Goatriders of the Apocalypse

In a blaze of hell and fury

As promised, today's epic post will be about many of the numerous trade and transaction speculations made by various members of the Goat Rider Army.  As I said in last night's blog, I will try to point out the bad and the good in each trade idea.  And remember, I truly believe that Jim Hendry himself could retire from the Cubs, take a job as an analyst for ESPN, and write about trade suggestions all day every day and he'd come off looking like a tool.  It's almost impossible for amateurs like us to not be completely wrong about trade talks.

1. Angel Guzman is ready to pitch
The Good: Guzman was at one point considered to have more promise than Mark Prior.  Instead, he turned out to have as many health problems as The Franchise.  However, after pitching for the Cubs at the tail end of '08, Guzman is now playing very well in Winter Ball and maybe, just maybe, at long last, he's ready to pitch in the Major Leagues.
The Bad: Maybe this is true.  But let's take a look at the past half decade for Guzman:
2003 - his season was cut short with a damaged shoulder.
2004 - Various injuries limited his season to 11 starts and an 0-3, 5.60 ERA at AA and a 4.20 ERA at A
2005 - More injuries; Guzman threw in 6 total games this season.
2006 - Arm cramping and other mechanical issues keeps Guzman from being an effective pitcher
2007 - Tommy John Surgery, at long last
2008 - Guzman returns from TJS and pitches ineffectively for the Cubs.
The thing I said about Guzman this season is that, while he once had ungodly stuff, it appears as though his numerous surgeries have shaved off some of his talent.  Now, Guzman may at long last be healthy enough to contribute.  He might be the unspoken answer to the middle relief question.  But his long history of arm problems makes Harden look as reliable as Maddux.

2. Adam Dunn would be a good choice to spell D.Lee while playing off the bench for the Cubs.
The Good: Well, it's true.  Dunn kills the ball at Wrigley Field and he would be a damaging force for the Cubs.  Can't contest that.
The Bad: Dunn is going to make 8 figures next year, and for a long time to come.  There is just no way that he would sign with a team to be a bench player.  None.  Not gonna happen.  You're dreaming.

3. Mike Fontenot is a 25-30 HR hitter who would serve the Cubs far better than Brian Roberts.
The Good: Fontenot was certainly a valuable Cub in '08.  In 243 at bats, the little lefty batted .305 with a .395 OBP.  He hit 9 homeruns, drove in 40, and most impressively smacked 22 doubles.  In 479 career at bats, Fontenot is now batting .290 with a .369 OBP, he's hit 34 doubles, 12 homers, and driven in 69 RBI while maintaining an OPS of .826.  In other words, for a guy who can only reach his listed height of 5'8" by standing on his tippy-toes, he's been an effective major leaguer. 
The Bad: He would be a less expensive option to Roberts, but he would also come nowhere close to ever hitting 25-30 homeruns over a full season, nor would he match the production of the Orioles switch-hitting second baseman.  There's just no way that Fontenot has the ability to outslug Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez, or even Mark DeRosa or Geovany Soto.  No way.  His best role is that of bench star, and that's where he should remain.

4. Lefties, lefties, lefties.  The Cubs could stock their team with the best pitchers in all of baseball, but without a few more lefty hitters in their lineup, they'll never get through the playoffs.   Just take a look at all the World Championship teams of the past half decade.  Almost all of them had a bunch of good, lefty hitters.
The Good: Well, this is more a philosophy than a trade suggestion, but this one is flat out right.  As much as I hate to admit it, having a more balanced lineup of effective hitters would increase the team's chances of going deep through the playoffs. 
The Bad: You can't trade for the player who isn't available, and you can't sign the free agent that doesn't exist.  There really aren't many great lefty hitters out there.  Hell, the Cubs appear poised to spring on Mark Teahen, for Crist's sake!  (Charlie Crist, Governor of Florida.)  Therefore, while more lefties would be good, what's better would be to improve the team with the best available players - like Jake Peavy.

5. Screw that!  Jake Peavy is so good that the Cubs could just reshuffle their current lineup and they'd be fine with Peavy in the rotation.
The Good: The Good would be Jake Peavy.  I'm with Rob on this one - imagine a Cubs team in which Rich Harden - you know, the guy with the Sub 2.00 ERA last year - was the Cubs #5 pitcher.  Just imagine.  It's... well, it's flippin' awesome is what it is.  Besides, if your pitching is good enough, you could have the crappiest offense in the playoffs and it wouldn't matter.
The Bad: I think that the offense might flounder so much that it would be a struggle to get to the playoffs.  I neither trust DeRosa in RF, nor do I trust Fontenot at 2B.  An offensive upgrade or two this off season is essential.

