or with Jones in RF and a really good backup 1st baseman -like say Phil Nevin- to replace Lee?

so it seem the cubs wanna splash big on the bat and ignore going after a 12-15m pitcher insted going after the 5-8m pitcher type.

hope it works out...hope they pick the right bat.

Since Barrett's offensive production would be impossible to replace at his position, either by trade or by FA, doesn't it make more sense to keep him and then go out and buy the pitching we need or trade for it with other assets?

Trivia Dept.: one of the NY papers reveals the stunning fact that DeRosa and Marquis are best friends. For what it's worth...

"And who are the backups that would have made that any different? "

David Ortiz and Jeff Suppan?

rsox supposedly have a 2yr/30m on the table for drew.

i dunno if i'd go that far for drew even though i'd consider it fair to have him around at 13m.

i personally wouldnt mind if hendry matched it, though. 2 years is at least semi-safe.

J.D. Drew makes Aramis Ramirez look like David Eckstein. Drew's a punk.

oh yeah..that was in post #68...dur.

i blame dusty.

so it seem the cubs wanna splash big on the bat and ignore going after a 12-15m pitcher insted going after the 5-8m pitcher type.

Seems to be the case and can't really blame them, well okay you can blame them a little. Soriano and Drew can be impact bats at least. Schmidt's the only impact pitcher in my mind and he'll be 34 going into next year and his own team, that has money, and needs pitching doesn't seem to be bothering with him.

Zito's just so not worth what he'll get paid. He's good, even very good at times, but a 6-7 yr committment to Zito is tough to swallow.

Of course a 6-7 yr committment to Soriano is going to be even tougher to swallow unless that walk rate boost he had last year is for real.

Yeah, David Ortiz as a backup, that would have made a difference.

But just how exactly you get him to join the Cubs as a backup?

BP's next top 10 list came out for the Reds

2 "Excellent Prospects" if you're keeping track, one "very good"

The Cubs are in a pretty good place to bring in Drew with Pie and Pagan waiting in the wings. Are the Sox wanting him for right or center? I am assuming right with Nixon being a FA.... Someteam would do well to grab Nixon and C Wilson for a RF platoon.

If the likes of Padilla, Lilly, and Suppan are gonna get upwards of $10 million a year, then I say go ahead and sign Zito for the 15 or 16 million or whatever it'll take to get him.

LNL:
"my point is, ìponying up the huge cash for impact playersî is by no means guaranteed to work."

That is 100% correct. Even if you spend the money it still comes down to spending it on the right players. But the NY Mets of last year was the perfect way to build a team IMO. A very good mix of trades, home grown players and top-tier FA's. I hope Hendry was taking notes.

"Yeah, David Ortiz as a backup, that would have made a difference."

1 year/$1.25M (2003)
signed as free agent 1/03

how would a hendry signing of j d drew reconcile with his statements at the end of the season about "health being a prime factor in who the cubs sign for 2007 and beyond." ?
(i paraphrased).

Rob G.:
"BP's next top 10 list came out for the Reds"

Please give me a heads up when the SF Giants list comes out. Thanks!!

BTW, not sure if I emailed you back, but I did take the job...

Congrats, you mentioned it in the comments somewhere.

Enjoy!

looks like BP is doing it alphabetically by NL right now and then AL

next week or the week after probably for the Giants...

I just hope the big bats on the market sign first, so if, more likely when, we miss out on them, then Hendry can rightly focus on getting some proven pitching in here instead of getting mediocre pitchers and hope they have career years.

Because if we can only sign/trade for one top-tier player, I really hope it is a pitcher. Unless of course our Opening Day payroll is over $120 million.

I don't know DC60124, but Drew the last 3 yrs at least has been mostly healthy, at least he's stayed away from the more troublesome back and leg injuries. His time off in 2005 was a broken bone off a HBP, those aren't the sort of things that should get you labeled as "injury prone".

But him running into the corners of Wrigley and the bullpen mounds and the brick wall is pretty worrisome.

1 year/$1.25M (2003)
signed as free agent 1/03

Great, a one year contract 4 years ago. So how do you get him to be a back up for the Cubs in 2006?

I supose Albert Pujols would have been another great backup choice too if that's your criteria.

Do you have any other non-all star, non-MVP candidate backups who might have made a difference for the Cubs in 2006?

http://preview.tinyurl.com/yy8mtb

crud, we traded a Cubs fan for a Cardinals fan....

http://preview.tinyurl.com/y5mj9g

Injury reports on Prior, Izturis and Jones

#97 of 109: By Bleeding Blue (November 17, 2006 03:00 PM)

I just have a hard time believing Mark DeRosa is going to be the difference between signing a top free agent or not this offseason.

I don't think that DeRosa alone will be the difference between signing Soriano or not.

What I do think is that those $7 million dollars spent on DeRosa and to double Blanco's salary could go a real long way towards getting a much better pitcher, in addition to another bat.

I see your point, but I guess I'm not clear on what exactly you are advocating?

When is it acceptable to sign a guy like DeRosa? After all the big contract guys are gobbled up? Is signing a guy for $2 million in early November OK, but $4 million not?

Should we simply go after large-contract impact type guys and have the rest of the roster be filled with low-contract players (i.e. rookies, pre-arbitration guys)?

I just am not clear on what the cut-off is for an "acceptable" Free agent signing at this time of year (as clearly DeRosa is not) and how you expect the roster to be filled once 8-10 guys take up the vast majority of our payroll.

Again, I see your point (Soto vs. Blanco saves us $$ to be used elsewhere), and I'm not trying to be an ass by any means.... just asking for some clarification.

LNL:
No, DeRosa's signing will not singlehandedly block the signing of someone like Soriano, but the cumulative effect of giving a bunch of B-class FAs multiyear, multimillion dollar contracts does somewhat inhibit a big, A-class FA signing.

And to say that the budget will be approximately $120 million this year seems a tad presumptuous. We've heard a couple unsubstantiated rumors that the payroll *may* be as high as $115m, but if it's over $105m (not including incentives/buyouts) I'll shit myself.

The other affect that signing guys like DeRosa and Blanco has on the team is that it somewhat prevents the Cubs from developing players internally. You can afford to gamble on Theriot at 2B or Soto at backup C if you make up for it by acquiring a bat like Soriano's. That way, you save ~$3.8m/year in salary by not signing DeRosa and you take a chance that Theriot will blossom into a good MLB player. Without getting insurance (in the form of a premium FA) it's not such a great idea to take a gamble like that (see, replacing the possibility of Furcal in the lineup with Ronny Cedeno last year).

