O.K. it’s that time again here at the CCO. Grab your GM hat, make sure it still fits and get ready to make a few moves that will improve the Cubs chances at making it to the promise land this season. You know the drill by now, or do you? The CCO asked the very same question, not once but twice two years ago and again last year. We even discussed Lou Piniella’s options before the season and again at the trading deadline. But with only 19 days left before pitchers and catchers report to Fitch Park, the question is…. What would you do if you were the general manager of the Chicago National League Ball Club, Inc.?
But like always, it is not as easy as it sounds….there is a twist. Not only do you have to act like a GM, you have to think like one as well. For instance, you cannot trade a handful of mid-level prospects to Minnesota for Johan Santana. In the ‘real world‘ that trade would never take place. Trades have to benefit both sides, and just not your beloved Chicago Cubs. Deals are more and more difficult to make nowadays because GM’s have a tendency to over value their ‘prized’ prospects and proven big league talent….for a good example see Andy MacPhail.
Not only must you look at improving this year’s team but, at the same time, not deplete your farm system of players that could possibly figure into the future of the franchise. Remember you are a GM, not a manager of a Fantasy League team.
Are there any free agents out there that interest you? Would you take a chance on Shannon Stewart? Does the availability of Kenny Lofton make it easier to deal Sam Fuld? Fred Mitchell mentioned both Stewart and Lofton as options he might choose for the Cubs. Would Marlon Byrd be worth trading for or would you give Ronny Cedeno, knowing he is out of options, a chance to platoon in center with Felix Pie?
Who would you send to Baltimore for Brian Roberts? Or would you even try in the first place? Would you go after Erik Bedard as well? Or would you try another route to give the Cubs a solid number three or four in the rotation? Adding Bedard would move Rich Hill down in the rotation and a starting four of Carlos Zambrano, Erik Bedard, Ted Lilly and Rich Hill could be the strongest in the league. With the 5th spot going to Jon Lieber, if healthy, the Cubs could have arguably the best rotation in the National League. But landing Bedard would come with a huge price tag.
Instead of Bedard, would you dig up Billy Beane’s number and try to work a deal for Joe Blanton? Or would you allow Ryan Dempster and Jason Marquis to battle it out for the 5th spot in the rotation?
Would adding Roberts clear up the questions surrounding the Cubs’ middle infield? Ryan Theriot did a good job last season, but needs to improve and from all indications he has worked very hard this off-season in order to take the next step in his development. Is Theriot the answer at short? Or would you give Ronny Cedeno one more shot?
The Cubs payroll was the 5th highest in the majors last season, third most in the National League….$115,943,318. Even with all of the ownership questions, money still does not appear to be problem. If Hendry wants it, the last two off-seasons, he’s gotten it.
Be creative. If you need to involve another team, do so. But explain your position and why you think your trade, or free agent signing, would benefit the Cubs.
And, as always, have fun. Isn’t that what baseball is supposed to be in the first place?