Goatriders of the Apocalypse

A Goat Riding Challenge

I just want to throw this challenge out there ... as expected, my "what I'd do" post is getting a little bit of flack, ranging in "I think you're joking" to "no way do the Cubs only have a $130 million budget."

So, here's what I want from you guys ... either in the comments of this post, or in the Reader Blogs Section, give us your moves, trades, and signings, but force yourself to have the 130 million budget.

It's easy to say "well, I'd sign Dunn and give away Marquis for a bottle of rum and sign Randy Johnson to replace him" but if the money isn't there, none of that will happen.  And based on how Kerry Wood will be wearing different colors next year, the money isn't there.

I'm going to play the Commish in this exercise.  For example, if you say "I'll trade Derrek Lee for Player X," I will step in and say "Derrek Lee loves Chicago and enjoys playing for a first place team, and he will not void his no trade clause.  Try something else." Similarly, no, the Yankees will not take Cedeno for A-Rod, even if you could magically find a way to make that money available.

If you want an incomplete list on what current Cubs will be making next year, go here.

Good luck.  It's not easy - I spent about 3 hours figuring out my moves.

Maybe....

This may be just something that flew into my tiny wishful brain but since the Giants are very interested in signing Edgar Renteria or Rafael Furcal at short then what's gonna happen to Emanuel Burress? He's cheep, young, a switch hitter and, from what I've heard a fine defensive player and a snappy dresser. Is there any chance we could pry him away from the Giants by trading Font, Hoff, Pie or The Riot. That would solve our leadoff problem and give us a starter who can hit from the left side. In my perfect world (however demented it may be) I would trade Hoff and a lower minor league prospect for Burress, move Dero to RF and have the Cajun Brothers platoon at 2B.

against RHP...
S SS Burress
L CF Fukudome
R 3B Ramirez
R LF Soriano
R C Soto
R 1B Lee
R RF DeRosa
L 2B Fontenot
---------- Pitcher

against LHP
S SS Burress
R RF Derosa
R 3B Ramirez
R LF Soriano
R 1B Lee
R C Soto
R CF Johnson
R 2B Theriot
--------- Pitcher

*lineup changes depending on who would actually be traded to the Giants.

Now for Pitching. I know that Marquis was probably the best #5 in baseball last year (did I just say that?) but still, that's a lot of cash. Salary dump him and let Samardjza, Marshall, Guzman, and Gaudin fight it out for the the last rotation spot.

#1: Zambrano
#2: Harden
#3: Dempster
#4: Lilly
#5: Samardjza/Marshall/Guzman/Gaudin

Spend any remaining money on the Bullpen.

** I'm really bad at math so there may be enough $$$ to sign a Randy Johnson sort of starter or some one else of the same price range.

I'd love to post my full plan, but.....

......I just spent 4 hours posting it in the other thread. If someone much much smarter than I am can figure out how to copy and paste into this thread, then I would love to see that.

I took great pains to explain everything I proposed in the other thread I posted in, even trying to explain my proposals in terms of what the opposing team may be thinking in the trades I proposed.

In summary, what I did was: Trade Jason Marquis and Mark DeRosa to the Mets, Mike Fontenot, Felix Pie, and Michael Weurtz to the Royals, David Dejesus (who I theoretically got from the Royals) to the Rockies, and Mark Teahan (who I theoretically got from the Royals) to the Reds, and Homer Bailey (who I got from the Reds) to the Rockies. In the process, by my calculations, I saved about 7-8 million or so from the Mets, and another small amount from Cincinnati.

I obtained in trades P Aaron Heilman, P Scott Schownweis, OF/2B/3B Ryan Freel, and RF Brad Hawpe.

I replaced Blanco with Koyie Hill, saving about a million bucks or so.

I signed as free agents SS Rafael Furcal to a 4 yr, 48 million deal. I also signed Juan Cruz to a 3 yr, 12 million dollar deal, Mark Mulder, Tadahito Iguchi, and Kevin Mench to 1 yr deals with a team option for a second, for about 2 million per year.

That left me with a starting lineup of :

LF Soriano
SS Furcal
3B Ramirez
RF Hawpe
1B Lee
C Soto
CF Fukodome
SP
SS Theriot....who I would bat 9th instead of 8th to get on in front of Soriano.

My rotation ends up being Zambrano, Dempster, Harden, Lilly, and Heilman. My bullpen ends up being Marmol, Gregg, Smardijia, Cruz, Gaudin, Marshall, Schoenwise....with Mulder as insurance, along with Rich Hill and Angel Guzman.

My bench candidates: Cedeno, Freel, Iguchi, Johnson, Mench, Hill, Hoffpauir.

