And the Cubs Rumors Just Keep on Comin’

Will the calendar year end quietly for the Chicago Cubs? Or will Jim Hendry go out with a bang?

The Cubs have made headlines the final week of December the last two years … but with limited funds and a lack of flexibility with his current roster, the moves the Cubs are rumored to be working on may drag into the New Year.

According to Bruce Levine, the Cubs are not through and Jim Hendry “needs a starting pitcher.” Here is the update as the book begins to close on Twenty-Ten …

The Latest from Bruce Levine
Mr. Talkin’ Baseball held his weekly chat on ESPN Chicago on Tuesday afternoon. Here are the highlights …

  • Jim Hendry will “hang in there” on Matt Garza because the Cubs feel he is a difference maker.
  • Whatever Jim Hendry has left to use on the 2011 payroll “will be geared toward a starting pitcher. If Hendry is unable to trade for a starter, he might use the same money to try to sign a free-agent reliever. If Hendry is unable to do either, he may explore trading for Jason Frasor again.
  • Andrew Cashner is “in the rotation as of today.”
  • The Cubs had “some tentative conversations” about Kosuke Fukudome and the Cubs would “gladly eat half” of the $13 million he is owed in 2011.
  • No one is looking at Carlos Silva “after an injury plagued and uninspired second half.”
  • Levine is not sure if the Chris Davis talks are dead or not. “The Cubs and Rangers are dealing with bigger picture stuff right now.” The Rangers are still looking for starting pitching, even after signing Brandon Webb.
  • Levine spoke with John Grabow’s agent … “he says John is 100 percent and working out in Mesa.” Levine said Grabow pitched “mostly on one leg last year” and “was embarrassed by his performance.”
  • Carlos Pena is not looking for a contract extension. Pena is looking to have a good season, hit free agency again and sign a long-term deal, after fellow Scott Boras client Prince Fielder is taken care of first.
  • Tyler Colvin will be the Cubs everyday right fielder and backup first baseman “as of right now.”
  • If Kosuke Fukudome is still with the team, “there may be some sharing of time between the four outfielders” next season.
  • Aramis Ramirez “is going to play out most of this season with the Cubs.” The team has a option on Ramirez for 2012, but “he may get traded late in the summer if the Cubs are out of contention.”
  • Levine’s best guess about Jeff Samardzija is he “vies for the fifth starter spot” and “that’s a crowded group right now.”
  • The Cubs would “rather have five outstanding starters who are right-handed if they can.” They view Tom Gorzelanny as a fifth starter and they are having trouble projecting how he will perform over a full year. Gorzelanny “remains available in the right deal.”
  • Levine is hearing Dan Plesac or Keith Moreland could end up being Pat Hughes’ new partner.
  • Andrew Cashner appears to be the Cubs back-up plan for the rotation if they are unable to trade for Matt Garza.
  • Chris Carpenter and Chris Archer could join Cashner in the rotation at some point during the season.
  • The Cubs are strapped economically “and developing their own pitching seems like a good idea to them.”
  • Tom Ricketts has “taken Major League payroll and transferred it to the Minor League side of the business statement. In other words, more money to sign free agents out of the Latin American countries and the Pacific Rim as well as fattening up the budget for the June draft.” According to Levine, “Tom feels the team has to build from within to be a strong organization in the future.”
  • Levine does not think the Cubs will try to trade Geovany Soto for pitching. The Cubs are expecting Soto “to continue his trek back to being the player he was in 2008.”

And, the Cubs 40-man roster still has 41 players listed

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Well, there’s the update … and I’m sticking to it.

Quote of the Day

"Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow." - Albert Einstein
  • Tony

    The year is almost over, and not a moment to soon. But the questionable decision making continues on.

    – “Jim Hendry will “hang in there” on Matt Garza because the Cubs feel he is a difference maker. ” – Garza is a very good pitcher, a solid #2, but a difference maker, I just don’t see it.

    – “The Cubs had “some tentative conversations” about Kosuke Fukudome and the Cubs would “gladly eat half” of the $13 million he is owed in 2011.” Gladly eat half of a bad contract, of course they would. Getting back $6.5M would be huge. But no team is going to pay $6.5M to help out the Cubs, knowing he is there 4th OF. Teams would pay only $2-$3M, if they gave a a low level prospect. Honestly, I like Fukudome as the 4th OF, its the paycheck that bothers me.

    – “No one is looking at Carlos Silva “after an injury plagued and uninspired second half.”” Really, didn’t see that one coming. Hopefully this includes the Cubs!

    – “Levine spoke with John Grabow’s agent … “he says John is 100 percent and working out in Mesa.” Levine said Grabow pitched “mostly on one leg last year” and “was embarrassed by his performance.”” – Glad to see Grabow, joined the Club of people who were embarrassed by his performance” I don’t see a need for Grabow on this team, but if he truly was hurt last year, and can bounce back this year, you have to give him a shot, with his paycheck. You can always release him later.

