IN SUMMARY

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Well, as most of you already know, I attended the baseball winter meetings this year in Las Vegas. As I mentioned in a few of my posts, a bulk of the conversations I overheard were dominated my talk of the economy. It was a funny conference in a way, because it seemed a lot like a social event more than a productive "team improvement" sort of event, which is the true underlying intention of the meetings. Sure, we had the trade show, which showcased all the new technology in jerseys, hats, video, seating, food preparation, entertainment, coaching, etc., and we went to other meetings about rules, state of baseball, etc. We heard a lot of motivational speakers, which was pretty boring.

In relation to the Cubs, I was relatively disappointed. Why? Well, I felt that it was wasted time for Hendry. Think about that statement for a second...Hendry had 4 1/2 days to at least sign someone, and he couldn't even do that. Just as last year showed, he still doesnm't seem to have the ability to make smart and quick decisions. He drags out the decision-making until his options are gone, and then he'll tell the media and fans that he's moving onto "option B, or C" (if he even has one), and claims that he did all he could. Now, I come back to the wasted time...

Last winter, we had a hole in RF, a need for a lead-off hitter, and a need to trade Marquis then as well. We also had the need to shore up the pen. So what happened last winter?Well, we still had several young players like Veal who had trade value, and we didn't make a move. Hendry chased after Roberts too long, and signed Fukudome, and basically called it good. As the Red Sox, Yankees, Mets, and even the White Sux---all big market teams---have proven----is you CANNOT stand pat, even when you have success. The Mets and Yankees barely missed out on the playoffs, and all 4 have realized that they need to make changes. In the case of the Yankees and Mets, they're making big pushes to tweak their rosters and shake them up. The White Sux are the same way. I don't see why we can't make similar changes.

It is my belief that if you're going to make any kind of sustained run in the playoffs, then you better have 3-4 guys at the core of your lineup that are in their prime---25-32 years old. That is precisely why we must go after guy like Dunn, Granderson, and Teahen, and trade away Lee, Marquis, Soriano, and DeRosa while they still have significant value. Lee, DeRosa, and Marquis, should bring very decent returns in this economy, as both are entering the final year of their deals, while Lee has 2 years left, which isn't too bad. Dunn replaces and actually increases what Soriano would leave. Teahen would probably equal DeRosa's line, and Granderson would shore up CF for us, and Hoffpauir lands the 1B gig, with Teahen backing up, and playing RF on occasion to spell Bradley.

We'd have a lineup of:
Granderson
Theriot
Dunn
ARAM
Bradley
Hoffpauir
Soto
Fontenot

I am going to tell you that this lineup will put us over the top. Dunn is a good clubhouse guy, while Bradley adds the fire we need. Fontenot and Theriot add the scrappy element, while Soto takes on a prominent leadership role. Hoffpauir assumes the quiet leader role that Lee held, and ARAM just adds his usual production. And FINALLY, we have our leadoff man in Granderson.

I can almost guarantee you that Lee would waive his no-trade if he went to the Angels. I would then flip those prospects and one or two of our own to Detroit for Granderson. Then, since it appears Manny might sign in NY, I might trade Soriano to the Dodgers for a top prospect, a high ceiling low-A prospect, and Kemp or Eithier, and pay for Soriano's salary this year, so technically you're not really adding much salary at all there anyway. Then, I'd trade Marquis to whomever will give us 2 decent prospects. I would then either flip those prospects for Teahen, or use our own. Then, here's where it gets REALLY interesting...

At this point, you have gained the following:
1)Granderson and one top prospect (in the Lee deal that you didn't trade for Granderson)
2)high ceiling prospect, a top prospect, and Eithier/Kemp
3)2 middle of the road prospects (in deal for Marquis
4)Teahen

What you gave up:
1)Lee (approximation: 20 hr, 85 RBI, .290 avg, .370 OBP) and $12 million per for 2
2)DeRosa (approximation: 20 hr, 80 RBI, .290 avg, .365 OBP) and $5 million for 1
3)Soriano (approximation: 30 hr, 75 RBI, .285 avg, .335 OBP), but pay one of 6 remaining on $17 million per
4)Marquis (approximation: 200 IP, 14 wins 11 losses, 4.90 ERA) and $10 million per for 1, but we pay $4 million of that for the additional prospect

What we gain:
1)Hoffpauir (approximation: 20 hr, 80 RBI, .300 avg, .385 OBP) at $400k
2)Fontenot (approximation: 15 hr, 65 RBI, .295 avg, .380 OBP) at $400k
3)Granderson (approximation: 15 triples, 23 hr, 75 RBI, .285 avg, .360 OBP, 20 SB)
4)Marshall (approximation: 185 IP, 14 wins, 6 losses, 3.80 ERA) at $400k
5)Dunn (approximation: 40 hr, 100 RBI, .250 avg, .400 OBP) at $11 million
6)Bradley (approximation: 20 hr, 75 RBI, .305 avg, .400 OBP) at $9 million

*now, some would say we don't "gain" Hoffpauir, Fontenot, or Marshall, but considering their status last year, we actually will gain those guys. Obviously, Fontenot and Hoffpauir are relatively difficult to predict here, but those are fairly reasonable expectations...Dunn and Bradley actually cover for any lost production, so anything you get from those 2 is really gravy....now's, where I said it gets interesting.

