Goatriders of the Apocalypse

The continuing debate on Mike Fontenot

Poor Mike Fontenot.  All the little guy ever did was hit the ball - well, except for a couple of months in 2007.  But even as Mark DeRosa has been dealt, second base has remained the prime position that fans would like to see upgraded, even over the lesser-than-adequate offensive stylings of Fontenot's Cajun partner in crime Ryan Theriot.

Anyway, at this point I really think that Fontenot should get a chance to fail, and I've got a whole bunch of reasons.  In no particular order ...

  • In 479 career at bats, Fontenot is a .290 hitter with an OBP of .369 and an OPS of .826.  He's hit 34 doubles, 5 triples, 12 homers, and driven in 69 RBI in that time span.  For whatever reason, some people will argue that it doesn't mean much because Fontenot has had his success as a backup - ie he hasn't seen regular play.  This really flies in the face of what we've seen from baseball.  It's actually a lot harder to consistently hit the ball while not starting regularly. 

    Put it to you this way ... Fontenot had 243 at bats last year.  Of all the major leaguers to have between 200 and 300 at bats, do you know how many had a better OPS than the Font?  One. Mike Napoli.

  • Projections are not the end-all be-all, but if they weren't usually accurate then they'd stop making them.  I've always argued that the problem with projections is that they can't take into account the career year or the bust year.  (How many statisticians thought Andruw Jones would evaporate like he did?)  But for whatever it's worth, Fontenot is projected by 4 different experts to have an OPS of .768 or better, with 2 of the 4 projecting that his OPS will be better than .810. 

    They also anticipate that he'll match or surpass his career average for homeruns (between 12-15) and he should have an OBP anywhere between .342 and .363.  In other words, everybody seems to think he'll be successful, or at the very least slightly above average for a second baseman.

  • Age.  Fontenot is playing in what is typically perceived to be the prime of his career.  Who knows, he might be out of baseball in 5 years, but right now if he's going to have an outstanding season he's in the right time frame for it to happen.
  • Need.  The Cubs have one of the most complete lineups of our lifetimes.  Top to bottom they have good hitters and threaten the opposition with hitters 1-8 (or 9 on days Carlos pitches).  The team does not need to try to upgrade at second base, be it Orlando Hudson or Brian Roberts.  They have the ability to sit back, play, and determine that way their exact needs as the 2009 season progresses.  Maybe they'll discover in June that Theriot's numbers were a fluke last year.  Maybe they'll realize that they need another starter, or a few more middle relievers.  Maybe they'll have momentum from Game 1 to game 162. 

    The point is, they are in a position of strength and that allows them to allow a few questions the time to answer themselves, rather than to ppreemptively answer them in order to avoid a potential catastrophe.  Maybe Fontenot won't be able to put up good numbers as a starter, but even if he doesn't the Cubs will still have one of the best offenses in the NL in 2009.  They will also have the ability to swing a trade for a different second baseman in July - maybe even for Orlando Hudson, wherever he winds up.

Anyway, I have rarely felt so happy with a Cubs team as I do with the '09 model.  Really the one player I think might be the "weak link" is Theriot, but even he should be capable of doing his job effectively in '09.

Regardless, the Cubs look to be moving for more relief help if anything, and the rumors about acquiring Orlando Hudson have been discounted, at least for now.  Fontenot has earned his chance.  I for one can't wait to see what he'll be able to accomplish.

Reason #5: Ron Santo calls

Reason #5: Ron Santo calls him Little Babe Ruth.

I think theriot will

I think theriot will continue to be one of the most consistent hitters on the team, and I think fontenot will shine this year with extended playing time. Miles will spend a lot of time keeping hoff company on the bench. But hey I'm an optimist.

deja doo doo

The Cubs had a formidable OF all last year...until the playoffs. Fonty was just one of the Cubs who folded in the playoffs. I believe he is the least of the Cubs' worries. Debate would be better served as to when Z will throw another hissy and deck a teamate, how the Cubs will pitch, and whether or not they have adjusted their gonads to emerge victorious in any sort of playoff situation.

Just a point of order ...

Just a point of order ... Fontenot didn't get much play last October, but he went 2 for 6 (.333) in limited at bats.

I'm glad to see...

