When the Baseball World Slows to a Halt

Who do you turn to?

BRUCE LEVINE

It's been really slow in the Cub universe of news. The baseball winter meetings were a horror show as far as this Cub fan could tell.

I'm incredibly news starved when you consider that I took running notes on BL's "Talking Baseball" show on ESPN-1000 radio. This week, his 2 hour baseball gab session with sidekick Jonathan Hood covered three main Cub topics: CF, 2B and the bullpen.

So here's an IV dose of baseball, Bruce Levine "Talking Baseball" style. What follows are my notes and occasional commentary from the Saturday post-Christmas program. After the jump...

BL's Opening statement: Cub fans may still be disappointed with Jim Hendry not adding to the team yet (no kidding!).

Matt Capps - Bruce Levine said he's not sure Hendry got beyond the basic parameters of a contract. BL couldn't confirm that  any formal contract offer was made. He thought Hendry needed to do a back loaded 2 year deal to get Capps. Ultimately, Capps took a one year deal as a closer thinking that he'll do even better in one year, either in his last year of arbitration eligibility or as again a non-tendered free agent. BL says Hendry would backload a one year deal if that were possible but BL says they don't allow that. We can expect Jim Hendry will recommend a backloaded a one year deal with Dunkin' Donuts though (insert your own gratuitous donut joke...ta da boom).

If the Cubs have about $8M to spend for 3 players (OF, 2B, BP), Hendry will need to do his backloading thing on whoever they sign (for any contract beyond one year).

Cubs needs: CF

Marlon Byrd is probably the fit, given the Jaramillo factor which will provide a comfort level for Byrd. Byrd is coming off of a career year at age 33. Where does hit in the order? Batting #5 thru #7. How much of a contractural commitment beyond one year is an issue.

The Cubs had no interest in Coco Crisp (now signed with A's) because of concerns about his health and that he's too far away from his peak year.

Why consider Scott Podsednik? Because he's a leadoff man. Adequate LF, not a good CF. Not good on the base paths with lots of gaffs and he gets picked off a lot. Theriot is better as a #2 hitter or 7,8 (but not a leadoff hitter).

Trade possibilities for CF - David DeJesus (KC).

Reed Johnson - Levine says that his agent is talking to Yankees.
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Cubs needs: 2B

Caller mentions consideration of a one year deal with Orlando Cabrera or Miguel Tejada at SS, moving Theriot to 2B while waiting for Starlin Castro to develop. Levine is a big Cabrera fan because he manages to go to the playoffs every year. Levine mentions he's got a rep of not being a team guy but can lead off because he takes pitches. Cabrera is coming off of a $7M deal so a lowball deal might make him disgruntled. BL recalled Cabrera's involvement in the three team 2004 trade that netted the Cubs Nomar Garciaparra (Cabrera went to Boston, who did eventually did win the World Series that season).

Bruce Levine discussed Ryan Theriot in detail, in the context of the Cubs evaluation of their own minor league system's talent. Theriot could have easily fallen through the system (I remember the failed experiment to turn him into a switch hitter). BL says nobody in the Cubs system projected him as a starting SS, but when Piniella saw Ceasar Izturis was not bringing anything, he gave him a shot. Theriot is a gutsy little guy. Coaches (Trammel and DeJesus) worked on his footwork to help some. Theriot has been a very good offensive player and an adequate SS but he'll never remind one of Omar Vizquel. I (don't we all) expect his ultimate destination is 2B, but who knows if that shift can happen as soon as this season.

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Zambrano in a trade?

Put those rumors to rest. Cubs weren't interesting in trading Z but like any team they should be listening to offers (to understand his market value). Z will not waive his NTC per his agent Barry Praver. Z has been living in Chicago this winter for the first time and working very hard with a personal trainer. Levine said that it was a mistake to use Z as a pinch hitter letting him run the bases and risking him to injury if you are wanting Z to pitch more than 30 games a season.
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Cubs needs: Bullpen

Caller asks about who is next on their reliever acquisition radar. Cubs have extreme interest in Kiko Calero. Makes me wonder what he was thinking when he unloaded Michael Wuertz for Billy Goat Beanes (see the above comments on evaluating your own talent). At least we've gotten rid of Aaron Heilman and all the other mistakes named Aaron from the 2008 offseason.

The Cubs have talked to Jose Contreras agent considering him as a starter/swingman.

Caller asks about the using the upcoming minor talent for the bullpen. BL says Esmalin Caridad will get a shot in the pen and Cubs are expecting Samardzija to be a starter (at some point).
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Bruce Levine's Cubs top 10 of the Decade: 1. ARam, 2. Zambrano, 3. DLee, 4. Kerry Wood, 5. Dempster, 6.  Sosa, 7. Moises Alou, 8. Theriot, 9. Prior, 10. DeRosa

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I'm going back to my cave to hibernate.

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Comments

http://masnsports.com/2009/12/as-the-market-p...

