Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Colin Wyers's blog

2009 Community Projections, Hitters Edition

As we start to approach spring training, it's time to look forward and see what the 2009 squad is going to look like.

As part of a community project from Beyond the Boxscore, I'm working on doing a set of community projections for the Cubs in 2009. And I could use your help. How? Glad you asked! Use this simple web form to make projections for individual players.

Some simple instructions, to get you started:

  • Fields with an asterisk are required; fields without an asterisk are not.
  • Only project as many players as you are confident in.
  • You do not have to look at any computer-based projection systems before hand. We are deliberately seeking human input here.
  • Remember that these are median forecasts - we're projecting the most likely estimate here, where the truth is likely to hover around that.
  • These forecasts are for a player's time as a Cub only - if you anticipate a player being traded away before the season starts, just put a 0 into everything.

I have solicited other Cubs blogs to participate as well. Under the referrer's box, please remember to indicate that you are voting from the Goatriders website. At the end of the project, I hope to tabulate the results based upon what blog they came from - a chance to see what blog's readers are truly the best and brightest. (Or the luckiest. Luck could certainly be involved.) So if you find deep meaning from the choice of Cubs blog you frequent the most, go out there and win one for the Gipper. Or something.

And thank all of you in advance for your time.

On the off chance that three trade rumor posts a day aren't enough...

Here's the latest.

Robothal:

In the first big showdown of the offseason, it's the Braves vs. the Cubs for Padres right-hander Jake Peavy.

Both teams continued to target Peavy as the general managers' meetings concluded Thursday, and the Padres' discussions with the Cubs could be expanded to include a third team, according to major-league sources.

...

The details of the Cubs' proposal are not known and likely are fluid. The Padres could spin one or more of the players they would receive from the Cubs to get additional pieces from another team, sources said.

...

The Padres are seeking young pitching in any deal for Peavy, who has a full no-trade clause but has informed the club that he is willing to go one of five National League teams. The Yankees and Angels will become viable options only if the Padres fail to reach agreement with one of Peavy's preferred clubs, but such a scenario appears unlikely.

Peavy almost certainly would require some type of inducement to approve any deal. At minimum, he probably would ask for a full no-trade clause for the rest of his contract. He also could ask for a team to guarantee his $22 million option for 2013, or provide some other type of compensation. Padres general manager Kevin Towers said Wednesday that Peavy has established different criteria for different teams.

The Braves are not going to trade their top pitching prospect for Peavy. The Padres desire young pitching.

More from Towers:

He said that the Jake Peavy trade talks have progressed to a point where the pitcher has been told he’s going to be traded, it’s just a matter of when a deal is struck.

“That train has left the station,” Tower said.

Towers also revealed that he is dealing with three teams, all in the National League. He mentioned the possibility of Peavy moving as part of a multi-team trade.

The Padres are known to be dealing with the Braves and Cubs. The third team could be the Cardinals or Astros. The Yankees are not in the mix.

"It’s been narrowed down for quite a while and there have been no additions,” Towers said.

For those of you wondering how or why a Peavy deal is going down, this should clarify some things:

Padres CEO Sandy Alderson reiterated Wednesday that the payroll hasn't been set for 2009, but Alderson did not dismiss the possibility that it could be near $40 million, the ballpark figure players told The San Diego Union-Tribune in August.

“We've discussed everything from something in that range to something higher,” Alderson said.

The club opened last season with a $73 million payroll.

Ace pitcher Jake Peavy, the subject of recent trade talks with the Braves, Cubs and Dodgers, is guaranteed an $11 million salary for 2009. That would chew up nearly 30 percent of a $40 million payroll. Peavy's salary will jump to $15 million in 2010.

Cutting Peavy would go a long way toward getting those salary figures down. Another $6.5 million could be cleared by trading shortstop Khalil Greene. There has been some chatter about Greene being packaged with Peavy, although apparently the Braves aren't interested.

Padres AGM Paul Depodesta blogs about trade rumors, obviously not saying much concrete about Peavy's situation.

What's that, Lassie? Timmy's stuck in the rumor mill?

Maybe the Cubs won't have to go far to find a left-handed outfielder; the White Sox may be dealing Nick Swisher. I think that'd be a nice buy-low situation for the Cubs.

