End of Year Roundtable: Reader Edition

And to wind things up, today we bring you answers from a few of the many thoughtful and enthusiastic readers of TCR: AZ Phil, KJK, David Geiser and Manny Trillo. Thanks guys! Update And belatedly, Bleeding Blue. Does Derrek Lee deserve the MVP? Will he get it? Bleeding Blue: Yes he deserves it, but since the MVP award has become the 'MVP for a playoff team' award, he won't. Pujols will probably get it. AZ PHIL: He does not deserve it and he will not get it. My belief about the MVP is that it should go to the player who made the most difference in helping his team have a successful season. It's not Derrek Lee's fault that he had a great season playing for a disappointing Cub team. But it does matter as far as MVP is concerned. Andruw Jones gets my vote for MVP. It doesn't hurt that he is probably the best defensive CF of the era, either. KJK: While I don't believe the MVP has to go to a winner, I think the Cubs' disappointing showing will not allow it. He'll get some votes, but won't come too close. My opinion? I'm highly biased on the matter. But, I won't be outraged if he doesn't get it. DAVID G: I think he deserves it, but it's close, and I don't object to someone like Pujols winning it in consideration of team context. Lee's season was a beacon in the darkness for Cubs fans, whether or not he wins the MVP. MANNY: The most valuable player is the player who if taken off the team would cost the team the most wins. Thus the answer is easy....Lee is the NL MVP. He led everyone in MLB in VORP, and that doesn't even count his Gold Glove defense. Now will he win it? I doubt it I think he will take a close second to Andruw Jones. Both Jones and Lee are gold glovers at very important positions which should push them past Pujols. If you had a disposable time machine that could only travel back as far as October 4th, 2004 and was good for only one trip, plus the superhero power to change peopleís minds and actions - what one move, moment, play or decision from this past season would you alter? Bleeding Blue: I'd go back to March, on the day Dusty named Hawkins the closer, and make Dusty watch videos of the 9th inning from 2004 over and over, Clockwork Orange style, all while playing audio tapes of Jim Hendry's interviews saying Dempster will get a shot to close. The point being, Dusty apparently didn't learn anything from the failed 2004 campaign, and went on to repeat those same mistakes in 2005. AZ PHIL: Dusty Baker's initial decision to use LaTroy Hawkins as closer and Ryan Dempster out of the starting rotation, instead of Dempster as closer and Hawk as set-up man. KJK: This is surprisingly the easiest question for me. I'd go back in time and remove whatever mental block Corey Patterson has. With a solid lead-off hitter with good pop and base stealing ability, the season would have turned out very differently, IMO, even if nothing else changed. DAVID G: Can I go back to November 12, 2002 instead? For this year, I don't think there's any one bad decision that had a deadly impact. I suppose the decision to use Hawkins as closer had the worst outcome, but I think it's only through hindsight that we can fairly criticize that. And remember that in October of 2004 the plan wasn't to use Hawkins as closer. I guess the LF situation turned out badly as well, but I don't have any better suggestions, and couldn't possibly have stomached another year of Alou as a Cub. MANNY: The Nomar injury is the one play I would like to alter. Losing him and Walker shortly later made the Cubs rely too much on a crappy bench. But changing Hendry's mind of going with a DuBois/Holly, Patterson and Burnitz OF (maybe the worst Opening Day OF in Cubs history) is a close second. At what point did you give up on the Cubs this year? Bleeding Blue: lost a lot of hope the day Nomar went down, but I didn't truely give up until the Mets series in early August. Nomar came back, Wood came back, Lawton and Williamson joined the team, and the Cubs got shelled. AZ PHIL: When the Cubs decided to shut down Kerry Wood so he could have shoulder surgery. I thought the Cubs still had an outside shot at the Wild Card. At that point they still had seven games remaining versus Houston in September. KJK: There wasn't a definite point for me. I'd say I began to feel strongly that they were doomed during the losing streak after that first great West Coast trip. It was plain to me at that time that this team was more or less like last years' in that they could step up on occasion, but for whatever reason (probably poor fundamentals) couldn't keep it going for any length of time. They also left too many on base even in winning efforts. DAVID G: It was a slow process of decline. The team looked incorrigible in the early May series in Milwaukee and the two games afterward, four of which I saw in person. I caught them again at home at the start of their next major skid, in early July against Washington. After that losing streak, their chance at the post-season was devalued to junk status. I was not one of the hopeful when they showed some signs of life at the end of August/beginning of September, but I guess I'm not known for my optimism. MANNY: I officially did not give up on the year until early August when they lost 8 in a row from August 3-10. Before that they were hovering around 2-3 games above .500 and still possibly had a September run in them (then ended up going 16-11 in September). But realistically when Nomar went down, this team was done. All signs point to Dusty Baker returning for the final year of his contract in 2006. But what lies ahead for Dusty? Is an extension on the way this off-season? Is he in any danger of losing his job in 2006? Should he be? Any other coaching changes on the horizon? Bleeding Blue: I've been saying Dusty should go since the middle of 2004, and I think it's still true. I doubt he'll get an extension, and Hendry and McFail will give him until at least the middle of next year. As long as the Cubs stay near .500, he'll keep his job through the end of the year, but if they fall short of the playoffs, he could finally be gone at the end of his contract. The entire coaching staff should also be blown up, but I doubt we'll see any major changes. AZ PHIL: I suspect Dusty will serve as Cubs manager through next season, and then retire. I believe Larry Rothschild is out. He was not one of Dusty's guys when Dusty was hired. Dick Pole was Dusty's pitching coach in San Francisco and I believe Pole will be the Cubs pitching coach in 2006. That would open up a spot for Sonny Jackson as bench coach, since Sonny J. has been Dusty's unofficial behind-the-scenes "assistant manager" for the last three seasons anyway. I expect either Vince Coleman or Shawon Dunston will replace Gary Matthews as 1st base coach next season. KJK: I think he will be extended. I don't like it. I hope it is for only one year. DAVID G: Everyone seems to think he's in line for an extension, which I suppose would mean his job is safe in 2006. Both might be true, and I find it utterly ridiculous. Baker was hired, I assume, because of his ability to get the most out of his players and field a motivated, prepared team. After 2003, that has not happened. In fact, the team looks lackadaisical and distracted. I think Baker should be fired. Now. If he isn't extended, I think he'll be on the bubble early in 2006. MANNY: Even I see that Dusty should not be given an extension before 2006. I do not think he should be fired though, but he and Hendry should be given the chance to get to the playoffs in 2006. If they make it, extend them for 2-3 years, and if not, they both should be let go. I do think, just like last year, there will be some changes in the coaching staff and that will come with Rothschild asked to hit the road. The pitching staff took a big step backwards this year with leading MLB in HR's and BB's. As he was here before Dusty, I don't think Dusty will put up much of a protest. That all being said, I think the Cubs will reup with him through 2008. What about Jim Hendry -- should McPhail and the Trib re-up him or is his fate tied with Dustyís? Bleeding Blue: His fate shouldn't be tied directly to Dusty's, but if he isn't willing to realise the team needs different on-field managment, then the team needs to seriously consider showing him the door. However, considering his relationship with McFail, I'd say he's a lock to get a contract extension. AZ PHIL: Jim Hendry is an excellent GM. I would like to see the Cubs sign him to an extension. I doubt that his future is tied to Dusty Baker's. KJK: I don't think his fate is tied to Dusty's. I think he will be extended. I think he should be. DAVID G: This is a complicated situation. I'm sure his job is safe, but I do not think that Hendry has been a successful GM overall. This is a difficult evaluation to make because Hendry has not just done a good job in many of the myriad aspects of his position, he's been exceptional. The mere fact that he built a farm system on the agricultural equivalent of the moon makes him one of the most important executives in Cubs history. He has generally received equal or better value in trades and never gets fleeced, unlike all of his recent predecessors. At the same time, he doesn't seem to get roster construction, and the promising players that come up from the farm system all seem to wither away. If he had a manager who knew what to do with a player under 30 or a boss above him who held him accountable, maybe Hendry would be doing a better job of these things. But in the context of this organization, which appears dysfunctional from top to bottom, I'm not seeing it. It's hard to fault him, however, as anything more than "part of the problem", and in another organization he might be exceptionally good. If MacPhail and Baker and most of the rest of the management were to go, I wouldn't mind seeing Hendry stay, but that isn't going to happen. I'm more of a "fire MacPhail" guy than I am a "fire Hendry" guy. MANNY: Hendry and Baker should basically be tied at the hip. Hendry has been given 4 years now as GM, each year with a pretty darn high payroll. And we have 1 playoff appearance to show for it, 3 years ago. Also, the minor league system is just not as good as Hendry and others think as its fruit has born very little thus far. Hendry has pulled off some really nice deals, but at some point enough is enough and if they don't make the playoffs in 2006, that should be it, with Baker being let go too. Again, with that being said, I think the Cubs will reup with him through 2008. What are the top three things that went wrong for the Cubs this year, foreseeable or not? Bleeding Blue: 1. Corey Patterson: The Cubs were counting on him having a 30/30 year, and instead ended up hoping he would avoid having 30 strikeouts a week. Even worse, his defense went south along with his bat, leaving a huge hole in CF. 2. Neifi Perez: 572 ABs, 3rd most on the team, most of them batting 1st or 2nd with his .298 OBP. I wrote before the season he'd get 300-400 ABs with Dusty managing, but even I didn't think things would get that bad. Not to mention, his ABs came at the expense of Ronny Cedeno, Todd Walker, and Jerry Hairston Jr. 3. Starting Pitching: Wood's continued injury problems, Prior's near-shattered elbow and inability to get out of the 2nd inning in less than 50 pitches, Zambrano's failure to really grow up and become the staff ace he could be, and Maddux's continued slow slide into mediocrity all made a once-feared staff a very average group. AZ PHIL: If you take away the period where Hawkins closed and Dempster started, and where Corey Patterson was used as the lead-off hitter, the Cubs played .552 baseball. That is good for 89-90 wins over a 162 game season, and 89-90 wins will probably win the N. L. Wild Card. So Hendry delivered a 90 win team (even with all the injuries!) to Dusty Baker, and Baker's decisions to use Hawkins as the closer, Dempster as a starter, and C-Pat as the lead-off hitter turned the Cubs into a sub-500 team. Also, moving Glendon Rusch from the starting rotation to the bullpen was dumb. KJK: 1. Corey's meltdown. 2. Wood's shoulder. 3. Tied for 3rd: Hawkins' travails, Nomar's bad start and subsequent groin injury. DAVID G: 1. The starting pitching did not deliver, both due to injuries and failure to excel. 2. Probably exacerbated by that problem, the relief corps fell apart. 3. Injuries in the offense and a failure by Baker to optimize what was there. MANNY: 1. Nomar's injury. 2. Going into Opening Day with DuBois/Holly in LF. 3. Patterson. How about three things that went right, besides Lee's breakout? Bleeding Blue: 1. The Bullpen, yes the Bullpen: From the emergence of Dempster as a reliable closer to the development of young players who will help the Cubs win in the future, the bullpen wasn't nearly as bad as it was made out to be. Using Hawkins as a closer for nearly 2 months, Remmy as a Lefty specialist, and the like made for some unspectacular statistics, but when you look at when the Cubs were having their winning streaks, they were doing it on the backs of the young arms in the bullpen. 2. Murton and Cedeno: Two guys who no one would have expected to even be on the team in 2005 turned in solid performances and give some nice hope for the future. 3. No Sosa: Burnitz wasn't great, but he hit a whole lot better than the 221/295/376 the former Cubs star hit in Baltimore. Plus, the Wrigley grounds crew didn't have to worry about that one patch of grass in Right Field that always seemed to be burned out by mid-June. Since I'm already stretching here, I'll mention not a single Cub in the majors was suspended for steroids, that's something, right? AZ PHIL: Ryan Dempster established himself as a reliable closer, Carlos Zambrano developed into a stud ace and future Cy Young candidate, and Matt Murton gave every indication that he will be a solid major league player. KJK: 1. Zambrano, of course. 2. Barrett's continued defensive improvement and the fact that he showed his 2004 bat was not a fluke. 3. Neifi stepped up and got the job done into the All-Star break (it's a pity that he didn't get to rest much after that). DAVID G: 1. Zambrano and Ramirez picked up from where they left off last season. 2. Dempster maintained enough of a G/F ratio to compensate for his walk rate, and was extremely effective as closer. 3. Catching became an actual strong point. When was the last time that happened? MANNY: 1. Dempster stepping into the closer role and posting the best save % in MLB. 2. Murton's surprise emergence. 3. Zambrano's continued emergence as workhorse/ace. The free agent market is one of the weakest in years, but the Cubs look to have plenty of cash to spend on it. Should they spend, spend, spend, and if so what should their targets be? Or should they hold on to it until next year or use it to take some garbage contracts off other teams? Should they spend it on extensions for any current players? Bleeding Blue: I'd really like to see Furcal in a Cubs uniform, otherwise there's not much else out there I'm too impressed with. Sign Furcal, makes some trades to plug the holes in the outfield, and rework some contracts so guys we want to stick around get more money up front, saving some cash for years when the Free Agent market is better, and the Cubs have a better chance of winning a championship AZ PHIL: I would sign D-Lee to a back-loaded contract extension, sign B. J. Ryan or Billy Wagner to be the closer, Brian Giles to play RF, a solid veteran arm like Jay Witasick for the bullpen and a proven left-handed PH like Mark Sweeney. That said, my hunch is that Hendry will go hard after Rafael Furcal to play SS and hit lead-off, which means Todd Walker's club option will be declined, with Ronny Cedeno moving to 2B where he will battle Mike Fontenot for the starting job next season. I also expect Hendry to do everything he can to sign Derrek Lee to a contract extension through 2009, and to re-sign closer Ryan Dempster to a two or three year deal. I suspect Hendry will try and get Aramis Ramirez to agree to give up his player option for 2007 in exchange for the Cubs guaranteeing the last two years of his contract, although I doubt that A-Ram will agree do that. I also believe Hendry will try and sign Jacques Jones to a three year deal to play RF and hit 5th. If he can't sign Jones, then I would expect Hendry to try and swing a trade for Austin Kearns or Aubrey Huff. Also, no matter what Dusty Baker and Jim Hendry say in the media, Corey Patterson will NOT be back with the Cubs next year. He be gone. KJK: Hold on until next year. Let the kids play. DAVID G: I'd extend Lee and see what I could do about voiding Ramirez's post-2006 walk option. Barrett is an interesting case as well. If the players who will make a difference are there, sure the Cubs should open their wallets to get them. I fear the effects of the nearly $1 billion bill the Tribune Co. is taking on in the wake of the Times/Mirror fiasco, however. Other than that, I'd love to see Brian Giles patrolling one of the corners. MANNY: I think Hendry should continue to be smart by not giving out those 5+ year long contracts. But at the same time try and get Furcal for SS, Damon in CF and/or another starter for the rotation if they can for the right money. I think most of what will be done this offseason will come via the trade. Dunn?? Huff?? Schmidt?? I think an extension for Lee should be held off a bit unless Lee admits that he will not put up these numbers every year and they can come up with a realistic deal. Hendry has his hands full... What are 3 moves the Cubs MUST DO this off-season? Bleeding Blue: 1. Fire Dusty: It won't happen, but I think it needs to for the Cubs to really have a chance, both short and long term. 2. Fire the Coaching Staff: I'm talking everyone here. Get a pitching coach who can teach our staff that going deep into a game is more important that striking everyone out. Get base coaches that can teach base runners that getting picked off is a bad thing. Get a hitting coach who teaches the value of clogging up the bases. Get a bench coach that can tell Dusty that making a double switch that moves the pitcher's spot up in the order is a bad idea. 3. Trade for an Outfielder: There's simply not enough available on the free agent market to fill the holes in both CF and RF. AZ PHIL: 1. Sign Derrek Lee to a contract extension. 