Now, what would I like to see happen this winter?
I mean, besides a massive overhaul of our "tags" dropdown menu?
In the spirit of Eddie's post last week, I will start by getting onboard the Carlos Pena bandwagon, such that it is. We must be aware of the limitations the Wricketts have imposed, and understand that although Hendry may love the big Donkey, Adam Dunn, the owners have no intentions on taking on any more long term contracts at this point in time. This coming year, and probably 2012, will be characterized by a short-term, seat of the pants approach to staffing a roster, which sounds like bad news.
Of course, could it work out much worse than this past season?
So, even though I am not in love with a .197 batting average, it isn't like any of the other names mentioned (Dunn, LaRoche, and Huff) are high batting average guys, either. I don't necessarily want Pena, but honestly, I don't want any of the other guys, either, and Pena is exactly the "buy low" kind of player the Ricketts will want. I would probably bat him fifth or sixth, however.
I don't think it is time yet, though, to sign Starlin Castro to a long term contract. He is under control for the next five years, it still remains to be seen that he can play the shortstop position (I think he will improve), and once again, you will not see the Wricketts (Wrigleys + Ricketts) enter any long term commitments this year.
I also disagree with Eddie on the aspect of a Fukudome trade. Yes, he is a sunk cost and no, we won't get anything but a bag of used balls in return. But even if we can realize a couple of million in salary relief, this would be useful. More useful, in fact, than actually having him on the team. We know what he is, and outside of his arm in right field, there is nothing else he brings that a replacement level guy has.
Speaking of replacement guys, I do think it is time to let Hoffpauir and Koyie Hill enter their next careers. Why not let Wellington Castillo back up Soto? And as far as Soto, I do understand that he is one of our remaining better hitters. But one of the most intriguing developments of the past season was his .500 OBP as the eighth hitter. Because of his eye and his relative strength as an eighth hitter, he drew a butt-tonload of walks. It is unconventional, but I am not sure he is a good enough hitter to bat third (Byrd bats third in my lineup), and I am intrigued about the idea of a guy who gets on base every other time he walks to the plate. Yeah, he is followed by a pitcher....
I think Castro bats second, Byrd third, Ramirez fourth, Pena fifth, Soriano sixth, Colvin seventh and Soto eighth. Leadoff would be Baker vs lefties and Barney vs righties. Unless you like Blake DeWitt better than Barney, which I don't. He showed me nothing last year. Which still meant he was better than Theriot, but maybe he could net us a decent relief pitching prospect.
Let Sam Fuld be Soriano's glove caddy, and have an open competition for the last bench spots amongst the Marquez Smiths and Brad Snyders of the world. This should allow the club to concentrate more resources to refining the pitching staff, which is actually a much more high risk, high reward activity for 2011.
Without a talent influx from the farm system or a money infusion from ownership, our weak 2010 offense will not improve much next year. If we can score 75 more runs than last year, we should be pleased. The Cubs should concentrate their efforts on minimizing walks and improve situational pitching, which means solidifying the rotation and eliminating question marks in the pen. The 2011 Cubs will only go as far as their pitching and defense will take them.
How this gets done? I'll let someone else address it.