    – “Levine’s best guess about Jeff Samardzija is he “vies for the fifth starter spot” and “that’s a crowded group right now.”” – He really has no chance at this spot, and will end up in the bullpen. Of course that crowded group for the fifth starter’s spot, makes me wonder why JH has targeted the rotation as the place to make this team better. If he could add a #1, I would agree.

    – “Andrew Cashner appears to be the Cubs back-up plan for the rotation if they are unable to trade for Matt Garza.” And we wonder why the best moves are the non-moves. If they trade for Garza, Cashner becomes a bullpen arm and probably his career is in the bullpen. If they don’t trade for Garza, Cashner is given a chance at being a top of the rotation, starting pitcher. WOW, what a way to decide a young fireballers career. I like Garza, but he is not a power pitcher, and I like power pitchers. I like my non-power pitchers to still get strikeouts (Maddux is the best example of a non-power pitcher who still got k’s).

    – “Chris Carpenter and Chris Archer could join Cashner in the rotation at some point during the season.” – And yet our GM, is trying to add to the team, by trading away 3-4 of our best prospects, to fill our rotation. With our luck, he will lose on Garza, but then overpay for Carmona, who I have NO desire to see in a Cubs uniform. He makes Garza look like a strikeout machine.

    – “The Cubs are strapped economically “and developing their own pitching seems like a good idea to them.”” How can this quote be in the same discussion, with some of the others? Why would our GM, being targeting, adding to the rotation, when developing their own pitching seems like a good idea? Of course developing your own pitching is a good idea, that is how you get the youngest years from your arms, at the best value for you dollars. The worst is get arms with 5-6 years of MLB service time, and then you pay them the big dollars.

    – And finally, the Cubs expect Soto to continue his trek back to 2008. I really hope so, but the part that I don’t like about Soto, is his catching, and that wasn’t great back then either. Not that I ever expect it, but Sell High, Buy Low. Soto is a candidate for that, especially, if they would give Castillo and Chirinos, some time at the MLB level, to see if they can take the next step., They missed the September opportunity, hopefully one of them is the backup catcher instead of Hill.

    • Kyle Johansen

      Tony, I wish I had read your comment before posting mine because I basically regurgitated what you’ve already said. I agree completely with everything you said until the part about Soto. I can’t argue with you that it may be a good idea to trade Soto to build for the future and develop Chirinos, but behind the plate Geo still has a good arm, and I think the Cubs need his On-Base and Slugging skills if they want to compete over the next few years.

    • Chipguy2030

      Tony didn’t the Cubs lead all the major leagues in QUALITY STARTS? And who was the catcher? Soto! I don’t really care for him either but he has caught the pitchers well the last 3 Years!

      • Tony

        First – he is often injured. 331 AB’s in 2009 and 322 AB’s in 2010. Not very dependable.

        Second – Soto has improved his defense and game calling, but I don’t believe our pitchers would go backwards without him catching, as they have had others quite often over the last 2 years.

        Third – Soto’s CS% is 22%, 27%, 28% the last 3 years. Not exactly throwing guys out.

        Soto is fine, if you don’t have other options. I would prefer a more defensive catcher and feel we have strength in our system, to move Soto, before he starts to get expensive.

        • Ripsnorter1

          I agree with Soto being often injured. He probably needs to spend some time at 1B or . . . DH. Yup, I said “DH.”

          And let’s talk about the top defensive receivers in the game in the category of throwing runners out (caught stealing percentage) with a minimum of 50 games:

          1. Molina, Cards, 48.5%
          2. Molina, Blue Jays, 44.1%
          3. Thole, Mets, 44.0%
          4. Olivo, Rockies, 42.3%
          5. Martin, Dodgers, 38.6%
          6. Marson, Indians, 37.8%
          7. Posey, SF Giants, 37.1%
          8. Johnson, Sea, 35.3%
          9. Quintero, Astros, 35.2%
          10. I-Rod, Nats, 34.4%

          30. Jake Fox, A’s/Orioles, 33.3%
          50. Kendall (he’s awful) KC, 28.9%
          74. Soto, Cubs, 22.1%
          81. K. Hill, Cubs, 17.8% (he can’t hit, either).

          99. Worst catcher in all of MLB, 17 steals allowed, 0 caught stealing:
          BRAD ASMUS.

          Okay, so Soto is not a stellar defender. But he’s got a #1 Bat, and that counts for more, to me.

      • Ripsnorter1

        The Oakland A’s lead MLB in quality starts in 2010 with 105. The Cubs were 2nd in MLB with 98.

  • Tony

    Neil – This new commenting system is great!

    • Neil

      Tony, I’m glad you like it. Still working through the bugs and getting everyone up to speed. I think it is an improvement.

  • Tony

    “The Cubs would “rather have five outstanding starters who are right-handed if they can.” They view Tom Gorzelanny as a fifth starter and they are having trouble projecting how he will perform over a full year. Gorzelanny “remains available in the right deal.””

