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2007 Chicago Cubs

Updated 12/07/2006

Full disclosure: I am a diehard Cubs fan.  Still, I think I'm capable of pulling together a Team Outlook for this bunch.

Jim Hendry's 2007 contract obligatons:

C - Michael Barrett - $3MM
C - Henry Blanco - $1.8MM
1B - Derrek Lee - $13MM
2B - Mark DeRosa - $4.33MM
SS - Cesar Izturis - $4.15MM
3B - Aramis Ramirez - $11MM
IF - Ryan Theriot - $0.38MM
LF - Matt Murton - $0.38MM
CF - Jacque Jones - $4MM
RF - Alfonso Soriano - $9MM
OF - Angel Pagan - $0.38MM

SP - Carlos Zambrano - $6.5MM
SP - Ted Lilly - $10MM
SP - Rich Hill - $0.38MM
SP -
SP - Wade Miller - $1.5MM
SP - Mark Prior - $3.65MM
SP - Sean Marshall - $0.38MM

RP - Ryan Dempster - $5MM
RP - Bob Howry - $4MM
RP - Scott Eyre - $3.5MM
RP - Will Ohman - $0.61MM
RP - Mike Wuertz - $0.38MM
RP - Kerry Wood - $1.75MM
RP - Roberto Novoa - $0.38MM
RP - Neal Cotts - $0.4MM

Buyouts:

RP - Kerry Wood - $3MM

Injured players:

RP - Glendon Rusch - $3.25MM

The Cubs have about $96MM locked up before raises, unless perhaps insurance covers Rusch's salary.  Also keep in mind that Miller can earn an additional $3.75MM in incentives and some of Soriano's bonus may need to be paid out in '07.  Zambrano should get decent money in arbitration, so a rough estimate is $102MM committed.  There have been rumors of the team taking payroll all the way to $120MM to field a winner in 2007.  That'd mean a lot of patchwork via free agency. Hey, it worked for the Marlins in '97.  Wow, that team had some crappy seasons by hitters now that I look at it. 

Mark DeRosa will handle second base now, so the infield's set. 

In the outfield, Hendry really just needs a center fielder.  Kenny Lofton is the only real viable option in free agency.  Otherwise Jones or Soriano will have to learn the position.  There's also been talk of adding Cliff Floyd as a platoon partner for Murton; I don't see the point. 

The rotation could probably use one more arm behind the front three of Zambrano, Lilly, and Hill.  Someone to bridge the gap between Hill and the fifth starter DL combo of Prior and Miller.  Gil Meche remains on the radar.  In-house longshot starting candidates include Dempster and Cotts.  The trade bait seems to be Jones, who apparently wants out of Chicago

A few of the pitchers I've listed will be squeezed out and sent to the minors or traded.  The Cubs have three lefties in the pen currently.

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Honestly, I think it's more likely than not that Ryan Theriot will be starting at second base next year. It's difficult to ignore his .917 OPS at the big league level this year. At the very least, he should get a chance to compete for the job, and I think that given that chance, he'll win it.

It seems like the Cards and the Cubs are both going to out of range of WS contention until they can home grow a few top (healthy) SP's.

In Gallagher, Veal, and Pawelek, the Cubs actually have that possibility.

'Cubs comeback candidates: Greg Maddux, Jamie Moyer, or Steve Trachsel.'

Trust me, you don't want Trachsel. He's shot THIS year, playing in a pitcher's park and backed by a solid defensive outfield. Stay FAR away.

'In Gallagher, Veal, and Pawelek, the Cubs actually have that possibility.'

I thought those guys were a few years away, especially Pawelek.

I'm thinking they'll be near ready in '08 or mid-'08.

Pawelek hasn't made it out of the short-season leagues yet. I assume he'll start next season at one level of A-ball, so that would be from A-ball to the majors in a year or a year and a half. Not unprecedented, but pretty rare...

out look seems depressing man....

I would probably sign a short term veteran CF (like Dave Roberts maybe.. failing that Kenny Lofton) and see if Pie can be ready soon, the rest of the CF crop seems vastly overpayed and/or simply not what the Cubs need.

