Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Chief's blog

Reader Blog: Blowing up the 2010 Chicago Cubs and Building the 2011 Chicago Cubs.

Since the destruction of the 2010
Chicago Cubs is imminent, I figured I'd go through and see who I
would and wouldn't want out of this organization if it were me,
starting from the top.

Jim Hendry Must Go. The man has an
inability to spend money the right way. Sure, he's pulled off some
monster trades (Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez and Kenny Lofton, Rich
Harden) and he's had his fair share of great free agent signings
(Reed Johnson, Ted Lilly) But the vast majority of his signings and
extensions have left the team severely handicapped. In short, The
Chicago Cubs will NOT win a World Series under Hendry, and that's the
goal, isn't it?

The Replacement: I don't claim to know
a lot of front office guys in the MLB, but if it were my decision,
it'd make sense to draw guys from the organizations that build teams
the right way and are regularly competitive (Boston, either LA team,

Lou Piniella is an old man. He doesn't
want to be in Chicago, he wants to be in Tampa with his grandkids. He
needs to be replaced immediately. His coaching staff, on the other
hand, is something I'd keep intact. Larry Rothschild and Lester
Strode can stay, as can Mike Quade, Ivan DeJesus, Alan Trammel and
Rudy Jaramillo. However, to me, Matt Sinatro seems more like
Piniella's little helper than a real coach, so I say he needs to exit
as well.

The Replacement: Bob Brenly is probably
my favorite candidate, as I get to listen to his opinions on the team
most days. Steve Stone could be an interesting choice. Bobby
Valentine isn't really doing much and he could be a good option.

Tim Wilken isn't going anywhere. After
all, under him, the Cubs have developed a wealth of young talent
(Starlin Castro, Andrew Cashner, Tyler Colvin) and the farm system
still has a decent amount to offer (Jay Jackson, possibly Darwin
Barney). Wilken has earned his pay, and there is no reason for him to
be fired

And now, to the roster

The Starting rotation needs to be blown
up. Zambrano needs to be put on waivers or traded. Lilly needs to be
shipped to Minnesota or somewhere. Wells needs to go back to Triple
A. And the Cubs need to sign Cliff Lee to be the Ace of the
Rotation. Jay Jackson is called up to start and Tom Gorzelanny is
used in the rotation. When everything is said and done, my rotation
reads Lee-Dempster-Silva-Gorzelanny-Jackson.

The relief corps was criticized early
in the season as the reason the Chicago Cubs had done so poorly.
However, don't look now, but which Chicago team's bullpen has an ERA
of 2.80 in June. Carlos Marmol, Andrew Cashner and Sean Marshall
shouldn't be going anywhere. All three are young guys who have really
excelled in their roles. Jeff Stevens has proven that he has the
ability to be a solid middle reliever for years to come. However that
leaves four spots open. Bob Howry is an old man and John Grabow can't
throw strikes on a regular enough basis to deserve his spot, but our
good buddy Jim Hendry decided to give him a pretty hefty contract,
basically forcing him onto the 2011 roster barring an injury. Those
five, Marmol, Cashner, Marshall, Stevens and Grabow are fairly solid
pieces in the pen. However, the other two spots can be fairly fluid
in 2011. John Gaub, James Russell and Blake Parker are all
interesting options and Jeff Samardzija is having a nice year in
Iowa, so he may finally be able to pull it all together and finally
be an effective major league pitcher again.

Onto the Position players, first
striking at catchers. There really isn't much to say about the Cubs'
catchers. Geovany Soto has largely done his job this year, and Koyie
Hill is an adequate back-up. If either goes down, Wellington Castillo
also has the ability to be a quality backstop.

First base is the most interesting
issue for the Cubs. Derrek Lee should not be re-signed. There are two
angles to go with this problem. The Cubs could sign Carlos Pena to
mash homers for them after this season, or they could sign a stopgap
for 2011 and wait until next year to sign a big first baseman. Prince
Fielder, Adrian Gonzalez and Albert Pujols are all available after
the 2011 season. Pujols probably won't hit free agency, but the other
three likely will. Personally, I'd like to see Pena in a Cubs

Second Base is arguably the biggest
dilemma. O-Dog and Felipe Lopez are available, But I'd personally
like to see the Cubs inquire upon the availability of Chone Figgins,
Jose Lopez, Aaron Hill or Dan Uggla. I personally like Figgins
because he fills the leadoff void which desperately needs to be
filled on the North Side, and he's underperformed exponentially in
regard to his contract, so Chicago may be able to pull off another
swap of bad contracts with the M's. Perhaps the M's are somewhat
interested in Fukudome?

