October 07, 2007

Correction: Prior

Prior's contract is over now, and I don't really see him wanting to come back to the Cubs, or the Cubs wanting the headlines associated with him coming back. So now we have 2 5th starters in Marquis and Marshall that we need to upgrade.

Wait till next year

Oh well...what can you say? Shit happens, and you can just throw numbers out the window when it comes to the postseason. All the analysis in the world still can't fight the Law of Large Numbers. The first game was a coin flip, with the two best starters on the NL playoffs teams facing off, and in the other two games, Lilly and Hill just didn't have it. The third game was really the most winnable of all of them. Hill didn't have his good stuff, but we yanked him early enough to hand it over to our bullpen, who did an adequate job. The real problem was that Hernandez clearly had nothing left in the tank from the 2nd inning onward. Only scoring one run against him on a day that the wind was blowing out at Wrigley is just inexcusable. We just couldn't hit the ball out of the infield (4 double plays?! Christ).

There are things to be excited about though. Lou definitely had a big impact on this team, once he got a feel for everyone in May/June we really went on a roll. The rest of our division still sucks, and should only get worse next year. The only serious contender is Milwaukee, so we'll only have a 2-team race. And, we'll have just about everyone back next year. Here's who we will have

Soriano (healthy!)
Ward (if the Cubs pick up his option)
E. Patterson

Marquis (ugh...though a servicable 5th starter)
Mark Prior (the wild card for the umpteenth year in a row)

We lose
Kendall (I hope - the possibility of re-signing him has dropped considerably since soto emerged down the stretch)
Floyd - Not as big a loss as you would think
Wood (though I'm confident he will re-sign)
Trachsel (Thank God...what a retarded trade)

That's it! Just from this, if the Cubs do absolutely nothing in the offseason, we'd have a roster of

LF Soriano
RF Jones/Murton
1B Lee
3B Ramirez
2B DeRosa
C Soto
CF Pie
SS Theriot/Cedeno

B Blanco
B Ward
B Jones/Murton
B Theriot/Cedeno
B Fontenot

1 Zambrano
2 Lilly
3 Prior
4 Hill
5 Marquis

(Ranking the bullpen the way it should..)
S Howry
S Eyre
S Wuertz
S Wood
S Dempster
S Ohman/some other LOOGY

Clearly our most important needs are

1. In general, guys who can get on base. We really need someone who can take a walk in the 2-hole. Similarly, we need someone other than DeRosa who can hit behind Ramirez and Lee in the 5-hole. Cliff Floyd was not the answer.

2. An upgrade at SS. Theriot was league average at best at SS, and did not belong in the 2-hole any time after the All-Star break. He was certainly the best of all our options, though I haven't given up on Ronny Cedeno. If Cedeno can somehow emerge to the talent he showed in Iowa, this will be less of a problem. The guy has talent - maybe he just needs Lou to remind him to take a pitch every once in awhile. He make Soriano look patient

3. An upgrade in CF/RF. Jones did an adequate job once his role was finally clearly defined by the team, playing great defense and moving his hitting from atrocious to just OK. Murton is also good, but I don't think at this point he will ever be great. Like Cedeno above, we really need Pie to make the leap. They should follow Rich Hill's example - he kicked ass in the minors, looked awful in his first year, and now is a plus MLB regular. An upgrade needs to be made at one of these positions though, and Cliff Floyd is not the answer...and I don't think any of the current free agents are either.

4. An upgrade in the starting rotation. Zambrano, Lilly and Hill are all certainly good pitchers - clearly a better top 3 than anyone else in the NL (except LA and SF, who have many many offensive issues). Who knows what we will get from Prior. You could write an entire book on the Prior/Wood speculation over the past 4 years - ever since Dusty, the Cubs medical staff, and the rabid Chicago newspapers destroyed their shoulders from 2003 onwards. Even if he's just OK he could make a great addition to the team. Marquis sucks, but he would be OK as a 5th starter on a good team.

5. Another possibility is to graduate Eric Patterson and have him play 2b, while DeRosa plays mainly RF and in general is our Super-Utility player. Patterson should be ready to contribute now.

Here's some ballsy offseason ideas (thus, moves will never get done).

1. The Cubs sign Andruw Jones (though something really must have happened to him this year...sheesh). Then they make a package centered around Felix Pie (and regrettably probably Carlos Marmol) and trade for Edgar Renteria (or someone similar...hopefully not Tejada who is the other big SS on the trade market). Thus we have a new 2-hole hitter in Renteria and Jones can hit in the 5-spot.

2. The Cubs trade for Coco Crisp - I have the feeling the Sox will trade him away for pennies. Murton should be enough to get it done. Crisp would be great in the 2-hole. Then the Cubs again trade Pie and Cedeno/Theriot as part of a package for some SS or power-hitting RF or SP as Prior/Marquis insurance. Pie or Crisp could also move to RF for additional awesomeness on defense, and we could shop Jones yet again. Atlanta should be looking for a new CF...

3. Let the Kids Play! Do nothing, and let Pie, Cedeno, Patterson, ans Soto show that their minor league numbers were not flukes.

I'm depressed about these playoffs (the other team I was rooting for, the Phillies, also got swept), so I'm just rooting against the Yanks and Sawx now. Go Indians I guess. At least I actually have lots of positives going in to next year.

October 04, 2007

I feel old

Today's starting pitcher for the rockies is only 2 months older than my younger brother.

Right decision

Lou made the right decision pulling Carlos Zambrano last night. Our bullpen has been great in the second half, and Marmol has by far been our best reliever. Sometimes you just get hit.

As Lou pointed out, the reason we lost was not because he pulled Zambrano, but that the Cubs only scored one run on 4 hits. Brandon Webb was just unhittable last night.