Posted on: December 31, 2009 5:49 pm

Cubs 2010 Lineup Is About Set

Well the Cubs filled their Center Field hole today with the signing of Marlon Byrd. Thus filling in the last piece for the Cubs every day lineup next year.

Projected 2010 Lineup

1. Ryan Theriot
2. Marlon Byrd
3. Derrek Lee
4. Aramis Ramirez
5. Alfonso Soriano
6. Kosuke Fukudome
7. Geovany Soto
8. Jeff Baker

While i am not thrilled with the Cubs decision to sign Marlon Byrd i realize that its probably the safest option. I had heard rumors of the Cubs trying to trade for Jacoby Ellsbury, Dexter Fowler, or Ryan Spilbroughs. I was hoping the Cubs would go that route just because as of now the team lacks speed at the top of the lineup. Another concern i had with signing Byrd is that the Cubs would be overpaying for a career year in a hitters ballpark (Arlington). But looking at the contract i think the Cubs got a good deal (3 years $15 mill). Based on the moves i have seen thus far in the offseason, i think the Cubs are trying to stay competitive and keep this core of players until the farm system develops. Help is on the way in the lower minors, so a few years of mediocrity might be worth it. All though i do think this Cubs team is being undervalued, there were high expectations last year and they failed to meet them, but this is still for the most part the same team that won 96 games in 2008. It is a solid core of veteran players who get along very well, the Cubs messed that up by bringing Bradley in, but Bradley has been replaced by Byrd who is the opposite. Byrd is a great club house pressence and he already knows Rudy Jarmillo. Lets take a look at each spot in the lineup.

1. Ryan Theriot - He has been the #2 hitter for some time, he changed his approach at the plate last year and was much more aggresive. It helped his power, but his contact declined, look for him to revert back to his patient approach if he is going to lead off. Theriot also has some speed, look for the steals to go up if he leads off.
2. Marlon Byrd - Had a career year last year, popping 20 HR, and driving in 89. Its doubtfull that he will post those numbers again, and if he hits in the 2 hole will be asked to be more patient. My guess is his average my rise closer to what it had been the 2 previous years in Texas (around .300) but his power to decline to around 10 HR.
3. Derrek Lee - Seems the wrist finally is healed, he regained his power that he had before his 06 injury popping 35 HR and driving in a career high 111 runs. He hit over .300 for the 3rd time in his Chicago career and should continue to put up solid contact and power numbers, but at 34 years old there is no where to go but down.
4. Aramis Ramirez - Suffered a seperated shoulder early in the season, but still managed to put up solid numbers. Hopefully injuires will not continue and turn him into another Eric Chavez. If he is healthy, he can put up a .300-25-100 stat line and is a great cleanup hitter.
5. Alfonso Soriano - He seems to always get forgoten when people are talking about the Cubs. His numbers did see a steep decline, and injuries have hurt him through out his Cubs career. But when he is on, he is one of the most dangerous hitters in the majors. Early on last year he was on fire, but his lack of patience killed him. I dont see how he could hit any worse, teaming up with Rudy Jarmillio should help him greatly.
6. Kosuke Fukudome - He can be an excellent hitter, but has fallen in the trend of starting hot and progresivly getting worse the rest of the season. He did improve from his rookie campaign though, his OBP jumped from .359 to .375, his slugging jumped from .379 to .421 and a move back to RF should benifit him. He could fit in the 2 hole if he can continue to keep a good OBP.
7. Geovany Soto - Had the epitome of a sophmore slump, hitting .218 and hitting only 11 HR, a steep decline from his rookie of the year campaign. After a horrible 2009 he has no where to go but up. Early in the season his swing was bad, but he seemed to correct it later on but an oblique injury prevented him from breaking out of his slump. Consider him an extreme break out canidate for 2010.
8. Jeff Baker - After not doing much in Colorado early in the season, he was traded to the Cubs and was outstanding. Hitting over .300 he earned himself the starting gig at second over struggling Mike Fontenot, his minor league numbers suggest he has more power than what he displayed last season (4 HR). His statistical potential makes me think of Todd Walker, an average to above average second baseman. He could also fit in the 2 hole, giving Pinella some versatility.
Category: MLB
Posted on: December 22, 2009 5:20 pm

