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Come To Think Of It: Joel Pineiro May Be On Cubs Radar

Bob Warja@@bobwarjaSenior Writer IDecember 27, 2009

ST. LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 10:   Starting pitcher Joel Pineiro #35 of the St. Louis Cardinals reacts after giving up a two run homerun to Andre Ethier #16 of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the third inning of Game Three of the NLDS during the 2009 MLB Playoffs at Busch Stadium on October 10, 2009 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

I understand that the new Cubs owners have no appetite to increase the payroll for 2010. And, if you look at it reasonably, one can understand.

Yet we all know that the way in which Cubs GM Jim Hendry has spent the money has left a huge void and right now, as currently constructed, the Cubs are not a contending team.

So we have to look for ways to use our assets to decrease payroll and use that to fill our gaps. While some players obviously cannot be moved, like Alfonso Soriano, the Milton Bradley trade saved the team a few million and if they can do a couple more of those moves, perhaps we can afford another starting pitcher.

Maybe that pitcher can be Joel Pineiro.

Now I'm not suggesting that Pineiro is a top starter. No, he's more of a fourth or fifth starter who can give you innings and won't walk many.

In 214 innings for the Cardinals in 2009, Pineiro walked just 27 while striking out 105. He had a respectable 3.49 ERA.

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Not bad for a back end rotation starter.

What will he demand on the market? Perhaps $10 million per year. That will require Hendry to move someone like Derrek Lee, for example. And while you might scream at that thought, remember that last year at this time most of you were clamoring for Micah Hoffpauir to replace Lee.

This would be a great opportunity to sell high, following an outstanding season by Lee, and since he is eligible to be a free agent following the season, he should be considered movable if the Cubs don't think they can re-sign him.

Who would play first base if Lee is moved? How about moving Aramis Ramirez to first and playing Josh Vitters at third? Or, if Vitters isn't ready, signing Mark DeRosa to play third base? DeRosa would likely cost about $6 million, so the net loss of $13 million plus the addition of $6 million and $10 million for Pineiro wouldn't be so bad.

Lee is owed $13 million in 2010, the last year on his contract. He does have a no-trade clause, but I'm sure that could be bought out.

Look, I hate to see Lee go, but Hendry will not be allowed to buy himself out of the trouble he created, so creative financing is in order. It is a necessary evil, come to think of it.

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