2. Sign a closer (either Billy Wagner or B. J. Ryan), or re-sign Ryan Dempster. 3. Trade Corey Patterson. KJK: 1. Send everyone they get and intend to keep to fundamentals camp. 2. Send everyone they get and intend to keep to fundamentals camp. 3. Send everyone they get and intend to keep to fundamentals camp. DAVID G: 1. Ensure that the first two spots in the orders are locks, with guys capable of getting on base. Those guys might already be in the organization. 2. Assuming that happens, and that Lee and Ramirez are in the 3rd and 4th spots, get another quality hitter for the 5th spot, the kind of guy Burnitz was in the first half being a minimum expectation. 3. Make sure the rotation is rock solid. MANNY: 1. Decide early what to do with Walker. Pick up his option and then he would be great trade bait if you decide to go after another 2B, or let Cedeno take over the reigns. 2. Shore up bullpen, which has been horrible last 2 years. 3. Shore up OF. If Murton is in, we need to improve RF and/or CF a lot. I don't want to see a Murton, Patterson and Burnitz OF come April 2006. What are 3 moves the Cubs MUST NOT DO this off-season? Bleeding Blue: 1. Not sign mediocre veterans who will give Dusty an excuse to bench promising youngsters like Matt Murton and Ronny Cedeno. 2. Not sign a free swinging, no defense infielder like Soriano or Nomar to play outfield. 3. Not raise ticket prices: I'd like to be able to afford tickets to a game! AZ PHIL: 1. Sign Jacques Jones to play RF. 2. Acquire Alfonso Soriano from Texas. 3. Refuse to part with young pitching if it is necessary to do that to acquire a quality OF bat. KJK: 1. Get a bunch of veterans for the sake of getting veterans 2. Get a bunch of veterans for the sake of getting veterans 3. Get a bunch of veterans for the sake of getting veterans DAVID G: 1. Resign Neifi. 2. Let Baker make the decisions. 3. Spend lots of money on relievers with one good season under their belts, with otherwise mediocre careers. Oops! Too late! MANNY: 1. Extend Wood, who can be a FA after 2006. 2. Not trade Patterson. Hendry should unload him ASAP. 3. Sign A.J. Burnett. We have enough injury prone players and pitchers. Letís talk specific players. Should Baker and Hendry give the keys to left-field to Matt Murton or do they look for other options? Bleeding Blue: Absolutely. Every sucessful Cubs team over the past 25 years has counted on young players to win. In 2003 it was Prior and Zambrano, in 98 it was Wood, in 89 it was Grace and Maddux, in 84 it was Sandberg. Perhaps in 2006 or 2007 it will be Matt Murton. AZ PHIL: As I've posted here at TCR many times this summer, I believe Matt Murton could very well be another Paul Molitor. He is smart enough and diligent enough to make adjustments at the plate and to correct his defensive deficiencies. He will be a fine player. But he should hit 2nd, not 5th or 6th. KJK: I'm a bit more conservative on this one. I say let him earn the job in Spring training and keep a close eye on him if he gets it. He did very well, better than I expected. But these were not pressure-packed games, either. The problem is getting him someone to compete with for the job.... DAVID G: An interesting problem. I have loved Murton this year, and I would like to see the door left open for him in 2006, much the same way it was left open for Dubois in 2005. (at least in Hendry's eyes). I think Murton is a better bet for success than Dubois, but I also project something along the lines of .280/.340/.450 for him, which really isn't very good in LF. If you let him face all lefties and certain righties, and give him a good platoon partner, it could work, but it's not something you go into without a safety net, and for Dusty Baker, "safety net" usually means "everyday player and leadoff hitter." MANNY: I think they should keep their options open, but I would be shocked if he is not in either LF or RF. Is Ryan Dempster the closer next year or should the Cubs look elsewhere? Bleeding Blue: The Cubs have already decided that he's their man. I think 5 million a year for 3 years is a bit too pricey for a guy with only 1 good season of relief pitching under their belt, and I wouldn't be shocked if the Cubs regret the deal in a year or two. However, I could say pretty much the same thing about any bullpen guy signed to a big money contract. Just think, in 2004 the Cubs locked up proven 2003 closer Joe Borowski and signed the best set up man available in LaTroy Hawkins, and ended up dumping both of them a year and a half later. AZ PHIL: Although I would prefer B. J. Ryan or Billy Wagner, Ryan Dempster would be my 3rd choice. I would not be upset if Dempster is re-signed for two or three years. KJK: This question has already been answered by Mr. Hendry. DAVID G: Well, obviously he's the closer. I think this is way too much money and way too much commitment for him. Hendry's main problem as a GM is that he vastly overpays for relievers, and more often than not he ends up burned for it. MANNY: Dempster should have been the closer next year even before Hendry signed him to the 3 year deal. He had the best save % of any closer with more than 20 save opportunities. Ride him as long as you can. Nomar Garciaparra: try to resign to another incentive-laden deal OR say thanks for the memories and the groin jokes? If he comes back, where should he play? Bleeding Blue: If for some reason the Cubs can't get Furcal, I wouldn't mind bringing Nomar back as SS. The key is to have Cedeno ready to go if and when Nomar does go down. I have no interest in signing Nomar to play any position other than SS, or 3rd base in the extremely unlikely event of a trade of ARam for a super stud Outfielder like Manny-Ram, Cabrera, or Andrew Jones. AZ PHIL: 2B, or (if he can adjust his sidearm throwing style) CF or RF. But not SS. KJK: I say bring him back to another incentive-laden deal and let him go back to short. DAVID G: Since coming back Nomar has performed at pre-2005 levels. If you're going to commit $15 million to Ryan Dempster after four months of performance, you've gotta make a one year deal with Nomar, as long as it's short-term and for similar or less money compared to this year. MANNY: If he comes back he should play SS. Many are scared off by his injuries which is very logical, but when healthy he is very good and worth the risk in my opinion. As long as it is a 1 year deal for like $3 million plus incentives. Neifi Perez: uber-backup, starter, or agent's phone calls immediately transferred to voice mail? Bleeding Blue: If Dusty wasn't the manager, I'd say he's a great back-up, but Dusty will be back so Neifi can't be. Either way, Ronny Cedeno can do at least the exact same job, and do it cheaper than Neifi, so say good-bye to Dusty's other MVP. AZ PHIL: I believe Neifi Perez is underrated by many of the posters at TCR, and that he will get a starting SS gig somewhere in 2006. Just not with the Cubs. KJK: This is another hard one. I want him to come back as uber-backup, but I'm not sure Dusty will play him that way. Or that Hendry would either for that matter. I doubt that Neifi would sign if he didn't get an assurance of beaucoup playing time. The Cubs didn't do so well in that very deal with Hollandsworth. DAVID G: I can imagine a scenario where Neifi could be the everyday SS or 2B on this team, and it would be okay. That scenario demands that he hit eighth. I am not a believer in subtle differences in lineup construction, but putting Neifi's guaranteed .300 OBA at the top of the order is a train wreck. Unfortunately, there is no way to ensure that Neifi is locked into the eighth spot as long as Baker is managing. Therefore one or both of Neifi and Baker must go. Signing Garciaparra and Neifi as backup means Neifi hits at the top of the order if Nomar gets hurt, and this simply is unacceptable. MANNY: Uber-backup. This guy is the definition of backup IF. He can play Gold Glove defense at 3B, SS and 2B and he is a switch hitter. This is a no brainer to sign him as long as he is willing to accept a back up role. Can Corey Patterson's brain and/or bat be salvaged? Bleeding Blue: Yes, but not with the Cubs. I still wish the Cubs would have left him in Iowa in August, but that didn't happen, and he didn't change. I bet he's traded and turns into a very good player. AZ PHIL: No. Not as long as he stays with the Cubs. What he needs is to go a small market team with minimal fan interest and an indifferent media. He can get a fresh start, and where his new team tells him to forget everything the Cubs told him, and just be himself. Colorado or Pittsburgh would seem to be a good fit. KJK: Yes. By the Cubs? No. DAVID G: Back at the ASB I said yes, and I still believe it. Now I have doubts that it can happen in this organization, and even more doubt that he will be given the chance. MANNY: NO!!!!! Good riddance to bad rubbish. I was a big supporter of Patterson prior to this year, but his obvious lack of concentration and unwillingness to at least try and improve is so upsetting that I don't think he can improve in a Cubs uniform with the crowd constantly on him. He will go down as the biggest flop in Cubs history. Kerry Wood: bullpen or rotation? Bleeding Blue: Give him one more shot in the roatation, but the first time he needs to miss a start, tell him to take 2 of whatever Ryan Dempster's having and make him baseball's most expensive setup man AZ PHIL: I like Kerry Wood throwing out of the bullpen, but if his shoulder is really, truly 100%, then I would be OK with him in the starting rotation. KJK: Rotation. He's making too much for the pen. DAVID G: Rotation, or trade. Wood isn't going to want to relieve in anything less glorious than the closer's role, and that now is occupied. MANNY:For $11 million next year, he has to at least be given the opportunity to see if he can start. But at first injury, send him to pen and let him set up for Dempster the rest of the year. Jeromy Burnitz: pick up his $7 mil option or buy him out for $500K? Bleeding Blue: $7 million's a bit steep, but I wouldn't mind seeing him come back. He'd actually be about the ideal 4th outfielder and solid bench bat the Cubs sorely lacked this year. Unfortunatly, I doubt he'd take a job as anything other than a starter, and I know Dusty would never let him be a reserve with Murton in the starting lineup. AZ PHIL: If the Cubs can't sign Brian Giles (and I doubt that Hendry wants Giles), I would buy another year with Jeromy Burnitz. He is a very good defensive player, and a good (albeit streaky) power hitter. I would take Burnitz over Jacques Jones, for instance. KJK: Buy him out. He did very well this year. I don't think he'll do so well next year. He's only getting older and bigger and slower ... DAVID G: I can imagine a scenario where he's the best option, but it's difficult. I think you have to cut him loose. His overall performance this year was in line with what we should expect in the future. MANNY: It all depends on if they are going to go after Dunn, Damon, Giles, Matsui, etc. But most likely they should buy him out and see if he will sign for less. That is what they should have done last year to Alou, but they let him walk and look what we got stuck with in LF. Todd Walker: good facial hair, gimpy leg, Cubs beat writers' best friend. Pick up his option or look elsewhere? Bleeding Blue: He's cheap and he's got one of the better bats for a second baseman in the league, so you've got to pick up his option. I would have no problem keeping him in the lineup next year, but If nothing else, he's great trade bait to pick up a solid outfielder, leaving Hairston and Cedeno to fight for the starting 2b job. AZ PHIL If Hendry signs Rafael Furcal, then Ronny Cedeno will move to 2B and Todd Walker will not be back. If Hendry does not sign Furcal, then Cedeno will be the Cubs SS in 2006 and Todd Walker will be the 2B. KJK: Let him go. Let's see what Ronnie Cedeno can do. DAVID G: Depends on the alteratives. At this point, I'd be glad to see him over any other obvious option at 2B. Last year I argued that his offensive advantage over the likes of Hairston did not make up for the defensive shortcoming, but I no longer think that. MANNY: I am not a big fan of Walker. We already have a lot of not-so-good defensive players on the IF (Barrett, ARam and Nomar). The Cubs should definitely pick up his option as he would be great trade bait and could be used in a package for a big OF bat or a good starting pitcher. I think the Cubs kept the wrong 2B last year and should have kept Grudzielanek, but Hendry wanted to sign Nomar and signing Walker went a long way in helping that deal get done. Which lilí Cubs would you like to see get a shot at a roster spot in spring training? Bleeding Blue: I think Rich Hill could be a very valuable addition to the Cub bullpen, but not the rotation. I also think Mitre has become very underrated. He's certainly more than capable of being the Cubs 6th starter in 06, but I'd keep him out of the pen if it can be avoided. I'd also like to see guys like Fontenot, Greenberg, and Theroit get a shot to make the Cubs roster, even if as backups, but I don't see that happening. AZ PHIL: Casey McGehee. KJK: Cedeno, Murton, Hill. DAVID G: Not sure if Murton counts as little anymore. The organization isn't stocked with guys right on the cusp of the majors. Most of the guys who starred in AA would benefit from another year in the minors. MANNY: Cedeno and Murton and that is about it. We have had very little out of our minor league system the last few years. I don't want to see Hill, Pie or Guzman next year until at least Sept Is 2006 the Year of the Cub? Why or why not? Bleeding Blue: Sadly, I don't see it. I do see lots of potential for 2007 if the Cubs brass would think long term. Of course, I'm getting Married next October, so knowing my luck, the Cubs will be in the playoffs when I'll be too busy to enjoy it. AZ PHIL: Yes. Because if I didn't believe that every year, I wouldn't be a Cubs fan. KJK: The believing is in the seeing. I'd like to think that with STL and HOU getting older the Cubs might outlast them, but seriously ... Ask me again in the Spring! DAVID G: If the starting pitching gels, and everything else falls into place, it could be the year, but I don't think that's terribly likely. The problem is that the Cubs don't maximize their opportunities, and they seem neither motivated nor prepared. I see another season where the Cubs are most concerned about what's wrong with X than they are about winning games on the field. I don't see this as an off-season that makes or breaks the team -- I think the key players on the 2006 team are the same as we have right now. I'm not terribly optimistic, but who knows? MANNY: History tells me no, so I will go with that. Hendry has too many holes to fill, and even though he has Sosa's contract gone and lots of money to spend, I think there will be too many "ifs" and injury risks to think the Cubs can do much more than compete for the Wild Card in 2006. GO CUBS!!
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Forgive me if this has been mentioned. From kffl:

