Goatriders of the Apocalypse

My first Blog: Our team is fine right now... May need tweaking around deadline...

I will start by saying I think this is by far the best site on the net for Cubbie baseball discussion. I have learned so much about our system from top to bottom thanks to the blogs and discussion on goatriders. I have been telling all my fellow Cubbie Blue Bleeders about the site and they enjoy it as well. (OK did I suck up enough??") Here are just a few thoughts I've had concerning the team and the state we are in RIGHT NOW.

First the lineup as I see it right now:

1. Soriano

2. Fontenot

3. Lee (I still think he is a professional hitter at a high level )

4. Ramirez

5. Soto

6. Hoffpauir/Fukudome

7. Johnson/Fukudome

8. Theriot

9. Pitcher

Bench: Hoffpauir/Johnson/Fukudome, Bako, Cedeno, Miles, Gathright, Pie(I'm not giving up on a 24 year old with that much speed and talent, although it would be nice if someone could teach him to hit ML pitching.)

OK - Start to pick it apart. Not that different from last year, but we won 97 games. Another full year for Theriot, Fontenot, Soto. And maybe a full year for Soriano(healthy) and a better mechanically adjusted/americanized Fukudome makes the team stronger AS/IS.

Now if we sign THE LH RIGHT FIELDER EVERYONE THINKS WE NEED.

1. Soriano

2. Fukudome/Johnson (I think Fukudome could be the prototype #2 hitter. He definitely has control over the strike zone so he can take some pitches IF Soriano is healthy and could run again. I think he also understands the game and can move runners over and could post a solid OBP to set the table.

3. Ramirez

4. DUNN/Bradley  (Dunn is in caps because he is the superior, (although it sounds like all signs point to Milton "Mr. Congenialty/picture of health" Bradley, option. Dunn stays healthy, would be bouncing balls off buildings(when he hits it) and takes a ton of pitches, getting us into other teams bullpens early in the game.

5. Lee

6. Soto

7. Fontenot

8. Theriot

9. Picher

I love this lineup with Dunn. I guess I just don't want Bradley. I would give up the defenseand K's for the 40+ HR's and .380 OBP. The lineup would have great balance of Lefties and Righties and with Theriot and Fontenot at the back end if the pitchers could bunt that would set the table for Soriano.

PITCHING

Starters:

Zambrano

Harden

Dempster

Lilly

Marshall/Hill/Samardzija/Guzman (The best performer in the Spring)

I have not given up on Hill. He wouldn't bring much in trade right now. But he and a healthy Guzman both have the talent and pitches to be serviceable back end starters if they can solve their respective problems.

Bullpen: Marmol, Gregg, Cotts, Samardzija/Marshall/Hill/Guzman,Wuertz, Hart)

OK these are my thoughts in a nutshell. I think we are solid as we stand now and with a full year of experience in the Majors for (Soto, Theriot, Fontenot, Fukudome, Samardzija, Marmol) we will be even better this year. Of course everything hinges on health of key players: (SORIANO, Zambrano, HARDEN, Lee) I personally don't want to cripple an already weak farm to bring in Peavy or someone else. If we go get a rightfielder I pray it is Dunn. Expecting and paying Bradley for his POTENTIAL just seems to me like a VERY BAD IDEA. However it works out it will be fun to watch the CUBS ROLLER COASTER lead to a WORLD SERIES TITLE IN 2009!!!!

Matt in the Quad Cities

Thanks for the kind words

Thanks for the kind words about our site, Matt. I appreciate your take on the topic, although I have to admit I don't entirely agree with you. I like Hoffpauir as a bench player/pinch hitter, but as so many others have pointed out, defense is important and his in RF would not be pretty.

Also at this point I still think Bradley is the better option than Dunn, but I think either option is better than Hoffpauir.

Why Bradley??