I would hope they can trade Jacque Jones for anything and bring in Carlos Lee or ALfonso Soriano... though i can't think of a team actually dumb enough to make this move.... or just bring in Lee or Soriano anyway and use Murton as the 4th OF for now while baiting Jones later in the season.

The pitching will be hard to solve, Zito probably don't want to come to Chicago and I doubt the Cubs can make a realistic run at Matsuzaka. I also guess going for some guys along the line of Wolf /Lilly would be better.

The NL central look weak next year with the Brewers possibly the only team to be really good if everything goes right. (That's a lot of ifs) so you never know ... practically it's the luckiest team win.

out look seems depressing man....

I would probably sign a short term veteran CF (like Dave Roberts maybe.. failing that Kenny Lofton) and see if Pie can be ready soon, the rest of the CF crop seems vastly overpayed and/or simply not what the Cubs need.

I would hope they can trade Jacque Jones for anything and bring in Carlos Lee or ALfonso Soriano... though i can't think of a team actually dumb enough to make this move.... or just bring in Lee or Soriano anyway and use Murton as the 4th OF for now while baiting Jones later in the season.

The pitching will be hard to solve, Zito probably don't want to come to Chicago and I doubt the Cubs can make a realistic run at Matsuzaka. I also guess going for some guys along the line of Wolf /Lilly would be better.

The NL central look weak next year with the Brewers possibly the only team to be really good if everything goes right. (That's a lot of ifs) so you never know ... practically it's the luckiest team win.

Ryan Theriot looks like he could be a cheaper version of Mark Loretta or Luis Castillo. Contact skills, no power, good BB/K ratio, steals ability, fine #2 hitter.

Aside from that this team is a disaster area. They're going to make some BAD MOVES this offseason, I mean REALLY BAD MOVES. The angst is going to deafening. To be honest I almost can't wait to see what they do, it's going to be a nightmare.

Hey, guys, something that hasn't been talked about yet is the fact that Zambrano is eligible to be a free agent following the '07 season. Roto, I don't know if you figured that in to the payroll, but the Cubs are going to need to lock Z up long-term. The worst thing that could've happened to the pitching market right now is Oswalt's recent extension with the Astros. Zambrano's numbers overwhelmingly stack up to Oswalt's, and Carlos is much younger. Honestly, we'll have to see what happens with Ramirez. If he tests the market and his price goes too high, it would probably be better for the Cubs to let him go and use the money elsewhere. Time will tell.

It seems to me that the Cubs would be one of the teams for whom Zito would be a good addition, as they wouldn't need him to be an ace, but he would remove some of the need for Mark Prior to be healthy.

Looking at the financial obligations for next year, why on earth did they trade Maddux for Izturis? They couldn't have got a prospect instead? An extra 4 million might be the difference between picking up the players they need and not.

Bad management from top to bottom is the problem with this team (I know I'm not saying anything that people don't know).

Are you planning to do the A's & Twins?

Re: Zito. Where his mind goes so goes he. His mind consistently returns to NY & the San Diego areas. LAD & AZ both are close enough if Pods piggybank is all used up.

Re: Mulder. I think a stint with the A's is just what they both need.

The Cubs also have to consider resigning Wade Miller, whose WHIP will certainly come down over the course of a full season, who is already with them, and who did nothing this year to demand a big contract. from anyone else.

Since the free agent crop is thin and the Cubs lost nearly 100 games this season, I don’t think the Cubs can field a contending team in 2007. I agree that their main focus should be 2008.

The Tribune Company seems to have financial woes, so I expect Hendry will face a budget cut.

I think Hendry should carefully review the team’s first half performance. Hendry will loose his job if he brings back Juan Pierre and Aramis Ramirez and they repeat their miserable 2006 first half performances.

If Ramirez wants to re-negotiate his contract, Hendry should not offer more base pay. He should only offer more performance incentives, and some of the incentives should be based strictly on his first half performance. By 2008, Scott Moore should be ready to play third base. The Cubs will not be a contender in 2007 even if they retain Ramirez, so signing Ramirez should not be a priority.

If the Cubs focus on 2008, they should not sign Carlos Lee to play left field. They should plan on Matt Murton as the left fielder of the future. He already has an excellent on-base percentage and by 2008 he should mature enough to hit with more power.

