Theo Epstein is all but here in Chicago to be the acting General Manager & possibly more. Time to touch upon what the Cubs will be doing to revamp the big league club to bring them back to respectability…hopefully.
Aramis Ramirez, a fixture in the Cubs’ Clubhouse since his arrival midway through 2003, could be as good as gone. It would be tough to see him walk, especially after being one of only 3 or 4 bright spots for the Cubs this past season. But one has to look at the context, he is going to be 34 early on in the season of 2012, after the year he has just had he will be looking for his last “big” payday, estimates would be anywhere from 10-12 million annually for 3 years. Not exactly feasible for the Cubs.
So looking at some of incoming FA 3rd basemen, it’s not a class really worth getting giddy over. Though there could be a few viable options that are not exactly sexy. One name that could be nice to see at the hot corner would be Chase Headley (Waits on Cubs’ nation collective sigh). Whom could come relatively cheap via trade. Headley’s respectable line includes .289/.374/.392 line & above average defense. Which lacked all around the diamond this past season for the Cubs. Other options could include Edwin Encarnacion, & former Cub Mark Derosa, along with making a trade run at the “Tat-Man” Ryan Roberts. Though after his performance this past season, he could be a tough get.
Addressing the trade front. As much pain as it brings to say it, outside of trading Byrd for salary relief, I do not see the Cubs being much of player in the trade market, outside of minor moves. Most of the Cubs’ problems on this front are immovable contracts of guys the team would like to be rid of.
Fun time, the ever looming question of the 2 big fish of FA, in the form of Albert Pujols & Prince Fielder. DO NOT be surprised if the Cubs don’t land either of them. Though I feel the Cubs would be focused in on Prince & feel he will end up landing here & being a fixture in the lineup for years. Though if that were to not come true look for them to either bring back Pena or Casey Kotchman. Now that Prince is out of the way. Lets continue.
Another pressing need would be finding starting pitching to compliment the electric Garza & the ever steady Ryan Dempster. Cubs fans would love to grab C.J. Wilson. But one has to be realistic. The Cubs could be a real player for Brandon McCarthy, whom had a very nice year a 9-9 record & 3.32 ERA, though digging slightly deeper, McCarthy also sports a FIP of 2.86. He could come relatively cheap given he could be looked at as “undervalued.” Edwin Jackson could also be another “bargain buy.” The whole problem is Jackson is the Cybill of starting pitchers. But he eats innings & saves the bullpen which equals a perfect number 3 or 4 pitcher. Other options that could be looked at are John Maine, Chad Gaudin.
The outfield will have some new pieces as the moving of Byrd seems inevitable & Tyler Colvin just screams “Bad” at the top of the hypothetical lungs. The enigmatic Nyjer Morgan would look good in Cubs colors, but back to reality. Josh Willingham could be brought in as a stop gap, but no one wants that. Other options could be reclamation project, Grady Sizemore. Whom could roam the middle. Other options that could be looked at are, the bringing in of Nick “Swish-ca-bob” Swisher who could pay dividends rather quickly being a switch hitter and above average fielder, aka best RF option. Unknown is whether the Yanks exercise the option. A Brett Jackson call-up is also possible.
Other things like the bullpen will also be addressed with the bringing back of Kerry Wood & possible bringing in of a left handed reliever, hard throwing Mike Gonzalez could be brought in. Along with one other reliever being brought in or called up, i.e. Chris Carpenter. Other things that could be looked at for help is at 2nd base, as Darwin Barney is probably better suited as a 3rd Middle Infielder. Look for a possible good fielding, more powerful 2nd baseman such as Aaron Hill or Kelly Johnson, both of whom could come reasonably priced.
So if everything were to come to fruition as what seems to me would be the smartest way to go about this would look like:
Andrew Cashner/Randy Wells
CL: Carlos Marmol
Righty: Kerry Wood
Loogy: Sean Marshall
MR: Chris Carpenter
MR: Mike Gonzalez
MR: Jeff Samardzija
Grady Sizemore, CF
Starlin Castro, SS
Nick Swisher, RF
Prince Fielder, 1B
Geovany Soto, C
Alfonso Soriano, LF
Aaron Hill, 2B
Chase Headley, 3B
INF: Darwin Barney
INF: Jeff Baker
OF: Tony Campana
OF: Tyler Colvin
UTIL: Blake DeWitt
Look at it for what it is, it could be a possible respectable & mildly competitive team. That would sport good OBP, Defense for the pitching, decent run production for not much in return.