A League of Her Own

Dear Jim Hendry: We're Gonna Need SOME of These Guys. . . .

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So as far as I can tell these days, we have three viable starters, we're going with 100%, straight-up Marmol as our closer, and now the Evil Empire, ever-lurking in the weeds, is coming after one of the mainstays of our bench:

The New York Post is reporting that the Yankees are talking regularly with the agents of free agent outfielder Reed Johnson. Johnson, who hit only .255 this past season, is a career .313 hitter versus lefties, something the Yankees are in the market for.

Heck Jim, what do we need bench players for, anyway? Just go back to watching that "Saved By The Bell" marathon and we'll wake you up when it's time for Spring Training.

Oh, and by the way, the Nats signed Matt Capps. Not that I really wanted him, anyway, but it's inceasingly maddening to watch every option the Cubs have for every position sign somewhere else. Meanwhile, we have no CFer, no lead-off hitter, no set-up man, and at least one spot in the rotation that's going to be filled by either Tom Gorzelanny, Jeff Spellcheck, and Sean Marshall. And that's AFTER Ted Lilly comes back from the DL.

That's. . . that's not good.

Thanks to mlbtraderumors.com, my entire morning has been ruined. And if my morning is ruined, so is yours. Enjoy:

ESPN.com's latest Rumor Central update examines this question, naming the starting rotation, the bullpen, and center field as the three areas that the club will be looking to upgrade before the spring. The article speculates that the Cubs will choose either Marlon Byrd, Rick Ankiel, or Scott Podsednik for their outfield opening, and wonders if Joel Pineiro or Kelvim Escobar could be solutions for the rotation and bullpen, respectively.

One possibility for the Cubs, as Dave van Dyck of the Chicago Tribune points out, is filling out their bullpen with in-house candidates, such as Jeff Samardzija. This would allow the team a little more payroll flexibility, as they attempt to address their other needs.

As a lot of you have been clamoring for Ben Sheets (and that really says more about our off-season than I care to admit), here's where he now stands:

After missing all of 2009 with a torn flexor tendon in his right elbow, Ben Sheets is looking to hook on with a club for 2010.  Reportedly, Sheets' agent is seeking roughly $12MM, similar to what he made in his last major league season in 2008 when he posted a 3.09 ERA.

An item on the ESPN Rumors page titled "The Ben Sheets Five" says there are at least five teams which could use the 31-year-old's services.  The New York Mets are obviously in need of starting pitching and could be willing to gamble on his return.  The Cubs are mentioned as a fit, but they could also afford to stand pat with a rotation headlined by Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster, and Ted Lilly.  The Dodgers are also listed, but money is obviously an issue for owner Frank McCourt.

In the American League, the Rays, Mariners, and Angels are mentioned as potential destinations.  The Halos could use Sheets to re-load after losing John Lackey to Boston.  Jack Zduriencik could be looking to add a veteran arm to the rotation as the club has shown a willingness to spend this winter.  Tampa Bay on the other hand might not be willing to spend big on Sheets as they find themselves with a reasonably-priced, yet deep, stable of starters.  The Yankees were once said to be interested, but now that they have acquired Javier Vazquez to round out their rotation, it seems unlikely that they will pursue him.

All I have to say about this is that if we give Ben Sheets $7-$10 million, when we couldn't come up with $7 for Rich Harden, Julie will not be happy. Hell, why don't we just go give Mark Prior $10 million? He says he feels GREAT these days.

 

 

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32 Comments

gravedigger said:

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I think I'm gonna go fucking postal.

mikeproper said:

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I don't necessarily think not bringing back Reed Johnson is a huge loss but I'm disturbed by the incompetence that occurred with the Rich Harden situation. If Hendry didn't want to offer him a contract this off-season then he absolutely should have:

a.) traded him in August for whatever you can get get or,

b.) offered him arbitration and maybe take the risk he accepts (I doubt he would have but you never know in this market) so that the Cubs at least end up with one or two draft picks (I forget if he was a Type A or B Free Agent, but they'd at least be getting one)

Instead, Hendry lets an extremely talented albeit injury-prone pitcher leave without getting ANYTHING in return. Sure, you can argue that the Cubs were maybe still in contention in August, but I don't see it. And Hendry not moving Harden shows a disheartening amount of short-sightedness.