Anyway, by signing DeRosa, the Cubs have not only drained a few million more from their finite budget, but they have slowed the development of a cheap, potentially very effective, internally-developed option at 2B.

DD:
"The other affect that signing guys like DeRosa and Blanco has on the team is that it somewhat prevents the Cubs from developing players internally. You can afford to gamble on Theriot at 2B or Soto at backup C if you make up for it by acquiring a bat like Soriano's. That way, you save ~$3.8m/year in salary by not signing DeRosa and you take a chance that Theriot will blossom into a good MLB player. Without getting insurance (in the form of a premium FA) it's not such a great idea to take a gamble like that (see, replacing the possibility of Furcal in the lineup with Ronny Cedeno last year)."

Exactly...

A similar situation just took place at 3B for us this offseason with ARam vs. Scott Moore.

I just am not clear on what the cut-off is for an "acceptable" Free agent signing at this time of year (as clearly DeRosa is not) and how you expect the roster to be filled once 8-10 guys take up the vast majority of our payroll.

Once those 8-10 guys take the majority of the payroll, you fill in with guys making very little.

If the Cubs didn't have tons of holes to fill, I wouldn't have much of a problem with either signing, or if the Cubs had an unlimited budget, I wouldn't have a problem with it either.

But ultimately, Hendry has at most $120 million, with around 85 million of that already committed to current players. Spending $7 million of that to double the salary of your backup catcher, and to sign a career utility guy as your 2nd baseman, takes away resources to get a big bat in CF AND get the 2 high level starting pitchers that are badly needed.

There's nothing wrong with spending top dollar to get the best cranberry's available, but it doesn't make sense to buy them if it means you can only aford a smaller turkey or a couple lower quality pumpkin pies.

"I just am not clear on what the cut-off is for an "acceptable" Free agent signing at this time of year (as clearly DeRosa is not) and how you expect the roster to be filled once 8-10 guys take up the vast majority of our payroll."
--

Here's my argument in (hopefully) a nutshell:

The Cubs only have so much money to spend in the offseason. This year, maybe it's around $30m. The way Hendry seems to operate is to dole out *smallish* multiyear contracts to middling players first, thereby reducing the overall amount of money he has to spend, as well as the number of positions where he could put an impact player. These FAs usually don't fill a gaping void in the lineup.

My idea is that he should fill the HUGE holes before doing anything else, so that he for sure has enough money to spend on a true impact player(s). Acquiring a guy like Soriano and proven, good starting pitchers seem to be the biggest needs this offseason. I don't think filling Backup Catcher and 2B were really all that pressing.

Anyway, once you have your core set (Z, Lee, Ramirez, Soriano, 2 good SPs), then you take what's left of your money and fill the other, minor needs. If it's January and you find that you don't have quite enough money to spend on a versatile middle infielder or a backup catcher, you fill those roles with internally-developed players. By ensuring that your nucleus of players is really, really good, you can take a gamble on a few players who aren't proven commodities yet.

Places I would put cheap, unproven commodities:
2B (not typically an impact position)
Backup Catcher (decent catchers are usually fairly cheap)
Middle Relief (if you have good starting pitchers and a good offense, middle relievers are usually pretty protected)
Most Bench positions (maybe get 1 guy who is versatile enough to play a few positions pretty well, but fill the rest of the bench with promising youngsters who cost $400K/year)

Sharon Pannozzo resigned as Cubs director of media relations....

http://preview.tinyurl.com/yd57kq

I heard she was a major pain in the ass.

If Barrett goes down for the year, I think that Blanco's salary is going to be well spent money. If Barrett only starts 105 at catcher and Blanco starts the other 57, then again the money is perfectly justifiable.

Contingency plans are great, but isn't it more important to build a solid foundation first?

Even if Barrett gets hurt and Blanco earns the doubled salary Hendry just handed him, what difference is it going to make if it means that Hendry has less money available to fix the pitching staff?

"Sharon Pannozzo resigned as Cubs director of media relations...."

Who's job is it now to call Santo every other January with the bad news about the HOF?

"And to say that the budget will be approximately $120 million this year seems a tad presumptuous. We've heard a couple unsubstantiated rumors that the payroll *may* be as high as $115m, but if it's over $105m (not including incentives/buyouts) I'll shit myself."

Phil Rogers had an "unsubstantiated rumor" from the GM meetings yesterday that the payroll may go "beyond $120 million." Who the hell really knows outside of the Cubs control group...

"That way, you save ~$3.8m/year in salary by not signing DeRosa and you take a chance that Theriot will blossom into a good MLB player."

Agreed, but after the Cedeno disaster in 2006, it was pretty clear Lou and Hendry were not going to stand for a Theriot/Cedeno depth chart at 2nd base. Going out and signing a Free Agent second baseman at market price doesn't seem like season-destructing move in my opinion.

"The other affect that signing guys like DeRosa and Blanco has on the team is that it somewhat prevents the Cubs from developing players internally."

There seem to be clear indications that Lou desired DeRosa for his flexibility, so it's safe to assume he will be starting games at positions other than 2nd base. I think Theriot will still get his chance to contribute on a regular basis, and if he develops into a great player, we have a great situation on our hands.

Anyway, as I stated to Bleeding Blue in Post #115, I see your point.... I just am not clear on how exactly to fill your roster. It reminds me of the typical Reds roster... a limited number of roster spots filled with large contracts surrounded by the majority of your roster filled with question marks at best.

if hendry wanted to spend 1.25m on blanco, blanco would be playing elsewhere next year.

someone brought up bako earlier...he's banged up severely. his knees are shot...he's not the same blanco that used to be here.

the defensive catcher market is thin this year...there's someone out there that could probally be had for 1-1.5m that's on blanco's D level, but none pop to mind offhand.

im kinda confused why k.hill is getting a ST invite when AAA C is pretty much full and k.hill isnt a defensive catcher.

DOUG:

You have NO IDEA what the "budget" is. you are completely speculating on information you do not have first-hand knowledge knowlege of unless you work in the front office of the Cubs, or are their bankers.

You are wasting your own time, and letting yourself lose sleep over the fact that a few minor-but-important signings will detract and possibly block Hendry from signing the FA's he wants most.

