Chicago Cubs: December 2005 Archives

Jacque Jones in right

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I said a couple of weeks ago that I would be OK with a less-than-superstar in right field. I fear Jim Hendry was reading this and took me a little bit too seriously. He signed former Minnesota Twin Jacque Jones to a three year deal.

The good news is Jones comes cheaper than it would have been to keep Burnitz around, so if they're still looking to make some moves, that's at least $2 millions more to work with.

On the whole, it was a good move for the Cubs. Jones is durable and solid. On the other hand, they could have snagged somebody comparable for less money. It could be worse, however. I sure am glad we didn't shell out $52 million for Johnny Damon like the Yanks just did.

I hope Hendry isn't done yet. We could still use a starter and a middle infielder.

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Nevermind

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Tejada backs down from trade demands.

Doh!

Way to whip a whole city into premature hysterics, Mikey.

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Get. Tejeda. Now.

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Jay Mariotti on the Cubs' need to land Tejeda.

The new game in town, if you haven't noticed, is whether the Cubs can match the breakthrough of the 2005 White Sox. Based on their hit-and-miss offseason so far, I will assume they cannot ... unless they shock me by seizing a wonderful new opportunity. I would like to think Jim Hendry and the Tribsters, flush with cash in their Sammy-and-Nomar-free budget, are sincere in their assertion that they will inquire about Miguel Tejada, a wise man who wants out of a hideous situation in Baltimore.

Amen to that. When my kid cousin can gloat and all I can do is hang my head, something has to change (j/k Eric).

Enter the Cubs. The area code for Crabtown, in case Hendry forgets from his Sammy Sosa-peddling days, is 410. Still searching for a prominent middle infielder and armed with megabucks after whiffing on Furcal, he never has encountered a more important possibility in his suddenly wobbly general-managing tenure. Package kid shortstop Ronny Cedeno, kid pitcher Rich Hill, the useless Patterson -- really, any collection of players the Orioles want other than Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez, Pierre, Mark Prior and Carlos Zambrano. Throw in the ticket-scalping operation, if need be. Because fun as it will be watching Pierre scratch his way onto base, he isn't worth 20 victories by himself. Let Hendry be excited about Cliff Floyd, who had a nice year for the Mets. And Julio Lugo, who would be a serviceable shortstop. And Milton Bradley, whose over-under on his first psycho temper tantrum is April Fools' Day. None of those moves would push the Cubs toward the Holy Grail.

Tejada is another story.

I like Mariotti's list of untouchables, although I would add a few of our prospects to it after watching us give up a swath of great pitching prospects for Pierre.

The problem is this: Tejada wants out, but the Orioles aren't desperate to sell. And since they're not looking to unlead him, the Cubbies are going to have to give up something real.

Yes, it will probably hurt, but landing Tejada would give the Cubs three all-star infielders all age 30 and other. That, to me, spells endurance.

So who are some of the players not on the list that the Orioles might take? The one that jumps out is Ryan Dempster. Slated to be the Cubs' closer, he is an able big-league starter and he's only 28 years old. The Orioles could use him either way. They struck out landing a closer at the winter meetings, and their rotation is full of holes as well.

In addition to Dempster, the Cubs could throw in Neifi Perez, who would fill the O's hole in short. There's also Patterson (if they want him) and prospects like Ronny Cedeno or one of the young bullpen arms the Cubs have (Novoa, Wellemeyer, Ohman); all are expendable for the right cause.

This would leave the Cubs without a closer, but we just spent almost $25 million on relievers, so some combination of existing hurlers should be able to get the job done. Personally, I think Scott Williamson or Todd Wellemeyer (if he's still around) could do well in the role, but I've been accused of naive enthusiasm for these two.

Regardless, the opportunity here is to have the best infield in the National League and the second best in the majors, and that is just too good to pass up.

If the Cubs could pull this off, the could start Jose Macias in right field for all I care.

Mariotti closes by nicely summarizing what's at stake:

No team in American sports should feel more urgency than the Cubs. Now that the Sox have beaten them to the ultimate Chicago dream, every day is going to be hell until they write the same story.

UPDATE: Tejada is backing off the trade demand. Grrr...

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What about right field?

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So the Cubs have a center fielder/lead-off man, and a good one at that. That leaves right field as the hole remaining to be filled.

There are several option, but let's look at what the Cubs need by first looking at what they're replacing.

Jeromy Burnitz played a decent right field for the Cubs last year. I have to admit I was annoyed when the Cubs picked him up, but he did the best job anybody could filling in for Sammy Sosa: he provided a decent bat and kept his mouth shut. I think the Cubs should have given him a class bonus before sending him on his way.

Anyway, here are his stats:

AVG: .258 HR: 24 RBI: 87 R: 84 SB: 5

Like I said, decent.

I don't think the Cubs need to do all that significantly better than this statistically to be great this year. The more, the merrier of course, but what matters are consistency and presence.

