Thursday, November 04, 2004

Cubs Off-Season Guide Part II of VI

Here's a look at our starting outfielders, a place where if Sosa leaves could look very different next year.

Left Field - Open
Contract Status - Open

Moises Alou had one helluva a year last year offensively and surprisingly his defense wasn't as atrocious as I thought at least according to defensive win shares. That being said he was old, overpaid and more than anything I could NOT STAND THE CONSTANT WHINING. Play and shut up!!!! Plus Mr. Piss Hands jokes just have to end. So declining his option was a no brainer as they could bring him back for $6 million next year plus the buyout saving him a few million if they chose that route.

Now listen Mr. Hendry, DON'T CHOOSE THAT ROUTE!!! He's also a base-running train wreck and if the wind wasn't blowing out so much last year he would have looked just as bad as the last 2 years. There are only 3 ballparks in the NL I think he can succeed anymore since he pulls EVERYTHING, Wrigley with the wind blowing out, the Juice Box in Houston and the video game ballpark in Colorado, (he'd probably have a field day in Boston as well). So where do we go?

Well the hot rumor is sign Beltran and move C-Pat to left field which would give us a rather devastating defensive outfield. And if Beltran goes for $15 million, I'm all for it. But here's a word of warning, look at Beltran's numbers last year and Alou's:

Beltran: .267/.367/.548 38 HR, 104 RBI. 121 Runs, 42 SB 3 CS
Alou: .293/.361/.557 39 HR, 106 RBI, 106 Runs, 3 SB 0 CS

Eerily similar, so all of those that expect just signing Beltran will improve our 7th ranked NL offense, it's not going to happen. Not to mention if you sign him, you'll probably not afford any upgrades at SS or 2B, plus Boras is saying he wants a 10 year deal meaning we'll have an overaged outfielder with a burdensome contract in about 7 or so years. (If that doesn't sound familiar scroll down to the right field section of this post). Now don't get me wrong, obviously Beltran is going to be better in the long run and his defense and baserunning are probably worth 1 to 4 wins all in itself, but don't expect us to compete with the Phils, Cards and Giants next year(offensively) if this is our only significant move in the off-season.

If we can get Beltran for the $14-15 million range and 5 to 7 years, then I'm all for it but anymore and I think there are other options like J.D. Drew, Magglio Ordonez or a trade for Jose Guillen. . My top choices are below.
Potential Replacements:J.D. Drew, Carlos Beltran, Magglio Ordonez, Brad Wilkerson, Jose Guillen, Jason Dubois, Moises Alou, Todd Hollandsworth, Jermaine Dye

Center Field - Corey Patterson
Contract Status - Arbitration eligible, $480,000, expected 2005 deal I'm guessing in the $2 - $5 million range

Corey is the definition of a guy who strikes out WAY TOO MUCH. I have no problem with strikeouts if you work the count, constantly at 2-2 or 3-2, but that is not what Corey does. Corey thinks he 6-5 and swings at WAY TOO MANY bad pitches particularly over his head. That being said he's still only 25 so we can expect improvement over the next 3-5 years and hopefully that comes in the way of not swinging at pitches over his head. Want to see the definition of hot and cold....

OPS By Month
April: .820
May: .691
June: .932
July: .571
Aug: .993
Sept: .644
Oct: .382 (in 3 games)

Good news is defensively he completely turned it around last year, showing off a good arm, chasing down everything while finally realizing that he is ALLOWED to call off Sosa and Alou and defensive win shares show him as deserving of a gold glove (one which Steve Finley somehow ended up with). Baserunning wise he also set a career high with 32, while being caught only 9 times for a 78 percent success rate which is good.

If they do end up moving him to LF cause they sign Beltran his value will go down as he won't produce the numbers expected of your corner outfielders, but Hendry values players reaching their prime years so don't expect Patterson to get moved anywhere.

Potential Replacements:None, he should be a Cub for another 3 years and hopefully his breakout year is coming in 2005

Right Field - Sammy Sosa
Contract Status - $18 million, with an $18 million team option for 2006 or a $4.5 million buyout, option automatically vests if he's traded plus he's a 10/5 man

Where do you start when it comes to Mr. Sosa? Is he a clubhouse distraction, has he dejuiced, can he still reach 2001 or even 2002 levels or is he a DH waiting to happen? Do we trade him and start over and if we do trade him, the bigger question is HOW do we trade him?

Everyone is calling for Sammy's head as if he's the reason we didn't make it to the Wild Card, that if he was more unselfish, more a team player, more a leader, on and on and on. And there are valid points, you definitely want your captain to be a good example for the rest of your teammates and not be the distraction that he can tend to be.....of course he's only a distraction cause of the media but I digress.

I'm going to write a big old article just on Sammy once I finish this off-season guide, but right now trading him looks very difficult unless we're interested in acquiring a bunch of bad contracts rather that one and well that doesn't sound appealing. All the press reports and stuff you'll hear from Sammy this off-season is a ploy for him to try and force a trade so his option gets vested cause he knows the Cubs are going to turn it down and he won't get anywhere near that kind of money on the open market next year. The thing is that I think Hendry is smart enough to know that it's all a ploy and I'm about 60-70% sure at this moment that Sammy will be coming into spring training wearing a Cubs uniform.

Potential Replacements:You'll hear a lot of names but I'm not sold on any of them, trades are way too hard to predict so I don't know if it's worth trying. Personally one more year and a farewell tour of sorts sounds like the best option, not to mention any trade we make probably means we have to take on some bad multi-year deals rather than just suffer through one more year of Sosa. My hope is he stays, realizes he's playing for probably his last multi-year deal and puts up a nice .300/.400/.600 line with about 50 HR's and 150 RBI's. (a boy can dream right). I'll take .280/.380/.550 to be honest.


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