Cut and Paste

We're in a bit of lull here until spring training or at least until the new owner is chosen. Luckily, The reporters found Hendry yesterday and we have some soundbites and speculation to dissect.

When the Cubs traded Mark DeRosa to Cleveland the same day they signed free agent Aaron Miles, conventional wisdom suggested Miles would be DeRosa's replacement.

I question this conventional wisdom...I thought everyone assumed it would be Fontenot? If Miles gets regular playing time versus righties over Fontenot, I'm predicting he'll be the new Neifi! whipping boy.

The Cubs have spoken to Rich Aurilia's agent and may offer Aurilia a one-year deal to take Cedeno's spot and back up Aramis Ramirez and Derrek Lee

Whose spot was Cedeno going to take though? I'm starting to wonder if Micah Hoffpauir is on the outside looking in at a roster spot.

Hendry will meet with the new owner of the Cubs as soon Tribune Co. completes the sale. He'll then find out whether he can find a way to fit Jake Peavy's $63
million contract into the Cubs' budget. Otherwise, the Cubs will look
for a veteran starter willing to sign a one-year deal. Left-hander Randy Wolf is among the available free agents whose price tags are dropping. For now, Sean Marshall is the odds-on favorite for the fifth starter's role. 

Please find a way to fit in Peavy's contract, prospective new owner guy.

Hendry said the Cubs are not planning to bring back Henry Blanco, the backup catcher who remains unsigned. Hendry is looking for a left-handed-hitting, defense-oriented catcher to compete with Koyie Hill in spring training. Blanco hit .292 in 2008 and threw out 43 percent of would-be base-stealers, and Geovany Soto credited him with aiding in his development. Unfortunately for Blanco, he hits right-handed. 

Genetics have failed you, Hank White....hey, Jason Varitek is available?

To keep you entertained today, there's also a fluff piece on Samardzija wanting to be the 5th starter, Zambrano vacationing in Italy, Hendry on Pie and Hill and Crane Kenney wanting the new owner fully approved by Opening Day, which I swear was the exact same story last offseason.
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Of course, I'm partial to Fontenot being the starter, but I have confidence in Lou that he will start whichever of the two plays better.

Here's a better plan: Forget Peavy. Give the #5 starter job to Marshall. Trade for Brian Roberts, who apparently is NOT willing to sign an extension with Baltimore. Platoon Miles with Theriot at SS. Sign Aurilia. All problems solved.

1. Roberts
2. Bradley
3. Ramirez
4. Soriano
5. Soto
6. Lee
7. Johnson/Fukudome
8. Theriot/Miles

That's a yummy lineup, girls......

So, what would it realistically take to finally get Roberts, given that Baltimore will get two picks next year if they don't trade him? Fontenot, Pie, Jeff Stevens and Vitters, does that get it done??

Word is that Roberts gave the Orioles an Opening Day deadline to complete an extension, so it's not that he's against the idea but he's making clear the date for one.

I'm really NOT interested in giving up Vitters, our only stud prospect, and even the other guys for one year of Roberts. I imagine Hendry feels the same way, and who's to say that Fontenot is that much worse than Roberts, speed aside, in 2009 and beyond? He'll likely slug more at least. Even were you to extend Roberts, he's already 31 so he's going to be looking for at least $8-10 million a year. At that price, why not just spend a bit more for Peavy? He's the only player that seems to be available that I'd trade Vitters for.

Sun-Times pre-convention Hendry update from the media event at Harry Caray's Restaurant (no mention of Aurelia in this article):

http://www.suntimes.com/sports/baseball/cubs/13794...

General manager Jim Hendry says he's still on the lookout for a pitcher...But Hendry said Wednesday that pitcher would be no splashier than somebody capable of competing for the fifth starting spot -- suggesting someone more along the lines of Braden Looper or Randy Wolf than a Cy Young Award winner such as Peavy.

the rest is a mix of speculaton rather than direct quotes and not very newsy:

--Needs to address arbitration cases: Cedeno, Gregg and Wuertz
--Still expecting Bako to sign for 500K
--Mentions that Hendry's seeking a trade for Rich Hill, Pie and Cedeno (all out of options)
--Marshall, Shark and Gaudin in the mix for the #5 starter, Guzman on the fringe

"--Mentions that Hendry's seeking a trade for Rich Hill, Pie and Cedeno (all out of options)"

Seeking a trade for Rich Hill??? Who would take him? And if he's out of options and still in the minors, then leave him there.

After this winter's disaster in Venezuela, I honestly cannot see any major league team wanting this guy under contract. I bet he signs a deal at AA or AAA and starts working towards a comeback, after the Cubs release him.

The Cubs have signed Rule 55 minor league FA LHRP Bill White to a minor league contract and he will get an NRI to Spring Training and he should be the #1 lefty reliever at Iowa in 2009. White spent the last couple of Septembers in the big leagues with the Texas Rangers, although he was terrible when he was there this past September.