If you noticed, NO front line pitchers or players other than Aram or the Big Hurt were signed this week as of 2:45 CST.

IF by March 15, Hendry has not done MUCH better than this, I will continue my Hendry letter writing campaign anew as a season ticket holder.

He has been an utter failure the last two seasons, but I'm gonna wait a little longer to pass judgement. I like what he's done so far pretty well, including sining the #1FA according to ESPN's FA list.

Doug D,

"Places I would put cheap, unproven commodities:
2B (not typically an impact position)"

I am not sure what that means. Neither is center field or 4th starter. Your 2nd basemen has to bat one out of every 9 PA's just like your firstbasemen and left fielder.

"Backup Catcher (decent catchers are usually fairly cheap)"

Actually decent catchers are usually starters. Unflawed backup catchers are pretty rare. And being that the Cubs' backup catcher is A) going to play more than any other barring injury and B) probably better than 10 starters, he is going to get more money than JR House.

Middle Relief (if you have good starting pitchers and a good offense, middle relievers are usually pretty protected)
At present the Cubs have neither good starting pitchers nor a good offense.

Most Bench positions (maybe get 1 guy who is versatile enough to play a few positions pretty well, but fill the rest of the bench with promising youngsters who cost $400K/year)

Can you name some of these promising youngsters the Cubs have at their disposal? I am sure Manny will be happy to let you know the state of the Cubs current farm system, in particular with regards to position players.

Stop speaking in generalities. Come up with a plan that the Cubs could have done heading into this off-season.

It's November 17th. Hendry has kept our top FA (probably the best bat on the market), resigned our two other valuable FAs (Blanco, Wood), added a sought after flexible infielder, made a trade that appears to improve the team, and is rumored to be involved in the bidding for multiple top free agents. Can we cut the Chicken Little routine at least until the winter meetings?

at lunch time on the score, steve stone spent time with murph, as usual for a friday. one statement made by stone was "i would be very surprised, and very happy, if the cub payroll goes to 120 this year." stone said the amount of 113 as being the threshold for the luxury tax, but i cannot claim to have gotten it exactly as he stated it.
and 113 seems like it would have hit more clubs than the yankees??
dc

"Even if Barrett gets hurt and Blanco earns the doubled salary Hendry just handed him, what difference is it going to make if it means that Hendry has less money available to fix the pitching staff?"

Even if Hendry fixes the pitching staff, what difference is it going to make if the Cubs get 100 starts from Paul Bako, Endy Chavez and Enrique Wilson?

And I just don't think the $1 million 'thrown away' on Blanco is going to have a significant impact on the Cubs pitching staff.

luxury tax went way up this year I believe and only the Yanks will likely be affected...

from Rob's link on the cubs.com website:

"Now that he's back home, Jones has resumed his shoulder workout with the same personal trainer Prior is using."

Synchronous swimming with towel drills?

I thought the Luxury Tax for 07 was $148 Mil.

Igawa was posted today, teams have until the 27th to bid.

With the money they are saying Ray Durham is being targeted, do you all feel so negative on the DeRosa signing now? The third year still bothers me, but in this market, $4MM for a guy with multiple skills is actually a pretty decent price. I won't argue with the "he's only had one good year" crowd, because I agree with that argument, but still--I don't see many better options out there for Hendry.

I like Theriot's promise, but the Cubs simply can't afford to take the risk this year of turning over the reins to an unproven rookie like last year with Cedeno. That was a disaster.

And I do NOT believe Lou will shy away from putting DeRosa in RF on occasion to spell Jock against lefties, that alone makes us a better team 30 games per year. Theriot will get his starts in those games. With his play as a substitute and PH added in, Ryan should get a good 220 ABs, that's a decent gig.

Wes Helms gets a 2 yr deal at $5.45M with the Phillies. Expect a platoon at 3B with Abe Nunez.

I'd love to see Az Phil's take on this one as I know he's a favorite as a pinch hitter, so platooning is a similar role. Seems like a reasonable price given what Teflon Jim paid for DeRo.

Compare and contrast:

Utley/Helms-Nunez vs. A-Ram/DeRosa

2000 draft

3rd pick - Luis Montanez
15th pick - Chase Utley

of course the only decent draftee in between those slots was Rocco Baldelli at 6th

meh...

Do we even know for certain that Barrett will be a Cub next year? As other have suggested, isn't it still possible that Barrett will be traded and that Blanco will be the everyday catcher next year. Hence, do we know for certain that the salary to be paid to Blanco will be paid to a guy who primarily will be a back-up catcher?

well if there going with Blanco as the starter, they better land Soriano, Drew AND Lugo.

alex cora just got 2yr/4m from the rsox for those keeping up with the "who's getting what in this market" middle-IF bench market discussions.

The Barrett trade rumor was in connection with the Giants needing a frontline catcher due to Metheny's uncertain future.

After Metheny's injury, Eliezer Alfonzo took over and hit a respectable .266 in 286 AB's. Any idea if he is regarded as a true starter or was he merely the stopgap?

If Barrett was to be shipped to the Giants, I'm not sure what they could afford to give back. The starting pitching is uncertain because of Schmidt's FA, and we aren't going to get Matt Cain or Noah Lowry without giving some starting pitching back. And their OF has been decimated by FA, with Bonds, Alou and Finley (declined option) all gone. Feliz is a FA too, and they lost out on DeRosa as Feliz replacement.

So what could the Giants give us in return for a starting catcher???

You really are going to use RBI to say that Barrett essentially the same level of hitter as Molina, and then you're going to complain when CERA is used because is dependant on other factors?

No I am not saying that. I say Barrett is a decent hitter. But he still only knocks in an average of 60 RBI a year. I am just not terribly impressed with that.

And yes CERA is more dependant on the pitcher than the catcher. Pudge caught some of the worst pitching staffs in baseball with Texas. So his CERA sucks.....does that make him a poor defensive catcher? The logic on that is not terribly hard to follow.

Well if there going with Blanco as the starter, they better land Soriano, Drew AND Lugo.

It should be pointed out, I would be all for dumping Barrett and going with the Cardinals style of a great defensive catcher who can't hit, provided we have the bats to do it.

If the team remains as it is, no real point in trading Barrett. The more offense we add to the team the more Barrett becomes expendable.

I really think the writer for the SF paper just read Phil Rogers speculating the other day about it and read it as an actual rumor coming from Cubs camp.