My Plan is pretty simple

1. Sign Rafael Furcal
2.
3. Profit (i.e., win World Series)

This solves three of our problems -
1. Soriano will finally move out of the leadoff spot
2. On a related note, we will have good OBP in the leadoff spot
3. It would move Riot to 2B to platoon with Fontenot, improving our IF defense

Lineup vs Right-handers
SS Furcal
1B Lee
LF Soriano
3B Ramirez
C Soto
RF DeRosa
2B Fontenot
CF Fukudome

vs LHP
SS Furcal
1B Lee
LF Soriano
3B Ramirez
C Soto
RF Derosa
CF Johnson
2B Theriot

Bench:
K. Hill (or, more likely, Blanco...)
Cedeno
Riot
Johnson
Pie

Rotation:
Harden
Zambrano
Dempster
Lilly
Marquis

Bullpen:
Marmol
Samardzija
Gregg
Wuertz
Marshall
Cotts
Gaudin
(plus some Guzman/Ascanio to fill in whenever Marshall is spot starting for Z or Harden)

The only GLARING hole I see here is the lack of a power PH bat off the bench, though Johnson is no slouch vs LHP. But that's not that glaring, and I'd be pretty happy with this roster. Any of Pie/Marshall/Cedeno/Marquis could be kept around for a midseason trade, when more players might become available.

(p.s. I recognize that my plan is similar to what Colin has advocated for, but I think we just think alike

Also

This would add Theriot to the trade-bait pile, and I hope that he's as overrated by other GMs as he is by Cubs fans

two problems with furcal

i love the idea. he's nearly a perfect fit. however-

1. derosa's offensive output is solid for a middle infielder - but not so solid for a corner outfielder. we could, and really should, do better.

and perhaps more importantly,

2. the price tag on furcal is prohibitively high. or, at least, it seems like it is.

also, do we really want to "force" soriano out of the leadoff spot? the guy seems sensitive, why screw with it? is it really a huge issue? he got his RBIs this year anyway.

i mean, if we can afford him, the derosa and soriano effects have to be considered acceptable. if that back acts up though, i would be pissed.

The issue I think is that

The issue I think is that Sori doesn't really do what a leadoff hitter is supposed to, and his lack of October output cripples the lineup.

I don't really buy into his sensitivity ... I think he'd adjust and play fine if they moved him.

aside from the first AB of the game,

how many times does the "leadoff guy" lead off?

DeRosa certainly is more

DeRosa certainly is more valuable at 2b, but I find the difference between DeRosa in RF and how much we have to pay to sign a FA RF (none of which I am enthused about except for Dunn), and the difference between DeRosa and what we would have to give up to trade for another RF (again, not enthused about anyone that has come up on the radar) isn't really that big. Dunn is certainly >> DeRosa, but we do get all the secondary effects I mentioned in my post from signing Furcal.

I think that there would be less ego-bruising with Soriano if they moved him in the lineup for a real leadoff man. The CW says that you have to have a guy with speed at the top of the lineup (even though it's not the BEST choice), and Soriano has the speed repuation, so he's going to stay there until someone with a better set of leadoff hitter 'skills' joins the team.

still

furcal's too expensive.

a cop out?

So, what should we do if we're unable to expand payroll beyond what we're on the books for now?

Move Marquis, sign Randy Johnson, add to the bullpen.

And... that's it.

I'd ride it out with DeRosa in right field, Fontenot at second base, and Fukudome starting out in a platoon in center field. I'd call it a safe bet that two of those three would start hitting well, and I'd give some time on the bench to the one that didn't. Barring another freak accident that takes Soriano out for another six weeks, this offense has big bats. I know a lot of people think we need a lefty, but for what we'd have to give up, I'd honestly rather hold on to Fontenot, Hoffpauir and Fukudome than give up young pitching for something else that's hardly a sure thing.

I think the rotation can't be messed with, beyond a switch in the back which I've mentioned. Samardzija is needed in the bullpen, which makes Marshall a necessity as a spot starter, since it's a near certainty that one of our top five will be hurt at some point, especially if we make the Marquis-for-Johnson swap.

Peavy trade? Nope, increases payroll. Free agent signing, beyond the Unit? Nope, not worth it.

Keep the 2008 Cubs together. They're a great team.

YES

I generally agree, although I do wish for Furcal. The wild card is obviously the wild card. This team doesn't have to win the division to get into the playoffs. But an even bigger wildcard is July. Maybe we should start discussing guys who will be in their walk year and likely be on the block in July. Now that would be some speculation!

Short Novel.

Here's my grand plan.

I tend to break it down by must have/needs/wants.

My must haves this season is: left handed hitting. stay under $130m.
My needs this season is: a leadoff hitter. more speed.
My wants this season is: get younger. upgrade defensively. left handed pitching.