Oh, right, Jake Peavy. Here's the latest from the UT:

  • The Pads aren't looking to package Greene and Peavy; they probably will deal the shortstop seperately.
  • Padres GM Kevin Towers says he's "down the road" in trade talks for Peavy with two teams, presumably the Cubs and Braves. Nothing is expected to happen today, however.
  • Oh, and in case you were wondering: Hendry and Towers have now bowled together, in addition to playing golf.

Hendry talks about his plans:

"We're a long way from anybody having any idea what our club will be," Hendry said Tuesday at the GM meetings. "To talk about our own free agents or somebody else's isn't [productive].

"We'll do whatever we can to make the club better before spring training. It's a process when the free-agent [period] starts. You never know where it's going."

So Hendry must wait until Dempster and Wood can negotiate with other teams Nov. 13 to see what offers are made. And that could last well into December as players see what the market bears.

The Braves apparently are interested in Dempster as well. He's expected to stay in Chicago - reportedly there's an offer from the Cubs for three years, $36 million. If he signs for that, it's a real bargain. I don't know that he will.

Jake Peavy is dominating your rumor mill

Raul Ibanez rumors just won't die. Just say no to Raul Ibanez!

Jake Peavy rumors keep picking up steam:

As for Peavy, who has four years and at least $63 million left on his contract with San Diego, three teams are in the running now that the Padres have announced they would trade him for the right mix of young players. The teams are believed to be the Dodgers, Braves and Cubs, although it is doubtful Peavy would be traded within the West Division.

That leaves the Cubs and Braves. And one scout said the Cubs "don't have the talent it would take."

The Padres need a young starter in return, plus other young players as they reduce payroll. The Braves have better young pitching, especially considering Jeff Samardzija's deal with the Cubs includes a no-trade clause. A source said the Cubs were offering Ronny Cedeno, Felix Pie and others, but that could not be confirmed.

CBS Sportsline says to add Rich Hill to the list of players available. The Padres are trying to dump Khalil Greene and his salary, which explains the inclusion of Ronny Cedeno in rumors.

Pads GM says that Peavy has added two AL teams to his list; Peavy's agent says he hasn't.

Robothal says the Braves are still the frontrunners in the Peavy derby, while the Dodgers seem to have dropped out. He also says that either retaining or replacing Wood and Dempster could keep the Cubs from acquiring a guy like Bobby Abreu. Again, good! No Bobby Abreu!

Updating the mill

Here's the latest juicy rumors from around the Interwebs.

Fox Sports' nigh-omniscient Robothal says Dempster plans on testing free-agent waters:

Dempster, 31, plans to test the open market, major-league sources say. He filed for free agency on Friday, and does not intend to sign with the Cubs before their exclusive negotiating period with him expires on Nov. 13.

The prevailing assumption in baseball is that the Cubs will re-sign Dempster, a right-hander who went 17-6 with a 2.96 ERA last season while starting full-time for the first time since 2002.

Dempster's return, however, no longer is a given.

While the Cubs remain interested in retaining Dempster, an 11-year veteran, the pitcher first will entertain bids from other clubs. He conceivably could receive four-year offers on the open market, an important consideration if the Cubs only are willing to give him three.

He indicates this could step up the Cubs' interest in trading for Peavy, although it's unknown if the Cubs have the pieces necessary to make a Peavy trade and still complete the rest of their offseason agenda.

Chicago Cubs Online has secondhand rumors from ESPN 1000's Bruce Levine. The highlights:

  • Levine says that Theriot may not be the starter next year, specifically mentioning Rafael Furcal as the one-who-got-away. Furcal is not due any compensatory draft picks, not having enough playing time the past two seasons.
  • In line with what Rosenthal said, Dempster is looking for a 5 year deal, while the Cubs would like to stick to three years.
  • The Padres would like to complete a Peavy deal sooner rather than later. A package would probably have to start with Cedeno, Pie and Marshall, expanding to include some other prospects. (I don't know about that, that's just what Levine says.)

As for the Peavy deal, I'd expect to have a good reading on where that's headed when the GM meetings roll around next week; on the other hand, Dempster isn't expected to sign during his exlusive negotiating window (now until November 13th), so the Cubs may have to act on this before they know whether or not Dempster will be retained.

ESPN's Buster Olney says that Edmonds plans to play next year. The Cubs have already publicly committed to playing Fukudome and Johnson in center field next year, so he'll probably move on to another team.

2009 Projections

If you're looking toward next year, projections are starting to become available.