Oriole writer, "As the market plays out"

I wonder what the impact on Carlos Marmol would be if the Cubs signed Jose Valverde (since his market has dried up).

It crossed my mind a week or so ago. I assume the impact would be that Marmol would be traded for a CF or something else that can be swapped for a CF. Fowler? Cody Ross? Or someone like that.

If Valverde's asking price eventually falls to something reasonable, Hendry would not be doing his due diligence without discovering what is Marmol's trade value.

If I can have one or the other on this team, I think I'd take Valverde and see what Marmol can fetch in a trade. There's enough teams willing to look past his '09 BB/9 and see his stuff and his K/9 and possibly overpay. I'm not saying Marmol can't bounce back and look in '10 like he looked in '08. But Valverde sure looks like the safer bet today, and even if Marmol does rebound, he won't stay cheap for very long.

Using his money to sign Valverde and potentially making Marmol available would give Hendry a lot of options on how to improve the rest of the team.

The reason that Valverde's price is dropping is that there is curretnly no market for closers. Therefore, it would seem that signing Valverde would further impact the market and make it very difficult to ascertain Marmol's true value.

Luckily there are plenty of teams looking for relief pitchers. Maybe they can convert Marmol to be one of those.

im a big ross fan, but i dunno if you can count on his knees holding up to a full season in CF.

as concerned as people were about milton, ross has been a constant injury since his career began. both knees carry permanent lingering pain he has to deal with as long as his youth and health hold out.

he generates such a tremendous amount of power in his swing for a midget. he swings hard at anything thrown at him. btw, he lists at 5'11" on some sites...yeah f'n right.

One more rhp reliever bites the dust although this one wasn't on Hendry's radar screen.

Homer Howry to the Snakes @ $2-3M on a one year deal, with an team option.

Home town discount as Howry's from Glendale, AZ.

They're cornering the market on the Ex-Cub factor with a Howry/Heilman combo.

http://www.azcentral.com/members/Blog/NickPie...

"Levine said that it was a mistake to use Z as a pinch hitter letting him run the bases and risking him to injury if you are wanting Z to pitch more than 30 games a season."

It was utter stupidity by Lou. I can understand in the 13th inning when you've used your bench to use him as a PH, but to use your supposed $100 million ace as basically a regular PH just does not make much sense.

While BL's list is not the end all be all, it is pretty sad that Ryan Dempster made the top 5.

I think that could be a good indicator why the team has not won a playoff game in over 6 years.

from SI.com...

1. VWells 2. Soriano, then Zito, Silva, OPerez, Matthews, Lohse, Rowand, Pierre. Bradley is #10.

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/writers...

soriano is overpaid, but unlike most of that list he's still productive...damn.

He likes the $9M coming the Cubs way in the Bradley deal. He didn't go as far as saying he liked Silva though. TR also comments on all the NL teams.
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The Cubs did the impossible, unloading outfielder Milton Bradley and actually coming out ahead.

http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/Ringolsby-...

coming out ahead?

bradley can at least do what he's paid to do in the field even if silva would be better to have a beer with.

Yeah..he sure earned his money last season...

At least the $9 million dollars will live up to expectations.

awesome.

I think thats why Tracy Ringolsby liked the Cubs side of the trade... Until he sees how poorly Hendry spends the $9M.

touche

well, 3m is going to paying the silva balance off.

cubs are paying 16m to give a MLB quality player to another team for a guy who's useless....and that team is now paying 15.5m a year for milton.

there are no winners in this, but one team has a MLB caliber player to show for it and the other has 3m a year payroll flexibility for the next 2 years.

Phil Rogers Whisper column. Say no more. I like the shoulder surgery part.
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The Cubs clearly aren't blown away by any of the center fielders on the free agent market, preferring to explore trades. One name to file away is Fernando Perez. Speedy, bright and the holder of a .375 minor league on-base percentage, the Rays switch hitter, 27 in April, would be an interesting gamble complicated because he is recovering from shoulder surgery.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/chi-27-n...

FPerez - Baseball Cube:

http://www.thebaseballcube.com/players/P/Fern...

http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/chi-27-n...

He ranks pitching staffs: 1-2 Yankees/Giants, Phils 3rd, Cards/Rockies tied 4th, Cubs/Mariners tied for 8th. WSux 12th, Angels 13th.

then this tidbit: If the Red Sox wind up with Matt Holliday or Jason Bay, the Cubs immediately would make a major effort to land Jacoby Ellsbury to fill their center field/leadoff hole, according to sources.

That scenario helps explain why the Cubs have been so patient in studying their options. The best way to do such a trade might be for GM Jim Hendry to facilitate a three-team deal that sends first baseman Adrian Gonzalez from the Padres to the Red Sox by packaging a group of prospects, possibly including one or two of their top ones, such as third baseman Josh Vitters, shortstop Hak-Ju Lee and pitchers Andrew Cashner and Jay Jackson.

