The Second Tier

Updated – 7:43pm C.T. – Juan Pierre Filed for Free Agency

The free-agent filing period has begun and several names have already filed….among them Kerry Wood, Alfonso Soriano, Jason Schmidt, Gary Matthews, Jr. and Adam Eaton added their names to the list on Sunday night….all have been mentioned as a possibility to sign with the Cubs this off-season.

With the off-season now in full swing, here is a list of upcoming dates for the Faithful to add to their baseball calendar:

November 2 – 8The MLB Japan All-Star Series, Japan – Official Info from MLB.com
November 6 – Tickets for the 22nd Annual Cubs Convention goes on Sale – 10:00am C.T.
November 11 – Free Agent Filing Deadline
November 12 – Free Agency Period Begins
November 13 – 17 – The General Managers Meeting in Naples, Florida
November 13 – 21BBWAA (Baseball Writers Association of America) Awards
December 4 – 7 – Baseball Winter Meetings in Orlando, Florida
January 19 – 21, 2007 – 22nd Annual Cubs Convention

So while the two big dates are the General Managers meeting and the Winter Meetings, let’s take a look at a few of the second tier free agents that might be able to help the Cubs in 2007 and beyond….oh yeah, and the daily dose of rumors as well….

Buster Olney had a very good article in the latest edition of ESPN the Magazine. He brought up a lot of names to keep track of during the off-season. Some of the players Olney wrote about were Alex Rodriguez, Carlos Lee, Alfonso Soriano, Jason Schmidt and Barry Zito. Those are the BIG names of this off-season. Rodriguez will continue to make headlines until Opening Day and beyond….no doubt. But he had some interesting points about 3 of the BIG 4…. and Olney thinks they are “overvalued”…

Jason Schmidt…. He will be 34 years old when Spring Training starts and his 7.6 k’s per 9 innings was his worst ratio since 2000. Olney thinks that Schmidt will get A.J. Burnett money….a 5-year, $55 million dollar deal.

Alfonso Soriano…. Led all outfielders in assists with 22 and will receive more than the $70 million dollars that Nationals have been rumored to have offered. Olney said the Soriano will be overpaid despite have a career .157 average hitting 3rd in a lineup.

Carlos Lee…. Lee has averaged 99 RBI’s for 4 straight seasons but his power numbers with the Texas Rangers dropped while he raised his batting average and OBP….with the Brewers in 2006 .286/.347/.549/28/81 in 102 games, with the Rangers in 2006 .322/.369/.525/9/35 in 59 games. Olney said the bidding will start at $60 million.

Ted Lilly…. He is a lot like A.J. Burnett, except he is left-handed….just 1-game over .500 for his career at 59-58. Olney thinks the bidding will start at $40 million and he quoted an unnamed GM, saying for that kind of money, “he’s (Lilly) going to break somebody’s heart.”

Olney also discussed Aramis Ramirez and mentioned he will get his money either with the Cubs or via free agency.

Olney discussed a few players that will be “undervalued” in his eyes. One was Jamie Moyer, who just signed an extension with the Phillies, but the other four names he mentioned were very interesting and are worth a little discussion.

Moises Alou…. Alou played only 98 games last season for the Giants and his numbers were very impressive…. .301/.352/.571/22/74 and while Alou seemingly still wants to play his days as an everyday player are over. Buster Olney thinks he would make a good DH, but what about a platoon player for the Cubs? Alou’s numbers were more than impressive against left-handed pitching…. .349/.407/.687/6/19 in only 83 at bats. Could he provide the Cubs with a platoon partner for Jacque Jones? (Remember Alou played right field for the Giants when both he and Bonds were in the lineup) Jones’ injury is apparently not as bad as thought if he is participating in the Japan All-Star Series but he did struggle against lefties last season (and for his career). Jones hit .234/.261/.416/6/22 in 137 at bats against southpaws and .303/.358/.528/21/59 against righties. Alou knows how to play at Wrigley and is just two seasons removed from a monster year with the Cubs. The mainstream media has not mentioned Alou as possibly returning to the Cubs but he is a player that should not be over looked by Jim Hendry and his staff.

Vincete Padilla…. Olney brought up his name and simply said, “check his numbers, they’re better than you think.” Well, they are. Padilla was 15-10 with a 4.50 ERA in 33 games last season with the Rangers. In 200 innings he gave up 206 hits, walked 70 and struck out 156. His WHIP was 1.38, he gave up 21 home runs and opponents hit .266 against him (lefties hit .305 and righties hit .228). Padilla has a decent strikeout per 9 innings average a 7.02 but his walks per 9 innings are a little alarming at 3.15. Padilla is a ground ball pitcher that might have success at Wrigley. He is 2-2 in 8 career games with a save at Wrigley with 3.93 ERA, a 1.20 WHIP and a .235 opponents batting average.

Mark Loretta and Dave Roberts…. Both know how to win and both would not cost a lot to provide a veteran presence in the clubhouse. Roberts is 34 and Loretta is 35 so both could be a one year fix while either Ryan Theriot or Felix Pie take the next step in their development….either way both will make an impact for whichever team they sign with.

The Rumor Mill….

Mark DeRosa…. Paul Sullivan brought up DeRosa’s name in a late/early report in the Chicago Tribune. Apparently the utility player, with a good OBP, is on the Cubs radar.

Henry Blanco…. For the first time Blanco’s name has surfaced. Blanco is expected to declare himself a free agent and if he leaves the Cubs he could land on the Southside of Chicago. Hendry said he wants the popular back-up back…GO HANK WHITE GO!!!

Well, that’s the news and rumors and I’m sticking to them!!!!

Update – XM Radio is reporting than Juan Pierre was among the 89 players to file for free agency over the weekend.

Will update if more information becomes available

Quote of the Day

"No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of it to anyone else." - Charles Dickens
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