Archive - 2006
In the first in a series of team previews of N. L. Central clubs, we present the Cubs Opening Day opponents, the Cincinnati Reds.
The Cubs have been busy this past week, making final roster cuts that pared their Spring Training roster (originally 58 players in February) down to a 25-man roster on Opening Day. The 25-man Opening Day roster limit and clubs having to cut players the last week of Spring Training to get down to the limit is one of the ìRights of Spring Training,î in some cases the ìlast riteî (so to speak) for a player. But the 25-man Opening Day roster is actually a fairly recent invention.
Time for the readers opinions; into the gauntlet are Andrew, Mike C., The Real Neal, MannyTrillo, Chad, Shawndgoldman, Nickelnights and Crunch. Donít fear, weíll get some other faithful readers the next go-around. Stay tuned for a historical look of Opening Day Rosters later today and a preview of our first NL Central opponent, the Cincinnati Reds, tomorrow before the big game. --------------------- Rate the Cubs off-season acquisitions and maneuvers? Did Jim Hendry sufficiently address the teamís needs or was he left in the cold holding a bag of donuts? [MannyTrillo] I would give him a C+. He finally went out and addressed two of the GLARING holes from last year after many of us fans were screaming for him to get a leadoff man and a better bullpen, but he has left us still with too many question marks in the starting rotation. He did not properly prepare for the very likely injuries to Wood and Prior. [Chad] Huge improvements in the HORRIBLE bullpen from last year. I feel that we might win a game with a lead in the 7th if our starter has to come out. Outfield is another story. While I really like Juan Pierre, I don't see any upside to Jacques Jones over Jeromy Burnitz. [The Real Neal] I like the Pierre trade, even though I don't like Pierre - it was nice to see the Cubs trade two birds in the bush for a real ML player. Probably a bit of overkill with Howry and Eyre signings (even more-so with the way Ohman has pitched in the spring), and I like everyone else would have preferred a $12 Giles to a $5.5 Jones - but the outfield defense should be top-rate. [Nickelnights] Overall, I'd give Hendry a C-. It was a baron offseason, and what was available came at an extremely steep price. He did do a good job of fixing the areas he targeted, particularly lead-off and bullpen, and those things will help the team this year. However, I'm concerned that the signings could be costly 2 or 3 years down the road. We've seen what happens when you sign veteran relievers to long term contracts, and multi-year deals to the likes of Neifi Perez and Glendon Rusch are will pretty darn stupid. [Mike C.] Offensively the Cubs fell short again for a third straight year. The organization is still hell bent on winning 2-1 games than 5-2 games. Pierre and Jones are not going to produce any more runs than the guys they replaced. The only upgrade is that hopefully Pierre gives Lee and Ramirez more RBI chances. In the bullpen Howry was an OK signing but Scott Eyre was just plain stupid. The man is situational pitcher who might appear in a lot of games but rarely ever pitches a whole inning. For the money he is making he will be expected to perform more than that which could lead to trouble. [Crunch] Cubs took care of LAST season's issues. I'm not thrilled with 3 years of Dempster. RF came down to J.Jones vs. J.Encarnacion and I'm happy the Cubs chose Jones. Pierre and his cost was taken on at the expense of 2 pitchers, the highest of which was 4th-6th on the minor league depth chart depending on just how much you like Nolasco...I like the move. Eyre/Howry I am happy to have around in the pen for years. W.Miller was a hell of a signing and a stable gamble, imo. [Andrew] Of course, it's a bit premature to judge any offseason until you see how the new team peforms that next year. But, alas, I guess Christian can't wait that long to post our analyses. So, what were our needs this offseason? Leadoff hitter, bullpen help, and a lefthanded slugger, and Hendry was up to the task. He acquired the leadoff man (although he gave up Ricky Nolasco to do it, which is a crying shame and might have been unnecessary). He shored up the bullpen (although he gave too many years to Dempster, Eyre, and Howry). He signed a left-handed outfielder with some pop (albeit one with poor OBP skills and who should be platooned). Did he accomplish the main goals (more or less), without blowing a ton of money or minor-league talent to do it? Yes, more or less. That in itself probably deserves a grade slightly above average. Still... *yawn*. Forgive me for being unimpressed. There seemed to be no urgency to Hendry's moves, no drive to think creatively and work to construct trades that could benefit multiple teams. Instead, we signed or traded for the obvious players, which, while not bad, isn't terribly exciting or encouraging. So, adding points for his commitment to Cedeno and Murton and for the Wade Miller signing, call it a B minus. [Shawndgoldman] I don't think Hendry sufficiently addressed the team's needs, but i also don't blame him for not doing so. The biggest problems Hendry faced were the best potential acquisitions - B. Giles, Furcal, Tejada, Ryan, and Burnett - all turned out to be somewhere between undesirable and impossible. Giles gave San Diego a home town discount, the O's wanted too much for Tejada, and Furcal, Ryan and Burnett signed contracts I wouldn't want the Cubs to top.
