It's Just a Jump to The Left

The Cubs finished up their organizational meetings in Arizona and as expected, they'll attempt to

''We're going to try to add some different wrinkles, offensively
especially,'' Piniella told the Sun-Times. ''We are going to add
left-handed hitting to this mix. From an offensive standpoint, that is
definitely the No. 1 priority. And if we can get a little more athletic
in the process, we're going to do that, too.''

I think we all knew that was going to be the plan, but the big question will be what can they afford. Crane Kenney has already backed off his that the Cubs will raise their payroll next season, as the main culprit along with a curious case of content over the current Cubs roster.

''I don't want to get into payroll speculation until Jim and
[assistant GM Randy Bush] and their team have done their work,'' said
Cubs chairman Crane Kenney, who nonetheless made it clear he doesn't
expect the kind of jumps that increased the payroll from in the $90
millions in 2006 to $130 million by the end of this season.

''I'm not sure we're going to have any major offseason moves that
would require significant payroll capacity,'' Kenney added. ''We'll
leave that to Jim and Randy and the guys to work through, and we'll see
where we are in a couple of weeks. ... We try not to lose sight of the
fact that we won 97 games for a reason. We have a core that's pretty
damn good.''

Yes, the Cubs outscored everybody in the NL last year and if they returned everyone from last season, I'm rather confident they would still be one of the best teams in the NL, possibly even better with a few more starts going to Rich Harden. Yet, they'd still be vulnerable to a right-heavy pitching staff again in the playoffs and it's never a good idea to stay content, no matter the previous successes.

The short list of left-handed bats worth looking at for next season:

Free Agents

Mark Teixeira -1B

Adam Dunn - LF

Jason Giambi - 1B

Bobby Abreu - RF/LF

Milton Bradley - CF/RF

Orlando Hudson - 2B

Rafael Furcal - SS

Ken Griffey Jr. - RF/CF (team option)

Jim Edmonds - CF

Raul Ibanez - LF

Garret Anderson - LF

Brian Giles - RF (team option)

There also might be some trade targets like Brian Roberts or Aubrey Huff of the Orioles, but a little too early to speculate on who might be available and at what cost. And much like last season where the Cubs went after Kosuke Fukudome in free agency before exploring trade talks for players like Nick Swisher or Raul Ibanez, I imagine the Cubs will do it again this season.

If I were a betting man, either Rafael Furcal or Orlando Hudson will be a Cub next season with the Cubs likely putting another full-court press on Furcal like they did three years ago...this time without McFail there to cockblock Hendry. This will make it easy for Lou to move Soriano down in the order and give Lou that flexibility (in other words more speed) in the lineup. If that was the only move to the lineup, you could see something like this versus righties.

Furcal, Lee, Soriano, Ramirez, Soto, Fukudome, DeRosa, Pie

And with Mike Fontenot in the mix, we could see plenty of Fontenot in there instead of Fukudome with DeRosa moving to right field. Fontenot is also the reason I think the Cubs will make Furcal their number one priority over Hudson, as he already give the Cubs the flexibility to move DeRosa around. If Furcal alludes them again and they can sign Hudson, it could look a little like this versus righties.

Theriot, Hudson, Soriano, Ramirez, Lee, Soto, Fukudome/Pie, DeRosa

That still leaves the middle of the order lacking a left-handed presence so I don't expect the Cubs to stop there. I don't think they'll make a big move, but I certainly wouldn't be surprised if the Cubs go after Raul Ibanez or Brian Giles if his option is declined by the Padres which seems likely considering they've entered cost-cutting mode. I think there's a small chance they go after Milton Bradley, but injury and attitude concerns will always be there with him.

That would pretty much make Fukudome battle for a spot in the lineup, likely with Felix Pie in center field. While the changes aren't drastic, I'm not sure the Cubs need to make drastic moves for a team that already scored the most runs in the league, just a few subtle improvements to help balance out the lineup. And with already $109M committed in payroll next year and a few spots to fill on the pitching side,  just adding Furcal and Ibanez would add plenty to their payroll, although with Hendry's mastery of the back-loaded deal, it might not be that big of an issue for 2009.

