Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Taking the piss -- rebuilding from the ground up

It is undeniably one of the worst features of fans that we always seem to want our team to rebuild -- often from scratch. The Cubs last year won 97 games and made the playoffs, but a 3-game exit led some people to cry, Emperor-style, "wipe them out ... ALL OF THEM!"
The thing is, you don't sink the ship to fix the mast.

Still, a fun part of being an obsessive fan is coming up with ridiculous trade moves. So let's pretend that Tom Ricketts succeeds in buying the Cubs (and I still think it's the most ridiculous team sale I've ever seen) and announces a plan to rebuild from scratch. "It's a new five year plan," he says. "Which doesn't mean we won't win before then. But we're going to build an organization and grow this team from top to bottom. That means we're cleaning house."

If that happened -- not saying it should, but if it did -- and if the Cubs were able to convince their players to waive their no-trade clauses (another big if) these are the kinds of moves I would make.

***DISCLAIMER*** The following moves are not reflective of my desire to flush the roster away.  On the contrary, I would never actually advocate that.  Likewise, the suggested trades I am offering only exist in the twisted reality of my brain -- it is extremely unlikely that any of them would or even could happen.  A note I always like to make is that everybody who suggest trade ideas ultimately ends up looking and sounding stupid.  I know, then, that these trade suggestions look really, really dumb. 

Still, I understand that as you read through my assessments and suggestions they will fill you with RAGE and ALIENATION and you will feel the overwhelming urge to tell me about how much of an F--KING IDIOT I am.  Please go right ahead, that's what the comments section is for. ***END DISCLAIMER***

C Geovany Soto - I'd keep him. He's young, inexpensive, and despite his boutes with consistency this year he's got a ton of promise.

1B Derrek Lee - Assuming Lee agrees to be dealt, chances are he won't accept trades to many teams. One team that has been surprisingly competitive that might benefit from Lee's hot bat. At a glance, that team could be the Mariners, assuming they could take on his salary -- and assuming he'd willingly go there under any condition.

2B Mike Fontenot - Assuming he has any value left after this abortion of a season, I would probably try to deal him. However, he's inexpensive and probably serviceable as a backup, so my inclination would be to keep him around until a good offer was made.

SS Ryan Theriot - He'll probably never be more valuable than he is right now. Therefore, I'd offer up Theriot to any team hungry for a shortstop. At the moment, the competitive teams in the most need for an affordable shortstop are the Twins, Giants, Phillies, Tigers, Mets, Red Sox, and the Rangers. But what can the Cubs get for him? Probably a middling prospect or somebody who doesn't fit into a deep position with his current team.  On the other hand, he's perhaps valuable enough to warrant a package deal in which the Cubs unload one of their unwanted cast-offs.  So, let's revisit Theriot later.

3B Aramis Ramirez - Why not?  Now on the wrong side of 30 with a shoulder injury that will probably never go away, if a team would be interested in taking Ramirez and his contract while offering up something comparable in return, I'd make the trade.  Teams that might consider Rammy include the Red Sox, Mariners, Rangers, Phillies, and perhaps a few others.

LF Alfonso Soriano - Here we meet the crux of the problem.  Soriano is signed to 5 more seasons at a ridiculous cost.  He may meet the production of past years in the future, but this year has to cause Hendry (or any other prospective candidate to trade for him) to wake up in a deep sweat every night.  If the Cubs are able to deal Soriano, they'll have to be willing to take bad money in return and still eat a big chunk of his contract. 

CF Kosuke Fukudome - Like Soriano, Fukudome may be untradeable.  With 2 years and probably more than 25 million left on his current deal, the Cubs would have to eat some of Fooky's contract to ship him off to any team.

RF Milton Bradley - Another costly hitter.  Bradley signed a 3-year-deal before the start of the season.  We all know he's capable of producing numbers which justify the money paid to him, but he doesn't appear able to produce in a hotbed like Chicago.  If the Cubs manage to deal him, they will likely have to eat his contract as well.