What has he done to make you think he is the better option in RF. I will concede Dunn plays the outfield like he has roller skates on in quick sand. He won't have any foul ground to cover in Wrigley though. Why didn't Bradley play in the field last year? 20 games in the OF, 50 chances, 3 errors. Hitting is not even close. Bradley did hit 22 of his career 103 HR's in 2008 over 9 seasons. Dunn has hit 40 exactly in 4 straight seasons and 46 the year before and has a career total of 278 in 8 seasons. I think pitchers fear Dunn a little more than Bradley. Dunn has played in 150+ games 6 of 8 seasons, Bradley has played in 100+ only 3 times in 9 seasons. We know how injuries effect the entire club. (Wood, Prior, Soriano, Lee) Dunn is also a year and a half younger. Not a big deal if we were talking about two healthy bodies, but we are not. If I were a GM, and OBVIOUSLY I AM NOT, I know I would put my money toward Dunn and make the bleachers in right field target practice EVERY DAY. I'd rather start Fukudome(I think he has a breakout Spring/Regular Season) out there every day and platoon Johnson/Pie/Gathright in CF than bring in Bradley.

The guys at Fangraphs point

The guys at Fangraphs point out that Dunn's defensive shortcomings go a long way toward negating his offensive bounty. Bradley's not particularly a healthy player, but Bradley's numbers + replacement player numbers still = better than Dunn in terms of being a total package. Also, he'll likely be less expensive.

Since they keep

score, every run you give up means you need two to overcome. Pitching and defense are the foundation of any good team and with stone hands already in left field, it's hard to justify another hole in the outfield with Dunn

Only comparing Bradley and Dunn's offensive numbers, you should also consider how those high OBP's were attained, especially since they would occupy a run producing spot in the order.

Much of Dunn's high OBP is based mainly on walks and it's sure hard to drive in runs with a walk. His biggest advantage over Bradley as an RBI machine is derived via the HR.

Although Bradley hits about 20 less bombs than Dunn he still had a comparable OBP. This was done primarily because he hits for 50 points higher.Those extra hits help offset the extra HR's Dunn would provide with men on base, not to mention Bradley isn't a liability on the base paths.

So from a run producing standpoint, which is why the Cubs are looking at adding a big LH stick, the two are pretty close. When you factor in the defense of these two, it's no contest. Let's face it, Bradley came up as a CF'er and has experience in all three outfield positions where Dunn I doubt ever came close to RF except rounding 1B.

Dunn vs. Bradley

How many runs do you actually think Dunn is going to cost you in the field? 10,20,30,40???? He will cost you more runs in the field than Bradley, I not only agree, I guarantee it. He will be ON THE FIELD 40-50 more games than Bradley judging by past history. I don't buy the FACT that Bradley is a GREAT fielder. He would have been in the field more than 20 games last year in Texas if that was the case. Maybe they didn't want him to get hurt. We in the NL don't have the luxury of the DH. Bradley is a career .280 hitter with 803 career hits over 100 hits in a season 3 times. Dunn is a career .247 hitter with over 100 hits 6 of 8 seasons. Bradley has scored 70 runs twice and driven in over 70 once. Dunn has scored over 70 runs 7 of 8 seasons 99 or more 4 of those 7. Dunn has 90-110 RBI's the last 5 seasons. If we get Bradley we better have a solid back up plan. That solid back up plan costs money as well as weakens the bench. We do have plenty of outfielders but the minor league depth is not real strong. SO my preference would be to go with what we have rather than throw money at a guy who can't stay on the field as much as Griffey Jr. over the recent past. Just my opinion.

Dunn accumulated

those extra hits and RBI's because he has had 3871 AB's compared to Bradley's 2867 AB's.

I'm sure Bradley wasn't healthy after his knee injury at the end of 2007 and was probably delegated to the DH role because the Rangers had M. Byrd, 980 FP, 298 BA, 380 OBP, D Murphy, 991 FP, 275 BA, 321 OBP, and J Hamilton, 984 FP, 304 BA, 371 OBP, in the outfield.