Now Hendry might surprise us all and find some takes for Derrek Lee and Jason Marquis and then get in on the Mark Teixeira sweepstakes and trust me I'm all for it. I just don't see there being much of a market for either Lee or Marquis. Lee has a no-trade clause, declining skills and $26 M left on his deal. No-trade clauses get waived all the time, but it usually takes some incentive to do so and then you're likely getting into paying part of Lee's contract which would sort of defeat the whole purpose. Marquis can be traded against his will but at almost $10M there's just no way the Cubs will unload that without paying a healthy portion of it. If it's $1-2M out of the Cubs pockets, it might be worth it still, but if they're going to start having to pay half or more, how much of a benefit will that really be?


why does Hendry have an elbow growing out of his head?

it's called color correction, son. you should know about it!

Give the guy a break. He's still all broken up about the NLDS.

If they go after Ibanez...who, living in Seattle, I have a great appreciation for...what do you envision the outfield to look like? I ask this assuming you see Soriano in right? Old Man Giles can play right, but I'm pretty sure Raul cannot. I've mentioned it in the past, but even when they lose, Ibanez still gets big cheers from the crowd. He's a huge fan favorite, and it seems, quite a lead by example sort of guy.

Ibanez was a supposed trade target if they didn't get Fukudome last year, so I think the Cubs would try him there and still think he can play there. It's not ideal, but this is a team that has played Murton, Floyd, DeRosa, Ward, Hoffpauir out there in the past.

I don't think they'd move Soriano to RF unless they added Adam Dunn, which I forgot to add to my initial list (he's there now).

And in the FWIW column: Talking to a good friend who went to Penn and was in the football fraternity house there. I asked him if Mark DeRosa was in the same house. Nonchalantly he was like, "yeah" he was a year behind me. And I'm thinking "You never thought to mention this before?" Not that it's a big deal but you think he would have said something.

Jerry Zduriencik, 6 yrs as Brewers director of scouting, last 2 yrs as assistant to Melvin... maybe he'll want to trade Ichiro, that will solve everything :)

I wouldn't be overly surprised if Ichiro was traded. I would love to have him. Oh man, my pants just got tight.

Ichiro is Viagra in Japanese?

then him and Soriano then they can have a competive contest of who can walk the least. Ichiro's whole game is based on speed and for a 32 yo guy making major coin for alot of years, I dont think that would a wise investment.

Um, no, his game isn't based entirely speed. He is fast, yes, but he's also a fantastic defender (glove, arm and speed) and has great contact. They're not all infield singles that he hits, believe it or not. But, despite being 32, he is still very fast. Ichiro doesn't walk much, but that's because he gets so many hits...over 200 every year of his MLB career. And seriously, you're warning against getting Ichiro by comparing him to Soriano? Is it because they're polar opposite baseball players? do realize that Soriano is good, right? Besides, he's said that toward the end of his career he wants to become a pitcher, so we'd have that going for us.

When he starts to lose some speed, his defense will go down because he wont be able to get to as much balls as he does now. Infact a lost of speed might affect his arm as he wont be able to get himself into the best possible throwing postion if it takes him a little longer to get to the ball. For a guy who relies on infield hits for a fifth to a quarter of his hits, if he looses half of his infield hits, he is going to be a .285/335/350/685 guy who is not worth the money he will be making. I think he is a good player, but at 35 you have to wonder how many prime years this guy has left. I think its 2 at most.

For a guy who relies on infield hits for a fifth to a quarter of his hits, if he looses half of his infield hits Huh? According to Fangraphs, 12.2% of his hits have been infield hits.

I was just dividing 200 by 50, but I still stand by my point that when his skills go it will be a sharp decline.

Except your point is wrong based on the stats. Cutting 12% of hits in half is much different than cutting 20-25% of his hits.

ichiro's just turned actually, so happy birthday.

but he's never hit under .300 in his career, never had an OBP below .350 and has a career walk rate of .064 per PA. It's stayed remarkable consistent over the last 4 years.

Soriano's career rate is .028, he's had 2 seasons of .042. 2006 with the Nats when he was intentionally walked a ton and last year.

So I'm not sure where you came up with any of that.

Nonetheless, Ichiro's not getting traded unless he really hates it there or they really hate him, which apparently they did for awhile.

Oh yeah, sorry...I didn't even bother to fact check the dude's age reference. Anyway...

