I know this is pretty early to do an off season thoughts post but the Cubs are not winning or making moves so this is as good as a time as ever.
I think the Cubs do not need to make a big contract splash this off season. They tried to do it last off season with Bradley and Gregg and that was a flop. This off season the Cubs need more versatility, speed, OBP, and better pen arms. The Cubs can do this through trades and signings with spending the same amount this season but on more players. Get more bang for your buck!
1. Get a real Closer. The Cubs need a real Closer, not a guy who "can" Close games. Lucky for the Cubs there are some really good relief guys on the free agent list. I think the Cubs should sign one of Mike Gonzalez, Rafael Soriano, or Jose Valverde. It is time we get a real good closer to finish out these games. With the weak financial status of so many clubs and the new ownership taking place, getting one of these guys for a fair price should be pretty easy.
2. Get a starting 2nd baseman- The Cubs could go many routes with this and get a guy for fairly cheap as well. The players I would target would be-
***Mark Teahen- You all know how much I like Teahen. I think he would be the perfect fit at 2nd base. He played there earlier this season and did very well. Not to mention he would finally provide the power, average, and OBP the Cubs are looking for in the hole that has become 2nd base. In full time duty at Wrigley I can see him hitting .275 with 15 homers, and an OBP of .360. Not to mention you would get him for cheap money wise and probably would just have to give up some young pitching.
*** Orlando Hudson- Should have signed this guy this season. While he is playing really good defense he is also hitting .294 with 7 homers 63 RBI and 7 SB. Did I mention he is a switch hitter and would do really well in the two hole!
***Akinori Iwamura- Some power and a good bat, OBP, and defense. This guy is set to make 4.25 million dollars if the Rays exercise his option. They may chose the buy out with they having financial issues. He would be great in Wrigley as well. A lifetime .283 hitter with a .356 OBP, he is a lot like Fukudome. He would be very good for the Cubs.
***Placido Polanco- Not one of my top picks but defensively he is really good! He could be on the decline and with a nice 2nd base market we could get him for really cheap. He is a lifetime .303 hitter with a .348 OBP. He will hit about 6 homers a year and is one of the best defensive 2nd baseman in the league posting a .990 fielding percentage over his 11 year ML career. He even poster a 1.000 Fielding% in 2007 turning 101 double plays. I really like Polanco!
3. Get a utility guy- The Cubs need one of these guys and had one until they traded him away and now he is a Cardinal. Here are my list of candidates for the Cubs-
*** Chone Figgins- I do not know if Figgins would expect full time playing or a utility position considering how good he is, but the Cubs need to try everything they can to get him. He has stolen 33 bases while hitting .300 this season. Not to mention he has scored 87 runs as well. He could also be a candidate to start at 2nd base.
*** Mark Teahen- Another guy that could be utility or an everyday 2nd baseman. The Cubs need to get this guy regardless. He is a left handed Mark DeRosa.
*** Mark DeRosa- Has said he would come back to the Cubs and the Cubs almost got him back this season until the Cards stole him. DeRosa will probably look for full time duty and the Cards may try to lock him up this off season. I would love for DeRosa to come back.
*** Craig Counsell- I am tired of him always beating the Cubs somehow. He is a gamer, does not complain, just a good clubhouse guy who works hard. The Cubs need more of these players.
***Jamey Carroll - Another gamer who is a good defender and can play everywhere. Would be a cheap effective signing.
***Marco Scutaro- Such a good player and if the Cubs got him I would be really impressed because he will have a lot of suitors this off season. High OBP and decent average and will play everywhere.
***Geoff Blum- This guy can still play. Not my top choice but worth looking at.
***Willie Bloomquist- Another guy that could be available via trade. Could the Cubs get Willie and Mark in the same deal. That would be nice.
4. Outfielder?- The Cubs may need a righty or switch hitting fourth outfielder if Johnson leaves for free agency. I think the Cubs should just resign Johnson but if they do not they should target these players.
*** Johnny Damon- Deserves a starting job somewhere but he could start in CF for the Cubs and make Fukudome be the 4th outfielder or platoon with Bradley in RF. Not likely but would like to see him bat lead off for the Cubs.
*** Andruw Jones- Could he do well in a CF platoon. I think so.
*** Randy Winn- May still try to get a starting job but may have to settle for little money and as a platoon player. Cubs could benefit from that.
*** Marlon Byrd- Not a bad option. Cubs almost traded for him a while back so they should be interested.
The Cubs should just resign Johnson.
5. Get a reliable reliever. The Cubs need one and there is a lot available.
6. Get a veteran starter for the 5th spot in the rotation. Here is a list of 10 candidates-
Tim Hudson- I wish
Daisuke Matsuzaka- Red Sox will take offers for him this off season and could be traded if he waives his no trade clause. Would the Sox do a Milton Bradley for Dice-K? Bradley is owed 21 million over the next 2 years and Dice-K is owed 28 million over the next three years. If it is an even swap then the Cubs will basically be getting Dice-K for 8 million over the next three years. Just a thought.
Those are the Cubs main needs next season and they should be able to get what they want with the new ownership taking over. If I were the Cubs I would trade for Mark Teahen, sign Chone Figgins, sign Rafael Soriano, resign Reed Johnson, sign Doug Davis, and then sign Octavio Dotel and Darrin Oliver to revamp the pen.
I also think they should trade, release, or send down these players.
1. Figgins 2b
2. Theriot SS
3. Lee 1st
4. Aram 3rd
Mark Teahen OF/IF
Koyie Hill C
Reed Johnson OF
Andres Blanco SS/2b
Jake Fox IF/OF
That in my opinion should be the 2010 Cubs. Looks like a winner to me! The Cubs payroll with no additions, no trades, and no arbitration given they will start the 2010 off season with 119 million on the books. I think the new additions the Cubs would add about 25-35 million in just new contracts for 2010 (which is not bad for adding 6 new players and resigning one).
What do you think? Who would you add or subtract?