Waldo posted something similar to this, but I wanted to give a more detailed plan:
The average age of the Cubs lineup is 32 years old. I am going to give approximate salary figures, because I don't want to waste time being exact at this point. Without further adieu, here is our commitments on offense:
Soto-1 yr (arby eligible next yr), $600k
Hill-1 yr (arby eligible), $700k
Lee-1 yr, $13 million
Fontenot-1 yr (arby), $1 million
Baker-1 yr (arby), $900k
Theriot-1 yr (arby), $2.5 million
ARAM-1 yr (if he opts out, otherwise he has one year, plus another option), $16 million
Tracy-1 yr, $950k, but up to $1.5 w/ incentives
Soriano-5 yrs, $19 million/yr
Byrd-3 yrs, $3 million; $5.5 mm; $6.5 mm ($15 mm total)
Fukudome-2 yrs, $14 million/yr
Nady-1 yr, $3.3 million
Colvin-1 yr (rookie contract, MLB minimum), $400k
Only Soriano, Byrd, and Fukudome are signed beyond this season. After this season, Soriano has $76 million due, Byrd has $12 million due, and Fukudome has $14 million due. In all likelihood, to move either Soriano or Fukudome, the Cubs would have to eat all but maybe $10 million of Soriano's deal, and half of Fukudome's contract. They should be able to move Byrd provided he doesn't completely fail.
So...one of two things might happen come trade deadline time.
1)Teams might be reluctant to trade for guys that aren't signed beyond next season
2)Depending on the economy, teams might be more inclined to trade for players with expiring contracts, but will not give up much talent to do so
So...that's the offensive side of things....here's the pitching:
Z-3 yrs, plus option, $18 million/yr
Dempster-3 yrs, $14 million/yr
Lilly-1 yr, $13 million
Silva-2 yrs, $12.75 million/yr (3.5 million offset this season and 5.5 million next season)
Wells-1 yr (rookie deal), $425k
Gorzelanny-1 yr (arby), $800k
Marshall-1 yr (arby), 950k
Berg-1 yr (rookie), $400k
Caridad-1 yr (rookie), $400k
Samardzija-3 yrs (though I'm not understanding this one, because he signed a 5 yr deal worth $10 million in 2007, but he's got $3mm this year, $3.5mm next year, and $6.5mm for 2012, so I don't know)
Marmol-1 yr (arby), $2.5 million
Grabow-2 yrs, $3.75 million/yr
Only Z, Dempster, Silva, Samardzija, and Grabow are signed beyond this season. That means we could have as much as 7 new pitchers next season.
Pitchers are a lot different than hitters in terms of trade value. If they have an ERA below/or very close to under 4, then they'll be in demand (if they're a starter). As for veteran relievers, they're almost always in demand, provided they don't have a 5+ERA. Unlike position players signed only for this year, even just average pitchers might bring you quality prospects in return because of the high demand for pitching late in the season.
So, if I'm looking at things objectively (and using facts), I think it's reasonable to think that these players would be on the chopping block if we freefall out of contention:
Lilly-limited no trade clause
Lee-no trade clause
ARAM-no trade (while this would be extremely unpopular with most fans, consider the fact that ARAM explicitly has stated that he has no desires to be on a rebuilding team, and wants a shot at a ring...if we lose the division big, and start trading pieces away, there's absolutely no chance he will exercise his option, and we'll be stuck with nothing)
Fukudome-limited no trade clause
Z-no trade clause
Dempster-no trade clause
Those are the most likely to be traded. I doubt Ricketts would bite the bullet with Soriano, so we're pretty screwed there, but all these other guys are legit trade candidates if we go nowhere this season, because some of them have expiring contracts, and others like Z, Dempster, Lee, ARAM, and Byrd might still be able to offer teams decent production.
I've already analyzed playoff teams from last year such as the Yankees, Red Sox, Twins, Angels, Phillies, Cardinals, Dodgers, and Rockies, and identified holes.
If all things are equal (meaning no major injuries later this year to our trade candidates or other teams), it would appear that the Phillies, Cardinals, Dodgers, Twins, Angels, and Rockies would be in the market for 3B upgrades, and ARAM might intrigue them (even though the Twins and Rockies couldn't afford him in all likelihood). As for Lee, none of those teams appears to be in need of a 1B, although fringe contenders like the Giants, Mariners, and Mets might be interested in Lee. As for our pitching, everyone would probably be interested in Z, Dempster, and Lilly. It all depends on how much we're willing to eat in salary, and what they're willing to give us, and if the pitchers will even waive no trade rights if we're out of contention (which is anyone's guess). Teams could definitely use fill-in types like Byrd, Fukudome, Nady, Fontenot, etc., but again depends on how much salary we're willing to eat in Byrd and Fukudome's cases.