SP Carlos Zambrano - He's pretty expensive for somebody who might win 15 games a year and post a mid-3.00's ERA.  Then again, as a 28-year-old he'll probably never have as much trade value, massive contract be damned.  I think that if I were the Cubs I would not give Zambrano away.  However if a team is able or willing to make an offer on par with what pitchers like Sabathia or Santana have netted in the past, then maybe it's worth considering.

SP Ryan Dempster - Since he's probably out until after the trade deadline it's a moot point.  But Dempster has certainly been a bust this year.  If a team like the Braves would still be willing to swing a deal for him, and if he could slip through waivers after August 1st, I would consider moving Dempster as well.

SP Ted Lilly - The best Cubs pitcher has one year remaining on his contract, is in his early 30's, but throws lefty.  The "throws lefty" thing is the most interesting part -- for whatever reason those guys seem to last a lot longer.  Therefore the hypothetical wheelin' and dealin' Cubs GM has to roll the dice -- either extend Lilly for another 3+ years or deal him at the peak of his value for some younger talent.  Since the description here is "Wheelin' and Dealin'," you know which choice I'm going to make.

SP Rich Harden - This is a no-brainer, but who the hell would take him at this point?  If Harden gets traded it will be for next-to-nothing.

SP Randy Wells - Like Soto, his youth, promise, and inexpense makes Wells the only non-tradeable pitcher in the Cubs rotation.

MR Angel Guzman - He's finally given the Cubs a (mostly) healthy season.  Sounds like the time to trade him to me!

Actually, let's cut this short.  I'd absolutely deal everybody in the Cubs pen, including Carlos Marmol and especially Kevin Gregg. 

The Trade Proposals
Derrek Lee to Seattle for SP Jason Vargas -- Fans will object on both sides to this suggestion.  If Lee was willing to be dealt to Seattle, Cub fans would probably want more than a middling starting pitcher like Vargas.  And Mariner fans would probably object to trading such a young starter with potential for an old and expensive first baseman.  It's not that Lee isn't more valuable on paper than Vargas, but his salary, age, and position make him a hard trade. The Cubs would be lucky to get anything better for him.

Aramis Ramirez, Micah Hoffpauir, Sean Marshall, and Ryan Theriot to Texas for 3B Michael Young, 1B Chris Davis, OF Julio Borbon and SP Matt Harrison --  Young would be included in this trade in order to offset the salary of Ramirez.  Theriot's inclusion gives the Rangers depth and allows for their young, talented, 20-year-old rookie shortstop to either return to Triple A for more development time (as he hasn't been hitting fantastically) or it permits the Rangers to use Theriot in a super-sub manner.  Davis is an immensely talented slugger with a ton of potential -- in fact, the Rangers may not part with him so easily, nor might they be happy to deal former first-round pick Borbon.  Borbon is another young outfielder who has displayed base-stealing talents in the minor leagues.  The Cubs may need to include one or more of their high-level prospects.

Alfonso Soriano, Angel Guzman, and Rich Harden to the Nationals for RF Austin Kearns, CF Elijah Dukes, and SS Alberto Gonzalez (with the Cubs agreeing to pay $8 million per year on Soriano's contract starting in 2010) -- The Nationals are toast this year but may see Soriano and Harden as tools to gear up for a run next season (assuming they are floating in that deep a pool of denial).  The Cubs would have to pay a very large chunk of Sori's contract.  Kearns is a waste, and a potential free agent after this season, so taking him on would be a way to fill a roster spot for the rest of the year while allowing the Nationals to clear some salary room for Sori.  Dukes and Gonzalez are both young.  One is your run-of-the-mill defensive shortstop, the other is a troubled young outfielder with a world of potential. 

