1st I love the acquisition of Joey Gathwright. He's actually hit at every level he's been used at. I mean 3 AB's per game not just as a pinch-runner and defensive replacement. He also had very good numbers for assists in the minors. He'll never hit for power but start him. While he's starting think about how Bobby Dernier changed the cubs.
2nd Its time for the 3 Amigos to move on. Aramis Ramirez, Derrek Lee and Alfonzo Soriano are the big name big dollar guys that have actually forced me to watch the hustling Tampa Rays instead of the swing for the fences and miss Cubs. I'd move all 3.
I'd send Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez, while eating a portion of those contracts, to Baltimore. Brian Roberts ? No thanks. More big money. Nice Player but so are Fontenot and Theriot. Let's keep those guys hustling.
Lee and Ramirez to Baltimore for A bag of magic beans works for me, but I'd rather have 4 prospects/ suspects.
2. 3B Tyler Henson, who strikes out too much but has power and speed potential. He's 21.
3. LF Luis Montanez, a former Cub Farm hand who it seemed to click for last season at Bowie. He's 27 and finally had a break out year.
4. and AA Right Hand starter - the big name- Chris Tillman, only 20, Tillman dominated at Bowie last year. Going 11-4 with 154 k's.
Baltimore signed Isturiz to play SS next to Roberts, They have Left Handed Power in Scott, Markakis, and Huff, a good looking young kid in Adam Jones in CF, but they have an aging 3B in Melvin Mora and no one at 1st base. If Matt Weiters is what they think he is - Lee and Ramirez in the cozy Camden Yards (I've been to Wrigley and Camden Yards are the better hitters park) is a good fit. They have young pitching in Liz, Olson, Guthrie, Burres, and rookies Matusz and Hernandez. So giving up some kids is do-able and it clears space and helps the cubs long term.
At 1b - I'd look hard at Tampa Bay's Eric Hinske as a short-term and possibly surprising long term replacement. Hinkse grew up a cub fan. Started his career in the cubs minor league system and brings a solid left-handed bat to battle it out with Micah Hoffpair. Hinske can play 4 spots.
At 3B - The short term place holder should be Ty Wiggington an under-rated RH power bat. Josh Vitters eventually takes the role but Wiggington can play baseball and 5 positions. Hinske can play here too, against Righties.
At 2B - Fontenot Both Backed by DeRosa
At SS - Theriot With Ronny Cedeno back
In CF - Gathwright With Reed Johnson in Reserve
In LF - Montanez With DeRosa in Reserve
Which brings me to my next cap clearing trade Rafeal Soriano, can go to a team more tolerant of players that can't touch a curve ball. I'm thinking mutual salary dump here- Soriano and Fukudome to San Francisco for Barry Zito and Nate Schierholtz. Sure Zito took some raps but he started out 0-8 and finished with 4 quality starts in 5 games. With Lincecum, Lowry, Cain, Sanchez as the big four the Giants can afford this. Schierholtz could be a future all-star but Soriano and Fukudome already are and Fukudome's Japanese Heritage would play well in San Fran.
In RF - Schierholtz
Catching - Soto. And Koyie Hill.
The Bullpen. Gosh I wish they'd have kept Kerry Wood -
but Guzman, Samardzija, Marmol and Gregg from the Right Side all have closer potential. Gaudin is solid in the middle.
and Cotts, and Sean Marshall man the Left Side.
So the Lineup is -
1. CF Joey Gathwright - the next Willie Wilson/ Bobby Dernier
2. SS Theriot
3. RF Schierholz
4. C Soto
5. 1B Hinske / Hoffpair
6. 3B Wiggington
7. LF Montanez or DeRosa
8. 2B Fontenot
If Free Agent Adam Dunn comes cheap enough he could play RF with Montanez moving to the bench.
But we added speed in CF, kept the defense strong up the middle, added Left Handed power, reduced the clutch strike outs by moving Soriano, added another veteran lefty who has a much different arm angle than Ted Lilly. Kept a youthful bullpen in place. and Added - potential future rotation pieces in Patton and Tillman and a potential future stick in Henson. Not too mention getting younger with Schierholtz, Montanez, Gathwright representing the future core with Hoffpair and Vetters and Soto.
Hill would be a nice addition with the Yankees.
Maybe you'd move Cedeno, a reliever, and Reed Johnson or Felix Pie for the right bag of prospects.
But this team would be capable of winning, fun to watch, and capable of sustaining winning with guys like Pie (who I think strikes out too much), Colvin, Henson, Vetters, Tillman and Patton coming on.
It also leaves Zito and Lilly as lefties over 30 and puts a lineup in place with only Wiggington at 3rd over 30 at 31.
The bench is veteran and flexible with Hinske at 3B/1b/RF/LF, DeRosa- if not starting- capable at SS, 3B, 1b, LF and RF, Reed Johnson who can play all 3 outfield positions, Ronnie Cedeno in the middle of the Infield and Koyie Hill as the back-up catcher.
It moves 6 players over 30, by leaving Daryle Ward off the roster and moving Fukudome, Soriano, Lee, and Ramirez and confirming that Jason Marquis is expendable.
It also puts players behind the oldest parts of the roster and makes future moves, like trading Ted Lilly, a long term possibility but not a necessity.
This team contends - for a long time.