Tooting my Own Horn: January's Fix This Team Revisited

jeff HubbardCorrespondent IJuly 11, 2009

HOUSTON - APRIL 06:  Milton Bradley #21 of the Chicago Cubs flips over after missing a fly ball against the Houston Astros on Opening Day on April 6, 2009 at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas.  The Cubs defeated the Astros 4-2.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

In January, this writer assessed the Chicago Cubs in a Fix this Team post on a CBS Sportsline blog.  He advised the Cubs that it was time to tear down an aging team with a porous defense and build for the future with trades for young pitching and an emphasis on versatility, youth and defense.

Move over-priced old guys Ramirez, Lee, and Soriano.  Throw in Fukudome.  Pick up Wiggington and Hinske as Free Agents. Keep DeRosa.  Ignore Milton Bradley.  Jason Marquis was only available not traded. Leave Daryle Ward off the roster. Start Joey Gathright in CF.

Save some cash and build for the future.

The Cubs would have moved Ramirez and Lee to Baltimore for three minor leaguers and Luis Montanez, a scrub.  The minor leaguers were Tillman, Patton, and a 3B named Tyler Henson.  The Cubs would have moved Soriano and Fukudome to San Francisco for a rag armed Barry Zito and a little used outfielder named Nate Schierholtz.

They would have moved Rich Hill, Ronny Cedeno, Marquis, or Reed Johnson only for the right bag of prospects.

The response was overwhelming. Here are some samples:

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"This is a terrible idea to rebuild.....You cant dish off Soriano and Ramirez”

“YOu have taken a 97 WIn team and made them .500 at best. Saying you are a Moron would be an insult to all Morons.”

“hope you are younger than 13.

Because you make my 13 yr old nephew looks like a genius..............

Perhaps  my mum is correct after all..."there's no medication to cure  stupid people"

“This has to be some of the absolute worst armchair GMing I have ever seen in my life.”

“Are you retarded? This is the worst post I have ever seen.”

I'll be okay it was much worse when I suggested Mario Williams really was a better choice than Reggie Bush at draft time for the NFL or that Michael Roos could be the best lineman in his draft class. 

My response was:

“As long as cub fans are willing to pay 14 million for an average LF who fails in the clutch. 13.5 million for an average 1B who fails in the clutch. 15 million for an average 3B who fails in the clutch. This team will just barely reach the playoffs.”

I credit one Orioles fan who seemed to understand that a young team on the verge should never trade away pitching for aging vets.

It is time to revisit my fix this team. New Cub Ownership PAY ATTENTION. I’m willing to work as a consultant !

Barry Zito is 5-8 with a 4.43 earned run average—those five wins would place him second on the Cubs staff. His innings pitched would rank third.  Not great,  but he was the guy the Cubs would have to take to equal out the salaries. The key player in that trade was Schierholtz who is hitting .294 with three homers in limited at-bats.

Its addition by subtraction when you consider Soriano is batting .231 and can’t play left field and Fukudome is hitting .260 and can’t play center field.

Trade $29.5 million for $20 million and create a position for Jake Fox get a young lefty—righty combo in place. Hustle more and win more games. Savings $10 million.

Keep DeRosa and don’t sign Bradley—a savings of $1.5 million.  Chemistry improves and the cubs win more games.

Move Ramirez and Lee ? Replace them with Wiggington and Hinske ? Crazy!  I haven’t seen a lot of Ramirez this year. Wiggington is hitting a respectable .257 with 6 homers in a reserve role. Savings $14-15 million. Hinske is only at .261 but he’s $12 million cheaper than Lee and would probably be spotting the right-handed Fox or Hoffpair.

Gathright in CF—sadly the world will never know. I do know he’s not Ryan Freel and Joey should thank God for that.  Gathright is again getting more than 3 AB’s a game and of course he’s hitting over .320 and stealing bases in AAA. 

Then there are the minor league acquisitions.  

Chris Tillman—The 21 year old is 7-5 with a 2.50 ERA and a 4-1 strike out to walk ratio. He’s riding a 13 inning shut out stretch. You give up a Ramirez and a Lee to get someone like that.

Troy Patton—The 23 year old was 6-2 with a 1.99 ERA at Bowie before moving up to Norfolk. He’s only 1 and 3 at Norfolk but he’s had two excellent outings and two rough starts. Did I mention he’s 23 ?  He’s also a throw in—the big name was Tillman.

Throw in Henson is still struggling with Errors and strikeouts.

Throw in Lou Montanez got hurt before he could play much and really in Baltimore he wasn’t going to get much time. 

$37.65 million cheaper. Fox, Schierholtz, Hoffpair, Gathright, making the team more fun to watch. Wigginton, Hinske, DeRosa all quality, versatile guys holding spots for some of the guys in the farm system like Vitters or Henson.  And being good team mates while doing it.

Odds are Baltimore wouldn’t have bit on the Tillman for Ramirez and Lee deal.  They may have bit on a Patton, Hernandez, Riemold and Ray package. 

The Cubs aren’t a team that looks to build, especially with veteran friendly Lou Piniella doing the managing. 

Cub GM Jim Hendry has gone to the Brian Cashman, throw money at free agents school. It’s time to step away from that. It’s time to get younger. Stop throwing huge deals around and build a team in Chicago. 

In the meantime what do the Cubs have to show for one of the highest payrolls in baseball?  A sub .500 record and fifth place in the six-team central.  My cheaper team could not have been any worse and it would have been much, much, much more fun to watch.

So to those of you who commented so eloquently—my response is unpostable.

New Cub Ownership – call me…well, e-mail me.


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