Kosuke Fukudome and Ted Lilly to the Athletics for LF Matt Holliday, 3B Eric Chavez, SP Josh Outman, and MR Brad Ziegler (with the Cubs agreeing to pay $8 million per year toward the contracts of Fukudome and Lilly in 2010, and $5 million per year toward Fukudome's contract after that) -- This deal would be contingent on our Wheelin', Dealin' GM's ability to sign Matt Holliday to an extension before the end of the 2009 season as he's a free agent.  The good news is he's had a down year, so maybe he'd take a fat offer.  The Athletics may be receptive to Fukudome if only for Billy Beane's love of the disciplined, and if the Cubs would be willing to take -- and essentially eat -- the final year of Chavez's big contract (assuming the A's could deal him as he is on the DL), then this might be enough of an offer to slip away with a talented outfielder, a young lefty starter, and a reliable middle reliever.

Milton Bradley, Jake Fox, Reed Johnson, and Ryan Dempster to the Reds for OF Jonny Gomes, MR Nick Masset, and IF Edwin Encarnacion with the Cubs paying $8 million of Bradley and Dempster's contract in 2010 and 2011 and 4 million after that -- Kind of a gimme trade.  Gomes is a strikeout king power hitter, while Encarnacion is a modestly successful third baseman who has had a ridiculously bad 2009.  Besides, Baker has said before that he'd like to manage Bradley and he may see it as a "project." 

Carlos Zambrano, Aaron Heilman, Kevin Gregg, and Andrew Cashner to the Blue Jays for SP Roy Halladay and RF Alex Rios -- It hurt me in the soul to suggest dealing Zambrano to a league where pitchers don't hit, but the Jays are shopping Halladay.  They just might be willing to take a younger, less-reliable ace for their older one.  And while the price for Roy is steep, Rios is a very talented hitter having a rough year.  Actually my first choice would be Aaron Hill but I just don't see Toronto parting with him. 

So where does that leave the Cubs on September 1st?

SP Roy Halladay, Randy Wells, Jason Vargas, Josh Outman, and Matt Harrison -- a young rotation with the first legitimate Cubs ace since Maddux left the first time around.  They might not all be worthy of starting, some of them may very well never be more than mediocre, but this allows the Cubs room to shift some to their now-deplenished bullpen and to pursue some free agent arms in the off season.
MR Carlos Marmol, Dave Patton, Jose Ascaino, Brad Ziegler, Jeff Samardija, Nick Masset, J.R. Mathes -- Still a weak link.  The Cubs pen should be a top priority in the off season.

C Soto
1B Chris Davis -- He's having a rough year offensively, but if the Cubs could grab such a young prospect it would be a boon for them. 
2B Mike Fontenot -- Unfortunately I couldn't find a way to "upgrade" at this position.
SS Alberto Gonzalez -- Not a long term solution (unless he proves otherwise)
3B Michael Young -- Defensively weak on the left side, I would start Young over Encarnacion for the remainder of the year before looking to deal him again in the off season.
LF Matt Holliday -- A top hitter having a rough year
CF Elijah Dukes -- Having an off year, but with potential for 2010
RF Alex Rios -- Having an off-year but might find Wrigley to be friendlier confines
Bench - OF Gomes, Kearns, IF Encarnacion, Miles C Hill

After the season I would wave goodbye to Austin Kearns and I would try to deal Michael Young.  Assuming I couldn't...

A Rough Estimation of Salaries for 2010: Soto 1.0, Davis .45, Fontenot .55, Gonzalez .40, Young 14.0, Holliday*, Dukes .5, Rios 8.0, Gomes 1.0, Encarnacion .75, Miles 1.5, Hill .5
Halladay 14.0, Wells .50, Vargas .75, Outman .50, Harrison .50, Marmol 4.50, Patton .40, Ascaino .40, Ziegler .40, Samardzija 1.50, Ziegler .50, Masset .70, Traded Cubs 24.0 = 91.70 million.

(*I'd be willing to pay Holliday 14 million per year for five years.  If he'd accept it, sweet.  If not, meh.)