I'm glad to see this post because I really do believe that he has earned the chance to play everyday. Everyone was crying when DeRo got traded and I was a little sad to see him go, but like I said a few weeks ago, Font is like a younger DeRo without the ability to play all over. He is very similar offensively and I do not think that it is a downgrade at all. The Cubs essentially had two of the exact same players offensively in DeRo and Font and did what they should: traded away the one that could net them the most in return. Fontenot will have a good season and by this time next year, no one will even question whether or not he should be starting. That's my prediction...

DeRosa's actually not a plus

DeRosa's actually not a plus glove at 2B, which is why he's used as a utility player--serviceable all over the place, but not particularly great at any one position.

Yes, the sample size is small, but it looks like Fontenot's glove might actually be an asset.

Again I am not anti-Mike

Again I am not anti-Mike Fontenot. I think he will be a completely serviceable and a quality 2B in the league. The idea of signing Orlando Hudson is nothing personal against Font, its simply a way for the team to improve and add depth. The team simply needs more infield depth at this point in time, regardless of who it is coming in. I would take O-Dog even if Font beat him out for the everyday 2B job, because regardless of who plays second base everyday there will still be valuable playing time that needs to be filled. Aramis averages 140 or so games per season, Theriot is the neighborhood of 145+, and whichever player earns 2B will likely start in just about as many games or less than the other two. So at the bare minimum, a utility infielder is likely going to start in somewhere from 60-70+ games around the infield. It isn't so much about the numbers that are put up as it is about having the depth. Fontenot & Hudson are a much more formidable combination to start 2B and act as a utility infielder than any other combination presently on the team, especially when you're talking about a couple of guys that are likely to play in 200+ games combined. Adding depth has nothing to do with giving Fontenot his chance or taking it away from him, its about improving the team as a whole.

I definitely recognize that

I definitely recognize that you're not being a hater or anything like that. I just have to strongly question Hudson's ability to outperform Fontenot. both offensively AND defensively.

But let's say that he will. Let's say that over 550 at bats, Fontenot is a .275 hitter with 30 doubles, 5 triples, 10 homers, and an OBP of .340. Would you agree with me that, at the very least, it's likely he won't do WORSE than that?

Hudson's VERY best years have been the past 3 in which, projected to 550 at bats, he would have averaged the following: .294 AVG, 33 doubles, 8 triples, 12 homeruns, and an OBP of .366. And that average came from play in a hitter's park.

Here's my question for you. Remembering that Fontenot is very much so capable of putting up better numbers than the ones I suggested above, how much would an extra 3 doubles, 3 triples, 2 homers, and *maybe* 5-10 RBI and 5-10 runs scored be worth to you? Would it be worth the likely 4 to 5 million dollar difference in their contracts? And this isn't taking into consideration that the most detailed defensive measurement currently available tells us that Hudson is vastly overrated as a second baseman while we could begrudgingly call Fontenot a mystery.

What if, for that same money, the Cubs can dramatically upgrade in the bullpen or elsewhere? What if the extra money of Hudson's contract handcuffs the team's ability to make a big trade at the deadline?

Hudson's likely production does not justify paying or playing him over Fontenot's most *likely* "worst case scenario" production. All signing Hudson would do was ensure that a guy who very well may be The Better doesn't get as much playtime ... which hurts the Cubs. There are plenty of depth options still available that the Cubs can pursue.

I guess if I could conclude my take in a single sentence, it would be to say this: unless you can dramatically improve the team's daily production, it's probably not a good idea to drop so much cash on a free agent.

All valid points, but

All valid points, but neither of us know how much it will cost to sign Hudson nor do we know what to expect from Fontenot. Abreu just signed for $5M with a team that has plenty of money, so the market has fallen on the heads of those that are left. He can hit the ball, but has shown tendencies of being a streaky hitter. His defense is adequate while projection systems seem to love it. I told you I don't care if Fontenot beats out Hudson for the job, I'll still take him. Why wouldn't you pay Hudson 3-4 or even 5 million for one season when the team is already paying Reed Johnson 3, Kevin Gregg 4+, and Aaron Miles 2? Hudson at the price he signs for is going to be a steal, and a better bargain than any of the previously mentioned players above that the team already has signed. Like I said you add the depth and have that much better of a player to use in 60-75 or maybe even more games, whether the utility guy is Fontenot or Hudson. How doesn't that make the team better? The team has the luxury of putting that much better of a team on the field for 1/3 of their games, I don't know how that could hurt their chances. On day games after night games, long road trips, and an overall long season the team has more flexibility to work with on their roster and players can get more rest over 162 games - so the team can be stronger, deeper, and well rested going into game 163.