Cubs | Rothschild Heading East On I-94?
Tue, 4 Oct 2005 23:12:11 -0700

The Chicago Tribune's Paul Sullivan reports Chicago Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild may leave the team shortly to become the pitching coach for the Detroit Tigers. New Tigers MAN Jim Leyland used Rothschild as his pitching coach on the 1997 World Series-winning Florida Marlins squad.

Trans, check your email. I'd hate to think I wasted 3 good bottles of New Glarus Edel-Pils for nothing.

The Cubs will never win a World Series without at least 5-6 years with the same GM AND manager. so, if they don't think Dusty will be around much longer dump him and sign someone for 5 years. Or extend Dusty's contract. You have to have some stability at the top, so find the best people and keep them. Otherwise, forget the World Series and consider going to the Cubs games just a big party.

In 2004 the Boston Red Sox won the World Series. Terry Francona was hired as their manager in 2004.

In 2003 the Florida Marlins won the World Series.
Jack McKeon was hired as their manager in 2003.

In 2002 the Anaheim Angels won the World Series. Mike Scioscia was hired as their manager in 2000.

In 2001 the Arizona Diamondbacks won the World Series. Bob Brenly was hired as their manager in 2001.

In 2000, 1999, 1998, and 1996 the motherfuckin' Yankees won the World Series. Joe Torre was hired as their manager in 1996.

In 1997 the Florida Marlins won the World Series. Jim Leyland was hired as their manager in 1997.

In 1995 the Atlanta Braves actually won the World Series. Bobby Cox was hired as their manager in 1990.

Hey, that's five years!

In 5 out of the last 10 years the team that won the World Series had hired their current manager that very season. One year featured a manager employed for 6 years.

So...

In 1908 and 1907 the Chicago Cubs won the World Series. Frank Chance was hired as their manager in 1905.

Aardsma didn't pitch too well yesterday...3H 3ER in 1.1 At least the 20+ ERA won't last long...EPat didn't get in, nor did any other lil cubbies other than Aardsma, I don't think

"Spend lots of money on relievers with one good season under their belts, with otherwise mediocre careers. Oops! Too late!"

Dempster is getting like 4 million this season. That is one out of every 25 dollars spent on payroll. He gerts 5.5 in 2007 one out of every 18 dollars. In 2008 he gets 6 million which is one out of every 16 dollars. That is not alot of money spent.

"I donít want to see Hill, Pie or Guzman next year until at least Sept."

If Guzman's not on the 25 man roster soon, you may not see him in a CHC uniform at all.

ï David G - An interesting problem. I have loved Murton this year, and I would
like to see the door left open for him in 2006, much the same way it
was left open for Dubois in 2005. (at least in Hendryís eyes). I
think Murton is a better bet for success than Dubois, but I
also project something along the lines of .280/.340/.450 for him,
which really isnít very good in LF.

Ok...Murton had a much longer period of success than the 1 good game Dubois had at the end of 2004. What are you basing these projections on?
I don't think he will continue with an OPS of .905, but realistically could put up .300, with .370/.480/.850.
Murton deserves a shot, without having to look over his shoulder at Holly-type guys, who will play if Merton falls below .290 ba, or if a righty with an ERA under 4.50 pitches....

Dempster is getting like 4 million this season. That is one out of every 25 dollars spent on payroll. He gerts 5.5 in 2007 one out of every 18 dollars. In 2008 he gets 6 million which is one out of every 16 dollars. That is not alot of money spent.

I'm not sure why you would want to use that system to determine whether a player is good value or not.

Anyway, I've stated my opinion of the Dempster contract and there is no use in rehashing it. Let's just hope he continues to deliver.

Ok...Murton had a much longer period of success than the 1 good game Dubois had at the end of 2004. What are you basing these projections on?

Oh, it's a WFG. It'll be interesting to see what other projection systems come up with for him, and I'd call .300/.370/.480 on the optimistic end of a reasonable projection range. I am hopeful that Murton will take another step forward, power being the most important factor there, but think some regression is more likely. I do think there's a chance that he will be able to maintain something like his 2005 performance over the long haul, and that the Cubs need to leave the door open to that, even if he does regress a bit in the short-term.

I have high hopes from Murton, but I am a bit concerned about his splits.

LHP 380/443/563 71 ABs
RHP 261/329/478 69 ABs

The walks and power were still there against right handed pitchers so maybe it is just a sample size issue.

"I'm not sure why you would want to use that system to determine whether a player is good value or not."

David,

All I was trying to say is the contract is not a bank breaker.

Bleeding BLue

I just opened my inbox for the first time since going to bed last night, see your answers. Will get them posted, now

NL LF Averages (1997-2005)
1997: .267/.342/.434
1998: .268/.337/.447
1999: .285/.364/.489
2000: .284/.364/.497
2001: .280/.367/.502
2002: .280/.370/.479
2003: .271/.360/.475
2004: .277/.366/.484
2005: .272/.348/.457

Interesting to see where this trend heads in the next few years. It may well be that .280/.340/.450 or so from Murton will be far from "not very good" for a left fielder.

