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October 6, 2008

If I Were King

Filed under: General — cubbiedude @ 11:37 pm

As will soon become obvious, there are plenty of reasons why I’m neither the Manager nor the General Manager of the Chicago Cubs. But Joe Aiello asked me to play “King For A Day”, so here goes.

For the purposes of this Off-Season drill, I will assume that the Cubs Organization, under its new ownership, has beaucoup bucks; enough $$ to do all the things I suggest without blinking an eye.

Since we have two totally different performances (2008 Regular Season and 2008 Post Season) upon which to base our decisions, there will be a degree of cognitive dissonance inherent to the process. Fasten your seatbelts.

Lou says we need good pitching, good defense and timely hitting. I agree, and we’ll address each of those requirements in that order.

PITCHING
I have confidence in the starting rotation of Ryan Dempster, Rich Harden, Ted Lilly and Carlos Zambrano. From what I’ve seen recently Angel Guzman, Sean Marshall or Jason Marquis could be the #5 starter in 2009.

Now we get into the intangibles. Guzman looked good during his two innings in Milwaukee. I could go with him as the #5 starter based upon that. Marshall looked good in LA against the first 3 batters he faced, but then he gave up a double to DeWitt and was gone in a flash. Maybe there are some historical negatives in his resume that I’m missing. Marquis was superb against the Mets, but since then not so good.

For now I call Guzman our #5 starter and bump Marquis and Marshall to the bullpen in the hope that one or both will become the middle reliever we desperately need.

Carlos Marmol was lights out Saturday night mowing down five in a row. Neal Cotts fired three Ks in the LA’s eighth inning Saturday, but walked the only man he faced on Thursday. Decision time for King Cubbie Dude. OK, Marmol and Kerry Wood will alternate the Closer role. Cotts and Samardzija stay in the bullpen and may serve as set-up men. Gaudin, Hart, Howry, Wells and Wuertz become expendable. I keep Wells and Wuertz if I can.

Just for insurance, and to help in the eventual 2009 postseason, I sign CC Sabathia and Jonathon Broxton.

DEFENSE

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Geovany Soto remains my catcher with Henry Blanco as his backup.

Aramis Ramirez remains at 3B, Ryan Theriot at SS, Mark DeRosa at 2B, and Derrek Lee stays at 1B. Cedeno, Fontenot, Hoffpauir and McGehee stay in supporting roles. Daryle Ward is gone.

Since I have lawyers, guns and money at my disposal, Rafael Furcal may be joining our infield. Albert Pujols, too.

I really like Alfonso Soriano’s arm in left field. Did you see his throw to 3B Saturday night? That was surgically precise, if there is such a thing. Unfortunately, Alfonso’s arm is attached to the rest of him, and I’m just not that fond of the rest of him at the moment. So the Fonz is gone and Manny Ramirez joins us in left field. That was easy. Kosuke Fukudome is our new center fielder. Jim Edmonds is retiring. Reed Johnson and Felix Pie will platoon right field. Unless Manny can’t make it, in which case either Reed or Felix moves to left.

HITTING
The lack of offense killed us in the postseason. Of this there is no doubt. As King, I have tried to fix that problem by hiring Manny Ramirez, Albert Pujols and Rafael Furcal. In addition to those acquisitions, however, I’m gonna bust a move in a different direction.

Rather than hire guys with a history of hitting and then cross my fingers hoping they continue to hit here (I’m not mentioning any names), I’m going to invest big time and create a cabinet level hitting department. I can’t get Ted Williams to head it up, but dammit, somebody is out there who can coach and instruct and motivate and get our guys to provide the offense we need. I’m gonna find that person and build around him. And it’s gonna work. The 2009 Cubs will be a hitting machine: pre, regular and post season.

As you can see, I don’t believe in the “Fire Everybody, Start Over” method of team building. We have a good team. I want to keep the good parts and improve where there’s room for improvement.

I may travel to Arizona in February to personally oversee the implementation of my plan to dominate the world of professional baseball. I’m considering it.

So, for now, that’s my plan and I’m sticking to it!

P.S. I also plan to petition MLB and insist that, henceforth, all Wrigley Field Postseason Games will be day games starting at 1:20 pm CST. Who the hell ever heard of starting an October game at Wrigley at 9:00 pm? Bad Karma. Screw the Extremely Annoying BiCoastal Media Jackals.Ring of Death download

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I'm a third generation cubs fan, living in southeastern Wisconsin.