Well, I know I'm not going

Well, I know I'm not going to change your mind and I'm sure you realize that in this case you won't be able to change mine. But I will say that, using this kind of logic, the Cubs should pursue Pudge Rodriguez because he's unusually affordable right now - ignoring that the Cubs already have a very competent catcher who's an even BETTER bargain because he's making so little money and is also very, very likely to outproduce the best available free agent right now.

Besides that, I don't think it's realistic to believe that Hudson would accept a contract for a team where he'd have to compete for the starting job, and I don't think the Cubs would give Fontenot a chance to beat him if they signed him.

Already with Aaron Miles on the team, there is a sinking feeling that he's the defacto starting second baseman despite Fontenot being a far superior option. I think that you'd agree that if Fontenot is the better player, then it makes zero sense to use him LESS often.

But like I said, you want Hudson and I know you won't change your mind. I'm sure by this point you understand just how strongly I disagree with you, though, and why, and I'll leave it at that.

One small correction to

One small correction to meself - I realize you're not suggesting the Cubs sign Hudson and start him even if Fontenot is the more deserving player, but it sort of reads like that a little. Anyway, like I said, minds will not be changed.

Hudson could not back up 3B

Hudson could not back up 3B or SS.

Nomaaaaaah could.

Nomaaaaaah could.

Nomar could back up SS and

Nomar could back up SS and 3B but Orlando Hudson couldn't?

Hudson has never played

Hudson has never played those positions and why would he sign a contract to be a backup?

he's signing a contract to

he's signing a contract to compete for a job at 2B. its only a foregone conclusion in our world that Fontenot wins the job

A player who's only ever

A player who's only ever started probably won't sign a contract with a team unless the assumption is that he will start for them, as well. For example - when the Cubs signed Soriano, he didn't have to compete for left field, correct?

Wherever Hudson lands, it will be to start.

Right he's in a position of

Right he's in a position of power right now, as each day ticks by he loses leverage. I won't sign unless I get to start, I would just rather sit out this season. Doubt it. There's a titty bit of a difference between an 8 year 136M dollar contract than a 1 yr 4M dollar job, and the expectations those players might have. If the Dodgers or Sox or Cardinals or any other team with an opening at 2B offer him a deal then I'm sure that would factor in. If the cubs offered him a deal it'd probably be because they, much like me, think that he'd be a better everyday 2B than Mighty Mike. In any case, I'd bet he's looking for a chance to make some money, play, and win games - all three available in Chicago.

Anyway, I will further

Anyway, I will further ammend my thoughts on this by saying 1. it doesn't make sense to sign Hudson to start at 2B 2. it doesn't really make sense to sign him as a backup, either, because he's never shown the versatility to play other positions as a backup (and the Cubs especially need somebody who can play shortstop), and 3. the last thing Hudson is thinking about doing is being a backup somewhere. There's just not enough money in it and I suspect he'd rather start for the Pirates than split time with Fontenot and the Cubs.

But, again, I won't change your mind and you won't change mine in this case.

Not even a little bit.

Not even a little bit.

Fontenot certainly could

Fontenot certainly could back up both while Hudson played second though.

3B and SS? Extremely

3B and SS? Extremely doubtful. He doesn't have the arm to play a good SS, much less 3B. Also he's left handed.

Let me explain myself here.

Let me explain myself here. Say the team signs Hudson tomorrow, 1yr $4M. Just to take Fontenot out of the equation, he remains the starting second baseman. Over 162 games Fontenot starts 110 at 2B, 20 at SS, and 20 at 3B with 12 games off. He's used much the same way DeRosa was previously, playing most of the season just all over the infield only. Hudson starting 2B the other games and being available in the case of injury is well worth the money he's being paid. Reed Johnson is being paid $3M and likely won't play in much more than 50 games either. And if you seriously want to talk about handcuffing the organization from making a move I think a better example of that would be Fukudome's contract, a one year deal for O-Dog in the neighborhood of $5M not so much. So Fontenot retains his playing time, while the team adds depth to the middle infield, I kindly ask sir, how is that not an improvement? The team has a deeper roster and a better lineup on the field more days than before. Most buy insurance before the flood or the accident, because its usually a little harder to come by after the fact.

The Cubs could offer Hudson

The Cubs could offer Hudson 10 million for 1 year and if they told him he'd only start 42 games, I have a feeling he wouldn't accept the contract.