    So lets get this straight.

    The rotation

    #1 – Zambrano – but is really not a #1
    #2 – Dempster – if you look is a #2 by slotting all pitchers, but I view as a #3 on a good team (maybe a #4 on a great team)
    #3 – Cashner – This was stated when he was announced to have a shot starting. Rookies are always #5, until proven.
    #4 – Wells – Really a #5
    #5 – Gorzellany – Compare Gorz to the rest of the teams #5’s and he looks good.

    Other options
    Silva – not much left in his tank
    Coleman – #5
    Samardzija – not major league material to date
    Archer – potential top of the rotation guy
    Carpenter – potential top of the rotation guy, likely to end up in bullpen

    So young arms that could pitch this year
    Cashner, Archer, Carpenter, Samardzija, Coleman. plus more possible.

    Why would you want to add a starting pitcher that is about to get expensive, when you have this many arms, this close to being ready for the majors? When you already have Zambrano and Demptser locked in for the next 2 years, with Full No-Trade clauses? You only have 3 spots to fill. If this team was close to contending, I would be all for adding to it, with proven MLB talent. But this team is not close to contending, and needs to give playing time to guys like Cashner, Archer, Carpenter, over Silva, Wells, and Grabow’s.

    • Agustin_Rexach

      Tony, you have a gift. I totally agree. I think the answer to your question might be hidden somewhere in Shopaholic. He just gets an urge to spend for the fun of it.

      Somebody please take him out!

  • Tony

    “Tyler Colvin will be the Cubs everyday right fielder and backup first baseman “as of right now.””

    What does “as of right now” mean? I hope it means back-up 1B as of right now, meaning they may add a bench bat that plays 1B.

    But if it was me, I would be gving some playing time to Colvin at 1B this year, to see if he can play there. That would give them a better idea of their future needs, as that is still their #1 NEED in 2012 and beyond.

    • Kyle Johansen

      instead of wasting money on a starting pitcher, I’d like to see them spend a million or so on Nick Johnson just to be a back-up 1b and pinch hitter. Just love that OBP. As a bench player, I think he would be a valuable signing.

      • Tony

        Why would you want to bring in an oft-injured, aging veteran, instead of letting Colvin and Baker back-up Pena?

  • Kyle Johansen

    it seems like Levine is kind of going both ways with the rotation, first he says Hendry “needs a starting pitcher,” and then goes on to say “developing their own pitching seems like a good idea to them.”

    I really have not understood this pressure to add another starter to the mix, every Cubs starter had an FIP under 4 last year, that is no small accomplishment. With Wells, Gorz, Cashner and Silva in front of the young guys, it seems like there is plenty of competition for the last three slots in the rotation.

    If the Cubs are strapped for cash, why wouldn’t they just leave the rotation as it is and possibly let a young starter develop as the #5?

  • Ripken Boy

    This sounds like previous years when Jimbo hung in there to get Brian Roberts and Jake Peavey and got nothing. Time to move forward Jimbo and go after Fausto Carmona or continue to shore up bullpen.

  • cubsklm

    Seems like the owner is investing in the minor leagues, while the GM is working on trading the talent we have there for Garza. I like Garza, wouldn’t give the farm for him, but a rotation of Garza, Dempster, Archer, Carpenter, & Cashner would be fun to watch by the end of 2011.

    Also, I’d be weary of trading Soto, it’s very difficult to find a Catcher who can hit. Let’s give him another year.

    • joejoed

      Yes, I agree on keeping Soto! Bring the youngsters into back him up. But Soto’s numbers that year were great if only he’d had a few more ABs.

      • Tony

        If only they would have given Castillo the playing time in September when Soto was out. Instead we got to see Hill, play everyday. We know what Hill can give you, an ok back-up catcher.

        • cubsklm

          I’m just saying I see a lot of complaining about Soto on this site. Be very careful before you trade a catcher that hits .280 17HR and knocks in 55+ runs. Plus he only makes 575K. K. Hill makes more $$$ than Soto!? For what!? A 210 BA 1HR and 12RBI’s – Waive Hill and save the 775K and let one of the youngster be the backup.

          • Tony

            He made 575k in 2010. He will get a big raise in arbitration. I am estimating between $3M-$4M for 2011.

            I would have played Castillo and Chirinos in September. Depending on how they played (remember Soto was handed the job after a great September call-up), would have helped determine the right move in the offseason.

            Now, I would waive Hill and would have at least started the shopping process on Soto. I would go into 2011 with Soto and Castillo, with Chirinos, being the future starter. If Castillo performs well enough as the back-up, and Chirinos keeps playing well, I would trade Soto and go with Chirinos and Castillo and let their play dictate who plays more. The cost would be less than Hill. I f Soto keeps hitting at the same level, and could stay healthy during the first half, he could net a decent enough return.