I had the completely opposite take from you on the Aurilia item. I took it to mean that the Cubs are working on a trade of Lee (probably to a team out west) and Aurilia would be a cheap veteran backup to Hoffpauir. Lefty/righty, etc.

Assuming (with crossed fingers) that Vitters is off the table, Lee is the best trading chip right now. Then Theriot, then relief pitchers, then those new Indian prospects, then Pie/Cedeno/Hill being sent "home" to Baltimore.

Oh, delightful delusion.... If not for that little NTC issue, you might almost convince yourself of it.

I doubt Hendry could get a trade proposal involving Derrek Lee past Piniella. Lou loves Lee.

Well, not that much going on at work today, so I started reading the comments to the "rumors" at the big Rumor web site.

IF you think we had it bad in 2006 - here is some funny stuff from Padres fans on the club contemplating Vizquel:

- Phew! What a relief.

I'm glad that Towers got to Vizquel before Colletti did!

Posted by: DodgersLBC | January 14, 2009 at 01:23 PM

- Wow. Omar was even too old for Sabean. I guess that means the Giants are no longer the last pre-retirement stop in baseball.

Posted by: Erik | January 14, 2009 at 01:31 PM

On the A's "Inking" Jack Cust:

- Jack Cust is basically Adam Dunn, only Cust stayed in the minors for no good reason at all until he was 28.

Posted by: Teetz1 | January 14, 2009 at 06:40 PM

- what a maddening player

can hit you 30+ hr, lead the league in walks, 2nd highest ops+ among mlb lf's last yr. but plays bad defense, k's a ton,etc. hopefully he can up that avg into the .260's and does better with an improved surrounding lineup, but keep him at DH

Posted by: arly2380 | January 14, 2009 at 06:45 PM

And, from an Astros fan in reaction to his team's owner stating that a $107MM payroll is about all they're gonna get in 2009:

" We're really up against our number at 107, and it's a number, quite frankly, that the revenues don't support."

aka.....we are only bringing in 250 million dollars worth or revenue, our owner needs to be able to pay the crew on his yacht year round, not just during the summer months.

Posted by: yanks09 | January 15, 2009 at 01:19 AM

Just say the Astros drew in 2.5 million fans at $40 a piece, that's $100 million. Say that the deal with Aramark gives them enough cash to cover operating expenses, minor leagues, scouting, development and management.

This Astros fan thinks that his team is getting $150 million per year in merchandising, local TV and national TV contracts?

"Mr. Literal", The Real Neal

They get a cut of a whole lot of Media money.

Local TV
Local Radio
DTV/Cable Extra Innings package
ESPN Deal
Fox Deal
Sirrius Satallite deal

And probably several more that escape me off the top of my head.

There's regional Fox and MLB.com as well.

Just don't think those things are going to add up to $150 million, particualry if anything is up for renogotiation for this year.

XM Satalite Radio...Sirius doens't carry baseball unfortunately...not yet at least...

There's about 5 minutes of video from the Harry Caray's press thing at wgntv.com:

http://www.wgntv.com/chicago_cubs

A little Gathright, Shark, Hendry and Gregg. Nothing revelatory.

Regarding Hoff-Power in Iowa to start the year.

I actually like the idea of Hoff starting off down there. With the injury liability that Bradley and Soriano have had. Coupled with the fact that we have ZERO corner OF prospects ready for the show. Why wouldn't we keep the guy with Minor league options in a lineup every day in AAA? If it allows us to keep "out of options" guys like Cedeno and Pie, all the better IMHO. When Sori or Bradley inevitably go on the DL. I'd rather have a Hoffpauir to call on then having to bring up a Sam Fuld from AA.

Well, if Ramirez goes down, and Cedeno is his backup, you wouldn't call up Hoffpaiur anyway, you'd call up some middle infielder to replace Cedeno. I can sort of agree on Pie, but we have gathright and johnson/fukudome on the roster, so in theory we're covered even if both Bradley and Soriano go down.

In the meantime, though, you'd have Pie and/or Fukudome as your first LH bat off the bench, and for a contending team at this point I think you have to say Hoffpaiur is the better guy for that slot.

I'd rather we just not dump Gathright and only carry 11 pitchers until someone gets hurt. Hoffpauir is way more valuable than Gathright or that 12th pitcher.

As much as I like Hoffpaiur's potential with the bat, I don't think I ever want to see him out in RF. He sounds like another Dunn in that regard.

It would seem that Hoffpauir, Cedeno and potentially Aurilia are all in the mix for the final roster spot.

It may come down to what kind of return Cedeno can bring in trade, and whether Aurilia is willing to sign on the Cubs terms.

I suspect Lou would be happier with Aurilia as ARam's backup and PH off the bench as opposed to Cedeno.