For a player of his age and his ability, a lot goes into considering what to do and where to go. He's something like 30 or 31 years old ... at this point if he has to accept a one year deal (and we have to think he'd be pushing for a twofer) then how he plays over that contract will drastically affect the NEXT contract he signs, which would probably be the last major deal he signs in his career. (An example of this kind of thinking is Raffy Furcal, who signed a shorter deal with the Dodgers than with the Cubs a few years back because he was hoping/expecting another big payday and he wanted to get to it sooner rather than later).

Reed Johnson is expecting to compete for a lot of playtime in CF, but he's also versatile enough to play LF and RF. Hudson has only ever played second base in his career and does not have the versatility to make "super sub" money, even if he'd accept a 4 million 1-year contract.

Nomar, on the other hand, if he even wants to play anymore would be perfect.

You don't know those things

You don't know those things going in to even tell a player. Things have to work themselves out on the field. When a player signs they don't get a package describing that you're going to play X number of games and put up these stats this season, have fun. If they sign him it will be to start, likely because he's better. Reed Johnson is the platoon guy that gets to face lefties in CF. There's also Gathright and Hoffpauir in the mix for the corner spots and backup roles as well. Nomar is as flexible as a tree, and he has no business putting on anything other than a first baseman's mitt. He sucked while he was with the team however long ago it was, why in the world would he be any better 5 years later? He can't still be a viable backup for SS or 3B at this point in his career because he sucks more now, Fontenot sure would be sweet in that role though Smiling

Nomar played 31 games at

Nomar played 31 games at short in '08, 11 at 3rd, and only 8 as a first baseman for the Dodgers. Now, if you want to go back and tell Joe Torre his business you can, but I have a feeling that the former Yankees skipper wouldn't have used Nomar in those positions had he not been able to play them.

Over the span of his career, especially lately, Garciaparra is not an outstanding defender - although his UZR at third was actually fine this year - but the Cubs wouldn't be using him as a late innings defensive replacement. He would be a pinch hitter who can start 3 positions when needed and who isn't healthy enough to start regularly anymore.

Anyway, he would be a TERRIBLE starter but as far as bench players go he might be one of the best remaining. Or would you assume that HE would also be competing for a starting position somewhere if he signed with the Cubs?

I don't think Nomar has any

I don't think Nomar has any business playing anywhere for anyone, especially not on the cubs. Those 40 games the team would be much better with a combination of Hudson/Fontenot than Fontenot with Miles/Nomar. Nomar is plain awful. He's on a slippery downward slope that likely will turn into a free-fall if he plays in 2009.

Fontenot as Supersub

Harry, I see a rather large problem with trying to put Fontenot in DeRosa's supersub role. Unlike DeRosa, who did a admirable job in the corner OF spots and is actually better defensively at 3B than anywhere else, Fontenot has only played in a grand total of four games at shortstop in his career and other than that, has never played 3B or anywhere else. His "tryout" at SS was very brief. Don't you think there was a reason behind that? The cajun connection will be fine up the middle. Hendry should have traded Lee and gone with Hoffpauir at 1B and offered Rich Aurilia a guaranteed contract to back up the corner IF spots. Aurilia wanted to go back to SF, but considering the fact that he was only offered a minor league deal and $1M if he makes the team, how much sweet talking would it have required on the part of Hendry to bring him to Chicago? Aurilia has crushed LHP to the tune of better than a .900 OPS over the past couple years. But Hendry sat on his hands while Aurilia signed his minor league deal with the Giants, probably hoping that he could fill the backup corner IF hole with an infield version of Reed Johnson or Jim Edmonds falling into his lap.

Hoffpauir would have given the Cubs another LH bat in the lineup, and more power than a fading Derrek Lee. In two years, after paying Lee another $26M, he'll have zero trade value. That money could have been used to hang onto Kerry Wood and Mark DeRosa and a quality lefty for the bullpen. For now, Hendry had better concentrate on adding that lefty to the bullpen, someone who can actually dominate lefty hitters. With Marshall slated for either the starting rotation, or a long relief and spot starter role, the Cubs only have one LH specialist option. And that lefty (Cotts) is actually better against righties, though I use the word "better" loosely because he's had one decent year in his career. Every current bullpen option is able to get righties out to varying degrees, but there just isn't a single LH specialist option to get the ball to Gregg and Marmol. Brian Shouse has already signed with the Rays, but Dennys Reyes and Joe Beimel are still on the FA market. Why does it seem that Hendry is more reactionary (suddenly making the addition of LH balance in the lineup a priority after watching a RH dominant team the previous seasons, or finally discovering the importance of OBP after watching his teams finish among the lowest OBP teams in the majors) than actually able to access the team well enough to fill all of the areas of weakness rather than leaving a few weaknesses and hoping for the best?