            Once again, I like a more defensive catcher, batting 8th, that has an eye for the strike zone, that doesn’t strike out a lot. An arm that controls the running game is a must. If you like a more offensive catcher (Soto is barely Top 10 in Fantasy) and an average (I’m being generous) defensive catcher, that is fine. We can agree to disagree on catchers.

            If they keep Soto, I hope you are right.

          • cubsklm

            We’re Cubs fans we have the same goals. But on Soto, let’s be clear, even though he was hurt last year – here’s how he stacks up against all other NL catchers. 5th in Batting Average, 4th in Homers, 5th in RBI’s, 4th in Runs scored, 2nd in Slugging %, and 1st in OPS. Easily in the NL top 10 in every offensive category for catchers.

            I hope Castillo and Chirinos, become all stars, but to date, they have not performed at the MLB level, so they are an unknown. I agree, give them a chance, and save the 775K on Hill – he’s worthless.

            The Cubs have so many other holes to fill, catcher is not one of them.

          • Tony

            My premise of wanting to move him, is that he is not Joe Mauer or Buster Posey. Those may be the only 2 catchers, I am willing to tie up any significant part of the payroll.

            I like Soto and at $1M or less during the controlled years (0-3, it has been good. If we had a stud defender as the back-up, I could handle Soto more. But for $3M and growing, I say let someone else pay him.

          • cubsklm

            We’ll agree to disagree. There aren’t to many Posey’s or Mauer’s out there. And for a team willing to pay 700K for Hill and 1.175 for Baker. In my book Soto is worth every penny of 3-4 million. His salary will make up about 3% of the payroll.If you waive Baker and Hill and gave Soto their money – you’re looking at almost 3 mill anyway.

          • Ripsnorter1

            Ain’t that real words of wisdom! How can K. Hill make more money than Soto????????

  • JVsports

    ‘The Cubs are strapped economically “and developing their own pitching seems like a good idea to them.” ‘

    Gee..I hope that seems like a good idea every year regardless of economic situation!

  • cubs1967

    Ricketts needs to stop lying (P.K.McCaskey)…….there has not been one Dominican or Pacific Rim signing to date nor will any of those players who are 4 to 5 years away from MLB action help end 102 years of futility.

    Chicago is the 3rd largest market in the country; Cubs fans are the most loyal of any organiziation in any sport. No MLB team travels like Cubs fans do-NONE.

    STOP the BS P.K.-spend the dough on major leaguers to end this asinine drought of over 100 years and NO championship.

    Stop worrying about Wrigley and a plan to make your family richer using Cubs fans and taxpayers money; the place is a dump-its’ been a dump for the last 40 years.

    Win a WS and the dump will get rehabbed.

    • The Maven

      I hope that your not one of those fans who feel that major league players simply “materialize”, and that trading or buying them is the only way to build a winning team. I read your posts in the past, and know that you’re smarter than that.

      The truth is that all good teams build through their own organization. Building is not only a function of small market teams, such as Tampa or Minnesota. All big money teams also have their own players that they have developed.

      Latin American players the Cubs have developed or are on their way include Carlos Marmol, Starlin Castro, Rafael Dolis, Robinson Chirinos, Wellington Castillo, and Marwin Gonzalez to name a few. Asian players include Hak-Ju Lee and Jae-Hoon Ha. If you have been watching the trade rumors, many of these names have been bandied about. That means other teams feel that these are good players.

      I know that you speak for many of us with your frustration over losing. I feel the same way. However, I feel it is more important to build a franchise in which winning is part of the culture, and not just a one shot deal.

      • cubs1967

        ever hear of cliff lee, carl crawford, roy halladay, victor martinez…..the list goes on of MLB all-star players we do not sign.

        last time i checked no one can guarantee castill, lee, dolis, etc will ever amt to anything………so you wanna wait……..for what.

        ever hear of felix pie, eric or corey patterson, jeff smardz, jake fox, etc. how did they pan out for ya???

        ask a Sox fan how happy they are now that they won a championship………then come back to me in 10 yrs as we wait for all these prospects……….

        last time i checked the Yankees don’t promote they have 10 great prospects when they sing new players–they promote they have 27 championships

        • John_CC

          The Yankees homegrown talent: Jeter, Cano, Gardner, Posada, Mo Rivera, Hughes, and Pettitte is a pretty sweet group, don’t you think? They are completely homegrown talents up the middle. Then they added around that group with the best guys at their positions, Teixi, ARod, CC, etc. The Yankees have raised quite a few all-stars, they do not simply buy championships. Yes, you have to be willing to go out and spend, but you 7 years on say, Carl Crawford would be flat out stupid with Brett Jackson in the wings.

          (formerly jc.3-6-3, I can’t find my old avatar image of shooter asleep in the pen.)

        • Gary J

          Speaking of the Yankees and Red Sox… ever hear of Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes, Robinson Cano, or Andy Pettite? How about Jon Lester, Johnathan Pappelbon, Jason Varitek, Kevin Youklis, Dustin Pedroia, or Jacoby Ellsbury?

