This afternoon I had a chance to talk with a blogger I’ve just recently started following, Wax Paper Beer Cup. We talked about a number of topics and thought I’d share.
VFTB: Start by telling me a little about WPBC, a site I just recently found this off-season.
WPBC: Alright, waxpaperbeercup is a site that started back in 2008. I previously had been on a site called 1060west that had several great writers. That site ran its course. Most of us went in different directions. I decided to start my own blog talking about the cubs. I like to look at the business side of the club and give a few of my opinions on the club.
VFTB: Do you have any other writers with you?
WPBC: No just me. During the time away social networking became all of the rage, so I started a twitter page.
VFTB: Shifting focus to baseball, word on Yahoo has Aroldis Chapman signing a $30 mil deal today with a “NL Team” according to Jeff Passan. Is he a player you’d be happy to see the Cubs spend the money on or are you hoping we’re not the team?
WPBC: I’d love to see the cubs sign a prospect of Chapman’s talent. One of the things that Ricketts talked about was building the minor leagues. One of the ways you do that is by acquiring top notch talent. Chapman is that.
VFTB: Would you worry about the fact that $30 mil would be tied up in a prospect and the potential problem that poses for signing or moving at the deadline if we’re in contention this year?
WPBC: I really would not, because I imagine the deal would be back loaded. Left handed power arms like Chapman are not a dime a dozen, they come at a cost. As for the cubs being in contention and having flexibility, I would hope that there would still be a way for them to add a player if they had to at the deadline. I don’t think it will be a matt Holliday, type addition, but I would hope Ricketts still has some flexibility in the budget.
VFTB: Let’s assume it’s not the Cubs. Do you see the team adding anything else this off-season, and if so, what?
WPBC: I see them adding a bullpen arm or two, a veteran outfielder that can pinch hit and maybe if they can find a reclamation project at a cheap price a starting pitcher.
VFTB: I would agree on the OF and bullpen arm, but I’m not sold that either will be acquired before spring training. Looking at the current crop of players, what are you expecting from a guy like Soriano in 2010?
WPBC: You know they could wait and see what players are released during spring training. Think about a guy like Reed Johnson who Hendry added a few years back during spring training. As for Soriano, I see this as a real big season for him. I don’t think we saw the real Alfonso Soriano last season. He was gimpy and injured last season and should have gone on the DL. I think he tried to stay on the field because Ramirez was down, and while it may have been the noble thing to do it made him look awful as a player. If healthy, I expect that we will see Soriano closer to the level he was at in 2007 or 2008. He will probably never run again the way he once did. But if he can find the swing I think cub fans will be happy with his bounce back. It’s funny, a lot of people wanted to write off D. Lee before last season, similar to what they are trying to do with Soriano now.
VFTB: I tend to agree IF he switches to a lighter bat. His swing looked slow last year and I’m hoping Jaramillo will bring that up.
WPBC: Agreed, on the lighter bat. One more thing on Soriano when a player doesn’t have his legs his swing is going to look bad. Soriano tore the cover off the ball the first month of 2009. Then he was injured. He’s still a talent, I’m hopeful we see more of that talent in 2010.
VFTB: Do you expect the same bounce back year from Soto as well?
WPBC: Soto is harder for me to judge. There’s not a lot on the back of Soto’s baseball card. We have one good year followed by a down year for whatever reason. Knowing this, I would have liked to have seen the cubs address this issue by adding a veteran backup catcher that could step in if Soto falters. It appears they are happy with Koyie Hill in that role, I really am not. While I like Koyie hill and think he’s a nice story, I don’t want him to get a lot of AB’s in 2010.
VFTB: Soto is the single player that scares the pants off me
WPBC: He should. As a cub fan you can’t help but think about players like Jerome Walton or even another catcher Rick Wilkins, who had one good season and nothing followed. Soto was a big part of the reason the cubs were the best team in the NL in 2008, we need to see him come back somewhere near that level in 2010 for the cubs to do anything.
VFTB: We have debated at length over Ryan Theriot as a shortstop and offensive player on VFTB. Where do you stand on The Riot?
WPBC: Theriot is such a hot button player for cub fans. You either love Theriot or despise him. I think as an offensive player, Theriot has done a nice job for the team since he has taken over. Yeah, he doesn’t have the greatest numbers but until the cubs can find a better middle infielder in their system, he’s earned the right to start at either SS or 2b in my opinion. I imagine sometime in the near future we will see Theriot move to 2b and Castro take over at short. Theriot to me has defensively always been a 2b, but to his credit when the SS job came open in 2007 he took it.
VFTB: What do you expect from this team in 2010?
WPBC: Good question. As the team stands now, I think we are probably realistically looking at a team that could and should win 83-87 games. Now you a get a break or two and add some decent depth and maybe they can contend. If you get injuries like they had last year, the team will be below .500. It’s not difficult to look at this on paper and see the cardinals as the favorite in the NL central. The cubs are probably a second place club right now. If all goes right they will contend.
VFTB: What grade would you give Jim Hendry as a GM this offseason and as a GM over his tenure?
WPBC: This offseason has been difficult. I’m going to assume it’s not over yet and give Hendry an incomplete. but if you forced me to give him a grade thus far it would have to be a D. the harden move of not getting anything out of him nor offering him arbitration was very hard for me to understand. Grabow signed for too much. After that the offseason was held up by the Bradley situation. It’s been really ugly. I think a D is probably fair. For his entire tenure, I would actually give Jim Hendry a strong B bordering on a B+. The guy has been the gm for three cubs’ teams that won division titles. The cubs are coming off their most successful decade since the 1930’s I think Hendry has done a good job over his tenure with the club. I don’t agree with all of his moves, but it is hard to argue with the results. He has put this franchise in position to win three times. They have not done it yet. But I cannot fault the effort.
VFTB: As we close it out, let me fire some quick ones at you. I’ll say something and you give me the first word that comes to mind.
VFTB: Celebrity conductors
VFTB: Wrigley Bleachers
WPBC: frat party or beer garden
WPBC: not really an issue
VFTB: Walks clog the bases
WPBC: glad that philosophy is in Cincy
VFTB: Carrie Muskat
WPBC: good beat writer
VFTB: Mike Fontenot
WPBC: on the hot seat
VFTB: Sammy Sosa
WPBC: fun to watch and now a vampire
VFTB: Ron Santo
WPBC: cheerleader in the booth and a player that should be in the HOF
VFTB: Bleed Cubbie Blue
WPBC: lol, you had to go there!
VFTB: that’s my job
WPBC: a strange gigantic corner of the cubs interweb
VFTB: Ryne Sandberg as manager of the 2011 Chicago Cubs
WPBC: I hope not
VFTB: thanks so much for the time I appreciate it
WPBC: thanks Joe. Have a great Sunday. I enjoyed the baseball conversation on this January day.