Dempster Signs Extension

The Cubs took their first dive into the free agent market by extending Ryan Dempster's contract for 3 years. It appears the deal is for $15.5 million total or about $5.17 per year. Nice move, once again by Hendry, to pre-empt a bidding war and secure a solid if not spectacular player. Dempster's #'s since becoming a closer on May 9th: 4-0 1.85 ERA, 53/27 K/BB, 1HR, 46 IP 8.2 K/9, 4.2 BB/9, .15 HR/9, 1.96 K/BB And for the season he has a sick 2.69 Groundball to Flyball ratio. The chances of him keeping up that HR/9 rate and G/F ratio are pretty slim, so I don't know if I expect him to be nearly the shutdown guy he's been so far this year, but I certainly expect him to be better than anything we've had since 2003. Now if we could talk Baker into letting him go more than one inning at a time on occassion, then we may have something special. Or still go after B.J. Ryan or Billy Wagner and have a lethal one-two combo from the right and left side. All in all, good move in my book.
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Comments

I agree...all in all pretty good. I was hoping for a little less than $15.5 million. I was hoping for something like:

2006- $4 million
2007- $4.5 million
2008- $5 million
Total $13.5 million

But the $2 million is protecting the fact that we didn't get in a bidding war like Rob G. said.

This takes Ryan or Wagner off our radar. I think it puts Burnett on it big time. Him and Dempster are great friends. While his 1st choice maybe the DC area it seems the Nats and O's do not want him. I expect at the least Burnett and Furcal will be added for 2006.

I don't know if Burnett and Furcal will be added (see Boston and New York for reasons why), but if they are, it will certainly get me excited about 2006. I think me need a tough eighth inning guy, at least one big-time power guy in the OF to go with those two.

Of course, Burnett is also an injury guy -- so who knows? I'm just hoping the Cubs decide to put a team with a chance on the field.

Can we also please have an outfielder who can drive in runs and hit 30 home runs? This talk of Damon makes me sick to my stomach. I see him as a guy who fits in well in Boston but I just have this fear that we would be pretty average here. And Pie is not ready yet. And Burntiz is a year older. So what the heck are we gonna do to solve our outfield problems?

What middle relief guys are going to be available in the offseason? Anybody know?

So now that Dempster is locked up...

Scott Williamson was brought on board as a similar "project" signing. Although his performance has been mixed to bad this year there is a club option (I believe this is true) for $2 million next year. Clearly his inconsistency has been control more than velocity. That is typical of the early performance of most pitchers coming back from TJ surgery. The signing was based on his operation being done by the same surgeon who did Dempster's elbow.

Is he in or out for 2006?

Dempster was used similarly last year and was about as inconsistent as Williamson was this year (I think Dempster was a bit better). Same operation, same surgeon (although this was Williamson's 2nd Tommy John procedure).

If Williamson reverts to the pitcher he was in Cincy, he can solve the 8th inning and has closer experience as well. His track record when healthy is terrific. THAT's A BIG IF, but I doubt anyone expected his 2005 performance to reflect much beyond getting his feet wet again.

Given the cash horde the Cubs have I think it's worth continuing this experiment. They can't count on him but I think he's more likely to do well and stay healthy than Chad Fox was. Williamson was a better pitcher than Fox was when both were healthy.

We already have Kerry Wood on that list albeit a different procedure (shoulder-labrum repair) but the same surgeon (Tim Kremchek, the Cincy Reds Orthopod)

Cubster-
Good point about Williamson.

The Cubs signed him FOR that 2006 option, thinking anythuing they got from him in 2005 was a bonus and helped get his arm back to strength.

IF he comes back like Dempster did, then we and Novoa would be ok as set up with Ohman as the LH reliever. That still shouldn't stop hendry to try and get a quality relief guy, but if Williamson can come back and Novoa with a year of expereince, things could be at least going in teh right direction.

Let me take that back there is no option on Williamson. I thought there was one, but it appears there isn't. Hmm???

I'd say the Cubs can be nothing other than pleased with Williamson's performance. The man has struck out 23 guys in just over 14 innings, and has walked 6. Yeah, he's given up three long balls, but those numbers coming off surgery are exciting. With the signing of Dempster, I think the foursome of Weurtz, Ohman, Williamson and Dempster is quite good. Novoa has shown enough to get a slot in the pen. What would be useful would be an effective innings muncher and, as someone else said, to let Dempster/Williamson go two innings on occasion. Otherwise, the bullpen appears to be in much better shape than going into this year.

Jose Macias leads off again. Neifi follows. It's amazing, but the combined OBP of Macias/Perez is well below what Bonds put up last year. The fact that in game 161 Macias starts and hits lead-off while even a marginal prospect like Theriot sits, and a guy like Murton bats deep in the order, is reason #2421 Baker is utterly worthless.

Wow, I think we need a hell of a lot more than one quality addition to our bullpen. I think we need 1 new "A" arm, and 2 "b" arms. This year we counted on folks turning it around, no way we can trust that will happen next year.

I think we need a LOT of moves in all facets to make us a top playoff contender next year.

Adam-
"I think we need a hell of a lot more than one quality addition to our bullpen. "

I agree that is why i said "things could be at least going in teh right direction."

It was a good first move, of course there needs to be a few others.

This doesn't preclude the signing of Ryan, since he's already said he's more interested in winning than closing.

Why would a team with 2 injury prone starters want to aquire a 3rd in AJ Burnett?

I'm a little confused about Justin's remark of Furcal going to NY or Boston... who's getting released, Jeter, Renteria or Reyes?

so is it safe to assume that Dempster is not getting paid 5 mill a year to be a set up guy?

I'm not saying Furcal to Boston or New York, I'm saying Burnett. Poorly worded post on my part. But if they want it, the Yanks and BoSox have the market cornered on top pitching forever.

As far as why you'd want Burnett, everybody has an injury history these days. Why would you sign anybody? You do it because Wood's likely gone after next year, and because a top 5 of Z, Prior, Wood, Burnett and Maddux is amazing.

But I'm honestly bigger on Millwood. He's a solid vet, and I think he'd come a bit cheaper.

But he'll probably go to to NY or Boston too.

The only facet of this which pleases me is that we're much less likely to dump even more money into the slot. I don't see $5 million of value here. I think that by the time the end of this deal rolls around, the reputations of Dempster and Hendry will be half of what they are today.