When you start thinking about these possibilities, I believe you have to examine the replacement players and what they'd give you (assuming you don't get MLB players in return).
With Z, Lilly, and Dempster, I'm almost positive we couldn't get the same production from our minor league pitching, so we'd be taking a significant hit there.
As for Soto, we already have W. Castillo almost ready at the AAA level, as well as Chris Robinson. Could they equal Soto's line of .218 avg, .321 OBP, 11 hr, 47 RBI? I'd say they could probably beat that line, and have better defense
Could we replace Lee's production with LaHair? Probably not. Certainly not Lee's 2009 season of 35 hr, 111 RBI. But how about 2007 or 2008 of 22 hr, 82 RBI and 20 hr, 90 RBI respectively? I'd say that LaHair could probably match it, or come damn close to matching 20 hr, 80 RBI.
How about Castro replacing Theriot at SS, moving him to 2B? In the field, YES...at the plate, it's probably a wash.
Can we replace ARAM's production with Tracy? If Tracy is healthy, and can come close to his 2005 and 2006 seasons of 27 hr, 72 RBI, 20 hr, 80 RBI respectively, then it becomes more respectable...but there's no way of knowing if he can be full-time anymore, even at 29 yrs old, given his injury history.
But where I believe we make up for lost production with Lee and ARAM, is in the OF if we put Colvin, Adduci, and Snyder out there full-time. Colvin and Snyder could produce probable lines of 20+hr, 70+RBI, and Adduci would give speed and higher average than Byrd. If Soriano can only muster 20 hr, 50 RBI, and Fukudome's at 10 hr, 50 RBI, then between Snyder and Colvin, they'd have about 10 more hr than Soriano and Fukudome, and 40 more RBI than they would have. Apply that amount to any deficit Tracy and LaHair would give as opposed to ARAM and Lee, and you could live with that.
Is there a risk involved with doing this? You bet your ass there's a risk. But teams like the Phillies: Rollins, Howard, Utley, Werth, Victorino, Dodgers: Martin, Loney, Eithier, Kemp, Rockies: Barmes, Tulowitzki, Stewart, Iannetta, Gonzalez, Hawpe, Fowler, White Sox: Ramirez, Beckham, Quentin, Yankees: (this is older...but still proves point) Jeter, Posada, Williams, etc., Red Sox: Pedroia, Youkilis, Ellsbury, etc....All these players had to take their lumps, and their teams were better off for it in the long run. Every team but the Red Sox and Yankees went through their lows in the rebuilding with youth process, but the lows didn't last long, and they were back on top, and in better shape for a long run of being on top.
If we don't start the rebuilding process this year...then when? Will it be next offseason and we're asking the same damn questions? Why did Hendry sign ____ veteran instead of giving Colvin a chance? Why did he sign ______ veteran instead of giving Castro a chance? The time for fill-in veterans needs to stop NOW!!!!!
There was absolutely no place for Byrd and Nady on this roster (and that's not just because there were better FA alternatives out there), but Snyder was absolutely on fire at the beginning of last year until his injury, then went to the Mexican league, and absolutely obliterated the pitching there, so the Cubs had plenty to go off of if they were going to give him a fair shake. Then, they added Adduci to the 40-man, and you'd think that meant they were going to give him a shot too. But no....Fact is, Nady is riding the pine, and still has a bum arm. Byrd is nowhere near the CF needed at the MLB level defensively, and it remains to be seen whether or not he can duplicate his career year of 2009 when he hit 20 hr, 89 RBI (history says he'll come nowhere near those numbers). Would it have been that bad to just go with Snyder and Adduci at $400k each, as opposed to nearly $7 million this year for Byrd and Nady combined...which could've been used to sign someone like Felipe Lopez or someone of that caliber that could play everyday. Nady isn't playing everyday, and earning $3.3 million, which is a huge problem in my opinion.
I could really care less who comes up from our minors to help this year. Whether it be: Castro, LaHair, Snyder, Adduci, Tony Thomas, W. Castillo, Barney, Robinson, Flaherty, etc. I just want to see youth infused in this lineup. Why? Because I know That in the last several years, all of us have seen firsthand what the infusion of youth can do to an aging lineup, haven't we? Guys like Theriot, Fontenot, Soto, FOx, Hoffpauir, Murton, etc. have all helped us at some point.
It's going to be an interesting season, and as it progresses, I'll be keeping my eye on the minors (not just our system, but others) to see where we can improve. I believe wholeheartedly that we already have the makings of an everyday lineup in our own system with: W. Castillo, Vitters, Castro, Hak Ju Lee, Flaherty, Colvin, B Jackson, Burke, LeMahieu, etc.