And unless Matt Cain is coming our way, I don't think there's anything I'd want from the Giants.

The Real Neal:
"Stop speaking in generalities. Come up with a plan that the Cubs could have done heading into this off-season."

OK, except that I meant to speak in generalities because I was emphasizing the way I would approach an offseason, not necessarily the specific targets. But since you asked, here's a very quick, not extremely well thought out plan for what the Cubs could have done to spend about $110m (and I think that's really what we can optimistically hope for as a payroll).

PLAYER Position SALARY (US$)
Cesar Izturis SS $4,150,000.00
Jason Schmidt SP $14,000,000.00
Carlos Zambrano SP $9,000,000.00
Ted Lilly SP $9,000,000.00
Wade Miller SP $1,000,000.00
Rich Hill SP $327,000.00
Ryan Dempster RHRP $4,333,333.00
Bob Howry RHRP $4,000,000.00
Mark Prior RHRP $3,650,000.00
Kerry Wood RHRP $1,750,000.00
Michael Wuertz RHRP $500,000.00
Jacque Jones RF $4,033,333.00
Clay Rapada LHRP $2,750,000.00
Will Ohman LHRP $900,000.00
Matt Murton LF $500,000.00
Freddie Bynum IF/OF $327,000.00
Scott Moore IF/OF $327,500.00
Alfonso Soriano CF $18,500,000.00
Michael Barrett C $4,333,333.00
Geovany Soto C $327,000.00
Aramis Ramirez 3B $14,000,000.00
Ryan Theriot 2B $327,000.00
Derrek Lee 1B $13,000,000.00
Total Salary: $111,035,499.00

If we add DeRosa and Blanco's money, that brings it up to about $118m, and I just don't think it will be that high. I've also hypothetically traded Eyre for decent prospects just to save his salary.

And please, spare me the "Schmidt wants to play on the west coast." Just like 99% of the other FAs, he'll go where the money is. So will Soriano.

Unfortunately, I think Hendry will balk at offering Soriano $18.5m/6 (which would get the deal done, I believe). Instead, he'll offer $16m/5 years, and Soriano will reject it and go elsewhere. You can say that signing DeRosa and Blanco will have no effect on that whatsoever, but that's $7m Hendry no longer has to play with.

Shit, Clay Rapada should be at $327,000, not $2.75m. I had him replacing Glendon in the bullpen. That takes it down to $108,612,499.

Also, if some of the salaries are off, I apologize. I used an ESPN link from this year, so if someone got a raise and I didn't capture it, my bad.

Even if Hendry fixes the pitching staff, what difference is it going to make if the Cubs get 100 starts from Paul Bako, Endy Chavez and Enrique Wilson?

And here is the big big difference. Those are things that could happen if the team is destroyed by injuries. If that happens yes, it will be difficult for the Cubs to win.

But without major upgrades to the pitching staff, even if everyone is healthy, the Cubs won't be a championship team. Worrying about Barrett or someone else getting hurt seems like a secondary problem when you are missing some major piece of a championship caliber team.

I'll take a team that would be good enough to win if they stay healthy over a team that has significant holes in major portions of the roster, but has top of the line backups around the board.

I really don't think trading Barrett would make sense. He is probably the best hitting catcher in the NL maybe the entire league. I can't see myself settling with Blanco as our starter. Barrett has become a team leader. Only if we get a No. 1 or slugging outfielder who's not very old, would I ok getting rid of Barrett.

No. 1 starter, I mean.

No I am not saying that. I say Barrett is a decent hitter. But he still only knocks in an average of 60 RBI a year. I am just not terribly impressed with that.

I believe your exact words were Maybe those extra 4 RBI is what blows Molina out of the water to some people, I don't know.

If you weren't saying that Barrett and Molina were basically equal hitters because of their RBI totals, I don't know what you were trying to say.

Yes, CERA is a lousy stat to judge a catchers defense, I agree. But using RBI, and RBI alone, to make an argument that Barrett's offense doesn't "blow Molina out of the water" is equally lousy, espcially when you want to discount Barrett's OPS because that doesn't "show the whole picture."

you're going to make Joe Mauer and Brian McCann very angry Steve...

you don't want them angry...

Well Mauer and McCann didn't punch Pierzynski in the face did they?

someone brought up bako earlier...he's banged up severely. his knees are shot...he's not the same blanco that used to be here.

I brought up Bako, not as a specific player the Cubs should target, but rather as an example of one of the many players the Cubs could get who would not hurt the teams ability to win, yet would cost millions less than Henry Blanco.

All I was showing was that despite hitting .216 he was pretty close to Barrett in RBI who was hitting .300. It has alot to do with Yadier being better than Barret with RISP which is odd.

How much of a difference did Barrett and Yadier make to each teams offense? Not a whole lot. But Yadier was a stud on the defensive end.

I think what I was trying to say was, if Barrett was traded, the team isn't going to miss his bat in the slightest bit. And if your not going to miss his bat, go with a defensive catcher.

I value defense from that position first then offense. Just my preference and other people like offense first then defense. I would take Yadier over Barrett any time.

Barrett was out for the last part of the season or else he would have gone past Molina's RBI total. Part of the reason is that the Cardinals got on base and the Cubs didn't. I'll take a .300 average over a .216 average any day of the week.

"Thomas gets a $9.12 million signing bonus that is payable January, a $1 million salary next year and $8 million in 2008."

weird.

And I will take the best defensive catcher, probably in baseball, who can save his pitchers ass on a daily basis with his arm and skills behind the plate.

His pitching staff as no fear when he is catching. They can throw any kind of filth and he will scoop it up.

Do you think our pitchers have the same level of confidence? Do you think they think twice about putting that extra spin on the ball for fear our bumbling catcher can't handle it? And forget about fast guys getting on 1b, you could have the best slide step in baseball and Barrett is going to fail 80% of the time throwing out guys. They might as well just hand out automatic passes to 2b base.

Damn it.... I started talking about Barrett again.

I am checking into Michael Barretts Anonymous.

The first step is admitting you have a problem........*sniff*

How much of a difference did Barrett and Yadier make to each teams offense? Not a whole lot. But Yadier was a stud on the defensive end.

And if you are going to use RBI as the basis to compare two players contributions to an offense, I find it quite funny that you'll complain that OPS doesn't show the whole picture, and complain that CERA is a dependant stat.

