View From The Bleachers

Talking Cubs Baseball Since 2003



January 2012



Where Do We Go From Here?

Written by , Posted in General

Chet is on vacation this week so you’re stuck with me. As I sit and think about the fact that pitchers and catchers report in less than a month, it got me wondering what is left for this team before the season starts. The roster as I see it right now looks like this:

On paper, we’re probably not going to compete for the division with that roster, despite the fact that the NL Central lost Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder. That leads to my two fold question. What should be done before opening day and what will be done with this roster?

It’s hard to predict what will be done, so instead I’d offer just a few things as suggestions for the front office moving forward.

Trade Alfonso Soriano – This was looking somewhat promising, with the Tigers being rumored to be in the market for a slugger, until they broke the bank for Prince Fielder. Now you have just a handful of teams with any chance of acquiring him if we assume that a move to an NL team is out as a given. That limits the market to just 16 teams, at least half of which can’t afford the financial risk despite the Cubs picking up a good chunk of salary in return. At this point, I call Baltimore, the place where aging and unproductive Cubs go to die and offer whatever it takes in terms of salary eating in hopes that we can get something of small value. Perhaps a deal similar to the one that netted Mike Fontenot a few years back.

Sign Derrek Lee – This one is assuming that he’s willing to play in a limited role and take on the role of leader and mentor to guys like Anthony Rizzo on a one year deal on our terms. With Soriano gone, Bryan LaHair can switch to LF to make his mark, which is where I’d like to see him play for the simple fact that it increases the value in a trade. An outfielder is always more valuable than a first baseman from the skill it takes to play the position. First base is where outfielders and infielders go at the end of the road.

With LaHair shifting to LF, it allows the Cubs to promote Rizzo to play first on a majority of the time basis with Lee in the mentor and part time role. Both Lee and Rizzo have good gloves so it should be a nice fit if Lee is willing to take him under his wing. With Lee being a righty and Rizzo being a lefty, it lends itself perfectly to a L / R split of time with Rizzo facing the righties.

Those are two things I’d like to see. They’re not rocket science, but moves that would make me grade this new regime an A for the off-season. What realistic things would you like to see, and what will we see?

  • Norm

    I’d like to see both Cespedes and Soler signed.
    Keep tabs on Edwin Jackson in case he can be had on a 1 year deal to be used as trade bait in July.

  • chuck

    Decide what day Paper Bag Hat day is a Wrigley?
    I’m with Norm and try very hard to sign Edwin Jackson because he would be the #4 pitcher on this staff, at worst. And he will be 28 in 2012, so he is young enough to maybe improve a bit and he should give you 200 innings of league-average pitching. The same can’t be said of Wells or Maholm.
    How about we start the “When does Ian Stewart lose his starting job” pool going?
    That lineup will STRUGGLE to score runs. Unless Soto remembers how to make contact with the ball, there is not legit star player in the bunch. Nobody with a chance of putting up a .300/.400/.500 stat line or anything close to it.
    I think I just died a bit inside…

  • (our shortstop may beg to differ)

  • Jedi

    I’m not sure Ian Stewart has 3B locked up. At best he’s probably looking at some type of platoon with Baker playing against lefties (I’m betting Sveum is instructed to let LaHair and, if the time comes, Rizzo play everyday regardless of who is on the mound). In my opinion, Stewart would really have to come out hitting the ball a ton to avoid being the odd man. He hit like crap at Coors, he’s not likely to do better at Wrigley. And for the record, I hate Baker – but that’s the state of the Cubs right now.

    When 20 pitches from Jeff Samardzija is the most “sure-thing” in your bullpen, that’s a crap bullpen.

    I also wouldn’t be surprised to see some action at 2B. DeWitt can still win that everyday job and/or perhaps a club waives someone during the Spring that the Cubs decide to pickup.

  • Jedi

    I should’ve answered Joe’s questions too.