I think it would be a mistake to expect Felix Pie to be the centerfielder in 2008. He is only 21 years old and shows no plate discipline. Although he has speed, his base stealing skills are poor. I believe he will be more of a power hitter than a leadoff hitter. Forcing Pie to be a leadoff hitter could be a repeat of the Cory Patterson disaster. By 2008, second baseman Eric Patterson is more likely than Pie to emerge as a major-league leadoff hitter.

I think signing Jim Edmonds would be a poor decision. He is too much of an injury risk. A series of injuries during the first half of 2007 could cost Hendry his job. Also, I don’t think one year of Jim Edmonds would be sufficient to bridge the gap to Felix Pie. My preference is to sign Gary Matthews Jr. Maybe Matthews had his career year with the bat in ’06, but at least he is a better defensive centerfielder than Pierre. Hendry should not risk a repeated poor first-half performance from Pierre.

The Cubs main focus should be on right field. Jacque Jones had an inadequate arm for a right fielder. If the focus is on 2008, he should not be retained to platoon in left field and reduce Matt Murton’s playing time. I don’t think any of the free agent right fielders are a good fit for the Cubs. I would prefer to trade pitching prospects for a young right fielder that could develop into a reliable player by 2008. I don’t foresee Angel Pagan as more than a versatile backup outfielder and the Cubs may never find a suitable defensive position for Freddie Bynum.

The Cubs need to sign at least one free agent inning-eater starting pitcher just so their rotation is not an embarrassment in ’07.

I believe the Cubs should also consider trading Scott Eyre. His performance dropped off the second half. Although he is signed through the 2008 season, I believe his performance will drop off excessively before his contract expires. Will Ohman would need to step into Eyre’s role.

Outlook is pretty poor, but Cubs won't ignore 2007. Too loyal of a fan base to risk ignoring a season.

The Cubs cannot win without upgrading at least 2 members of their rotation. I expect some pitching to be signed, Zito or otherwise.

I like the idea of Dave Roberts or Kenny Lofton. Both are a poor mans Juan Pierre.

I wish we would trade for Billy Hall, but I should dream on I guess.

I think that the Cubs can contend in 2007 and it seems as if no one else shares my views...with a healthy derrek lee and the re-signing of ramirez which i think will happen, the cubs will have two of the best corner infielders in the game...the middle infield is a question (i know there are many regarding this team), but i think that ryan theriot will be a good bet for 2B and a solid number 2 hitter...murton has numbers similar to mark grace's in his first 2 years and if that continues it looks good having matty out in left...in center the cubs are looking at dave roberts or a gary matthews jr signing...i do not want a roberts type player at the top of the lineup, but matthews would not displease me too bad...angel pagan could also get playing time in center...jacque jones is a solid right fielder and i dont know why everyone thinks he is a weak link...he had a good not great offensive year last year, and i think that he will put up a nice 25-30 dingers this year...i agree he needs help with his arm but that can be fixed, it was just a release point thing...our catcher really showed the baseball world what he can do last year, being one of the hottes hitters in baseball during july-august...his defense has also emmensely improved...the rotation consisting of future cy young winner carlos zambrano, an up and coming rich hill, wade miller who has a good career win loss record and i look for him to be helpful this year...prior will also be back...i guarantee it...the cubs should try to sign jason schmidt as a barry zito signing seems unlikely and it would just be another rich hill type pitcher...the bullpen is looking really good especially if we can fit wood in there or maybe even as the closer...i dont know how i feel about the cubs going after carlos lee and taking away from murton, but we do need the bat...cubs could also get such players as maddux, garciaparra, loretta, and i have even heard gary sheffields name tossed around (yes i know the yanks picked up his option)

GO CUBBIES

Well, I had been pretty optimistic about the Cubs this year. But if Rami's agent really did turn down a $90/6 deal as is rumored, that's bad.

Neither DeRosa or Matthews can hit. I am seriously hoping that some other team signs them before the Cubs can. Look at their career stats, and don't be swayed by one fluky season in Texas (a hitters' paradise). Serious money-wasting potential in those two!

A healthy J.D. Drew would be ideal - the Cubs have been desperate for a big lefty bat since Bull Durham.

Unless Soriano can play CF, I don't see him helping this team. Murton is turning into a fine hitter, and shouldn't be blocked!