What's more, Ichiro might be able to give Fuku some transitional pointers.

Aw fuck. I'll be back in a week or so...

just to help offset whatever I brought upon TCR....

More importantly, take off that ugly fucking RHPS picture!

everyone's a critic... just scares me. Much like the thought of Palin in the White House. Zinger!

see if this cheers you up (one of the more inappropriately funny sites I've stumbled across)

wonder where this left handed bat goes... possible open slots pending trade...SS, CF... im not giving up RF yet cuz fukudome is getting some serious loot and he came to play...i don't see him as a bench player. im not giving up 2nd cuz derosa is too good to play off the bench...and he's shown it the past 2 years becoming one of the best deals in baseball for a middle IF'r. you guys see the contract mark ellis got from Mr. Moneyball a few days ago...2yr/11m? you definitely want hoffpower on the bench (i'm not getting into trade scenerios right now...esp. ones that involve dlee) pretty much have to carry pie...johnson is also in the bench mix. i don't see much happening without trades, myself... furcal...*shrug* i get the feeling they want a lefty bat to stick between dlee/aram/soto somewhere since fuku isnt much of a #5 hitter. eventually soriano needs to join that middle-lineup group even if not in 09. just kicking the situation around as it stands...anyone see anything else?

try reading my post :)

SS, RF, CF or 2B 

1B if they move Lee

LF if they want to think about moving Soriano to RF

Fukudome does make the cash and I don't think they'll give up on him, but they wil bring in competition and have him compete with Pie/Johnson for CF. Hendry sure didn't sound happy with Fukudome in his latest comments. If Fukudome to CF is an option or benching him, then that opens up 2b or RF to find a lefty bat.

But plenty of options out there...

i just looking for "as it stands" to take a base of where the team is. basically not even going to "step 1"...just taking stock and not assuming trade partners/targets yet. only assumption im laying out is derosa/fukudome staying a starter somewhere on the field... i believe a trade is gonna happen...there's too much good stuff on the bench. there's just so much to kick around in possibilities.

Fukudome to CF, add a LHH to RF---Abreu, Bradley, or Hemedia(trade from Fla), add switch hitting type middle inf, trade DLee---need 4 LHH in line-up---1B, CF, RF, and in the middle----cannot continue to into the play-offs with a RHH line-up vs the good play-off teams who have RHP--Hendrey will get this done

bob brenley has his interview with MIL tommorow (manager). given how close to the cubs he has been and the past WS win...well...there's more than a passing chance len will have a new partner next year.

for some reason, you're URL's are not clickable links again

I guess Rob's link lets us see what Cole Hamels sees in Heidi Hamels. Good Lord Almighty!

The Unathletic thing is what makes me wonder. Here's our 'standard' lineup: Soriano Theriot Lee Ramirez Soto DeRosa Johnson/Pie Fukudome The 'unathletic' guys there are three of our four best hitters, and besides Soto, they all have NTC's. So which unathletic guy are they talking about? Rob thinks it's Theriot, but he just got finished telling m Theriot is fast. Fast + Shortstop would equal athletic to me. Lee? He's the position playing team leader, and has lost some foot speed, but with the exception of Soriano he's probably the only one on the team who could have played D1 basketball. He's also still a helluva first basemen. ---------------------- I wonder if The Fontenaught will have some more trade value now. Will a Fontenaught, Marshall (assuming Hill is good to go), Ceda package start to look intriguing to the Orioles now that Roberts is a year closer to Free Agency?

it stinks of "we're gonna make a run at furcal" to me. i wonder how much he's worth in this market. even coming off an injury season "average" middle infielders who are starters seem to be worth 5m a year as it is (im not calling furcal average, btw).

I'll call Furcal average. His career OPS+ is 96. He was a good hitter in a small sample last year, but the year before he hit .270 .333 .355 (Rob G can probably let us know if he was hurt) with 25 SB's, essentially he's Ryan Singles, only costs 10 x as much and can switch hit, assuming he stays healthy. Jeff Blauser2.0

isnt an OPS+96 good for a SS? I wasnt too high on getting him last time because of the DUI stuff (he was bascially 1 DUI from a 6 month jail term, which likely would have gotten him into Visa issues as well) and his habit of wanting to play catch with guys in dugout and stands in the middle of the game. As we saw in the NLCS that is still an issue for him. Assuming he got his DUI exponged for good behavior and a clause is thrown in his contract voiding it if goes on the DL for 2+ months because of his back, (or gets thrown in jail during the season if he drives again after getting his drink on if he is a DUI from a 6 month jail sentance), I would be fine with a 4/34 deal for him, through i'd rather have the O-dog personally.