How do we go about doing this? I agree with kurt on one part. The need to trade with the Royals. I prefer just acquiring DeJesus over Teahan (see player notes below). And this could be done without as many strings pulled as a Teahan + DeJesus trade. If they're really wanting to get/give more, I'd suggest spending a little more to get Greinke + DeJesus. I will note, I'm absolutely atrocious at coming up with what value prospects are actually worth in trade situations. I'm assuming it'll take Pie, Donnie Veal (if we still have him after the Rule 5 draft), Cedeno or Fontenot and Tony Thomas... Probably the short list of guys it'd take to nab those two. DeJesus solo would obviously probably take less finaggling. But, to score both would be huge, even with a bigger drain on the minors (read on).

Getting DeJesus will give them two things: the start to the must have list in some lefty batting, and a leadoff hitter who hits for a high average. Agreeably he doesn't have tons of speed, but he is definitely an upgrade at the top of the order able to not only throw down some RBI's with his avg, and with about 55 xbh's, and the strength of batting at the bottom of our to be proposed order, an unconventional proposition indeed.

Moving on. Seeing as it'd probably take P.I.E. PIE out of the conversation (in aforementioned trade), they'd be rather useless in the outfield. So, bring it back up a notch. Left field will be Soriano everyday (until he gets injured. but the Cubs have Micah or DeRosa), center has two starting options, the starter would be a Fukudome on RHP days, with DeJesus playing right. Two Lefties in the lineup then. Hot Dog. Fontenot hits a respectable .247 against lefties, and as pretty much the go to backup player for the middle infield, but I'm still not ready to give Font-a-tot the nod at starting full time.

So. Lets take a look at the probable lineup, moving soriano down to the 4 hole, ARam up to the 3 hole. Keep Soto at 5, DeJesus leading off, Theriot actually putting the ball in play with runners on base 37% of the time between the first and second baseman batting second, Lee batting 6th, Fukudome 7th, Derosa 8th. Major problems to resolve is that their heart of the order guys are still predominantly righty. Bummer.

In this last trade we gained around a million two (excluding grienke) in just Dejesus.

Unfortunately they're not going to be able to get that middle of the order bat yet. And you know what? The Cubs'll still kill teams with their superior pitching. They need a left handed bat in the post season. Not in the regular season. Ergo the Cubs'd move to pass Grienke off to Baltimore for Roberts, seeing as Roberts IS in the last year of his contract, McFail probably will stillnot be able to sell anyone if his demands are too high. The O's don't want him. They need youth. They need pitching. Give them Cedeno/Fontenot (whoever's left), Marshall and Grienke, for Roberts + Pitching Prospect. Three starters for arguably the best 2B in the AL (yes. that includes scrappy mitey mite of bostonia) and maybe (since my trade values suck), a warm arm in the minors that might be better than bob howry on a good day.

What does this do?! Oh my, it makes the Cubs lineup scary good. Roberts at the top, Theriot batting 2nd DeJesus (which he has previously) batting third playing right, ARam, Soriano, Soto rounding out the 4-5-6, Lee batting 7th, Fukudome in center batting 8th.

DeJesus isn't the BEST choice to hit third. But he's certainly not a bad choice to hit third as a replacement to DLee. He makes contact often (i.e. good for hit and runs between theriot and Roberts), and they have similar not GB%'s (about 55%) for sac hits. The minor difference is DLee has a .335 career average of BABIP in the 3 slot, where DeJesus has a .322. With a more powerful lineup behind DeJesus as opposed to with the royals, I don't see why he wouldn't ALSO be able to perform in the 3 hole.

Now. My other primary roster move is to sign a lefty relief pitcher who doesn't fair too badly against righties. Dennys Reyes comes to mind as not only LOOGY quality, but another meat in the BP. Shark-Gregg-Marmol doesn't sound too bad in my opinion, but beyond that the cubs have mostly young talent (except Cotts/Wuertz) who's rather inexperienced. Adding Reyes or even Will Ohman (again) would both be benificial steps for the Cubs BP.

So. Finacially, we've added part of Brian Robert's contract (3.5 mil, w/o extention), part of Zach Grienke's (750k), Will Ohman or Denny Reyes (~1.2mil), David DeJesus (2 mil). Oh. Resign Hank White too while we're at it... I'm sure he's cool with that. He's cool with me throw down an extra mil, Koyie 'thre fingers' Hill and Josh Donaldson can wait!

