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Chicago Cubs Wednesday Rumormill

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Today's Headlines are brought to you by Bruce Miles. I hope he doesn't mind that I've posted half his column. 

The Cubs will have to move right fielder Milton Bradley, and you've heard the names Pat Burrell (Rays) and Aaron Rowand (Giants). My colleague Andrew Baggerly of the San Jose Mercury news has talked with a Giants person who said he'd OK a Rowand-for-Bradley deal. However, "chemistry" issues could put the kibosh on any such deal, real or hypothetical.

http://blogs.mercurynews.com/extrabaggs/2009/10/12/sabeanbochy-still-wit...

Rowand has a terrible contract ($36 million coming over the next three years) and he's been on the decline. Check out these hitting lines:

2009: .261/.319/.419
2008: .271/.339/.410
2007: 309/.374/.515

That's a drop in OPS from .889 in 2007 to .738 this year.

 

 

Perhaps the most intriguing name to hit the streets recently, and I don't know if the Cubs could get him, is Rockies outfielder Brad Hawpe, who apparently is on the outs in a crowded Colorado outfield picture. He's a left-handed hitter.

Hawpe, 30, had a line of .285/.384/.519 with 23 homers and 86 RBI. His key numbers have been holding steady the last few years. He'll make $7.5 million next year with a team option for $10 million in 2011. Hawpe can void the option if he's traded, so it might be a one-year shot for the Cubs, if they were to pursue it. (You might remember, too, that Hawpe's line drive hit Mark Prior in the elbow in 2004.)

That's all I've got this morning, sorry kids. Feel free to add on to this.

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60 Comments

berselius said:

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I talked about Hawpe yesterday on ACB. The upshot is that he seems like a guy that the Cubs would go after, because he's a left-handed 'RBI guy' who plays RF. However he is Dunn-esque in RF - it would be absolutely brutal to watch. He his .283/.381/.498 in 2008 and was a sub-replacement player (-0.7 WAR) because his defense was so awful.

Doc said:

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The Cubs need a good defensive replacement for bradley...or Fukudome to move back to right field.

Soriano is below average-to-horrible in left, and Fukudome is average-to-below average in center. Adding a horrible defensive right fielder would be disastrous. K-Fuk either moves back to right where he is above average and gets much better jumps on balls off the bat, and we get an average defensive (maybe even below average) center fielder, or the Cubs need an above average right fielder.

berselius said:

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I'd rather they get a replacement for CF. Fukudome is a below-average CF, though it would certainly help him if he didn't play CF from Kenosha. He's a plus-plus defender in RF, more than enough to make up for the positional adjustment for his bat.

JulieDiCaro said:

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Is he worse than Soriano was in LF this year?

berselius said:

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Hawpe's 2008 UZR of -37.2 is the worst UZR I've ever seen by any player. This year he posted a -20.2, with a -19.5 UZR/150, compared to Soriano's was -11.6, with a -13.4 UZR/150. So yes, siginficantly worse than Soriano.

For further comparison, Dunn's UZR/150 in RF is -41.5, but he doesn't have a big sample there

JulieDiCaro said:

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Well, you certainly used a lot of numbers in that comment. I'll take your word for it. ;)

berselius said:

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The quick answer is that Hawpe is half again as bad as Soriano on defense. That's epically bad

JulieDiCaro said:

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that is bad. we could put hawpe in RF, soriano in LF, and fuld in CF. that way, fans would be guaranteed to see a lot of diving and smashing into things, which they seem to enjoy in a CFer.

Doc said:

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Then we could put K-Fuk at first base after we trade D-Lee.

JulieDiCaro said:

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And then we vote Ryan Theriot into the All-Star Game!

Doc said:

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Well...he is an All-Star shortstop, right?

berselius said:

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This is the Cubs we're talking about. They'd convert Fukudome into a catcher

JulieDiCaro said:

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"Pavement failure" is my new favorite term:

"Avoid all downtown expressways for the next 24 hours.

That's what the Illinois Department of Transportation is urging drivers to do after a "pavement failure" on the Kennedy Expressway at Adams left just one of the three northbound lanes open and caused huge traffic backups on the inbound Dan Ryan Expressway."

