Is Jim Hendry Looking to Add a Veteran Infielder?

It is 18 days until pitchers and catchers report to Fitch Park and Jim Hendry is not done tweaking his roster. Hendry said during the Cubs Convention that there could be more deals like the one Reed Johnson signed just before the fan fest … a minor league contract with a non-roster invitation to Spring Training.

Hendry reportedly agreed to a non-guaranteed minor league contract with Todd Wellemeyer on Tuesday … and more could be on the horizon.

According to Bruce Levine, the Cubs could be looking to add a veteran to their infield mix with Orlando Cabrera, Cristian Guzman and Julio Lugo on their list.

Here is the update, including notes from an interview with Jim Hendry on XM Radio …

Before jumping into the update, Brett Jackson was named the 46th best prospect in the game by MLB.com. During Tuesday night’s one-hour telecast on the MLB Network, the Cubs’ top prospect came in one spot ahead of his former teammate Chris Archer.

Veteran Infielders
During his weekly chat on ESPN Chicago, Bruce Levine stated, “Look for the Cubs to look at Orlando Cabrera, Cristian Guzman or Julio Lugo.” Levine was asked about the Cubs possible interest in Felipe Lopez and he does not feel the Cubs will go in that direction but Cabrera, Guzman and Lugo could be possibilities. Levine thinks Cabrera and Guzman “make the most sense.”

Both Cabrera and Lugo have been on Jim Hendry’s radar in the past.

Orlando Cabrera is coming off a decent season with the Reds (.263/.303/.354/.657 in 123 games) and many feel he had a lot to do with the young Reds’ success early in the season. The Reds declined the option on Cabrera and moved on.

Orlando Cabrera’s Page on Baseball-Reference

Cristian Guzman was horrible in 15 games with the Rangers after the Nationals sent him to Texas on July 30.

Cristian Guzman’s Page on Baseball-Reference

Julio Lugo played in just 93 games for the Orioles last season after spending time in Boston and St. Louis in the 2009 season. Lugo was just as effective as Guzman last season but played second base (59 games), shortstop (26 games), third base (seven games) and left field (one game) in Baltimore.

Julio Lugo’s Page on Baseball-Reference

At this point, a deal involving Cabrera, Lugo or Guzman should be a minor league contract with a non-roster invite to big league camp. Very little risk involved for the Cubs … but if one of the three vets are on the team at the end of camp, Darwin Barney will likely be the odd man out.

Chattin’ with Bruce Levine
Here are the highlights from Mr. Talkin’ Baseball’s weekly chat

  • Levine thinks the Cubs will look to get three-year deals done with Carlos Marmol and Matt Garza.
  • Levine does not see the Cubs dealing any outfielders before the season. Reed Johnson and Fernando Perez will compete for the fifth outfielder’s job.
  • Levine thinks the Cubs and Cardinals will battle the Brewers for the Central Division crown. Levine is not convinced the Reds’ young pitching will hold up.
  • Koyie Hill “is firmly entrenched as the backup catcher.” Welington Castillo will begin the year in Iowa. The Cubs management likes Hill and trusts him with the staff.
  • The Cubs feel Jay Jackson and Brett Jackson have a shot at making their Major League debut this season.
  • Darwin Barney and Jeff Baker are both considered backups and could be involved in platoons when the season begins. Barney is the only backup for shortstop right now, unless they add a veteran like Orlando Cabrera. If the Cubs add a vet, Barney will begin the year at Iowa.
  • It is still a four horse race for the job of Pat Hughes’ new partner … Doug Glanville, Gary Matthews, Sr., Dave Otto and Keith Moreland are still in the running.

Jim Hendry on XM Radio
The Cubs’ GM joined Jim Memolo and Rob Dibble during First Pitch on Tuesday morning. Jim Hendry discussed the Matt Garza deal and his hopes for the upcoming season.

Hendry explained that he and Andrew Friedman began talking about the Garza trade during the Winter Meetings. Hendry said Friedman and his staff did a good job learning the Cubs’ system and the Rays received a lot of good players for Garza.

The Cubs received a pitcher they feel can pitch toward, or at the top of the rotation in Garza.

Hendry said he feels the team has gotten better with the moves they made in the off-season. They are hoping the young guys (Andrew Cashner, Starlin Castro and Tyler Colvin) will continue to improve and take the next step in their development.

The Cubs spent a lot of money in previous off-seasons before the sale of the team was finalized. Now the Cubs try to determine early in the off-season how much value a free agent has to them … and they assign a dollar figure to the player. Hendry explained if the money becomes too much, they will just walk away.

There were three reasons behind the decision to trade Tom Gorzelanny … payroll flexibility, depth in the pitching staff and replenishing the farm system.

The Cubs have seven to nine guys that will begin camp competing for the final two spots in the rotation. Hendry feels the Cubs have enough pitching depth to be able to afford to deal Gorzelanny. Plus, with adding Carlos Pena and Matt Garza’s salaries, the Cubs needed the payroll relief.

Hendry was very complimentary towards Gorzelanny and in the long run, Hendry feels the trade will probably work out better for Gorzelanny and his family.

Jim Memolo asked about the Cubs payroll maybe limiting what Hendry was able to do this winter. Hendry said the payroll was not a negative and will not be down the road. He explained that Tom Ricketts is putting more money into scouting and development. Hendry reiterated there was a lot of money spent on the big league team for two years. He feels they added good players this winter without spending crazy money and adding long-term commitments.

The Cubs have a reputation of converting position players into pitchers. According to Hendry, they will put a position player on a mound to make sure he cannot pitch before they release a player. The Cubs have had two notable conversions … Carlos Marmol and Randy Wells. The Cubs are working on converting Chris Huseby (11th round pick in the 2006 draft) from a pitcher to an outfielder.