With that in mind, here are my suggestions:

  1. Reggie Sanders - Were he not appraching 39 years old, I would say this is the end of discussion, but his age merits some careful consideration. Reggie is a complete player; here are his stats from last year for when he played just 93 games for St. Louis

    AVG: .271 HR: 21 RBI: 54 R: 49 SB: 14

    Extrapolate those out to 150 games and you have about 35 HR and 75 RBI. Plus, he brings a veteran presence to a line-up that isn't as full of proven veterans as Dusty Baker is used to working with.

  2. Juan Encarnacion - Here are ths stats:

    AVG: 287 HR:16 RBI:76 R:59 SB:6

    Encarnacion is not yet 30, meaning if he works out, he could hang around for a while. An ex-Marlin, he's familiar with Juan Pierre and Derek Lee, adding chemistry as the Cubs could build up their ex-Marlin army.

  3. Rondell White - "Didn't we try this guy already?" you ask. Indeed we did, but this time around, he wouldn't be playing second-fiddle. He'd be fourth- or fifth- fiddle, which is more appropriate for him.

    The stats last year, in just 97 games:

    AVG: .313 HR: 12 RBI: 53 R: 49 SB: 1

    That comes out to about 17 HR and 75 RBI over 150 games.

    UPDATE: A commenter pointed out that Rondell might well be nicknamed "Mr. Glass." Not something the Cubs need.

  4. Preston Wilson - Another ex-Marlin, Preston could fit right in with the Cubs line-up. Put him between Lee and Ramirez and he could see some pretty good pitches and build upon these stats from last year:

    AVG: .260 HR: 25 RBI: 90 R: 73 SB: 6

  5. Kenny Lofton - Another veteran, Lofton would bring a different set of skills than the previous guys.

    AVG: .335 HR: 2 RBI: 36 R: 67 SB: 22

    Less power and more speed with a higher average. Adding his run-scoring to Pierre's could be the right mix for the big bats of Ramirez, Lee and Matt Murton (if he proves to be as good as management thinks he will be).

  6. Carl Everett - Fresh off of a championship season, he could bring a winning attitude to the clubhouse. I seem to remember reports of him being a hot-head, though (anybody confirm or deny that? Eric?). If so, I would say stay away.

    AVG: .251 HR: 23 RBI: 87 R: 58 SB: 4

Those are the free agent options. Any of them would be at least equal to Burnitz, and many of them bring an element of winning experience that the Cubs sorely need.

UPDATE: Welcome to Topix.net subscribers! Feel free to look around and comment on anything you see here.

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Cubby-blogging

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2 pieces of news:

First the good: It looks like the Cubs are going to land Juan Pierre.

Bravo! For once we can count on the tables being set for the big guys.

Now, the bad news: Dusty went to talk to Milton Bradley of the Dodgers to consider him for right field.

All I have to say is... WHAT?!!? Milton Bradley? Are you kidding me? Leave this psychopath where he is!

Does the Cubs management have some kind of love for the Dodgers? First Hendry lets Furcal get away and sign with L.A. and now Dusty wants to relieve them of this high-strung maniac? My heart! AAAHHHHH!

Here's the money quote from Dusty:

"I don't know if I can make a difference. It's a risk," Baker said. "I talked to Manny Mota and talked to some people on the Dodgers, and they said there's a good chance [Bradley] can relate to you and perform.

Oh! The psychopath's current employer thinks he'd fit in somewhere else! Well then, it must be true! Surely they have no motive for getting rid of him.

Tell you what Dusty. I have an old brick here that I think you could really do something with. A little work, some mentoring, and I think this brick would be great in right field for you. You're good with inanimate objects and I think it "can relate to you and perform." Just give me Todd Walker and your top two prospects and $4 million dollars...

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Furcal signs with Dodgers

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Sorry, Larry.

So now it seems Hendry is going after Juan Pierre and may trade Todd Walker. NOOOOOOOOOOO. Yes, get Pierre. He is the absolute best we can do for center field/lead-off, but we still need more power, and having Jerry Hairston Jr. at second over Todd Walker is a serious step back in every way.

Right now, the infield looks like this: the corners are anchored with Lee and Ramirez. The center has Walker and Neifi Perez. If we get rid of Walker and start Hairston at second, we better be trading Walker for one of the TWO sluggers we would then need to bring into the outfield. We would be comitting to hairston at lead-off, which is fine if we fill center and right with big bats.

Here's an option: Roger Cedeno is a free agent. We could pick him up as a cheap center field/lead-off man and spend big bucks for a major slugger for right field.

Another option: Kenny Lofton for center field. He's already played for the Cubs, beng part of the Pittsburgh Three that almost got the Cubs to the World Series in '03. Additionally, he's a veteran of the type that Dusty Baker manages so well. With him in center, we could go for a cheaper right fielder, somebody like Preston Wilson or Reggie Sanders.

Through all this, I still have yet to see a name seriously floated for right. Burnitz - who served admirably as the replacement for Sammy Sosa - is gone, and we need somebody serious there.

I'll say it again - if the Cubs don't acquire a productive player for the outfield, we're cooked. It doesn't have to be a star - we've got Lee and Ramirez to hit the homeruns. We just need people to beef up the bottom half of the line-up.

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Chicago Cubs category from December 2005.

Chicago Cubs: November 2005 is the previous archive.

Chicago Cubs: January 2006 is the next archive.

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