Third Base is pretty obvious. Ramirez
isn't going anywhere after this year, and if he performs in 2011, he
isn't going anywhere until after 2012. Likewise with Shortstop and
Left Field, Starlin Castro and Alfonso Soriano are stationary, albeit
for different reasons.

A lot of people have been impressed
with Marlon Byrd's hustle and hitting prowess this year. However,
it's no secret that one always needs to sell high. Assuming Brett
Jackson is ready or close to being ready at the end of the year, I'd
trade Byrd during the offseason and install Jackson as the starting
centerfielder. If not, I keep Byrd until Jackson is ready.

Finally, Tyler Colvin has more than
proven that he can hit major league pitching. The kid has earned his
right to play, and it's the job of the manager, whether it be Lou
Piniella or anyone else, to give him the playing time he deserves.
Fukudome needs to be traded. The Red Sox are rumored to be looking
for a defensive out fielder, and eating half the money on Fuke's
contract could possibly get him to Boston for a half-way decent minor

On the bench, I like Hill or Castillo,
along with Ryan Theriot and Jeff Baker. Sam Fuld would be my fourth
outfielder, and I'd sign someone like Mike Jacobs as a backup first
baseman. He's got a fairly decent glove and massive pop in his bat.
Perfect as a guy to come off the bench and pinch hit.

In conclusion, I leave you, the
GoatReaders with how I'd love to see this roster built for the 2010
season. I personally doubt that any of the deals I'd make are deals
that Hendry or his successor would attempt to make, but regardless, I
think that the team I propose here could win.

Subtracting the Money owed to Derrek
Lee, Ted Lilly and Carlos Zambrano and perhaps half the money owed to
Fukudome (as we can't expect anyone to want to trade for the WHOLE
contract), and adding a 20 million per year contract for Cliff Lee, a
15 Million per year contract for Carlos Pena and the 9 Million per
year contract for Chone Figgins, the Cubs spend roughly 7-8 Million
less in 2011 according to my plan that they do in 2010 before
arbitration raises.

Starting Lineup

2B – Chone Figgins

CF – Brett Jackson/Marlon Byrd

3B – Aramis Ramirez

1B – Carlos Pena

RF – Tyler Colvin

LF – Alfonso Soriano

C – Geovany Soto

SS – Starlin Castro

Rotation: Lee, Dempster, Silva,
Gorzelanny, Jackson

Bullpen: Marmol – C, Marshall,
Cashner, Stevens, Grabow, Gaub, Gray/Samardzija/Parker

Bench: Hill/Castillo, Ryan Theriot, Sam
Fuld, Jeff Baker, Mike Jacobs

Reader's Blog: The Bullpen

It's no secret that the Cubs' bullpen is hurt. Their biggest need is for someone other than Marshall to step up in the 7-8th innings. Prefferably a right hander. So lets see if we can find some of the late inning right handers for Big Jim Hendry to target.

  • Jason Frasor's name has been floated around for a while. However, he's not going to be on the trading block until the Jays fall out of competition. Some of us are wary about Frasor's rather large numbers, especially the 4.74 ERA. This is, however, not as huge deal as it would seem in my opinion. After a dismal April to the tune of an 8.38 ERA, Frasor has buckled down in May to wonderful ERA just under one.
  • JJ Putz is currently laboring on the South Side of Chicago. He currently has an ERA just under four, which is nice, but one also has to keep in Mind that Putz pitches in an extremely hitter friendly park. A move to Wrigley could potentially drop his ERA a bit further.
  • I personally hate Bobby Jenks. But I think he could be a huge help to the bullpen on the North Side. Jenks sports an ERA of 4.20, but that is a bit misleading. They must be playing some awfully bad defense on the South Side, because Jenks BABIP is at an astronomical .460. Thus, expect Jenks to improve quite a bit, especially with a move out of The Cell
  • Chad Qualls, like Jenks, has been suffering from a case of Bad luck. A BABIP of .457 simply will not last in this game. Expect Qualls to return to his usual self. In fact, he could be even better if his K/9 rating continues to stay so high (10.34) in comparison to his career norms (8.43)
  • I had heard rumblings about other players such as the Padres' duo of Mike Adams and Luke Gregerson, but unless the Friars start dropping games left and right, I wouldn't expect these two to be traded.