The conversation switched back to Garza and the rotation at this point.

Mike Quade will decide the order of the Cubs rotation. Garza will pitch at or near the top along with Ryan Dempster and Carlos Zambrano. But where they slot to begin the year will be up to Quade and his staff.

The Cubs are not expecting Garza to be anything he’s not. Hendry said, “We want Matt to be Matt.” The exciting part for the Cubs when they acquired Garza was they would have a pitcher of Garza’s caliber under control for three seasons.

Hendry once again spoke highly of Andrew Friedman. The trade ended up being a month long process. Hendry and Friedman either spoke or texted back and forth every day over that span, except for Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. There was consistent dialogue between the two sides … and Hendry said he became a texter in the process.

The deal got really close the week between Christmas and New Year, then the Cubs thought they had lost out on Garza. A couple of other teams came on strong at the end and almost pulled off the trade.

Jim Hendry feels the Cubs will be able to compete in the division and play better than they did a year ago.

Miscellanous Notes
According to Bruce Levine, the Cubs have until February 1 to come up with a long-term deal with Carlos Marmol or settle on a one-year deal. Levine made it sound like Marmol’s arbitration hearing is scheduled for February 1 (Note: Levine did not specifically say Marmol’s arbitration hearing is set February 1. Arbitration hearings are scheduled between February 1 and February 21).

During Talkin’ Baseball last Saturday, Levine mentioned the Cubs could be working on a long-term contract with Matt Garza as well. Levine feels the Cubs are working on at least three-year contracts with Garza and Carlos Marmol.

Carlos Marmol will be a free agent after the 2012 season and the Cubs would like to buy out at least his first year of free agency.

The contract Rafael Soriano signed with the Yankees will have an impact on Marmol’s negotiations with the Cubs.

According to Mark Riggins (the Cubs new pitching coach), Jeff Samardzija wants to do whatever is best for the club but he will go into camp as a reliever, not a starter. Riggins feels Samardzija’s stuff translates better to the pen.

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Happy Birthday to Edward Van Halen!

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

Quote of the Day

"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them." - John F. Kennedy

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  • Agustin_Rexach

    Thanks 4 yet another very informative breakdown Neil. I would not mind Cabrera or Guzman at second base. If Guzman can simulate 2007-08 with the Cubs…we got ourselves another big IF!
    If Peña
    If Garza
    If Castro
    If Colvin
    If Aramis
    If Soriano(super doubtful)
    If Soto
    If Carlos
    If Cashner
    That is one category the Cubs definitely have more depth; The IF department.
    If’s R’ Us
    Good morning guys!

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ZHTMAIGK4MF65LJQK54NZL62JI Jim

      Buenos Diaz

    • Kev

      Garza? Cashner? Carlos? Thos guys play infield now? I’m alittle confused

      • PleaseStopLosing

        He means “IF” literally as in if… like what if…

        Not IF as in In-Field or infielder…

    • PleaseStopLosing

      I would prefer to have a starting 2nd Baseman who could bat leadoff for us effectively… Let’s face it, we don’t have a capable leadoff hitter on this entire team right now and 2b is the only position where the starter isn’t locked in place due to their high salaries…

      Cabrera has hit leadoff before and even freaking Guzman and Lugo would probably be better options in the leadoff hole than anyone we currently have on the roster…

      1. Cabrera? DeWitt? Baker? Guzman? Lugo?
      2. Castro
      3. ARam
      4. Pena
      5. Soto
      6. Colvin
      7. Soriano
      8. Byrd
      9. Pitcher

      Looking at our options I would have to say I prefer Cabrera… Haven’t really been a fan of the guy in the past but, it would be a long and disappointing season watching DeWitt and Baker start the day for the Cubbies….

  • Bryan

    Gee…there has to be a lot of other veteran retreads that JH can get after. Looking for a veteran infielder…hmm, you just traded a potential longterm SS fixture, remember JH.

    And Koyie Hill is firmly entrenched as the backup catcher, that same Koyie Hill who, if lucky, will bat .200. If I’m Wellington Castillo I’ll tell the organization to go F-off, and please trade me to another organization.

    And shouldn’t we all feel sorry for JH, handcuffed by the current payroll max extended by Ricketts. Gee, I wonder who’s to blame for that JH…just look at LF, and the start of all things “bad”.

    The Chicago Cubs…just a perfect model of incompetent management.

    • paulcatanese

      Bryan,good article.Does anyone know where the term “retreads” came from. World War Two. Tires,rubber were in short supply and the term came into being. Taking old tires and putting a coat of additional rubber or synthetic covering on the tire with tread. It was hoped that it would last,but many times did not and ended up as strips on the road. The analogy is here with JH and what he is trying to do now. Everyone of his trades with the exception of Garza,and Wood(great for the club) are retreads as you have stated. Hill,entrenched? Castillo,you are right on. There is no hope for him in this orginization. JH the Cubs are not the Giants(kings of retreads) and neither with this philsophy will go anywhere this year. The whole premise of JH is “coming back to previous success”. This MAY happen with one or two but not this whole bunch. Glad I live in Calif.,Iget this kind of news two hours after you in Chicago and my breakfast i not ruined.

  • BosephHeyden

    I was really kinda banking on the Bears winning the Super Bowl this year to soften the blow on the Cubs. Now that they’re out of it, a lot of these moves are hitting me and it doesn’t feel great. Maybe the Blackhawks can get their stuff together and win another Stanley Cup so when the Cubs are just existing in the middle of the year, there’s something else to pay attention to.