With Williamson, I think it's likely he'll re-sign. There's a loyalty factor there; the Cubs took a chance and paid him essentially to rehab, so he'll want to help the club that gave him a shot.

I agree, we need another "A" arm, but I think we have the "B" arms covered. Let's get one more nasty reliever to go with Demp and Williamson, and we'll have a solid pen.

Ron--

I hear what you're saying, but I see Dempster as similar as an Isringhausen type--he had some success early as a starter, hurt his arm and made the leap to solid closer. Isringhausen is by no means dominant, but I think we can all agree, if Dempster matches his numbers, we've done pretty well.

Well, the Cubs have done extremely well with long-term contracts for relief pitchers in the past, so I can see why they jumped at this opportunity.

Actually, I wouldn't be too surprised to see Dempster maintain his very high G/F ratio. What worries me is that I also expect him to maintain his BB ratio.

followup on Williamson. There may be a club option. Clearly he made $500K this year.

I'm not sure about the option although I though I heard that back when he was signed. I did find one reference to this from the Trib archives, 5-31-05, pg.8 by Paul Sullivan:

THE LAST ROW. FRONT AND CENTER.

"No one wants to think about next year on May 31, but 2006 will be in the back of general manager Jim Hendry's mind soon if the Cubs don't prove they're more than a .500 team before the trading deadline."

then he goes position by position, under the section-Relievers:

"Relievers

The bullpen has been a sore point over the last three seasons, but Hendry can start from scratch in '06 if he likes. Mike Remlinger's contract ends, and Dempster (right) will become a free agent. Dempster likely will re-sign, though whether he'll be the closer in '06 remains to be seen. Joe Borowski, Michael Wuertz, Will Ohman and Todd Wellemeyer figure to get opportunities to return in middle relief if they fare well the next four months. The Cubs also hold a $2 million option on the injured Scott Williamson."
----
Here's some more detail on his injury and such:

Red Sox | Williamson Undergoes Tommy John Surgery
Wed, 13 Oct 2004 01:40:37 -0700

Updating an ongoing story, The Boston Herald's Jeff Horrigan is reporting Boston Red Sox RP Scott Williamson (elbow) underwent Tommy John ligament-replacement surgery Tuesday, Oct. 12, placing his entire 2005 season and possibly some of 2006 in jeopardy. "I couldn't believe what I saw," Cincinnati Reds team doctor Tim Kremchek said. "It looked like a grenade had gone off in there. The damage was far worse that the MRIs or any examination alluded to." Williamson pitched the last month of the regular season with a completely torn ulnar collateral ligament, mangled cartilage ripped from the bone on the outer part of the elbow and several bone chips and loose bodies within the cavity of the joint.

1-19-05
The Chicago Tribune reports Chicago Cubs RP Scott Williamson signed a minor-league deal for the minimum salary of $316,000, or $500,000 if he's called up to the majors.
-
1-19-05
Hendry also took a "solid gamble" on reliever Scott Williamson, signing the 28-year-old right-hander to a minor-league deal for the minimum salary of $316,000, or $500,000 if he's called up.

It's a $3 mil option on Williamson for 2006.

His 2005 deal was a minor league deal.

"Williamson's contract will pay him the minimum in 2005, and if he is activated, it will increase to $500,000. There is a $2 million club option for 2006." It came from a cubs.com article: http://chicago.cubs.mlb.com/NASApp/mlb/chc/ne...

On Burnett you sign him because he might have the best pure stuff in all of MLB and Wood is not going to be a SP for the Cubs next year. For all the talk of his injury problems he has not missed a start due to injury since his TJ surgery. He as much as a health risk as Prior who has had an injury free season. I'm not counting that elbow thing because that is a freak thing.

Thanks CHIFAN for the link....Rob do you have a link for your $3 million option??

Chifan:
"and Wood is not going to be a SP for the Cubs next year."

Did you hear something nobody else did, or is this just an opinion. Thanks!

Ah, Neifi grounds into his 22nd double play of the year. third in the league; and who said slappy contact-hitting out-machines can't help the offense? Especially at the top of the order!

Manny,

Its more like an opinion. However I think one can logically assume that unless he has a 2001, 2003 or even a 1st half of 2004 like season he will be gone. He needs 344 IP to make that option a player option. So that is not going to happen. Even if he has a great season and they sign Burnett and Nolasco, Pinto, Guzman, or Hill looks like they could a solid starter for 07 they might let him walk then too.

Chifan-
Oh i am sorry, when you said next year I thought you meant 2006, not 2007. Sorry, I misunderstood.

Prior has been hurt every year of his career.

This is the first time Burnett has made 30 starts since 1999- if he wasn't hurt, what was he doing, napping?

Burnett is going to get a 5 year deal for 50 to 58 million, and it is going to be by a GM with money to throw around (boston or NY) or one of the mildly retarded GM's running around who look at one year, and neglect the previous 5 when signing a free agent- not to mention Burnett's home road splits: 2.95 at home, 3.80 on the road. For his career: Wrigley 4.35 Cinergy 7.89 Busch 2.08 Miller 4.15 Minute Maid 6.00 PNC 2.37.

If we're going after a FA starter, I'd prefer someone like Weaver who can be had cheaper and shorter.

Well, if Burnett is getting offers for 5 years, then he won't be coming to Chicago. Hendry will not sign a player to a 5 year deal. So it would have to be for 4 years and more money per for Burnett to realistically sign. Not likely and with his injury problems, I am glad.

"Burnett is going to get a 5 year deal for 50 to 58 million, and it is going to be by a GM with money to throw around (boston or NY)"

No way Burnett gets 5/58! Plus Theo is not the kind of GM who would not want to lose a 1st round pick signing a guy like Burnett. As for NYY do you think they want to gamble on a 2nd Carl Pavano. I think Burnett's suitors will be us, Texas, and Toronto. The SP bidding war bewteen the yanks and sox will be for Millwood.

Burnett's going to get 10M a year from someone.

IENPW,

Agreed. But it either will be a 4/40-48 or a 5/50.

He's going to be a Yankee or a Red Sox.

Hmm, here's some thoughts on Theo 'Thefreaking Genius.