Looking only at RBI as a measure of a players "contribution to an offense" just conviently ignores that Barrett also scored nearly twice as many runs as Molina, despite having close to 50 fewer plate appearances. Not to mention those pesky individual stats, where Barrett bests him by nearly 100 points in batting average and OBP, and nearly 200 points of slugging.

You prefer a defensive catcher fine, but to say that Molina and Barrett's offensive contributions are even similar, just isn't being honest.

If we trade Barrett we would have to put Hendry in charge of signing Drew or Lee, Soriano, and Lugo, just to make up for the loss of offensive production. The chances of Jim landing all of those players is slim and none. It just isn't worth the stolen bases or passed balls Barrett will give up next year. IF we got the big bats to make up for Barrett's production, then go ahead and trade Barrett for a starter.

We won in '03 with a good defensive sucky offensive catcher in Damian Miller, but when we finally get a great hitting catcher ,who will improve his defense in the future, we should hold onto him.

Things that make me say hmmmmm...

former Cub Bill Mueller announces his retirement...and is now going to work under Dodger GM Ned Coletti in the LA front office.

I would trade randy winn and noah lowry for barrett

I wonder if San Diego wants Barrett? The only way I would trade Barrett is if we got Jake Peavy. Maybe throw in a pretty good prospect and they do it. I'm not in favor of trading him but if there was a chance we could get Peavy I pull the trigger.

The best possible scenario is that Barrett is being packaged in a trade for Vernon Wells. Toronto is said to be looking for catchers, middle infielders, and young pitching, which is EXACTLY what the Cubs have to trade. Vernon Wells would be a huge upgrade defensively and offensively, and not cost nearly as much annually as a Drew or Soriano (not to say that we shouldn't try to sign one). More money could then be spent on pitching and we could send over a package of Barrett, Theriot/Cedeno/E-Pat, and Guzman/Marshall/Mateo/Ohman/etc. to get it done. Giving a signing Soriano for argument's sake, that leaves us with a line-up of:

1) Soriano RF
2) DeRosa 2B
3) D Lee 1B
4) Aram 3B
5) Wells CF
6) J. Jones RF
7) Izturis SS
8) Blanco C
9) Pitcher

In comparison to the 2003 team, this one is far more talented, which bigger power hitters in the line-up and more players in their primes. The shortcoming in the 7, 8, 9 part of the order is similar to the Miller/Bako, Gonzalez, Pitcher lineups of past, but is significantly better defensively. If giving up Barrett means we get Wells, I say we definitely go for it.

DD and BB,

Just got back home and saw your points from Posts #119 and #120, and while I understand where you are coming from, I just disagree.

It seems to me you are advocating getting about 8 or so "impact players" surrounded while filling the rest of the 25 man roster (17 or so players) with guys that can be considered no better than question marks and prayers. It reminds me of the Redlegs philosophy, pre-Wayne Krivsky. (Sorry if I keep going back to the Reds, but it's the organization I'm closest to, and outside of the Cubs, most familiar with).

I do see your point with Blanco. You can obviously go cheaper at backup catcher... but I'll say it again, in my opinion, signing DeRosa for a contract that looks to be about even with the market price is not the horribly bad acquisition you guys want to make it out to be. If Theriot averages 2 AB's per week, I'll be pissed also, but given DeRosa's versatility, and Lou's apparent desire to sign this guy, I get the feeling that while he's going to be used primarily at second, he will see plenty of time at other positions too. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe I'm right... we will have to wait and see.

But even if I were to get pissed about Blanco, whats the alternative? I know I heard Bako's name mentioned.... so whats he basically? A shitty backup catcher at somewhere around 2 years/3 million? We save $1 million per year.... not a huge difference.

I guess what it comes down to is just a difference in philosophy. I have no idea whose is truly right and I obviously can't rely on Hendry's track record over the past few years to back me up.

What is obvious though is that Hendry and Lou seem intent on making this more of a "complete" roster from top to bottom as compared to the old idea of having a high-priced set of core players and if a couple of them go down we are screwed. DeRosa, again for his flexibility, is the obvious example. The talk of adding 3 "B-Level" starting pitchers, instead of banking on one Jason Schmidt or Barry Zito, bears that point out also.

I still think what would prevent us from signing a top Free Agent is either: 1) they didnít want to come to Chicago or 2) the organization had a pre-set limit they were willing to spend and another team went over it (see Rafael Furcal), not budget constraints brought on by earlier acquisitions.

I just don't believe at organizational meetings, or when these deals were offered, Hendry, Lou and the rest of the Cubs control group totally failed to take into consideration the impact a signing like DeRosa would have on the budget. And I refuse further to believe that after that consideration was made, one of them said "screw it... if we've got to lose out on the chance to get a top-tier Free Agent by signing Mark Derosa, thats just the price we are going to have to pay."

If there are any indications that signings like Blanco/DeRosa actually prevented us from signing Soriano, Lee, Drew, etc. then I will be pissed off right there with ya.

But ultimately I think those signings were motivated more towards the goal of having a complete roster top-to-bottom and were made with the #1 goal of signing a Soriano, Lee or Drew taken firmly into consideration.

Just a philosophical difference on roster construction between you guys and Lou/Hendry I guess. And the one thing I think we all agree on, is that once the 2007 season roles around, I hope Lou and Hendry are right.

someone tell hendry to get carlos lee

re: #166

The 2003 team won because of excellent starting pitching and just enough bullpen. You shouldn't compare any team to them with out comparing the pitching staff. The team you put out there looks great on offense, but it don't mean much if we can't pitch.

And just to clarify my Pre-Krisky Reds Reference, and how it relates to the approach you appear to be advocating:

In 2005, the Reds top 8 salaries totaled over $46.5 million. Total payroll for that team was $62 million.

75% of payroll was spent on 8 players, with the other 25% spent on the remaining 17 roster spots.

That team finished 5th in the Central.

Obviously the comparison is not entirely relevant to the Cubs situation given the differences in payroll, etc.... but I realized I kind of threw that comparison out there without any sort of justification.

If there were any questions, I hope this clears it up.

If no one else gives a shit, thats cool also.

A shitty backup catcher at somewhere around 2 years/3 million? We save $1 million per year.... not a huge difference.

That's the thing, there's no reason to pay your backup catcher that much money, even in this market.

Do you know how many teams had 2 catchers on their roster each making more than $1 million dollars in 2006?

Only FOUR!

