Goatriders of the Apocalypse

More thoughts on Milton Bradley

It seems as though the future acquisition of Milton Bradley remains in debate.  At this point, many of us probably have ants in our pants as we wait for news, and the lack of Hendry making any big moves has certainly left many fans - myself included - full of aggravation.

It really boggles the mind to realize that Hendry has done nothing of value this off season.  He allowed the departure of The Greatest Playing Cub, he whiffed when trying to acquire Jake Peavy, and he signed some schmuck named Gathright who couldn't swing a bat through a wet paper bag.

Milton Bradley, meanwhile, is not only available, he's not only a top option, but it still remains a strong possibility that he'll come at a discount, even though I think the risk of him flipping out and transforming into a douchebag is less likely than it used to be.  He's also a bit of an injury risk, but at this point the Cubs are certainly loaded in backup outfielders who can fill in should he miss a chunk of time due to any kind of necessary operation.

So - will the Cubs grab Bradley?  Sorry, but I still think it's unlikely, but I really don't have a clue.  My gut feeling is that Hendry has lost his magic touch - he's certainly lost his monopoly on the free agent market to the Yankees this year, but that's life for you.  But I hope with epic sincerity that Jim Hendry will find a way to improve the team, and if it means signing a dangerous, fight-prone outfielder who will kill the first fan who dares bate him, then I'm all for it.

I couldn't begin to guess where Bradley goes, but Chicago would be a good landing spot for him, at least in my opinion.

Very well done, Kurt.

Very well done, Kurt.

I like the idea, but...

If he ends up injured and misses significant time, we'll all look back upon this as a rather trivial pursuit.

I see what you did there!

With the board games and the links and the whatnot. Gave me a chuckle.

Ahhh, that Kurt

when it comes to his comedic writing, I am always cautioning him not to push a concept too far, continually warning him Don't Break The Ice.

You can definitely find yourself in a Mouse Trap by doggedly following one path. It is really hard to Connect Four concepts in one narrative thread.

Hasbro

but funny still.

Nothing of value?

Hendry re-signed Dempster before anyone else got a shot at him and he kept Harden. He can hardly be blamed for failing to acquire Peavy - Kevin Towers was asking for a crapload of players, and while it would be very nice to have Jake Peavy at the head of the Powerzord that is the Chicago Cubs starting pitching, a lot needed to happen. Hendry had to find a team to take on the Marquis du Suck's contract, he needed to convince the Phillies that Mark DeRosa is more than just a two month sub for Chase Utley, an infinitely better player, and he needed to find replacements for players traded away in any Peavy trade (Marshall et al). So maybe Jimmy hasn't had an offseason as spectacular as the past two years, but it's still been decent.

It's not that he hasn't made

It's not that he hasn't made decisions, it's that he made the RIGHT decisions, the evisceration of our system that Towers was asking for... sure, a man of lesser intellegence might have said. OOOOH shiney new pitching.

Hendry said the right thing at the right time. I don't think it's dead, I just don't think Towers' screws have been significantly pushed. Neither has McFails... Give it time, the cost-benifit of keeping peavy will make Towers dump him for much less.

Now as far as Bradley goes. I am now okay thinking he's the best option for us in right. Injury history or not because we ARE deep there... if Bradley plays in the playoffs, that's the bat we'd like most. Raaaaaaake.

