Monday, June 20

Lineups and Roster Changes

While I do still welcome any comments on my previous post (or additions to the collective anger/frustration), Lazlo's comment brought up some lineup discussions in mind.

I wanted to revisit an earlier post regarding our current roster, and given that the heat is rising on the Free Agency and Trading season, what do we need to do, realistically, to improve our current standing? Nothing revolutionary, perhaps, but there are small-world, Epstein-like fixes that our front office could make.

For the purposes of easy reference and not to appear condescending, I'll list the "steady" lineup as well as our "normal" pitching rotation and "regular" bullpen (as they would appear in a perfect world). That will just help with aiding the discussion.

According to ESPN.com, our most recent lineups have shaped like this.

1 - Neifi Perez, SS
2 - Corey Patterson, CF
3 - Derrek Lee, 1B
4 - Jeromy Burnitz, RF
5 - Aramis Ramirez, 3B
6 - Todd Walker, 2B
7 - Todd Hollandsworth, LF
8 - Michael Barrett, C
9 - Pitcher

Our bench consists of the following:
Henry Blanco, C
Jerry Hairston Jr., 2B/SS/CF
Jose Macias, ANYWHERE
Jason Dubois, LF
Enrique Wilson, 2B

Our steady pitching rotation would be:
Mark Prior
Kerry Wood
Carlos Zambrano
Greg Maddux
Glendon Rusch

On the fringe:
Jerome Williams
John Koronka
Sergio Mitre

Bullpen:
Ryan Dempster
Will Ohman
Joe Borowski
Todd Wellemeyer
Michael Wuertz
Mike Remlinger
Cliff Bartosh

---
I have heard/read the following trade rumours and/or suggestions on a wide variety of media outlets involving the following players from elsewhere. Either these players have been implicitly linked with the Cubs or have suggested dissatisfaction at their current club, thus leading to the possibility that the Cubs could be interested if they were traded:

Gary Sheffield, RF - New York Yankees
Austin Kearns, RF - Cincinnati Reds
Adam Dunn, LF - Cincinnati Reds
Joe Kennedy, SP - Colorado Rockies
Preston Wilson, CF - Colorado Rockies
Kirk Rueter, SP - San Francisco Giants

There are also a number of teams considering putting players up on the trading block, all of it spun through rumors of course, and an assortment of those guys include:

Orlando Hudson, 2B - Toronto Blue Jays
Rafael Furcal, SS - Atlanta Braves
Miguel Batista, CP - Toronto Blue Jays
Jay Payton, CF - Boston Red Sox
Gabe Kapler, OF - Japan (!)
Mike Sweeney, 1B - Kansas City Chiefs
Aubrey Huff, 1B/3B/OF - Tampa Bay Devil Rays

I have seen stories suggesting that the Cubs might try and unload Borowski at some point, either attempting a trade or designating him for assignment given his 85mph+ fastball and uncanny ability to give up home runs immediately upon entering a game.

So, these names, I'm sure, are merely the tip of the iceberg. It is obvious that talk like this will escalate as the season grows, so what do we think?

1. What roster moves/acquisitions/trades could we make?
2. Who from our current roster could be considered a good trade bait/expendable?
3. Which players around the League could be worth pursuing?
4. What lineup moves (without trades) could help out the team?
5. What minor leaguers do we have progressing well at the moment who could be worth calling up? I've heard people murmuring about Ryan Harvey and Corey's younger brother, Eric, but is there anyone else out there who could be tasting Wrigley before the season is out?

Please, any conjecture, speculation, rumor-churning, and insight is welcomed. Let's discuss the Cubs. Answer any and all of these questions as you see fit.

Tonight's Starters:
MIL: RHP Tomo Ohka • 4-3, 3.33 ERA in 2005 • Did not face CHC in 2004
CHC: RHP Greg Maddux • 5-4, 4.68 ERA in 2005 • 0-0, 5.73 ERA vs. MIL in 2005

12 Comments:

At 5:40 PM, Blogger Hyposquasher said...

We'll kick off the conversation with Lazlo's comment, partially because I agree, partially because I think he's sexy, and partially because I can copy and paste.

"If the Cubs want to win us back anytime soon, they'd better start hitting, and get that record up BEFORE Wood and Prior come back. We are 9.5 back in the division right, numbers that call for some heroic win-streaking. We need to change the top of the order. Put Walker in the two spot and start getting Hairston into games sometimes. Neifi is slumping. Walker is batting well over three hundred, so we need him early in the lineup to give Lee, Burnitz and Ramirez RBI chances! "
- Lazlo

 
At 5:48 PM, Blogger Hyposquasher said...