'ESPN.com's Peter Gammons reported Friday that Schilling will earn $12 million in 2004, and his extension will pay him $12.5 million in 2005 and $13 million in 2006. The deal also includes a $13 million option for '07, according to Gammons, that could become guaranteed if Schilling meets specified performance levels.'

He traded 4 players for Schilling, but he wouldn't give up a late first or 2nd pick for Burnett?

He signed Clement last year, after the Cubs had to pull him from the rotation for not being effective.

'Clement learned what he'd suspected all along: The Red Sox were ideal, and that's where he wound up, signing a three-year contract worth approximately $25 million.' 4.57 ERA good call mr. sabermatician.

Folk signed for 3 years 21 mil, or 4 years 28.5 million here's a quote:

"We're just thrilled to have added an elite pitcher," said Sox GM Theo Epstein. "He's one of the best relievers in the game and he'll (perform) very well at the back end of our bullpen. We couldn't be happier to have pitchers the caliber of Curt Schilling and Keith Foulke in the same offseason."

Oh, he also signed at 33 year old catcher to a 4 year $40 million deal while dismissing the oportunity to trade Manny to the Mets. His team payroll was 22 million higher than the 3rd highest payroll going into the season- and it's not like the team is full of Cpat, D-Lee's and Aram's- they're old. And unless they can beat the Yankees tomorrow, there's a good chance he'll be watching the playoffs from his living room, just like Hendry.

Real Neal,

First off those 4 players he traded for Schilling were no good. Fossum is a 5th starter/LOOGY for TB, Lyon is the best of the group and he is nice arm to have in the pen but tradeable for Schilling. Delarosa is still in the Minors and will be nothing more than a LOOGY, and the other guy is a minor league roster filler. So he didn't break the bank for him. They do not win the WS last year W/O Foluke. Manram for Cameron, Huff, and Millige is not equal value and would have been a stupid trade to make. Clement has been the ace of that staff so that has been money well spent. 3 yrs from now Varitek will be a top 10 catcher in MLB due to the fact that the position is terrable. All of those moves made the Red Sox better. I just remembered they had alot of picks from losing Pedro, Lowe, and ocab. So they will be able to afford to risk a pick on Burnett because of that. I dont see Theo getting into a bidding war for him, and NYY will stay away from him because they do not want a 2nd Pavano or Wright.

Chifan:
"Clement has been the ace of that staff so that has been money well spent."

What?? So you are the ace of a shitty staff, so it is money well spent?? The $6.5 million this year might not be horrible (just bad), but the $9.5 million the next two years are a joke for a career .500 pitcher who will have a 4.50+ ERA in the AL.

Clement has a 1.37 WHIP and a 4.57 ERA this year. Some ace....

Good thing the Red Sox can score 10 runs a game.

We won't get Burnett or Furcal. When was the last time the Cubs signed an elite free agent in their prime?

Here's your 2006 Cubs: Barrett, Lee, Walker, Cedeno, Ramirez, Murton, Hairston, Burnitz.

Manny,

Look at the numbers for the other BOS SP. Clement is their best by numbers. A 4.57 ERA is not bad for a no. 3 AL starter which he was signed to be behind Curt and Wells. My guess is that they will trade Hanley Rameriez and/or either Sanchez or Lester for a top of the rotation guy in the off-season if they can.

doubtful the club will get burnett...once again...lots of team shopping and there's 2 guy worth a damn in millwood/burnett...there's morris...there's not much beyond that.

and all their agents know it...its a VERY thin package there.

the club is expecting wood to start and any "emergency" 5th starter will probally be a rusch-like guy who can throw 100 if needed but wont bitch too much about pen work.

of course anything is possible, but a high-end starter FA pickup is highly unlikely for any club given there's 2 out there to have...much less one for a club already flush with starters compared to the competition like the cubs.

http://fantasybaseball.usatoday.com/index.php...

That mentions the option, hardball dollars had him at $3 mil for next year. I'd trust the Cubs.com article though.

So good, $2 mil even better.

$1M signing bonus

06:$4M, 07:$5M, 08:$5.5M

From:

http://mlbcontracts.blogspot.com/2005_01_06_m...

We won't get Burnett or Furcal. When was the last time the Cubs signed an elite free agent in their prime?

When was the last time the Cubs had this much cash available? I am not saying we will, but that was a loaded comment.

Call me crazy, but if we ended up with this lineup next season I'd be a happy camper.

1. Damon CF
2. Walker 2B
3. Lee 1B
4. Garciaparra LF
5. Ramirez 3B
6. Murton RF
7. Cedeno SS
8. Barrett C
9. Zambrano
Prior
Wood
Maddux
Rusch/Williams

If we could somehow get Wags to Set up and Demp to finish then that would be awesome. Dream a little dream with me.

This is what I am seeing the Cubs payroll for '06 looking like - No Rusch and a buyout on Burnitz included:

Player 2006
Maddux $9.00
Wood $12.00
Ramirez $10.50
Lee $8.67
Burnitz $0.50
Zambrano $5.50
Barrett $4.30
Patterson$2.75
Walker $2.75
Prior $2.00
Dempster $4.00
Hairston $2.10
Blanco $1.50
Williams $0.65
Wuertz $0.50
Novoa $0.35
Murton $0.45
Ohman $1.20
Cedeno $0.40
Total $69.12

That's with guestimates on the players not under contract. Presumable they'll have to start talking long term with Zambrano- so that could jump up a million or two. Somewhere around 31 million for a right fielder, maybe a center fielder, a 6th starter, 2 more BP guys and backup infielders/outfielders.

This makes me think that (as I said about a month ago) the pitching staff the Cubs plan on leaving camp next year will look familiar.

SP
Wood
Prior
Z
Maddux
Williams

RP
Dempster
Williamson
Ohman
Weurtz
Novoa

That's 10 spots of a 12 man staff. Whether it's true or not, I think the Cubs mgmt thinks the bullpen will be better next year just by experience and getting comfortable in set roles. I would guess that Hendry might make what he believes to be reasonable offers to Millwood and BJ Ryan to see if they'll bite, but not even think about getting into any bidding wars.

It also means there's a ton of guys in the mix for spots 11 and 12 (Wellemeyer, Mitre, Hill, Guzman (?), Leicester, etc, etc). I assume that group will be thinned by next spring via trade. I also think Rusch will move on.

