Looking like an unrelenting idiot
On the weekend, I wrote two articles highlighting some of the suggested moves by the Goat Rider Army, and then discussing those moves in greater detail while ripping them apart. This led to a brief war of words between gunsnascar (or g&n, as I call him) who thought I was talking down to everybody while elevating myself.
Far from it. I know I'm an idiot - I write on a blog that has a hooded figure with a scythe riding atop a goat as its logo. I also know that while I've been proven to be pretty good at guessing value and cost regarding free agents, my trade speculations are just as absurd as anybody's. I also believe in fair play and I might as well open myself to the same level of criticism as everybody else. So let us begin. Read On.
I will be breaking this down into two sections, really. After outlining the needs and whatnot, I will list the free agents of most interest to me. I will then actually suggest the direct moves I think the Cubs should consider making.
The Needs: Middle Relief, Kerry Wood, and RF are top priorities. 2B, SS, and a backup C are secondary priorities.
Players who should get off my planet!: Jason Marquis (9.875 million)
Players of interest: On the free agent front, the following guys might look good in Cub uniforms:
Juan Cruz - 30, 51.2 IP, 4-0, 2.61 ERA
If Hendry doesn't trust what he already has, then Cruz might be his top choice on the market for a middle reliever. Chances are he will command between 3 and 5 million per year for 3 or 4 years.
Brian Fuentes - 33, 62.2 IP, 1-5, 2.73 ERA, 30 SV, 4 BLSV LHP
Chances are, Fuentes doesn't fit the needs of the Cubs. While they certainly could use a lefty reliever better than Neal Cotts, Fuentes has been a successful closer for 4 seasons and will probably attach his star to a team looking for a guy to get the last out. He should make more than 5 million a year, although at his age anything more than 3 years would be a risk.
Kerry Wood - 31, 66.1 IP, 5-4, 3.26 ERA, 34 SV, 6 BLSV
Well, this won't happen. I kind of wish it would. If Hendry was able to deal Marquis and clear some payroll space, Wood gives the Cubs 2 great setup men in Samardzija and Marmol, a quality righty middle reliever in Gregg and possibly Wuertz, and 2 respectable lefty relievers who can be used as per their ability and situation in Marshall and Cotts. Plus he'd probably come back for 6-8 million a year, and said he'd accept a 1 year deal although Hendry should offer him a 2fer.
Joe Beimel - 32, 49 IP, 5-1, 2.02 ERA, LHP
Beimel was one of those annoyingly successful pitchers for the Dodgers last October. He had good numbers, he's a lefty, and his inclusion on the team would mean no more Neal Cotts. He'll probably get a 3 year deal for 4 million per year.
RF Bobby Abreu - 35, 609 AB, 39 2B, 4 3B, 20 HR, 100 RBI, 22 SB, .296 AVG, .405 OBP, .903 OPS, Switch Hitter
Abreu is coveted by a lot of Cub fans because of his long experience of succeeding in the major leagues. My concern is that he's 35 next year and defensively meh-diocre. He should very well receive similar pay to what he made last year - he'll probably get a 3 or 4 year deal for 14 million a year, or more.
RF Adam Dunn - 29, 517 AB, 23 2B, 40 HR, 100 RBI, .236 AVG, .386 OBP, .898 OPS, LHB
Adam Dunn is a conundunn. Er, a conundrum. A typical fan will ask "ok, so Dunn's statuesque defensive skills are ok, but Abreu's not?" The difference is that Dunn hits twice as many homeruns as Bobby, making him such a superior offensive player that his defensive misgivings are forgivable. Not to mention his love of smacking the ball around Wrigley Field. He's probably going to earn 14-16 million a year over either 3 years of 5, depending on whether or not he wants to exit early for another payday. Also, if he signs with the Cubs I will nickname him "Justice," as in Justice Dunn, because it sounds incredibly ... well, incredibly lame, but that's the way I roll.