One nit to pick on Blue's answer to youngsters:

In 1989, Maddux had two full seasons under his belt and Grace, one. (though still, admittedly young.)

But the real youngsters on that team were Walton and Smith, and their success was more surprising than Maddux or Grace's....

In no way, shape or form do I want to start any sort of "Dusty sucks/no, he doesn't debate." But I have a question for Bleeding Blue, since I didn't see this site in '04. How do you justify firing a manager in the middle of the season after going to the NLCS the previous year? Again, not trying to start an argument. I'm just curious how you came to that conclusion.

Hi guys, its been a while. What happened on November 12 2002 for David G?

the dustbuster inked his Chicago deal

that's somewhere around when Baker got hired I'm guessing...

Welcome back, Chad!!!

Heyo, Chad.

I considered adding an editor's note referring to the significance of that date. In the end, I decided I rather would give the readers' content to you in as close to a "raw" state as I could...

http://www.bizjournals.com/sanjose/stories/20...

Actually it was in the papers on 11-6-02

So on the 12th...he was probably paying back taxes :-P

John Hill-

Are those numbers for starters only, or do they include backups? Because I think starters stats would be more conducive to finding where Murton would be v/s. the norm. I mean if Macias' average is calculated in the averages for 3B, 2B, and CF, then those numbers would be somewhat skewed(by all reserves, not JUST Jose).

Thanks for the welcome back everybody. Been on a TCR hiatus cause I am all talked (typed) out over this season. How freaking aggravating! Anyway, once this whole post season thing is over, I'll be back with vengeance! Also, I've started to read Moneyball and let me just say one thing (only 70 pages in) - Corey Patterson is exactly the player that Billy Beane would NEVER draft.

Luis Rivas has been released by the Twins.

Odds on Rivas becoming a Chicago Cub:
Yes -250
No +200

Place yer bets.

michael ryan, too...looks like theyre posturing to pick up koskie again.

I don't see why they would want Koskie unless they plan to use that giant fork sticking out of his back to eat a lot of salad.

MLB.com says Ken Macha won't be back in Oakland. Psst. Mr. Hendry...

Gammons reporting Macha out in Oakland.

Macha lives near Pittsburgh I heard and might be aiming for that job. Also I could see him going to LA.

Sounds like the A's were low-balling him. I heard rumors earlier this year they wanted him out anyway for some reason.

"Corey Patterson is exactly the player that Billy Beane would NEVER draft."

Hey, that's funny, so is Felix Pie.

Bob, my problems with Dusty stemmed from the Cubs playing uninspired baseball. As a team, they were playing well below their potential, and complaining about how it wasn't their fault. I actually trace that back all the way to game 7 of the NLCS when the Cubs came into a do or die game already accepting that "Bartman" had cost them the series.
The team had and still has no fire, and when you've got a strategy-challenged manager, whose upside is supposedly the ability to get the most out of his players, that simply isn't acceptable.

exactly, blue!

Bleeding Blue,

I don't think the Cubs came into game seven accepting defeat. I think a lot of fans certainly did. But the Cubs came back from three runs down and took a two run lead. If you want to blame Baker for anything in that game it was going to Farnsworth and Veres instead of Clement when Wood left early. That made it 9-5 if I remember right. And with Beckett pitching like he was the game was all but over.

As far as '04 and '05? Yeah, they don't appear to play with a whole lot of fire. And when they do show emotion: Zambrano. Barrett picking a fight with the Astros... it usually ends up being a negative.

TBone, I haven't really seen much of Pie nor do I know much about him. BUT, everyone else casts him in the mold of CP, so I would probably agree with your statement.

I don't agree with a lot of that, particularly the game seven stuff, nor with the reasoning behind thinking Dusty should be fired at anytime in '04. But I appreciate the explanation.

I think there were fans accepting defeat, but I know I wasn't one of them. I was at game seven and was feeling pretty good when it was 5-3. I certainly accepted defeat, or at least attempted to, once it became 9-5. At that point, I don't think anyone in the park really thought they'd come back.

Bob,

I was there too. And I too was happy when it was 5-3 although there was sort of a weird vibe to the whole night. Game six everyone showed up to see Mark Prior pitch the Cubs into the World Series. I don't think any Cub fan there that night believed they were going to lose. I think the night of game seven, a lot of fans were waiting for something bad to happen. And darned if it didn't.

Not to relive the moment, but I was there too and I didn't think many people were too confident the lead would hold up. Regardless, I certainly don't think the Cubs played with a must win intensity that game.

Go GO ManRam!!!!

Red Sox 2-0...

I respectfully disagree with anyone who compares Felix Pie to Corey Patterson.

Pie hits line drives to all fields, Corey tries to pull everything; Pie is gregarious, Patterson is quiet; Pie plays an aggressive "full-court pressure"-style game in the field and on the bases, Corey is laid-back and somewhat tentative; Corey talks like he's confident, Pie plays like he is.

Which is not to say Pie is perfect. For one thing, he doesn't have a good base-stealing technique. He needs to work on that. Secondly, he is super-aggressive at the plate. He nees to calm down a bit. But even when he does learn to do that, I still don't see him ever being passive-patient enough to be a lead-off hitter or with the bat control necessary to be a #2 hitter. Rather, he is (or will be, eventually) a #3 or #4 hitter. My main worry is that when he reaches the big leagues, Dusty will put him in the lead-off spot, because he's fast.

For those of you old enough to remember these guys, Pie reminds me a lot of Tony Oliva at the plate, and Mickey Rivers in the field. Again, he's not perfect. He's not a lead-off hitter. No way. A bit on the high octane side (overly-aggressive) at times at the plate, on the bases, and in the field. But he is also a damn fine young ball player who I would take over Corey Patterson every day and night of the week.

Personality-wise, Felix Pie is like a Latin Ernie Banks on amphetamines.

"Let's play four!"

I respectfully disagree as well. The comparisons are fucking stooopid and baseless. Corey never looks like he's enjoying himself and is as stubborn as Dusty.
Predicting Pie's failure based on Corey makes no sense. Good players ALWAYS make adjustments throughout their career. Corey has never adjusted to shit. Pie is NOT Patterson.

AZ Phil,

Do you think they should bring up Pie for next year? I mean to me if he can hit 250/290/375 type numbers I say when you look at his D and speed you bring him up because nobody we could get as a stopgap in CF is not worth it. I would not mind Bernie Williams for a 2-yr deal in an ideal world. Year 1 as a starting CF. Yes I know he has lost five steps on D but he add a winning presence and could do better than CP/JHJ, and year 2 be a 4th OF and mentor for Pie. Of course with idiot Bernie would be the starter then in 07 so its not worth it.

Hi winning presence would quickly disappear with the Cubs.

His...

I hope Hendry and Baker and all Cubs fans see how important defense is. We should all know after AGon's muffed DP ball in Game 6 of 2003 NLCS. But Grafanino's error flat out cost the Red Sox the game today. The Cubs defense was not very good last year, I hope that is a point of emphasis in the offseason to improve. Damn the White SOx!!!!!

CHIFAN3887:

I would certainly hope that Felix Pie will be ready by Opening Day 2007, at the latest.

I would feel better about him possibly breaking camp with the Cubs next Spring if he (like Matt Murton) had gotten most of a full year of AA this year, so I am inclined to think he will need at least a little bit more time in AA or AAA next year. But you never know. He could bust it up in Winter Ball and then take the CF job in Spring Training. I certainly wouldn't want to block his path. (I am presuming that Corey Patterson WILL be traded).

As I posted a while back when it was believed that Mark Kotsay might be available, ideally the Cubs would acquire somebody who can play CF for a year or so until Pie is ready, and then move that interim guy to someplace else.

For instance, Brian Giles could play CF for a year (at the most) until Pie is ready, and then move to RF. If that happens, the Cubs could bring Burnitz back to play RF for one more year (2006). And if Pie forces his way into CF during the 2006 season, then Burnitz would make a nice (albeit expensive!) 4th outfielder for the balance of 2006.

Or maybe Nomar could play CF for a year, and then be available to move to 3B in 2007 (for instance), especially if Aramis Ramirez chooses to exercise his player option and walk away from the Cubs after next season (a very real possibility that a lot of people haven't considered).

Because if A-Ram walks, who plays 3B in 2007? Mike Fontenot? Casey McGehee? Scott Moore? It would be nice to somehow keep Nomar around until that situation is resolved one way or the other. Whether Nomar likes playing for the Cubs enough to accept getting jerked around from one unfamiliar position to another (CF in 2006 to 3B in 2007) two years in a row is the big question, and who knows if he can even play CF at all, much less for a full season?

Or the Cubs could sign Nomar to a two-year deal, with the understanding that he would play SS next year with Nomar's good buddy Todd Walker returning to play 2B (with Cedeno the utility INF), and then be available to move to 3B in 2007 IF A-Ram walks (with Cedeno taking over SS and with either Todd Walker, Mike Fontenot, or Eric Patterson playing 2B at that point in time), or to 2B if A-Ram chooses to remain with the Cubs past next season, with Cedeno taking over SS in 2007.

The bottom line is this: Wouldn't Nomar be a nice insurance policy for 3B in 2007 in case A-Ram leaves after next season, even if it means to guarantee that insurance policy, Nomar would play SS and Walker would play 2B (with Cedeno the #1 back-up at both positions) again next season? I would say yes.

Based on the state of the farm system, I'd say Hendry is doing an adequate job as GM...

Not having a leadoff man was the single biggest problem of 2005. Baker's decision to use Patterson and Perez has been the single biggest reason for his loss in credibibility...

Burnitz with an OPS of .760 cannot be brought back. For those of you clammoring for Jaque Jones-he's not the answer either. The Cubs need a leadoff man and a number 5 hitter...

I'm tired of the Cubs "babying" their prospects. I suppose they had so few good prospects for so long-over 30 years, that they continue to baby these guys. Keep em coming, I say. Let em sink or swim. Prospect development in baseball is just like prospect development in business-it's a numbers game.

Glendon Rusch will not be back. Thats not a bad thing. He was screwed up by switching back and forth, his career numbers point to below average.

Its no big deal if Murton starts in left. As for what John Hill posted, it must be kept in mind that good players develop better stats. Bonds, for instance had below avg left field stats in his first two years. Murton is already showing signs that his power is coming. I say keep him and hit him second. He's the only guy we have that takes enough pitches to let a speed guy in front of him steal a base.

Despite what everyone thinks, I'm not convinced we've solved our bullpen problems. I think a top flight 8th inning guy would make a huge difference. This is an area that having money really helps. The Cubs can afford to spend 3-4 Million on an 8th inning guy. This time, it just needs to be the right guy and not a 3 year deal.

Do not go after Burnett. His walk totals and pitch counts make him too much like the rest of our guys and he'll definetely be overpriced.

I did like the suggested trade of Oliver Perez for Corey Patterson...

Got to pick the Walker option, plain and simple. If you even think you're going after Furcal, you have to have negotiating leverage. The possibility of having Walker/Cedeno is what you call plan B. If you end up trading him, so be it. Business isn't always about being admirable.

I say trade Jerome Williams. He's a decent pitcher and will probably continue to develop but his value is very high to a moneyball team. We don't have enough trading chips so you have to trade him. We'll end up filling that other rotation spot with a 8-9 Million dollar guy and Williams can get us alot.

