Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Have the Cubs shot their budget?

Goat Friend Paul Sullivan had an interesting article this morning, detailing how the Cubs may shoot their budgetary wad on pending free agents Kerry Wood and Ryan Dempster.  Wait, you mean that the gravy train isn't infinite in length?

This actually conflicts a bit with other reports that state the Cubs may expand the payroll to $150 million, but it's pretty much a yearly story that comes out at around this time.  In fact, for those of you who've never caught on, your annual Tribune story cycle runs like this:

Early October: Good news!  The Cubs might spend THIS MUCH MONEY this off season!

Mid-Late October: Well, maybe they won't have that much money to spend . . .

Early November (the past 2 years, anyway): Holy shiz-it, the Cubs are going after Superstar Free Agent Guy!

Mid November: Have the Cubs finished their major acquisitions?

It's the same news cycle every winter.  But I think that Sullivan's speculation that Hendry and the Cubs won't be making waves is just that - speculation.  However, I will submit to you one thought:

The Cubs can pretty much keep the offense they have, and they'll compete.  Point of fact, they don't need to upgrade to reach the playoffs, but certainly we have to hope that they will if we want to see them burst through the post season and win, at long last, a World Series.  More to the point, there really aren't any easy upgrades out there.  Players like Adam Dunn are overrated and don't fit into the Cubs plans defensively.  In reality, the one guy I'd love to see the Cubs break the bank to acquire is Jake Peavy, who is a bargain at 10 million a year.  For that kind of money, it's worth going over-budget.

So, it remains to be seen what Hendry and the Cubs will do to improve, if anything.  Perhaps we should be happy if they manage to keep Dempster and Wood, which I expect is likely to happen.

Did you see

the SI.com rumor that the Cubs are going to go for Peavy with a package deal of prospects and Fukudome(because San Diego was one of the teams that tried to sign him). The article came from the Trib, my guess it was Phil Rogers, he is the only idiot with logic that bad. That's like saying the Cubs are going to try and pick up Tom Selleck because he once took batting practice with the club when Mr. Baseball came out. I love this time of year, the unintentional comedy of the writers as they guess free agent moves, payroll, trade rumors. Maybe they should just stick to writng about the local Bridge club. I also love the different comment sections that get stuff like, "we should trade Cedeno, Chad Fox and a couple of AA guys for A Rod and Manny Ramirez. That stuff kills me. Like I said, I love tthis time of year.

Peavy

I heard something more reasonable such as involving a third team and packaging Lee. I nearly believed what you said until the name Fukudome came up.

A month on

the disabled list because of elbow soreness? Peavy is a gamble but with Harden's uncertainty it's a disastrous move.

The rotation was not the problem. Most everyone is in favor of unloading Fukudome but swaping salaries of Peavy and Fukudome doesn't free up any money to secure other FA's.

Even with Dempster's playoff performance considered, unless you had hard evidence that Peavy's elbow was sound, and that's questionable with the Cubs history of medical evaluation, you'd really be rolling the dice.

Speaking of San Diego, they have a 38 year old RF who is a free agent. Before you laugh your ass off consider this 2008 stat line for B. Giles in a less than hitter friendly ballpark...559AB 12HR 87BB 52SO 306BA 398OBP 456SLG with career 294BA 404OBP 511SLG If the Cubs sign Giles you still might be able to trade Fukudome to the Padres and if not, platoon the twirly bird with Johnson in CF.

You can't tell me that Marquis wouldn't be of some interest to the Yankees, and who cares if the Cubs eat some of his salary with Marshall costing nothing to replace him. You's still clear around $5M in salary to help offset the increase due to resigning Dempster. Abreu is a FA and is 35. If the Cubs sign him could the Yankees be interested in Fukudome?

If the Angels don't resign Teixeira, they might be willing to trade for Lee and that would clear salary room for a guy like Furcal.

I know it's all mental masturbation at this point but Hendry is actually going to have to do his job this offseason and be open to any and all possibilities to improve this offense and get a leadoff hitter and a couple more LHB. Not to mention find the money to sign a quality FA LHRP like Colorado's Fuentes.

Nothing wrong

with Giles. My point is that San Diego is not going to trade Peavy for Fukudome and some prospects. Even though he is coming off an injury, the Padres are going to demand a crap load for him. Not worth it in my eyes. Whenever I read about a possible trade that is extremely favorable for one side, it always starts with "In a perfect world..." But sadly it's not so let's stick to more realistic scenerios. Or, we could just wait till an actual deal happens then destroy the hell out of it. My guess is we keep Lee, Demp, Woody, add finally land Brian Roberts. Hoff will replace Ward on the bench. That's it. Would I like more, of course. But that's realistic. Keep the expectations low and you'll get more satisfaction if bigger moves happen.

Cubs 2009 Payroll

I had a look at the Cubs' contract info at Cot's Baseball Contracts (mlbcontracts.blogspot.com). By my reckoning, the Cubs will be giving around $27.1M in raises to players who are under contract for next year. Most of those players either have no trade contracts (e.g., Carlos Zambrano, Alfonso Soriano, Kosuke Fukudome) or are guys you wouldn't want to trade (e.g., Mark DeRosa, Ted Lilly). Jason Marquis doesn't fit into either of those categories, but would you take him in a trade?

In addition, the Cubs have five arbitration eligible players (Ronny Cedeno, Neil Cotts, Chad Gaudin, Reed Johnson, and Michael Wuertz) who will likely be getting at least modest raises. Let's arbitrarily assume that everyone gets, on average, a 20% raise. The Cubs actually paid only about half of Gaudin's salary this year, since he was a mid-season acquisition, so for budget purposes, his increase would be larger. That's about $1.9M in additional salary.

I also expect Ryan Dempster and Kerry Wood to be re-signed and given raises. We don't know how much Dempster and Wood will get, but for what it's worth, Tim Dierkes at mlbtraderumors.com estimates that Wood will get about $10M (about a 2.35M raise, factoring in bonus money he earned this year) and Dempster will get about $14M (about an $8.5M raise). So that's about $10.85M total in raises.

On the other side of the equation, the Cubs will shed somewhere in the neighborhood of $9.4M by saying goodbye to Bob Howry, Jon Lieber, Daryl Ward, Jim Edmonds, and Chad Fox.

So with no major new acquisitions, the payroll will go up by just over $30M. Now Hendry might get creative with trades, and even guys with NTC's can waive them, but still, it's hard to see how the Cubs make any big headline-making deals this offseason. I expect tweaks. They're on record as saying they want a LH bat, but I just don't see them getting a big name to fill this role. They might also get a middle reliever to replace Howry, but those guys are never big names. I expect a relatively quiet offseason, and a 2009 roster that doesn't look a great deal different than the 2008 roster.

Chicago Tribune's Chicago's Best Blogs award