It's not like Bradley is hurt going into 2009 and when the Cubs are already defensively challenged at SS and LF, I can't see why the Cubs would add a third defensively challenged player unless he was the total package offensively, which Dunn most certainly is not.

Better get a HoverRound

Career AB's are my major argument against Bradley. For his 9 year Big League career I think he is closer to 3300 AB's counting walks and sacrifices. For his 8 year ML career Dunn is closer to 4700 AB's with walks and sacrifices. DUNN PLAYS IN GAMES ON THE FIELD. What is your plan when Bradley gets hurt? Fukudome should be on the field already. If he is platooned in CF and then used if Bradley gets hurt, that will be a ton of money for RF. If you think Bradley is the total package offensively, I would like to sit in your circle. Puff, Puff give. Full Season Averages for Bradley who is 30 years old: (a year and a half older than a healthy Dunn) .280 AVG, 20 HR's 76 RBI's, 84 R's, 14 SB's, 7 E's. Those are averages for a FULL SEASON (something we should not expect), if that is the total package you want to wrap up for 3 years 30 million. That is your opinion. I myself would pay the guy who plays everyday, and close my eyes like he does when a ball is hit his way.. If we sign Bradley it should be for 5-6 million with bonuses for games played. Maybe he will stay on the field for the money??

Devil's Advocate...

If we sign Bradley and he's only good for 2/3 of a season, Fukudome would slide back to right and the CF combo would be SoulPatch & the Speedy Car Jumper. Yes? Unless Pie is still around. And if we decide on Dunn...left or right field? Soriano has the better arm (and wheels) which should make a 'smoother' transition.

I'm still undecided on the Dunn/Bradley choice. I think there are valid pros & cons for each guy.

I claimed Dunn

wasn't the total offensive package and was a significant defensive liability and while Bradley may not be an MVP offensively, he sure performed like one last year and is a plus defender in the outfield. I'd just rather have a complete player if we're going to sign a guy for $10M per.

Let's look at it this way.

If you sign Bradley, you get a complete offensive player who is statistically proven to be a plus defender in the outfield but has a questionable injury history. When you take a closer look at that injury history however you see that his most recent injury was a total fluke and predicting injuries for any player accept maybe a pitcher, is highly suspect. Bradley has been checked out physically by the Cubs already and appears to be in fine shape.

If you sign Dunn, you get a HR hitter that takes a lot of walks, has a career average under 250, is as slow as a turtle and has years of history as a major defensive liability. There is no question that Dunn's defense will subtract from his offensive production.

Signing Bradley and hoping for the best concerning his amount of playing time seems much less of a gamble than signing Dunn and hoping he doesn't sustain a concussion from all the fly balls bouncing off his head.

Gaudin left off

I forgot to put Gaudin in the bullpen. Don't know why, I just had a brain freeze.

Very fine post. Hoffpauir

Very fine post. Hoffpauir hasn't gotten enough love on this site. He'll be a very valuable bench player for the Cubs in 2009. However, I agree with Kurt and others, that his defensive shortcomings will likely prevent him from starting in the outfield often.

Speaking of defensive shortcomings, let me say that I'm on the Milton Bradley side of the LHRFFA argument. Just so my vote is tallied.

And speaking of Hoffpauir, another player that we saw towards the end of the season last year that hasn't really been talked about is Casey McGehee. Admittedly he didn't do too well when he was called up, but presumably he was called up for a reason. He's gotta be the AAA 3B starter, right? If Cedeno is moved, I'm not sure if Miles can do 3B; maybe McGehee will get another look. Almost certainly in spring training.

McGehee is one of many (Hart, Guzman, Pie even) that has earned his way on to the major league roster, but hasn't seen it click yet. If a couple of these guys break through for 2009, that'll be a real boost.

As one final comment, I think your bullpen projection is leaving out a couple of names. I've composed a reader blog post about the subject, and recommend you check it out.

Word!

McGehee...

is in Milwaukee.

Thanks for clarifying!

Thanks for clarifying!

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