The Rich Keep Getting Richer

Yet again the Yankees have made another move to continue their effort to create the best baseball team that has ever touched the earth. They aquired Javier Vazquez and Boone Logan for Melky Cabrera and 2 good prospects. I wonder if the yankees managment watches the MLB Network, because just the other day they were talking about how the Yankees had succeded last year in the playoffs with a 3 man rotation and that they need to improve that. Now they have gotten anothter great arm that can help them in the postseason. The loss of prospects dosnt hurt the Yankees since they just but everything, and Melky was an average player anyways. The only questionable spot on that Yankees roster now is outfield depth/LF. I guess they are going to play Gardner in LF, although im wondering if they get someone else to play LF. But they are going to be hurting if Swisher, or Granderson gets hurt. But now they have one of the most dominant rotations in all of baseball, so i guess its okay. It had become obvious in recent days that the Yankees were going to aquire another pitcher, i had heard they inquired about Carlos Zambrano from the Cubs but they did not like what the Cubs asked for in return. Which is hard to argue with, Zambrano is still only 28, he has always had a ton of talent, and he is a firey leader. But i can not imagine the asking price for Z being more than Vazquez. Anyways the Yankees just added another All-Star to their roster that already includes the likes of Mark Teixera, Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson, CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett, Andy Pettite and Mariano Rivera, how many good players can they get. 
Posted on: December 8, 2009 3:48 pm

MLB Trade Updates

If you have been keeping up with this weeks winter meetings you should have heard about the blockbuster trade of the meetings that has occured. The Yankees aquire Curtis Granderson, the Diamondbacks get Edwin Jackson and Ian Kennedy, and the Tigers get Max Scherzer, Austin Jackson and prospects (I think the D-Backs got some prospects to). The Yankees probably win this trade just because they were in the best shape and improved a minor hole that they had. The Tigers also got a really good deal in my mind, i have always been a fan of Max Scherzer he has great strikout potential and could fit in solidly at number 2. Austin Jackson looks to be a good center field option, but he is a prospect and will have to prove his worth (but the Yankees thought very highly of him). I think the worst part of the deal for Tigers is that they lost such a great clubhouse presense and has such great offensive and deffensive skills. The Diamondbacks seem like they got the short end of the stick, Edwin Jackson has bounced around a lot which can mean questiable character, he wont be under team control as long as Scherzer. He is streaky but when he's on he can be as good if not better than Scherzer. Ian Kennedy can fill that 5th rotation spot or help in the bullpen, but i have never been to crazy on Kennedy just based on what ive seen of him. This trade was a good way to get the winter meetings moving, there had been a lot of talk and finally we got a big trade to talk about. The thing that makes me interested about this trade is what is going to happen to Melky Cabrera. I've heard he could be packaged in a deal for Halladay, or the Cubs may be able to go after him. Im not sure who the Cubs send over there for Cabrera, but that could be extremley benifital to the Cubs. They are in dire need of a Center fielder and he is cheap and young. That is the most important thing the Cubs need to focus on as they move forward, bringing in young players who you can keep around for a while. But as i said before i think the Yankees won this trade with the Tigers gettign a good return and the diamondbacks lossed a little bit.
Posted on: December 5, 2009 2:03 pm

The Perfect Small Market Team (GM/Manager)