          There are definitely major free agents on those teams I’ll grant you – but there’s a few hall of famers and perennial all-stats that are home grown as well.

        • Tony

          FA signing are not guaranteed either and actually, most FA, big dollar contracts end up as bad deals.

          You have to do both, with a plan!

          You can not do one (sign lots of aging, overpriced FA’s) or the other (go with unproven prospects) only.

          The Yankees started this streak, with guys from their own system. It was after their initial run, that they started buying all of the top FA’s. They have been able to be competitive every year, and win more Championships, but spending money on FA’s doesn’t guarantee even the Yankees, a Championship.

        • Aaron

          When the White Sox won the WS in 2005, they had 7 of 9 guys in the lineup 30 years and younger (5 of whom were 28 and under). They had 3 guys with 86+RBI, and a true leadoff hitter that stole 59 bases, and 4 guys with 20+hr

          Their rotation had 4 guys that logged 204+IP, and amazingly, all 4 had under a 3.87 ERA, with the highest WHIP being 1.250 (the rest had 1.172, 1.183, and 1.231), and their pen featured 6 guys with a 3.77 ERA and under, and 3 guys with ERAs of 1.94, 2.00, and their closer had a 2.04 ERA

          So, count me skeptical that adding a guy like Garza, while decimating our system, will help this team get over the hump.

          Right now, we have 3 guys slated for our pen that had under ERA’s under 4…and just 2 starters with ERA’s under 4.

          Additionally, we have NO player on the roster that had more than 10 stolen bases last year (Castro), and NO player with more than 84 RBI (Pena), and just 2 with 80+RBI to begin with (ARAM, Pena)

          From my vantage point, I think we need at least 2 more starters with ERA’s under 4, at least 3 more pen arms with ERA’s under 4, and at LEAST 2 more big bats in our lineup (ie.-guys that can hit 20+hr, 80+RBI)…PLUS, we need a true leadoff hitter that’s eluded us since we briefly had Lofton in 2003.

          Here’s how ridiculously good Lofton was for us in 2003-56 games, 208 ABs, 68 hits, 3 hr, 20 RBI, 12 stolen bases, .327 avg, .381 OBP, 18 walks, 22 K’s

          That’s unbelievable, and the Cubs should’ve recognized that he was one of the MAJOR cogs in the 2003 success.

          Honestly, the ONLY guy in the ENTIRE system that could likely mirror what Lofton gave us is Hak-Ju Lee. I originally thought of Campana, but after examining him, along with Brett Jackson, and other leadoff candidates in our system (as well as our current roster), there doesn’t seem to be anyone better suited for that role than Lee, and he’s the one that’s mentioned prominently in the Garza rumors. That doesn’t sit well with me, and it shouldn’t sit well with anyone else.

          Fact is, the Yankees and Cubs are NO comparison. Sure, they’re both major markets, but the Yankees bring in far more revenue than the Cubs could ever imagine, and they can afford to overspend on just about every major free agent out there…and just consider their lineup for a second last year.

          Of the 9 guys in the lineup, 5 were developed internally: Cervelli-C, Posada-DH/C, Cano, Jeter, and Gardner. All 5 figured prominently in their success, with Gardener swiping 47 bases and batting mostly leadoff.

          Then, to round out their lineup, they go and sign perennial 30+hr, 100+RBI guys in Teixeira and AROD, as well as perennial 25+hr, 80+RBI utility man in Swisher.

          So, over half their lineup is homegrown, and the rest they just get the best of the best on the FA market it seems.

          As for their pitching staff…Pettitte and Hughes were homegrown, and in their pen, 3 of their main guys, Rivera, Chamberlain, and Robertson were homegrown. So, it’s not always what it seems with them, as even their bench with guys like Pena, Nick Johnson (originally drafted by them), Miranda, Curtis, Nunez, Russo, and the upcoming starter in Ivan Nova were developed by them

          • Gary J

            Using your criteria above… Garza’s line last year in the AL East (which would have been lower in the AL central of 2006) was 204 innings, 3.91 ERA, 1.251 Whip… and he’s 27. That’s everything you pointed to above for both age and performance.

            He still has ace potential and as he currently stands he’s a solid #2.

            Does he put us over the top? Obviously not. Can’t argue with the fact that we’re still needing more pieces (although I could argue the quantity)…. and I’m 100% with you on the leadoff guy – it’s a glaring hole (which I hope HJ Lee might grow into).

            But if Garza cost 4 B level prospects? It’s worth the buy both for 2010 AND for long term. Entirely depends on the package that it takes to get him.

          • The Maven

            I also hate to burst anyone’s bubble, but 17 of the 38 players listed as part of the 2005 White Sox came through their system.