Hendry really needs to win this bidding war for Aramis, though... the offense will really suffer without him.

I'm a lot less worried about the pitching than most people. Prior managed 500 IP in 2003-2005... he'll chip in 150 this year, I think. And they will be high-quality innings.

Aramis just resigned with the cubs for around 5/70!
Check foxsports.com

The resigning of Remirez was a necessary evil that has now been taken care of. The first reported numbers seem too good to be true (5 years, 70 mil), but at this point if it was 5 for 80 it wouldnt be that bad a deal. I want fans to remember two things when it comes to the Rameriz negotiations; first the Kevin Orie affect. Remember how many prospects and free agent aquisitions were suppose to finally fill the hole at third for the Cubs after Ron Santo? How did they work out before Rameriz? And second, how many legit young, all star third baseman are out there? Fact of the matter is not a lot, even less that are actually available (or even will be for years). The Cubs have a bad farm system at the moment, so they don't have the ability to load up prospects to trade to anyone (not even to Anahiam for say Chone Figgins, a teir 2 man). Fact is the hole left if Rameriz were to have left would have been huge, having that nailed down for the next 5 years is comferting (remember he is only 29)!

For the rest of the team... Ryan Theroit has to be given a shot at second. Someone hit the nail on the head previously saying he is a perfect number 2 hitter (ie zero power, great contact hitter, high obs). Guess what, he even knows how to take a walk! There is going to be a lot of money thrown at other positions, you need to have a couple lower paid guys out there (sorry, no 200 mil payroll for the Cubs). Cedeno took steps back last year, but please remember back to 2004 when everyone was so high on the kid. He wasn't Angel Berroa horrible last year, so at least give him a chance to be a utility guy/glove at second (yes I saw the defense go back also last season). Short stop is tentitively held down by Cesar Izturiz until he gets hurt (again, why Cedeno and also Bynum are needed). Great glove, little bat, nice 8 hitter. 4 mill for him though, eesh thats bad, but oh well. Third (Rameriz), first (Lee) and catcher (Barrett) are taken care of, no questions asked (although I strongly pray they resign Henry Blanco as the backup catcher, he calls a great game and is an amazing defensive catcher, something that is often times overlooked).

The outfield is tricky. I would have no problem resigning Pierre, but if his demands are really 7 mil a year then forget it. Again I agree with a previous post and sign Roberts or Loften to a 1 year deal and wait for Pie. I hear Roberts is getting a ton of interest, so a 1 year deal might be out of the question. For a guy who gets hurt as often as he does, I wouldnt go over a 1 year deal, so Loften seems like my bet there. Either Soriano, Carlos Lee or J.D. Drew needs to be the left fielder. Yes, Matt Murton might become a very nice player, but I dont ever see him hitting 20 + homers or playing a great outfield either. Murton is a great complamentary piece, but those guys work when you have enough stars at other spots, which the Cubs dont. Rameriz and Derrick Lee is a nice 3-4 combo, but you need one more bat there. Hendry has been in love with Soriano since his Yankees days (remember how close the Cubs were for trading Sosa for him?), so my money is the Cubs actually winning that bidding war and landing him. Either one of the three would be perfect and necessary for this team. Jacque Jones is still in right, but if you can deal him (A's had interest before, same with the Red Sox) do it and stick Murton in right. I doubt that will happen though, so Murton is religated to the 4th outfielder role (which he would be nice at).

The rotation needs a lot of work, but I am very high on Rich Hill. He was early Prior-Wood dominant after his second call up and his numbers in the minors prove he has the stuff to be a 2-3 in the pro's. I don't have any problem with Hill and Zambrano at the top of the rotation, its just everyone behind them that scares me. Wade Miller resigned for 1 year and did pitch well when finally healthy, but my faith in him is minimal. I'll pencil him in as the #5, but I think there is a better chance of hell freezing over then him making it all season without going down with a major injury. That leaves two spots that need to be filled. Randy Wolf is coming back from Tommy John surgery and his record last year is quiet decieving since he received over 5 runs of support each start. We have enough injury prone guys already, we dont need another one, stay away from him Jim! Personally I see Hendry signing two of the following: Ted Lilly, Miguel Batista, Jeff Weaver, Key Igwa and Vincente Padilla. If Padialla really wants 11 mil a year, cross him off right now but all the others you can get for between 4 to 6 mill a year. They may not be all stars, but they will be healthy and eat up innings, something desperatly needed.