Reader Blog: Why do we have human Umpires?

I'm sure everyone remembers last year's World Series. We had a slew of terrible calls. So why do we have Umpires. Last Night, in the Yanks-Sawx game, I saw at least two errors at first base. And now we're all up in arms about the Terrible Call du Jour, Marlon Byrd's single which was "caught" by Nat McClouth.

So, I pose the question to you, Cubs Fan Nation, why do we rely almost entirely on humans, who as we all know are terrible inefficient, when there are other, much better option available?

There is absolutely no reason that managers shouldn't be able to challenge plays. Having this opportunity would make the game that much better. People say that Baseball is a game in which tradition should take a driver's seat. This is, of course, completely ridiculous, as it is no longer the year 1908, and the technology of Instant replay can easily be melded with the tradition of a Human Umpire. We would just be simply unprepared to be simply bound only to one of the two.

So, Goat Readers, which would you choose?

My Project

I'd like to preface this by saying that this has little to nothing to do with the Cubs. If you're looking for a hardcore description of why I think Derrek Lee isn't over the hill yet, but that he can give the cubs 30 dingers, you're out of luck. This is, instead, a description of a project I began to undertake last October. <br> I want to visit every ballpark in the Majors. Generally, I take a picture at the ballpark, which I follow up by exploring the city.You may be asking yourself right now "Why is he telling us this?"<br><br> Simple, When I get to a new place that I've never seen before, I haven't the foggiest of what to do there. I'd love it if the various GoatReaders (And the Goat Riders if they can) to let me know what fun things there are to do in a city. If you've been there, please comment and let me know a nice restaraunt or a really cool thing to see.<br><br> I've been to Both Chicago parks, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Detroit, Kansas City, San Diego, San Francisco and Oakland. I'm also going to Boston in July. Please, if you can think of something, let me know

The Bullpen

UPDATE: I was really busy today with school, so this is the first time I looked at the site today. Chief gave us this post today, so with all the other Goats out today it seems, except AJ. I'm going to move this to front for discussion. There will be more content tomorrow as the series gets started with the Cardinals.
I'd like to preface this post by saying that while I've been a longtime GoatReader, this is my first article.

Let's face it, the Offense is finally into 2009, and the Starting Rotation has always been here. However, the 2009 Cubs lack one major detail: their bullpen. I'd like to take the time to examine each arm currently there first.

  • Carlos Marmol has been excellent, as has Angel Guzman. Neither has been brought into question this year, and rightfully so. They've done their job.
  • Kevin Gregg has been shaky at times, but we need to face the fact: Lou trusts him, and he's not going anywhere. Many think he's done and was a waste of a high level prospect, but he's only had a handful of bad outings, but they've been terrible when he's had them.
  • Aaron Heilman was spot on for a while, and lately he's been dreadful, but I think the real Heilman falls somewhere in between. He's a keep, and much better than his 4.86 ERA shows.
  • Jose Ascanio was acquired a few years ago in the Will Ohman Trade, and so far, he's been a pleasant surprise, but two innings can only say so much about a guy.
  • The Elephant in the room is obviously the Dreadful Duet of David Patton and Neal Cotts. Neither is particularly useful, and I personally think Patton is NOT one of those recent Rule V Draft picks that will revolutionize basebal(Josh Hamilton, Joakim Soria).

So that begs the question, for those two spots, Cotts and Patton, What do we do? We have a few options in our Minor League System.

  • Greg Reinhard is a righty in AAA who has been off the charts against lefties, who holds lefties to a .69 BA (Righties hit 3.11)
  • Jeff Steven has also been fantastic, who, before tonight, has let up only one run. He currently holds all batters to a .143 BA, with only a marginal advantage against lefties.
  • There are, of course, other options such as Mitch Atkins or Jeff Samardzija, but in my opinion, neither has performed well enough at the level they're at to be called up to the big leagues.

Or we could trade for relievers. John Grabow has been rumored to be available, and although he's not exactly a LOOGY, Lou has never really seemed impressed with LOOGY's(Stevie Eyre). Danys Baez has also been great this year, and he's also rumored to be available.

Whatever happens, the Cubs should win upwards of ninety games this year, especially if they acquire a guy like Jake Peavy.

Chicago Tribune's Chicago's Best Blogs award