This means that if the new Cubs owner would be willing to so much as match the team's '09 payroll, then they would still have roughly 50 million to play with in the pursuit of other free agents.  They could use this money to acquire a legitimate #2 and #3 starters (allowing for the other starters to fight over the job), to acquire a significant relief pitcher or two, and to upgrade their middle infield. 

The average age of the team would be considerably younger, there would be no massive contracts for players on the wrong side of 30, the team would have an undeniable ace along with a fearsome outfield, and this might give the team a chance to stay competitive for years.

Again, though, just so we're clear -- this is fantasyland.  I do not actually think that any of the trade partners mentioned in these scenarios would accept these offers.  But if the Cubs could pull off these kinds of moves, I just might support it -- assuming they actually get back talent for their own.  And above all else, that's really The Big If. 

As far as realistic changes

As far as realistic changes to the 2010 25-man roster, I see the position player side coming out pretty much identically, with maybe three changes.

1) Move Theriot to 2B to make Andres Blanco the everyday shortstop.

Yeah, Blanco's bat is fairly putrid. But his glove is pretty excellent, and I'm guessing the Cubs would rather pay him next to nothing to man short, rather than pay however much money it'd cost to get someone who could actually field the position to play there.

2) Trade Jake Fox for other young players that help the team more.

There's just not room for another right-handed hitter without a position on this team. He has DH written all over him. I can't imagine that there aren't any AL teams looking to upgrade at DH for almost zero dollars.

3) Wave goodbye to Reed Johnson.

I think Reed will cost a couple million bucks, and Sam Fuld won't.

On the pitching side, I think dollars again dictate most moves.

Rotation: Z, Lilly, Demp, Wells, Marshall (Samardzija? Ascanio?)
Pen: Marmol, Guzman, Samardzija, Ascanio, Stevens, Hart, Waddell (Patton? BJ Ryan maybe?)

Just by replacing Harden, Gregg, and Reed with cheap Triple A players, the Cubs save upwards of $10 million. If they can move Aaron Miles to a desperate team looking for a cheap veteran presence (KC? PIT?), that number moves closer to $12 million.

Aramis Ramirez has a player option for 2011 from the looks of it; I bet he'll opt out, especially if the priority in Chicago becomes lowering payroll for now, rather than winning. 2010 will also be a contract year for Derrek Lee. That gives management two places to cut additional payroll beyond 2010; they could extend either, or they could choose not to, which might depend on Vitters' development.

To close on an imaginative/insane note, consider this: for 2011, let's move Soriano's craptastic defense to first base, keep Soto at catcher, play Iowa Cubs in the middle infield (Font, Riot, Blanco, Barney, Scales), Vitters at third, Bradley in left, Fuld in center, and Fukudome in right. That gives us a potential lineup of:

Blarney Fontescales

Does that line-up look really all that uncompetitive? It seems pretty decent value-wise, at the very least.

One more thingee

I think we agree on the Cubs with the highest trade value:

1. Aramis
2. Ted Lilly
3. Bullpen pieces
4. Jake Fox
5. Everyone else


this post screams "omg we're screwed" to me. Considering its fantasyland and that's the garbage we end up with, it tells me (as does everyday observation) that the Cubs have dug themselves one hell of a hole. All those proposed changes do is downgrade the team for the most part, while improving a couple key spots, and reducing salary.

Bearing in mind again, that we're talking theoretical not-gonna-happens, but playing around in fantasyland should either net a better outcome, or a lower salary.

In the real world, I think what the Cubs need to do is take their proverbial medicine and pay out a good chunk of the bad contracts, as they are structured. It doesn't do us much good to pay millions to get rid of guys, then replace them with mediocres at a lower price. In the end you're effectively paying a rather large price for rather low talent. What we need is better front-office leadership going forward, instead of cowtowing to the fans (i.e. they're screaming for Soriano--we better make the move or we might only draw 2.96 million fans this year!)