I think the relievers are already set. Dempster should start as the closer, but keep an extremely short leash on him. The dark horse there is Kerry Wood. He was absoltely unhittable as a reliever two years ago. If the shoulder holds up, I see Pinella tapping him as the closer. Both Howry and Eyre struggled as the season went on last year, that can be directly attributed to being tired... that will happen when your starters couldnt get out of the 5th inning! Both Mike Wuertz and Dave Aardsma looked good after being recalled the second time and should be fine. They still need a long relief man, so anyone of the rookie starters from last year (Marshal, Guzman, Ryu, Marmol, etc) and Novoa should battle that spot out. Early money should be on Marmol though.

So judging from all that above, team should look like this:

1. Kenny Lofton (CF)
2. Ryan Theroit (2B)
3. Derrick Lee (1B)
4. Alfonso Soriano (LF)
5. Aramis Rameriz (3B)
6. Michael Barrett (C)
7. Jacque Jones (LF)
8. Cesar Izturiz (SS)
9. Pitcher

Bench:
Matt Murton, Angel Pagan, Ronny Cedeno, Freddie Bynum, Henry Blanco

They definatly need another bat off the bench for if/when someone gets hurt and you need to pray for that miracle 3 run homer with Izturiz or the pitcher due up. Maybe make a run at Craig Wilson... he fills that right?

Pitchers:
SP1 - Carlos Zambrano
SP2 - Rich Hill
SP3 - Miguel Batista
SP4 - Jeff Weaver
SP5 - Wade Miller

Okay, I admit, not something to write home about but it has been a whole lot worse (please see last years rotation). The first four will all give you about 200 innings, something that will save the bullpen and make this team that much stronger down the stretch. One name missing... bingo... Mark Prior. No I dont think they are going to trade him, nor do I think they are going to move him to the bullpen like Wood. There are already reports of Prior not being ready for the start of training camp, so there is no point in putting him in the rotation question. The smartest thing the Cubs can do is forget about Prior in the rotation ALL next year. That's right... all... because it will force them to not rely on a minor leaguer who is not ready for the big leagues (ie Angel Guzman). If Prior does get healthy and dominates the minors for an actual rehab stint and proves he is ready to go full steam ahead (like I PRAY he does), then you can trade any of your starters (minus Zambrano or Hill) or move any of them (again, minus Zambrano or Hill) to the bullpen.

Bullpen
Closer - Ryan Dempster
RP - Scott Eyre
RP - Bob Howry
RP - Kerry Wood
RP - Michael Wuertz
RP - David Aardisma
RP - Will Ohman

That is actually a very strong group. If Wood can stay healthy (BIG IF), they can be one of the best in baseball. Even if someone goes down, you have enough arms in the minors now that can fill in as a bullpen arm.

I'm not going to predict a record, but with the group above, they have a chance. Here's to the death of the Billy Goat.... Holy Cow!

Starting lineups? The new mgr is LOU, not rookie hating, pitcher lamer Baker. The starting second baseman will be Theriot. Starting left fielder will be Murton. ther most consistent hitter other than Ramirez last year. Loften will spell the other three outfielders but probably will not start.
The 2nd worst fielding catcher in MLB is.was Barret. I would trade him because his poor fielding wasn responsible for kost pitcher arm strains and inconsitency. I would start Blanco and find a 2nd line catcher. With this line-up they can afford a lesser hitter behind the plate. I'd trade Cedano ASAP, can't throw, can't field can't in the MLB. I( won major bets agaijnst him last year, as I did against Patterson every year, and Wood 4 years running. SORIANO WILL LEAD-OFF. But I would bat him 2nd THERIOT 1ST, Lee-3rd, Ramirez 4th, MURTON, JONES, IZTURIZ BLANCO, P.
I'd dump Dempster, he'll blow more games than Barret.
The Cubs have one starting pitcher of MLB caliber, DeRosa was a WASTE OF MONEY SO WERE THE LAST 2 PITCHERS THEY BLEW SEVERAL MILLIONS ON, SHOULD HAVE TAKEN THE CARDINALS PITCHER-thassit

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