Furcal sprained his ankle in March of 2007, supposedly bothered him all year. It was all healed up by 2008 and he came out on fire and then hurt his back. Maybe it's the start of chronic health problems as he was pretty durable for most of his Atlanta career sans the year he broke his leg, but I find a broken bone on a freak play a lot different than muscle and back problems. Even the sprained ankle was a bit of a freak play, a near collision with Jason Repko.

Nonetheless, I don't think he's an average shortstop. His defensive numbers are +82 FRAA for his career, 108 Rate2 stat. His career average is 5.48 RC/27 which would be 7th among all ML shorstops last year (Furcal had a 10.1 last year but obviously in a small sample size).

If his back though is a chronic problem, then yeah, there's some issues there. A healthy Furcal though at just his career averages would certainly be an upgrade and would help solve the Cubs perceived problems of Soriano at leadoff and more left-handed hitting.



this is why looking at one stat only is no way to compare a player theriot and his 93 ops+ .307 .387 .359 1 hr 38 rbis (on the highest obp team in baseball) 85 runs furcal (04) 95 ops+ .279 .344 .414 14 hrs 59 rbis 103 runs not to mention much better at defense i'll take 2004 furcal any day with his 95 ops+

But the thing is the 2004 Rafael Furcal isn't available. The one who is avaiable hasn't been able to combine a good hitting season with a good defensive season in three years (from the start of 2009). I agree that a healthy Furcal in theory solves a lot of our problems. In practice though, I don't think there's any such thing as a healthy Furcal. $5 million with PA incentives, alright. $8 to $10 million guaranteed over thee to four years? No thanks.

just an fyi,

instead of just stabbing in the dark with the highest OBP team in baseball and comments like that, you can go to any player's game log for that season and see how many runners were on base when they came up. Then just take their RBI's, subtrack their HR's and divide by the runners on base for their RBI%.

BP tracks it as well.

For Theriot in 2008, drove in 10.1% of runners on base (15-16% is average)

2007: 13.46%

I'm not sure what the average is for runs scored per plate appearance, although in 2006, 21.38% was the top of the list.

Theriot for 2008: 12.8%

2007: 13.4%

2006:  21.38%

a better measure would be runs scored/times on base though

Even if you break it down by times on base, you get the reverse of the RBI opportunities thing - it's better to have Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz batting behind you then Ryan Theriot and Rich Harden.

of course there's a lot of other factors, but just for funs...

just counting H+HBP+BB and subtracting home runs (not including reaching base on error, FC or sacrifice or any other reason)

Run Scored % per time on base

2008:  33.2%

2007:  40.7%

2006:  51.7%

Ichiro in 2008 (generally considerd a good baserunner) - 36.9%


I wonder is slugging percentage has anything to do with that? Point is, that he can't perform even in the best scenario you can imagine.

there's nothing in there about being unatheletic...

there's a comment that left-handed hitting is the #1 priority and IF they can get MORE athletic they will. Switching Felix Pie or Fukudome to centerfield over Edmonds could take care of that. Adding Furcal over Theriot would be MORE athletic.

Adding Orlando Hudson, moving DeRosa to RF and having a Fukudome/Pie center field would also be a net gain in the athletic department.

And I didn't say Theriot was fast, I responded to your comment that Theriot has no speed. If you charted all the major league players on how fast they got down the line or from 1st and third and 0 was average and thus "no speed" as I believe you stated, Theriot would definitely be in the positive.


If you threw out first basemen, catchers and fat pitchers, Theriot would be below average. On the Cubs roster other than those positions, I'd probably put him ahead of Aram, about the same as Edmonds, DeRosa and Cedeno.

are we just talking speed or baserunning ability? He did have quite a off year on the basepaths last year, I'm not going to discount that, but coupled with 2007 and part of 2006, I think he's right in the middle of the pack. As for mindlessly throwing out positions, let's do that.