  • Chuck

    Motto for this season “Believin in eleven” Let’s adopt Journey’s song “Don’t Stop Believing” as the song for this season.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Richard-Hood/100000706523521 Richard Hood

    I wonder what it is going to take for Hendry to look and see that Barney is not bad as an up the middle defender off the bench? We should be looking for a veteran at the corner infield spot and getting rid of baker if you want to add a vet. We should have been all over the LaRoche kid but somehow missed out on that. Then again maybe with Castro’s limited time in the big leagues he isn’t as sold on him as he has let on.

    • paulcatanese

      I would hate to see Barney shipped back to the minors.I think he is a very good option off the bench,very smooth and could be better than alot of people think(JH). But he is not in JH’s frame of mind,again he would be looking at what someone has done and could come back. You only have to look what JH thinks of Castillo and Hill. This is too bad because it tells these guys their only road to the Majors is to be traded.What is happening here is the mental aspect of his minor league players will be destroyed.You could be right about Castro,but it would be his defense that would dictate another at shortstop as I think he will continue to hit.

  • Aaron

    This is hilarious news that Hendry is going after another middle infielder……hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm……isn’t middle IF, according to Hendry, Wilken, and Fleita, our strong suit in the minors?!?

    Don’t we have no less than Flaherty, LeMahieu, Tony Thomas, Lake, Camp, and Gonzalez just about ready?!?

    Already on the roster, we have DeWitt, Castro, Barney, and Baker. Why the hell do we need another veteran that will likely push a young guy out, because Hendry has a raging boner for veterans?

    In fact, I expect it to be either Cabrera, and possibly Lugo, as Hendry’s had a hard on for both of them for quite some time, and we know Hendry always gets what he wants….eventually…..even if the player is so old, he’s about in a wheelchair

    • paulcatanese

      Aaron,very good.You are right it is hilarious.I believe JH will continue to push the young guys out. He must have really been sold on the Giants from last year,but it won’t repeat for them and we WILL have “wheel chairs in the outfield”,not Angels.

    • studio179

      I agree. They say you can never have enough pitching. Hendry can never have enough middle infielders. I also agree Hendry has had a crush for Cabrera and Lugo for some time. I believe both have had their issues with teammates (and other) in the past. But hey…with Z & G or G & Z…however you want to call it, the more the merrier. Make the locker room sizzle and teach the young guys. *Sigh*

    • Baron_S

      Really! Guzman, Lugo???

      Those guys are completely useless bums — Who’s next? Neifi?

  • Aaron

    I’d also like to add, that based on what we currently have, I’d like to see the following position players on our roster:

    C-Soto,Ramirez
    1B-Pena
    2B-DeWitt (I don’t like it, but whatever), LeMahieu
    SS-Castro
    3B-ARAM, Flaherty
    LF-Soriano
    CF-Byrd, Jackson (I’d then like to see Byrd traded if possible)
    RF-Colvin, Fukudome (because, let’s face it, he’s not going anywhere)

  • Kev

    Neil,
    “The Cubs have a reputation of converting position players into pitchers. According to Hendry, they will put a position player on a mound to make sure he cannot pitch before they release a player. The Cubs have had two notable conversions … Carlos Marmol and Randy Wells.”
    Could you talk a little about how Carlos and Randy were converted to pitchers? Specifically their old positions, how long this conversion took, and what level in the minors are these assessments made.

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Kev, Wells and Marmol were both catchers. The conversion started in A-ball, I think around 2003-2004 if I remember correctly.

      Neither one could hit but they both had (and still have) very good arms

      • paulcatanese

        Another good article Neil,eye opening to say the least. Sure got some great posts from it. Just unbelievable with some of those people that are being sought.

  • jey518

    So thats why they keep Hill around, they are going to turn him into a starting pitcher, and he will be the ace this team desperately needs. Lol! It’s a shame to let Castillo go to waste in the minors, I don’t care what Hendry says, Hill’s not worth the roster spot he is taking up.

  • Ripsnorter1

    Well, I think it’s time for Jim Clueless to make a move for a middle infielder. He has already signed–for $10 million–the #337 out of 346 MLB players who got as many as 200 PA for batting average. That would be Mr. .196, Carlos Pena himself. The only lower hitting players would be, at #346, Mr. Brandon Wood, who hit .146 in 226 AB. Also a prime candidate for the Jim Clueless All-Star team (hey, he’s a great clubhouse guy!), a Mr. Luis Valbuena, who plays a mean 2B while slamming 2 HR and hitting .193 in 303 PA. Perfect fit for us. Oh yes, don’t forget: Garza will win at least 17 games with this type of run support.

  • Cindy Sandbergs Corn Cob Dress

    I would like to see the Cubs get a bat off the bench that has some power (Troy Glaus maybe). All of these punch and Judy hitters on the bench with bad MLB batting averages will result in a bad bench offensively.

    Orlando Cabrera and Troy Glaus would help a lot strenthen the bench and maybe push some starters to perform better.

  • studio179

    Is anyone suprised Hendry wants another veteran infielder? I am not. Year in and year out Hendry can’t wait to sign one of these guys. One area the Cubs have plenty of is…middle infielders. Granted, not vets. I’m quite sure one of the young guys like Barney or others could fill in that role if needed. This Cub team is not going to come down to winning or losing because of the back up infield spot. But Hendry loves trying to ‘catch lightning in a bottle’ with vet middle infielders. Same ole, same ole…

    Yet Hendry has started a few seasons in the past exposed at the back up corner infield spots. Baker is on the team for that reason, but regardless, Hendry loves a collection of guys at 2B. Geesh!

    I believe if Hendry was the GM when Sandberg was playing, Jim would still have at least two players backing up Sandberg…just in case. Scratch that, he would have Ryno compete for a job or trade him.