I like Ellsbury but Lee/Cashner or Vitters/Jackson would make that deal pretty tough.

I'd do either of those if I'm the Cubs.

Astute drafting in June will replace either package in the system.

including one or two of their top ones, such as third baseman Josh Vitters, shortstop Hak-Ju Lee and pitchers Andrew Cashner and Jay Jackson.

Anyone here send two of those guys for Ellsbury? I would say no thanks. I'd probably send one of them and maybe a guy like Watkins of Flaherty, but even that is a stretch to me. I'm not a big Ellsbury fan, though.

Ellsbury is an old style ball player. He hits for average. He steals bases. He can definitely fit the mold of a leadoff man. But he has a career OPS+ of 96 and he was a defensive liability last year.

I wish we had just kept Felix Pie and batted him 8th.

Me too, especially considering all we got was Heilman for him and Cedeno. That was a sell low mistake, I think. If we had room on the roster for Gathright, we had room for Pie. Whoops. Old news.

So are you saying that Ellsbury is valuable, but not worth a package of high value prospects?

Charlie, you are right but here are more details(yuck, Gatheright). Pie and Cedeno were essentially turned into what we got from the DBacks (and Hank Williamson who is on the Iowa roster, and pitched 4 innings in September), left-handed pitching prospect Scott Maine and first base prospect Ryne White.

Pie trade: http://archives.chicagotribune.com/2009/jan/1...

Olson + Cedeno trade:
http://www.midwestsportsfans.com/2009/01/cubs...

Heilman trade:
http://sports.espn.go.com/chicago/mlb/news/st...

True, in Trade Physics players and contracts never be created or destroyed only transmuted into other contracts and players.

Thanks for the reminder, Cubster. I forgot about Williamson. Is he any good? The DBacks guys seem pretty uninteresting, and of course the loss for the Cubs is Pie, not so much Cedeno (even if I really wanted him to be a success).

williamson...88-90mph fastball, curve...control issues, but he can throw both for strikes most of the time.

future pen fodder if he can make the jump from AAA. he doesn't have MLB "stuff" but he might squeak in some service time or refine himself into a job.

Chris Moore at Baseball Analysts has kind of debunked the myth that Jacoby Ellsbury is a defensive liability.

http://baseballanalysts.com/archives/2009/12/...

For what ever reason, Ellsbury was an underwhelming presence in centerfield this season

                                            
Year     G Rtot Rtot/yr  Rtz Rtzrd Rtzhm Rof
2009   153 -9.3    -8.6 -4.3  -0.7  -3.6  -5

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original TableGenerated 12/27/2009.

If this trade actually occurs, why even play the season? It would give the Red Sux this nasty lineup..

C-V. Martinez
1b-A. Gonzalez
2b-Pedroia
SS-Scutaro
3b-Youk
LF-Bay/Holliday
CF-Cameron
RF-Drew
DH-Ortiz

Beckett
Lackey
Lester
Buchholtz
Dice-K/Wakefield

Thanks to the CUBSTER for the Levine update.

I can't figure out if Phil Rogers is a full-blown alcoholic, a crack-addict, or has psychological issues, or maybe a combination of the above.

Where he comes up with this stuff I have no idea.

The fact also, that as far as I remember, he gets all of his "deals" incorrect and his "pearls of wisdom" do not measure up to his colleagues, makes me wonder how he keeps his gig.

Also, can a staff with Jake Peavy and Mark Berlhe, and a real #3 pitcher really be worse than the Cubs?

Peavy, Buerhle, and Danks is an excellent pitcher, and Floyd is hit and miss but damn good when he's on. The Sox have a very impressive rotation for this season, and we have 3 middle of the rotation guys making $10-18 mil each. Yuk.

As for Phil Rogers, I agree, he's about the worst possible sports columnist on the planet. Worse even than Mariotti. At least with Mariotti it's easy to see his motives - he's a windbag trying to create controversy. Rogers just piles up the bullshit column after column, none of it ever correct, and his trade suggestions are outrageous.

Z, dumpster, and lilly middle rotation? harsh.

Middle rotation quality.

There's no difference between the Cubs and the Sox top three starters. If Zambrano et al are middle rotation quality, so are Peavy, Buerhle and Dankes.

Since Rogers ranked the Sox worse than the Cubs, you are basically agreeing with my point that he is nuts.

Yeah, though I think alcoholic is probably the most likely of the scenarios you presented.

Really? The thing I love/hate the most about fellow Cubs fans is how out of their minds they become when defending their players.

Last 3 seasons WHIP:

Z: 1.33/1.29/1.37
Peavy: 1.06/1.18/1.12

Z is clearly not in Peavy's league

Dempster: 1.34/1.21/1.31
Buerhle: 1.26/1.34/1.25

Buerhle lower WHIP in 2 of 3 seasons, rearrange them however you want, he has a lower WHIP combined the last 3 seasons.

