Ten Moves I Wouldn't Mind the Cubs Pursuing
Before the first "the Cubs can't afford that" comment, let me preface all this by saying I wouldn't mind the Cubs making any of these moves, not necessarily all of them. And it's just a bunch conjecture and speculation and "damn, I'm bored, let's make up some stuff". I did attempt to be reasonable at least.
1. Sign Kelly Johnson if he's non-tendered and non-tender Mike Fontenot. There's not a big difference between the two, but I like Johnson better. I'm also not opposed to a trade for Johnson for some marginal low-level minor league talent.
2. If the Tigers decide to move Granderson for prospects only - as opposed to major league pre-arbitration talent - something along the lines of Josh Vitters, Darwin Barney or Hak-Ju Lee and Chris Carpenter (although you have to think Rafael Dolis, Andrew Cashner or Jay Jackson would need to be included). Welington Castillo, Sam Fuld, Tyler Colvin or Ryan Flaherty I imagine could also be of some interest to the Tigers.
Although I still think the Tigers wll only move Granderson if they can attach one of their bad contracts with him or get some early arbitration or auto-renewal players.
3. While they're talking to the Tigers about Granderson, see if adding Randy Wells and one more pitching prospect would get Edwin Jackson. Hell, let me propose a blockbuster: Vitters, Lee, Jackson, Colvin and Wells for Granderson and Jackson. Mix and match at your discretion.
UPDATE: Just a terrible idea on my part about Jackson, apologies for even bringing it up. In my mind, Jackson had a much better 2008 than he really had and much higher strikeout totals and I failed to double check my assertions with the actual stats. Please let's forget this ever happened.
4. Trade Milton Bradley for Pat Burrell, suck up the 2nd year of the deal or see if adding Jake Fox into the trade could get the Rays to take some of the salary. I'm under the assumption that this is the only reasonable offer the Cubs have and it's just a matter of how much the Cubs are willing to pay at this point. I have doubts the Cubs can do any better and Hendry should learn from his Sammy Sosa mistake about waiting too long on a deal. While the Cubs would probably then have to pay someone to take Burrell off their hands, Burrell wouldn't be a terrible bench/platoon/"when Soriano gets injured" option.
5. Bring back Reed Johnson to platoon for Fukudome and possibly Granderson if the Cubs can get him. One year deal max though.
6. Offer Rich Harden arbitration. On the off chance he accepts it -which he wouldn't - there are worse things that could happen then having a guy with an ERA barely over 3 the last two seasons and 51 starts around.
UPDATE #2: And of course, Hendry decides it's not worth the risk...No arbitration offers for Harden, Gregg or Johnson.
7. When Harden goes somewhere else, see how Ben Sheets is doing.
8. Kick the tires on the following starting pitchers assuming no Harden and Ben Sheets arm isn't working: Justin Duchscherer, Randy Johnson, Brad Penny, John Smoltz, Erik Bedard and Mike Hampton. See what a one year deal with incentives would cost.
9. Sign one of these relievers, Billy Wagner, Takashi Saito, Kiko Calero, Kelvim Escobar or J.J. Putz with the caveat that Escobar and Putz medical records and rehab give them a clean bill of health. Wagner's the only one I would go past a year deal on.
10. Give Mark Prior a tryout. I'm only half-joking, but I would love to see him make a comeback, even as a reliever. And if it means I could unretire my Prior jersey, all the better.
In the comments yesterday I suggested the following potential roster for the Cubs.
Starters: Granderson, Theriot, Lee, Ramirez, Soriano, Fukudome, Soto, K. Johnson/Baker
Bench: Burrell, K. Johnson/Baker, Hill, R. Johnson and Miles (or Blanco if they can move Miles)
Rotation: Z, Dempster, Wells, Lilly, Gorzelanny
Bullpen: Marmol, Guzman, Grabow, Saito, Marshall, bullpen musical chairs for the last 2 spots
That's a team I could live with next year. Johnson and Burrell can platoon for Fukudome and Granderson on most days. Oh sure, the outfield defense will suck on those days, and on the other days your left-handed bench bats are K. Hill and A. Miles. but there's no such thing as a perfect baseball world. Plus, you're probably not gonna do a strict platoon with Granderson anyway. Replacing Fontentot for Kelly Johnson isn't gonna make much of a difference if that falls through. Of course, it unravels like a house of cards if the Cubs can't swing a trade for Granderson.