Dan Syzmborski's ZiPS projections for the Cubs are available, and I must say I really dig the presentation.

Rally hasn't gotten his CHONE projections for hitters and pitchers out yet, but his defensive projections are available.

SG's CAIRO projections are out, which include defensive projections based upon STATS ZR as well.

Tom Tango hasn't published his Marcels yet, but I've published my reimplementation of the Marcels.

The Official Goatriders Policy On Ken Griffey Jr.

I would appologize for hijacking this blog and the voices of the other Riders for this purpose, except for the fact that this is quite possibly the most important issue facing our great nation, and swift and resolute action is required here. Too many lives have been lost already to allow this to continue any further.

And by "this" I of course mean Ken Griffey Junior's continued employment as a baseball player.

Just so's there's no confusion on the issue, I am going to present you with a list of people who would be better right fielders (taking into account hitting, defense and baserunning) than Ken Griffey, Jr. for the Cubs in 2009:

  • Kosuke Fukudome
  • Mark DeRosa
  • Micah Hoffpauir
  • Jim Edmonds
  • Ryan Theriot
  • Sam Fuld
  • Josh Kroeger
  • Manny Ramirez
  • Adam Dunn
  • Juan Pierre
  • Gary Matthews, Jr.
  • Gabe Kapler
  • Brad Wilkerson
  • Emil Brown
  • Milton Bradley
  • Willie Bloomquist
  • Jerry Hairston, Jr.
  • Mark Kotsay
  • Corey Patterson
  • Scott Podsednik
  • Moises Alou
  • Garrett Anderson
  • Pat Burrell
  • Cliff Floyd
  • Luis Gonzales
  • Raul Ibanez
  • Kevin Mench
  • Craig Monroe
  • Jay Payton
  • Juan Rivera
  • Jason Michaels
  • Coco Crisp
  • So Taguchi
  • Craig Counsell
  • Lou Piniella
  • Matt Sinatro
  • Jim Hendry
  • Air Bud

This list should not be considered to be all-inclusive.

Kicking off the hot stove

Okay, folks, here’s everything I know that’s worth knowing as we move into the official start of the offseason.

Ken Rosenthal says the Padres are going to explore trading Peavy to the Cubs:

After failing to strike a deal with the Braves — at least for the moment — the Padres intend to explore deals with two other clubs on Peavy's preferred list, the Cubs and Dodgers.

Peavy has the right to veto any trade. The Astros, another National League team he likes, have too little to offer the Padres. The Cardinals, the final team on his list, are not expected to make a bid.

The Peavy discussions will resume next week at the general managers' meetings in Dana Point, Ca. The Cubs have long had interest in Peavy, but do not have quality young pitching to send the Padres. However, their interest could grow if they fear losing right-hander Ryan Dempster, who filed for free agency on Thursday but is still expected to re-sign with the club.

I don’t see the Cubs acquiring Peavy and retaining Dempster, so this probably depends on what teams are willing to offer Dempster and what he wants.

Lou Piniella doesn’t expect the Cubs to continue the spending sprees from the past few offseasons:

Piniella said the Cubs' main agenda these next few weeks will be to re-sign pending free agents Ryan Dempster and Kerry Wood and explore trade options for lefthanded hitting and bullpen help. He also said he plans to move Kosuke Fukudome, the Cubs' $48 million Japanese import whose second-half slump exasperated the manager, to center field as part of a platoon with Reed Johnson.

"We don't know if the team is going to get sold this winter," Piniella said, "and I don't see us getting into any big spending in the free agent market. We need to get more athletic and younger and we're probably going to have to fill our needs through trades."

I've been advocating moving Dome to center. Not that I think Lou goes, "Hey, that guy on Goatriders thinks Dome would work out in center. Let's try that next year, shall we?" But hey.

Bruce Miles wants to remind Cubs fans that our best players aren’t trade bait:

First, the Cubs aren't trading third baseman Aramis Ramirez. Yes, he's had two bad playoffs, but he's on his way to becoming the most productive third baseman in team history. During the season, a lot of people were singing his praises as the Cubs' most "clutch" perrformer after some late-inning heroics. Ramirez also has no-trade protection in his contract.

Speaking of no-trade clauses, the same thing applies to first baseman Derrek Lee, whom everybody wants to deal this winter. I got news for you _ the Cubs aren't trading Lee, who took a lesser deal to stay with the Cubs a couple years ago in exchange for that no-trade clause.