Lilly: 1.14/1.23/1.06 (no surprise he's been better than Z or Demp)
Danks: 1.54/1.23/1.28

No surprise that Lilly has better numbers than Danks, but aside from Danks rookie season, he has had better WHIP the last two seasons combined than Z or Dempster.

Let's go further:

Gavin Floyd: 1.49/1.26/1.23 (Sox number 4 starter's last two seasons better than Z or Dempster, the Cubs number 1 and 2 starters)

Who will be the Cubs number 4 starter: Randy Wells, with a respectable middle/bottom of the rotation WHIP of 1.28?

Sean Marshall, who last 3 seasons has WHIP's of 1.37/1.27/1.44?

Gorz? 1.40/1.80/1.32

Sharkboy? 1.41/1.76

What happens to Z's numbers if he can pitch half his games in SafeCo? I like to think they get closer to Peavy's, though I can still admit Peavy has been the better pitcher.

Clearly Dempster and Buehrle and Lilly and Danks have been very comparable.

I'll take Wells and one of Marshall/Gorzo for the bottom of my rotation, certainly.

We'll see a year from now which team's pitching actually will have performed better. Does it seem like a stretch to imagine that either one could come out on top?

Let's try figures adjusted for parks, like ERA+ (100 is average, higher is better) for the last 3 years:

Peavy: 157, 133, 112
Buehrle: 129, 121, 121
Danks: 85, 138, 123

Zambrano: 117, 117, 119
Dempster: 98, 155, 123
Lilly: 121, 112, 145

Damn, Dempster was good 08.

Well, it's close. Buehrle and Z are almost a wash, with a nod to Buehrle. Same with Dempster and Danks with the nod to Dempster. I think a lot depends on what you make of Peavy's 100 innings and Lilly's career year in 09.

All healthy, I'd take Peavy and the Sox rotation. With Lilly's injury, I think that only settles my mind further.

Randy Wells' sophomore year and the Cubs' prospects are welcome to swing me back.

I easily vote for Peavy, Buehrle, Danks.

Zambrano might be an ace, but he's one of the weakest aces in baseball because he's such a damn head case. If he were capable of maturing a little, he'd be a damn fine pitcher. But, his excitability is both a curse and intoxicating. We love to see Zambrano break shit up when the Cubs are losing as it is a projection of our own frustrations, but what does it really do to help the team win?

When I made that statement I was probably using a three year weighted average. It's hard to see how Dempster's 2007 season is very relevant to 2010.

CHONE projections:
Buehrle 192 IP, 4.12 ERA
Peavy 145 IP, 3.95 ERA
Danks 169 IP, 4.26 ERA
Zambrano 181 IP 4.28 ERA
Dempster 179 IP, 4.12 ERA
Lilly 173 IP, 4.21

Basically the same. But my the real point is that there's not a #1 pitcher in the group. It's six two and three starters. With the possible exception of Lilly there's guys there who have a chance to be an ace, but no one you would count on as one.

Again you claim Peavy isn't an ace. What more does a guy have to do to be an ace in your book? He has a personal .583 winning percentage on a team with a .473 winning percentage since he arrived. He won the Cy Young. But somehow he's comparable to Dempster, a career journeyman with a career WHIP close to 1.50.

I am sorry, I didn't realize you know that I am the one who makes the CHONE projections. Is it the 145 innings or the 3.95 ERA that screams ACE to you? Peavy's winning percentage is 11% higher than his teams? Dempster's % over the last two years is 9% higher than two good teams, therefore he is an ace.

Chad Fox?

http://cubs.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=2009...

OCTOBER

Rudy Jaramillo, who has been fixture in Texas for 15 years, hired as hitting coach for Cubs staff. ... The Ricketts family is formally introduced as the Cubs' new owners on Oct. 30 at Wrigley Field.

NOVEMBER

Lilly underwent arthroscopic surgery and debridement on left shoulder. ... Zambrano won third Silver Slugger award. ... Heilman dealt to D-backs for two Minor League prospects. ... Grabow signed two-year, $7.5 million contract. ... Lee finished ninth in NL MVP vote. ... Tom Ricketts and team president Crane Kenney traveled to Florida to meet with Naples, Fla., group that wants Cubs to move Spring Training site to Sunshine State. Earlier in month, Ricketts and Kenney met with Arizona officials to discuss sites in Mesa.

DECEMBER

Cubs declined to offer arbitration to Gregg, Harden, Johnson and right-hander Chad Fox. ... Tom Ricketts met with Florida Gov. Charlie Crist to discuss moving team to Florida for Spring Training. ... Miles and Fox traded Dec. 3 to Athletics for pitchers Jeff Gray and Ronny Mota and infielder Matt Spencer. ... Ryne Sandberg named Triple-A Iowa manager. ... Cubs selected right-hander Michael Parisi from Cardinals in Rule 5 Draft. ... Cubs acquired righty Arismendy Mota from Nationals for cash considerations. ... WGN Radio signed former Cubs third baseman Ron Santo to three-year contract extension. ... Bradley traded to the Mariners for pitcher Carlos Silva and cash.