The best thing we have going for us in 2006 is the sense of urgency. I can't think for a minute that Dusty doesn't feel the heat and I'm sure Hendry does too. If that means that Hendry trades away some young prospects for some sure bet talent-thats good for me.

1. leadoff man: cf or ss
2. #5 hitter-rf
3. #3 starter
4. 8th inning man

What I said was Pie is another guy that doesn't fit into the classic "Moneyball" mold. Playing at AA he strikes out once every five ABs and walks once every 16. From what I recall from "Moneyball" Beane is a guy who doesn't think plate discipline can be taught.

And I am old enough to remember Tony Oliva but I don't know if you mean he just stands like him at the plate (Oliva used to hold the bat kind of high and curl in his right knee as the pitch came) of if you think he actually can hit like Oliva. Because battiing .304 at WTenn is a little different than a .304 lifetime average in the majors which is what Oliva had. And the bulk of his career was played on a knee as bad or worse than Andre Dawson's.

I know Pie is still really young and I hope he'll become a great player. As of now, he's a year away at best, and I don't like being called stoooopid for bringing up his shortcomings. As for a direct comparison to Patterson if you want one - they both strike out too much, they don't walk and they don't know how to steal bases. Thankfully, one is still very young.

As far as Pie being gregarious? Sensational. That'll come in handy if the 2007 season comes down to best smile.

Pie may not be Patterson, but you have to admit that they have a TON of similarities.

i honestly wouldnt expect pie to steal bases...maybe 15-20...more if he's lucky...he just isnt the runner patterson is nor will he.

hold the patterson running jokes, he's a great runner...he just cant read pitchers worth a damn and is timid as hell taking his intial read/jump off the pitcher. for a guy so damn cocky about swinging a bat he looks so vulnerable and lost trying to pick up a pitcher's motion.

maybe its a good thing his brother decided to go to college.

the organization is pretty hot on Pie...i doubt he'll be a starter on the big club this year sans-injury, but he's pretty much one of the strongest candidates for a sept. callup along with possible cubs 1st baseman of the immediate future brandon sing.

b.dop's got the power stroke, but sing's got the organizational pecking order edge and a decent bat to boot...not to mention a bit of pop, himself...but that's a 2007 issue.

Name me some 20 year olds that showed Pie's poor strikezone management at Double-A, and the following season successfully jumped to the major leagues, never to look back. Perhaps then there will be an argument for Pie being our starting centre fielder in 2006. And perhaps not, for remember that Pie was injured and missed half that year in Double-A.

With almost all players there is a period of transition, a period of initial hardship, between minor league success and major league success. That is especially the case with very young players, and even more so the case for players with poor plate discipline. That Pie otherwise is a great prospect should help him, talent goes a long way, but it almost certainly will not make him immune to initial struggle. I believe that you bring up Pie to start next year and you're asking for him to hit like Corey Patterson, just flat out bad. Not because Pie is like Corey Patterson necessarily, though there are very obvious and undisputable similarities, but because he's simply overmatched. Look how Derrek Lee hit in San Diego and Florida prior to breaking out aged 24 - .227/.305/.384 in 233 games. I could forsee Pie suffering similarly, only with significantly less walks.

The trick, because you only have six years of service time to play with, is to try and limit the length of the period of transition so that you get as much out of the player at his best as possible, and as little of the player at his worst. And the key to that is ensuring as best you can that the player is not brought up before his time, that when he gets the call he's as ready as he'll ever be. I simply don't believe that Pie has reached that stage yet - I believe that there is still attainable room for improvement in his management of the strikezone, his baserunning, his power, even his fielding.

Give the guy a chance to become the player we all want him to be.

There are pics of the Wrigley bleacher expansion here

http://www.wrigleyexpansion.com/php/Construct...

Good thoughts gang.

I gotta say though, I just don't understand the "Wood has to start, he makes too much money for the bullpen" argument. It's simple Sunk Cost theory -- he was signed for the $11 million in a different time under different circumstances. If he can start, great. If not, he needs to fill a role where he can help the team. His salary is no longer relevant -- we will be paying him that figure no matter where he plays (or if he is on the DL for that matter).

It's like this. If you rent a movie and it sucks, you are a sillyman if you keep watching it because you paid for it. The money is gone; you make a new decision based on the new facts and circumstances: is my time better spent watching the rest of this movie or doing something else?

Of course you give KW a chance to start -- that's certainly Plan A. But to leave him as a starter if he can't succeed as such would only serve to compound the error.

TBONE: I never called you stupid. In fact, I believe you are VERY intelligent, but I would never disrespect anyone here by calling them stupid even if I thought they were. I believe I prefaced my post regarding Pie v. C-Pat by saying that I respectfully disagree with those who compare Felix Pie to Corey Patterson, and that's exactly what I meant. I RESPECTFULLY disagree.

When I compared Pie to Tony Oliva, what I meant was that they have similar hitting styles (aggressive attack-drive-spray), not similar knee conditions or batting stances. In other words, Pie can attack and drive the ball anywhere. He doesn't try to hook (pull) the ball like Corey Patterson does. Pie is a much better hitter than C-Pat, simply because he uses the entire field.

As far as Pie and the moneyball thing, I see Pie as reducing strikeouts with experience, because he is not a pull hitter and hits the ball where it's pitched. And he will get more walks when he becomes more respected as a hitter, because it will become obvious to him that to get better pitches to hit, you have to lay off the bad ones. That will come with experience. But I would also agree with anyone who believes Pie will never be (like Mark Bellhorn or Hee Seop Choi) patient-passive at the plate. Pie is an aggressive first-ball/fastball hitter, and that won't change. For sure, he is NOT a lead-off hitter. But he's not Corey Patterson, either.

The gregarious thing was meant to explain the personality differences betweenn C-Pat and Pie, because personality can be a factor when determining how a player will deal with set-backs and adversity. Patterson seems to internalize things and implode and become sullen when things go bad (which is why I believe to get his career going, he needs to get a frswh start with a small market team with minimal fan interest and an indeifferent media where his new team tells him to forget everything the Cubs have told him), I don't see that with Pie.

What I do see in Felix Pie is a smiling, self-confident ballplayer, bantering with his teammates and the other team's players. If he was a football player, he'd be a wide receiver. Pie is a passionate, hyper high-energy player, and that can sometimes help a team get going when things are draggin'. C-Pat isn't like that and CAN'T do that. It's just not in him to be that way. That's all I was trying to say when I said Pie was "gregarious." Not that he smiles all the time like some kind of retard. .

BTW, the "West Tenn Kids" I've seen play (Murton, Greenberg, Pie, Sing, McGehee, Coats, et al) are not you're father's Cubs. These kids actually play with confidence and passion. They do not have the "victim" mentality (deer caught in headlights) we have seen in previous prospects like Corey Patterson and Jason Dubois. I hope the Cubs can keep Bobby Dickerson (the manager at West Tenn) in the organization. I think a promotion to Iowa for Bobby D. in 2006 is definitely in order.

AZ Phil,

Someone else called comparing Patterson and Pie stupid. I should have differentiated who said which statements. I've seen Pie play live exactly one game in my life so I was going entirely on stats. Good to hear he's aggressive which can be good - making something out of nothing - and bad - striking out a lot. I hope he can spend another year or so in the minors so his aggressiveness results in more of the former than the latter. But with the Cub organization's recent history of developing position players, I'd be happy if we're comparing Pie to Jimmie Hall in a couple of years, let alone Tony Oliva.

What I do see in Felix Pie is a smiling, self-confident ballplayer, bantering with his teammates and the other team's players. If he was a football player, he'd be a wide receiver. Pie is a passionate, hyper high-energy player, and that can sometimes help a team get going when things are draggin'. C-Pat isn't like that and CAN'T do that. It's just not in him to be that way. That's all I was trying to say when I said Pie was "gregarious." Not that he smiles all the time like some kind of retard.

Corey Patterson was a smiling, passionate, exciting, self confident ball player when he first came up. Now look at him. You don't think the same thing can happen to Pie? It doesn't matter what they are like in the minors, the majors will expose your flaws, and break you down mentally and physically if you can't get the job done.

MIKE C: From the first time I saw Corey Patterson in the AFL in 98 or 99, i remember him as being quiet and very serious. i never saw him smile. I never saw him talk to anybody. I would agree with you if you're saying he played with a lot of self-confidence earlier in his career (although he has totally lost that confidence now), but I never saw muuch enthusiasm or passion.

But those personality traits (quiet, serious, lack of passion or enthusiasm, keeping mostly to himself) have now morphed Patterson into a sullen, lost soul, who doesn't know what to do or where to turn. He doesn't have the resources necessary to overcome adversity and his loss of confidence. All he knows is he doesn't need a shrink and he doesn't need to play winter ball. You can't tell him anything. He is not coachable.

So whar he needs is to get away from the Cubs organization, to someplace where he can get a "CTL-ALT-DEL" restart, where there are low expectations, indifferent fans, and minimal scrutiny from the media, and where the new organization just leaves him alone and lets him play his natural way.

What they will get is a 30/30 man with a .240 BA, almost no walks, and lots of Ks. If he plays in Colorador, he could probably be a 40/40 man and make the All-Star team with the worst home/road splits in major league history.

I read that Eric Patterson had to put up with some significant Corey related taunting in Peoria, stuff like don't strikeout like your brother (I'm sure the language had more spice).

The taunting stuff early on has to help E-Pat realize that working the count has to be a major part of his game as it has become the ruin of his brother. C-Pat has become the Cubs latest incarnation of Shawon Dunston, who never saw a pitch he didn't want to swing at. Interestingly there are rumors that Shawon is on Dusty's short list if he needs to add a coach. That would be very bad IMHO.

My questions are:

Will E-Pat learn the strike zone and work the count better because of this?

Did he, compared to Corey's minor league 1st year, work the count better?

How much of this is from raw ability vs mental approach to an individual at bat?

E-Pat is apparently much more extroverted than C-Pat. Does that have any impact on these issues such as: will he project better as a top of the order hitter, is he more coachable, is he less stubborn, can he adjust to pitchers working his weaknesses?

I think the C-Pat stuff was in the current Vineline publication

oops, I meant- Eric Patterson stuff in latest vineline.

Dunston wouldn't be a bad coach. He's universally loved by everyone that's played with him. Grace actually cried in '98 after clinching the WC because Dunston was in the opposite dugout and wasn't able to share it with him.
Yeah, he never made the most of his talent and I assume he won't be teaching plate discipline, but if all the guy does is teach Cub players to run from home to first as hard as he did each and every AB, he'll be worth having. Dunston was never unpopular like Patterson because he busted his ass every game.

John Hill said:

'Name me some 20 year olds that showed Pie's poor strikezone management at Double-A, and the following season successfully jumped to the major leagues, never to look back.'

Here's some players for you:
Vince Coleman: skipped AA - struck out once every 5.9 PA's in AAA.
Ken Griffey Jr: Skipped AAA after striking out every 5.5 PA's in a brief AA stint.
Bo Jackson: Skipped AAA (and A for that matter) after striking out evert 2.5 PA's
Rocco Baldelli- at age 20 struck out once every 5.2 PA's and a .237 BB to K ratio while going from A to AAA - Came to the majors as a 21 year old and hasn't looked back.

Felix Pie K'd once every 4.8 PA's and had a .301 BB to K ratio.

