Hot Stove Report

The MLB free agent frenzy is only hours away from starting. As, free agents can begin to negotiate with all 30 MLB teams at 12:01AM Sunday Morning. This figures to be a make or break offseason for Jim Hendry, considering that many feel he may be in his last stand as General Manager for the Chicago Cubs. However, listening to Hendry you would think that the Cubs are only 3 or 4 solid additions away from being right back into contention for the National League Central. The Chicago Cubs figure to add a first baseman, a starting pitcher, and a veteran reliever this winter. The big question going into the Hot Stove season, is how much flexibility does Hendry Have? With, Chairman Tom Ricketts admitting that they are shifting funds from the major league payroll to the player development. This will force Hendry to be creative this season, as he tries to improve the team. The Chicago Tribune’s Paul Sullivan lays out the Cubs projected off-season plan as they head into free agency. Let’s take a look, and analyze the plan that the Chicago Cubs have for the winter.

  • First and Foremost, Sullivan states the obvious when he says the Cubs are going to have to trade Kosuke Fukudome before they make a prominent offer to one of their targets. Considering that Fukudome is owed $13.5MM for the last remaining year on his contract, Hendry may have a hard time trying to move him. But, we are talking about the same guy that was able to move the horrendous Milton Bradley contract last off-season. I would imagine a team like the Padres, Red Sox, or Phillies may have interest in Fukudome.
  • The top priority for the Chicago Cubs this off-season in their minds is finding a prominent power hitting first baseman. Despite a report from the Sun Times saying that the Cubs did not have the money for Adam Dunn, Sullivan insists that the Cubs have Dunn at the top of their list. But, the question still remains whether or not he is going to fit in the Cubs budget. While Dunn is a prolific power hitter, hitting 35+ home runs in his past 7 seasons, he may be too much of a liability on Defense to warrant the Cubs giving him a 3 year/$40MM contract. Sullivan mentions that if the Cubs fail to acquire Adam Dunn, they will turn their attention to Aubrey Huff, or Victor Martinez. Huff had a very good year with the World Series winning Giants, hitting .290/.385/.506 with 26 home runs, and 86 RBI’s. However, reports have it that Huff may return to the Giants. Meanwhile, Victor Martinez is a natural catcher that also has the ability to play first base. With the Red Sox this past season, Martinez hit .302/.351/.493 with 20 homers and 79 RBI’s. Considering that Huff may go back to the Giants, I feel that Martinez is the best option for the Cubs. Unlike Dunn, Martinez is a good overall hitter, a better fielder, and would come at a cheaper price, somewhere around $8MM-$10MM for 3 years.
  • The Chicago Cubs also will look to add a starting pitcher this winter. Considering that they already have the top two spots in their rotation filled with Dempster and Zambrano(He is not going to get traded), the Cubs are in the market for #3 starter that is a veteran innings eater. According to Sullivan, the Cubs will probably be interested in Jon Garland, who is a former first round pick of the Chicago Cubs. Garland hinted at wanting to come to the Cubs last offseason, so he probably still has the interest in playing for them. With the San Diego Padres this season, Garland went 14-12 with an ERA of 3.47. The number that probably most impresses the Cubs about Garland is that he typically goes for 200+ innings in a season. Garland declined his $6.5MM option with the Padres, so look for him to be in the market for a multi-year deal around $8MM.
  • The Chicago Cubs also are hoping to land a veteran reliever this winter. Their initial hope is that Kerry Wood will be willing to come back on a lesser role and a reduced rate. Wood would be an ideal fit for the Cubs, considering his veteran presence and leadership qualities. However, it remains to be seen what his intentions are for next season.

If the Cubs succeed in their plan that they have laid out, they probably will be in line to contend next season. However, as mentioned above, Hendry will have to be creative in order to add all these pieces. Moving Fukudome will go a long way in helping the Cubs. Plus, you have to think Hendry may do his patented “back-loading” of a contract.