Lee has a no-trade

Lee has a no-trade clause.

Also Hoffpauir has been in AAA for forever for a reason.

That is all.

Hoffpauir and Lee

Lee does not have a "full" no trade clause, and even if he did, they could still trade him with his approval. As for Hoffpauir, all he's done is hit a ton in the minors as well as in his limited opportunities at the big league level. The Cubs are well known for mislabeling players and keeping some players down in the minors while rushing other "touted" prospects with the "tools" up to the majors only to see them fail and traded away for next to nothing.

I wouldn't say Hoffpauir hit

I wouldn't say Hoffpauir hit a ton in the minors. Most guys make it on to the major league roster before age 27; Micah was mashing AAA pitchers, yes--but in his third go-round in the PCL.

Look at Hoff's #s before last year. He had an OPS below .800 in AAA at age 26. Doesn't scream "everyday MLB first baseman."

Hoffpauir

I'll agree that Hoffpauir was a late bloomer, but he's also at the age now when many players reach their primes. Making it to the majors at the age of 22 or 23 doesn't guarantee success, as has been the case with Corey Patterson and Felix Pie. Hoffpauir did crank out a 1.145 OPS in AAA last year and .917 in 2007, and he also led the Cubs last season in BA, OBP, and OPS. Granted, he only had 73 AB's but he's worth giving a better look than he's gotten to this point. Besides, it's not a question of who's better between Lee and Hoffpauir, because there is a huge difference in salaries. Savings from trading Lee could have provided payroll flexibility needed to improve the bullpen and land Jake Peavy for example.

Also, "Lee's new contract,

Also, "Lee's new contract, which calls for a $13 million annual salary from 2006-10, contains a complete no-trade clause, Olney reported." That's from the ESPN article regarding the contract extension.

Where do you read anything other than that?

He has 10 & 5 Rights as

He has 10 & 5 Rights as well

Lee

Lee doesn't have 10 and 5 rights, because he's only played for the Cubs for three years.

Lee has played on the Cubs

Lee has played on the Cubs for 5 seasons now. Ready to count? Here we go. He played with the Cubs in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, & 2008, which on most planets that is five seasons. Before his time in Chicago he played 6 seasons in Florida and a handful of games in his rookie campaign in San Diego. So clearly Derrek Lee has played 10 seasons in MLB baseball, the last five of which were with the Cubs, so sound the trumpet - he has 10 & 5 Rights.

Lee

I was going off of memory instead of looking it up, and I stand corrected. There's no reason to be condesceding about it.

No reason to make claims

No reason to make claims without first taking two seconds to see if you're right either.

Harry, I'm pretty sure you

Harry, I'm pretty sure you weren't particularly fond of when a reader was condescending toward you a few days ago. Maybe you should keep that in mind when you deal with other people as well. The kind of attitude you displayed in this post is exactly what attracts people like Beemer to rip you apart.

Point well taken. I was

Point well taken. I was sarcastic but never personally attacked this guy at any point throughout the conversation, slightly different from the tone of what took place with Beemer. You tell me how much I would have gotten ripped apart by you or anyone else had I claimed that Derrek Lee only played on the cubs for 3 years? Exactly. So excuse me for being a smart ass but thats the nature that you've created and what's alive on this site. Its obvious that I can do no right on this site, so if people like Beemer feel the need to rip me apart and you feel the need to defend them, so be it.

Please check your mckendree

Please check your mckendree email.

Lee's Contract

Funny thing is that Pinella

Funny thing is that Pinella has talked about using Fontenot to spell Theriot at SS in 2009, so the idea stems from the manager of the team. D-Lee is valuable because he plays top-caliber defense at 1B, while putting up respectable offensive numbers. For his position his offensive numbers may be low, but his defense at the position is of extremely high value to the team. So his play, in a way balances itself out, the problem is moreso that Lee shouldn't be hitting 3rd in the lineup, probably 5th or 6th instead. After Lee plays two more seasons it won't matter if he has trade value, his contract will be up, and he'll be a free agent - so the team wouldn't be able to trade him then anyway. Not much of a newsflash, but the team wasn't going to bring Kerry Wood back any sooner than they were going to trade D-Lee, so neither is really a point of contention.