          • Ripsnorter1

            Don’t forget to mention that the Dingfod Cubs management CUT LOFTON after the season when he was the key to their success. That was the same reason they cut DeRosa, too. DINGFODism runs in the Cubs’ management linage. A bunch of inbred . . . .

  • cc002600

    Ever hear of Starlin Castro ?

  • MikeT_2008

    I would personally like to see Plesac as the color man with Pat, I feel that he has the kind of passion that would be perfect for that position and he would let Pat do what he does best. Still sucks that we’ll never hear the “OH YES!!!” after a big homerun though.

  • PleaseStopLosing

    I hope we don’t trade for Garza and just develop our young arms and stay within our system.. he will cost too much of our system and our limited budget and is not enough to carry us to World Series by any means so why go after him at all…Stick with our pitching staff and pick up a bat… All those quality starts last year were for nothing because we have no offense and Pena alone is not enough of an improvement there to carry us.

  • Aaron

    This team is going to be REALLY ugly next year. If the season started tomorrow, here’s our likely lineup:

    DeWitt-2B, *with Cubs, .250 avg, .314 OBP, 4 hr, 22 RBI, 17 walks, 37 K’s
    Castro-SS, .300 avg, .347 OBP, 3 hr, 41 RBI, 29 walks, 71 K’s
    Byrd-CF, .293 avg, .346 OBP, 12 hr, 66 RBI, 31 walks, 98 K’s last year
    ARAM-3B, .241 avg, .294 OBP, 25 hr, 83 RBI, 34 walks, 90 K’s
    Pena-1B, .196 avg, .325 OBP, 28 hr, 84 RBI, 87 walks, 158 K’s
    Soriano-LF, .258 avg, .322 OBP, 24 hr, 79 RBI, 45 walks, 123 K’s
    Colvin-RF, .254 avg, .316 OBP, 20 hr, 56 RBI, 30 walks, 100 K’s
    Soto-C, .280 avg, .393 OBP, 17 hr, 53 RBI, 62 walks, 83 K’s

    In case you’re counting at home, collectively, that’s….
    .259 avg, .332 OBP, 133 hr, 484 RBI, 335 walks, and an astounding 760 k’s…or, about 95 K’s per hitter in our lineup…That’s a LOT of strike outs. If you thought our lineup was bad last year…just wait til next season, and you’ll see the real pain. It’s probably for the best that Ronnie is no longer in the booth, and doesn’t have to witness the train-wreck that’s about to happen…he deserved much better…and so do we, quite frankly

    As for the rest of our team, here’s what we’d likely have:
    Koyie Hill-.214 avg, .254 OBP, 1 hr, 17 RBI…and get this…12 walks vs 67 K’s in just 215 ABs (in other words, good Little League hitters could probably do better). That’s an astounding 30+% K rate, or, once every 3 ABs, he struck out…which is downright pathetic, considering his meager offensive output

    Baker-.272 avg, .326 OBP, 4 hr, 21 RBI, 16 walks, 50 K’s (206 ABs…also high K total of about 24%)

    Barney-.241 avg, .294 OBP, 0 hr, 2 RBI, 6 walks, 12 K’s (just 79 ABs)

    Fuld-.143 avg, .226 OBP, 0 hr, 3 RBI, 3 walks, 5 K’s (just 28 ABs)

    …and the last spot will likely come down to Snyder, LaHair, Adduci, or Scott Moore. If Guyer or Brett Jackson have monster springs, it could be them, but it’s so un-Cublike to reward young players like that.

    As for the pitching, here it is:
    Zambrano-11-6, 3.33 ERA, 1.450 WHIP
    Dempster-15-12, 3.85 ERA, 1.319 WHIP
    Gorzelanny-7-9, 4.09 ERA, 1.496 WHIP
    Wells-8-14, 4.26 ERA, 1.400 WHIP
    Silva-10-6, 4.22 ERA, 1.274 WHIP
    *when Silva is leading your rotation in WHIP…you have MAJOR problems. It’s going to come down to a race between Silva, Cashner, Samardzija, Archer, Jay Jackson, Carpenter, McNutt, and probably Coleman, to see who does best in Spring Training for the 5th spot. It’s also possible they’d just trade Gorzelanny, and give Cashner a spot, then the rest will battle for the last spot. However, I don’t see how you can justify trading your only lefty when Wells proved his breakout season was nothing more than a long list of “career years” that seem to dominate our roster.

    Russell-4.96 ERA, 1.347 WHIP
    Maine-2.08 ERA, 1.077 WHIP
    Grabow-7.36 ERA, 1.870 WHIP *WOW!!! How was he still on the team again?!?
    Mateo-5.82 ERA, 1.338 WHIP
    *Berg (it’ll either be him or Mateo, in all likelihood)-5.18 ERA, 1.625 WHIP
    Marshall-2.65 ERA, 1.112 WHIP
    Wood-3.13 ERA, 1.391 WHIP
    Marmol-2.55 ERA, 1.185 WHIP, 38 saves
    *it is conceivable one of the lefties will be traded, and Cashner might return to the pen

    • Baron_S

      Hi Aaron,

      just a little addition to your analyis of the lineup

      The Cubs have not addressed the #1 problem of 2010 or 2009 — NO SPEED on offense!!!
      2010 – Cubs Last in all of baseball in SB
      2009 – Cubs last in all of baseball in SB

      For 2 straight years, this has been the SLOWEST offense in baseball, and not 1 single speedster has been added yet.