And now your turn to mock me in the comments...
CHILDERS: RHSP Dylan Cease and LHSP Bryan Hudson are probably the top two SP prospects in the organization right now.
LHSP Jose Paulino has electric stuff (91-94 MPH fastball with sinking action and a mid-80's slider), but he also has trouble commanding it.
RHP Jose Albertos (2015 IFA - Mexico - $1.5M bonus) just turned 17 in November, and his fastball already sits at 95-96. He also throws a curve and a change-up, and is fairly advanced for a kid his age.
AZBOBBOP: Most of 2016 draft picks will get assigned to either Eugene or AZL Cubs, but the Opening Day Eugune roster will probably be almost 100% from the Extended Spring Training squad roster (pending the arrival of draft picks).
I think I can probably tell you which pitchers and players at EXST are in contention for roster slots at Eugene and which are in contention for slots with the AZL Cubs - AS THINGS STAND RIGHT NOW - (listed alphabetically):
* bats or throws left
# bats both
Eloy Jimenez atop the leader board for minor-league home runs in the Cub system, with seven. Tied with Balaguert and Vogelbach, two 24-year-olds. Jimenez won't be 20 until late November. Leads the Midwest League in SLG and OPS. Maybe he'll get promoted to the Myrtle Beach squad that visits Woodbridge, VA, in June or Frederick, MD, in August.
Watched two Pelican games at Frederick the other week. Was most impressed by Stinnett and Happ. Happ may swing harder than Javier Baez, though more compactly. (Also got to see Brockmeyer hit a bomb.)
E-MAN: Jose Paniagua isn't a string-bean, but I wouldn't say he necessarily bulked-up during the 2015-16 off-season either, He led the DSL Cubs in HR and doubles in 2014, and he showed XBH power when he arrived in Mesa last year, leading the AZL Cubs in HR, doubles, and RBI in 2015. It's just that he has taken his HR power to a new level this year.
Paniagua displayed plus-HR power in Cactus League Minor League Spring Training games in March, and that got him a slot on the South Bend Opening Day roster. But he was sent to EXST after only six MWL games.
More on the Cub Way.
Martinez is one of my least favorite pitchers in baseball. I'd love to see a game like yesterday's against him.
Send Soler down!
Awesome thanks AZ
Great report, Phil! This organization has so many hitters to be excited about.
Ben Zobrist is very enjoyable to watch!!!!!!
given that he seems to only be throwing low 90s these days rather than the 93-96mph he used to throw, along with his wildness issues this year, he may end up passing through.
i dunno if something is wrong with him physically or his past shoulder issues has rendered him what he currently is, but he's been throwing a lot of sliders he can't control well and his fastball isn't as sharp. even when his slider wasn't working in a game he was still throwing a lot of them.
Any scuttlebutt on where Neil Ramirez gets traded?
He seems better than some of the relievers on competitive teams. He ought to bring more than the waiver fee.
My guess? Toronto.
PHIL: It seems as if Paniagua has always played 1B with the Cubs. At 6'2 and 180#, what is his frame like? String bean? Have you seen him bulk up? Where do you project him? Thanks.
Phil, what's your thoughts on which position players are going to Eugene and who is staying in AZL?
Ahhh...way to bring me down BB.
Still - a win tomorrow will be an acheivement regardless.
Don't mean to spoil your mood, but with tonight's win the are 3-5 on the trip with one to play.
While I'm bringing the room down -- Richard comes in to pitch the 9th with a 12-1 lead...and can't finish the game. Woof.
For some reason