JulieDiCaro said:

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just in general?

gravedigger said:

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i dunno

AndCounting said:

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Here's a fun road to go down: the dude from mlbtraderumors posted this list of the 45 worst contracts in baseball back in March. I'm sure there are more contracts that have been exposed as huge mistakes since that time, and some of the deals listed expire after the 2009 season. But it's a good starter reference for players that other teams might want gone.

While I'd prefer to land a really crappy pitcher like Barry Zito (I'd feel more comfortable knowing that on most days our biggest mistake won't be playing) but Gary Matthews, Jr. stands out as a possible great defender/lousy hitter/HGH user in CF.

JulieDiCaro said:

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I'm afraid to look. How many are ours?

AndCounting said:

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Assuming you add Milton to the list, only our whole outfield.

Doc said:

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It is good for my mental health to know that the Cubs are not alone in giving out large ridiculous contracts to players coming off of career years. Over the last 5 years, the Giants, Mariners and Tigers have probably given out more of these crappy contracts than the Cubs have. And, look what those teams have accomplished over those 5 years.

Doc said:

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That list is from the beginning of last season, so Bradley, Dumpster and Zambrano are probably all not on it.

That begs to ask, which contract would you all consider to be the worst in baseball right now?

berselius said:

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Juan Pierre and Gary Matthews still look pretty bad, though now that there are fewer years on them it's not quite as much. Also, Aaron Miles.

Doc said:

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Aaron Miles isn't getting much money compared to most people on that list...

Zito was able to put together a not-quite-so-horrible year this season, so he's been moved down on that list. Vernon Wells has to be near the top. Last year Andruw (learn to spell your name right, you idiot) Jones was probably the worst contract in baseball.

AndCounting said:

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A.J. Burnett, five years $82.5 million is the winner for me. I just didn't understand that one at all.

AndCounting said:

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I mean, I understand he's not terrible, but I think it will end up biting the Yankees on the ass . . . and then have no effect on them whatsoever as they buy their way out of it.

Doc said:

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The Yankees get perverse pleasure when someone bites them in the ass.

Aisle424 said:

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Look no further than the South Side with Alex Rios and the $58.7 million left to him over the next 5 years.

Doc said:

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That's a good one. What the hell did the Blue Jays do to those players up there? Wells, Rios, geez...and they've had a few other busts up there the last several years.

Aisle424 said:

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It's the main reason why JP Ricciardi is out looking for work.

Doc said:

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Here is something...

I think it is assumed that Harden isn't coming back next year.

Would it be off in left field for the Cubs to try to take a chance on Ben Sheets next year? I'm not sure is he'll command a lot for a contract. If he's cheep, I think the Cubs should give him a look. If he's looking for $10 million a season, well good luck playing with the Rangers, then.

berselius said:

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Agreed, it would be more than worth the Cubs while to kick the tires on Sheets

AndCounting said:

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Yeah, Sheets is very interesting. Note to self: never have offseason arm surgery when you become a free agent pitcher.

My guess: he'll command a lot for a contract but no one will be foolish enough to offer more than 2 years. But all in all, I don't know that his stuff or his stability is any better than Harden. Coin flip for me between the two.

berselius said:

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That really screwed the Brewers too, since no one signed him they never got the 2 FA compensation picks for him either

Doc said:

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I'd assume that Sheets will be commanding less than Harden. The other thing about Sheets, he likely will only want a one to two year contract just because it is likely he will not get a lot of money. He'll want to prove himself as a dominant pitcher again and the become a free agent again where he can get even more money.

Aisle424 said:

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I'd love to see someone get really creative with triggers for bonuses and incentives over the first year or two, and then triggers for a player option for the next year or two. That way when the Cubs are ready to blow it all up, he'll probably opt out and go the FA market anyway.

If he's terrible/injured, he won't reach the triggers and its a low-impact one year deal and he's done.

But Hendry will just sign him for 5 years and $100 million and he'll re-injure the elbow in Spring Training.

berselius said:

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It's an interesting idea, but the players are less likely to go for it. They'd rather get guaranteed years if they can get them from a team.

baturkey said:

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I believe there's a limit to how creative teams can get with incentives nowadays. Dave Otto tells a story of a pitcher who got financially penalized for walking a certain number of people, so towards the end of season he just started beaning batters when he was behind in the count.