    I swear

  • Tom U

    I find this trend disturbing. It seems like every other day, we are hearing independent reports on how good the Cubs’ farm system is becomming. Then, like a counter-puncher, Cubs management signs a veteran that seems past their prime. As much as ownership says that they are interested in building a team, it seems as if their hand-picked General Manager has other ideas. What appears to be looming is a power struggle between the General Manager and the Scouting Director. These situations have never worked out well for the Cubs in the past. Here’s hoping that ownership keeps a tight rein on the organization, and it doesn’t become short sighted by focusing just on the parent club.

  • Gary J

    It used to be when I signed onto this site, I got a great news synopsis of my favorite team (which has stayed constant – you’re da man Neil! Keep up the OUTSTANDING work) and a classy discussion of the news article or that day’s game. During the season I seldom comment, but I read almost every day.

    Now every time I log in it’s a constant bombardment (and it doesn’t matter what the news article is about either – these are topics each and every day) about how the GM is clueless moron and we gave up too much for Garza and this team has been a loser for decades and how anyone that thinks there’s any hope is either insane or stupid or both…

    …and turning completely minor and insignificant moves (or potential moves) like this into some sort of proof that we’re doomed due to incompetence.

    The move above and the Wellemeyer one from yesterday are non-guaranteed minor league deals.

    Even if someone comes in from the middle infield crop above, Barney will play in the spring and we’ll see how he does. If he hits, he sticks. If he doesn’t, OR if he’s going to only project to playing a couple of days a week, then he plays in the minors everyday and continues to develop. No young guy will improve without playing. Batting practice can only do so much.

    It’s not like we’re signing these guys to $24M over three years… they’re completely and utterly insignificant.

    The news wires will now be inundated with insignificant moves for EVERY team in the bigs until pitchers and catchers report. With the majority of the “good” players having homes, players the likes of Todd Wellemeyer and Lugo and Guzman and etc etc etc – players that still feel they have something to contribute that this team or that team – will start to sign deals just like this all over the place to come out to spring training and get a look.

    There’s a reason the deals being signed now (such as Wellemeyer) are non-guaranteed minor league deals. Because if in Todd’s case a guy like Cashner or Coleman shows a glimmer of talent against the big boys in the spring, then they’ll get their shot and Welly will pack his bags. If Barney (or someone else like Guyer) shows he can cut it by hitting .300 in the spring, then “poof” – welcome to the show kid and bye bye Lugo.

    Sometimes I feel like I’m surrounded by a team of Dennis Quaid characters from Major League 2. Following the team and coming to every game (and commenting on the forum) while at the same time wearing a shirt with tape xing out the logo and the hat inside out spouting about how much their team and every player on it (and the GM especially) stinks.

    • paulcatanese

      Gary,I believe I just got chewed out. But you have made excellent points,I will try and put my fustration on the back burner from now on.I know this was not aimed at me personaly but I do fit the mold.

      • Gary J

        LMAO – Although bits and pieces fall on a lot of shoulders, I’m not picking on anyone specifically. I pulled the clueless card out but I wasn’t aiming at Rip either specifically so sorry if it seems that way :-) You guys have a lot of knowledge and passion – and even though I don’t agree sometimes, I still respect your guys opinion and the analytical way in which you support your positions. It takes someone that cares in order to put that kind of effort into anything.

        So love ya man :-)

        It’s just that the doom and gloom negativity is getting to me – and yes… there are certain things VERY deserving of criticism… but I get tired of having everything negative rehashed again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again (you get the point LOL)

        Yes Soriano’s contract is huge – but before he got hurt (right away) he was a constant all-star. Yes Fukudome’s contract is even worse given his production – but he was a clone of Matsui coming to MLB with batting titles and MVP award in hand. Yes we gave up a lot to get Garza – but what we gave up may never pan out and the kid hasn’t pitched an inning in pinstripes yet so let’s just see how it goes shall we? Yes our farm system hasn’t produced much in the way of big leaguers in recent years – but Marmol, Marshall, Soto, and Castro look like keepers and we’re adding money to the talent evaluation. Yes we need a big bat – but other than Pena and Dunn there weren’t any mashers to be had (and A Gon). Yes Pena hit .198 but if that happens again I’ll be utterly stunned – he’s already working with Jamarillo (but I’d also be surprised with much above .250 – hapilly so but surprised) plus he’s on a one year contract when there’s no one in the minors ready to play 1b and a possible Fielder or Pujols on the market next year. Yes we’re at 103 years – but this is the first time in a couple of decades we had owners that didn’t look at the team as a tax write off – like em or not, they care.

        You know the arguments. :-)

        We all do. We read them every single day (sigh)

        And when there’s news on one of those types of things… then sure. By all means. Talk about them. I’ll probably take the naive position of hope and put on the Cubbie goggles, but I’m more than happy to go a few rounds on those days :-)

        It’s just that taking every single post every single day and turning it into yet another declaration of doom and gloom….

        (sigh)

        No worries though Paul – keep on posting my friend and hopefully we’ll enjoy a winning season together. Hopefully all of us will. :-)

      • Aaron

        Paul, I wouldn’t worry about it…he needs to chill out. People come on here to vent all the time. Nothing’s changed, which is why this site is so good. Neil has great info and updates on here, and there’s awesome debate….there have been a few attempts by people on here to drown out people they disagree with, so I guess all they’re looking for are “yes men”….

        Personally, I don’t know how people survive like that, but I digress…

        One of the major reasons we’ve had a great amount of negativity on here (or realism, depending on what spectrum you’re on) in the last few seasons, is the fact that management, and now ownership, seems so incredibly inept that everyday, you can look around the league and see other team’s moves, and you’re like, “that’s how a REAL franchise is run”…

        A lot of times in almost every sport, when you’re analyzing moves after the fact, hindsight’s always 20/20. And in baseball, where we deal with prospects all the time unlike the other sports in trades, there’s quite a bit of second-guessing.

