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Lou's Wish List

By Garrett Monaghan

If I have to read one more article discussing Lou Piniella's preference for a left-handed RBI guy who plays gold glove defense in center field and can run, I may go insane. Griffey is retiring, and Mickey Mantle's dead, Lou. Give it up.

The potential crop of free agents this winter might contain two players who could fit Piniella's pipe dream of an acquisition. Carl Crawford of the Rays has a club option, and Johnny Damon of the Yankees will also be a free agent. It seems like a toss-up right now whether the Rays will keep Crawford or not, and if they don't, he'll instantly become one of the most sought-after free agents on the market. If the Cubs aren't willing to pony up an obscene long-term contract, they won't have a chance at him.

Damon seems likely to return to the Yankees and even if he doesn't, he'll be more likely to stay in the American League where he can DH every few days. After those two guys, there aren't any other standout free agent centerfielders on the market.

What the Cubs need more than another middle of the order hitter is a legitimate lead-off man who can play center, and they already have one. Sam Fuld has shown that he's capable of playing Gold Glove caliber defense on an everyday basis, along with the best batting eye on the team, and the ability to steal a base occasionally. True, he doesn't have much power, but he'd give the Cubs a legit left-handed table-setter for the bigger bats lower in the order.

Between Lee, Ramirez, Soriano, and Soto, the Cubs should have all the RBI bats they need. If those guys can stay healthy for the vast bulk of the year, they'll drive in enough runs to keep the offense ticking. Micah Hoffpauir and Jake Fox should be able to provide plenty of pop off the bench, or as spot starters. I'd still be happy to see Soriano gone and Fox playing every day in left, but that's not likely to happen.

Jeff Baker hit well enough after being acquired from the Rockies to earn at least a utility job next year, and a Baker/Fontenot platoon could probably prove perfectly adequate both offensively and defensively. Unfortunately, the Cubs seem to be under the impression that they can't win without a Hall of Famer at every position, so they'll probably continue their misguided quest for a high-priced second baseman. Orlando Hudson, Chone Figgins, and Mark DeRosa are all free agents, and all capable of playing second every day. The Cubs haven't been shy about their interest in Figgins, but he's going to have an astronomical asking price.

Instead of chasing after baseball's equivalent of the Holy Grail, the Cubs would be better suited to bolstering the back end of the rotation, the bullpen, and adding depth to the bench. Tom Gorzelanny isn't going to cut it as a starter, and if the Cubs are determined to rely on him for a whole season, they're asking for trouble. Depending on how much progress they make in the off-season, Jeff Samardzjia and Esmailin Caridad could put themselves in the mix for Gorzelanny's job, and either of them could probably do at least as well.

Despite the organization's insistence that John Grabow is good at getting left-handed hitters out, he isn't. There are a number of decent lefty relievers on the market, most of them better than Grabow, and the Cubs also have a couple lefties in the minors who could make the jump to the big league club.

The Cubs need to pay attention to the teams that remain in the playoffs, and how they've constructed their teams. To one extent or another, all the surviving playoff teams have blended free agent signings with homegrown talent; and the Cubs will have to start relying on their younger players to step up and produce, rather than trying to throw money at every hole in the lineup. Bradley and Soriano have shown us how well that strategy works, so it's time to let guys like Fuld and Fox give the team a shot in the arm.

4 comments:

  1. Sometimes Lou reminds me of the old saying "We're only a couple of players away ... Unfortunately Ruth, Gehrig and Cobb are all dead."

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  2. With all the complaints and whining about hendry and the cubs poor acquisitions lets not forget about 5-8 years ago when the cubs dealt a package centered around "highly touted" bobby hill for aramis ramirez and another packaged deal that essentially saw a swap of Hee-Seop Choi for Derek Lee. care to keep bitchin? or is baseball a game of give and take...ya win some ya lose some. we finally have a good core of young position players in the minors allowing the cubs to finally look within instead of being forced to throw excess money at overhyped players. oh and one more thing...bradley wasnt a cancer with jaramillo in texas and why have we all forgotten the amount of money thrown at fukudome for a terrible effort these past two years? is he untouchable or would we consider dumping him too?

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  3. As long as the Cubs are saddled with a $40 million outfield that hit .254/.345/.414 last year, yes; I do intend to keep bitching about it.

    Hendry's made some terrifc trades in his time, there's no argument about that. As you pointed out, however, those deals were quite a while ago. His recent trades have been generally less successful; and his free agent signings have been a disaster.

    Yes, I do think Fukudome's untouchable. Bradley is cheaper, and has some history of success in the majors. Fukudome doesn't. Plus, the Cubs are obsessed with fielding a "balanced" lineup rather than a good one, and aren't likely to get rid of Fukudome's left-handed bat.

    I don't know what the difference with Bradley's attitude in Texas was, but I highly doubt it was all Rudy Jaramillo's doing. From what I understand, Josh Hamilton was probably as responsible for keeping Bradley in line. The bottom line with Jaramillo is that the Cubs signed him because he was the best guy available; not because they thought he'd stroke Bradley's ego.

    Couldn't agree more about the Cubs finally having some in house talent. It'd be a nice change of strategy for Hendry to let them develop rather than dealing them for overpriced, over-the-hill shmoes.

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  4. In looking at the trades of recent past that hendry has made i cant fault him for underachievement. Look at Soriano the year before we had him...40/40 and one of the best players in their prime as far as hitting. injuries and slow starts have hurt soriano but don't be surprised to see another big year from him yet. Bradley was one of the best hitters in baseball with the rangers the year before we signed him. One down year and we jump all over a guy who has proven he can rake with the bat. And going into the signing we all new he was a loose cannon who wouldn't deal well with fan dissapointment! can we blame him for who he is or did we really know what we were getting all along. didnt hear opposition to it before the year, why? CUZ HE HITS!!!

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