6. The Cubs really need to actively seek a left-handed leadoff man.  Soriano just doesn't cut it, especially in the playoffs.
The Good: I think we all agree that a lefty leadoff man with a pedigree for walks and speed would be nice.  Real nice.  Roberts or Furcal very well might do the trick in this case.  Moving Soriano and his ability to drive runs in to 5th in the lineup would make the Cubs offense ridiculously dangerous. 
The Bad: You can't argue with the success of the Cubs since Soriano started leading off for them.  And while it's true that Sori has been crappy in the playoffs, there is no way to predict that he'll be crappy every post season series.  Sooner or later, he's going to put up big numbers in October, and when that happens nobody will care where he's batting in the lineup.

7. The Cubs have given us so many years of heartbreak and losing that they should spend every penny to get every key player in order to form a super team that will help them win the World Series.  At any cost.
The Good: Sure, this would be a fun idea.  Trade for Peavy, sign Furcal, bring back Wood, lock up Dunn, the Cubs - or Yankees Central, as they'd become known - would be a fun team to watch. 
The Bad: You know another thing that would be fun to watch?  Flames shooting from me arse.  That would be fun.  But like the At Any Cost approach, flames will not be shooting from me arse any time soon.

8. Forget Peavy, stick with Marquis or pursue the cheap alternative that is Randy Johnson, because the Cubs money needs to be spent on a switch-hitting leadoff man.
The Good: It's hard to argue with improving the offense.  Also, while old, broken, and ugly, Randy Johnson probably will have a year comparable to Marquis, if not perhaps slightly better. 
The Bad: Maybe the keywords there are "old" and "broken."  Sure, Marquis might not be the best choice to pitch #5 for the Cubs, but the answer isn't to turn to a broke-down lefty.  The Cubs have plenty of pitching prospects they can turn to if Marquis winds up dealt somehow.  Besides, with Harden and Zambrano being moderate-to-severe injury risks, obtaining a third pitcher who is an injury risk might be temping the fates just a little too much.  Can anybody say 1985?

9. Micah Hoffpauir has the ability to hit 30 homeruns a season and should get the nod to play RF.
The Good: It's hard to contest that Hoffpauir had a great 2008.  As an Iowa Cub, the Hoff batted .362 in 290 at bats with 25 homers and 100 RBI.  Upon being called up to Chicago, Hoffpauir batted .342 with 2 homers and 8 RBI in 73 at bats - with both homeruns coming in the same game.  Without a doubt, he's earned the opportunity to make the team in 2009, in order to serve - at the very least - as a left-handed bat off the bench.
The Bad: Hoffpauir is going to be 29 next year.  Sure, he had a good season, especially at Iowa, but let's not forget that this was his fifth year facing AAA pitching.  If Hoffpauir is such a potentially good player, major league teams would be blowing up Jim Hendry's phone in order to persuade him to make a deal, because Hoff should be starting somewhere if there's no room for him in Chicago.  The reality is, Hoffpauir will be an "average" major leaguer at best with below average defensive skills.

10. Brian Roberts should be conned from the Orioles to leadoff for the Cubs.
The Good: Roberts is very good.  He's still young, he steals a lot of bases, I've heard no negative complaints about his defense, and he's one of the best - if not the best - leadoff men in the game today.  There is no doubt that he would be a drastic improvement in tha position for the Cubs.
The Bad: With DeRosa playing second base, the need for Roberts is not great.  Furthermore, Roberts would be costly-if-not-impossible to acquire.  The Orioles do not want to part with him and he will be pricey.

11. Marquis + Pie = Nate McLouth. 
The Good: That would be McLouth in this case.  At the age of 27, McClouth made less than 500k last season.  He batted .276 for the Pirates, hitting 26 homers, driving in 94 RBI, and he stole 23 bases in 26 tries while walking 65 times.  In other words, he's a total stud.
The Bad: Maybe Jim Hendry could wine and dine the Pirates GM before making this trade offer.  Maybe if Neal Huntington was really, really drunk, he'd agree to this trade.  But in reality, there is no way the Pirates deal McLouth, especially not for a mediocre #5 pitcher and a prospect who is at risk of falling into the "failed" category.  McLouth puts up the numbers that some people wish Fontenot would put up - and if Fontenot put up McLouth's numbers, those same people would deem him untradable.  Let's just call this what it is - sipping the Cubbie Blue Koolaid while wearing the Rose Colored Glasses.  McLouth is a tremendous asset for the Pirates; they would never trade him for the crap combo of Marquis and Pie.  And considering that this same reader suggested that the Cubs might basically have to give Marquis away ... well, you get what I'm saying.