Well i have sat around for a while thinking about who is the best GM in baseball. I looked over trades and free agent signings and im not sure there is a #1 GM at everything. But i do think there are several GM's that do well in there market size. But for our small payroll, i think i will go with Billy Bean (Oakland Athletics). There are not many GM's who are better with a small market team. I realize the A's have not been great the past few years, but they always seem to have minor league talent. I also loved the move of aquiring matt holliday, then trading him at the deadline to peak his value and gain a better return then what they gave up. Bean just seems the obvious choice to run my small market team that im creating here. I know that he can make the right trades and free agent signings the keep my team competitive year in and year out. Now the next position i have to fill is my Manager. First i have to figure out is my team AL or NL, since im not as knowledgable about the AL i'll make my team an NL team. So now i have to think who is the manager who has the National League game figured out the most. I hate to say this because im a Cubs fan, but i think Tony La Russa (St. Louis Cardinals) is the best option. He always seems to get the most out of the least talent. That will wrap up todays team decisons with the hiring of Billy Bean as the GM and Tony La Russa as our Manager.
Posted on: November 23, 2009 7:04 pm

The Cubs Farm System

Today i was at Borders and happened to see that Starlin Castro was on the cover of Baseball America this week, so i decided to buy it. After reading through it and based on what i have been hearing over the past few weeks i am really begining to feel confident about our farm system. Im wondering if the Cubs should just be patiient this year and wait for there talent to develop. Here is a little overview of their system and what i think they need to do.

First of all we need to make a list of prospects that are "Untradeable" which i think should include

1. Starlin Castro
2. Brett Jackson
3. Andrew Cashner
4. Jay Jackson
5. Chris Carpenter (Not the Cardinals version)
6. Josh Vitters

Those are the prospects that the Cubs need to hang on to for sure. They also need to continue to draft the way they have been so we have a continual base of players to call up for a long time. Im confident that they will continue this trend because the Ricketts family mentioned that they wanted to follow the Boston mold. I think Castro is probably the best prospect to come out of the Cubs farm system in a long time and he could make an impact at the end of this 2010 year. This will make Theriot expendable at the end of this coming up season similar to Alcides Escobar replacing J.J. Hardy in Milwaukee. And i think that is really the path the Cubs need to follow, develop young talent and trade away the mediocre and old veterans for quality players. Brett Jackson is my favorite prospect in the Cubs system and when he gets to the majors probably will become my favorite player. He is rated as the Cubs best power prospect and is rated as the most athletic prospect by Baseball America. He has the ability to play center well, he may strikeout a lot but he should be able to hit for power and steal bags. Maybe he will become a left handed version of Mike Cameron. He may be a year or two away but should eventualy provide stability at what has been a shakey position for the Cubs for a long time.
Andrew Cashner draws a lot of comparisons to Kerry Wood and may make the change for starter to releiver but will be given the chance to start in the minors. He pitched well in Advanced-A and AA, and may start the year in AAA. He has a good fastball and slider (again similar to Kerry Wood). I hope he becomes a starter and hopefully Cubs fans can see him in september in 2010. Jay Jackson may end up being better than Cashner although not as highly touted. He has a good arsenal of pitches and made it up to AAA at the end of the year, he is less of an injury risk than Cashner and has the chance to become a solid MLB starter. Who knew there were 2 Chris Carpenters in the majors let alone the same division. Another AA starter who is about a year away from the Majors but also looks to become a very good starter. He is a well built starter and has some nice breaking pitches, but has some command problems. Just think in a few years these 3 pitchers could be the core of the Cubs rotation.
And i cant talk about the Cubs farm system without talking about Josh Vitters the Cubs hearalded prospect, he has so much natural baseball talent. He did struggle in Advanced A but he is only 19 years old and by the time he is 23 he'll be in the majors. He projects to be a .300-30-100 guy so we can give him some time to develop.Although his main positions are blocked by starters in long term contracts, (3B- Aram, LF- Soriano) so i wonder if they'll give him a shot at first. My guess is this is Lee's last year with the Cubs unless he is going to stay for less money in 2011. So why not keep Fox at first until Vitters comes up and let him take over. Even if the Cubs struggle in 2010 (which is still the same team as 2008 for the most part) the future looks bright, here is my projected future Cubs team.