Now, here comes the part where I'd like to bring up Teahan. Why not? Sure he'd be grateful to get out of KC, but, he's been statistically regressing over the past two years. Then you say, if he bats .250 with 15 hr, and can play right field... we should totally get him as another lefty bat... and then i think to myself, wait. Don't we have that in Fukudome? He theoretically should be the .250-.260, 10-15 hr player in right field. But Fukudome can take walks, and he's better defensively... wait a second. Why are we trading to get the same player we have? Sure, i'd think Teahan has the greater eventual upside, but right now he hasn't proved that he can reach that yet. And in the meantime, we can't wait for that. Defensively Fukudome will be better anywhere in the outfield than Teahan. DeJesus may be a worse fielder, but he is certainly a much more consistant hitter than Teahan has been.

Now, back to the middle of the lineup brings to mind only one name. Micah Hoffpauir. The problem is, again, there's no place to play him. Spelling DLee on occasion or maybe Soriano if he's feeling like he has a head cold or brain fart will allow us to be flexible with the order again with say on a Soriano DL trip (again), you'd have Roberts, Theriot, DeJesus, Ramierez, Soto, Hoffpaiur, Lee, Fukudome, P (during the second half of the season), or DLee would flop the 4-5-6-7 hitters around like, Ramierez, Soriano Hoffpaiur, Soto... if you look at it. Everyone's very well protected, everyone has a place, we just would have to get Soriano on board and make him think, I like RBIs. I like RBIs a lot, I like lookin like a superstar! I'm not gonna steal bases because my hamhocks are too fragile and I carry too heavy of a bat.

Lastly, I would love it if we could get Kerry Wood back. Have him pitch the 8th, to make it Gregg-Wood-Marmol, and further more, allow Samardjiza to go back to AAA and work on becoming our 5th starter to allow Marquis/Marshall to play LRP/SP. Of which, I'm not on the Marquis hate-wagon. Sorry fellahs. But he gives you solid innings for a #5 guy, and keeps you rather competitive in most of his games. Yes he's being paid WAY more than he's worth, but he is worth keeping.

I'm very long winded, so I'm sorry for all the tl;dr crap but, the second half roster (i.e. the more important part), would be vs righties:

2B Brian Roberts (god, makes your heart flutter a little!)
SS Ryan Theriot
RF David DeJesus
3B Aramis Ramierez
LF Alfonsie Sorianoe
C Geovany Soto
1B Derrek Lee
CF Koskuke Fukudome
P

vs LHP:

2B Brian Roberts
SS Ryan Theriot
CF David DeJesus
3B Aramis Ramierez
LF Alphonzie Sorianoe
C Geovany Soto
1B Derrek Lee
RF Mark Derosa
P

Bench: Micah Hoffpaiur, Mark DeRosa (will keep everyone fresh, since we'll have the divsion wrapped up in July), Fukudome (vs LHP, no more twirlybird!) Ronny Cedeno/Fontenot, Hank White.

SP1: Carlos Zambrano
SP2: Ryan Dempster
SP3: Ted Lilly
SP4: Rich Harden
SP5: Jason Marquis/Sean Marshall

LRP: Jason Marquis/Sean Marshall
MRP: Jose Ascaino
MRP: Will Ohman/Dennys Reyes
MRP: Neil Cotts
MRP: Jeff Samardjiza
MRP: Angel Guzman
SU: Kevin Gregg
CL: Carlos Marmol

Increase in payroll: about 8 million this year (bumping us right to that 130 mark-ish)

Outlook: the Payroll will be pretty neutral in 2010 as well seeing as we're getting Marquis off the books with that awful contract, Soriano expects to make more but more importantly, it'll give us the opportunity to sign Brian Roberts for some longer length of time. Rich Harden will probably get a new deal done if he stays relatively healthy, Samardjiza will probably move to the Fifth Starter position. Trade Mark DeRosa and Cedeno/Fontentot for some pieces in the Minors (which we can use something... please). We'd be able to hopefully bring up Hoffpauir in some capability to provide that heart of the order lefty we've been coviting for years when convenient. We need to find a sucker who needs a left fielder in Soriano for some change in a dumping maneuver. I guess my outlook is to say, not that we won't make a playoff run in 2009, but that we can ALSO make it to the playoffs in 2010 (as every NLC team is rebuilding... still...).

So. In our checklist of musts/needs/wants...

My must haves this season is: left handed hitting. stay under $130m.
Check.
My needs this season is: a leadoff hitter. more speed.
Check.
My wants this season is: get younger. upgrade defensively. left handed pitching. Fail-ish.

End of novel.

against RHPs, why not just

against RHPs, why not just put DeJesus in center and Fukudome in right where they are both better defensively?

Defensively

Defensively Fukudome is better than DeJesus... DeJesus has plenty of CF experience, but he's better suited as a corner fielder and has played more in left this year than last year. Fukudome with a naturally suited corner fielder would probably be better for both defensively over the other way around.

Although, i don't think it'd be horrible if it was the other way around.

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