Ok, my own thoughts:

I've thought we should have Walker towards the top of the line-up since about 3 days after he started playing again. Historically he hits well there, and as Lazlo pointed out, RBI opportunities come from getting guys on base early for the big guys. I would have said a week ago that Walker should be in the two spot and Neifi should lead-off. But given Neifi's current slump, I think you switch them temporarily and let Walker lead-off and put Neifi in the two spot.

As far as the names that JT dropped regarding possible trades, the two that jumped out the most were Preston Wilson (eh) and Miguel Batista. Batista is a horse and I like him and his chances a lot right now. He would give the bullpen the exact kind of support it needs right now to be truly solid.

As far as roster moves, I think we need to drop Jose Macias and Enrique Wilson. They have no spark, no life, they really don't offer the club much. In their place maybe we should just bring up some minor leaguers who are doing well, or maybe they could be involved in a trade somehow, but I think they are stealing valuable bench space right now.

 
At 6:25 PM, Blogger JT said...

Hypo you effer! Good to have you back man, we'll catch up later or something.

I would like to see Macias and Wilson gone, and maybe some extended playing time for the likes of Ronny Cedeno and/or Mike Fontenot from the depths of AAA and below. It makes sense - lots of other teams are promoting young guys a little earlier just to galvanize them to the majors and see what they're made of, instead of holding guys back and keeping in the old dogs who aren't much good.

Colorado's entire team is virtually rookies.

The Angels are promoting guys and still competing, as are the Mariners, the Mets, the Phillies (to a degree)... it's still possible to be competitive and bring a couple of rookies along for the ride from the minors, to get them that experience. They'll be here sooner or later, so why wait? Why let Macias wiffle-ball his way through at-bats instead of trying out previous high draft picks?

All the rookies/minor-leaguers we seem to bring up go right into that bullpen or patchwork rotation. Let's see some more of our young hitters, and less of Jose "Plastic Bat" Macias.

Regarding trades, I would like to see Batista too, although his price might be a little steep. I hear Kearns is really pissed about being dropped to AAA at the moment, and his good buddy Adam Dunn seems to think if he can "find the right major league ball club, he will explode". I would be prepared to take my chances on that guy in LF over Hollandsworth, or better yet, Dunn himself. Word in Cincinnati is that lots of guys (especially Dunn) are pissed about the Kearns fallout and about Operation Dump Graves..... stay tuned to that one... we could get some good stuff out of that, and only a short drive away!

 
At 7:46 PM, Anonymous Lazlo said...

Ok, ok. I've never liked trades. I hate to see guys leave the club, and I'm always nervous about new players. I've always thought that the best trades are the ones you don't expect much from. Look at the Neifi Perez deal. We expected almost nothing from him, and so far he contributed in a major way in last years losing effort, and has done well so far this year. I would not be averse to seeing Wilson and/or macias go, and possibly Dubois, if it were a bigger deal, as well as some of those bullpenners, particularly our lefties. Rich Hill and Cliff Bartosh are not intregal to this club right now. I have to agree that I'd rather see Cedeno up right now than to see Wilson or Macias playing more. Neither of them is going to be that great a player any time soon.

Of the guys on the trade list, Wilson makes my eyes pop the most. Of course, I don't want to give up much for him. I wouldn't want to trade corey, or Burnitz. But Wilson has done well in Wrigley, and he's fearless. Two or three years ago I saw him just about put himself in a coma running into the ivy in order to steal a double from a cubs hitter.

In closing, big name trades barely work out. Actually, trades rarely work out, but the big name trades that don't work out can cripple a ball club. Trade with low expectations.

 
At 7:55 PM, Blogger JT said...

I would argue that Rich Hill, while not "integral" right now, will be in a year or so. We can't pull a Yankees and trade away our top prospects. Having shown our hand to the rest of the league in playing him last week, scouts must know what he's capable of, and several officials within the organization have inferred that they imagine him to be a significant contributor to the ballclub in the not-so-distant future.

Dubois could depart, Wilson and Bartosh could say sayonara, and I agree with you Lazlo when you say that trading with low expectations is the best way to go. Having said that, if we are to really compete at any level, we need to make some kind of bold move, the kind that shakes things up somewhat.

I could reconcile losing Corey Patterson... I remember hearing all sorts of trade rumors surrounding the Yankees sending out Matsui, possibly to the West Coast.. I think it's far-fetched and ridiculous to say the least, but man is it satisfying to read up on all of these fantastical, absurd rumors about big-time players in the Major Leagues.