Cubs Roundtable Questions (Spring 2006) Yesterday we got the opinions of the TCR powers that be, we now pose the same 11 questions to some of the finest Cubs bloggers out there. Former TCR writers Scott Lange(Gonfalon Cubs at Baseball Think Factory) and Derek Smart(Cub Town) once again grace us wtth their fine written word. Bleed Cubbie Blueís Al Yellon, Ivy Chatís Chuck Gitles , The View From the Bleachersís Joe Aiello, and Baseball Prospectus & The Juice writer Will Carroll round out this whoís who of Cub fans and writers. Thanks for their time and see what they have to say about the 2006 CubsÖ --------------------- Rate the Cubs off-season acquisitions and maneuvers? Did Jim Hendry sufficiently address the teamís needs or was he left in the cold holding a bag of donuts? Mmmmm....donuts!!!
Apparently Texas and Florida are the place where Cubs pitchers go when they're unwanted. The Cubs traded LHP John Koronka to the Texas Rangers for infielder/outfielder Freddie Bynum. Bynum was traded earlier to the Rangers along with pitcher John Rheinecker from the Oakland A's for pitcher Juan Dominguez.
The rites of spring are upon us once again, marked by the blossoming of flowers, warmer temperatures, April showers and of course, the TCR roundtable preview. The powers that be here have gathered around one very round and large table extending from the West Coast of the Great States of America to the land of kings, queens and something known as ìspotted dickî; all in an effort to bring you into the new season. Our pal Transmission has gotten himself wrapped up in a defense of his disseration so unfortunately he will not be able to play along. We wish him luck as we do the 2006 Cubbies. --------------------- Rate the Cubs off-season acquisitions and maneuvers? Did Jim Hendry sufficiently address the teamís needs or was he left in the cold holding a bag of donuts? MmmmmÖdonuts!!! [John Hill] When Americans talk about donuts, or doughnuts as itís correctly spelt, are we talking ones with jam in the middle, or ones with holes in the middle? I mean theyíre both good, but I think weíre all better off if our favourite things come without a big bit missing. Take the Cubs, for instance. Just how much better off they would be without about half a lineup missing? Letís just say, with a little more strawberry jam, they might not be in the position theyíre in now where, if theyíre to have any real playoff aspirations at all, theyíre once again entirely dependent upon the ridiculously high upside pitching getting healthy and staying healthy. And once again the news on that front has not been good. Iíd love to act all surprised on that one, but Iíve won the grand total of zero Academy Awards in my lifetime. The bottom line is, when you consider just what can be done with a hundred million dollar payroll and the lure of the big city, Hendryís off-season for the second year running has to go down as a big disappointment. Again, some backwards and a lack of foresight and creativity have been the main culprits. [Ruz] He addressed their needs, I just don't think he did a very good job. I'm probably in the minority in liking the Jones signing more than the Pierre trade -- the Cubs gave up an awful lot to get a guy who does one thing well. Jones, meanwhile, will be an albatross by 2008, but this year I expect him to contribute. The bullpen additions certainly will improve the staff, but the cost of the Howry and Eyre deals is just ridiculous. [Rob G.] He certainly addressed what he felt the teamís needs were, Iím just not sure he addressed them properly nor sufficiently. Juan Pierre was absolutely an essential pickup after missing out on Rafael Furcal, but it was a steep price to pay. Heís certainly going to perform better then Corey Patterson did, but will he perform up to his 2003 and 2004 levels? I have serious doubts. He signed some decent relievers but itís a dangerous strategy signing middle relievers to big contracts, one that Hendry has already been burned on a few times. Hendry claimed to have an eye for defense this off-season, but once again Iím not sure if he did much to improve upon that aspect of our game. And he did nothing to improve on one of our biggest problem's; woeful team OBP. Heíll have to hope that Hairston/Walker, Murton, Pierre and Jones play at the apex of their potential while Lee and Ramirez continue to play at theirs. To give it a grade, C-. [AZ Phil] BULLPEN: Signing Dempster, Eyre, and Howry for three years is one year too long for each, but I will worry about that in 2008. I guess giving each of them three years is what Hendry felt he had to do to get then to sign (or re-sign) with the Cubs. Kerry Wood is the Cubs bullpen ace-in-the-hole, though. I would have no problem with Woody moving into the closer role mid-season if Dempster struggles. With a healthy(?) Kerry Wood as the closer, the Cubs bullpen would be the best in baseball, and it's already very good. BENCH: I like bench guys who are good pinch-hitters, so I would have preferred the Cubs sign Mark Sweeney, Wes Helms, and/or Robert Fick over John Mabry. RIGHT-FIELD: I am not a Jacque Jones fan. I would have preferred the Cubs go hard after Brian Giles instead. There weren't a lot of options here. LEAD-OFF HITTER: Rafael Furcal would have been one-stop shopping (SS and lead-off hitter in one player). I guess Pierre is an OK fall-back lead-off hitter, and I like Ronny Cedeno as a SS, but I would have MUCH prefered Furcal.