So if this all ends with Ben Sheets coming in for double the price that Harden signed for, I don't know what to think. Because to give credit where credit is due, Sheets is pretty great. But so is Harden and thus, I don't know why it had to come to that in the first place.

JulieDiCaro said:

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Exactly. Well said.

CubbieBlue4Eva said:

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You can't offer arbitration to someone unless you know 100% he is going to turn it down. Same thing w/ the situation with Woody. Yes it sucks to not get the draft pick compensation but having to pay Harden more than the deal he got from Texas (which he would have gotten in arbitration) would not have been ideal either.

And there is no WAY Sheets, after missing an entire year, sniffs anything near a $7.5M contract for this year. He will be lucky if he gets 1/2 of that.

--MGb said:

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RE: Sheets - Ok, if you're referring to recent twitter activity, I think "clamoring" is a bit strong. Harden was a stupid, stupid move - unless of course he breaks down as he had done in the past (with the exception of last year). In which case Jimmy can point at us all and laugh - welcome to it.
I think what we all have to come to grips with here is the theme to this offseason is not going to be "Choice" but more "lack of options". Not that that's the way it HAS to be, but that seems to be the message Jimmy is sending. Nobody is gonig to be truely, genuinely "happy" with anything that happens before April, and frankly after April ain't looking pretty either.

I was on "Bobby Abreu watch" last offseason. This offseason, I'm on "Orlando Hudson watch" because barring a trade, of all the FA's out there, and all the holes that need to be filled, O-Hud is the most significant upgrade over what we have right now.

Face it kids - remember that Loney Grand Slam in 2008? Remember the loud "THUD" that was heard when that ball landed? That was the window of opportunity decisively slamming shut.

JulieDiCaro said:

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Actually, I was talking to all the guys on this site that have been clamoring for Ben Sheets. I'd love to take a flier on him, but $12 million isn't exactly a flier.

--MGb said:

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No, 12 mil is more a marriage proposal. Unless of course it's a 6-7 mil offer that adds up to 12 in incentives. And Jim, by the way, I don't mean "Extra 5 million for 10 start" or some other easily reachable incentive a la Milt.

We can hold out hope that this is not the first time Hendry has decline Arb for a pretty great, injury prone pitcher. Remember how well Wood worked out for the Indians...

Umbra said:

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Yeah, I was clamoring for Been Sneets, but I didn't know he wanted $12 million. He'd probably be worth it if he went over 160 IP or so, but what are the odds of that? 50/50? That money has to come down, but even still, I don't think the Cubs have that money in them.

Reed Johnson, Marlon Byrd, or Ben Sheets. Pick one (and only one).

Perkins said:

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I doubt Sheets gets that. He may get close to what Harden gets, but given the economy, I don't see anyone other than the Yankees giving him that much money. I think Sheets signs with someone (hopefully the Cubs, I guess) shortly before Spring Training, and for about $5MM and incentives.

JulieDiCaro said:

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I know that we didn't see all that much of him, but I wonder if we're ignoring the possibility that Tyler Colvin might be the best available option for CF? No point in spending a ton on a CFer who wants a 3-year deal if the Cubs think Colvin will be ready and willing in a year or so.

mikeproper said:

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I don't think Colvin is much more than a 4th OF to be honest. His minor league numbers show him as a capable but not great defensive CF who can't take a walk to save his life and who doesn't make enough contact to make up for it.

I'd rather have him than Pods any day of the week and twice on Sundays, but if I don't think we are going to want Colvin getting 400+ plate appearances.

I'm a full-on Marlon Byrd supporter at this point though and think he's the best bet in a crappy crop.

JulieDiCaro said:

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I haven't looked at his stats from the few games he was up last season, but I seem to remember him being pretty patient at the plate.

When you're a full-on Marlon Byrd supporter, you really need to reexamine where your baseball choices have led you. LOL.