C- Geovany Soto
1B- Josh Vitters
2B- Starlin Castro
SS- Hak-JU Lee
3B- Aramis Ramirez
LF- Alfonso Soriano
CF- Brett Jackson
RF- Tyler Colvin


1. Carlos Zambrano
2. Jay Jackson
3. Andrew Cashner
4. Randy Wells
5. Chris Carpenter

CL- Carlos Marmol
SU- Esmalin Caridad
SU- Angel Guzman
Posted on: November 21, 2009 8:02 pm

The Perfect Small Market Team

I was reading Ken Berger's article about assembling his perfect NBA team. Which gave me the idea to try and do something equally as challenging. Assemble the perfect small market team, with a Payroll of $70 mill, which would cover the 40 man rosters player salaries. I will also pick the best GM, Manager and bench coaches to go along with the team. Before i post my choice for G.M. i would like to hear who you think is the best and why, please post that below. Obviously Billy Beane is one of the GM's  i am considering, but i want to take a look at every GM in Major League Baseball and find the perfect one.
Posted on: November 16, 2009 8:34 pm

Curtis Granderson Anyone?

If you follow baseball at all during the offseason you should know by now that the Tigers are hinting that they will shop Curtis Granderson this offseason along with pitcher Edwin Jackson. Of course the Cubs have come out as the leading contendors for a Granderson trade, so i wanted to take a look at Granderson's value and look at who the Cubs might have to give up to aquire him.
Before we even get started i want to look at his career stat line, .272/.344/.484. Thats way above average for a center fielder, plus the fact that he stole 66 bases over the past 4 years. He is a 30/30 threat with a mediocre batting average. Acording to fangraphs.com Granderson was worth $15.2 mill last season, and over the last 4 years he hasnt been valued at less than 14 mill. His fielding is average, but he is a very durable player, since 06' he hasnt accumulated less than 553 AB in a season. Now last season he had a bit of a down year at the plate hitting a .249/.327/.453 stat line. So his value dipped a little last season, which may make it easier for the Cubs to get him although it will take a lot. That is the big question, who will the Tigers want in return for Granderson, some have mentioned Starlin Castro as the center piece for the trade. But i highly doubt that, as i am pretty sure Hendry has placed him under the untradable category. I wouldnt be suprised to see Josh Vitters included in the trade, possibly Andrew Cashner, Jake Fox, or Micah Hoffpauirr. The Tigers are most likely looking for pieces to replace players like Magglio Ordonez, and Placido Polanco. Mike Fontenot could be a good fit, i guess if i had to make an offer for Granderson this is what i would propose.

Granderson+ 1 mediocre minor leaguer       for          Tyler Colvin, Jake Fox, Mike Fontenot, Jay Jackson

Now im sure there may be a better trade offer that the Tigers would want but i think this offer is equall to what Grandersons actual value is. Colvin played extremly well this season in AA Tennesse and will likely start the year in AAA or be on the Major League roster. His season 09 season was high lighted by a streak of 15 consecutive hits, i believe that set or tied a AA record (I might be wrong). Colvin projects to be a .270 avg 15+ HR guy. He plays average CF defense and could move to a corner spot and play very well. Jake Fox needs no introduction, he has proved to be the Cubs best bench player and should be starting somewhere although he has no real position. The American league would be perfect for him, he could DH, and play the corner positions on occasion. He has .260 AVG  20+ HR potential. He hit .259/.311/.468 in his rookie campaign and was hitting over .400 with 17 bombs in AAA before his call up. Mike Fontenot underachieved in 2009, but he still has the potential to be an above average second baseman. Part of his struggles came from having to fill in at 3rd for Aramis during his injury. Although he did play well defensivly even  with his struggles at the plate. Again he is another player who dosnt really have a spot in Chicago because Jeff Baker seems to have taken over at 2nd. Jay Jackson could be a PTBNL (Player to be named later) but he is an excellent starting pitching prospect. He posted solid numbers in Advanced-A and AA. He is probably 1 to 2 years from the majors but has excellent tools and could be a great starter. I think this would be a great haul for the Tigers and it wouldnt hurt the Cubs at any position really. They have another young CF coming up in Brett Jackson (their 09 draft pick). They have Andrew Cashner as another SP option and they would still hold on to their top 2 prospects in Starlin Castro and Josh Vitters. I think it still favours the Cubs but the Tigers would get immediate returns from Fox and Fontenot and possibly Colvin. I still highly doubt the Tigers are really even shopping Granderson, but its still fun to speculate.  
Posted on: November 9, 2009 6:21 pm