If (when?) Wood has his next bout of arm troubles and moves to the pen, he will go to closer and the Cubs will promote for the 5th starter slot.

"We won't get Burnett or Furcal. When was the last time the Cubs signed an elite free agent in their prime?"

When was the last time the cubs had this much money to spend and this much talent already in place?

I do think the Cubs have a chance to get better just by subtracting certain elements--particularly when you consider that Neifi got 569 AB and posted a .672 OPS, Corey got 447 AB and posted a .599 OPS, and Hollandsworth, Dubois and Macias combined for almost 600 AB and combined for an OPS below .700. Blanco gets a free pass because he's a backup catcher, but his totals slag us down a little too. Break that down, and you've essentially got three full-time players' worth of at-bats that offered not just below average, but crippling offensive value. What good team out there can win with one lineup spot posting an OPS below .600 and two others below .700 every day?

Factor in a few more patient, professional hitters on the bench, and replace Neifi's AB with an average offensive shortstop and Corey's AB with an average offensive centerfielder, and this team would at least be competeting for the Wild Card.

So there is where you begin to put next year's team together. No more Neifi plus no more Corey equals immediately better offense. A more patient and professional bench bolsters that even more. If you can add an impact bat, preferably in place of Burnitz, who wasn't crippling but WAS mediocre, then you have a chance to go from simply better offensively to actually pretty good.

The money is there. Whether the players are out there to fill SS and CF, I'm not so sure. But there are always solid bench guys looking for work, and we've got to be more shrewd about picking them. If you can't hit at least a little something, then you have no business on a ML roster, no matter how many positions you can play.

Patterson and Macias in the 1 and 2 spots? Thank god this is the last game. Mercy, I cry. I can't take any more.

Meanwhile, everyone in Philly curses a man named Dusty.

A form of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. The Cubs have gone two years in a row counting on Wood and Prior being healthy and good for 35 starts each. Doing it a third year in a row would be a form of insanity. But, at least from their newspaper comments, neither Dusty or Hendry sound insane. They want another starter.

I think a trade for a starter may be as likely as a FA. For instance, if the Giants decide to move Barry and begin the great rebuilding project, Jason Schmidt may be available. He had health problems this year, but came back and pitched effectively. He would at least be a good third starter and perhaps better.

Who else will be in the market for Furcal? The big hitters, the Yankees and the Red Sox won't be as they have big contracts committed for shortstops now (the Yankees have their best shortstop playing 3B). I guess Arizona, Seattle, and perhaps the Giants and St. Louis (if they think Eckstein will turn back into a mouse at midnight) could be in the hunt. The Cubs should be able to outbid this group if they want Furcal. But Dusty and Hendry sound worry about effect of the seductive presence of Rush Street on Furcal.

I went back and looked at the games since last Saturday when Macias replaced Walker and he and Neifi started leading off: 3-8, 3-2, 3-5, 2-3, 4-3 (extra innings), 3-2, and 1-3. An offensive juggernaut it is not. Given the limitations of Macias and Neifi, and their prospensity for making contact, I do wonder why Dusty has not tried hit and running and bunting more since he insists on having these two icons of small ball lead-off.

Unfortunately, I do expect Macias to be back. However, I have hopes that some greater fool out there will think that Neifi is just super and will offer him a Christian Guzman style contract. Neifi has a point that if Guzman can start and get a contract like that, he certainly should be able to as well.

Let me predict it now so it's on the record.

Neifi will be your opening day starting SS.
He will suck, but bat .275 so Dusty and the writers will take that as respectable (despite a .290 OBP). People will clamor for Cedeno.

Cubs finish third.

When you start assuming Neifi will be gone next year just repeat this to yourself over and over again..."Dusty and Hendry think Neifi is good."

Sad but true.

If we could somehow get Wags to Set up and Demp to finish then that would be awesome. Dream a little dream with me.

Why the heck would Wagner sign somewhere as a setup man? He is one of the best closers in the game, and significantly better than Dempster. There is no way Wagner sets up for Ryan Dempster.

why would anyone predict neifi back with the club anyway? especially given his want to start...

the cubs got a lot of loot and a few places to spend it...SS/RF being the top 2...CF/bullpen the lower tier given the recent dumpster addition.

garciappara...furcal...that seems a highly more logical focus right now especially since a lotta teams with money already have their SS sorted and its very doubtful atl will have furcal back.

while garc. is likely to attract attention for his ability to play SS/3rd for a club, as well as his marketing return value, furcal's pretty much a pure SS.

of course neifi could return, but i doubt hendy is sitting around thinking about how he can lock neifi up as a first option to start.

Since the wild card was added, can anyone think of a season in which a team watched BOTH of its division rivals celebrate clinching?

79-83
4th Place in NL Central
21 Games out of 1st
10th Place in the NL
10 Games out of Wild Card spot
18th place in baseball.

That sucked.
Good riddance.

Macias gets the last at bat.

How fitting.

Sheehan:

Three years and $15 million for Ryan Dempster? Good to see that the lessons of last winter--not overspending on guys with thin track records--have taken hold. I mean, what did we know about Jaret Wright or Carl Pavano or Eric Milton?

I dont' get the lack of appreciation or desire to keep
Rusch in this NG. Let the poor guy START consistantly
and he is VERY good and a lefty. He made statements recently that he wants to stay but I think the Cubs might have to sweeten his 2.5 million dollar players option for 2006. Given the lack of starting pitchers in the FA market I suspect he can get more. Re- signing Rusch gives you a "spare" starter with Williams but this is almost essential for the Cubs anyway.

I would stay the HELL away from Burnett. He fall apart in the last month and has a BIG attitute problem. The Cubs have FAR more pressing needs to spend their
money on in the off season. There is no doubt Furcal
will be the # 1 target and they can afford him. None of the other high payroll teams need a SS enough to pay
what he will want and as usual Atlanta will be in a cost cutting mode.

Jessica

Why can't we get Furcal? He's good friends with Aramis and they both have the same agent so Hendry can get a direct line of communication going. I wouldn't mind Furcal, but I don't want him as our leadoff hitter with his .350 obp. I'd rather see Hairston at 2B and in the leadoff slot than Furcal. I'm also fine with Cedeno at SS as long as Hendry can get a proven hitter with power in the OF.