        The problem with the Cubs and Hendry, is the prudent moves are almost never made. Hendry doesn’t get the benefit of the doubt on anything, because he has NOT earned it….plain and simple!

        Who knows, 3, maybe 4 years from now we might look at the Garza trade, and realize that we got a steal. But history would tell us, and based on the stats of the prospects given away, and Garza’s #3 status, and given recent trades for comparative pitchers, it appears we overpaid considerably.

        Nobody really knows what will happen in the future, but you have to operate from here, knowing that Garza will be a $10 million+/year pitcher. Once you put things into perspective that way, I think it’d change a LOT of opinions on this deal. Let’s see….we likely can’t compete until 2013 in all reality based on ETA’s for prospects and contracts coming off the books (or just eating it more easily in the case of Soriano)…soooooooooooooo…..$10 million+ for Garza on a losing team or……..developing Archer at $400k for those same years….ummmmmmmmmm….I’ll take the latter, thank you very much.

        Then, let’s analyze the rest of the deal…Rosscup isn’t even a real prospect, and Perez? Well…since he already has MLB experience, if he happens to even make the roster, you’re looking at arbitration starting in 2012….So, for Guyer, who is 24 years old, and would be under control for far longer at MLB minimum vs a 28 year old, second-coming of Gathright player just approaching his expensive years………ummmmmmmmmmm…..think we lost that one too. Throw in Lee, and it gets pretty ugly, given our current budget constraints, and competitiveness issues.

        I really do not see a reason NOT to talk about this stuff. A lot of fans have tired of this team altogether with the Cubs recent moves (or lackthereof). All you have to do is look at the Cubs Convention attendance numbers. When the thing wasn’t even close to being sold out, you have to believe that the Ricketts family realized that, and told Hendry to make a move to generate interest.

        Make no mistake about this (and other moves in recent history, most notably the Soriano deal)…this move was clearly made with the sole purpose in mind to boost interest within the fan base and give false hope.

        All you have to do is look at recent history. What happened in 2006? After 2 straight dismal seasons, the fan base had grown tired of the Cubs act, and stopped showing interest in the team altogether, culminating in an embarrassing sight for the Cubs brass with thousands of empty seats at the end of that season. The Cubs had ridden the coattails of a successful run in 2003 for 2 seasons. That prompted the Tribune to authorize a spending spree in hopes of increasing the value of the franchise for the impending sale of the team. They went after Soriano hard, because he was the biggest name on the market, though not the greatest fit. They went above and beyond any other team, because they absolutely could not strike out, or risk jeopardizing a golden opportunity to boost the value of the team.

        You can then draw a parallel to this offseason, though under different circumstances. We now have ownership looking to slash payroll, while increasing ticket prices, and also looking at even more ways to increase advertising revenues. There is NO plan for the future, based on what just happened with the Garza trade. The Cubs are once again coming off 2 poor seasons in which they failed to reach the playoffs. Ironically, both offseasons came with new managers as well. Attendance fell at the end of this season once again, and the Cubs Convention couldn’t even sell out.

        I’m sorry….don’t mean to sound like a douche to some people on here, but you have to be out of your mind if you actually believe the Garza trade wasn’t completed to re-energize the fan base and nothing more. It wasn’t because it was a good fit, or the Cubs thought the other prospects weren’t going to be better…it was simply because Garza was a big name pitcher on the trade market that the Cubs could actually fit monetarily into the budget this year, and NOTHING more. They wanted Greinke more, but couldn’t fit his salary into the budget when they couldn’t unload Fukudome’s salary. Garza was the fallback option, just as Pena was a fallback to Berkman (and Berkman was the fallback to Dunn, who wouldn’t take a backloaded deal) though Hendry spun it like Pena was the ONLY option.

        I realize all of this might sound depressing to some fans out there, but this is REALITY.

        Here’s our lineup next year compared to the Brewers and Reds….it’s pretty ugly, isn’t it?:

        DeWitt vs Weeks vs Philips
        Castro vs Hart vs Renteria
        Byrd vs Braun vs Votto
        ARAM vs Fielder vs Rolen
        Pena vs McGehee vs Bruce
        Soriano vs Betancourt (likely) vs Stubbs
        Colvin vs Gomez vs Gomes
        Soto vs Kottaras vs Hernandez

        • paulcatanese

          Aaron thanks for the support. I guess it’s all the frustration in me coming out. I didn’t take it personally and know it wasn’t meant that way. You are right, this is a great site(and no-one ) has vented with each other more than you and I have at one point,and it worked out. As I have said before all of you out there write great posts and I enjoy them. Hopefully their’s a pennant around the corner. And Gary,Donworraboudid. I didnt take it personally.

        • Gary J

          Aaron – you put forth very insightful and statistically supported analysis time and again and and I give you credit for the effort you put into that part of things. EVEN when I disagree with you. Perhaps even especially when I disagree.

          However when someone disagrees with you, there’s scorn. Obviously I just don’t get it. My view of reality is twisted.

          I can see you being bitter about the Cubs. I get it.

          But just thinking that the future looks bright sooner than 2013… it’s not insanity. I think the Cubs can compete this year. But with the money coming off the books next year (and the players associated with that money) it’s not unreasonable to think that they are very well positioned for 2012.

          Do I think the other teams in the division are strong? Yeah. I’d be foolish to not think it. But do I think that (and here’s that word again Agustin LOL) IF certain things fall right do I think it would be a shock to see the Cubs making a run this year? Yes. I do. I think the starting pitching is strong. I think the pen is strong. I think the lineup has holes… but I also think it wouldn’t be a miracle if A Ram had a comeback year and Pena hit .250 with 35 HR and 100 RBI (it’s his average year after all). If we get a decent contribution from Soriano on top of it with .280/30/90… suddenly we’re contenders.