I'm not disagreeing that Pie should spend the year in AAA and maybe two, just pointing out that for certain players 'strike zone judgement' translates differently to the majors than for others. From what I understand Pie, is likely to be that kind of player- one who could hit .320 in the Majors in 2008, and K once every 6 PA's then go back to the FSL and hit .330 while K'ing once every 6 PA's in 2009.

One more, though it's too early to say if he's going back to the minors:

Jeff Francoeur: Struck out once every 4.7 AB's with a .276 BB to K ratio in the Southern League this year, before become a top 3 finisher in the ROY for the NL- he's 21.

JHill: Name me some 20 year olds that showed Pie's poor strikezone management ... never to look back.

I think John was referring to 20 year old players, not 20-somethings.

Vince Coleman and Bo Jackson aren't comparables to Pie because they were at least 23 when they played their first full seasons in the big leagues.

have now morphed Patterson into a sullen, lost soul, who doesn't know what to do or where to turn.

Given the meteoric decline in his ability to play baseball and the glum vibes he's apparently giving off, I hope for his well-being that he hasn't been afflicted with a substance or mental health related issue. Really.

If things break right for the Cubs, they'll end up with plus hitters at 5 positions and hopefully average ones at the OF corners. They can afford to punt CF with a flycatcher, provided they bat him eighth. But I bet they'd prefer one who is playing at the utmost of his abilities, rather than a combustible enigma.

Rocco Baldelli- at age 20 struck out once every 5.2 PA's and a .237 BB to K ratio while going from A to AAA - Came to the majors as a 21 year old and hasn't looked back.

That's a really interesting comp. Baldelli with power would make for a very useful ballplayer. Pie's MLE OBP was .298 (Hi Neifi!) this year, but his slug adjusted to .450-something, and BP said last year that he already played ML-quality CF. I hope he goes to Iowa until he can legally drink a lager, stop running his team out of innings and take a walk every 15 ABs, but he's intriguing.

From Rotoworld, Furcal has apparently told the Mets that he would play 2B for them. Let the bidding war (or lack thereof) between the Cubs and Mets begin for the second year in a row....

On the Pie for 2006 CF talk all you have to ask your self is who do you want to see in CF in 2006:

A. Kenny Lofton and JHJ platoon
B. Milton Bradley
C. Corey Patterson
D. Dave Roberts
E. Felix Pie

B and C are no go's at least in my book. If we get Furcal than option A has no point because their both lousy with the glove and only use would be as Leadoff-hitter. Roberts would not be a bad idea because he has a good glove but i am sure he wants and will get a 2-yr deal somewhere. The ultimate option would be Nomar but I think he signs with either CWS/LAA to DH or LAD to play 3b. before he signs off on going to the OF. So let Pie play bat him 7th and tell everyone that he will struggle w/ the bat this yr but will provide more with the glove than Patterson.

"From Rotoworld, Furcal has apparently told the Mets that he would play 2B for them. Let the bidding war (or lack thereof) between the Cubs and Mets begin for the second year in a row...."

I doubt Furcal will go the Mets. Bewtten paying for him and Matsui they would be like spending in the 16-20 MIL on 2b. The most likely scenrio is us signing Furcal and then trading Walker for Aaron Helieman who will either be traded or used in the Rusch role. Furcal and his agent wanted to start some bidding war b/c every team w/ money has a solid SS option other than the Cubs.

Aaron Helieman?

can i buy some pot from you?

The Mets are not only looking at Furcal but want Manny Ramirez on top of it. They got the cash, and they will spend it on the best. The Cubs got the cash but they never get the best. Hmmmm, that might explain our 90+ year drought.

Anyways, Manny Ramirez is looking for a new agent. The speculation for this is that he wants an agent that will get him traded this off-season.

He is due 57 million dollars over the next 3 years and he is worth every dime. The Cubs should get him, but they wont.

The Cubs have between 30-40 million dollars to spend. Add Manny (20 Mil), Giles (8-10 Mil), Furcal (10 Mil). Hey, we could actually have an offense that can get on base, steal bases, and knock in runs. What an interesting concept that is huh? Wait, just picture it....

Furcal
Giles
Lee
Man-Ram
Am-Ram
Walker/Cedeno
Murton
Perez/Cedeno
Barrett

4 Guys with 100 RBI ability, batting behind a guy who steals 40-50 bases? I just get a warm fuzzy thinking about Giles as a #2 hitter who has 119 walks and only 64 strike outs. Boy he would give Furcal plenty of chances to steal bases.

-snaps out of it- WTF am i thinking. This team isn't getting anyone of value this off-season. I think we are going with last years off-season plan. Addition by subtraction. Do you think the Cubs management can convince the fans for 2 years in a row?

DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM!!!!

OH NOZ!

Mike C,

You know it will take Pie and one of the big 4 to get ManRam? That is why you do not do that deal unless you get back Papelbon and then you still would have to think about it.

TBONE, I didn't call you stooopid. I said it's stupid to think that Pie will go the way of Corey if he's brought up next year. They're not the same and Pie's future can't be predicted based on what's happened to Corey. It's that simple, Pie is NOT Patterson. Corey has had every chance to make adjustments and continue to learn. His stubborn refusal has made him a failure and a whipping boy for the fans. Most rookies have a period of adjustment and do struggle. Good players adjust. Corey hasn't done a damn thing to adjust.

I actually like Milton Bradley as a player. BUt the guy's antics and attitude couldn't even handle the media pressure in Cleveland (and of course LA). He'd be such a circus in Chicago that the Alou issues of 2004 would seem like a dream in comparison. SO I think that's a no go too.

I really do like Giles - I know he's 35 and he's certainly not the power hitter he used to be, but he's been healthy almost the entire year for every year in his career and he's just a .400+ OBP machine which is the kind of guy the Cubs need so badly. His road stats this year were incredible too. If the Cubs could sign him for 2 years even at inflated price, I'd think it would pay off very well for them. Having him bat in front of Lee and Ramirez would be just what the CUbs have been lacking for, well, ever.

While it would be great to sign Furcal, even iff he doesn't end up with the Cubs, retaining Garciaparra and Walker would work out just fine in my book. The middle infield defense would be pretty shabby though so I guess the real issue is whether Garciaparra could field the position adequately. I have doubts about this but assuming he could, here's the potential offense:

Walker
Giles
Lee
Ramirez
Garciaparra
Barrett
Murton
Good defensive CF

Not bad at all - no speed, but who cares, the top of the order would have guys on base at a good clip for the big boppers and the bottom of the lineup would be pretty solid.

Resigning Burnitz seems like a waste of cash - the Cubs could find a .760 OPS guy (with more OBP) for half of his likely price.

For those of you who might be interested, here is something to watch for:

The Cubs will need to add 1B-OF Brandon Sing (currently playing in the AFL) to their 40-man roster no later than next Wednesday, or else Sing will be a six-year minor league free-agent.

Any minor league player eligible to be a six-year minor league free-agent who is not on the major league club's 40-man roster MUST be added to said roster within 10 days after the end of the regular MLB season or they will be a free-agent.

That is the reason the Cubs added Will Ohman and John Koronka to their 40-man roster on October 13th last year. Both Ohman and Koronka would have been six-year minor league free-agents if the Cubs hadn't added them to their 40-man roster by that date, and they did not wish to lose either pitcher.

Presuming the Cubs do in fact add Brandon Sing to their 40-man roster by next Wednesday, they will then have to drop one player from the 40-man roster to make room for him.

At this point, the most likely victim is Scott McClain (via release waivers), although Richard Lewis (outright waivers) or Russ Rohlicek (outright waivers) are possibilities as well.

If Lewis and Rohlicek are placed on "outright waivers" and go unclaimed and are sent outright to the minors (and they both will be dropped from the 40-man roster sooner or later this off-season), Lewis will not be a six-year minor league free-agent until after 2007, and Rohlicek will be a six-year minor league free-agent after next season. So if they clear waivers, the Cubs will still have both of them in their system for another year or two.

Note that other Cubs prospects not on the 40-man roster who are not eligible to be six-year minor league FAs but who are eligible for this year's Rule 5 Draft will need to be added to the 40-man roster by November 19th. This group will certainly include Felix Pie and Ricky Nolasco, plus (probably) Sean Marshall, Carlos Marmol, Bobby Brownlie, and Jae-kuk Ryu, and possibly Andy Shipman, Casey McGehee, and/or Juan Mateo as well.

Some of the 40-man roster slots needed for those guys will become available when Cubs players eligible for free-agency (Nomar, Neifi, Grieve, and Rusch, probably Burnitz, and maybe Walker or Williamson) leave after the World Series, but other slots will have to come from dropping players like Lewis and Rohlicek, and/or possibly Jon Leicester (out of minor league options) or Ryan Theriot, from the 40-man roster.

That point in time (November 19th) may be when the Cubs might be looking to trade Sergio Mitre and Todd Wellemeyer, too.

So keep your eyes open and see what happens.

Remember, Brandon Sing MUST be added to the Cubs 40-man roster by next Wednesday or he be gone.

What about Koronka? Can't we just get rid of him?

Here is a list of Cubs minor leaguers eligible to be six-year minor league free-agents if not added toi the Cubs 40-man roster by next Wednesday:

Cliff Bartosh
Enrique Cruz
Nate Frese
Talley Haines
Mark Johnson
David Kelton
Casey Kopitzke
Kevin McGlinchy
Calvin Murray
Phil Norton
Cody Ransom
Brandon Sing
Aron Weston

#78 of 79: By Andrew (October 6, 2005 02:05 PM)
What about Koronka? Can't we just get rid of him?

--

Andrew: I thought Koronka was an absolute LOCK to get dropped from the Cubs 40-man roster after this season, until he was assigned to the Mesa Solar Sox in the AFL. Players usually aren't sent to the AFL if their parent club doesn't intend to keep them around.

But if Koronka struggles in the AFL, he could get released (he is a free-agent if he is dropped from the Cubs 40-man roster because he was outrighted once before when he was with Cincinnati, and also because he is a six-year minor league free-agent) sometime between the close of the AFL season playoffs (November 13th) and the date when 40-man rosters are frozen (November 19th), to make room for the players the Cubs will want to protect from the Rule 5 Draft (see my earlier post #77).

ben grieve's probally gone soon, himself...for flexibility if nothing else. honestly, makes more sense to protect kelton over grieve unless they plan on just letting kelton walk.

grieve's slow as hell, low-fielding, singles-hitting self probally isnt a hot item for the cubs.

bartosh/kelton/sing...sing has to be protected...dunno how they feel about bartosh/kelton, though.

grieve and mcclain are probally good as gone...who knows though...the 40-man can get weird depending on how the GM wants to roll the dice.

ANDREW: It's also possible there is a team interested in possibly acquiring Koronka from the Cubs in a trade (like maybe Colorado or Kansas City), but the team in question wants to see Koronka pitch in the AFL before deciding whether to make the deal.

If Hendry can get even a Class "A" borderline prospect for Koronka, it would be better than just letting him go for nothing.

possible 40-man fodder...

c.fox/b.greive/s.mcclain/b.grieve

macias if we're lucky...but probally not since he's got a year of club control left.

sigh...

c.fox/b.greive/s.mcclain

CRUNCH: I would like to see the Cubs put Kelton on the 40-man roster again with an eye toward him competing for a job as the Cubs "4th outfielder" in Spring Training next year, but I don't think Hendry wants to use a spot on the 40-man roster to protect Kelton if it means possibly losing a player in the Rule 5 Draft who has more "upside" than Kelton does (at this point in his career).

Of course, with what happened with Andy Sisco last year, who knows what Hendry might do.