Perkins said:

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Colvin probably won't be, but then if the club isn't going to contend, there isn't much point in paying for a new outfielder.

Then again, if the club isn't going to contend, they may as well have a fire sale.

JulieDiCaro said:

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I'd rather see Colvin out there than Fuld.

Perkins said:

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I'm not particular. I'd rather have seen Bradley out there than either of them, but none of the parties involved were ready to act like adults.

CubbieBlue4Eva said:

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Is Colvin hotter than Fuld?? Just guessin...

cub legend said:

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Nice article CubbieJ. I'm new.
Can't believe Hendry would pass on Reed Johnson and probably over pay for Pods. Why not let the Yankee's take everybody and we get all the Pirates. Oh I forgot Capps is gone. If he was any good though somebody like the Yankees or Red Sox would have signed him.
I think the Rickett's will use 2010 as a transition year. After that Hendry, Pinella etc, will be gone and they will put their own people in. They are still stuck with a lot of these guys, like Soriano and Fuk because they have long and some, no trade contracts. Maybe jimbo will surprise us.

JulieDiCaro said:

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God, this is depressing:

Comprehend the trend Better there than here Jay Cutler is the latest in a long line of players who clearly played better on another team than with the Bears. Kyle Orton, who was traded to Denver for Cutler, is another.

Among the others (not including aging players like Jeff Blake):

-- Adam Archuleta: Had three straight 100-tackle seasons in St. Louis and had 61 tackles in one season for the Bears.

-- Cedric Benson: Enjoying his first 1,000-yard season in Cincinnati.

-- Bernard Berrian: Had a career year last season, his first with the Vikings.

-- Marc Colombo: Started seven games in four years with the Bears, but started 57 straight games for the Cowboys before breaking his leg this season.

-- Justin Gage: In his first season in Tennessee, he had only 158 fewer receiving yards than he had in four combined seasons in Chicago.

-- Brian Griese: His passer rating with the Bears was 74.1; his passer rating with other teams was 83.7.

-- Chris Harris: In two seasons with the Bears, he had a hand in six takeaways; in three seasons with the Panthers, he has had a hand in 21.

-- Rod Hood: The Bears kept him for one week in September, but last year he had five interceptions for the NFC champion Cardinals, and this year for the Titans he has three interceptions -- more than any Bear except Zack Bowman.

-- Brandon McGowan: After four injury-plagued seasons in Chicago, he's having a breakout year with the Patriots.

-- Muhsin Muhammad: He had more production with the Panthers before he signed with the Bears and more production with the Panthers after he was let go by the Bears.

-- Adewale Ogunleye: With the Bears he never came close to the 15 sacks he had for the Dolphins in 2003.

-- Bobby Wade: He was most productive with the Vikings.

baturkey said:

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I fully expect a poor season next year, yet still plan to watch as many games as possible. I think I need help.

JulieDiCaro said:

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Don't worry! LOHO will be bringing in a mental illness specialist to help us deal with all our issues prior to Spring Training.

It's totally beginning to feel like the Rickettes are just taking a mulligan on 2010 and looking forward to 2011. That oughta make the fans adore them.

Doc said:

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This will be Lou's 4th year as manager of the Cubs.

Could it end up being similar to Dusty's 4th year as manager of the Cubs?

Big difference...Lou is a good manager.

Perkins said:

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And the worst part is that they're half-assing it. If they know the team won't contend in 2010, then have a fire sale. They're keeping around players who will get the Cubs to 80 wins, but probably not much further. If they really cared about winning, they would have held onto Harden and Bradley, and put a bit more money into payroll to increase the chances of playoffs (and the attendant revenue).

That they seem content to field a mediocre team and slash payroll is disturbing, and would indicate that ultimately they're more concerned about the bottom line than about winning.

Add to that the reports that Ricketts wants to extend Derrek Lee's contract for the reason that he "loves the guy." Thus far, Ricketts seems like a fan with money. And the results are looking very similar to the 1990s.

