Hot Stove Ruminations: Cubs Edition

Jim NeveauAnalyst INovember 25, 2008

According to Lou Piniella, the Cubs are all but done in trying to swing a deal with the Padres for Jake Peavy. To this news, I have this to say:




Now, I’m not going to try to convince you that Jake Peavy isn’t a marquee pitcher. He is, without a doubt, one of the top pitchers in the game, and I would not have necessarily been opposed to him wearing the blue pinstripes next year.


What I will say about this situation is that I felt that the entire trade talk was distracting the organization from areas that it actually needs to bolster itself in, of which the pitching staff isn’t one.


With guys like Sean Marshall, Jason Marquis, Kevin Hart, Jeff Samardzija, and Angel Guzman competing for the fifth spot out of spring training next year, it’s pretty clear to see that the Cubs are not suffering from a dearth of starting pitching.


What they are suffering from in my mind is a lack of left-handed hitting, a lack of a true leadoff man (sorry Fonsie) and effective left-handed relief out of the bullpen. Neal Cotts is serviceable, but past him, we don’t have a lefty that is capable of getting outs in key situations, which is a must for a team with World Series aspirations.


Some of the trades that have been floating around the Internet and in baseball articles have got me scratching my head as well.


According to an article by Phil Rogers, the Royals are wanting Mike Fontenot AND Sean Marshall for Mark Teahen. This trade would be an absolute no-brainer…..for the Royals. Mike Fontenot is possibly going to get more playing time on the North Side this season, and I would almost guarantee you that Sean Marshall would be in almost every starting rotation in baseball.


So why would the Cubs trade those two very important chips for a guy who last year hit .255 with 15 home runs and 59 RBIs in 149 games? Mike Fontenot had a .305 average with nine HR and 40 RBI in 119 games, but unlike Teahen wasn’t a starter for much of the year? If the Cubs were to take this trade, I would be forced to crawl into a corner and sit in the fetal position until the team reports to Mesa in February.


Another rumor that I’ve seen swirling around is that the door isn’t officially closed on the Kerry Wood era in Chicago. According to various sources, the Cubs might still offer salary arbitration to Wood, and if he accepts their offer, he would still be a part of the club next year.


Personally, I was not gung ho to see Wood go. I thought it was a relatively smart move by the organization to take Wood’s family into consideration and give him a chance to go somewhere else and get a bigger contract. I also realized that he would more than likely take a one-year contract to stay, and was hoping that maybe the Cubs would respect his true wishes and let him stay.


With these conflicting emotions, I never really had a definitive opinion on the matter. If he were to come back, I would welcome him back to the North Side with open arms and a heart open to the potential that he could create more wonderful memories for me in the future.


According to the blog “Hot Stove Cubbies," Rafael Furcal is apparently asking for a guaranteed four-year deal, and one team has already offered him a contract in the ballpark of three years and $39 million. While most people would balk at this demand, I am not necessarily among them.


I have always liked what Furcal can bring to a team. This switch-hitting and good leadoff candidate of a shortstop is exactly what the Cubs have been pining for the entire off-season, and even though it would more than likely mean that Ryan Theriot would have to switch back to his normal position of second base, I think the move could be extremely beneficial to the team.


I would, however, draw a line of a guaranteed fourth year. I think that an option for a fourth is a lot better deal for the Cubs, considering Furcal’s fragile health in recent years. If he won’t accept anything less than a guaranteed fourth year, then I would side with the team if they don’t want to pursue the deal.


There has also been rampant speculation that the Cubs are considering free agents Bobby Abreu, Milton Bradley, and Adam Dunn to play right field. According to, they are willing to take a hit on their outfield defense if they can upgrade the middle of their lineup.


I think that this is a foolish notion. If you are going to keep the error machine that is Soriano in left field, you cannot possibly tell me that you are willing to take a down grade in outfield defense in right field as well. Unless you are going to have a four outfielder setup to compensate, then it is foolish to take a big hit in defense to pick up the minimal upgrade you would get with those three guys.


Another thing is that if you do end up signing Adam Dunn, what are you going to do about his lack of plate discipline? If you think that Cubs fans are outraged about Soriano’s lack of selectiveness, then why on Earth would you sign another player who would merely steer the Cubs away from the ability to work counts, something they did well for most of last season? This is a ridiculous notion, and I hope the Cubs don’t go in this direction.


If they are going to go anywhere in right field, they either need to pursue Jeremy Hermida or David DeJesus. DeJesus last season with KC had 12 HR and 73 RBI, and a batting average of .307. He would be a perfect number six hitter for the Cubs, or possibly even a number two if the need arises.

He is also 29 years old, which is widely considered to be the meat of the time that a player experiences their prime in this league. I would be willing to include either Fontenot or Marshall in a trade for him, but I still wouldn’t be willing to include both.


As for Hermida, I believe the boat sailed on that deal when the Cubs made the trade for Kevin Gregg, but I still would not mind seeing him a Cubs uniform next year.


The final player that has been involved in Cub speculation is aging pitcher Randy Johnson. Now, I’m not quite sure why the "Big Unit" doesn’t want to retire, but are the Cubs really willing to take a chance on a guy who has shown that he can no longer stay healthy over the long season? I don’t think they are, and I think this is about some misplaced desire to see a Hall of Fame pitcher make a final career swan song in a Cubs world championship.


The Cubs certainly have more work to do if they want their team to not only be a contender for an NL Central championship, but to be a contender for the championship that has eluded the team for so long. I have faith that Jim Hendry can parlay his success in getting the Cubs three playoff appearances in six seasons into possibly getting them farther than a quick sweep in the 2009 playoffs. We shall see.