Tags: Adam Dunn Aubrey Huff Boston Red Sox Chicago Cubs Free Agency Hot Stove Jim Hendry Jon Garland Kerry Wood Kosuke Fukudome MLB Philadelphia Phillies San Diego Padres Tom Ricketts Victor Martinez

  • Luke Blaize

    I honestly do not follow the argument that Hendry is on the ropes as Cubs GM. All the man has done is have the greatest stretch as Cubs GM in at least 80 years.

    If you look only at his mistakes, sure, he deserves to be fired. But if you look only at anyone’s mistakes, they deserve to be fired. For every Fukudome contract, there is a Milton Bradley trade. And when you add it all up at the end of the day, you’re left with a GM who has built more winning Cubs teams than darn near anyone else; has built a solid farm system, depleted it with trades in an effort to win now, and then restocked it again; has pulled off some of the most outrageously one sided, great for his team trades of any GM in baseball; consistently attracts and retains a high level of talent within the Cubs organization; has under his regime seen expectations for the Cubs rise from ‘win a few games’ to ‘World Series or else,’ something that no one has accomplished on the north side since… Frank Chance?

    Really, Hendry is a victim of his own success. He has done so well in building the Cubs top-to-bottom as a organization that the fans feel he can no longer meet the expectations he has fostered. To me, that reads to his credit.

    He has been here awhile, and it may be time for him to move on, but I honestly do not know who I would want to replace him. There are very, very few GMs in baseball who have done more for their teams in the time they spent in power than Jim Hendry has done for the Cubs… and every one of those GMs is locked up by teams who won’t be letting them go anytime soon.

    Before we run Hendry out of town… who do we want to replace him? Look around baseball and ask yourself, of those guys who are potentially available, who is better?

    What I’d rather see happen: take the reigns off Hendry. Don’t tell him to win now, like the Tribune did. Don’t ask him to make splashy off season moves to make the fans happy. Just say “Your budget is X. Go build a dynasty.” and see what happens. I strongly suspect, if Rickets has the guts to do that, we might just get our dynasty. Hendry got the Cubs close before, I’ll bet he can do it again.

    Regardless, I think he finishes off his contract. Then we can look at the available options and decide… but Jim Hendry will be a very tough act to follow.

    • Jordan Campbell

      The fact of the matter is that Hendry is a notoriously bad free agent negotiator. First Hendry outbid himself for Alfonso Soriano, when he offered more than $35MM more than any other team for him. He once again outbid himself when it came to Milton Bradley, giving an extra year and $10MM than any other team was willing to give. Sure, Hendry is good at finding role players, but when it comes to hitting a home run, Hendry seemingly fails every single time. Also, Hendry is the reason why we had the depleted farm system to begin with, which could have been worse if he was able to trade for Peavy. The Milton Bradley trade is not a fair assessment considering it was for another bad contract, and Silva barley saw the field in the second half. The Chicago Cubs have consistently had one of the top payroll’s in baseball over the past 3 seasons, and where has that gotten them, no where. It has gotten them to two consecutive years of missing the playoffs, and a year in where they were the best in the NL and were swept out of the first round.

      That is the problem, most people only look at experienced GM’s and think they are the way to go. They overlook the number of brilliant assistant GM’s that are waiting in the wings to one day become the top guy. For instance, Theo Epstein when he took over in Boston, or Josh Daniels when he took over the Texas Rangers. They were not experienced GM’s when they took over their respective teams. I’ll give you two prime examples that are out there right now…Rick Hahn , White Sox assistant GM, is going to be a phenomenal GM once he gets the chance somewhere. Josh Byrnes, who many consider an up and coming GM, is also out there. Many feel he was unjustly fired from Arizona.

      There is no doubt in my mind that Hendry does have an eye for talent, which is why in my opinion he would be better off as scout of some sort. Because, Hendry has contributed to some of the Worst contracts of all time in the MLB with Alfonso Soriano, Milton Bradley, and the extension of Carlos Zambrano. There is a difference of being a good a talent evaluator, which I consider Hendry to be, and being a good General Manager.

  • Pingback: The List: Oct 31 – Nov 7, 2010 | Sports Fix Chicago

  • Zac Hanse

    why not trade the young talent for Zach greinke

    • Jordan Campbell

      Greinke has a no trade clause to essentially every big market team, due to his anxiety problems the Cubs are probably on that list.