RF Raul Ibanez - 37, 635 AB, 43 2B, 3 3B, 23 HR, 110 RBI, .293 AVG, .358 OBP, .837 OPS, LHB
Another guy who doesn't really play right field. The value of Ibanez is debatable due to his age, but he very likely will sign a 2 year deal for less money than Abreu or Dunn.
OF Pat Burrell - 32, 536 AB, 33 2B, 3 3B, 33 HR, 86 RBI, .250 AVG, .367 OBP, .874 OPS, RHB
The poor man's Adam Dunn does what Dunn does from the right hand side of the plate and for probably 3 or 4 million less in a season. Unlike Dunn, Burrell has zero - none - experience playing RF.
RF Milton Bradley - 30, 414 AB, 32 2B, 22 HR, 77 RBI, .321 AVG, .436 OBP, .999 OPS, Bats Switch
Bradley may not be healthy enough to play RF for a full season, but he's actually such a good offensive star that he might be worth it. Especially consider that he'll be comparatively the free agent loser when it comes to dollars paid out to him for his services.
2B Orlando Hudson - 30, 407 AB, 29 2B, 3 3B, 8 HR, .305 AVG, .367 OBP, .817 OPS, Bats Switch
Hudson is hardly Brian Roberts, but he is infinitely more acquirable. He is a defensive Gold Glover, he's offensively solid, and he shouldn't make more than 8 million next year.
SS Orlando Cabrera - 34, 661 AB, 33 2B, 1 3B, 8 HR, 57 RBI, .281 AVG, .334 OBP, .705 OPS, 19 SB, 6 CS
Offensively, he's Ryan Theriot with slightly more pop and a better glove. Cabrera is a little too old for my tastes, but his defense alone makes him worthy of consideration. Last year he made 10 million. If he'd accept a 3 year deal for no more than 8 million a year, the Cubs should look to pursue him.
SS Edgar Renteria - 33, 503 AB, 22 2B, 2 3B, 10 HR, 55 RBI, .270 AVG, .317 OBP, .699 OPS, 6 SB, 3 CS
If he can play his career averages - .290 AVG, .347 OBP, etc., this 7-time All Star might be worth pursuing. He is also a 2 time Gold Glove winner, although it has now been half a decade since his last trophy. Renteria also made 10 million last year. At 33 and with such a bad '08 behind him, I'd hope that no team would sign him for more than 6 or 7 million a year on average. Maybe a 2 year deal, so he could have the opportunity to sign with another team at 35 for a bigger payday.
At long last, what I would actually advocate the Cubs do:
First, what is next year's payroll? I'm assuming it will be $130 million - a far cry from the $150 million we were once told it might be.
Assuming arbitration figures and payroll increases to non-arbitration eligible players who deserve it anyway, I'm going to assume that the Cubs payroll for next season, as it stands right now, is closing in on $130 million. I could just as easily take the other "pile o' money" stance, but if Jim Hendry says there's not enough money to sign Kerry Wood, then I can't believe they have a lot of cash to roll around in. I want to clear some "cap" space, so here's what I'll be doing:
1. Trade Jason Marquis, Felix Pie, Tyler Colvin, and Reed Johnson to the Royals for David DeJesus and Mark Teahen
Why this might work: Colvin and Pie are both young players projected to have upside. Pie and Johnson give the Royals players immediately ready to perform at the Major League Level while Marquis gives them another reliable arm. The Royals might not be able to afford the expense of Jason's contract, but the Cubs will be off-setting it by taking more than 5 million off their books through DeJesus and Teahen.
Why I'm a flaming idiot: Colvin's worth is debatable, but what's also debatable is whether or not he's got enough value at this point to be considered a bargaining chip for ML caliber players. Additionally, while the Royals might be receptive to a proven starting pitcher who they won't have a long-term obligation to, Marquis might not be the kind of arm they are looking for. Either way, this trade frees up as much as $6 million in payroll space once everything is settled.