    Trade Soriano, yes please. (cue the chorus regurgitating, “he’s a sunk cost, just sit him on the bench”)

    I want no part of Derrek Lee. Eventually everyone turns into the 2005 version of Jeff Bagwell. The question is, are they like Bagwell – the last person to figure out that they’ve lost it?

    I think Lee is finished. He’s been striking out roughly once a game for two straight years, struggles to make contact (and when he does it’s not a great result; hitting in the .260s), his career fell off a cliff after 2009. We have enough dead weight on this roster already, if we’re going to add more crappy players, I’d at least like them to be at the beginning of their careers, not the end.

  • Joe

    Jedi, you’re looking at his overall numbers. I’m calling for a lefty / righty platoon. Here are his numbers vs. LH over the last few years:

    Year             PA  2B 3B HR RBI  BB  SO   BA  OBP  SLG   OPS
    1997             20   2  0  0   0   4   7 .250 .400 .375  .775
    1998            148  10  0  5  23  16  39 .217 .311 .411  .722
    1999             51   4  0  1   5   4  18 .234 .294 .383  .677
    2000            116   1  1  6   8  15  33 .228 .328 .436  .763
    2001            132  11  0  6  14  15  26 .310 .394 .560  .954
    2002            151   5  2  6  18  25  35 .264 .391 .480  .871
    2003            132   8  1  6  23  25  24 .333 .462 .600 1.062
    2004            130   5  0  9  23  17  20 .306 .408 .595 1.002
    2005            180  12  1 12  28  28  27 .333 .439 .673 1.112
    2006             55   4  0  0   3   7   8 .292 .382 .375  .757
    2007            141  14  0  6  19  17  22 .339 .418 .597 1.015
    2008            172  13  1  6  27  27  22 .306 .413 .535  .948
    2009            117   5  0  3  12  24  18 .300 .444 .456  .900
    2010            174  11  0  4  23  21  29 .270 .356 .421  .777
    2011            113   2  0  2   9  11  21 .287 .363 .366  .729
    Career Total   1832 107  6 72 235 256 349 .289 .391 .504  .896
  • chuck

    Why on Earth would a rebuilding team sign old crappy players when you can have young crappy players at a fraction of the cost?

  • chuck

    If Castro puts up .300/.400/.500 AVG/OBP/SLG numbers in 2012, I will eat a Cubs T-Shirt and be glad to do it. I don’t think the .500 is in his toolbox just yet.

  • @Chuck – I like a signing of Lee only on my terms for the specific purpose of putting Rizzo in the best possible situation to be the long term answer at 1B

  • chuck

    Soriano is still a very good hitter vs LHP. The problem is that 75% of pitchers are right-handed…

  • Norm

    I’d be with Joe if LaHair could actually handle LF; I’m just not sure he can.

  • Jedi

    Joe, even his numbers against lefties have fallen off the cliff.

    I’d rather see Lahair and, if the time comes, Rizzo trusted to play everyday. Right now you could legitimately argue that the Cubs have platoon situations at 3B, 2B, and RF (possibly LF also, depending on who breaks camp with the team). We need FEWER guys who are useful only against one side of the mound, not more. If Rizzo really is everything that people claim, why not let him learn how deal with left-handed pitching while the team still sucks? He’s not going to be a building block to winning if he can’t even be permitted to face lefties.


    How about Soriano to the Yankees when A-Rod gets injured?


    I wouldn’t have a problem signing Derrek Lee to a 1-year deal if he wants to be a part-time player/full-time mentor

  • Kris

    I’d be okay seeing Soriano go, but how realistic does everyone think it is that that will happen? Seems like there are always lots of rumors that never pan out.

    It’s ironic that you want to sign Derrek Lee so that LaHair can go to left because, “First base is where outfielders and infielders go at the end of the road.” Last I checked, Lee started and will end his career there…and has always been pretty darned good at it.

