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?