And one of those teams was Baltimore, where Javy Lopez was as much a DH as a backup catcher.

Hendry Blanco who made $1.5 million last year was already tied with Mirabeli for the highest paid backup catcher in baseball.

No playoff team in baseball last year -including either New York team- spent more than 1 million dollars on their backup catcher. Yet Jim Hendry, in his infinate wisdom, decided to DOUBLE the salary of his already very highly paid backup catcher.

Quite frankly, spending this much money on Hendry Blanco is no different then spending the same kind of cash on Neifi Perez. There is simply no reason in the world to think that anyone else would pay Hendry Blanco anywhere near $2.5 million to be a backup catcher.

And that is part of Hendry's track record, paying well over market value for secondary players just so he can get his guy, which then puts significant limits on the amount of money left over in the budget to sign impact players.

(and before anyone says it, I didn't consider LaRue to be a backup catcher, because he signed as a starter and was replaced by the backup, who makes under $1M)

Who cares who the best offensive catcher is out of the miserable lot of offensive catchers in the NL? It's like calling one guy the best Cub pinch hitter of 2006. Calling Barrett the best in the league offensively is meaningless.

Yes, if I was forced at gunpoint to have one NL catcher come to bat it would probably be Barrett. It doesn't mean I'm excited about seeing him come to bat for the Cubs - especially taking into account that he spends half the game behind homeplate playing his special brand of defense.

Ask me if I'd rather have someone other than Barrett behind homeplate when it's time for a Cub pitcher to bounce a 1-2 slider for a strikeout the list would be fairly long on who I'd rather see.

75% of payroll was spent on 8 players, with the other 25% spent on the remaining 17 roster spots.

Obviously there has to be a balance, but more importantly, you still have to spend your money wisely.

The 2005 Reds spent half of their payroll on Eric Milton, Danny Graves, Sean Casey, Paul Wilson, and Ramon Ortiz.

That's not an example of signing impact players and filling in the gaps, that's just an example of blowing big cash on mediocrity.

From a Tribune article about Cotts-

"Because of his short-inning stints, it will take time to get his arm "stretched out" to go the seven innings expected of a starter"

Get the arm stretched out! Yeah, baby, there is a towel waiting in Arizona with your name on it.

As far as starters going seven innings - I didn't even know that was possible.

#171 of 172: By Bleeding Blue (November 18, 2006 12:19 AM)
----

If all you got out of my post was a snippet about Blanco, that's fine, but I think you missed the point of my post, especially considering I specifically stated:

"I do see your point with Blanco"

Forgot to cherry-pick that comment huh?

And just a hunch... I think the reason Hendry feels the need to spend money on a back-up catcher while most other teams don't is because the Cubs minor league system is so thin on catchers who are ready for the majors. I would guess most minor league systems have a catcher more highly regarded than Soto ready to step in, although I am not familiar enough with most organizations minor league systems to back that up at all.

Due to that, the Cubs are pretty much forced to sign their back-up through free agency, and most likely your options are a guy like Blanco at $2.5 or Bako/Javier Valentin at $1.5.

Given that scenario, the Blanco signing doesn't seem to be a huge deal to me at all. But if you are content with plugging in Soto at #2 and praying Barrett stays completely healthy, thats cool.

Again, just a difference in the most effective way to plan your roster. I hope Hendry and Lou are right and you are wrong.

#173 of 175: By Bleeding Blue (November 18, 2006 12:26 AM)

The 2005 Reds spent half of their payroll on Eric Milton, Danny Graves, Sean Casey, Paul Wilson, and Ramon Ortiz.

That's not an example of signing impact players and filling in the gaps, that's just an example of blowing big cash on mediocrity.
--

Actually, the players you quoted are well under half, but I understand what you are getting at and totally agree.

Dan O'Brien is a dumbass, albeit a dumbass who thought he could field a winning team by filling the top 1/3 of his roster with big salary players and the bottom 2/3's of his roster with question marks and prayers.

TBone:
"It doesn't mean I'm excited about seeing him (Barrett) come to bat for the Cubs"

Then I assume you are not excited about seeing 90% of the Cubs come to bat as maybe only Lee and ARam are better hitters.

And when I say "big salary players" regarding the Reds, that is obviously speaking relative to their $62 million budget.

Perhaps Hendry and Uncle Lou are smarter than we think they are. (ducking)

Maybe they looked at the free agent market and saw what all of us saw: A very thin market for 'cadillac' free agents, but pretty deep in backups/second tier players.

Given that info, maybe they decided on a 2 year plan. (putting on flack jacket and helmet)

Forget about the world series in 2007. As stated here previously, there are just too many holes to fill.

So, spend a little money on the 'good' backups this year.

Save the whopper contracts for 2008 when they could get more for the money. Then win the world series.

Except in order to avoid getting set on fire every time they leave their homes, Hendry and Uncle Lou arent going to tell you what they're doing...

Now excuse me while I go to my panic room.

Manny - "Then I assume you are not excited about seeing 90% of the Cubs come to bat as maybe only Lee and ARam are better hitters."

Right. Why, are you? I can't get excited about the third best hitter on the team when the fall off between two and three is so drastic. Just because he's third best doesn't mean he's a force. Especially on a team that narrowly missed losing 100 games.

TBone:
"Right. Why, are you?"

No, I don't have confidence overall.

"Just because he's third best doesn't mean he's a force."

But I have no problem when Barrett comes to the plate, and I am not sure why you do. In 2006, Barrett was:

11th in NL in AVG
22nd in NL in OBP
20th in NL in SLG
23rd in NL in OPS

Basically he is about the 20th best offensive player in the NL. Would I say he is "a force", no, but he is not a scrub (not saying you said that).

First of all, waiting for the top hitters to sign might take us almost a month. By then, and in Derosa's situation he would have been gone. I believe that Hendry gave Blanco the raise because it is a ral possibility that Blanco will end up as the starter for at least one year. I'm actually excited about that possibility. Having been a pitcher I cannot say enough about what a catcher like Henry does to the confidnce of the pitching staff. The ability to put a hitter away with a pitch in the dirt without the doubts ifit is going to be stopped will make any staff better. Barrett just doesn't hit well enough to make up for his deficiencies on defense. Championships are won with defense up the middle. Obviously, they all cannot hit like Izzy. Derosa won't and a CF'er like Jones or Wells gives you offense and defense. If we get power and run production out of CF we can wait for Murton to develop. Barrett and JJ are the only attractive offensive player we have to offer from the current roster and I would trade with or both for pitching since none of the FA pitchers offers much beyond a 3, 4 or 5. Blanco starting with Hill as a backup is not a bad idea. Hill was recently a highly rated prospect. So far he has failed with regular work in Arizona but sometimes it takes a while for a player to find his niche. We could do quite well with that combo if we get decent return from trading Barrett, JJ or both.