CHAD FOX!

New Year 2010 already off on the wrong foot...

On Seems ESPN Classic Sports, early Saturday, Jan 2nd at 5:30AM, is broadcasting Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS. Prior, Alou, Bartman and Alex S. Gonzalez. Oh the pain. Maybe it will end differently this time.

Somebody should edit in Murton making that great catch against the Ivy and throwing to first for a double play instead.

You know, when Kerry hit that HR, I still thought we were going to win. Up 3-1 with Zambrano, Prior and Wood going... It's still hard to fathom.

- sigh -

How I wish we had the ONE incredible memory of a player doing something in recent memory to win the Pennant or the WS for the Cubs, instead of the infamous disasters.

Just do what I do: watch the Kerry Wood 20-strikeout game instead. You get not only the massive performance by Kid K, but also Steve Stone's Ugliest Sweater Ever (is that it, or did his shoulders throw up?).

Not to mention a classic Chip miscue: calling the HBP on Biggio as though it hit him in the head when it was clearly on the elbow. Biggio even ducked his head out of the way. Good on ya, Chip.

i know it's Xmas holiday time and all, but the OF market this year has been oddly slow.

we're going into JAN with only mike cameron worth mentioning...and at his age and pricetag it's barely worth mentioning.

if you want to count the DH-quality matsui or broken down c.crisp as on par with cameron i'm not gonna argue it, though. -edit- on par, as in...a "worth mentioning" OF signing...not talent-level.

Peter Gammons, HOF saw the lineup posted by Newport and officially has called the 2010 season. It's game 4 of the WS, final score 9-0.

on to 2011...

jon heyman's HOF tweet...

"just mailed Hall of Fame ballot, beating deadline yet again. voted for alomar, dawson, larkin, parker, morris & mattingly"

mattingly? yeesh.

bert blyleven, no...mattingly, yes...

okay, whatever.

props to him for making his vote public, though...

also, props to whatever mail service he used on a Sunday.

Since it's so slow today I'll start a new argument up:

Why the hell do I keep reading that the Cubs need a 2B, but not a shortstop? Isn't Theriot much more natural at 2B? Wouldn't it be nice to have a real shortstop for a change?

If it's availability, fine, just say it: We can't find any good SS's so we're going to kludge our middle infield together until Starlin Castro turns into the second coming of Ozzie Smith.

I think there is little chance the Cubs will add an additional 2B. They have their future 2B already on the team (Theriot or Baker), and I don't think they believe that 2010 is a season to reach for the brass ring.

Boy I sure hope they have a plan then, but that whole 2010/not a brass ring type season is scary when you consider the age of key players Lee, A-Ram, Soriano, Fukudome, etc...and the possibility that Lilly, Lee, and Ramirez could leave after this season. It seems the window closed already for this team..

Sadly I think that the Cubs window has closed. While this could be a 90+ win team next season, there are few, if any, players on this roster that would have started for either of the world series teams last season.

We might see a mid-season trade if the Cubs are in the hunt, but I expect that the next off season we will see a major overhaul.

Some of those expiring contracts can be a good thing, regardless of how we feel about the player or how productive the player is. My feeling is that Ramirez will excercise his option. $14.6 million is a lot to pass up for one year. As for Lee, I am not sure who would be the most natural replacement, but I would be willing to re-sign Lee at a favorable price. Fukudome goes back to Japan after 2011. Lilly may be one of the most sought after pitchers next season, especially if he recovers nicely from his shoulder surgery. The only arguement one could make is his temper tantrum he threw on the mound in Game 2 at Chase Field, but based on the offensive production during that series, it is understandable. He knew that a shutout would not neccesarily save him. I guess my point is that the Cubs do have some decent talent in the farm system and the expiring contracts are not a terrible thing. The window may be closing, but new doors will open and more money will be available for player development and good free agent signings. The Cubs have recently over paid for free agents because of their inability to develop any kind of productive offensive threat. If they can start to develop and scout better, with the budget they have, then we will see better results. Lots of ifs, but it is that time of year.

Unless he's injured all year or somehow sucks, I have to think Ramirez either opts out or signs an extension sometime during the season. He's probably looking at this year as his last, best chance to sign a large, multi-year deal. If he puts it off until after 2010, he'll be another year away from his prime and less attractive to other teams.

Here's hoping he gives us a discount on both years and dollars.

Yeah. There's no solution to 3rd base coming in 2011 if A-Ram opts out, so have to hope he gives the Cubs a discount. Maybe Flaherty or Vitters is ready in 2012 or 2013.

Sign Aram, move Sori to first base.

Isn't 2010 suppose to be a good FA class?