  • AnnoCatuli08

    So in your King for a Day scenario Fukudome would be our starting center fielder? Yikes.

  • cubbiedude

    AnnoCatuli08: Yep! Lou says we need good defense; I agree; and Fuku is the best defensive outfield solution. Yippee!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=8401936178 Joe Aiello

    Can you not get Ted Williams to “Head it up” because he no longer has a head? (rim shot)

  • Kevin

    Fukudome is 31 and proven he cannot adjust to the way big league pitchers have figured him out. He needs a couple months at Iowa or see-ya. He is also a pretty bad centerfieder. His routes are brutal. Harden vs. Zambrano? I am going Z all the way. Want to baby Harden through 15-20 starts next year? Then watch him toss 88 mph fastballs and 75 mph changes? His forte has been heat and hard sliders and I didn’t see those at all in the last 5 weeks. What happens when it comes to May 15 and he says he needs 15 days off and a shot? Zambrano needs a one-way lecture regarding conditioning, commitment and discipline. As I heard on Sports Central last night, he skipped more than his share of workouts last year. I agree on your assessment regarding the hitters, but they will need to get one qualified big league middle of the lineup hitter. I don’t know who, how or when, but Lee-Ramirez strikes fear into no one anymore. 111 RBI looks great, but Lowe-Kuroda-Broxton were not impressed and if you want to win the ring that’s the level you need to strive for. They can give McGehee et al a chance to stick next season but the only guy I am looking at for more than 2 days is Hoffpauir. Manny Ramirez? Absolutely! I really don’t give a hoot about his “baggage” either. But Soriano is going nowhere, too much money owed for too little contribution. There is not a big league team out there that would even pretend interest in him. The bullpen needs Woody back, and Samardjia might not be here because if you are going to trade for a leadoff guy or any quality hitter, you will need to surrender a prospect of that caliber. I think Jose Ceda has a good chance of stepping in for him if Jeff goes.

  • Chermo

    No mention of Micah Hoffpauir in your outfield. I’m hoping he can be that power left-handed bat they’ve been looking for since…. Todd Hollandsworth?? The power in AAA didn’t translate to the bigs but if he’s with the team for the full year, maybe it will show up. Soriano is the laziest f-ing player, and I hate watching him. As my Yankee friends say, ‘you gotta take the good with the bad’… well, there’s too much ‘bad’ for my taste.

  • Kevin

    Not much of Hoffpauir could translate, too little time. As far as playing RF, he’s only played the OF for about a year. That’s a key defensive position and I personally would not be willing to risk what you lose in defense. I think you need a huge return in offense if you are going to put a bad right fielder out there, and Micah probably will not provide that. Several accounts talk about the hole in his big sweeping swing. I think the Cubs are going to end up crossing their fingers on Fukudome, unless he leaves town, because (A) he gets so much dough and (B) they tend to be stubborn in their assessments, misguided or not.

  • Nbad

    Well, king for a day = fantasy, and that is what this was. I’m not sure why people would debate anything here, because, the moment you hear “by hiring Manny Ramirez, Albert Pujols and Rafael Furcal” you know this is just a fantasy line-up. Sure Ramirez is on the market, but as I stated a few days ago, Luxury Tax is I believe $162 Million in 2009, and I don’t see someone paying that 20% luxury tax in this economy, so adding Manny and Pujols is out of the question. (Besides Pujols is in the middle of a contract, and there is no reason for the Cardinals to trade him without taking half of the Cubs roster in return.)

    Just wanted to point out the make believe.

  • http://www.mindfulmission.com dave l

    No mention of Micah Hoffpauir in your outfield.

    That is because he can’t really play the OF.

  • cubbiedude

    Thanks to all of you for reading and for the comments.
    Joe Aiello: Quit while you’re ahead! (Ouch – double rim shot)
    Kevin: You make some very good points.
    Chermo: Regarding Micah Hoffpauir, may I redirect your attention to the second paragraph under the “Defense” heading, above, in which I suggest keeping Micah aboard in a “supporting” role. And I agree with your description of Alfonso’s down side. Bugs me too.
    Nbad: Yes, any discussion about winning a World Series over a year into the future, starting with a team which just went 3 and out in the first round for the second year in a row is, by definition, fantasy. I think my fantasies are just as valid as yours or anybody else’s.
    Dave: Astute observation.