We'll stick to starters to make this easy and just ignore pitchers completely.


+ 14 DH's

254 regular major leaguers

subtract 2*30 (catchers and first basemen) 

194 players

you're saying Theriot would lose a foot race to 97 players?

This is the guy that was tied for 29th in SB's in MLB in 2008 and 20th in 2007 and who scored more runs per plate appearance in 2006 than anyone else (small sample size notwithstanding)?

Yes, that's exactly what I am saying. It's not that hard to find out - we can time him fom home to first or 1st to 3rd or whatever. I think that you're assuming that because he had some good SB%'s he's much faster than he is. Jason Bay and Kevin McReynolds threw up some good SB numbers - neither of them were ever accused of being fast, or 'having speed' if you prefer that term.

I think he has some plus speed (although certainly not Vince Coleman speed) because I've seen him make it easily from first to third or first to home or second to home quite a lot.

In terms of a footrace, the only regular Cub that would beat Theriot is Soriano. Pie would too if you want to go down to the scrubs.

there's plenty of guys with okay SB numbers that weren't particularly fast, so no I'm not confusing the two.

other evidence, the Cubs would have never tried to make him a switch-hitter in the minors if they didn't think he had plus speed. That move is almost always reserved for players teams think are fast that can beat an infield hit with the extra half step.

I can agree with you that he maybe was fast six years ago. I don't see it now. I'll get stopwatch and see what I come up with. You'd think you could find some scouting report on the interweb about him, but I sure can't.

i found one in 2002 from Lansing calling him one of the best baserunners in the league, but that certainly could be interpreted in a few different ways.

with the exception of Soriano he's [Lee] probably the only one on the team who could have played D1 basketball Lee was recruited by, and committed to, North Carolina, which agreed to let him play basketball and baseball. But he turned pro when the Padres drafted him 14th. 1993 was an interesting draft: 1. ARod 2. Darren Dreifort 7. Trot Nixon 12. Billy Wagner 14. Derek Lee 15. Chris Carpenter 19. Jay Powell 20. Torii Hunter 21. Jason Varitek The Cubs had 3 first round picks that year: 10. Brooks Kieschnick 24. Jon Ratliff 29. Kevin Orie

Gay Chubby Dating and protect Marriage ads that have run recently in the top ad banner, we're sending out quite the mixed message here at TCR. :)

My Google Adsense blocking efforts should kick in soon....

both seem scarey, humorous, and for people with too much free time on their hands.

World Series go Phils!! the Rays are quite a story, but I'd rather see Phils fans enjoy the victory (and resulting destruction of the city).

Top of 3rd Runs: 0 Hits: 1 Errors: 0 - Phillies third. - Werth singled to right. - Utley grounded out, second baseman Iwamura to first baseman C.Pena, Werth to third. ?How deep was Iwamura playing?

Worth hit a double, not a single,

Ryan Theriot is not a great ballplayer. He is not a power hitter, or a flashy fielder. Chad, I am sorry that Ryan Theriot stole your girlfriend, or killed your dog, or whatever he did to set you off. Would I ilke to see Jimmy Rollins, Hanley Ramirez, Jose Reyes, Miguel Tejada, Michael Young, or that type at SS? I would, to name a few. However: Theriot had a solid season. He hit for a decent average, got on base at a good clip, and was, despite the bleating of a few, and pointing out a bad error or 2, a decent fielder despite having a below average arm. He got thrown out stealing way too much. This from a player who was 41 of 46 in steals his first season and a half. Should he be reined in next season? Sure. He is not the reason the Cubs got swept again. If the 2004 Furcal isn't available, can we trade for the 1991 Cal Ripken? A lack of a true leadoff hitter, a lack of good left handed hitting, and a huge suck job by most of the team in general? Yep...that'll about describe it.

I want a short stop that can field. Theriot is not a 'decent fielder' and he has a horrible arm.

Recent comments

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  • Arizona Phil 17 hours 57 min ago (view)

    Someone to keep an eye on in 2021 is RHRP (ex-1B) Jerrick Suiter. 

    He was selected by the Cubs from the Pirates in the AAA Phase of the 2019 Rule 5 Draft and the Cubs  immediately converted him from a mediocre AA first-baseman to a full-time pitcher, having seen him throw garbage innings in blow-outs for the Pirates AA Altoona affiliate in 2019.