Not nitpicking, but Ramirez has 3 years left on his contract.

http://www.rotoworld.com/content/clubhouse_Co...

2009: $15.65 million, 2010: $15.75 million (can opt out after season), 2011: $14.6 million, 2012: $16 million club option w/$2 million buyout, 2013: Free Agent

So ARam can stick around for 2/$30.6M or he can test the FA market. That's the decision for him. The club has the option on the last year, but assuming he's healthy they'd be fools not to keep him if he stayed for 2011

I think the Cubs are going to move forward in 2010 with Theriot at SS and Fontenot/Baker at 2nd. I don't think they want to spend on a SS because Castro is waiting in the wings and they don't want to spend on a 2nd baseman because Theriot is destined to move over there.

Actually, I wouldn't mind seeing Theriot move to 2nd and Andres Blanco take over at SS until Castro is ready. Blanco has a helluva glove and I don't think he's going to hit any worse than Fontenot/Baker.

If Tejada is available for one year and a couple of million dollars, that wouldn't be bad either. But I don't see that happening.

Actually, I wouldn't mind seeing Theriot move to 2nd and Andres Blanco take over at SS until Castro is ready.

Love it. At SS I'm far more concerned with defense than hitting. Even Ronnie Cedeno... if he could have even just hit around .230 I would have been alright with him. Also if he quit airmailing his throws...

Yes, if Ronnie Cedeno would have just hit better and played better defense, he would have been alright. That's some expert analysis. You're welcome.

I think 2008 would have been the best year to have Blanco at SS, since we had such good offensive production from DeRo at 2B. Putting Theriot at 2b with Blanco at SS is just an absolute black hole of offense in the middle infield. With question marks in both RF and CF (and let's face it, LF), we can't afford zero offense out of half the infield.

Good point DD....I just can't wait to see what mediocre OF the Cubs sign for too much money...

DD -- Why do you consider Theriot to be a blackhole offensively? His .288/.356/.369 isn't tremendous, but it's not bad. True, he doesn't have much pop (7 HR, 54 RBI last year was his career best), but I wouldn't say he's "an absolute blackhole."

I don't know if his 83 OPS+ last year qualifies as a black hole or not, but certainly the combination of Theriot and Blanco (65 OPS+) is really bad.

My point was if you're going to have terrible offense from your SS (Blanco), you probably need to make up for it somewhat at 2B. This is compounded by the fact that we have very little power coming out of RF, a traditional power spot in the lineup, and our leftfielder may be on an out-of-control downward spiral (let's hope not).

i don't think any team out there would start blanco anyway.

his whole plate approach is to swing like hell and he doesn't have a shred of power. he's pretty much a glove and it's not like he's perfect at SS.

Understood. That makes sense.

.230?

REALLY?

Hmm...well it's an interesting idea...I'd rather see Blanco than Aaron Miles for sure..

Would it be worth getting Orlando Hudson or Orlando Cabrera for a season?

To be honest, I would rather throw $6-7 million at a shortstop that can produce than Marloyn Byrd or Scott Podsednick for 2. Trading for a defensive minded CF would not be the end of the world. The bench improves and the productive bat is there, just from a different position. Lou wants a productive outfield bat (CF). Well if there is not one out there, then there is not one out there. Rudy Jaramillo may be considered the best, but perception is normally reality.

Theriot's .712 OPS, which ranked him 12th (of 18) among MLB shortstops who qualified for a batting title would rank him 20th (of 22) second basemen.

Theriot is essentially what a fourth outfielder is. He doesn't hit well enough to justify playing in a corner, and he doesn't field well enough to justify playing CF.

judging non-power guys by OPS just isn't fair and you're not gonna find a lot of happy space.

riot hits singles, makes an occasional double, an even rarer homer and shows up for work everyday. that's about all you need him to do until you start thinking about paying him 3-6 million bucks a year, imo.

Well, I need him to play good defense and be an effective baserunner. After this year he's just not going to be worth his salary unless he manages to combine the power, the patience and the base stealing acumen he's displayed at times in his career simultaneously. Defensively, he is what he is.

Rosenthal jUst tweets that DeRosa to SF is close to signing a 2 yr deal.

Glad to see him out of a StL uniform, that was a nightmare.
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Ken_Rosenthal: DeRosa close with SF on 2-year deal.

I had seen plenty of ink on this one.

He'll like it and is a wine drinker, so also he can get busy and open a vineyard lake everyone else out there.

I have to think that Hendry will do a minor signing before Cubs Convention, or the crowd in the Management Session will rip him a new asshole.

Ryan Church?

that sub .700 OPS was terrifying...

Orlando Hudson wouldn't be bad, id rather have him than anyone else the Cubs would be throwing out at second base.

http://espn.go.com/chicago/columns/blog/_/pos...