          Saying I’m part of a crowd trying to “drown out” the reality of the situation by disagreeing with your analysis of how screwed we are by posting an analysis of my own from time to time… or get called out of my mind for thinking the Garza deal was meant to improve the team and not as a PR move though…. ummmm…. I truly don’t.

          First off, they were discussing Garza for a month – and yes – there were reports of that during the winter meetings so it’s not Hendry lying to us like he does all the time spinning things in a way that tries to pull the wool over all our eyes.

          He had budget constraints. He got a solid MLB guy for a reasonable salary that isn’t a one year rental.

          Given a choice between Garza and Archer I’d take Garza every day of the week and twice on Sundays. Frankly I still feel Garza is a number 2 quality pitcher, and who in fact WAS a number 2 in Tampa last year winning 15 games in his third year as a starter on the team that won the NL East. He has electric stuff and at 27 is young enough to still harness it and become something truly special… but even if he doesn’t there’s something to be said for a kid that chews up innings with a sub 4 era. Heck hitters have hit .252 for him on his career to this point. That’s a solid pitcher.

          Archer has electric stuff as well – and he’s also a Nuke LaLoosh clone walking 5 guys per 9 in his five years in the minors against talent with a supposedly inferior grasp of the strike zone. He put it together enough to jump the charts last year – but was that a true shift or a fluke? Time will tell. Hopefully he succeeds. Either way, he’s not ready in 2011 to contribute. He still needs seasoning at the very least.

          And by 2012 when he may be ready to come up, then there’s McNutt (just as highly regarded as Archer), Coleman, Carpenter… heck 7 of our top 10 rated prospects are pitchers. Even after the trade.

          So it’s a position of depth. Of which none of them are ready to pitch on the major league level in 2011. Not at the start of the season at any rate.

          And a lot can happen in a year. Heck. Before last year Archer was just a kid that threw pretty hard. Not a top prospect at all. Just another name in the system with good number on the gun. He put together a great year last year – pretty special actually – but there will be someone in the system that does something just as unexpected this year too. Happens every year.

          In that sense, they traded a guy in Archer that would need another year in the minors for a guy that can pitch this year toward the top of the rotation – a solid proven major league arm. And he’ll be still in the rotation in 2013 when Z and Demp are free agents.

          And do I think Garza makes us a better team? Heck yeah. Do I think he’s a difference maker this year and not just a PR move? Yeah I honestly do. Without him I don’t think there was any chance of competing in the division. With him I think there is. So that’s an impact move.

          Could Archer be a success? Sure. It could happen.

          But I’m not a moron for thinking he won’t be. Some of his peripherals (K/9) point to stardom and others (BB/9, K/BB ratio) point to major trouble.

          At 22 he’s got time – but he’s still just a B+ rated prospect in the overall scheme of things. He wasn’t clearly the top pitching prospect in the system – most sources prior to the trade in fact had McNutt rated higher other than BA – but they were pretty much interchangeable in the rankings. He’s not a can’t miss star – he’s simply a guy with a promising future. Perhaps very promising. That’s all. Any other statement is over hyping the guy. And even being the top prospect in the Cubs system he still barely cracked the top 50 overall in the minors… so he’s by no stretch a “can’t miss”.

          But if you’re going to rate him that way, give Hendry a little credit with that 20/20 hindsight and say that trading DeRo for him (and two others) might have worked out pretty well.

          Hendry’s made his share of good and bad moves.

          Hendry traded for Pierre – bust. Hendry traded for ARam and Lee – hits. He signed Soriano – injury – so I’m going to call that a push because given his track record when signed it falls in the “what could have been” category. He signed Fuku – bust. He signed Lilly – hit.

          He’s not infallible. No one is. Hindsight bad contracts are part of baseball. Mike Hampton, Kevin Brown, Pavano (with the Yanks) – all looked impressive at the time and then (insert sound of toilet flushing here).

          Back to Archer though – for every prospect that hits it like Price and Lincecum out there, there are a dozen more that hit AA or AAA and hit their ceiling. Or they get to the bigs and can’t get over the hump to projected stardom. Joba Chamberlain and Luke Hochevar are a couple that jump to recent memory that were FAR more highly regarded coming out the minors than anything the Cubs currently have (or had) in their system… and while the jury is still out and there’s still plenty of time for them to blossom, it’s been anything but the instant impact stardom that was projected. A major league rotation has 5 players each year – 6 or 7 if you figure in injuries. And of those 5, let’s say 3-4 are career proven major leaguers. Guys with big contracts and success… and that’s the fact for most teams. So the odds of a minor leaguer coming up and cracking a rotation are pretty slim to begin with.

          Yes – I completely agree – they gave up a bunch. But really – that “bunch” worked out to Archer, Lee and a projected backup catcher. The other guys, both on our side and theirs, were toss ins.

          Was it too much? Well even then I’d say probably. Yes. I’m agreeing with you. I think that’s a nice haul for the Rays. Even for my criticism of Archer above I think he’ll have success in the bigs eventually… how much still awaits to be seen though… and it’s not a guarantee.

          But I don’t by any stretch think it was a completely clueless and irresponsible thing to do. I think it was a solid baseball move. He outbid other teams in order to pull it off – but we don’t know what the other teams were bidding and likely never will for certain. And given the fact that you yourself have said multiple times how crappy the Cubs track record is with producing from within – it’s a good move. It’s a solid move.

          I truly believe that.

          So I guess that makes me (hang on – have to look back at the post) out of my mind.