The Cubs don't need Burnett and I agree, the Red Sox will go heavy after him along with the O's, Tigers and Texas. Both the Jays and Tigers claim that their payrolls will be raised significantly but whether or not they can get anyone to sign there is another matter. David Wells claimed that he'd retire if they win the World Series so that would leave 2 openings in their rotation if Wade Miller isn't in the mix.

I don't know where that one guy is getting his info on Burnitz getting $.5 for next year, but my info states that there is an option for him at $7 mil which no one would pick up...nor should they even if he's available at a discount.

As for the gent who states "can we please get some outfielders?" here's the top OF free agents

Damon
H.Matsui
Pr. Wilson
M.Bradley
B.Giles
Jacque Jones
L.Walker(if he doesn't retire)
J.Encarnacion
Broken down Bernie Williams
Sosa(lol)

Murton should and will get a corner spot, so that leaves 2 openings if you're not counting Patterson and I don't think you can have 2 unproven OFs in Patterson and Murton starting...so if you don't make a run at Damon
who plays CF? Preston Wilson or Milton Bradley? I can see Jacque Jones in RF..I know both MacPhail and Hendry like him and tried to trade for him last season. Unfortunately, I can see a 2006 OF of Murton, Patterson, J.Jones. B.Giles is from SD so if he doesn't resign there, I could see him going to ATL to play with his brother...and they need a LF.

SS crop
Furcal
Nomar
A.Gonzalez(the other one) Marlins

SP (a weak crop)
Burnett
M.Morris
Jeff Weaver
J.Washburn
Tony Armas Jr

I don't have much info on the free agent Relief crop aside from the closers
Wagner
Bj Ryan
Dotel
Hoffman

so it looks to me like Hendry is going to have to make another D.Lee or Sosa type trade to get something done in the pen along with an OF spot. I don't think he'll pay for Bj Ryan, and I'd have to imagine the RedSox will make a run at him or Wagner if Foulke isn't going to be healthy...add the Mets to that mix as well.

The. 5 is his buyout that is why it was factored in

Not that I am suggesting signing them but
I think Moyer, Traschel & Glavine are free agents
and teams like Boston that could use solid innings eating pitchers could do a lot worse till better ones
come up

Jessica

Okay some random thoughts as this season concludes from Cubfan.

1. Once again this club has peformed to my expectations. (My prediction this year was for a season with 79 wins on the short side....to 82 wins on the long side).

2. Derreck Lee came through to how I envisioned he would perform when we got him from Florida.

3. The Cubs once feared starting rotation is simply medicore at best. Most think what wins championships is outstanding pitching--it isn't anywhere near championship (as evident by the season record) and isn't anywhere close to outstanding.

4. The Cubs offense is still too inconsistent--which you get when sit on the homer at the expense of getting on base.

5. Jim Hendry is one of the most over rated GM's in baseball. Houston dumps Kent and Beltran (two players in their prime and still producing) and yet they find a way to make the playoffs. Hendry dumps Sosa (way beyond his prime with no real production value at all) which should have been a good thing--and they can't find a way to win.

6. Holes--more holes on this club than all the whiffle balls in America. The Cubs publically won't say it--but 2006 will be a rebuilding year. Again they won't be anywhere near championship ready. They have a 3rd baseman who appears to have caught the "Ken Griffy" injury bug since coming to Chitown...that's a long commitment for a guy who runs slow and blows out his hamstring whenever he runs hard--then needs rest for 3 weeks or DL for even longer. The outfield is a complete mess. Baker won't go with Murton and younger guys who actually produce--and they still won't be able to overcome the "runners on 2nd and 3rd with no outs and we can't get a damn run in" syndrome...

The Cubs and Hendry have a top notch payroll--yet still run the club like a second-third tier organization. They have no idea how to teach fundamentals and how to execute in game strategy (that is if there is any strategy).

So "if" the Cubs are to compete in 2006 they will need to address the starting rotation. I think Rusch is a fine #5 starter. I think Zambrano is part of a championship team. I'm not sure Williams, Prior or Maddux (at this point in his declining career) are part of a championship team. I think the Cubs farm system is all hype. They "superstar prospects" they've called up have been an embarassment to the organization and they have no one ready to step into a number 4 starter spot. So I think the Cubs need to get Zambrano a good quality number 2 and 3 guy...because Prior is no more than a number 4 at best and Maddux has lost his Midas touch. Wood shouldn't even be considered in the starting rotation but again he will be there...which is why I don't think he will be there for long. He hasn't figured out his mechanics and why he can't throw 3 innings without the "something doesn't feel right" syndrome kicking in all over again. He got cleaned out...he didn't get a Steve Austin arm.

Bullpen--actually the bullpen isn't as bad as some think. Dempster is good...Williamson is good...yet this bullpen and any bullpen will fail more often than not without a kick ass offense to generate leads--good leads so the bullpen doesn't have to be so damn perfect....

Offense--Too many holes and not enough available on the market.

I see moves being made that really don't improve things a great deal. Again this is a top notch money spending organization who has no idea what championship baseball is about. They need winning people running the team--from President to General Manager--from Minor league managers and coaches--to scouts....to field manager and coaches. Unless they make the BIG changes (MacFail/Hendry/Baker and changes in the minors) they will once again run out a 100 million (or probably closer to 96 million) dollar embarrasment

I wouldn't mind swinging a deal for Livan Hernandez. The guy is an innings-eating machine. What's the status of that injury he had earlier this year? Anybody know?

zambrano/maddux/prior/wood/williamson...team doesnt really need another starter.

unless something really steps-back for wood in his rehab or a trade happens i dont see a reason to think a legit name-brand starter is coming the cubs besides someone who can spot-start out of the pen. given how thin the market is, i doubt it'll happen, honestly.

seems like the next stop is SS/RF...maybe CF...rounding out the bullpen...bench...figuring out the 2nd base situation which should be an in-house decision between walker/cedeno. not a lot of guys are gonna line up to be a non-guarenteed starter and there's a lot more pressing issues.

honestly, if hendry actually wastes the money of this team on an outside starter paid more than 3m, i'd be more upset as a fan than the recent dumpster contract.

Cubfan--I'm with you on most everything, but I think you're hard on Prior. A number 4 starter? What team has a number 4 starter with a line like this: 1.21 WHIP, 10.15 K/9, .227 BAA and, if you want to go with the "he just doesn't win" argument, a .611 winning percentage? His ERA was up this year because his HR rate was up, and yes, he needs to become more economical with his pitchers. But he's no number 4. Not even close.