12. The Royals might be inevitable trade partners.  If not for Teahen - who Colin is nuts to defend - then for DeJesus, who is an ideal leadoff guy. 
The Good: Well, the Royals are known to give up players who start to earn real money.  David DeJesus is a left-handed center fielder making more than 2 million a year and he puts up respectable numbers.  He batted .307 last year with a .366 OBP, 11 steals, 12 homers, 25 doubles, and 7 triples.  He also doesn't strike out too often and his career numbers reflect that he'd do well: .287 AVG, .360 OBP.  As for Teahen as the right fielder, a .255 AVG plus 15 homeruns in 572 at bats (and a .715 OPS) does not make for a great offensive upgrade.  Put it to you this way, Colin - you've said that DeRosa wouldn't put up enough offense to justify being a regular RF.  Do you really think Teahen would outproduce DeRosa?
The Bad: I don't know about his defense, but DeJesus is only a somewhat respectable leadoff option.  He doesn't steal a lot of bases, in fact he gets caught way too often - he's stolen 40 in his career and has been caught a ridiculous 31 times.  As for Teahen, we really don't know what kind of numbers he might put up in a different ballpark and with a different batting coach.  But if he can come anywhere close to duplicating his rookie numbers over a full season, we might be talking a .290 AVG, a .874 OPS, and 26 homeruns.

13. Orlando Hudson = defensive gold
The Good: He wins Gold Gloves and he hits probably in a comparable way to what DeRosa will hit next year, should DeRo return to EarthRo.  Not to mention his age - Hudson is only 31 next year.  He's also a switch hitter.
The Bad: While answering the quest to improve defensively, Hudson missed time due to injury last year and he's no offensive upgrade.  In fact, while he might match DeRo's average offensive production, he certainly won't surpass it, nor would he put up the kind of production that we saw from DeRosa in '08.

In Conclusion

You could probably summarize this article by saying that it was very internet of me.  In other words, I took ideas - some good, some bad, some unrealistic - and took a heaping crap on all of them, although I did try to positively spin them all as well.  It's very Internet Trollish to say "I hates it!  I hates it!" no matter what it is.

I've posted in the past my thoughts on what is realistic and unreasonable, and I'll probably post updated thoughts early in the week.  I welcome all to crap heapingly on my own opinions as well.  In the meantime, I think we will all agree on one thing: nobody wants the Cubs to stand pat.  They have a few moves to make, a few things to do, and I think we're all very curious - if not outright anxious - to see what they are.

And regardless of what Hendry does, I'm sure we'll dump on him a bit.  Nobody is ever always happy, after all, especially not Cub fans.

You know a thing

I know I've overlooked, as well as a few who have posted suggestions for upgrading the Cubs is how many of the most successful teams are composed of at least one youngster, and in a case like the Rays, many.

It's sure been a tough approach for a Cubs organization that has produced so few good position players, but I just can't see the Cubs not really giving Pie a chance to play everyday in the outfield.

Unless the Cubs break the bank on an Abreu-like big name free agent, what second tier RF'er could we acquire who would make a significant offensive contribution and not place the Cubs in a position to have butcher boy bookends in the outfield? A player like Ibanez hasn't played but a handful of games in RF, would cost plenty and is an average LF'er at best. Hell, if the Cubs are not concerned with defense, they already have a player in the system that doesn't cost squat in Hoffpauir, to plug in RF.

It's not that the Cubs would be left without options if Pie failed, as DeRosa or Twirly Bird could step in by All Star break and if Pie doesn't cut it, the Cubs could make a trading deadline move for a productive replacement. There most likely would be a least a rent-a-player that could help at that time.

I know Pie has not progressed as hoped for but could his first half of '09 be any worse than the Asian Acrobat was the last half of '08. Pie certainly doesn't have much trade value now, and he's out of options and will be waived if not kept on the roster.

The Cubs wouldn't be doing Pie or themselves for that matter any favors by keeping him on bench. Young players need to play everyday and Pie may very well prove to be the everyday CF'er we've been looking for. It's a long season and to just let him rot on the bench or let him leave via waivers, just seems to be foolish.

In a perfect world the Cubs could get both a quality leadoff man and LH thumper to play RF, but the Cubs are not in as big a need for power as they are a quality leadoff man. Hendry's first priority should be a leadoff man, whatever position he plays.

World Series

You say Hoffpauir is too old at 29 , well for the love of Sheb Wooley, Roberts and Furcal have grand kid I'm told. R. Johnson voted Goldwater or was it Lincoln. Hell , it has been 100 yrs what will another year or 2 hurt, let's build from within so it will last.

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