          I was upset they included Lee in the deal. I wanted him to stay prior to the deal and I’m of the same mind after. I still feel he has a good chance to be a contributor down the road. Could have been the leadoff hitter in 2013. Maybe. Assuming a lot of things fell just right and he continues to grow. But Castro is blocking him for the next few years, so it made sense to trade him. And Soto was blocking at catcher…. so….

          And I think the leadoff hitter of the future is actually Scuzur :-) But that’s another discussion.

          AUGH! I just started rehashing the things and I said that frustrates me!

          So I’m not immune :-)

          Aaron – there’s really no hard feelings on my side – like I said I think that time and again you put forth a really well reasoned argument… even if I don’t agree with your position.

          I’m just tired of every single bit of news being being hailed as further proof of Hendry being an incompetent moron and how it just demonstrates why the franchise has been a loser for 103 years and that we’re going to be losers for years to come and etc etc etc.

          I get bitterness. I get dissatisfaction. But not every move is clearly crap.

          And at this time of the year the moves are just moves. Nothing but filler and reaches. For every team.

          • JedMosley

            Thank you Gary, I always enjoy your posts and I agree with everything you said! I agree Garza was a solid move, he’s 27!, only two more years or so older than Colvin. It’s not like he’s in his 30’s. Hendry has had his fair share of bad moves, but everyone has. I personally think he’s had a solid offseason.

          • daverj

            Gary,

            I’m with you 100% too. Your views are always presented in a well thought out manner without personal attacks at other posters.

            In terms of the Garza deal, it was a fair deal at the time of the trade. We won’t know who ended up with the better side of the deal for at least a couple years.

          • John_CC

            Well said, Gary.

          • Gramps

            Thanks for an interesting comment. I fully agree with you. I have been on this site for quite a while and have not made many comments lately because I too got sick of seeing the same things said over and over again regarding Hendry. I don’t approve of anybody calling another person names like moron, dope, etc. This is a great site and Neil and friends do a fantastic job of keeping Cub fans up to date on what is happening, but I think back to the early days of this site and remember the saying “Keep it classy Cubs fans”. Sorry to say but I think the class meter has fallen in the past couple of years. I decided to keep most of my comments for the season, when we can see the results of things that have happened this off season. GO CUBS!

          • Gary J

            Thanks Gramps – A couple weeks ago I actually used the “stay classy Cubs fans” line but I couldn’t recall where it came from… so thanks for refreshing my memory :-) Your sage comments have been missed – and I’m sure I’m not the only one to think that. Good to know you’re out there :-)

          • paulcatanese

            Gary let me say that ALL of the people on this site write terrific posts. The research tha is done is phenominal and well written. This site is a re-birth for me. I do very little research because I have never before been aware of the inside workings of the orginization,because of no computer,and whenI joinedthe ranks with one my eyes were opened wider than they have ever been before. Eveerything I post is from memory and readin the posts and re-acting to them. I love the site and look forward to it each and every day. Sometimes I go beyond my memory and simply re-act and do get into trouble. The nice thing about it is the way everyone gets along.I do enjoy all aspects of the site.

          • Gary J

            I’m with you Paul – positive or negative it’s still great to have such a collection of passionate folks discussing our favorite team. Don’t worry about doing things from memory – opinions don’t need to be backed up with stats every time. We accept you as you are and you’re a welcome part of any debate.

            And to all who chimed in with support – thanks for the kudos everyone.

            Now if only pitchers and catchers can hurry and report we can get down to the season and see whether hope or doom is the order of 2011 :-)

          • Dorasaga

            Thanks for illuminating a “comp.” The Luke Hochevar comp is funny because I’ve been paying attention to the Royals ever since Brian Bannister detailed his sabermetric approach for MlbTradeRumors. Banny is now with Japan’s “Yankeelite.”

            I’ve also been tracking Hochevar’s record, casually, and comparing him to Max Scherzer and Tim Lincecum, both men drafted in that same 2006, a couple of order after Luke. The jury is still out.

            Then you brought up the fourth and fifth guys down the rotation. You know what? Most Major teams needed MORE THAN 6-7 guys to serve a 5-days rest schedule. The “Fifth Starters Don’t Exist”:

            http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/fifth-starters-dont-exist/

            I guess I simply wanted to say that I’m pretty open-minded right now regarding the Garza trade, and if we think about this stat that fangraphs nicely described, we might actually need Garza, now and the near future. There are just very few every-day professional players who can go out there and pitch every fifth day.

            There you go, Aaron. I’ve been enjoying your post, too, by the way. The Soriano move, I liked, made me believe that the Cubs could be on to something bigger. I know I’ve stated before: The Cubs was a doormat back in 2006. No winners would come.

            Another fact is that the Cubs has been raising their expense for players (yearly budget) gradually since the offseason of 2003, so it wasn’t like in 2006 the Tribune suddenly went on a huge spree. It was a significant raise by signing Fonzi, Marquis, and Lilly, among others, but it wasn’t like unforeseeable.

            Yes, I believe the Tribune was thinking about selling the Cubs back in November, 2006, and they needed the PR, but I also believe that the Ricketts regime is still too young to be judged the verdict as their predecessors.

          • Gary J

            Nicely put Dorasaga – I completely agree. Sometimes moves have been “dictated” by ownership… and the 2007 offseason spending spree is something that has been admittedly linked back to the Trib trying to build up the value of the team for sale.

            So the actions taken by the franchise in the past aren’t necessarily indicators for what will happen with the current team.