My point is that 324 starts at 2B & SS, plus another 30 or so starts at 3B is a bit much to put on the shoulders of Theriot, Fontenot, and Aaron Miles. And that is just what's being asked of them to get the team through the season and into the playoffs. Infield depth is needed whether its Orlando Hudson or Jack and the Beanstalk that is added to the roster.

Funny Thing

Hoffpauir is also said to be very good defensively at first base. I agree with you about moving Lee down a bit in the lineup. My point about trading him was that the Cubs could have gotten something of value back for Lee by trading him now, but not if they let him play out the last two years of his contract. As for not bringing Wood back, the reasons given for letting him walk don't really add up. Hendry said Wood wanted three years, but he only got two years plus an option year from the Indians. There was also disagreement between the two as far as whether or not Wood was willing to consider a one-year deal to remain a Cub. And if it were all about dollars and cents, why did Hendry go and swing that trade for Kevin Gregg, who will earn $4.2M this year, when they could have kept Wood for another couple million and held onto Jose Ceda, a very promising young pitcher who will probably come back to haunt the Cubs just like Ricky Nolasco has done for the Marlins in the Juan Pierre trade? I beg to differ about there not being a point of contention about the Cubs being unwilling to deal Lee or bring Wood back. Just because the Cubs front office made their decision doesn't make those decisions right. We have over a century of futility now as evidence that the Cubs haven't had many wizards at the helm.

It doesn't make the decision

It doesn't make the decision right, but the front office made the decision so its done. Kerry Wood wasn't signed because the team is confident in Carlos Marmol, and the team likely didn't want to lock up $10M annually in a sentimental favorite, that was the team's closer. Kerry Wood not being resigned is likely a direct result of the economy we're currently facing coupled with ownership in transition, and the idea of trading Derrek Lee runs into those same snags plus a few others. Look at how difficult its been to complete a Jake Peavy trade. He also has a full no trade clause, is actually younger than Lee, he makes plenty of money, and despite the fact that he's chosen a destination he'd like to go to the team hasn't been able to work out a trade - so its obviously not that easy. The moves Hendry made may not have been the most popular ones this offseason, but he worked with what he had in front of him to improve the team. Kerry Wood is gone; while Kevin Gregg, Luis Vizcaino, and Aaron Heilman have been added to the bullpen mix with Marmol now likely the closer. Saving $10M to let Wood walk and slot Marmol into close is a much more sure-fire bet to win than trading Lee and letting Hoffpauir step in his everyday role. DeRosa, Marquis, Pie, Wuertz, Cedeno, and Hill were all traded, which created some roster and payroll flexibility to allow the team to add a LH bat in Milton Bradley and a utility player in Aaron Miles. 100 years of losing doesn't have a thing to do with now; the cubs can't change their past and their past won't change the present. This team has a solid foundation to compete on for the foreseeable future, whereas trading Lee to keep sentimental favorites (DeRosa & Wood) would likely have only prolonged the losing tradition that much further.

Lee

Well, I sure do hope they are right about Marmol. Whether or not the kid can handle the pressures of trying to be the closer to nail down that elusive WS championship remains to be seen and is certainly a big question mark. Keeping Marmol and Wood in the 2008 roles would have been a safer bet, and Hendry still could have swung the deal for Gregg to add more late inning depth as insurance against injuries. As for dealing for Peavy, that clearly fell thru because of Hendry's unwillingness to give the Padres as much young talent as they were asking for in return. It wasn't blocked by Peavy or a no-trade clause.

The point I am working

The point I am working towards making here is that despite the fact that Peavy has a no-trade clause, he's ok'd a trade to another team, the other team he is willing to play for wants him, the Padres want to trade him, and still at the end of the day the deal isn't done. So all I'm saying is that trading a player such as Derrek Lee would be no easy task, and by simply trying to trade him, even unsuccessfully, the cubs would surely severely strain their relationship with Lee. Wood's departure is completely financially driven. The team has Marmol to use in his role, and they were able to add Heilman, Vizcaino, and Gregg, where the 4 altogether will make less money than Wood alone in 2009. If Wood stays aboard the team likely has to waive goodbye to either Ryan Dempster or Milton Bradley.

