Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Fixing it with cash


While we wait for AJ's recap ...

As we noted yesterday, Jim Hendry has a history of failing to draft and develop players, causing him to throw ridiculous piles of money at free agents to fix his team's gaping, glaring holes. While it would be nice to think that the Cubs will be able to trade away Milton "Problem Child" Bradley, or Alfonso Soriano for that matter, realistically we're stuck with the outfield the Cubs have for at least one more year -- or at least a portion of it. So if the Cubs are going to improve anywhere, it will likely be in the middle infield (2B, SS), perhaps at the back end of the starting rotation, and in the bullpen.

Obviously, any moves the Cubs make are contingent on the so-called completion of the team's sale to the Ricketts family. But if the team should happen to have money to spend, the following players might be right up their alley:

(with a tip of the hat to MLB Trade Rumors)
2B Brian Roberts -- this guy is right in Jim's wheelhouse. He's on the wrong side of 30 (will be 32 next year), he's been coveted by Hendry for several seasons, and he will likely command a ridiculous sum on the free agent market. He's also presently one of the better hitting second basemen in baseball, a walks and steals machine, who would give the Cubs their first legitimate leadoff hitter since Kenny Lofton in '03.
Editors note: Turns out that this is a somewhat old list and Google is not my friend.  Roberts is unavailable.  MLB Trade Rumors has a much more up-to-date list available and I will write a revised version of this column on the weekend.

SS Miguel Tejada -- another long-time Hendry coveted. Tejada is far removed from his growth-induced offensive dominance, as he's only hit 23 homeruns in his last 2 seasons in homer-happy Houston. At this point, at the age of 36 next year, Tejada probably isn't worth the excessive money he'll command over Theriot, who is a clueless base-runner and hapless shortstop but a bargain for his present pay.

SP - there are a handful of interesting arms out there. Long-time reliever Justin Duchscherer of Oakland fame is having a very good year as a starter, posting a 2.54 ERA (and more impressively, allowing 107 hits and 34 walks in 141.2 innings of work so far). John Lackey is a long-time decent starter for the Angels, but after starting only 24 games last year he is on pace to start even fewer this season. Other less-inticing options include Erik Bedard, who's been injury prone in Seattle, and Brett Myers, who's probably going to command a Marquis-like contract for no good reason.

RP - there are no game-breaking closers available, although a handful of options deserve consideration. Rafael Soriano, the 29-year-old Braves closer, has 17 saves and, more impressively, 74 SO in 54.0 innings of work along with a 2.50 ERA. Otherwise, Houston closer Jose Valverde may also be available. He led the NL in saves in '07 and '08, has a career 11.1 SO/9 ratio, and a career ERA of 3.22.

I'm sure there are other worth-while options out there, as I'm sure a few trades will be made (or at least I hope so). But realistically the team we have is the team we are stuck with -- too many of these players have large contracts with no-trade clauses. Still, there are ways to improve, a handful of new players mixed with a return to even average production from our team's stars would be a strong improvement over what we've seen in '09.

Roberts isn't a free agent

He signed a 4-year contract extension this February for $40 million:
http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=3921371

Looks like MLB Trade Rumors needs to update their list (which is from September 2008).

I agree with your statement in the last parapraph: "But realistically the team we have is the team we are stuck with..." We're going to have to hope for bounceback years from key players and a successful minor addition here or there.

pitching

I like Justin Duchscherer and wouldn't mind seeing him in a Cubs uniform and while I hate Jose Valverde my guess is I'd hate him less if he was being a showboat in a Cubs uniform (see Zambino for reference)

Chicago Tribune's Chicago's Best Blogs award