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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Could Be Worse: Cubs 2006

Well, I've held my tongue long enough and so I just have to share my thoughts on the Cubs 2005-2006 offseason thus far.

  • Signed Glendon Rusch for 2 years at $6M. Not a bad move to sign him as an insurnace policy since he can both start and relieve. Good move.

  • Picked up options on Todd Walker and Scott Williamson. Both good moves since Walker is probably as good at secondbase as they would have been able to get and Williamson is worth the risk.

  • Declined option on Jeremy Burnitz and bought him out for $500K. Not a bad move if, and I say again if, you actually have a plan for filling the right field slot. Burnitz had the kind of year you expect from him but he contributes both defensively and on the bases.

  • Signed Ryan Dempster for 3 years at $15.5M. Probably overpaid for a guy who, to me anyway, just isn't cut out to be a closer. Yes, he had a great run in 2005 but I'll be surprised if we see that out of him again.

  • Signed Neifi Perez for years and too much money. Why two years? I don't mind having him back as a backup but we all know that Dusty will rely on him in all kinds of situations and he'll bat leadoff or second and do alot of drag bunting...yada yada yada. A bad move based on the two year contract and the fact that he'll take at bats from Ronnie Cedeno who looked good last year and is having a good winter.

  • Traded John Leceister to the Ranger for a PTBNL. 27 year old that didn't really figure in the Cubs plans. Remains to be seen whether this one is good or bad.

  • Signed LHP Scott Eyre to two years plus an option for 2008. Now 34 years old and coming off the best season of his career. Look for him to regress. Will Ohman wasn't quite as good last year but probably good enough to eat those innings as the LOOGY.

  • Signed RHP Bobby Howry to a three year deal. Back to back good seasons in Cleveland and at 32 years old should be good for one or two more. Not a bad deal and makes me wonder why they spent $15.5M on Dempster.

  • Traded Jermain Van Buren to the Red Sox for a PTBNL. Hard thrower whose strikeout rates increased the last two seasons in AA and AAA. Hope they get somebody decent or this might be a big bust.

  • Acquired Juan Pierre for Sergio Mitre, Ricky Nolasco, and Renyel Pinto. Nolasco at 22 years old went 14-3 at AA with 173/46 K/BB ratio in 161.7 innings. Pinto has always had more control issues but did fairly well at AA last year (101 hits in 129.7 IP). And of course we all know Mitre has a great arm and could be the Marlins number two starter. This was alot to give up for an outfielder with a .350 SLUG. Major injuries to Mark Prior, Kerry Wood, and/or Carlos Zambrano could have the Cubs wishing they still had these three arms. Too early to tell.

  • Signed John Mabry to a one-year deal and designated Jose Macias for assignment. Half of this I like. Mabry, on the other hand, struggled last year and probably won't be getting any better at age 35. I've often called for the Cubs to strengthen their bench by acquiring some hitters but this aint it.

  • Picked up LHP Carlos Jan, RHP Geivy Garcia, and INF Aaron Rifkin in the Rule 5 draft. Then sent Rifkin to the Rockies for a PTBNL. Jan hasn't played above A ball and is a hard thrower with control issues. Garcia has struggled in A ball the last two seasons and isn't going anywhere. We'll see what they get for Rifkin but there are no contributors here. They also lost Juan Mateo who struck out 123 in 109.7 innings and walked only 27 in A-ball last year so it appears the Rule 5 was a net negative this year.

  • Signed Jacque Jones for three years and $16M. Ouch. I said earlier that it was OK to let Burnitz walk if you had a plan. Obviously they didn't and had to grab what they could. On the wrong side of 30 Jones hasn't played well since 2003 and so I wouldn't expect him to even replace Burnitz's declining Win Shares. Bad idea for one year let alone three.

  • I also see that they've offered a contract to Corey Patterson since they now need him to compete for the left field job with Matt Murton with Pierre in center and Jones in right. Those four together combine for a pretty weak offensive outfield.

    Thus far I'd give Jim Hendry and the gang a C-. Could be worse. And it probably is as Kerry Wood will not be ready by the start of the season. Just waiting for the other shoe (or achilles tendon) to drop regarding the health of Mark Prior.

    Projected Opening day lineup
    CF Pierre
    2B Walker
    1B Lee
    3B Ramirez
    RF Jones
    C Barrett
    LF Patterson/Murton
    SS Cedeno
    P Prior

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