I understand your point

I understand the point you are making about it being difficult to pull off a trade for someone like Lee or Peavy. The point I was trying to make is that it wasn't 10 and 5 rights or a no-trade clause that has kept Peavy in San Diego (at least for the time being), it is the fact that the Padres wanted a king's ransom for their ace despite every other team knowing they wanted to trade him because they had to cut payroll. Hendry wasn't willing to part with the number and quality of players that Towers was demanding, and it sounds like he made a wise choice. This scenario wouldn't have been an issue in trading Lee because Hendry wouldn't have had to shoot for the moon in his demands from a prospective trade partner. And I would hope that a GM who is contemplating trading a player with no-trade protection such as Lee, would first try to work out an agreement with the other team as to which players would be part of the package, prior to asking his player if he would accept the trade. If discussions were kept under the table, no feelings would be hurt if the two teams couldn't agree on a deal. Once a trade between the teams was agreed upon, then Hendry could have approached Lee for his thoughts and approval. Hendry seems to have a very good rapport with his players and I'm pretty sure he'd be capable of explaining the situation to Lee and getting him to understand the reasoning behind the consideration of trading him. As was the case with Wood, the decision to trade Lee would have been completely financially driven. They would have been dealing him strictly because they could have replaced him with Hoffpauir for instance and saved over $12.5M, just as they are saving on the closer position by replacing Wood with Marmol. The other point I was making is that while I think the Cubs would have replaced Lee's production with Hoffpauir without losing much if anything, I suspect that they will suffer in the 7th-9th innings this year by not having a veteran like Wood closing for them, and by not have Marmol put out those nasty fires to get Wood the ball with the lead. I believe that the middle to late inning relief is going to be a problem for the Cubs this year. They simply won't have a "Marmol" to get the ball to their closer, and they will be especially weak in terms of a LH setup man. I don't know Wood, but having read and heard many of his comments about wanting to continue pitching for the Cubs, keeping their home in Chicago and being involved with local charities, I suspect he would have accepted less money to play with the Cubs than he signed for to join the Indians. Since he was essentially replaced by Gregg, they saved maybe $3-4M, as opposed to potential savings of $12.5M by dealing Lee.

Absolutely. Jim Hendry had

Absolutely. Jim Hendry had a tough task at hand from the onset of the off-season. Saddled with escalating contracts of current players, a payroll that isn't growing very much, ownership in transition, and a down economy- Hendry had a lot to deal with. I wasn't a fan of the decision to let Wood go and subsequently trade for Gregg/Heilman/Vizcaino; but to Hendry's defense the team is dealing from a pretty deep pool of starters and relievers now. The team has 4 solid starters when healthy, with 5-7 guys battling to be the 5th pitcher in the rotation, and even more candidates to fill the bullpen with. Most moves have been of the cost-cutting variety to create payroll or roster flexibility. But if that was the cost to add Milton Bradley, then it likely was well worth it; because Bradley is going to make a good lineup that much more dangerous. Marmol and company should be able to fill in the gap in the bullpen, while Fontenot & Miles combined should be able to duplicate DeRosa's production and versatility. Concerning Wood, the only thing I can think is that the team didn't want to lose control in determining his salary for 2009, as the cubs are already locked-in to numerous $10M+ per season contracts. I personally like the idea of Marmol in a set-up role and Samardzija closing, but I'm likely in the minority if not alone with that thought.

You're sold on Samardzija's

You're sold on Samardzija's control? Yeah his ERA ended up good, but he threw a lot of balls toward the end there.

I'm not sold on much of

I'm not sold on much of anything with Samardzija yet, other than his arm and potential of course. As I don't have much to go off of to really stake a claim that he should start, set-up, or close. But I know that I liked most of what I saw from him out of the bullpen last season, and given what the team currently has in the bullpen mix he could potentially be one of the most effective relievers the team has. In my opinion, Carlos Marmol is unrivaled and hands-down the best set-up man anywhere in the game of baseball. Francisco Rodriguez had what was one of the best seasons a closer has ever had in 08, but I honestly think that despite the records he broke and numbers he put up Carlos Marmol was more valuable to his team and had a better season overall. I wouldn't move Marmol out of the set-up role and into the closer role unless I absolutely had to. Kevin Gregg is also someone capable of closing out games, but his control likely isn't much better than Samardzija's. There are a lot of moving parts on the roster presently, so its difficult to predict who will land where and in what role - but its only an idea.