If Kelton is not added to the Cubs 40-man roster next week (and I would be very surprised if he were to be added), look for him to sign a minor league deal (with an invitation to Spring Training0 with his hometown Atlanta Braves. (I also expect Kyle Farnsworth to sign a multi-year deal with the Braves to be their closer).

One other thing.

I overheard a conversation in the HoHoKam Hospitality Room last Spring between two people who would know that a Japanese team had made an offer for Kelton, but the Cubs ended up keeping him in the organization (at Iowa) after he cleared "outright waivers" at the end of Spring Training.

But if he becomes a six-year minor league free-agent next week and the Japanese team in question is still intetested, Kelton (like Roosevelt Brown a few years ago) could be playing in Japan next year.

as for furcal to the mets, also from rotoworld.com:

"Although Kaz Matsui indicated he plans on returning to the Mets, management is considering buying the remain portion of his contract off and releasing him.

Matsui is owed $8 million in the final year of his contract and has a no-trade clause to all but the Angels, Dodgers and Yankees"

D'Rays GM Chuck LaMar fired...

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=2...

About damn time... My favorite LaMar quotes of all time:

"I'm so sick of people saying that 'scouting's the thing of the past,' or that 'you've got to analyze with numbers.' This is a franchise that's done everything the 'old school way' since the beginning, and we've won almost 400 games since coming into the league. But do the statheads ever acknowledge that? Or is that not enough of a 'sample size' or something?"
--Chuck LaMar, Devil Rays general manager

"Statistics can mean whatever you want them to mean. There's no accountability there--that's the problem."
--LaMar

"See, there you go again! Four-hundred's a lot, but you try to make it sound like that's not very good. How many games have you won, huh? How many? ...That's what I thought."
--LaMar, after being informed that his team has won only 39% of its games since 1998

those were around april of 2004, he's a beauty.

CRUNCH: Chad Fox wouldn't be an option to be dropped from the 40-man roster to make room for Brandon Sing because Fox is still on the 60-day (roster exempt) DL, and he will almost certainly remain there until after the World Series. So even if the Cubs were to activate Fox early and release him, it still wouldn't open up a spot on the 40-man roster.

Grieve is a possibility, though. But I still think it will be McClain.

I expect Jose Macias will not be dropped from the 40-man roster until he is non-tendered in December. (The Cubs will NOT go to arbitration with Macias). But then look for the Cubs to resign Macias to a AAA contract with an invitation to Spring Training. Dusty LOVES Macias.

oh yeah (about fox).

and about macias...i dont understand hendry or dusty's facination with him. he does everything you could ever want a guy to do off the field and before any game. he'll go warm up guys in the bullpen, he'll play catch, he'll shag balls, he'll be a guy to hit in simulated games...but damn, even with his 200-ish ab's a year, it seems at least 1/2 of them are needless.

there's guys that get more work that him all over mlb that have similar skills, but i think the cubs have seen what he's about at this point in-game.

CRUNCH: I think the reason Dusty likes Macias is:

1. he is a switch-hitter
2. he is versatile and can play mulitiple positions (IF-OF)
3. he accepts his role as an "extra man" without complaining

With today's 12-man MLB pitching staffs (and five-man bench), flexibility and versatility on the bench are of greater value than they would be if a team had six guys on the bench.

Personally, I like players who can drive the ball hitting "cold" off the bench. Like Mark Sweeney, for instance. Somebody like that. A left-handed PH who can also play 1B or LF every now and then.

yeah...i get why he likes him and why hendry wanted him...but after 2 years hendry should really take that gamer away from the club. he's been nothing but the guy he's been asked to be, but he just has an expendable feel about him since he cant play SS. i got a sinking feeling hendry will offer him another contract, though.

he's just a geoff blum clone...very handy to a manager and great injury insurance for the short-haul. a guy who shouldnt see more than 200ab's a season if you can help it. so far that's how he's been used even in 2 injury-plagued years, but he's been used in a lot of sketchy situations, even if it is just a small chunk of his a/b's.

dusty's also fond of using the early contact hitter and using his sluggers off the bench late it seems.

"See, there you go again! Four-hundred's a lot, but you try to make it sound like that's not very good. How many games have you won, huh? How many? ...That's what I thought."

--LaMar, after being informed that his team has won only 39% of its games since 1998

Comedy gold. For the record, 518-775 in 8 seasons, .401 baseball, never lost less than 91 games in a season, only one finish outside of last place.

Dude, you can't be serious Lamar said that stuff. That's a side splitter there.

This is the first I've read of the LaMar wit. He's a comedy genius. Any more quotes? You could make a great bathroom book of his best.

aw crap, was that from their April Fool's Day one. That's the second time I fell for it, although in my defense, I came across those LaMar one's along time ago on another site.

Sorry....good joke though.

Rob,

On the NYM 2b sitution I can not see them buying out Kaz for 8 Mil and then spending 8 Mil on Furcal. Furcal's camp was floating that out there because he only has the Cubs and Dodgers that are teams that will be looking for SS that have the resources to pay him like PHI did Rollins. Istrus had TJS and his day at SS are probably over. So they will most likely give Furcal a look.

This occured to me today in the car: Walker to the Mets for Floyd.

Any takers?

"This occured to me today in the car: Walker to the Mets for Floyd. Any takers?"

How about Walker for Cameron. It solves our CF problem. It adds 4 mil to the payroll. Cameron would be a solid no.6 hitter. I have a feeling idiot would bat him 2nd so it might not be good.

Dodgers have Joel Guzman on the way and they're headed towards a youth/more cost-cutting movement, they'd probably be more interested in Nomar(SS or 3B) who they went after last year to play 2b. There are rumors though of moving Guzman to third and/or Andy LaRoche to SS or 2b. I don't know the reason why, as I'm not that familiar with either.

I don't doubt that Furcal's agent is trying to start a bidding war. And if Furcal is willing to play 2b, he can do it for us, then re-sign Nomar. That would make me very, very happy!!!

So next year, when Nomar eventually goes down, we just shift Furcal over to SS and either plug in Walker(assuming he didn't get traded in that scenario, now there's a bench bat for you) or Cedeno to play 2b. Sounds better then having to rely on the Neifi's of the world.

I posted this awhile ago, but these are the teams I think we'll be competing with for Furcal:

D'Backs - the way Stephen Drew is going, they'd be silly to block him
Nats - only if a new owner is in place with disposable income
Mets - if those reports are true
Braves - still doubt they'd let him go
Mariners - Mike Morse, Pokey Reese, Ramon Santiago (no idea what they're financial situation or prospects look like)

A lot of those teams I have no idea what their payroll situation is. And if you look through the rest of the league, who needs a SS and could possibly afford him?

As for how much, here's last years big 3:
Cabrera 4/$32, $4 mil signing bonus
Renteria 4/$40, 5th year option for $11 mil ($3 mil buyout)
Eckstein 3/$10 (250,000 bonus)

With very few teams really looking, I'm guessing Furcal goes at about 4/36 or 4/32 with either a signing bonus or 5th year option.
IF the Cubs want him, there is no reason they shouldn't get him.

Furcal will get more than Renteria. Renteria has been over-rated for years because of 1 season near 100 RBI. But that is what the market is set at. Negotions for Furcal will START at 4/40 mil for him and go up from there.

Furcal is a much more complete player than Cabrera and Renteria. His agent knows this (atleast he should if he is worth the commission). He isn't going to go on the cheap.

Pick this up from Ivy Chat...

(Warning: This could give Cubs fans false hope.)

Four of the five managerial candidates to be interviewed by the Dodgers next week will be Terry Collins, Jerry Royster, Alan Trammell and Torey Lovullo, General Manager Paul DePodesta said Wednesday.

DePodesta would not divulge the fifth candidate because he has been unable to reach him. The person is employed by another team not in the playoffs.

Please be Baker! If there is a god, please make it be Baker!

Mariners are stocked at shortstop. Jose Lopez, still just 21 even though he's officially worn out both his rookie and prospect status, doesn't walk enough, but otherwise he's a very well-rounded shortstop: very likely to hit for average with significant power potential (.304/.347/.505 in 118 games at Triple-A aged 20-21), decent speed too, a bit error-prone but very good defensively says BA. 23 year old Cuban defector Yuniesky Betancourt, who reached the Majors this year, probably won't hit for too much besides an empty average with a little gap power, but he's a sensational fielder and he has plus speed. 20 year old Adam Jones, who BA reckons has good range and a cannon for an arm, hit very well for a shortstop in a 2005 split roughly evenly between High-A and Double-A, putting up a combined .297/.370/.479 line, though there are some long-term contact concerns. Those are the main three, but thatís not to mention 19 year old Asdrubal Cabrera, who's apparently up there defensively with Betancourt, weíll see about his bat, 19 year old Matt Tuiasosopo, a third round draft pick from 2004 with supposed very considerable upside, 23 year old Mike Morse, though I donít rate him highly, and 21 year old Oswaldo Navarro, who could supposedly become a fine utility infielder.

If Nomar/Furcal was going to be our SS/2B regardless of which was which, I would definitely take Floyd if we thought the production he put up last year would continue.

I agree that we should get Floyd- then Ken Griffey for center field, bring back Sosa to play right.

Then get Kevin Brown to fill out the rotation.

That way the Cubs could break all the major league records for players on the DL and most $ sent to the DL, and Baker would keep his built-in excuse for playing Jose Macias.

What makes you guys think the Braves won't re-sign Furcal? He is still young and their team has a fairly young nucleus. Sosa, McCann, Francouer, A Jones is still fairly young obviously hitting his prime and I'm sure they have a loaded farm system. Bottom line is the Cubs shouldn't plant all their eggs in one basket this winter although there is slim picking.

btw, whatever happened to Juan Cruz? is he still with the A's?

And I bet we could get Steve Trachsel back at a discounted price. lol

OT: Giambi Gets Comeback Player of the Year

I never knew that one could abuse drugs and then be REWARDED for that with this award. This is a crying shame. If Giambi didn't play for the Yankees, there'd be no way he'd get this award.

"What makes you guys think the Braves won't re-sign Furcal?"

Wilson Betimit is ready to play that position every day for much less than Furcal. Tony Pena Jr. is also near-ready - although not a good hitter at all.

They have a limited budget - I don't see Furcal as a part of it - provided some team wants to pay him top $.

We haven't had a prototype leadoff hitter in a long time. I'd pay Furcal a good bit.

The Braves won't bring back Furcal because their ownership wants to slash the payroll. From what I've heard (via a Braves beat reporter on XM radio) they want to cut about 20 million dollars in salary this offseason. That leaves no room to resign Furcal.

"They have a limited budget - I don't see Furcal as a part of it - provided some team wants to pay him top $.

We haven't had a prototype leadoff hitter in a long time. I'd pay Furcal a good bit."

I wasn't aware they were slashing payroll and figured they'd part with Giles ahead of Furcal and stick Betemit at 2nd. But with the market so slim, Furcal will undoubtedly go top dollar. Will the Cubs admin. match it? I'm his biggest fan, but I believe that if Kerry wants to stay he must take a pay cut. And I've read stuff on here about Ramirez. Is it popular opinion he could walk after next season?

"I believe that if Kerry wants to stay he must take a pay cut. And I've read stuff on here about Ramirez. Is it popular opinion he could walk after next season?"

There is almost no such thing as a paycut for a MLB player under contract. He has no reason to take a paycut - and they have no course of action to move him.