    This reminded me of a line from Moneyball. Billy Beane and one of his coaches are trying to convince the former catcher to sign on as a first baseman (forgive me–I’m awful with name). Beane says, “First base is easy.” The coach interrupts and says, “It is incredibly difficult.” I was laughing. 🙂


    It was Hattieberg, and the line went like this:
    Beane: Scott, First base is easy. Tell him, Wash (Ron Washington)
    Washington: It’s incredibly hard. Great movie, and very accurate compared to the book. I had to write a paper on the book for a final one class.

  • @Chuck…eating a t-shirt might be a health hazard. You might want to check with a doctor (thoracic surgeon, optometrist, et al) before committing to something like that.


    Homer Simpson once ate a jacket, sweatshirt, caps, and frisbees with no problem

  • Kris

    Thanks BLCPB for filling in details I was too lazy to look up. 🙂 That scene cracked me up and reminded me of VFTB debates on first base! What class did you have to write about that for your final–sign me up. 🙂

  • cap’n obbvious

    I actually agree with Joe’s assessment that if Soriano gets dumped and DPLee returns, I’d consider that some fine general managing. Any further dumping of turdsicle’s Dewitt and Samardzija would just be a bonus. I’d opine that an upgrade at catcher should be in the works as well, but if I did that, I’d never get another Lizzie….so viva Geovanni and his .250 on-base percentage…

  • Buddy

    Did I miss Volstad on your list?

  • I still have Shark as my 2012 breakout candidate. Light-hitting DeWitt can hit lightly elsewhere as far as I’m concerned.

  • Buddy

    I liked Moneyball the movie, but accurate isn’t a word I would use to describe it. If you’re interested, here’s a pretty decent article that points out some issues:


    I didn’t mean it related to that stuff. Compared to the plot of the book, it is very accurate, when you strip away the back-stories. And Paul DePodesta refused to be in the movie. I think Jonah Hill would have been in the movie even if DePodesta let his name be in


    I just read the article, most of that stuff was not in the book

  • Buddy

    Yes. I was talking about the movie. I thought you were talking about the movie too when you used the word “accurate.”


    I was comparing the movie to the book. There weren’t a whole lot of back-stories in the book about who’s career was when

  • gymjok

    My prediction is we sign Cespedes.
    Also no takers for Soriano.

  • cap’n obvious

    unless he completely craps the sheets, Volstad will be the #5.

  • I’m with Jedi. If Rizzo plays, he should not be platooned until he well demonstrates that he cannot hit lefties. Geez, if you platoon ’em all right off the bat none of them will ever learn how to hit the other hand.

    Unless my memory is faulty (which could well be), Lee was always considered a leader, but one of those “leads by example” leaders, not a talker. I’m not sure how good of a mentor someone who doesn’t talk is going to be.

  • Eddie Von White

    Chet can’t take his laptop with him on vacation?

  • Seymour Butts

    I’ve got my laptop.
    I’ve also officially entered the part of the week where wins and losses don’t matter anymore. There will be no repeat.
    My source here, and I would trust them, say Soriano is ours. Detroit had an interest in taing him with the Cubs eating 30 of his remaining 54, but after signing the Fat Prince, that’s not on the table any more.

  • Beckman is spot-on about Jedi being spot-on. Also adept about the Lee thing…he was Ryno v2…just killing it on the field, albeit apparently on adderol. I remember two distict times he showed emotion…one of Z’s tantrums and the wrist breaking. It would be nice to have a professional in the dugout, if the price is right.

  • Sorry about the season Butts. I’d like a review of the grilled turkey and cheese sandwiches. (on a scale of one to subway)

  • Doc Raker

    Butts must be racking up the L’s since they don’t matter anymore. Soriano is ours, boo hoo.

  • Kris

    I can think of one more…Lee’s fight with Chris Young. I just remember thinking, “What did that guy say to him, because Lee never looks that pissed off?!”

    Really didn’t think Soriano was going anywhere. We’d better just get used to the idea that we’ll be seeing him for awhile.


    Well then we better hope Theo and Jed know their economics 101 and realize Soriano is getting paid 18M whether he hits 100 HRs or Ks every single time he comes to the plate