2. Trade Mark DeRosa, Ryan Theriot, Ted Lilly, and Donnie Veal (minor league SP) to the Colorado Rockies for Jeff Francis, RF Seth Smith, and IF Jonathan Herrera
Why this might work: It depends on a number of factors. Are the Rockies trying to compete next year? Are they rebuilding? The trade of Holliday might spell doom on this trade before it even has a chance to begin, as the Rockies look like they might be going with a straight up youth movement. But if they are trying to compete next year, DeRosa and Theriot bring depth while Lilly becomes one of the best pitchers on the team. Francis is a younger, less expensive starting pitcher who had arm problems and an off-year, although his K/IP and K/BB aren't awful, and my general theory in this regard is that if you can get a younger, less expensive version of the player you're dealing, even if there is some risk, then you need to go for it. As for Smith and Herrera, they might be the real gems of the deal. Smith is a left-handed RFer who could compete with Teahen for the job while Herrera is a young middle infielder with some speed and discipline who could develop into a leadoff-hitter type.
Why I'm a flaming idiot: Actually I pretty much already described why I'm an idiot. The Rebuildin' Rockies aren't going to be interested in taking a lot of salary. Even if they would trade Francis, it would be adding a third injury-risk arm to the rotation - and a third Canadian. However, if this trade actually occurred, the Cubs would free up probably more than 12 million on next season.
So, suddenly, where they were once at their 130 million cap, they would now have about 16 million to play with.
Sign 2B Orlando Hudson to a 4 year, 36 million dollar deal paying 5 million in Year One, 9 million in Year Two, 11 million in Year Three, and 11 million in Year Four.
Sign SS Orlando Cabrera to a 2 year, 16 million dollar deal paying 5 million in Year One, 11 million in year 2, and with a 3rd year for a $12 million mutual option which kicks in automatically based on performance.
Sign CL Kerry Wood to a 2 year, 14 million dollar deal paying 6 million in Year One and 8 million in Year 2.
Sign C Henry Blanco to a 2 year, 3 million dollar deal paying 1 million in Year One and 2 million in Year 2.
Kurt's Final Roster
SP Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster, Jeff Francis, Rich Harden, Jeff Samardzija
MR Neal Cotts, Sean Marshall, Michael Wuertz, Kevin Gregg, Angel Guzman, Rich Hill, Chad Gaudin, Carlos Marmol
CL Kerry Wood
C Geo Soto, Henry Blanco
1B Derrek Lee, Micah Hoffpauir
2B Orlando Hudson, Mike Fontenot, Jon Herrera
SS Orlando Cabrera, Ronny Cedeno
3B Aramis Ramirez, Mike Fontenot
LF Alfonso Soriano, Mark Teahen, Micah Hoffpauir
CF David DeJesus, Kosuke Fukudome, Seth Smith, Jon Herrera
RF Seth Smith, Kosuke Fukudome, David DeJesus, Mark Teahen, Micah Hoffpauir
For the record, that's a 29 man roster, but I figure that Herrera can probably return to the minors or perhaps one of the 9 relievers wouldn't make the cut.
Here's the ideal lineup:
CF Kosuke Fukudome - high OBP, good steal potential
2B Orlando Hudson - high OBP, fair bat potential
3B Aramis Ramirez - best pure hitter on the team
LF Alfonso Soriano - ability to hit homeruns and outrun DP balls make him an ideal candidate
C Geovany Soto - A talented hitter who should be 3rd in the team in homeruns next year
1B Derrek Lee - Still a good hitter, but he doesn't have the pop to belong at the top of the lineup anymore
RF David DeJesus - If he doesn't bat 7th, he might be an ideal #2 hitter, if not leadoff
SS Orlando Cabrera - doesn't have the hitting skills he used to, but he should still be a good #8 hitter
The Cubs would suddenly have an influx of lefties in the lineup and they'd have a number of choices for RF and CF. Maybe DeJesus would emerge the winner, maybe it would be Smith, maybe even Teahen. Regardless, the Cubs would be versatile, they'd be younger, and they'd still have a team built well enough to win.
So ... how crazy am I? Am I even crazier than I said I would be?