Putting the FIRE! in Fire Sale
Dear Goat Readers:
It has come to our attention -- despite our best efforts at total denial -- that the 2010 Chicago Cubs, despite their massive salaries and high expectations, are a steaming pile of crap.
As July is just around the corner, it's totally reasonable to expect Jim Hendry to fire up his ol' cell phone, duct-tape it to his head, and work non-stop to unload the numerous disappointments on teams too dumb -- or too desperate -- to say no.
As we've highlighted in other posts, the following players are likely candidates for trade -- assuming any team will take their bloated salaries:
SS Ryan Theriot - Sure, he'll give you a .280-.300 AVG most years, and he steals a decent amount of bases, but do you really want your team's shortstop to be a guy with middling defense and no power whatsoever? No? Me neither, but with a little bit of luck, some other teams feel differently.
And remember -- before you decide to fellate Theriot, assuming anybody would at this point, the dude's got a slugging percentage of .307 and an OPS of .628. Unload him!
1B Derrek Lee - He has a no trade clause, a big salary, and a batting average that only Dave Kingman could be proud of, but I think he should be on the block. All Jim Hendry has to do is pull him aside and say, basically, "we are not re-signing you, but we can try to trade you to a competitive team -- and who knows, if you do well, maybe they'll extend you." If Lee knows his time in Chicago is ending, he may agree to something like that. The hard part will be finding any team willing to take him.
2B Mike Fontenot - He's a journeyman middle infielder who could be a servicable backup on any number of competitive teams. Hell, trade him to the Red Sox or the Yankees -- they love their scrappy white guys.
3B Aramis Ramirez - He has a big contract and this is an opt-out year. But, as Rob observed, A-Ram would have to be about as stupid as Bam-Bam to vie for free agency in a season where he's batting .173 into July! The Cubs would have to eat a considerable amount of his salary -- probably the remainder of 2010's, and maybe even up to half of his salary for 2011, which I'm guesstimating to be in the $7 million range.
LF Alfonso Soriano - Ah yes. The White Sox had The Big Hurt in Frank Thomas, the Mariners had the Big Unit in Randy Johnson, and the Cubs have The Big Albatross in Soriano.
At this point, Sori's numbers aren't so bad -- he's on pace to play in more than 150 games, to hit nearly 50 doubles, 4 triples, nearly 30 homeruns, 80+ RBI, and his OPS is .910. The only problem is that he's making 19 million this year, and he's going to earn roughly that much money for the next four seasons. How the hell do the Cubs trade a guy who is still owed more than $70 million?
RF Kosuke Fukudome - He has one year remaining after this season, in which he will earn around 12 million dollars. Stat-hounds everywhere will tell you that the Cubs are paying him appropriately. Realists who watch the games and have even the smallest semblance of how reality works will tell you that he's been a tremendous, heaping disappointment. But -- if the Cubs will eat half his salary in 2011, who knows, maybe somebody will take him.
SP Ryan Dempster - He has two years left on his current contract. At this point, he's actually pretty much earned his wage. But based on his age, that probably won't be the case as he transitions from Year Three to Year Four. Therefore, the Cubs should swing a deal for him while he might actually be worth something.
SP Carlos Silva - With the Mariners already eating a good portion of his salary, and with one year remaining on his present contract, and with Carlos pitching better than he ever has in his entire career, this might be the ideal time to unload him on a team needing a starter.
SP Ted Lilly - I'll be sad to see the best free agent acquisition of my lifetime traded away, but why would Lilly come back next year? Could the Cubs even afford him? Despite his crappy record -- 3-6 -- Lilly surely has some value right now.
SP Carlos Zambrano - Alfonso Soriano's Albatross-in-Crime. Who knew that Carlos would not only remain an immature asshole, but at the still-young age of 29 he'd lose the talent which justified his insanity? If the Cubs can find any team willing to roll the dice on him, and if he'd be willing to approve a trade, this needs to happen.
Realistically speaking, Theriot, Fontenot, Silva, Dempster, and Lilly are all capable of finding homes without the Cubs needing to pay for parts of their salaries. At the same time, Lee, Fukudome, and Ramirez would require some financial sacrifice to deal, and Soriano and Zambrano are probably untradeable.
All that said, I was originally going to suggest likely teams for whom each player might fit some needs, but I think I'd rather leave it up to you guys to make suggestions.
So -- what teams would take these jabrones, and how much might they be willing to pay for them? I leave it to you.