Byrd/Podsednik are 1-2 on Cubs wish list
Jose Contreras/Kiko Calero are the bullpen targets
talked about a trade with Rockies for Ryan Spilborghs to be the 4th OF/platoon partner

2010 - feel the excitement

~vomits in mouth~

We need to look into picking up Phil Nevin as the big RBI bat.

When did Colorado suddenly become our new source for backup players?

Hendry can't be that bad of a GM to sign Pods, can he? It would be a disaster signing and funny that a 34 year old CHW castaway would be our big signing of the offseason.

When does Teflon Jim get his next contract extension?

I'll just ask the obvious: What does Hendry have against good ball players all of a sudden?

"Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said that Xavier Nady's asking price is above New York's current budget."

did i wake up this morning in 1995? what the hell is a Yankees budget?

lol

According to Calero's B-R stats, he has been very effective for the most part, in his career.

Has he had recent surgery?

And, is he an FA or still signed to the Marlins currently?

If he can be signed on the cheap, and assuming he can regain his form with St. L and Oakland, is this a poor acquisition?

Jayson Stark tweets that DeRosa is taking a physical for the Giants

jaysonst: Now in Rumor Central: DeRosa takes physical for Giants http://proxy.espn.go.com/mlb/features/rumors#...

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whats next? PSullivan tweeting something about DeRosa getting a prostate exam?

Mark DeRosa is shaving off his stubble.

More at 11.....

So the Giants want DeRo to play 3B? Presumably, bumping Sandoval to 1B. If you're the Gaints, why not play DeRo at 2B and sign some cheap power for 1B? Unless they're going to take a run at Uggla, that doesn't make sense to me. As cheap as some of the 1B will come, you could almost take a flyer on two of them.

The answer is where do they want Sandoval long term. From what I've seen/read, he's not particularly good at either 3B or 1B.

Pablo is the greatest player at any position ever. But, I think he's at 1B in order to avoid injury to his shoulder. I'm not going to look it up, but I think that's what he hurt last year. That's also why he lost Catcher eligibility for me for next year.

One other crazy notion could be that they already have Freddy Sanchez to play second.

"While (Felix Pie) probably won’t ever be the superstar people though he would be become before the Cubs started jerking him around (as is their tradition), he’s young, good, and has little enough service time that it’s understandable why other teams are interested in obtaining him, and also why the Orioles have so far refused to sell him for a bag of magic beans."

http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/the-...

while that quote is pretty much right on the article uses a bunch of useless and full-of-holes stats as a matter of fact when evaluating a player's worth.

the comparison of jones vs. pie on defense and expectations of moving them elsewhere is a straight up joke.

Though I agree that he is much to matter-of-fact in stating the player's values, I disagree that Pie isn't a better CF than Jones and that he'd be a terrific LF.

I said before last season that they'd be better served using Pie in center and Jones in left, and a year on, people who actually think about it agree. Just like playing catcher makes your offensive game decline, playing CF (to a lesser extent of course) will do the same thing. They should let Jones concentrate on the hitting and get as much value out of Pie as they can.

aside from all that in the article..chalking reimold up as a defensive liability or defensively weak is stupid as hell.

it's also stupid to assume pie would play better in LF over reimold because of which one plays better CF...especially since reimold easily has a better arm.

A Pie-Granderson comparison is much more useful. Granderson used to strike out almost as much as Pie does. In Detroit they "fixed" him by putting him in a different batting stance that reduced the extra swooping motion in his swing.

In Chicago they "fixed" him...but in the tradition of Cubbery, it was just a repair of his testicular torsion.

SI_JonHeyman: #giants will have announcement tomorow on derosa. done deal, they say. it's $12 mil for 2 years. good move by them.
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stupid twitter-ter

anyway, glad he's not back in stl.

http://blogs.denverpost.com/rockies/2009/12/2...

Denver Post-Troy Renck:

As for the Ryan Spilborghs’ rumors involving the Cubs. Talked to a major league source Monday night who downplayed the Cubs’ interest. Basically, the Cubs’ search for a reserve outfielder is down on their priority list.

That said, Cubs manager Lou Piniella has long liked Spilborghs so it would not surprise me if the Cubs have called about him.

My gut tells me the Rockies’ asking price will be too high to get a deal done.

Lou Piniella has long liked Spilborghs...
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Whatever Lola wants, Lola gets...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OZegyj6D1x8

"Cubs manager Lou Piniella has long liked Spilborghs "

Don't get him then.

Trade for his beard and give it to Theriot so he can stop being carded going into bars.

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php...

Baseball Prospectus has an article on which managers use their bullpens for the best leverage (by Tim Kniker). It seems an interesting concept so I'm asking for some of our sabermetric guru's to see what they think.

I'm not sure I fully grasp this since on first glance it seems that teams with the most reliable closers give a manager the best BMAR. Hence Piniella would suffer from Kevin Gregg's 2009 season.