To further illustrate my point as to how everyone is overreacting about him, consider the numbers above with his numbers in 2003, when he was probably the best pitcher on the planet:

1.10 WHIP, 10.43 K/9, .231 BAA, and of course, the hardy .750 winning percentage.

Not that much different. And I assume you wouldn't try to argue that he was only a number 4 in 2003, yes?

Normally I agree with Cubfan but I also disagree with the Prior assessment. I believe he is a solid #2 starter. Remember he is still young and a full healthy season will do numbers for his confidence. You have Z as #1 Prior #2 ? as #3 and Wood, Williams, Maddux as 4 & 5. (Williams going to the pen if Wood is healthy). Who wouldn't want a # 5 starter (Maddux) who pitches 200+ innings and finishes with 13 wins? So the hole is in the starting rotation #3 starter. The question is could burnett, etc be a solid #3? I say yes go after a starting pitcher.

The infield I believe is going to be fine. I would be happy with Lee, Cedeno, Nomar, Aram in the infield. Spend money and get a CF. I don't see anything wrong with overpaying for Damon in CF. Buy out Burny's contract start Murton in LF and bring out a 2006 lineup such as:

Damon
Murton
Lee
Nomar
Aram
Burny
Barret
Cedeno

This lineup has speed obp power Count workers and free swingers.

Starting 5
Z
Prior
Free agent
Wood/Maddux
Maddux/Williams

And a pen that I think is going to be much improved. This will still leave us with around 10 million to play with at the trade deadline.

Oh and key to our success will be to
1. Get rid of CPat
2. Get rid of Neifi
3. Get rid of Macias

So I think the Cubs need to get Zambrano a good quality number 2 and 3 guy...because Prior is no more than a number 4 at best

What?!?! Are you serious? Prior is a number 4? Is this the same Mark Prior that is on the Cubs?

You have to be kidding me...Prior is a number 1 pitcher who was pitching very well before a fluke injury.

I will make a prediction...Prior has a better year than Zambrano next year.

prior's only downfall this season has been the longball...a weird problem he's not had this badly until this season. hopefully he can tame that this offseason/spring/whatever.

There it is -- I was beginning to worry that no one else was seeing what I was seeing. Prior keeps it in the yard next year and he's as good as anybody in the game. I won't predict an '06 win total because that's team-oriented. But in terms of stats that DO measure effectiveness, I'll bet he's top five or six in nearly all of them in '06.

His offseason should consist of a ton of mental work. He needs to implement a strategy that helps him reduce pitch counts. But if he were to come out and throw 215 innings next year at the same level he pitched this year, he'd still be damn good.

2. Derreck Lee came through to how I envisioned he would perform when we got him from Florida.

Chifan, if you thought a player with a lifetime average under .270 was going to lead the National League in hitting, then you sir, are a genius. Get your resume out there. Every team in baseball needs you.

Justin,

No way were getting Livan Hernandez. According to Skip Bayless him and Baker would have screaming matches when there were in SF.

Cubfan,

Prior is only a number 4? Yeah, when 1-3 are Santana, Clemens, and Halladay.

Crunch,

Do your scout friends have any inside info on guys that Hendry has an eye on?

Tbone,

That was cubfan that said that. I think he was refering to the power numbers though and not the average.

chi...nope...most of my scouts i chat with arent close friends, just people i b/s with when i see them at games or around town when they're around. i keep no contacts with them, we've just grown to know each other casually over the years and can throw some b/s at each other when we run into each other.

most of them dont really have privy to any juicey information because most of the ones i run into are working for the organization they're in...scouting their own guys for the upper organization being a non-conflicted set of eyes. its not their only job and its not what they solely "do" but its the role i see them in, mostly.

Crunch my comment about Neifi was what I think the cubs will do - not what I think a smart person would do.

I realize it's completely illogical, and a sure way to guarantee we don't contend. This is the Cubs after all.

Re Mark Prior.

ERA can be an overly sensitive stat. If Prior gets Lamb out on that 0-2 count with the bases loaded and two out, his end-of-season ERA is only 3.29.

That puts him 11th in the NL, just behind Z.

(As it is, he was 19th. Given that there are 16 teams in the league, I think that makes him a #2 starter at worst.)

I hope this helps put to rest some of teh conspiracy theories running around TCR...

"He and I never talk about contracts, just like I don't talk about my own situation with Andy [MacPhail]. It's just something I don't put a lot of stock in. When you sign a deal, that's what the deal is. There was never any intent of Dusty to leave, there was never any intent on my part of wanting him to leave, there was never any thought of him not coming back next year. It's really something that the two people involved in it -- him and myself -- we never talk about it. It's not even an issue.

We're coming off a year we didn't expect. It doesn't feel good, and the two of us together have to make us better for '06."

- from Jim Hendry at Cubs.com on 10/2/05

Sorry, Chifan. I should know better than to operate one of these fancy computing machines after a few beers. Not on top of tequila anyway.

When you sign a deal, that's what the deal is???

Geez, seems to me Hendry signed a deal for JoeBo to be the Cubs closer in 2004 and 2005, but he didn't have a problem cutting him when things didn't work out.

Considering the Cubs have now had back to back seasons where the team didn't perform up to its capabilities, its either sad or frightening that Jim Hendry hasn't even considered changing managers. I guess both of these guys are working for the right organisation.

CUBS: Continually Underperforming, But Satisfied.

I think it is frightening that the emphasis is almost entirely on the manager and the GM gets a free ride.

if you want to talk about a team living up to its potential, you have to rethink your expectations with EVERY injury that lasts more than a few days.

the one constant the last 2 years...04 more than 05...has been guys counted on being injured and a lack of a proper replacement. the insult/injury to this is 04 when there was a proper 2nd base replacement at all time but they kept taking turns being injured.

the 05 bench was one of the WORST benches to ever put on a uniform for any team...it didnt help anytime anyone needed rest or got injured nor did it help when the bench lost hairston to walker's injuries or patterson's poor play. the bullpen, especially in the 1st 1/2 of 05, didnt help much either.

the problem hasnt been the sexy big name players, its been the guys who back up these players when they need rest or get injured. you cant coach your way to health, and you're not gonna have superstars waiting around to play benchwork, but at least having a couple servicable guys around who can do more than flash some glove would be a nice perk for the 06 club.