As far as Aramis option out, he can if he wants to after next year. The talk is that the Red Sox are going to move Manny in the offseason and prepare to make a run at Aramis after next year. Aramis would have to put together a healthy season though. His numbers were great this year. His defense is vastly improved (yet still below average) over what it was a few years ago. But if he continues to have significant injuries, he may not opt out...

I was speaking along the lines of Wood after the 06 season under the impressin his contract would be up then?

If Aramis has a healthy and productive year next year, Hendry will make it worth his while too stay. I wouldn't worry too much about it. If he doesn't, then the deal he has in place is better than he'd get elsewhere.

Kerry Wood is signed through 2007 ($12 mil in 2006, $13.5 mil in 2007), with the Cubs holding a club option for 2007 with a $3 mil buy-out.

Woody also has a "no-trade" through the 2006 season.

Kerry Wood is signed through 2007 ($12 mil in 2006, $13.5 mil in 2007), with the Cubs holding a club option for 2007 with a $3 mil buy-out.

Woody also has a "no-trade" through the 2006 season.

On St. Louis Sportalk radio, they said that with the Pirates having new management, that they might want to get rid of Jason Bay for some young, MLB ready pitching...I'd send Mitre, Wellemeyer, and maybe Rich HIll for him

"On St. Louis Sportalk radio, they said that with the Pirates having new management, that they might want to get rid of Jason Bay for some young, MLB ready pitching...I'd send Mitre, Wellemeyer, and maybe Rich HIll for him."

Some one spiked their BBQ sauce. Bay is not all that expensive for next season, I think he will makes less than 5 mil. Anyways they have enough young pitching on the way.

Am I missing something, but aren't the Pirates filled with young, MLB ready pitching?

Perez, Snell, Maholm, Duke not to mention they have Van Benschoten and Bullington waiting in the wings as well.

And the Pirates will only have a new manager, not new management. That doesn't make any sense. Maybe they got the Devil Rays (who desperately need pitching) confused with the Pirates. I have no doubts that Huff will be traded this off-season.

Would any of you guys be takers of Huff at the right price? Hill, Kpax and/or Wellemeyer? or would he be worth more?

Huff had an absolute dismal season in '05 and I can't say he'd be worth much more than that.

"that they might want to get rid of Jason Bay"

I'd bet they don't.

Bay's pretty good, had an amazing year last year and can play center adequately, while playing a pretty mean left and right.

When you have so many holes as the Pirates do, you have to take any opportunity to get better, plus Bay is going to be cheap for only about one more year before he hits arbitration. But the one thing the Cubs are rich in, is the same thing the Pirates are and that's minor league pitching.

The Pirates need bats and lots of them. It would certainly cost us Murton, maybe Brandon Sing and I'd guess maybe someone like Patterson (korey), although I'm sure they'd love Eric instead.

"But the one thing the Cubs are rich in"

Holy Water?

Excuses?

Free Swingers?

Everyone wants to dismiss D Lee for MVP, but are we all forgetting the Hawk? His 49 HR's in '87 for a LAST PLACE Cubs team was enough to get the award. Maybe less competition that year, but it's not unheard of.

NYCUBSFAN: To this day, I still cannot understand how Andre Dawson won the N. L. MVP in '87. If Dawson was playing for the Cubs today, TCR posters would run him out of town. His BB/K rations were TERRIBLE (32/103 in '87)... he struck out a lot, and wouldn't take a walk.

On the other hand, Eric Davis (30/50 man, .994 OPS, 3rd in N. L. in runs scored) or (if you wanna pick someone from a losing team) Dale Murphy (1.000 OPS, compared to Dawson's .897 OPS) would have been far better choices. Heck, even Daryl Strawberry was a 30/30 man with a .984 OPS! And then there was Vince Coleman, 2nd in the N. L. in runs scored with 100+ SB playing for the N. L. champion Cardinals.

A lot of people point to Ernie Banks winning the MVP Awards in '58 & '59 while playing for a last place Cubs team as an example of how the MVP Award can go to a player on a losing team, but that was kind of a fluke.

In '58, Banks was light years ahead of everybody else in the N. L. HR (with the exception of Frank Thomas, who would have been a DH except they didn't have that position then) and RBI (nobody even close), plus Banks had a .984 to .867 lead on Thomas in OPS. But today, Willie Mays probably would have won the award because he had a great season across the board playing for a pennant contender (Mays was batting champion, and also led the league in runs scored & stolen bases, was one HR from being a 30/30 man, and won the Gold Glove in CF). But Banks put up the big HR-RBI combo numbers, and those were the principle numbers baseball writers looked at in those days.

In '59, either Eddie Mathews or Hank Aaron should have won the award over Banks (both had better years in different ways, playing for a team that forced a playoff with the Dodgers for the pennant), except Aaron & Mathews were teammates and they took votes away from each other. But Banks led the N. L. in RBI and also led N. L. shortstops in assists & fielding percentage in 1959, and those two stats (assists & fielding percentage) were considered the measure of a Gold Glove shortstop in those days. (Banks finally won the Gold Glove at SS in 1960, before his creaky klnees forced a move to 1B in 1961). Banks was also VERY popular among the baseball writers, and that didn't hurt, either.

Does Derrek Lee deserve the MVP? Will he get it?

Yes, but so do A. Jones, A. Pujols....Lee had an awesome year--but I think the day of the MVP going to a 4th place division finisher and in the lower half of MLB simply won't do it for Lee.

If you had a disposable time machine that could only travel back as far as October 4th, 2004 and was good for only one trip, plus the superhero power to change peopleís minds and actions - what one move, moment, play or decision from this past season would you alter?

Probably would have not signed Nomar and gone after A. Jones when there were rumors he was being shopped by Atlanta.

At what point did you give up on the Cubs this year?

I thought this was a .500 team (predicted 79wins up to 83 wins for this club) and they performed to the level I anticipated...however, I knew it was really over in that road trip to NYM, WASH, and PHI late in August.

All signs point to Dusty Baker returning for the final year of his contract in 2006. But what lies ahead for Dusty? Is an extension on the way this off-season? Is he in any danger of losing his job in 2006? Should he be? Any other coaching changes on the horizon?

This club has been a fundamentally bad club under Dusty Baker. So the first question I will answer is he should be in danger of losing his job as should all of the coaches on this staff. I think a contract extension is NOT going to be offered and Dusty will PR it as "his call" to not negotiate until after next season concludes. This is equivalent to dealing Patterson when he is down...over dealing him or keeping him when he is putting up tremendous numbers. Baker could be worth a lot more with a post season appearance in 2006...and his stock has plummeted this season--another year like this and his value will be greatly diminished.

What about Jim Hendry ó should McPhail and the Trib re-up him or is his fate tied with Dustyís?

His fate is tied to Dusty's as both positions are tied to how well the team performs. With a lot more payroll available this coming season..another mediocre/miserable season could spell doom for Hendry. What really hurts both men is the White Sox/Cards...Cubs two fiercest rivals being the 2 best team in baseball this year...that has to sting and Trib Co has to be thinking Hendry/Baker is hugely overrated.

What are the top three things that went wrong for the Cubs this year, foreseeable or not?

1. Hendry's "addition by subtraction" philosophy toward the club and division. That STL and HOU would be in worse shape with their losses than the Cubs was ridiculous premise and HOU and STL are laughing all the way to post season play against each other for a trip to the WS.

2. The refusal of anyone on the coaching staff to teach fundamentals...refusal of anyone on the roster to work on fundamentals and execute fundamentals.

3. Inability to rally around injuries...Other clubs had as many devastating injuries and some may even end up in the WS...they rallied around them...the Cubs make excuses and perform pitifully because of them.

How about three things that went right, besides Leeís breakout?

1. Ryno's induction to the Hall of Fame
2. Wood handled the change to the bullpen--making this a very likely place he eventually will return to
3. Matt Murton coming up and doing an excellent job for a rookie.

The free agent market is one of the weakest in years, but the Cubs look to have plenty of cash to spend on it. Should they spend, spend, spend, and if so what should their targets be? Or should they hold on to it until next year or use it to take some garbage contracts off other teams? Should they spend it on extensions for any current players?

I actually look for the Cubs to come in under 2005's team salary. They will actually pay more for the guys on our field but will not exceed this years payroll figures. I do think they will try to extend Lee. I think there will be some trades or free agent signings but what direction they head to is a mystery with this executive bunch.

I think the greatest need is securing another strong starting arm to help Z, Prior, Wood and Maddux (though I think Maddux will be a huge liability this coming season)...and secure a SS, CF and LForRF.

What are 3 moves the Cubs MUST DO this off-season?

1. Trade Patterson
2. Fire Baker and his coaching staff
3. Hire a sports psychologist

What are 3 moves the Cubs MUST NOT DO this off-season?

1. Sign Neifi Perez to be the everyday SS
2. rely on K. Wood to be a dominate starting pitcher...either trade him (my choice) or send to the bullpen
3. sign any 4+ year contracts to marginal players or players in their prime.

Letís talk specific players. Should Baker and Hendry give the keys to left-field to Matt Murton or do they look for other options?

Give it to Murton.

Is Ryan Dempster the closer next year or should the Cubs look elsewhere?

Yes

Nomar Garciaparra: try to resign to another incentive-laden deal OR say thanks for the memories and the groin jokes? If he comes back, where should he play?

Don't resign him.

Neifi Perez: uber-backup, starter, or agentís phone calls immediately transferred to voice mail?

don't resign him...of course Florida will sign him and end up in the playoffs next year.

Can Corey Pattersonís brain and/or bat be salvaged?

Not with an incapable Dusty Baker as manager...time to trade him.

Kerry Wood: bullpen or rotation?

Bullpen or trade him

Jeromy Burnitz: pick up his $7 mil option or buy him out for $500K?

buy him out

Todd Walker: good facial hair, gimpy leg, Cubs beat writersí best friend. Pick up his option or look elsewhere

look elsewhere

Which lilí Cubs would you like to see get a shot at a roster spot in spring training?

I believe Cub management still thinks Murton is a lil' Cub...so my say is for Murton.

Is 2006 the Year of the Cub? Why or why not?

LOL...no really....Probably Not. Hendry will rely on "Addition by subtraction" to some degree again this winter. He won't improve the club to the level it needs to be to compete for the division..let alone a post season run. Too many holes and not enough options to even buy the holes filled up.

Lots of great comments and thoughts on next year! If I were king (or at least GM) here is what I would do (only thinking offense here, I'd also add 2 relievers and a starter).
1) Resign Nomar
2) Keep JHJ
3) Pursue (in the following order, stopping when successful) Furcal, Pierre/Damon
4) If successful in signing Furcal, bring back Lofton

Here is my thinking. Nomar wants to be a Cub (built a home here etc.) and when healthy is strong offensively, and far FAR better than anyone who would be getting comparable $ considering his past few years injury problems. Resigning Nomar is contingent on his willingness to be flexible in where he plays.
Next up bring back Hairston, I like his flexibility, he can be insurance either at center or at 2nd depending on who else the Cubbies sign.
Go after Furcal, in which case Nomar plays right, then sign Lofton to platoon in Center with Hairston. The lineup would then be:

Furcal ss
Hairston/Cedeno 2b
Lee 1b
Ramirez 3b
Nomar rf
Murton lf
Barrett c
Lofton/Hairston cf

One thing that worries me going into an offseason is trying to do to much. Last offseason was a bust for 1 reason: Hendry spent the whole time trying to dump Sosa, which he needed to do. Part of the reason I want to bring back Nomar is because it would happen quickly, then move on to Furcal, a starter and at least one bullpen stud.

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