      The solution thus far — Blake Dewitt, he of the career 6 stolen bases at leadoff.

      All of this is great — except
      The Cubs ranked in the bottom half of MLB in slugging percentage….

      If you don’t hit consistently for extra bases or steal bases, HOW will you score any freakin runs.

      So far, we have addressed 1B, and lots of attention is on additions to the pitching staff… none of this is going to mean anything when we struggle to put up 2 runs a game next season.

      • AREFEREE

        The problem with the cubs and has been for quite sometime is they have no leadoff hitter. We need a table setter and base stealing threat.

    • Gary J

      I still think hope exists – and I’ll continue to think that until Labor Day or so. There’s some skewing above on the MLB stats for several prospects… but that’s reasonable. I’m one of those guys that believes a prospect is just that until they prove themselves – but I also remember Sandberg going 1 for his first 32. Until after the second year, you have to go with the scouts expectations – and Barney and maybe Fuld should be better than the above.

      Also while there’s not much defending Pena’s sub-Mendoza average last year – his BABIP was abnormally low. And even with the Ks he’s got a great eye – you’d have to to pull off a .325 OBP hitting .198 LOL. Figure he reverts a little closer to his .240 career avg. and .350 OBP… which I’d take. It’s not Pujols – but it’s a decent stopgap for one year with gold glove defense.

      Castro figures to get more plate discipline and a higher OBP… ARam figures to bounce back if 100% healthy (never safe to assume though) and I really think Soriano and Soto will improve as well with year two of Jamarillo.

      The pen looks great on paper – especially if Grabow is truly 100%… the rotation took a hit with losing Lilly – but gained too with Big Z waking up following his banishment. I feel that they could use that solid #2 innings eater in Garza – but unless Archer or someone steps up, the rotation just doesn’t compare in the central right now.


      I’ll continue to think that the core of a team (other than Lee) that the analysts thought two years ago was the cream of the NL… and then last year was picked to make the playoffs…. then flopped in epic fashion.

      There’s talent – and I wonder if the boost that the team got at the end of the year under new management wasn’t more what we should expect than a fluke.

      I know – it’s overly optimistic and borderline naive – but I’m still going to hope and look forward to the season and still hope for a move here or there before April.

      • Tony

        Gary – That is the fun part of baseball and why they play the games.

        I can’t wait for the start of ST.
        I can’t wait for the first ST game.
        I can’t wait for the first time we here “And the Chicago Cubs are on the air”…ok, that one will be extremely hard to hear next spring, knowing that Ronnie is gone.

        And, the most exciting day of the year, Opening Day, when all teams start out equal. But I will not have high expectations for next year and hope that one day, this franchise, can have a GM, that is the envy of MLB.

  • Aaron

    If Cashner goes to the pen, it’ll likely be due to poor performance in the spring, and Silva will likely get the spot, and all things will remain equal. Also, since Samardzija is out of options, it’s quite likely he’ll either get the 5th spot by default, or he’ll get a pen spot, in which case, the odd man out is either Russell or Maine.

    No matter which way you look at it, this is a disgusting team, and it’d be borderline criminal if Hendry trades away the farm to get a pitcher like Garza when we have almost a ZERO chance of competing next year. Be honest with yourself….Does anyone honestly think we can compete with a rotation of:

    Brewers-Gallardo, Greinke, Marcum, Wolf
    *and a lineup featuring: Weeks, Fielder, Braun, Hart, and McGehee…all of whom were 23+hr, 83+RBI last year, with Braun, Hart, and McGehee over 100+RBI…oh, and all of whom are under 28 years old

    Reds-Arroyo, Cueto, Volquez, Travis Wood and Leake
    *and a lineup featuring: Votto, Bruce, Phillips, Rolen, Gomes, and Stubbs…all except Rolen are under 29 years old

    Cardinals-Carpenter, Wainwright, Garcia, and Westbrook
    *and a lineup featuring: Pujols, Holliday, Rasmus, and Berkman

    The only teams we can possibly compete with in the division position-for-position are the Pirates and Astros

    So….why is Hendry looking at trading away any prospects again?!?