Ladies and gentlemen, your 2005 San Diego Padres: an 82-80 record, tied for 7th in the NL, would have been good for last place in the NL East.

A few stats: San Diego finished a lowly 13th in runs scored in the NL, and a mediocre 8th in ERA. They were outscored by 42 runs total for the year. No one on their team hit more than 18 homeruns. No one drove in more than 83 runs. No one with the exception of Brian Giles scored more than 65 runs. Giles was also the only regular to play more than 140 games.

Their starting pitchers combined to go 51-60 with a 4.52 ERA (and I don't even want to know the numbers without Jake Peavy). They managed to get just two pitchers into double figures in wins (Peavy with 13 and Lawrence who snuck in with 10 on the nose).

They are going to the playoffs.

Question is, if this were the Cubs, would we be calling the season a success or not?

Just curious.

Oh, and if Livan Hernandez came over and got into fights with Dusty Baker, I think that would be kind of sweet. We could use some drama.

I think it is a crap deal for Dempster. Nothing like throwing 15 million at a guy who had a whole 4 good months in his career. It is just typical Cubs, throw money at the guy after his career year, then watch said player burst into flames. I have visions of Hawkins, Rojas, and Borowski dancing in my head.

To 'Cubfan',

Okay some random thoughts as this season concludes from Cubfan.

'1. Once again this club has peformed to my expectations. (My prediction this year was for a season with 79 wins on the short side....to 82 wins on the long side).'...You throw enough crap at the wall, some of it sticks.

2. Derreck Lee came through to how I envisioned he would perform when we got him from Florida....Cubsfan now the greatest scout of all time, since no one thought Lee would hit as well as he did this year.

3. The Cubs once feared starting rotation is simply medicore at best. Most think what wins championships is outstanding pitching--it isn't anywhere near championship (as evident by the season record) and isn't anywhere close to outstanding.....Please see The Boston Red Sox circa 2005.

4. The Cubs offense is still too inconsistent--which you get when sit on the homer at the expense of getting on base....There's a lot of things wrong with the Cubs 'offense'. There's also a extremely ignorant manager running it.

5. Jim Hendry is one of the most over rated GM's in baseball. Houston dumps Kent and Beltran (two players in their prime and still producing) and yet they find a way to make the playoffs. Hendry dumps Sosa (way beyond his prime with no real production value at all) which should have been a good thing--and they can't find a way to win...Houston had 1 significant injury this year and 5 or 6 players play significantly above expectations. The Cubs had 4 significant injuries (albiet with players with injury histories) and 2 players play above expectations.

6. Holes--more holes on this club than all the whiffle balls in America. The Cubs publically won't say it--but 2006 will be a rebuilding year. Again they won't be anywhere near championship ready. They have a 3rd baseman who appears to have caught the "Ken Griffy" injury bug since coming to Chitown...that's a long commitment for a guy who runs slow and blows out his hamstring whenever he runs hard--then needs rest for 3 weeks or DL for even longer. The outfield is a complete mess. Baker won't go with Murton and younger guys who actually produce--and they still won't be able to overcome the "runners on 2nd and 3rd with no outs and we can't get a damn run in" syndrome...Do you have any stats to back up this 'Syndrome?' living here in Houston, I can tell you Garner thinks the 'Stros suffer from the exact same thing.

The Cubs and Hendry have a top notch payroll--yet still run the club like a second-third tier organization. They have no idea how to teach fundamentals and how to execute in game strategy (that is if there is any strategy)....I didn't realize Hendry's job was to teach fundamentals or execute in-game strategy. Dusty Baker is really crippling as a in-game strategist (does anyone know, for instance why he didn't PH for Maddux in the top of the 6th today or why he brought in Wuertz to face one RH batter, than brought in Ohman to face Ensberg? That man is basically retarded, I think he may be catching naps or having small strokes on the bench)

So "if" the Cubs are to compete in 2006 they will need to address the starting rotation. I think Rusch is a fine #5 starter. I think Zambrano is part of a championship team. I'm not sure Williams, Prior or Maddux (at this point in his declining career) are part of a championship team...... There are about 7 starters in the playoffs who had better years that Prior. I agree on Maddux- he needs to get his fat ass off the sofa this winter, and come to camp like someone interested in earning 9 million of the Cubs fans' dollars.

I think the Cubs farm system is all hype. The "superstar prospects" they've called up have been an embarassment to the organization and they have no one ready to step into a number 4 starter spot. So I think the Cubs need to get Zambrano a good quality number 2 and 3 guy...because Prior is no more than a number 4 at best and Maddux has lost his Midas touch. Wood shouldn't even be considered in the starting rotation but again he will be there...which is why I don't think he will be there for long. He hasn't figured out his mechanics and why he can't throw 3 innings without the "something doesn't feel right" syndrome kicking in all over again. He got cleaned out...he didn't get a Steve Austin arm...Obviously you have no idea what you're talking about with Wood- since he was able to go pretty well for what, 18 years, with that shoulder and the mechanics, odds are he should be good for another 2 after the cleanup.

Bullpen--actually the bullpen isn't as bad as some think. Dempster is good...Williamson is good...yet this bullpen and any bullpen will fail more often than not without a kick ass offense to generate leads--good leads so the bullpen doesn't have to be so damn perfect....

Offense--Too many holes and not enough available on the market.

I see moves being made that really don't improve things a great deal. Again this is a top notch money spending organization who has no idea what championship baseball is about. They need winning people running the team--from President to General Manager--from Minor league managers and coaches--to scouts (the president has 2 WS titles, the GM took teams to the college WS the manager (retarded as he may be) has been to the playoffs plenty....to field manager and coaches. Unless they make the BIG changes (MacFail/Hendry/Baker and changes in the minors) they will once again run out a 100 million (or probably closer to 96 million) dollar embarrasment

So what you're saying is they should fire everyone- and that's a key to success for 2006. Real sharp.

"because Prior is no more than a number 4 at best "

wow. please send me some of what you're smoking. i'm sure a lot of teams out there would love a guy who went 11-7 with a 3.67 ERA as a 4th starter (despite shattering his elbow on a freak line drive). i sympathize and agree with a lot of the frustration in your post but this statement is beyond moronic. i mean, it wasn't his best year but he was 9th in the NL in K's and 19th in ERA. No better than a 4th starter? let's get a little perspective, eh?