The Cubs are a big market team with a fuckload of revenue. There's absolutely no reason they shouldn't be favorites for the NL Central every year. Ricketts looks like he's not going to make that happen anytime soon.

JulieDiCaro said:

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Good Lord, a million times AGREED.

@kylebetts said:

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There is no doubt White Slice played with the scrappy-ness all fans like to see, but there is no way he's the answer in CF. He's on the wrong side of 30 and has proven he cannot stay healthy as a guy seeing limited action. I'll pass, thanks.

I like Byrd because he might be able to provide some power in the outfield. Granted he's not going to knock 30 out of the park, but I think 20 is possible depending on how he adjusts to Wrigley.

Let's also not forget about Sam Fuld. I'm not sure he has earned the right (or even should be given the chance) to be the full-time CF/leadoff, but he might be the best in-house option.

JulieDiCaro said:

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Who said Reed was the answer in CF? I just said maybe Tyler Colvin is the best answer in CF. I know for sure it's not Sam Fuld and his 2 RBIs.

@kylebetts said:

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I'm not saying anyone here wants Reed to be the full-time CF, but I get a feeling from some Cubs fans that they don't want to let go of their scrappy, grinder guy (aka Kyle Orton syndrome). I guess I'm saying I'd rather take a chance on a guy that could do the position full-time instead of platooning Reed with someone else.

As for Fuld, he would almost certainly be the leadoff or the No. 8 hitter. Who cares about his RBIs? I look at that .409 OBP in 97 ABs and wonder if he can do it for a full season. Most likely not, but I think it would be worth chance only if the Cubs can't bring in Byrd or someone else.

Cubs97322 said:

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Are we really cashing it in for 2010 already? Granted, we're banking on resurgent years from multiple players, but a lineup with Theriot, Lee, Ramirez, Soriano, Fukudome, Soto performing around their career averages is pretty good. You have holes at two positions, which is pretty average for most teams going into a season. The starting rotation is solid once Lilly returns--you couldn't count on Harden making regular starts anyway--and the bullpen has some dynamic young arms. I think you give Fuld a chance in CF and let Baker/Blanco/Fontenot figure out 2B.

Edelweiss said:

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More gossip from Twa.....Several biographers have contacted his agent to write this Cubs' biography, but he is not a star. They say his life story would be an inspiration , even though his career is not that far along. I wonder if anyone can figure out not only who, but why. This will be a good exercise for the boring months leading up to Spring Training.

MUDDY said:

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Comparing Ben Sheets to Rich Harden is apples and oranges...At least Sheets has proven he can go 200 innings..And he just missed that number as recently as 2008 (196)..Harden has averaged 100 innings a year for his career. If Sheets is healthy, he would be a welcome addition to this staff.

Cubbie4Death said:

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Any thoughts about the rumor of the possible trade to get Elsbury? Obviously this would depend on Boston's signing Holiday or Bay and would possibly involve San Diego sending Adrienne Gonzales to Boston. No mention of what / who the Cubs would have to give up. Anyone, anyone?

MadMc44 said:

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The Sox are looking for a corner infielder--they have been talking AGon for a month. The two teams cannot come up with enough prospects to satisfy the trade needs. Rumor yesterday the cubs might be involved. For whomever the Cubs would include the end result might be Ellsbury.The Sox would get AG from the Padres. The Sox would give up at least Ells and Clay Buchholz in addition to two of their top 10 prospects. Has their been any talk of a 3 way trade in Chicago?

Chicago Fan Stuck In NE said:

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I still do not understand why this idiot still has a job at this point and time. Blundry should have been relieved of his duties when his predecessor who hand picked him to lead this team resigned. Why the Ricketts family is so enamored with this gutless wonder is beyond me. There are far to many bad decisions for every so called good decision he makes. Blundry should be collecting unemployment and out of baseball at this time. Until the Ricketts family realize how much of a liability Blundry is, the Cubs will not improve any longer and 2010 will be as miserable if not more miserable than 2009. Figure out a way to get Billy Beane out of Oakland or Theo Epstein out of Boston and maybe things might change for the better.

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