What's left this offseason?
This is really where things get slow around blogs like this one.
After the World Series is over, we have the Winter Meetings to look forward to. After that, there's usually a few big free agent signings that keep us interested.
Now, the big moves are old news. Jason Bay is a Met; Matt Holliday is a Cardinal; Cliff Lee is a Mariner; Roy Halladay is a Phillie. Et cetera, ad nauseum, deus ex machina, e pluribus unum.
So what's left for Cub fans between now and the start of Spring Training?
The latest buzz has been about adding a 4th outfielder and a veteran reliever. Other discussions have involved adding another starting pitcher (Ben Sheets is usually the subject of the conversation).
To get the creative juices flowing one last time before pitchers and catchers report, allow me to make a short list of remaining free agents, sorted by position. For each spot, I'll tab my favorite, and tell you why I like them.
Outfield - Given Soriano's health, Fukudome's intolerance for lefties, and Byrd's lack of experience as a full-timer, adding a reliable 4th outfielder should be a top priority for the Cubs.
Decent options: Johnny Damon, Eric Byrnes, Reed Johnson, Randy Winn, Rick Ankiel, Rocco Baldelli, Jermaine Dye, Jim Edmonds (lolz!)
TOP PICK: Xavier Nady
Johnson and Edmonds are probably the average fan's top choices for the job, mostly because they've played for the Cubs before. But really, this is a two-horse race between Nady and Dye. Over their careers, the X-Man and JD are actually pretty similar hitters. Dye's shown a little more power, but their career OPSes are about .800 and .825 respectively. On defense, however, the race is not close. Nady is far and away the better outfielder of the two. Nady's injury history makes it a closer race (just recently recovered from Tommy John surgery), but even counting for that, Nady's gotta be the guy for the job.
Infield - The Cubs will probably be OK with their current crop, whether they decide to keep Theriot at SS and split 2B at-bats between Jeff Baker and Mike Fontenot, or move Ryan to the keystone and put a young glove at short like Andres Blanco or The Great Starlin Castro. Having said that, there are some names out there that could dramatically improve the team.
Decent options: Miguel Tejada, Orlando Hudson
TOP PICK: Felipe Lopez
As Lopez is a client of Scott Boras, any chance he has of wearing a Cubs uniform in April 2010 will come down to money. If another team is willing to spend big on him, they'll get him, but if his price comes down, the Cubs could very quickly upgrade their middle infield by adding him. Last year he hit .310 with 50 extra base hits, and he's an above-average defender at both 2nd and 3rd base.
Decent options: Jose Contreras, Kevin Gregg (lolz!), Octavio Dotel, Seth McClung, Guillermo Mota, Joe Nelson, Chan Ho Park, Shane Loux
TOP PICK: Kiko Calero
I actually have no idea what Shane Loux' numbers look like. And frankly, I don't really care. That's the problem with relievers: over the course of 50 innings, it's really hard to tell what you can actually expect from a guy. I mean, there's a reason these guys aren't starting pitchers, set-up men or closers -- they're good, but not THAT good. I'm going with Rob's mancrush here, but really whoever's willing to do the job for the smallest number of dollars is fine by me.
Starters - May as well go re-watch that Ocean's 11 clip for this spot, too.
Decent options: Erik Bedard, Jon Garland, Rich Hill (lolz!), Braden Looper, Mark Mulder, Vicente Padilla, Joel Pinero
TOP PICK: Ben Sheets
I can't imagine ANYONE being willing to guarantee Sheets eight digits of money, so from there it's a willingness-to-pay question. If someone wants to guarantee him $8 or $9 million, they can have him. At $6 or $7 mil, I think he becomes a prudent investment for the Cubs.
Now wasn't that fun? Who are your favorites? Who do you expect the Cubs to actually add?