Remember how you gained Eithier or Kemp? Well, you can do one of two things. You can either choose to hang onto them instead of signing Bradley, or you could flip them to the Orioles straight up for Roberts, then you'd have:
Granderson
Roberts
Dunn
ARAM
Bradley
Hoffpauir
Soto
Theriot

You might think this is "blowing up" the team, but what you do is go out and sign Daniel Cabrera for the pen/swing-man, and you sign Javier Valentin, then you have a bench of Valentin, Teahen, Fontenot, Johnson, and even Pie.

Hendry seems so consumed with "overpaying" with talent for guys like Peavy and others, so why not use your own proven veterans in separate trades to get the talent necessary to make the moves, and FINALLY give your own talent a chance (Hoffpauir and Marshall).

I just don't see why you wouldn't make these trades. The Tigers need pitching (we have an abundance of that). The Royals need relief help (we also have this). The Dodgers need power if they lose out on Manny and possibly even Furcal (we have Soriano). If the Angels are the ones that lose out, then you make the Lee trade for Figgins and another top prospect, and you forget about Roberts. If you need to expand the trade, then you send Soriano instead of Lee, and hope for an even bigger return. By losing Teixeira, KROD, Anderson, and having Vlad's contract coming up soon, the Angels will be able to absorb Soriano's contract. In that case, you trade Lee to the Giants for Sanchez or Cain.

Do you guys see how easy this is? It's not rocket science. All you have to do is identify a player you really want on a given team, and identify their team needs, and try to satisfy the need via trade. I don't think Hendry needs to be wasting any time whatsoever on Peavy until he makes other moves. Please, folks, keep in mind that the Cubs greatest weakness was hitting in the second half. We had limited power, limited OBP, and too many double plays. By getting younger and speed guys like Figgins, Roberts, or Granderson, and combine them with Theriot, you've improved right there.

Hendry just can't expect guys like Lee and Soriano to return to their "glory days" (though I'll argue with anyone that both had ONE career year apiece, and capitalized BIG time on that). What I don't want to see is another Griffey situation where injuries mount, production decreases, and salary becomes even more of an albatross to deal. Why not be proactive, and deal before it's too late? Similarly, when DeRosa just had a career year, NOW is the time to trade him. You can get at least 2 top prospects for him now, but if you wait, even if his production improves or remains the same, either you'll be stuck overpaying a 34 year old veteran free agent next off-season, or let him go for 2 draft picks (providing he produces the same)---but that's the risk you take. Why not take the prospects now, rather than later. It's the same thing with Marquis. It's why I couldn't figure out what Hendry was doing last year with him. He had Marshall in the wings, as well as some other guys he could've used. It's why smart teams often place a rookie in the 5th spot in a rotation, or in the pen to gain experience, or they'll often throw a rookie at SS, 2B, or CF, 3 positions that aren't as dependent on power as the corner spots.

At the very least, the Cubs should allow Pie to patrol CF, sign Dunn for RF, and attempt to trade Soriano and move Dunn to LF, then hope for the best with Fukudome in RF. Then, giving Hoffpauir a chance would be a very wise decision and trading the slow-footed DeRosa in favor of Fontenot at 2B would be wise as well, and trading for Teahen in case Hoffpauir or Fukudome struggle would also be wise.

ANyway, that's just my thought, but unfortunately, Hendry is not that creative, and needs other teams to tell him to involve 3rd or 4th teams in trades for him to be able to afford any kind of talent. My suggested trades give him the flexibility to make deals, save salary, and sign "safe" free agents for the vacated positions. Like I said, if the L.A. teams fail to land their top targets, believe me, they WILL be looking to make trades, and if we are proactive, and sign Dunn, we have more flexibility to make trades, whereas if we wait for the market to figure itself out, he could be gone already, and we lose our leverage. Then, after he's in the fold, you make the trades I mentioned in succession. The Mets made the trades in succession because they didn't want to wait for anything, and now, they have two lights out guys at closer and set-up that it reminds me of Lidge-Wagner a few years back.

Well, I know I repeated myself a little bit, so I'll end there. Dunn, Bradley, and Granderson, and you can pretty much guarantee a World Series. Dunn and Bradley can be signed, so it's just a matter of length of contract and money to get them. Granderson is the only one you really have to convince anyone to trade, and as far as I'm concerned we have lots of pitching to trade, which is a need for the Tigers.