I’d like to expand upon what Anthony wrote yesterday. I’m scared. Very, very scared. I’m skeptical about getting Beltran. Looking at his VORP, Win Shares, and last 3 years’ performance he’ll stay around a .915 OPS, 60 VORP, and 28-30 Win Shares. That’s MVP caliber and I’d pay big money for that. That said, I don’t believe we’ll get him. With that premise in mind, I’m very concerned about the Cubs for the year 2005. We’re looking for the following positions to fill via free agency:
Closer
5th Starter
2nd Base
Shortstop
Left Field
(Possibly RF)

Half the starting lineup and 2 of the essential pitchers.
What’s scariest is that, apart from a little bit of a risk at 5th starter, they have NOTHING in the system to fill these positions.
The default closer would be, I assume, LaTroy Hawkins. The 5th starter would be…Mitre? I guess Richard Lewis and Neifi Perez would be 2b and SS respectively, and Jason Dubois would play LF.

I like Hendry, but it appears that he has painted himself into a corner this year. He’s GOT to fill these needs through free agency; he has no other choice. He has left himself with very little leverage, and I would expect some questionable signings.

I’d prefer that the Cubs do the following, in order of importance:
1) Get Renteria. Use the money you’re not spending on Alou. Offer him 4 years. If that fails, offer Nomah a 1 or 2 year deal.
2) Re-sign Walker for 2B at about 5 mil a year for 2 years.
3) Sign Lieber for 5th starter. He’ll just need to eat innings as #5.
4) Try for Cliff Floyd or Jermaine Dye late in the game. If that fails, give Dubois the chance to blow it. If he does, there’s always a Karim Garcia floating around.
5) Let Dempster/Hawkins close.
6) Trade Sosa. It’s only low on the list ‘cuz it’d be SO hard to do.
7) STOP SIGNING TOM GOODWIN AND JOSE MACIAS AND NEIFI PEREZ for more than the league minimum when they’re providing below replacement-level offense!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Geez, Dusty! Come on, Jim, this ought to be obvious!

This offseason ought to be a wake up call for Hendry to improve the bench and upper minors with above replacement-level talent so he doesn’t have to get pushed into something he — and we — will regret.

Comments or other players we should pursue, given that we’ve got some arbitration-eligible Zambrano/Patterson types who’re going to push up the payroll? I’d love to hear something that’ll put my mind at ease.

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