OF Mark Kotsay might also be on the move from Oakland, although I doubt he'd be much use to us. I think I'm safe in saying that bullpen and outfield are our primary needs.

 
At 8:50 PM, Blogger Hyposquasher said...

i agree with pretty much everything i've read from you guys thus far, and i'm glad to see lazlo agrees with me on preston being the only name that really stood out offensively. i would be sad to see burnitz go for wilson though. i would be mildly upset to see patterson go for wilson, especially given his speed. so this is what we should do... hollandsworth and macias for preston wilson. GENIUS! ya think they'd go for it???

 
At 8:54 PM, Blogger Hyposquasher said...

food for thought:

blanco's batting avg - .158
maddux's batting avg - .179


NICE.

 
At 9:31 PM, Blogger JT said...

I think it's a sure thing that we would not ditch Burnitz in favour of anyone.

I would definitely take Wilson - I agree with all who've mentioned that thus far - but I also think a guy like Austin Kearns would be a good fit in LF. Check out his stats! (Career)... and check out how much Dunn loves him.... the best thing is that he'd come cheap -- the Reds obviously don't like him as they tossed him to AAA, and kept such golden wonders like Kenny Kelly and Ryan Freel.

 
At 11:34 PM, Anonymous Lazlo said...

It's hard to tell right now, but as far as I can tell, Rich Hill is not much to wonder at. He is a nasty curveball, and a mediocre fastball. He's lots of strikeouts, and even more walks. What if that curve isn't working? What if the batters just sit on the fastball? He's a minor leaguer right now, and if we can get much for him, or include him in a deal, I say go for it. I'm not saying go get rid of him, but I am saying that if there is someone we want then he should be someone we would be willing to let go.

While Reds hitters are often great power hitters with good stats, they make me very nervous. The Reds have pumped out flaky ball players like no one else in the Major leagues. Then again, maybe what we need is another crazy guy. It seemed to work in 2003 when we got Randall Simon, Aramis Ramirez and mild-mannered Kenny Lofton. Simon and Ramirez were weird, to say the least, but man did they help the team. We prayed that no one would hit the ball to old Aramis, because I don't know if he was told at that time that he was wearing a glove. And Simon, well, he had trouble hitting a ball in the strike zone. If it was above his head, or down at his knees, he would club it like a cave man getting his dinner. So, if we get some kind of favorable deal for Kearns or Dunn, I wouldn't be completely against it. Still, I'm not excited to see Hollandsworth go, and it would also be hard to let Dubois leave, since he is one of our more "promising" prospects. Cough, gag... Sorry, just choking on my pride there.

 
At 11:56 PM, Blogger JT said...

It's hard to really refute you there, as granted he has looked far from stellar in his 2 brief and eventful outings in a non-Iowa Cubs uniform.

That being said, I'd hate to jump the gun on someone who is an extreme example of an unknown quantity, and someone who still needs major league time.

There is that one team out there who continues to give away minor league prospects like they're peanut brittle at the Coney Island Carnival ---- the Y*****s.

A Brief List of People they Highly Regarded and Forcibly Traded, who Then Became "Quite Good":

Nick Johnson, 1B
Mike Lowell, 3B
Wily Mo Pena, OF
Ted Lilly, SP
Jake Westbrook, SP
Damaso Marte, RP
Christian Guzman, SS
Eric Milton, SP
D'Angelo Jimenez, 2B/SS
Yhency Brazoban, RP

I would much rather see us remove a clearly-underachieving starter/platooner or bench guy as opposed to shipping out someone who could find reasonable success elsewhere/for one of our rivals.

 
At 1:39 AM, Blogger Jim said...

Sorry guys, it's too early to talk trade unless you are the Rockies or the Royals, both of whom want to dump payroll. The word is out in Colorado—baseball has lost its charm and the crowds are shrinking.

The position player most likely to be traded by the Cubs is Corey Patterson, but they are aware that his brother is doing well at Peoria and that could have repercussions. The organization would like to keep the Patterson brothers happy.

Corey had two hits tonight and so did Neifi. Dusty's little pre-game talk must have had some effect.

Derrek ended the night at .392; how high can it go? He went 2 for 3 and was intentionally walked twice. Who needs Berry Bonds?

In 1894, Hugh Duffy batted .440 (or .438, depending on which record book you look at) for the Boston Beaneaters. He also won the triple crown that year, including 18 home runs. Not bad for the dead ball era. He also drove in 145 runs with 236 hits, while playing in only 124 games.

 
At 8:57 AM, Blogger JT said...

Were those Magic Beans they were feeding him?

 

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