"Given that info, maybe they decided on a 2 year plan. (putting on flack jacket and helmet)"

Like the Mets?

I'd take what they did. But the Cubs need to find their Carlos Beltran (Soriano or Lee) this offseason.

Manny - I don't think Barrett's a scrub either. I just don't think he's so great that if you can use him to get starting pitching, you don't do it. Too many people here were saying, "You can't trade him, he's the best offensive catcher in the NL" argument when the NL is down offensively and there are no great offensive catchers to speak of.

#138 of 184: By Rob G. (November 17, 2006 04:43 PM)
2000 draft

3rd pick - Luis Montanez
15th pick - Chase Utley

of course the only decent draftee in between those slots was Rocco Baldelli at 6th

meh...

===================================

ROB G: If he didn't have a sore arm at the time, Aaron Heilman very likely would have been the Cubs #1 pick in 2000. He was projected as their pre-draft #1 selection by BA at one point, and the Cubs "area scout" was supposedly following Heilman around all Spring.

As it was, Heilman fell to the Twins (because of his sore arm) at the end of the 1st round, but they were unable to sign him and he went back to Notre Dame for another year.

Then in 2001, the Cubs took Mark Prior after the Twins selected Joe Mauer. If the Twins had taken Prior instead of Mauer, I suspect the Cubs might have considered taking Heilman with their #1 pick if they had wanted a pitcher, although Mark Teixeira (who was projected as a 3rd baseman at the time, and the Cubs needed one) would certainly have been pretty hard to resist.

(Joe Mauer would NOT have been the Cubs #1 pick if Prior had been selected by MIN, because Mauer was considered a slam-dunk sure bet to play QB at Florida State, with the ONLY circumstances under which he MIGHT change his mind being if he was the #1 overall pick by his hometown Twins... which is exactly what happened).

DE ROSA WOULDA BEEN GONE:

The below backs up #182 above and other DeRosa supporters. Its a Buster Olney piece from Nov. 9th, basically calling what happened.

http://insider.espn.go.com/espn/blog/index?en...

A veteran scout says, ""He's made himself into a very capable offensive and versatile player," says a veteran scout. "He can be a Chone Figgins-Tony Phillips type of guy. He's the total package -- probably a shade above an average defensive third baseman, an adequate second [baseman], an average outfielder, and he kills left-handed pitchers. He's a very intelligent kid, a leader in the clubhouse.

"His versatility is well-suited for a championship contender."

FWIW. According to these sources, he is a cut above the slop that doesn't get signed earlier on to "save money with".

With all of the day games and heat of summer, the Cubs need a quality back-up catcher more than any other team. That's why they invested a bit more in Blanco. Hopefully they can keep Barrett from wearing down by August.

How about the Orioles' strategy? They signed an impact player (Tejada) and tried to fill in around him. That didn't seem to work out too well. Or Texas with A-Rod, as has been pointed out in a previous post? How about Todd Helton with the Rockies? All of them have produced, but they couldn't take their teams anywhere.

The Cubs aren't going to win with a team full of Blancos and DeRosas, but they won't win with a few superstars and a bunch of minor leaguers either.

I personally don't want the Cubs to go after Soriano for the kind of money he wants. I haven't heard anyone mention the fact that we've already added a really big bat for next year--Derrek Lee. Given that he was out of the lineup most of the year, and not fully recovered when he was in the lineup, getting Lee back is like adding a big bat.

The Cubs' biggest problem is pitching. So big money spent on Soriano is big money that won't go towards Zito or Schmidt (who should be at the top of the big name list).

Soriano as a leadoff man is a guy who has great speed, a ton of power, and will strike out a ton too. Didn't we already go through this a couple of years ago with Corey Patterson, albeit with much less power? Before people start getting too excited, I am NOT saying Soriano is another Corey Patterson. However, consider the following. In 2004, Patterson hit .266/.320/.452, with 24 HRs, 32 SBs, and 168 Ks. Cub fans were all over him because he struck out too much in key situations. Last year, Soriano hit .277/.351/.560, with 46 HRs, 41 SBs, and 160 Ks. Certainly Soriano is much better in the power department, probably only marginally better in the speed department. But is it really a good idea for the Cubs to commit $100M or more to such a player. Soriano is a free swinger who had to be FORCED to play LF last year--tons of power and speed, no doubt, but a big-time defensive liability. I'm guessing at least some of you remember the SportsCenter highlights of Soriano horribly misplaying fly balls in left last year. What will Cub fans be saying if he does the same thing in center for us? How do we know he's even willing to play CF?

Carlos Lee is reportedly eating his way into a DH. If I recall correctly, isn't that part of the reason Mo Vaughn's career went downhill so fast?

J.D. Drew--don't we have enough players with incredible talent who spend most of their time on the DL? Prior and Wood were supposed to be the next coming of Koufax and Drysdale (except for the fact that Prior and Wood are both RHP). What happened to them?

And even when we go to the pitchers ... anyone remember Bartolo Colon's big contract with the Angels a couple of years ago. Sure he won the Cy Young Award in 2005, but he gets injured in 2006 and suddenly he's not even the Angels most reliable starter?

My point is not that the Cubs shouldn't go after any high priced free agents. Of course they should. However, big signings also have the potential to be big busts. For every mega-signing that turns out great, there is another mega-signing which turns into an albatross around a team's neck, and the latter category often includes mega-signings where the player produces (such as the A-Rod signing) but the team can't win with him. Of course that's less of an issue for a big market team, but even people analyzing the Yankees are talking about what will happen when the overpriced stars' contracts are up (e.g., Randy Johnson).

Carlos Lee might hit .300, like he did last year, or he might hit .265, like he did the year before. Or worse, he may get hurt or stink it up because he's not in shape.

Jacque Jones ended up hitting .285/.334/.499 with 27 HRs. Yet so many Cub fans are ready to dump him, because we remember the fact that he stank in the early part of the season, when the team still (theoretically) had a chance.