JulieDiCaro said:

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Yabbut we haven't had a Mark Prior since Mark Prior. We need a new Mark Prior.

JulieDiCaro said:

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Some jerk just reminded me that today is the anniversary of Game 6.

Doc said:

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That game never really happened. It's a figment of your imagination. I know. I was there.

JulieDiCaro said:

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Cool photo of the USMNT (soccer). Literally a big pile of awesome. And hotness:

http://twitpic.com/lj1qs


They play tonight @7:00 CT on ESPN2.

Mark (and girls), you would be particulary interested in Carlos Bocanegra and Benny Feilhaber

Doc said:

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Dammit...I had to look at the dumb picture...

Ok...time to reset...

Fix my head

That's better.

millertime said:

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That story about the contracts thing, how do they determine what makes a bad contract?

The thing I don't like about judging a contract "good" or "bad" is since contracts are given out with uncertain future outcomes, it seems stupid to me to judge a contract based soley on the results, as opposed to the various factors that affected the deal when it was made.

For example, if the Cubs were to sign Hank Aaron to any kind of contract for next year, it would be a bad contract. Aaron is old, and has been out of the league for quite a while now. But if Hank Aaron suddenly hits 40 HR next year, plays amazing defense, and hasn't taken steroids, would that be a "smart deal" that the Cubs made?

If the Cubs trade Theriot for Albert Pujols, and Pujols suddenly can't hit a ball to save his skin, does that mean the Cubs made a "bad" deal?

I think a deal should be based on a number of things, like the player's age, position, unique skill set, past performance, future projected proformance, and the type of deals other players of similar skill sets received. When I look at the Bradley deal, I don't think Hendry made a bad deal. He paid a fair price for the only legitimate RF on the market. Based on factors like previous production, age, and other deals that top outfielders were getting, Hendry signed Bradley to a $30 mil 3-year deal. I don't think there was enough evidence for Hendry to know that the current problems Bradley now faces would come up. Bradley didn't produce at the level expected, but that happens. Also, Bradley still has 2 years left on his contract, as do players like Dempster, Zambrano, and Soriano. There is also the cost of not signing these players. Would the Cubs have won the division the past two years if they didn't have Soriano, Zambrano, Lee, Ramirez, or Dempster? I know the Soriano deal looks bad now, but at the time, he was the biggest FA on the market, and the Cubs desperately needed another bat. It was either Soriano or Matt Murton.

When I think of bad deals, I base those bad deals more on GM's making decisions using poor data. Like giving Sean Figgins or Juan Piere a large contract because they steal bases, or Jeff Suppan because he won NLCS MVP one time. Making decisions based on percieved "intangibles", SB, R, Batting Average, WIns for Pitchers, Saves for closers, is what drives me crazy.

Maybe I'm just mixing up what people mean when they say "worst contracts". Maybe "largest negative deviation from expected performance" would work better?

Doc said:

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You make some good points there...

And for me bad contracts or a combination of a number of things...

Giving Andruw Jones a huge contract after a rather horrible season...bad contract. Giving Gary Matthews Jr a huge contract after a career year...bad contract.

Giving a large contract as a result of excellent consistent performance for a number of years is probably the epitome of a good contract. If a player has a number of years of consistent good play, and is showing no signs of regressing is the key. It seems simple. But I guess in this high stress, competitive, win now environment, with such a limited talent pool to select from, it is difficult to do this entirely.

It just seems some GMs have too much faith the players are going to perform as well or better for their organization compare to where they played in the past. The truth is, most players need time to adjust to new teams.

I'm rambling now...so I'll just shut up.

AndCounting said:

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I don't think this particular article sets out to grade the deals according to their value at the time. It's mostly just a list of hefty "Oh, crap" contracts that have reached the point where the GM is no longer getting his money's worth. As of the time it was written, they were the contracts that GMs most wanted to rid themselves of.

That's the reason I brought it up, because that seems to be the primary criterion the Cubs are looking for in dealing Bradley--a player whose contract the GM of another team might like to exchange for Milton's.