Anyway...here's his description:

use the overall team’s wOBA against the same-handed batter. This serves as a baseline if the manager essentially drew names out of a hat based on who would be the next reliever. So if we subtract the Effective wOBA from the "random" wOBA, we get a statistic that we will call BMAR for Bullpen Management Above Random. Essentially, a BMAR of 15 says that by putting the best pitchers in the highest leverage situations, the Effective wOBA of the opponent’s hitter is 15 points worse than if the manager chose his relievers at random.

The 5yr winner is the Twins mgr, which means Joe Nathan is the most consistent closer over the last 5 yrs. I don't think I needed a statistical analysis to come to that conclusion though.

So is this stat of any value?

of course there's the upper bound bullpen management (UBBM) which he uses to refine the BMAR info. Say that one out loud three times.

You Be BM...is he calling his readers a piece of crap?

I don't think he's probably seperated cause and effect to determine his correlation and I'm confused about his methodology to set a 'baseline'. Until he's cleared that up, I can't give it the TRN stamp of approval.

I posted some questions in the comments.

phew...i can smell the stench of that stat from here. i dunno where to begin.

Supposedly NYY are not looking at Bay, Holiday and now Damon is out. Hopefully they will target Marlon Byrd soon.

"The Yankees are thinking of much cheaper free agent options - former Blue Jay and Cub Reed Johnson, Jerry Hairston Jr. from last season's team or other players for left field, the official said."

http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/baseball/ya...

Ed Lynch, former Chicago Cubs general manager, is the latest hire in the Blue Jays scouting bonanza.
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http://m.torontosun.com/12289871.1

HAHAHAHAAHA!!

Those poor Canuck bastards.

Clearly they understand the dynamics of baseball.

Over the past 5 years:
CHC 410 wins
TOR 411 wins

And TOR plays in a much, much more difficult division than the CHC.

Bruce Levine chat transcript from 12/29.

http://espn.go.com/chicago/chat/_/id/30107/es...

Not a must read.

According to my people, Hudson is a below-average on-base percentage guy who doesn't have a lot of speed. Just check September out: he lost his starting job to Ronnie Belliard. Hudson is not on their list. They continue to have talks with the Mets about Luis Castillo. So far the Mets are unrealistic about eating any of the $12 million owed for a player they don't want.

Bruce Levine's people don't seem to be very smart...

Agreed Rob..Luis Castillo?? Oof...

Hudson's last 4 seasons are all solid as far as OBP:
.354
.376
.367
.357
He'd be a significant upgrade at 2B.

Castillo's OBP isn't that dramatically different:

387
355
362
358

I think either choice is fine, honestly. Just need somebody to get on base and stop hitting into so many god damned double plays in front of Lee & Ramirez.

The O-Diggity obviously gives you a lot more power but a lot less speed. Hudson has nearly as many home runs in the last 3 years as Castillo has in his entire career.

Good point Wes, I just would rather sign Hudson to a 1-year deal if possible than get stuck with Castillo for 2.
Plus, while Hudson's defense wasn't great the last few seasons, Castillo's has been pretty bad.

While it clearly would be an upgrade, the declining OBP is a bit worrisome.

Year/OBP/BABIP/BB%
2003: /.328 /.312 /7.6
2004: /.341 /.317 /9.4
2005: /.315 /.298 /6.1
2006: /.354 /.311 /9.5
2007: /.376 /.338 /11.9
2008: /.367 /.344 /8.9
2009: /.357 /.332 /10.1

I'm not sure I see anything I'd call a "decline." It's not like he'd steadily been achieving OBPs in the .370-.380 range. The thing that should be worrisome is that those 2007-2009 OBPs, which are higher than the ones before correspond to the three highest BABIPs in his seven year career. The overall pattern of the BB% seems to be a plateau over the past four years.

Seeing his OBP go from .376 to .367 to .357 over the past 3 years is a bit of concern to me that he is on his way back to the .341 or .328 OBP from earlier in his career rather that staying where he is at.

An Orlando Hudson discussion is not complete without mentioning his A+ defense. He's probably one of the top 2B defenders in baseball.

Also Hudson is a good club house guy.

I thought I read Castillo not so much.

2nd base defense is overrated. You can play anyone there.

It sure isn't Right Field

Meh... I respectfully disagree. Defense is always important... Even though we don't have a good stat for it yet. :)

SI_JonHeyman: francesa just said bay will go be a met if he passes physical.

Bay a Met. Me like 3 letter words.

4/66 with a 5th year vesting option

hope he enjoys hitting 15-20HR a year total. that ballpark kills all but rainbow-shot RH power hitters for some reason.

I doubt he cares, being that this is his last shot at a big contract, but if the LF is really large, the Mets will probabably move him to first in two years.

yeah, i guess i should say "i hope the mets enjoy him hitting..."

the place played really weird for RH pull power hitters.

But do they have any live arms?

On Lee "He's got more offensive and defensive potential than Castro, so I'll give him a lower grade."

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