Fans of any team that goes out and signs a big name now will probably be jumping up and down with enthusiasm, but will be just as frustrated next winter when the big name signing turns out to be a bust (if it does).

Mark DeRosa--not too hard to get his contract off the books (heck, we traded Neifi, didn't we?). But $100M+ isn't so easy to get rid of. Just ask the Red Sox, who've been "trying" to trade one of the most consistent bats in baseball every winter for how long, only to find that not a lot of teams are willing to take on that kind of contract. And that's for a guy who DOES produce, and has produced every year since 1995.

I'd be perfectly happy if the only big name free agent the Cubs get moving forward is Zito. Maybe I'd add Carlos Lee to the list, given his production at Wrigley.

The rest of them are not worth the money. Rather, they aren't worth the risk that goes along with committing that kind of money to one player.

Yoo Kyoo, I almost remember seeing Soriano making some amazing plays in LF. He got a lot better with more experience. I'm not sure I would be comfortable with him in CF, but calling him a big-time defensively liability in LF couldn't been further from the truth. Its not like he's Adam Dunn or Carlos Lee.

Rosenthal says the Cubs are the perfect match for Manny Ramirez:
http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/6182658

Speaking of Adam Dunn, what would we have to give up for him?

"Speaking of Adam Dunn, what would we have to give up for him?"

Any hopes of winning the division.

Just kidding, Hill and Pie ought to do it.

Even if he's not a big defensive liability, I think my point still stands. Giving out big contracts is risky business. You've got more to gain, perhaps, but in many cases you've got a lot more to lose too. Mike Hampton is another great example. Except for the two terrible years with Colorado, he's been alright. Still, the $121M contract is an albatross. For more than one team. Or how about Pat Burrell? The point is that not a lot of mega-contracts turn out to be worth it in the end. At least not as many as fans would like to believe.

We're not going to win it just because we have another big bat in the lineup. We need pitching, pitching, pitching, and more pitching. Healthy pitching. Just like everyone else.

CINC is not trading Dunn in the division.

The more top-heavy your team payroll is the higher the risk is going to be. Both methods of building a team have won championships, arguing that one is inherintly better than the other is just ignoring the facts.

You need balance. Consistent starting pitching, which we don't have, a consistent offense, which we don't have, and a lock down closer, which we don't have.

The Cubs got a lot of work to do this off-season.

"Speaking of Adam Dunn, what would we have to give up for him?"

How about a bag of balls?

He does nothing for me - and not much for the clubs he's been on recently.

Crap and flying on his old reputation...

#193 of 196: By mannytrillo (November 18, 2006 12:14 PM)

CINC is not trading Dunn in the division.

Manny is right. Krivsky will not deal Dunn within the Central.

Cincy makes almost every deal with their fan base firmly in mind. Trading Dunn to a team within the Central means their fans would be reminded of that trade way too often every year.

If he gets traded, it will probably be out West or to the AL. Just my opinion.

Ryan Freel may be another story though.... although DeRosa probably took away the role Freel would have have served on our roster.

I really think that when LouPa sees how bad Dempster is he'll demote him from the closer's role. And I think he will discover that Kerry Wood fits the closer role perfectly. Great velocity, good hard slider, and a closer's mentality, which Dempster doesn't have. I think Dempster would do alright this year in the rotation.

I'll take Freel for our starting CF and lead-off man.

The Real Neal, what facts am I ignoring? In recent years, how many top heavy teams have won championships? I seem to recall one--that would be the 2001 DBacks, with Johnson and Schilling in the rotation, and Luis Gonzalez having a career year at the plate. More importantly, how many top heavy teams have tanked? Quite a few. I'm not trying to argue that a top heavy team can't win a championship. I'm just saying that of the two methods, namely to surround a few superstars with second rate players and to try to build a deep team where everyone contributes top to bottom with a limited number of stars on the roster (and perhaps even without any superstars), the latter is more likely to lead to success. And I believe history proves it. Just look at the recent WS winners.

The Cards have one bank-breaker (Pujols) and another future bank-breaker in Carpenter. The rest of the team is solid, though. I would argue that they are not based on the top heavy model. True, Pujols did carry the team at times. But I don't think they win it if it's just him. Also, Pujols was home-grown, and Carpenter a reclamation project. While that doesn't change the fact that they are both still superstars, it is still a markedly different strategy than trying to import superstar talent.

The 2005 White Sox were also about chemistry--everyone playing their role. The Red Sox in 2004 had Manny and Ortiz, but they don't get there if not for a SB by Roberts. The Marlins in '03 had a bunch of solid players, including one pitcher who was lights out in the playoffs. The Angels won in '02 before they got Vlad. The DBacks in '01 had the superstars. The Yankees in the years before that were a solid all around team, with plenty of ultra-talented players, but still paling in comparison to the Yankees of today. By the numbers, I'd take Giambi over Tino Martinez and Sheffield over Paul O'Neill every time. But which of those players have rings with the Yankees? In fact the Yankees may be the best example--they won multiple titles with a deep team where everyone played their role, but can't win it all with a team full of superstars.

I am not saying that you can win with no one who performs. But we have players who have performed in the past, and should perform at a very high level again in '07 -- Lee, Ramirez, and Zambrano. What I'm saying is that the risk in adding one more player who was at that level last year by signing him to a mega-contract creates more downside than it does upside. The Cubs need to focus on turning players like Murton into future all-stars rather than giving them away for players that may or may not work out on the North Side of Chicago.

Feel free to correct me if you think I'm off my rocker, but that's my opinion.

You know I was thinking, Aardvark, Muskrat, Korey, Dumpster, I think Carrie got off light in comparison.

"The Real Neal, what facts am I ignoring? "

The 2002 Angels had 8 players make up 83% of the payroll.

#199 of 201: By steve (November 18, 2006 01:25 PM)

I'll take Freel for our starting CF and lead-off man.

Freel's production has slid over the course of his career when he has been an everyday starter.

The guy is more productive when he starts 4 days a week or so. The Reds use him pretty effectively.

I'd love to have him on our team though.... the guy plays as hard as anyone, is a force on the bases, can lead-off and play just about every position you could ask him too. The Wrigleyville bar setting may not be the best situation for him though, especially with so many day games.

If Krivsky is still valuing Relief Pitching as ridiculously highly as he was last season (Kearns/Lopez for Bray/Majewski/Clayton), we would probably be in a good position to acquire him if he does in fact go on the trade block.

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