The Future is….Now?

Rich Hill gave up just 1 earned run for his 2nd victory in a row. Rich Hill gave up just 1 earned run for his 2nd victory in a row. That isn’t a typing error….I felt we all needed to let those words sink in, as we ponder the future of the Cubs franchise.

What will 2007 bring, and how much of the future are we witnessing, here, in the present moment?

If you think Jim Hendry is going to clean house of his precious prospects, and sign 3-4 big-name free agents, such as Barry Zito, Carlos Lee, and Alfonso Soriano….well….you know better!

Over the Hill?

Has Rich Hill started to “get it” at the big league level? We all need to realize that he did face one of the two worst teams in the entire Major Leagues, in the Pittsburgh Pirates, so perhaps tempering our enthusiasm a bit would be prudent. Still, it was great to see, because whether he is in the starting rotation in 2007, or not, the better Rich Hill pitches the next few months, the more options at Hendry’s disposal.

It has been well-documented that Hendry prefers to add above average players via a trade, rather than in free agency, because the players he trades for are usually still under contract for a reasonable sum of money. In free agency, players tend to get much more than they really deserve, because certain teams in need have to overpay to secure their services. The Chicago Bulls are a perfect example of this. Ben Wallace was not worth his $15 mill/year contract, due to his talent, but he was worth it to GM John Paxson, because Wallace was the best player available, and the Bulls desperately needed a solid veteran big man. So the Bulls purposely overpaid.

This happens all the time in baseball….just look at Rafael Furcal this year, and mediocre pitchers like Carl Pavano, Jared Wright, and A.J. Burnett. Smart teams trade for rising talent, when possible, by fleecing teams that can’t afford to keep their star players. If the Cubs were a small market team, you can guarantee that about 29 teams would be putting together packages to offer Hendry for Carlos Zambrano. In much the same way, Hendry will be looking at teams like the Marlins, Devil Rays, Royals, Pirates, and the Orioles, and seeing how he can package some players together to get a really good (and affordable) player in return.

Who do we trade for….?

I thought a guy like Andrew Jones would be a great fit at the corner outfield spot, and we either get rid of Jones or give up on Murton. Murton looks like he really can hit, but he needs to show more power consistently. What about Carl Crawford….can you imagine a team with both Crawford and Pierre stealing about 120 bases between them!? Can we make a move for Tejada, now that we can dangle either Cedeno or Izturis along with Hill, Marshall, or Marmol?

I think if either Tim Hudson or Mark Mulder are available, we should look into these proven winners. I want the Cubs to add proven guys for a change, and not just pour us a pitcher full of Hope. Can we take Jason Kendall, and his big contract, off the A’s, and move Barrett into one of the corner OF spots? The A’s love prospects and young pitchers, and now we finally have some that are looking decent.

If the season started today….

The Cubs starting rotation for 2007 currently looks like this:
Zambrano
Prior
Marshall
Marmol
Hill

Your Chicago Cubs lineup looks like this:
Pierre
Izturis
Lee
Ramirez
Jones
Barrett
Murton
Cedeno

So who do you want to get rid of, or who are you more willing to give up in a trade? You can make a case for every single player as to why they should stay, but you can also make a case for a lot of them on why we need to upgrade over them!

Derrek Lee will make a huge difference being healthy….no doubt about it. Pierre, Ramirez, and Barrett are all solid at the plate. Jones has done what we hoped, and has been worth his salary so far. The obvious questions are Murton, Cedeno, and now Izturis. You can have one weak-hitting infielder, provided he has a great glove, and that is why I think Izturis will be a keeper. Can Cedeno improve, or is he an average defensive player with a .250 BA, and just average speed? Will Murton be able to hit 20-25 HRs?

Open Forum….

Time to hear from you, CCO Readers, because these answers are just not obvious yet, and we have a 1/3rd of the season left to help us make these decisions. However, it will be fun to see who can make the best guesses….so please give me your thoughts/ideas/trades/wishes for the rest of this year and for the off-season! At the start of next Spring Training, we can all look back at our predictions, and see if we were on the mark or not. Step up to the plate, Cubs Faithful, and declare your position on the players on this team, and what you think it will take to return to a division title in 2007! I think the Cubs are two trades away from being in the World Series….how about you? Until next time CCO Readers, keep the faith, hope for our rookie pitchers to keep winning, for Prior to remember who he is, and let’s go Cubs!

Quote of the Day

"The man says 'play ball' not 'work ball,' you know." - Willie Stargell
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