  • Dolorous Jon Lester 1 day 2 min ago (view)

    Good to see Roederer and Velasquez  providing some production. From what I've followed they haven't been up to much. Granted this season isn't great for development


  • Arizona Phil 1 day 4 hours ago (view)

    The Cubs have added OF Brennen Davis to their AZIL Active List roster. 


  • crunch 1 day 5 hours ago (view)

    "He's a strong kid and shows a lot of HR power in BP and it's just a matter of making it game-usable."

    reggie golden flashblacks...if BP was a game he'd be an all-star.


  • Arizona Phil 1 day 6 hours ago (view)

    Unfortunately for the Cubs, all of their Top 10 position-player prospects (M. Amaya, Davis, Hearn, Howard, Made, C. Morel, R. Morel, Quintero, Roederer, and Strumpf -- listed alphabetically) are two or more years away from the big leagues, in most cases more like three or four or even five years away. 


  • Arizona Phil 1 day 6 hours ago (view)

    TIM: One of the things people wonder about when they see a young shortstop for the first time is does he have the arm and range necessary to play SS or would his tools maybe be better suited for 2B, 3B or OF. So far at Instructs Kevin Made has shown all of the attributes of a SS, and he is an advanced hitter (for his age) as well. 


  • Arizona Phil 1 day 7 hours ago (view)

    AZBOBBOP: Ethan Hearn showed off his plus-arm by back-picking a runner off 1st base last week. You don't see catchers with the confidence to attempt pick-offs much out here. 

    He's a strong kid and shows a lot of HR power in BP and it's just a matter of making it game-usable. His hitting (contact and barreling) has improved at instructs, and that's one of the things he needed to improve.

    His receiving should improve with experience as well. 


  • azbobbop 1 day 20 hours ago (view)

    Phil, saw Ethan Hearn with a couple of hits today. How has he been trending?


  • tim815 2 days 12 hours ago (view)

    That Kevin Made is already representing offensively seems, on the 1 to 10 scale with 10 being fantastic news, in the 17 or 18 range.

    Nwogu in the 9 to 11 span.


  • Arizona Phil 3 days 5 hours ago (view)

    For those of you wondering about catcher Ronnier Quintero (the Cubs #1 IFA signing in the 2019-20 ISP), he participates fully in pre-game and Camp Day work-outs and he catches bullpens, and while he has been the bullpen catcher at every AZIL game he has not yet played in a game.

    As a catcher he has a lot to learn, and the Cubs would prefer that Quintero mainly concentrates on receiving and learning how to work with pitchers right now. He can learn about hitting and baserunning later. 


  • Arizona Phil 3 days 6 hours ago (view)

    In adition to the 22 pitchers originally on the Cubs AZIL Active List roster plus RHP Manuel Rodriguez (right biceps strain last March) and LHP Brad Wieck (wearing a brace on his left knee) who are on the Cubs MLB 60-day IL and are rehabbing at AZIL, the Cubs have added four additional pitchers to their AZIL Active List roster:  

    RHP Josh Burgmann 
    RHP Chris Clarke 
    LHP D. J. Herz
    RHP Michael McAvene 


  • Charlie 4 days 3 hours ago (view)

    This is weird. He seemed well liked and shifting him to another role would've made just as much sense.


  • bradsbeard 4 days 8 hours ago (view)

    I'd say the only guys who struggled all season were Baez and Bryant. Willson struggled for a lot of August but was one of the few who hit in September. Most of the team hit well in 2019 (including Baez and Bryant before injuries derailed them). I don't know if there's any reason to blame Ipoce in particular for the September slump. 


  • crunch 4 days 21 hours ago (view)

    iapoce expected to stay.  i'm surprised.  i know it's a weird/short season, but it was a season-long slump for a lot of guys and answers weren't showing up.


  • crunch 4 days 22 hours ago (view)

    i eagerly await the espn 10 part mini-series "Rafael Palmeiro, More Like Rafael Baseballmerio" covering those 28 legendary games.


  • Dolorous Jon Lester 4 days 22 hours ago (view)

    In fairness those 28 games he played at 1B were breathtaking that year