I think you're right that it

I think you're right that it doesn't make sense to move big contracts for shit unless you're getting significant savings and/or talent back.

I think the Cubs will probably hold on to Ramirez, Lee, Soriano and Zambrano throughout their current deals. Same for Fukudome, Bradley, and Dempster, for that matter.

It'll be interesting to see what returns the D'Backs get for Doug Davis and/or Jon Garland this year; I would expect a similar return for Ted Lilly, if he were to be traded. At this point, I think the only guys who could realistically be traded are Lilly and Jake Fox.

The issue here though is that

The issue here though is that a lot of the "downgrades" are in fact guys who are so young that we don't know what their ceiling is yet. But at a glance, if these trades were even possible, I think you'd agree that Holliday is potentially better than Soriano, Rios is easily better than what Bradley has shown us, and Halladay is better than anything we've seen in the Cubs rotation.

The other guys -- particularly Dukes and Davis -- easily have the potential to put up better numbers than Lee and Fukudome if not in 2010 then certainly in 2011.

The only place where your point is certainly correct is in the rotation -- beyond Roy, nobody would be proven to be capable of matching Dempster, Lilly, or even Harden. But the beauty is that only one or two of the four would have to, the others could be acquired through free agency or more trades.

I'm probably not alone in willingly taking a younger team with a shorter history of major league success over an aging team with a new history of down-sloping. Anyway, the premise of the article wasn't "how to win in 2011" but "how to set the stage to win within 5 years."

Also, correct me if I'm wrong, but either you are suggesting the Cubs play their wasted contracts until those guys are gone or the Cubs outright release some of them, eating the bad salaries in the process. I'm pretty sure there's a greater value in either case of dealing those contracts away even for diminished returns. Diminished returns, after all, are still better than no returns at all.

I don't have much of an

I don't have much of an argument for the Soriano deal, except that I really don't think the Cubs would get fair value if they ended up trading him. Salary dumps seem to end up costing more than just hanging on to the guy. (DeRosa? Marquis? Not that I'm the biggest fan of either of those two, but I'm just saying.)

As for Rios or Bradley--are you aware of Alex Rios' current contract situation? I'd say Bradley and Rios come close to being a wash in 2010, but from there, you've got four more years of $10 million+ owed to Rios, instead of just one more year on Bradley's deal. Rios is good, but I don't know if he's worth that much for that much longer.

I say, hold on to the players you've got, let the expiring contracts expire, and don't settle for other people's crap just to get rid of your own.

Also, draft well, develop well, and make good free agent signings. And get lucky. And don't shit the bed in the playoffs.

Trade Rumors

Using the active trade rumors

Marlins are looking for bullpen help - trade Gregg for Uggla

Gaints are looking for offense help and offering Sanchez - trade Uggla or D Lee if he would go for Sanchez

Rockies are looking for bullpen help - trade Heilman and Patton for Seth Smith or if the Marlins don't go for Gregg add him to the trade and see if we can get Spillboughs or Ian Stewart If D. Lee is move we could take on Atkins contract and try him at first for the balance of the season.

Phillies and Dodgers looking for starting pitching - trade Lilly for the best prospects

Brave's - this is a reach, but lets float it - Fuk to the Braves, teams him up with an x-teammate from Japan helping both players (?). Add Fox or Fuld if required and ask for Escobar. Yes, eating part of Fuk's contract is part of the deal.

I don't have an answer for Bradley or Soriano.

Not saying my ideas are better than yours, I am just trying to work with rumors and players that are already being mentioned.

I think we should trade to

I think we should trade to get albert pujols...joe mauer....hanley ramirez...dustin pedroia...evan longoria...carl crawford...tori hunter...ichiro susuki...roy halladay...c c sabathia...tim lincecum...johan santana...and felix rodriguez...and then we should trade to get k rod... jonathen papelbon...jc romero...j a app...and mariano rivera...I think we could pull it off and then sign all of them to 8 yr contracts!