The list has its obvious faults in that it's 7 months old. It's missing players that certainly belong there now (Oliver Perez). It also includes Chris Carpenter, but he doesn't exactly scream 'waste of money' after this season.

millertime said:

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I see your point. Sorry, I can get on a rant sometimes.

AndCounting said:

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Never apologize for a good rant. I agree with where you're coming from, that a signing that doesn't work doesn't necessarily make the GM an idiot--just like a signing that pays off doesn't make him a genius.

Michael Jordan would say the GM's role is minimal and that players win championships. That's why he makes a pretty crummy executive. But he's also a little bit right. A GM can't predict how a player is going to do, and a manager's influence goes only so far. Every signing is a calculated risk, and every player is just a torn ACL or a psychological breakdown away from turning a team's investment into turd soup.

I also hate when people bring up the stats of a guy who a team didn't sign. If the Cubs had kept DeRosa, his stats might have been wildly different or he could have been hit by a bus. If Kerry Wood had remained a Cub, he might have saved every opportunity and never had another blister. If the Cubs had traded for Peavy, he may have never been injured. And if the Cubs had dealt for Ibanez, he may have barked at the scoreboard and thrown his own feces at Paul Sullivan.

You can criticize the reasoning behind a move, but lambasting the GM for what happens after a signing is usually silly.

millertime said:

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Exactly!

Umbra said:

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"I don't think there was enough evidence for Hendry to know that the current problems Bradley now faces would come up."

This is simply not true. The argument was made at the time that character issues didn't matter to people ("I don't care what they do off the field as long as they hit the ball!"), but it was never ever the case that character issues were unexpected.

JulieDiCaro said:

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Thank you.

Ed, are you serious? Do you ever read anything I write? In fact, I remember listing off all Bradley's past issues in a diary here, and I remember you saying that weren't aware of most of them.

Aside from you, EVERYONE was aware of them. The debate was always whether or not his character issues would affect his play.

millertime said:

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Whatever. I'm really tired tonight, and I have a big test stressing me out this Friday.

So, fine. I misspoke.

AndCounting said:

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There's a line in "The Grand Inquisitor," the famous chapter in Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov, that kind of suits the occasion. The chapter explores the questions of freedom and human nature, essentially proposing that humanity's pursuit of freedom from our primal instincts goes against our nature, which exceeds our will power. Attempts at being truly good, the Grand Inquisitor argues, are futile. He believes the best way to control a man is to give him exactly what he wants and let him be satisfied in his ignorance before reaching the same death and destruction that awaits us all. He says, "Anyone who can appease a man's conscience can take his freedom away from him."

I think Milton had a chance to improve as a person and excel as a player. But giving him a three-year deal instilled in him a false sense of redemption that appeased his conscience and extracted any impulse for self-improvement. In so doing, Hendry robbed Bradley of his freedom to change and develop by giving him everything he wanted. I agree with Hendry's belief that Milton could change--but what he needed was tough love. Tell him he's got a chance but he's got to prove (and improve) himself. Instead he gave him $30 million, 3 years, and a boatload of undeserved trust. It's like giving a bad employee a good review.

That's why the booing and the hating caught Milton off guard. In his mind, he had already found redemption. Unfortunately for him (and fortunately for the rest of us) no one else lives inside his mind.

Umbra said:

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My favorite book!

"Give men bread and then ask of them virtue" indeed.

millertime said:

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You're correct. These issues weren't unexpected. I misspoke.

Umbra said:

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That's no way to concede an argument. Haven't you paid attention to our President? Try this next time you get McDowell'd:

Where mistakes were made, the responsibility rests with me.

gravedigger said:

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Bruce called me and said he's *pissed* at you for posting so much of his column.

Doc said:

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Dear Editors of LOHO,

WHERE ARE THURSDAY'S HEADLINES???

Come on, slackers!

Love,
-Doc

secdelahc said:

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I'm TRYING to not cause a recession by paying attention in Finance class!

flyball said:

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its about 45 degrees in here, my fingers don't type that fast when they are frozen

Doc said:

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Excuses, excuses.

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