I think it is frightening that the emphasis is almost entirely on the manager and the GM gets a free ride.

Um, Manny, if you'll notice, my comments there were not directed at Dusty Baker.

And for the record, I'm not exactly pleased with Hendry for the Dempster signing either. Too much money, Too long term, for a guy who has been very good for too short of a time period. While I hope it doesn't happen, I bet Dempster comes out as being yet another example of why spending big money on the bullpen almost never works.

But as I've said before, I can tell you lots of things Hendry has done to help this team, so I'll give him some leeway. I'm still waiting for anyone to tell me what Dusty has done to help the Cubs.

"This doesn't preclude the signing of Ryan, since he's already said he's more interested in winning than closing."

Let me ask the obvious, bitter, sarcastic, sniping comment...

If he is more interested in winning, why would he sign with us? Our history can be characterized in many ways, but "Winning" is not the first word I would use. We have enough turmoil on our team that nobody will be predicting us to be the favorite to win the Central or the Wild Card next year.

Get Brian Giles to play LF. I'd love to have Matsui here, but he's probably never leaving NY.
Let Nomar play 2B. He's showing that he can do a lot of things with the bat that we need in this line-up. Plus, it doesn't hurt if he's our back-up 3B and Neifi is the utility guy again...but if the Braves lose Furcal, do they go after Neifi?

Trade Walker. At that salary, someone might give us back way too much for him. Hopefully some help with the rotation or the pen.

The strain on the bullpen comes from both the line-up's inability to manufacture runs and get a lead, and the shakiness of the rotation, where at least two to three times a week you hope to get 7+ innings from your starter. Shore up the rotation, you shore up the pen. Look at the White Sox. Their starting pitching improved and, all of a sudden, everyone else's reject bullpen guys are wonderful.

Wagner is the guy I'd go for in the pen. Nice compliment to Dempster or vice versa. Let him know up front that either one could close games, though.

If you spend big on SP, the pen and LF, plus resign Nomar, you have very little left for SS. This means Cedeno, or some trade package for an existing SS that would involve Corey, Mitre, Hill or some other "great" pitching prospect. Is there no package we could send to Texas and get Soriano here? Furcal, yes, if you have $$$ AFTER dealing with the Starting Pitching, Nomar vs. Walker, getting another Corner OF, another closer, trading for bullpen help, and getting a quality defensive OF for late innings and a good IF pinch hitter/backup 1B (plus DLee needs a game off here and there. 154 max for that guy).

With ARAM, Nomar, DLee, Murton, Giles or whomever in LF/RF--that's a decent middle of the order. Two guys need to get on ahead of them, or IMO, Murton could lead off or bat second.

I think Blanco should play more, especially if our pitchers are not going to hold runners. If we got a couple more bats in the line-up, we could afford to lose some of Barrett's offense, not all of it, but some. When Barrett plays, he should bat second.

Spending some money and trading some of our assets, this team could be OK. Can't panic though, folks. For the newer, more frustrated Cubs fans, at least we're not trying to compete with an Ivan DeJesus-Joe Strain IF like we did in 1980. Or a Steve Henderson/Larry Biittner platoon.

Things have been much worse.

justin, 82-80 would be successful season about two weeks ago. I would take an above .500 record and third place than what we have now.

I really have to submit Guinnessman for the dumbest post of the year award.

Successful season if we just finished barely above .500? Ohhhh glad Cubs fans are setting their sites so high. Who cares about the playoffs, if we just barely finish above .500 we had a GREAT YEAR!!!

2006 slogan if we finished over .500 this year...

Chicago Cubs - 2005 World Champions of being satisfied with mediocrity!

Thank you THE REAL NEAL for finally telling some of the buffoons what the deal is....news flash people...hendry is a darn good GM. the cubs DO have a talented minor league system. Prior is NOT a fourth starter. sometimes the problems are not as cut and dried as we would like. i know where we could start...axe baker? any people in agreement...i know, dumb question.

"but if the Braves lose Furcal, do they go after Neifi? "

No - not as a starter at least. They would have no interest in him as anything other than 25th man.

What's with the delusional BS that the Cubs will sign another closer??? Dempster has been extended and that's it. Does anyone really think that Wagner or Ryan are still coming?
Enough money has been spent on a closer, why the continued hand wringing about "dual-closers"? The money is needed to fill spots elsewhere.

We need as much help as we can get in that bullpen, and remember that you're dealing with a closer coming off his first full season from elbow surgery. Relying too much on broken pitchers (see Wood, Kerry) alone can be problematic.

Even if you did get more bullpen help, you still have a lot of money to throw around, plus you still have chits you can trade away (Walker, young pitching, Patterson, for example).

The question after the bullpen and the rotation, IMO, is about Furcal for leadoff, or is there someone else proven that you could bring here to lead off? Otherwise, Murton is the only other guy with the speed and knowledge of the strike zone in the org who has ML experience to lead off, IMO.

Nomar can handle 2B, get another corner OF, either a CF or SS who can lead off, a young player (Pie or Cedeno) for CF or SS in the alternate and Murton in RFor LF.

Use Walker, Patterson, Mitre, Guzman to get some SP help, b/c who knows what we'll get from Kerry/Maddux/Rusch/Williams next year? You might need TWO reliable starters.

If Prior is the number 4 starter then that means the starting rotation is once again a feared group. But if he is number 2 and number 3 is Williams, Wood or Maddux...then this starting rotation is not dominating by any means. Yes Prior is part of a dominating rotation but there better be 3 other dominating pitchers with him...or else it's a repeat of this season. And YES I think Prior is a solid number 2 on most teams...however most teams don't make the playoffs.

The tribune is reporting that Dusty is going to be offered a 2 year extension, keeping him a Cub through the 2008 season!

i know about 25+ teams who would love to have a zambrano/maddux/prior 1/2/3...wood/williams is hell of a 4/5 to sweeten it.

if prior can avoid 5'10" second basemen and line drives to his pitching arm he could be in great shape.

"if prior can avoid 5'10" second basemen and line drives to his pitching arm he could be in great shape."

And problems to his achillies, to his groin, etc.

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