Someone needs to explain to me why Hendry and Lou are so in love with lefthanded hitting. I understand that it's desirable to have a lefthanded presence in the lineup, so choosing a lefty over a righty makes sense as a tiebreaker when choosing between two relatively equal guys.

But this breaks down in specific cases like Blanco's. Blanco's .292 BA in 2008 may be a mirage, but he is a demonstrably better hitter than Bako, probably a better defensive catcher and a reportedly good influence on Soto.

My concern is that it seems Hendry and Lou value lefthandedness over hitting ability in some cases. The point of plate appearances is to get on base, so if a guy's lefthandedness helps him do that more often than a righty he's competing with, I'll take the lefty. But if we're choosing a lefty over a righty who's a better hitter, we're looking at things upside-down.

Agreed,

I've been making the same running "Handedness" Joke about Lou for 2 years now.

And it isn't just hitters. Lou absolutely hated having 3 lefties in his starting rotation in 2007. Choosing to send Marshall to the pen even though he was FAR outperforming the Grand Marquis.

My feeling is that Lou has a magical picture in his head of how the "ideal team" is supposed to look. And that team has 3 lefties in the lineup every day, 2 lefties in the pen and no more than 2 lefties in the rotation.

It also seems to be his excuse when the club has sucked in the postseason. So maybe Jimbo is just trying to eliminate excuses, and give Lou what he wants.

"Lou absolutely hated having 3 lefties in his starting rotation in 2007. Choosing to send Marshall to the pen even though he was FAR outperforming the Grand Marquis."

eh?

it's lou's team. any illusion he's not running it is just bunk. marquis may have started because he was signed to start, is being paid to start, and it's very uncommon to rip a guy outta that role until he fails...but once May has passed all that is out the window and he's pulling the strings.

lou pitched marquis because he had a decision to make and he made it. late in the year he made another decision.

The Cubs were heavily right handed for two years, and Hendry being the reactionist he can be sometimes, took a gander at the roster and heard Lou's complaints and collected a bunch of left handed hitting this winter. Just like when the pen crapped out and he went and got Eyre and Howry and a couple others before '07. You'd like to think that the GM would be a little more PROactive in setting up a roster, but there you are. The largest portion of big money deals they have belong to right handed hitters and pitchers.

Blanco hit himself out of the Cubs price range last year. They're trying to trim payroll, Bako is a decent backup, and a leftie. To Lou, that's a win-win.

I'm sure they'd rather keep Blanco, but he can make more money on the open market.

Henry might not be anxious to sign anything with any team. He's still dealing with the kidnap/murder of his brother.

Yes but I don't think blanco will sign for 500k which is all Hendry has budgeted for a backup catcher.

It's pretty basic.

Most pitchers are righthanded. Their breaking stuff moves away and down from righty hitters. That's a tough pitch to handle if you're a righty pull hitter. If you've made yourself into an opposite field hitter, you might poke that pitch to right, but then you've trained yourself to swing late and people will start asking what happened to your 46-home-run power of a few years before.

A great pitch to a righty hitter might be a bad pitch to a lefty. Let's say that Derek Lowe throws a dozen pitches in a game that Adam Dunn or Milton Bradley can hit out of the park. It doesn't do you any good if those guys aren't in your lineup. DeRosa and Lee might get singles on those pitches, and in fact DeRosa nudged one over the wall inside the foul pole in right in the October game.

Another big advantage that lefty hitters have is whenever there's a runner on first, the first baseman stops playing the hitter and moves over to the bag and plays the runner. So there is a gaping hole for you if you hit the ball that way.

The Cubs historically are right-handed to a fault. Dick Ellsworth is the answer to my favorite Cub trivia question: the last lefty to win twenty games. I have serious Phillies envy right now, although Hendry is trying hard this offseason to make me feel better about my team, for which he of course gets criticized in TCR. Just give me a lefty-hitting first baseman and I'll be fat and happy.

if a pitcher misses his spot to a pull hitter trying to finesse a breaking pitch to the outside the reaction of the hitter is a pretty big indicator of the hitter's quality rather than making it specific in scope that the only place they can hit a ball is in their pull zone.

there's some strict pull hitters who put up some ungodly numbers because if you make a mistake they will take advantage of it better than their pull-heavy peers who can't make the most of mistakes.

some of our most elite pull-heavy sluggers and even some elite hitters (in the case of ted williams) have made a whole lot more noise off hitting mistakes than getting something good in their pull zone.

Williams was a mistake hitter?

williams was a pull hitter who also hit mistakes very well. combined, you get one hell of a hitter.

there's a chunk of pull hitters out there who don't take advantage of or make the best of "mistakes" as well as others.

As far as Miles goes-my opinion is this: he's the idea bench player in that he plays both short and second and he switch hits. To me thats a no brainer-you start Fontentot and use Miles off the bench and to spot start.

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