HotStove

I agree the lack of movement by the Cubs this offseason is awful and hurts to watch, mostly because I thought Peavy was coming to town, but I understand why nothing has happened. Hendry is in a pretty tight spot right now; where the ownership situation combined with a roster full of players we're over-committed to- he is pretty much handcuffed. The economy plus the ownership transfer being drug out until the next Olympics has made it to where the Cubbies gotta watch their spending for the first time in a long time. His #1 job is moving mountain Marquis to another team willing to pay his salary. Then after that the trade front heats up right? Wrong; there is no one the cubs can offer in a trade and get a good return for other than Josh Vitters, as the farm system is devoid of any impact prospects. Then look at the MLB roster, which at the moment is pretty tough to figure out exactly how you squeeze the number of bodies on the roster into the number of positions on the field. We've drug Felix Pie into permanent purgatory where we don't even know what we can get from him on the field or in a trade anymore; and you may as well throw Cedeno & Fontenot in that group as well. I may be off on this opinion, but right now I look at the cubs 4 middle infielders (Cedeno, Fontenot, DeRosa, and Theriot) and after a long hard look I see 4 second baseman. To me it would have made sense to enter into the Furcal bidding circus or call the Braves about Yunel Escobar, and by acquiring one of them you add a serious SS and simply slide Theriot to 2B. Even worse than not snagging Peavy, was the fact that we traded a true prospect to acquire Kevin Gregg. That's the cubs only move so far because Joey Gathright isn't even a pawn on the chessboard - they should have at least gone after Willy Taveras first. I understand the sudden outcry to sign Milton Bradley, but I'm not sold it would be the best possible move they could make. Bradley has a great swing from both sides of the plate, he's young, athletic, gets on base, and he is versatile. But with all that he is also a major injury risk, a player that has been with 4 different teams in the last 4 years, has had problems controlling himself in the past, and has had problems controlling himself in the present, which would lead me to believe those problems will likely be there in the future. So, with all that said, Bobby Abreu on a 2 year deal makes the most sense of anyone on the market. Milton Bradley is an impact player, but an impact player for only about 120 games max per year. Abreu gives you a more consistent production for 150+ games each and every year. Abreu brings a quiet professionalism: while scoring 100 R, racking up 100 RBI, and swiping 20 bases regularly. Most importantly Abreu works the count and the Cubs have a lineup loaded with free swinging, high strikeout guys - look at the impact Fukudome had on the lineup at the beginning of the year when he was patient and being productive. Give him 2 years $25 M, then trade Marquis, and trade Pie if it brings a solid lefty to the bullpen. The best trade the Cubs could make would be through the Baltimore Orioles involving Nick Markakis, Brian Roberts, or both. If the Cubs put Vitters on the table; along with Fontenot, Pie, Marquis, Gregg, or other players the O's are interested in they could pull off a massive deal that would transform the cub's offense. I'm not too worried that Hendry won't pull something out of his hat, but then again all it would take for me to be happy Smiling is a Jason Marquis trade.

In general, well said, sir.

In general, well said, sir. You're right about the fact that the Cubs development process is extremely disappointing. And I think your assessment of our current middle infield staff is not far off.

(As an aside, recently published defensive metrics don't really support the claim that Theriot is awful at shortstop; apparently he's about league average at the position. But the relatively weak arm remains, and Theriot will never excel defensively at short.)

I think your point about games played is certainly valid; many sportswriters have noted that Abreu's unwillingness to hit the wall, while detrimental at the time of the play, helps him maintain his everyday presence in the lineup.

Overall, your assessment of the Cubs is accurate, and I think it's an assessment shared by many true baseball-loving Cub fans - the recent (albeit limited) success of the major league franchise is not sustainable without a proper developmental foundation.

But let's be a bit more reasonable about 2009.

Aside from Daryl Ward and Henry Blanco (both of whom admittedly had their moments on offense in 2008), the Cubs offense remains intact. This, a team that lead the NL, and almost all of MLB, in runs scored in 2008. This, a team that went Soriano-less for 6 weeks following a freak accident on an inside pitch from Gary Farking Bennett. (I'm still mad about that, actually.)

Anyways - my point, and Jim Hendry has said it as well, is that this team has a solid offensive core. Soriano, Ramirez, and Soto have some of the biggest bats in their respective positions; Lee (declining power aside) and Theriot (honestly, check out that consistent OBP) are solid contributors as well. If we sign a viable free agent to play right field, and get anything above our worst expectations out of Fukky in center and DeRosa/Fontenot at 2nd, we have a really, really good offense. (Pitching, of course, is a whole 'nother story, that the Cubs are prepared to do well in.)

Don't talk about breaking the core up, Harry. Don't try to swing a deal for Nick Markakis, and PLEASE don't bring Rian-Bay Oberts-Ray into this.

Crap farm system or not, we've somehow come across a good team for the latter part of this decade. Let's hope we can get something done before the window of opportunity closes on us.

Saying that the Cubs offense

Saying that the Cubs offense remains intact is a pretty severe misnomer, good sir. Keep in mind AJ that the Cubs had one of the top 3 offensively performing center fields in all of baseball last year - a feat they will almost certainly not match in 2009, even if they stupidly brought Edmonds back - and that Mark DeRosa easily had a career year at second base.

The Cubs will possibly under-perform at CF, if DeRo is the starter they will under-perform at RF even if he came close to matching last year's output, they will under-perform at SS even if Theriot comes close to last year's output, and they'll be hard-pressed to match the output they had at 2B either.

I direct you again to this article which explains it best, and I do so specifically because it's hard to refute: http://goatriders.org/production-lines-of-the-apocalypse

Because of how quickly he has

Because of how quickly he has come and gone from the 40-man roster, Jim Edmonds' contributions to the 2008 season are easy, at least for me, to forget. But you're absolutely right - we had killer production in center field, and we're not going to have that in 2009. Also can't argue with you that DeRo had an outstanding year in 2008.