            Hendry remains the constant through the ownership change – but at least a portion of the “the vets get to play” mentality in recent years HAS to be attributed to the dugout… Lou/Dusty-derived if you will. And I’m sure ownership had its say. In fact the whole “we need a left handed slugger – any left handed slugger” off season that landed us Bradley was publicly Lou driven. And though in hindsight we’d have been better off with Ibanez or Abreu, we all kind of thought he might finally be sane at the time. We’ve been through that argument too before though :-)

            I’m going to take a wait and see (for now) on seeing how much playing time the kids get to see where the Quade/Ricketts/Hendry combo takes it. Who knows? It might not change much. After all the young hitters didn’t get much of a shake after Quade took over after all, but still… it’s too early to lump them in with the previous incarnations just yet (to me anyway).

            One thing worth noting on the youth movement though – this is a big market team with passionate owners. They may have reduced the overall payroll for the MLB club this year ($200M in Wrigley repairs will dent the pocketbook after all) but there’s a bunch falling off the books next year (Fuku, Silva, A Ram, Grabow are the biggies) so there’s going to be a free agent or two (or more) that are going to get signed to high profile deals at the expense of a youngster here or there… in fact I certainly hope that’s the case.

            We’ll see though… that’s a discussion for then. For now it’s 2011 – let’s play ball already!

  • Tony_Hall

    ESPN 2011 Organizational Rankings – (ESPN Insider Only)

    http://insider.espn.go.com/mlb/insider/news/story?page=2011MLBOrgRanks

    20. Chicago Cubs
    A top-10 system before the Garza trade, the Cubs probably would place more guys in the 101-150 range than any organization except the Royals. They’re loaded with high-floor players who have the potential to be above-average or better big leaguers but aren’t there yet. Considering all the picks they’ve given up to sign free agents, it’s remarkable how strong the system still is after the giant trade with Tampa Bay.

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Thank you for posting Tony. Keith Law is supposed to release his top prospects list on Thursday. I am planning on combining his rank of the system with his list into one report.

  • Glitch13

    Hendry desperately NEEDS to trade for Michael Young on the Rangers!! A few ways we can do this:
    Young for Soriano (throw in Baker or DeWitt) and we’ll eat some of Soriano’s contract maybe.
    Young for (Baker/DeWitt, Fukudome, Cashner and/or Silva).
    Young for any combination of those guys. As long as they’re gone. Young could play 2nd, be insurance if Castro stinks his sophomore year, and/or play 3rd if Aramis is hurt or leaves after 2011.
    Soriano could DH for Texas. And the others could play their respective positions. Cashner could go to the Rangers rotation. I feel like this would be a good risky payoff. I know Hendry won’t do it. For all the things I hate about the White Sox, I know Kenny Williams would pull this off if he were running the Cubs and be praised for it.

    • Tony_Hall

      Desperately NEEDS to…wow, I am glad we are so close to the World Series (I have already bought my tickets), but desperately. The last thing the Cubs need is for JH to act…more depserate.

      Yes there are some logical ways this deal could work, but as we talked about yesterday, there are a lot of obstacles to overcome, mainly Young can veto a trade to the Cubs (if it is his only option, he will say yes), Soriano, our most likely swap, can veto any trade. But please don’t put the idea of moving a young arm like Cashner…that would be desperate.

      • Glitch13

        Ok he doesn’t desperately need to but having DeWitt/Baker is so underwhelmingly mediocre. I feel like any platoon situation is never a successful one. Each player gets half the at-bats they normally do and therefore can’t stay consistent at the plate.
        And yes it’s been one season but Andrew Cashner does not impress me one bit. And I’m kind of sick of all the “untouchables” that will not be traded. Remember such highly touted untouchable Cubs pitchers like Rich Hill and Angel Guzman?
        I just think we need to win now. Everyone thought this would initially be a rebuilding season. But then Hendry made some moves to make the Cubs potential contenders. And getting Young might be that one extra move we need to get us a division winner. I’m sick of waiting. If Hendry makes moves to think we can win why not do all you can? Not just get us to a 3rd place finish maybe.

        • Tony_Hall

          Of Course having Dewitt/Baker is underwhelming mediocre, that doesn’t mean you trade an Andrew Cashner in a deal to get an aging Michael Young. Actually Dewitt will get the majority of the AB’s, and will be the starter, with Baker getting his starts against the LH’s, but not all the time at 2B. Dewitt is your man at 2B.

          You don’t like Cashner, I mean I see it to, mid to upper 90’s fastball, nasty slider, man I don’t like that at all. But just because he doesn’t come up and dominate, you don’t like him.

          Do you like this line?

          30 Games
          27 Starts
          155.2 IP
          6-14 record
          1.638 WHIP
          101 K’s
          74 W
          17 HRs

          I mean cut this guy, he sucks….

          What about this line
          84 PA – 79 AB’s
          203 AVG
          223 OBP
          304 SLG
          12K’s

          I mean send him back to minors or release this guy, what they actually let him play ALL year…and gave him 687 PA’s…wow, fire that manager and GM.

          The players in question and their stat lines are Hall of Fame starts to careers.

          Greg Maddux and Ryne Sandberg

          In today’s world, they would have been booed off the field, and probably moved in a trade for a mid 30’s player to try and help a team win in 1983 or 1987, but then again, if that would have happened, we wouldn’t think fondly of 1984 or 1989 would we.

          I would take Michael Young in a couple of different deals. But not young players that have high ceilings, just because they don’t impress already.

        • Tony_Hall

          This team is a long shot, even after the moves that JH made to “make the cubs POTENTIAL contenders” Once again, their is that word potential and then the word contenders. So the Cubs moves have made them “capable of development into actually being in the running to be a competitor for the division title”

          This team has a lot IFs to just get to that point. Could it happen, yes. But the Pirates could be, possibly, the Padres of this year…it is possible, but highly unlikely.

          I don’t want to see JH mortgage more of the future to win in 2011. It is a longshot at best at this point.