    I say we get through this year with the players we have, and let the chips fall where they may for free agency next year, and make a strong push for Pujols, Fielder, or AGON…then, go with this roster

    2B-Weeks (if he’s available), or Uggla (if he hasn’t signed an extension and has a good year)
    3B-Castro/LeMahieu/Vitters (depending how much power all 3 add next year. If Castro develops the power, then SS goes to Lee..otherwise, we might have to make a trade for a David Wright)
    LF-Guyer (if he has a good season)
    CF-B Jackson


    pen-Mateo, Dolis, Kurcz, Russell/Maine, Marshall, Wood, Marmol

  • The Maven

    I share everyone elses concerns, but I’m also concerned about “Cubbie Occurrances”. This is just the type of team that could start the season ripping of 25 to 30 straight wins, then playing .500 ball the rest of the way. They make the playoffs, but lose and, therefore justify the notion that they are “3 to 4 moves away from contending”.

    • Gary J

      If a team makes the playoffs… then by definition they are contending. It’s about 50/50 that one of the best 8 teams in the playoffs wins. See SF 2010, STL 2006, WhiteSox 2005, Marlins 2003, etc etc etc…

      Granted each of those teams had something going for it – but you have to in order to get to the playoffs in the first place. But I’d be thrilled if they pulled off the scenario you put forth above and made the playoffs… because once there it’s a free for all. :-)

      And if they had enough comeback years and youngster breakthroughs to get there – then “3 to 4 moves” would be exactly what was needed.

      • The Maven

        Gary, if that happened, I would be extatic. However, history shows us that once the Cubs start winning, they get into “bunker” mentality and things like “the curse” start to weigh on them. In the end, it is usually disappointment and your prospects are either gone or gone stale. And then, the cycle repeats itself.

  • The Maven

    I share everyone elses concerns, but I’m also concerned about “Cubbie Occurrances”. This is just the type of team that could start the season ripping of 25 to 30 straight wins, then playing .500 ball the rest of the way. They make the playoffs, but lose and, therefore justify the notion that they are “3 to 4 moves away from contending”.

    • paulcatanese

      Good article,I agree with you,and don’t forget, right now ,today they are UN-Defeated. They only need 29 more wins in a row. You know I believe in these guys every year. It’s a good feeling this time of year………….but opening day is on the way and I can start saying “wait till next year”. Oh well.

  • The Maven

    Sorry about the repeat

  • stormyweather

    Id only trade for Garza IF we were likely contenders. I dont see it in 2011. Otherwise, Id keep the kids. You may not have an absolute stud, but baseball is a TEAM game, and a team full of above avg talent usually contends(i.e, the Giants). Save your young talent for a real difference maker, like say, Albert Pujols.

  • BillyFinT

    Roster Question.

    Since Dec.19, the Cubs have been keeping 41 men on a 40-man roster. Is there a deadline for them to clear this problem?

    • Neil

      Dorasaga, I do not know of one during the off-season. There are during the season, obviously, and if a team does not follow the roster rules it can cost them a draft pick.

      I’ve been keeping an eye and ear out and have not heard anything.

      • Ripsnorter1

        Why don’t you call Mr. Jim Clueless on the phone and alert him to the 41 man 40 man roster. I guarantee you that he has forgotten all about it, and it’ll cost the Cubs a draft pick. The guy is in a baseball coma!

        • BillyFinT

          Thanks, Neil. A draft pick will be huge, since this team is building from within…

          Rip, LOL.

  • Aaron

    With the Red Sox, guys like Ellsbury, Pedroia, Youkilis, and Kalish were developed in their system, and their pitching with the likes of Bucholz, Lester, Bard, and Papelbon were also developed from within.

    I think you have to have a good balance with your system and trades/FA. The Cubs just have to do a better job of identifying guys most likely to succeed at the MLB level, and dealing away guys that are highly touted now, but have a greater likelihood of failing later on.

    I would identify guys such as Castro, LeMahieu, Brett Jackson, Hak-Ju Lee, McNutt, Jay Jackson, and possibly Archer (because he’s still very young, and when he was 17 and 18 he really struggled, which is VERY young)…as keepers in the system.

    Guys like Colvin, Soto (I’m including because he’s still young), and one of Castillo or Chirinos, Flaherty, Coleman, Samardzija, Barney, Wells, etc. should be dealt, as they don’t figure prominently in our future either because of struggles at the MLB level, inconsistent minor league stats, or just a numbers game at the MLB level with better prospects on the way. I’d even include Guyer in that list, except for the fact that he’s been injured frequently, so I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt (for now)

  • studio179

    I agree with a couple others who pointed this out. It seems the owner wants to develope from within while the GM wants to trade it away for a pitcher who is good, but not the ‘difference maker’ he is labled by the Cubs. What worries me is Hendry is looking at a 1-2 year plan to keep his and Quade’s job, not what is in the best interest for the team long term. The whole Levine bullet points above make it seem like the owner and GM are not on the same page.

  • Slyboost_38

    I just believe that we should keep the rosters, let the young kids play, and see if maybe spring training will show us how things will work out! I believe Pena will comeback and bat around .240 because he will no longer have to deal with that foot injury. I am optimisitic and have my doubts about 2011, but im ready for baseball!!!!!!