Trade Reviews/Previews

Well the offseason officialy started last week and it has already been very interesting. So far the most intriguing trade to me has been the J.J. Hardy for Carlos Gomez trade. On paper right now it seems like an even deal, but after looking over the numbers, i think the Twins will benefit the most from this trade. That;s not to say i dont think Gomez will contribute, or be a valuable player but J.J. Hardy will improve the Twins more than Gomez will the Brewers. Had Hardy not crashed offensivly his value would have been a lot higher, and he might not have even been traded. So basicaly the Twins bought low on a high potential, he plays exceptioanl defense, and if he can return to his 07-08 form, he could be a 20 HR threat at SS. The aquisiton of Gomez will allow the Brewers to let Mike Cameron go, and let them use what they would have paid him to improve their pitching, which is the biggest concern for them right now. When you look at the potential the Twins have on offense with Mauer, Morneau, Kubel, Cuddyer, and now Hardy they have a serious edge in the AL Central. I already talked about the Iwamura- Chavez deal which the more i look at i think the Rays got the edge for that one.  Iwamura is kind of expensive for his production, while the Rays aquired a cheap hard throwing reliever that is under team control for a while.

Rumor Discussion-

Talking about the Cubs for the offseason, GM Jim Hendry made it clear that they are going to move some pieces around this season and that they are going to go more towards trades than spending money on free agents although he said they might still sign some people. For me that is great news, because the Cubs seem to be better traders than buyers ( We like to overpay for players). Just think about it the heart and soul of our team (Aramis Ramirez, and Derrek Lee) were aquired via trade. What i like more is the fact that the players we have given up in trades never really pan out. Lets take a look at some Cubs trades from recent years.

Aquired                                                           Recieved

John Grabow, Tom Gorzelanny                            Kevin Hart, Jose Ascanio, Josh Harrison

Rich Harden, Chad Gaudin                                  Sean Gallagher, Matt Murton, Eric Patterson

Derrek Lee                                                        Hee Seop Choi

Aramis Ramirez, Kenny Lofton                             Jose Hernandez, Matt Brubeck, Bobby Hill

Those are 4 of the most significant, recent trades made by GM Jim Hendry, all 4 of those trades were successes to an extent. But if you compare that to his free agent signings you will understand why i am glad he wants to do more trading.

Alfonso Soriano-  8 years  $136 mill

Kosuke Fukudome-  4 years  $48 mill

Milton Bradley-  3 years  #30 mill

These 3 contracts are really holding the Cubs back from being able to due much this offseason (although i dont know who they would get). Obviously the Bradley contract is the worst, Fukudome is getting way overpaid but he does contribute. Soriano has the potential to still live up to that contract, but im not suret the Cubs should have signed him so long he is going to be in his mid to late 30's before his contract expires. Now the Cubs have made some bad trades, and some good signings but overall Hendry is a better trader than a buyer. I will be interested to see who the Cubs go after, the only thing we no for sure is Bradley is going somewhere else. I have heard the Cubs are going to go after pitching, more likely relief and insurance for the rotation. I havnt heard a ton about offensive trades, im sure Brian Roberts rumors will pop up like they usually do this time of year. The Cubs seem like they are confident in Jeff Baker at second, so it seem like they are going to try and improve the outfield. I have heard some rumors about the Cubs going after Mike Cameron, Marlon Byrd, Jason Bay, and Matt Holliday although the latter two are less likely. Cameron would actualy be a good fit, he would provide great defense in the outfield which is something the Cubs have been lacking for many years and he hits for solid power. I am not as crazy about Byrd although he did play for Jaramillo and he played well last year. If the Cubs can bolster the pen, get rotation insurrance and get at least 1 outfielder to replace Bradley they could easily be in contention especially since the Cards most likely wont retain Holliday.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com