  • http://www.rex-jaybels.com Rex Jaybels

    I really think Fukudome needs to start the year in Iowa. He looked completey lost at the plate in the end. And listening to Steve Stone today, he believes that D. Lee is on the trading block. This team is in need of serious left handed bats.

  • http://www.rex-jaybels.com Rex Jaybels

    Sorry for the double post.

  • Mike

    Why does everyone think that we need to make major changes? This is a team that won 97 games in the regular season. There is no need to make major changes. All we did was choke in the playoffs. Plain and simple.

  • cubbiedude

    Mike: Yes and no. I agree that there is no need to make major changes. I do not agree that “all we did was choke in the playoffs”. As I see it, the Cubs slumped, big time, during both September and October. Had the Brewers not slumped, big time, during the same time period, the Cubs would not have clinched the division, and might not have made the playoffs at all. It was that close.

    In retrospect, although both the Cubs and Brewers experienced “mini surges” towards the end of September, the two teams which slumped in September and limped into the playoffs were the first two teams eliminated from the National League postseason. And the two teams who “surged” into October, the Stinkin’ Dodge-ohs and the Stinkin’ Phillies, are still alive.

  • jerry

    If I were king – resign Dempster and Wood – go after a big time left handed bat offering Lee and Pie and Theriot (in some combo of two of them), – send Hoffpauer to “learn to play first base school” – make Cedeno the everyday shortstop if Theriot is moved – say goodbye to Ward and Edmonds – move Soriano out of the leadoff spot – look for left handed relief in free agency – send Koske to Iowa until he can prove he is a major league hitter

  • http://www.mindfulmission.com dave l

    Had the Brewers not slumped, big time, during the same time period, the Cubs would not have clinched the division, and might not have made the playoffs at all. It was that close.

    Huh?

    The Cubs won 97 games, and finished 7.5 games ahead of the Brewers in the Division, and 8 games ahead of the Mets for the Wild Card. So no, it was not not close at all.

    As for the “surge,” I am not quite sure what you are referring to. The Cubs and Dodgers were both 5-5 in their last ten games.

    The Cubs were 12-11 in September, even though they clinched their Division with (I think) 7 games to go. That is not exactly slumping.

    send Hoffpauer to “learn to play first base school”

    Hoffpauir is actually known as a solid/good first baseman. It is his outfield defense that is the problem.

  • http://www.rex-jaybels.com Rex Jaybels

    I’m not sure the Cubs are ready to hand the everyday starting job to Hoffpauir, and with good reason. Sure he has hit well, but his defense leaves something to be desired, or he would have been used much more in 08.

    The Cubs are simply not built for the post-season. The Dodgers never used a left handed pitcher, and thus exsposed the Cubs for what they were (ala Denny Green). Major changes are not needed, but Hendry has much more work to do than I would have anticipated.

  • Nbad

    Agreed Dave. Going .500 in September does not equal slump. Especially when you knew early on in the month that the division was basically won, and started resting the regulars. Gave Harden and Zambrano some precautionary rest, Gave Soto 7 games off, And in the last week of the regular series the “B Squad” (as I believe the Brewers called it) played half of the remaining games.

    If the NL Centeral was to be decided by a game or 2, and came down to the final weekend in Milwaukee, the Cubs probably would have 14-10 or better in September. Let us not forget that they also had a make-up game in Houston they could have played as well.

    And as for your Dodger “surge” as well as all the people proclaiming Manny Ramirez MVP…The Dodgers went 30-24 once Manny joined the team. In August they went 13-16 and in those 29 games, 20 were against teams that finished with winning records, including 15 against playoff teams. In September, yes they “surged” with a 17-8 record. However in their 25 games, 3 were against Arizona who finished 82-80, and the other 22 games were against teams that lost AT LEAST 88 games. Now there’s a tough schedule which really gives that Manny for MVP some support.

    In September, the Brewers “limped in” I do agree completely, and they didn’t have the toughest schedule, going 10-16 against just 13 teams that finished .500 or better, and 10 were against playoff teams, with the other 3 against the Mets who they beat out for a playoff spot.

    The Cubs limped? No, 12-12 record with 21 of their 24 games played against teams who finished .500 or better. 6 of which were against Playoff teams, and another 4 against the Mets who were knocked out on the final day of the season.

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