Fixing the Chicago Cubs: Manager for a Day
I'm no major league manager by any means, I'm just a die-hard fan who is extremely disgruntled at his beloved Chicago Cubs.
But please allow me to take this opportunity to become the Chicago Cubs manager for one day, and let me propose what I'm going to do to fix the Chicago Cubs to make them a World Series contender once again.
I'm warning you: things are about to get ugly.
Step 1: Deal with Carlos Zambrano
Big Z has been nothing but a Big Headache for the Cubs over the past decade.
Sure he has compiled 108 wins, an 18-win season and even a no hitter for the Cubs, but it's time to say so long to El Toro.
At this period in time, the Cubs owe Zambrano $36.6 million over twp years, remnants of that 5-year $91.5 million extension he inked in 2007. Therefore to avoid another Milton Bradley situation, I'm proposing we trade Carlos shortly after his return after the All Star Break.
This, however, will be tough. He's currently 3-6 on the season with a 5.66 ERA, not to mention he's spent over half of the season in the bullpen. That doesn't look good on a resume when a team is about to invest $36.6 million into you.
I would shop Carlos around. I'm willing to bet that there are plenty of American League teams (Seattle, Los Angeles Angels and Baltimore Orioles come to mind) that would take in Carlos in return for a plethora of young talent.
Not to mention, the talent would come very cheap to the Cubs.
If a trade does not facilitate, I propose we work with Big Z. Figure out what is making his fuse ignite continuely. Find out if he can return to that Cy Young-esq form we haven't seen since 2008.
If not, we're stuck for one more season, then I'd say bye-bye Carlos as we cut him loose.
Step 2: Begin looking for a new manager
I'll be the first to tell you I love Lou Piniella.
But I think it's time to let go. Lou's days of kicking dirt at the umps feet, being carried out of Tampa Bay and screaming at his players are far from over, and as Cubs manager of the day, I say Lou's days as Cubs manager are over.
Now Cubs fans, we must all realize that the possibility of making this year's post-season is about as much a chance as seeing a cow fly. We sit 10 games below .500, nine games back in the division and absolutely no sign of cohesiveness in the locker room.
That being said, I think Lou Piniella should be gone after the All Star Break.
Once Lou is released, give bench coach Alan Trammell the manager's job for the remainder of the season. That way, he'll have roughly 70 games to prove he has what it takes to manage this team.
If Trammell can pull us out of this rut and guide us to at least playoff contention (I'm talking less than four games out by the end of the season with a legitimate shot of post-season), he's the guy I want managing my team in 2011.
However if he stumbles, there are several guys waiting in the wing. (Can anyone say Ryne Sandberg?)
Step 3: Begin shopping Derrek Lee
Derrek is in the final year of his 5-year $65 million deal he signed in 2006, and it's no secret that Jim Hendry wasn't expressing heavy interest in re-signing Lee.
As GM of the Cubs, I'd much rather trade him than just release him by season's end.
A hunch tells me several teams would be interested in Lee, who probably has about 3-5 years left in him. San Diego, San Francisco and Arizona all seam like franchises that would bite on Derrek, and we could even get prospects in return... lots of them.
Step 4: Entertain the idea of trading Alfonso Soriano
Soriano's 8-year $136 million is set to expire after the 2014 season, therefore we still owe him $56 million over the next four and a half seasons.
That's a large chunk of change for a guy who currently bats .283, has a team-leading 13 dingers and 41 runs. But the problem is, .283 isn't even good enough for the top 50 in baseball.
As for his 13 home runs and 41 runs, that puts him roughly in the top 30 in baseball in homers and top 100 in runs.
Clearly $17 million a year for a now middle-of-the-road hitter isn't quite worth it.
Not to mention, his fielding and stealing skills never lived up to what it was supposed to be.
Furthermore, Alfonso is part of an outfield that is taking positions away from up-and-comers such as Tyler Colvin that could use more playing time.
Now granted, Soriano has been single-handedly winning ball games for the Cubs this year, but as Cubs manager, I'm thinking long-term.
I'd put Fonsy on the trading block and see if there's any bites. If a team comes in and offers up some great prospects and perhaps a good pitcher for Alfonso, I wouldn't think twice about pulling the trigger, then replacing him with Colvin.
However, if nobody bites, Alfonso is safe at left field and will continue to be the starter until he's either injured or in 2014 when he will not be re-signed after his contract expiration.
Step 5: Begin restructering the infield
Ryan Theriot's contract will be up at the end of the season, and as Cubs manager of the day, I would resign him right now.
However, he is due for arbritration, so I'd first try to go through that process. If that falls through, I'd offer roughly $12 million over 3 years, essentially the same deal he signed several years ago. Long story short: I want Theriot here for a while longer. I understand his current slump but his fielding is still top-notch.
My proposal is moving Theriot over to second to make Starlin Castro the full time starter at shortstop.
The real issue comes at the corners. With Lee gone, and Aramis on a downward trend (I plan on retaining Aramis), a quality first baseman is going to be essential. With the middle infield likely set, hopefully the prospects we acquire for Zambrano and Lee will be adequate to fill the holes.
Step 6: Send Kosuke Fukudome on his way in 2011
It seems to me that the Kosuke Fukudome project has all but failed. He hasn't quite morphed into the offensive phenom he was expected to be.
Since coming to Chicago he's batted .260 and 27 total home runs, far from the .300+ hitter and 20+ a year home run hitter he was in Japan.
However, there is no denying his ability in the outfield. But comparable to his hitting stats, he's not quite worth the price tag. I say let him linger around until 2011 then decide not to re-sign him.
Step 7: Get younger
I've been talking a lot about Tyler Colvin and Starlin Castro. I'm not about to say that these guys are the future of the franchise, but I will say they represent the team's need to get younger.
Most of the core group of players are approaching 30 and over.
The time will come sooner or later that this team will need youth, therefore I think it's in the cards for the team to transition into a younger club sooner. Trading Lee and Z for prospects is better than waiting on those two to get back to their full potential.