November 12, 2006

Sigh of relief, rumors

Phew. Ramirez just re-signed with the Cubs. All the indications I had been seeing seemed to imply that he was going to bolt for the fat cash waiting for him in this weak, weak free agent market. Now that they have this settled, the Cubs can focus on what they need: pitching.

As poor as the offense was last year, on paper the current projected lineup (assuming we don't sign ANY starters) would probably be

2B Theriot
SS Izturis
1B Lee
3B Ramirez
RF Jones
C Barrett
LF Murton
CF Bynum

1 Zambrano
2 Hill
3 Miller
4 Prior (?)
5 Marshall

Clearly there are some holes here: notably in center field and in the back end of the rotation. I figure the Cubs will make plays at Soriano, Pierre, Matthews, and Dave Roberts and will hopefully and up with one of the latter three.

As far as pitching goes, I don't know if the Cubs will have a shot at the 'premier' free agent pitching. Conventional wisdom seems to be that Zito will go to the Mets, Matsutaka to the Sox (or Mets), Schmidt to the Mariners, and Moose to the Yanks. They might have a shot at Schmidt, or Zito if the Mets end up getting Matsuzaka. I think they'll end up grabbing one or two second or third tier starters. The main canditates I can think of are people like Lilly, Eaton, Wolf, Maddux, maybe Gil Meche. If they end up getting 2 FA pitchers, the Cubs will have to decide what to do when Prior gets back, as the rotation would consist of Zambrano, Hill, Miller, FA1, FA2, Prior. Maybe one of the FAs could be a swingman like Rusch was?

The other big rumor that I'm excited about is that Carlos Lee is apparently quite intereseted in playing for the Cubs. Apparently he wants to stick it to the Sox for trading him a few years back. He would be a GREAT pickup for the Cubs, and would also free up Murton as trade bait for another starting pitcher.

As far as trade bait goes, potential players the Cubs could move (in order of appeal):
A. Guzman

Based on this (and a little wishful thinking), I'm going to take a stab at the eventual cubs opening day roster/lineup.

CF Roberts
2B Theriot
1B D. Lee
LF C. Lee
3B Ramirez
RF Jones
C Barrett
SS Izturis

B Blanco
B Pagan
B Murton
B Cedeno
B Bynum

1 Zambrano
2 Hill
3 Wolf
4 Miller
5 Prior/Marshall/Free Agent

CL Dempster
S Howry
S Eyre
B Wood
B Ohman
B Aardsma
B Wuertz