I'm not really sure how

I'm not really sure how that's realistic ... or even remotely comparable with the trade suggestions I came up with (which themselves, admittedly, are impossible to deem as being "realistic" and yet your ironic suggestions really make no sense)

One of those things is not

One of those things is not like the other.

What does J.A. Happ have to do with this?!?

Fire Sale?

So you are basically calling for a fire sale in which we break a team down that has won the central two years in a row and get a bunch of scrubs in return? That's probably the most retarded thing I've ever heard!

I take it you're kidding?

I take it you're kidding?

Cubs Fan?

Kurt why are you even a Cubs fan if you don't like a single player on our team? Why don't you just route for Texas?

Did you miss this part of the

Did you miss this part of the article?

***DISCLAIMER*** The following moves are not reflective of my desire to flush the roster away. On the contrary, I would never actually advocate that. Likewise, the suggested trades I am offering only exist in the twisted reality of my brain -- it is extremely unlikely that any of them would or even could happen. A note I always like to make is that everybody who suggest trade ideas ultimately ends up looking and sounding stupid. I know, then, that these trade suggestions look really, really dumb.

Still, I understand that as you read through my assessments and suggestions they will fill you with RAGE and ALIENATION and you will feel the overwhelming urge to tell me about how much of an F--KING IDIOT I am. Please go right ahead, that's what the comments section is for. ***END DISCLAIMER***

Or, in the very first paragraph, this part of the article?
"It is undeniably one of the worst features of fans that we always seem to want our team to rebuild -- often from scratch. The Cubs last year won 97 games and made the playoffs, but a 3-game exit led some people to cry, Emperor-style, "wipe them out ... ALL OF THEM!"
The thing is, you don't sink the ship to fix the mast. "

Read that last sentence again. That reflects my opinion. But much as you might write a scenario outlying what you'd do if the communists ever attacked America without actually WANTING the reds to invade, this was an exercise in hypotheticism.

Now, I get that it was a long article. Maybe you skipped the part that was in all caps and bolded. But did you skip the first paragraph too, or did you just forget it by the time you got to the end? Were you, and I quote myself, full "with RAGE and ALIENATION," leading you to, and I quote myself "feel the overwhelming urge to tell me about how much of an F--KING IDIOT I am"?

Hm, I don't think Kurt

Hm, I don't think Kurt defends this stance. I think he was just messing around with the IDEA of a fire sale, not necessarily jockeying for/supporting one. IF the team were blown up, how should it be done?

I don't think at any point it

I don't think at any point it should be blown up, too much talent to do that but that's just my opinion. And that was my opinion Kurt, I expressed it!

Well, that was AJ who you

Well, that was AJ who you responded to there, not me, but I ask again ... you are aware that I don't think it should be blown up at any point either, right? I was just doing a hypothetical. An IF scenario, not a SHOULD scenario. You dig?

I got ya. But I do have one

I got ya. But I do have one question, why?

For the same reason we

For the same reason we fantasize about free agency signings in the winter, and blockbuster trades at the deadline... thinking hypothetically about baseball is one of the most fun aspects of being a fan. Furthermore, thinking, hypothetically, "the Cubs should stand pat and do nothing!" is BORING. I'd rather dream up ridiculous trades all day long, even if I'd be appalled were they to actually happen.

Not to mention "taking the

Not to mention "taking the piss" - part of the title - means "The term sometimes refers to a form of mockery or a piss take in which the mocker exaggerates the other person's characteristics; pretending to take on his or her attitudes, etc"

Ok just curious

Ok just curious

lmao everyone should have

lmao everyone should have known i was kidding lmao i named ever one that i thought was the best at each position and sarcasticly said we should get them!

Yah, pretty obvious you were

Yah, pretty obvious you were kidding tho' I thought perhaps you were suggesting my ideas were just as ridiculous Sticking out tongue (which they might be)

Granted, but still--JA

Granted, but still--JA Happ?!?!?

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