But our "overperformance" at two generally weak-hitting positions wasn't our entire offense. It's almost certainly what took us from "good offense" to "best in the league" in '08. But missing those things in 2009 won't really dramatically change the way we operate offensively, or prevent us from being a "good offense" once again. A-Ram, Sori, Soto, Lee, and others will score runs.

That article you reminded me of was a dense one. It had a lot of great points, as well as some issues that I don't quite agree with. But your article offers some bullet points at the end that need to happen this offseason for the Cubs to *improve.* Furthermore, you say something in your most recent post that merits another mention - it's really difficult to *improve* an offense that was best in the league in 2008.

While 2009 will likely not be as massively awesome as 2008 on offense (I mean, seriously, what a year we had), I argue we don't need it to be to make the playoffs. I think that's something we agree on.

I'm also pretty convinced that the playoffs are a crapshoot, and that if the Cubs just keep getting there, they'll find their way into the World Series soon.

first of all...

First of all, I don't think we need a quiet professional in Bobby Abreu seeing as we already have one in Derek Lee. What we need is someone who will go bat-shit crazy to get this team off its butt in the playoffs. If you remember, good sir, last year during the playoffs it seams that our super team was simply going through the motions during that pitiful 3 games against the Dodgers. I'm not saying that Bradly is perfect, far from it. That injury history scares me just as much as anyone else. I just want someone who will be pissed when we lose and do something about it.

Second, we don't have what it takes to get Brian Roberts let alone both him and Markakis. And ripping apart the best offense, regardless of its over-achieving, is probably not a good idea.

Other than that I think you're pretty much right on.

Also, would anyone know if there are any strong lefty CF's on the trade market?

What are the cubs even after this off-season?

I honestly can't say that I understand the direction the Cubs are trying to take with this team for 2009. We let K-Wood walk, and then follow that up with the dual pursuits of a starting pitcher (when we already have 6 of those) and a LH hitting OF (for an OF that is already getting pretty crowded). Then you look at the 2 additions that have been made, in Kevin Gregg and Joey Gathright, and both are guys that I hope aren't on my 25 man roster, seriously. The cubs have developed a pattern of not being able to s**t-or-get-off-the-pot with many of their players, and as a result we're often stuck with the very same players that we impede the development of. To me it would be nice just one time to see the Cubs sell high on a player, instead of being the team that is always buying high on every move they make. If we can get a premium SP, RP, or OF for Mark DeRosa then with the current roster I think you make that move - because his trade value probably won't ever be higher than right now. But DeRo is a favorite in the clubhouse and of Lou as well, so I don't see him moving, but in that case why not listen to offers for Cedeno and Fontenot? Felix Pie is another one that I just don't get what in the world they are trying to do to this kid's career; he's up, he's down, we're gonna trade him, we're gonna keep him but not play him, and he's out of options now too. So logically the next step is to go sign his twin brother right? Which is what we did, when we signed Joey Gathright. This all seems eerily similar to the Patterson brothers debacle, but in the end Eric brought Rich Harden to the team. All I am saying is that there are only 25 spots on the roster, and from a numbers standpoint I don't see how 4 MI, 6 OF, 6 SP, and Micah Hoffpauir all make the team. At some point you have to make trades to get good players to fill actual team needs, and to do that you have to trade away good players. Hoffpauir is a great example, why not trade him to an AL team now? Otherwise we hold onto him and he sits on the bench because he isn't going to get to play first ahead of DLee and his defense will keep him out of the OF most likely. So you could trade him now for a good return and possibly fill a team need or you can hold onto him and he instead fills the role of Daryle Ward thus losing all value he once had. I wouldn't be looking to overspend for a free agent OF, the cubs bullpen is far from complete or even dangerous at this point. I really don't like the idea of Marmol closing because I think it takes away from being able to use him when we need him most; where if he closes we'll be holding him for the 9th which often aren't the hardest outs to come by. Marmol was effective when Lou used him at will against the other team's best, sometimes for 2 innings at a time - all of which is lost if he assumes the closer's duties. So I can only hope Smardjz can beat out "the greatest cub trade ever" Keving Gregg to close games in 2009. I wish Jason Marquis happy trails and look forward to watching either Sean Marshall or Angel Guzman every 5th day in his place. As far as the guy asking about strong LH CF trade possibilities I don't see too many, but there are: Nate McClouth & Rick Ankiel which both would be tough being in the same division. I would be interested in the Twin's Denard Span, but he would likely be hard to come by. I have to ask though, what is so wrong with an everyday outfield of Soriano-Reed Johnson-Fukudome?

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