I’d like to take a look back at the season from a transaction standpoint and break down what went well and what went not so well. I picked out a few key moves that took place this year to look at how our GM did. We’ll start with what happened leading up to the year that was 2007.
November 9th, 2006 – Signed Wade Miller as a free agent
Thought Process: My guess is that with the health of Mark Prior and Kerry Wood in doubt, Hendry would take a chance on Wade Miller who returned from surgery in 2006 to start five games for the Cubs. He pitched in a somewhat limited role in an all but meaningless time of the year, but the Cubs were encouraged by the short outings. At a salary of $1.5 million, it’s not to hard to see the rationale.
How it turned out: – Let’s just say it didn’t go too well for Wade. After starting the year at the fifth starter, which is a death sentence in the early part of the year due to rainouts and off days, Miller made three starts. He was shelled in Milwaukee (who wasn’t this year?), got through five innings against San Diego and then ended his year by getting blasted by the Cardinals. He was placed on the 15 day DL in late April and was eventually transferred to the 60 day DL before finally being granted his unconditional release in August.
Verdict: This one was probably the wrong move in hindsight, but it was worth the risk.
November 14, 2006 – Signed Mark DeRosa as a free agent
I’m proud to say that I endorsed this move even before it was made. At the same time, I also wanted the Cubs to bring in Steve Trachsel in that same post. Many saw Mark DeRosa as someone who had a career year in an extended sub / spot starter role in 2006. I really felt good about DeRosa and I’m glad Hendry did too. To me, we saw a player that simply needed to play on a regular basis. Some players are just like that. They can’t do well as a bench player. On a side note, I was way off on the amount I thought it would take to sign Greg Zaun, who signed for $3.5 million, not $1 million.
Verdict: Definite win for Jim Hendry
November 16, 2006 – Traded David Aardsma and Carlos Vasquez (minors) to the Chicago White Sox. Received Neal Cotts
Boy, if the season was just one month, this would have been one of the best trades in history for both teams. Both guys completely stunk in 2006 for their teams. Both were in need of a change of scenery in a bad way. For the Cubs, Aardsma was supposed to be a potential future closer after coming over in the deal that sent LaTroy Hawkins to the Giants in 2005. For Cotts, after a lights out 2005, he bottomed out in 2006. After the month of April, things went sour for both players, with Cotts and Aardsma both out of action by early June.
November 20, 2007 – Signed Alfonso Soriano as a free agent
This is probably the biggest area of discussion for everyone. A lot of people are mixed on the feelings for this move. You can make the argument that the Cubs would not have been in the playoffs without this move, but you can also argue that the money could have been spent elsewhere and still improved the team. It’s hard to refute either argument. If I had to make a decision on this move right now, I’d say it was a mistake, but one we had to make. My fear now is that with Soriano having the leg issues, you have to wonder if he’ll be subject to them in the future. Alfonso Soriano without the legs is not worth the money we paid for him. However, if we get the Soriano with power AND speed in 2008, I think you’ll see a lot of people change their tune.
Verdict: TBD, but looking to be a loss for Hendry
December 6, 2006 – Traded Freddie Bynum to the Baltimore Orioles. Received a player to be named later (Kevin Hart)
At the time, no one really cared about this deal. In fact, I would venture to guess that most didn’t even remember the deal until I mentioned it now. When Kevin Hart came over from Baltimore, he had trouble with his motion and was not a major factor in the Baltimore Orioles plans. He was a throw in for the deal to get Bynum and the Cubs turned him into a player who made key contributions down the stretch. Credit the Cubs scouting department and their minor league coaches for turning Hart into a player that has a legit chance at making the rotation outright out of spring training.
Verdict: A win for Hendry with potential to be a big win.
December 7th, 2006 – Drafted Josh Hamilton via Tampa Bay in the Rule 5 draft and then sold him to the Reds
Who knew a doped up addict would turn in a decent year for once? I don’t know where the Cubs would have played Hamilton anyway, especially seeing that they would have had to keep him on the active roster or return him to Tampa Bay. My guess is that they knew that and drafted him for the sole purpose of making a little money in the process.
Verdict: I actually like this move. I’m not sold on Hamilton’s return from addiction. Once you’re an addict, you’re always an addict. I hope he’s completely sober and stays that way, but I like that the Cubs took some money for a player they weren’t able to use anyway.
December 19, 2006 – Signed Jason Marquis as a free agent.
This is another one of those moves that if the season was a lot shorter, it would have looked brilliant. Unfortunately, the Cubs bought a pitcher that pitches well in the first half but not so well in the second half. Lifetime, Marquis is 43-28 with an ERA of 4.22 in the first half and just 25-33 with an ERA of 4.97 in the second half. It’s hard to say that’s worth the money spent.
Verdict: I would have rather seen us spend the money elsewhere. Maybe we can try to move Marquis in June next year around the time he’s due to go in the toilet.