Put the above together, and what does it say for the super-cool scenario you just posted on your blog where Lee and Cedeno are traded to the Orioles for Brian Roberts, and then the Cubs sign Teixera?

I’d say forget about it.

And you’ll be hearing about this, so I’ll mention it: some Cubs have filed for free agency, specifically Ryan Dempster,  Jim Edmonds, Chad Fox (no, really!) and Bob Howry. Remember, players have until the 13th of November to file, and until that point their current club has exclusive negotiating rights.

A quick look at momentum

In the comments of an earlier post, it was brought up (I forget by who) that momentum going into the playoffs - specifically, a winning record in September - translated into winning in the playoffs. So I decided to test this.

Fair warning: this is not a detailed study. This is the simplified study that it took me 30 minutes to do. I took a quick look at playoff series from 1995 to 2007, essentially the Wild Card era.

First, let's look at the correlation. The correlation between a team's win-loss record has a .38 correlation with their postseason win-loss record. So, not terribly strong, but certainly notable. A correlation between a team's W-L record in September and their W-L record in the postseason? -0.02. In other words, basically meaningless.

Now, to the head to head record. The team with the best regular season W-L record won each series 61% of the time. The team with the best September W-L record won each series 39% of the time.

Just so's I'm clear, here is what I am saying:

  • Momentum is not a very good predictor of playoff success.
  • The best teams in the regular season tend to be the teams to win in the playoffs.

I am not claiming that there is no benefit whatsoever from momentum; that study would require more detail than what I am showing here. But if there is an effect from momentum, it is probably a very tiny effect, sort of like the difference between letting Jason Marquis hit and letting Casey McGehee hit (who is now the Brewers' problem, by the way). Certainly it's better to win ballgames in September than to lose them - hell, I advocate winning all 162 of them if at all possible. I am 100% behind the idea of winning as many ballgames as is humanly possible.

But I don't think there's any reason to think that momentum is the reason the Cubs lost in the playoffs this year, or that getting momentum next season would greatly improve the Cubs' chances.

Hendry speaks

Now that Hendry’s extension is out of the way, he’s started to talk about the direction the Cubs are headed in this offseason. The interesting thing is that the storyline is shaping up to be Dempster stays, and Wood goes.

From Bruce Miles:

"I had a lot of talks with Ryan - not dollars and cents talks - during the season," Hendry said. "Ryan knows we want him to stay here. He's never expressed a desire that he wanted to leave. We have not had formal conversations yet. But I expect to speak with Ryan's agent and Ryan himself, possibly, in the next week or so."

And Carrie Muskat:

"Ryan knows we want him to stay here, and he's never expressed a desire that he wants to leave," Hendry said Monday. "Certainly, the year he had and type of clubhouse presence he is and total team guy, we certainly have every intention of trying to keep Ryan."

Now, here’s what he says about Wood:

"We're going to get our plan together, and we'll try to move forward with what we think is best for the organization," Hendry said. "Kerry has done a terrific job in the closing role. But at the same time, there's a lot of conversations that have to happen with his representatives and him as to what his desires are and what type of contract he's looking for."

The tenor there seems different. Keep in mind that Wood is probably the consolation prize for whoever wins loses the K-Rod Derby – it’s a thin crop at closer this offseason, especially if Hoffman gets retained by the Padres and the Brewers exercise their option on Salomon Torres. There’s nothing the hot stove loves to do more than shower stupid money on relief pitching. Especially for guys who are “proven closers.”

Also, Kremlinologists among you can have fun parsing this statement about Felix Pie:

"We feel Felix is going to be a good player," Hendry said. "You're talking about a 23-year-old kid. He'll be an out-of-options player. Without any kind of injury or significant change, he'll have a very good chance to make the ballclub out of Spring Training."

Of course, I’m glad that Hendry isn’t simply looking at this as a way to fix the team’s October “problem”:

"I don't know how you differentiate between you build a team for April to September and then you try to build something different for October," Hendry said. "We had as good a team as there was in the National League. We had the best record. We just played bad baseball for three days. We stunk last year against the Diamondbacks. We're all going to put our heads together and see if there are other ways we think we can improve the club. All you do is try to get in every year and keep working on trying to get better once you get in there to accomplish that goal. There's a whole history in professional sports of clubs that kept getting close and kept getting close and finally they knocked that door in. That's what we're going to continue to try to do."

Your milage may vary.

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