This article from MLBTR.com really got me thinking about the Cubs future.
If in fact the Cubs do have a disappointing Season, I can in fact see Ricketts letting players like Derrek Lee and Ted Lilly go. Not to mention if the Cubs are quickly out of contention by the trade deadline they could send other high priced players like Soriano, Aramis Ramirez, Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster, and Fukudome to new teams as well. Of course there are hurdles of no trade-clauses that all but Dempster possess. There is also the amount of money left on all their contracts. Players like Lilly or Lee would not be that big on an issue to be traded since they are in a contract year. But players like Soriano (owed 90 million), Aram (potentially 46 million), Zambrano (73 million), and Fukudome (26.5 million) have bigger problems because of their bloated contracts. Each of these Cubs could help their cause by putting up big numbers and have a contender want to trade for them. Although we did see Alex Rios get traded and his entire contract along with Jake Peavy who both did not have the best numbers or contracts when they were traded.
The Cubs also could unload players that might not help them in the future like Theriot, Fontenot, Grabow, Nady, or even Byrd. The point of all this would be to trade all these players for young talent or as a salary purge for the Cubs.
The Cubs need to go into this season with only two options. Stay in the hunt all year and get better at the deadline or be a bad baseball team and out of contention before the trade deadline and sell to the players to the highest bidder. Nothing in between!
One benefit with rebuilding is you can still add free agents for 2011 that can help you. One big name that would be nice to build a team around is Carl Crawford or Joe Mauer (likely to sign with the Twins) and in the following year players like Albert Pujols, Adrian Gonzalez, Ryan Howard, Prince Fielder, Robinson Cano, Grady Sizemore, and Matt Cain. The Cubs are likely not to get any of those players with contracts they currently have on the team.
To me if the Cubs do fail to do anything in the first couple of months Ricketts needs to address what this team needs, which would be to start over. That means a new GM, Manager, Pitching Coach, coaching staff, and players. Here is what they do-
GM- Steve Stone/Greg Maddux- Steve was ran off because of his comments that I labeled as "the truth hurts." Ricketts would do the Cubs a favor by appointing Steve Stone as a GM. Ricketts also could appoint a guy who knows baseball in Greg Maddux even though he may do better as a coach on the bench.
Manager- Ryne Sandberg- No one can argue with this. He is being groomed for the job and has done a great job in the Cubs minor league season. He should be the Cubs manager in 2011 regardless if they are rebuilding or not.
Pitching Coach- Greg Maddux/Rick Sutcliffe (if Maddux becomes GM)- Cannot get any better than that.
Bench Coach- Mark Grace- Great baseball guy who needs to come back to Chicago.
Hitting Coach- Rudy Jaramillo- The guy is the best in the game.
First Base Coach/Fielding Coach- Shawn Dunston- Love the guy
Third Base Coach- Mike Quade - Has done a great job for the Cubs.
Bullpen Coach- Turk Wendell- Loved this guy in the 90's and watched him pitch in Iowa. Would be an ideal bullpen coach.
Coach- Trenidad Hubbard- Currently in the Rockies organization as a coordinator. Would make a good outfield instructor and coach for the Cubs.
1. Hak-Ju Lee 2b
2. Starlin Castro SS
3. Aramis Ramirez 3b
4. Carl Crawford (2011 free agent) RF
5. Alfonso Soriano LF
6. Tyler Colvin CF
7. Josh Vitters 1st
8. Geovany Soto C
Darwin Barney IF
Koyie Hill C
Marlon Byrd OF
Brad Snyder OF
Ty Wigginton (2011 free agent) IF
1. Carlos Zambrano
2. Ryan Dempster
3. Randy Wells
4. Casey Coleman
5. Dae-Eun Rhee
After that who knows?????
It is unlikely that the Cubs would be able to trade Soriano and Zambrano with the amount of money they have on their contracts and both have no trade clauses. Dempster is unlikely to be traded because his contract is actually not that bad and has done a lot for the Cubs. Aram on the other hand will NOT walk away from a guaranteed 14.6 million dollar paycheck for next season. Not when Chone Figgins only go paid 8 million a year and Beltre 9 million. The Cubs will let Derrek Lee, Xavier Nady, and Ted Lilly walk and they will trade players like Mike Fontenot, Jeff Samardzija, Fukudome, Grabow, and Ryan Theriot to save cash and get some decent prospects in return. They would then put the money they are saving into a young, speedy, defensive minded, lefty bat in Carl Crawford. A guy they can really build around after the 2011 season. They also pick up Ty Wigginton who can play all over the infield and the corner spots in the outfield for a cheap price.
With the team above the Cubs have a nice veteran core with good young up and comers that could actually compete in 2011. Of course this is all speculation and could be worth nothing if they win the World Series in 2010.