I've always thought Carlos

I've always thought Carlos should be used to get the three toughest outs, no matter what the inning.

I completely agree with you

I completely agree with you on that, the toughest 3 outs can happen at any point in the game once the starter gets pulled. The last 3 outs can be the toughest, but usually are not. The last 3 outs are often difficult to get as a result of the situation and not necessarily the batters that the closer faces. I think it would be interesting to compare the opponents that Marmol faced in a set-up role vs the batters K-Rod faced while only closing and pitching strictly in the 9th. In any case, Marmol is a beast and it will be fun to see how they use him this season.

Also what exactly do you

Also what exactly do you think the cubs could have gotten in a trade for Derrek Lee this offseason? He has a contract that pays him $13M annually, at a time when only a handful of free agents this entire offseason were signed for the type of money he's making. The team likely wouldn't have been able to get a wooden nickel for Lee this offseason, not to mention the fact that he can veto any trade the team puts together anyway. In all seriousness though, the cubs probably would have only been able to get prospects or one of another teams' bad contracts for Lee right now given all of the surrounding circumstances. In all likelihood the team would have lost much more value than they ever would have gotten in return if they were to trade Derrek Lee at this point. Hoffpauir, or anyone for that matter, has to show a team that they can get the job done for more than just 70 ab's for a move of this magnitude to be made. Again, I think the team had no intention of bringing Wood back for 1, 2, 6, or a 12 year deal. If they wanted him back for just one season the team probably would've at least offered him arbitration, which they chose not to do. Kerry Wood simply earned himself a raise and now will be collecting that money with a different team; for his role/position he priced himself out the team's range. And a 2 year deal w an option year that vests based on games he completes, potentially is a 3 year deal at the price of $31.5M - far outside of the team's price range for the position.

And what exactly

I've always wondered how the same people who tout a player's value can turn around and suggest that someone else is foolish for thinking his team could get something of value in return for that player. In another post, you said "D-Lee is valuable because he plays top-caliber defense at 1B, while putting up respectable offensive numbers. For his position his offensive numbers may be low, but his defense at the position is of extremely high value to the team" and now you say the Cubs couldn't get a wooden nickel in return for Lee. You make a valid point about Lee's annual salary being rather large given the present economy, but my point wasn't that I would expect the Cubs to be able to get much in return for Lee. It was that they had other options within the organization (Hoffpauir or Jake Fox) and outside of the organization via trade (Xavier Nady or Aubrey Huff) or free agency (Rich Aurilia or Casey Blake who have already signed new contracts or Sean Casey who chose to retire despite hitting well over .300 again last year) and could have put the money they are giving Lee to use somewhere else. I do think Lee had more value however, than having to absorb another team's bad contract to trade him. As for Wood, yes it's pretty evident they didn't want him back for one year, or they would have offered him arbitration as you said, and at least gotten a draft pick as compensation if unable to work out a contract. My question was why they chose to go that route, because I believe he is worth the money he would have gotten thru the abitration process. Wood probably would have asked for something in the $9-10M range and the Cubs probably would have offered something in the $6M-$7M range and the two sides would have likely settled for somewhere around $7.5M. That's $3.2M more than Gregg will make, and they could have hung onto Jose Ceda instead of trading him for Gregg. And of course, had they been unable to work out a deal with Wood, they would have at least gotten draft pick compensation for him. It would have been nice to see the Cubs at least make an effort to retain Wood. Yes, he was a sentimental favorite. But he was also a very good pitcher when healthy, and last year should have quieted many of the doubts about the soundness of his right arm and shoulder.

Lee is valuable to the team

Lee is valuable to the team when he plays but he represents little value in a trade. He's getting older, he's expensive, and has no-trade protection, which are all things that detract from his trade value and right now not many teams have the money needed to take on a contract the size of Lee's. I agree that Wood should have been offered arbitration at the very least. He and Marmol are an awesome combo down in the bullpen, and no one acquired is on the same level talent-wise as Woody either, but regardless of what he would have made it would have been an expensive bill for a closer in any case. Also I wasn't trying to be disrespectful to you in previous comments within this post. I am a smart ass to a fault, and I wasn't trying to offend you. So I apologize for being an ass, as I really do enjoy talking baseball with you or anyone else with an opinion on the game.

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