Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Soriano is a Cub! What's Next?

The Hot Stove is really heating up. The Dodgers signed Juan Pierre and Nomar, the Angels signed Gary Matthews, Jr., The Yankees re-signed Mussina, and Boston is negotiating to sign Daisuke Matsuzaka after posting a whopping $51 million bid just to talk to him. The only thing that would make this time of year better is if they were actually playing baseball.

What do the weeks ahead hold for the Cubs? Rumors are that Julio Lugo and Cliff Floyd are on the Cubs radar. Lugo has apparently indicated that he would be willing to play CF for the Cubs, which gives the team a lot of options. Lugo is a SS by trade, but could be counted on to do an adequate (or better) job in CF. He would also make an excellent #2 hitter behind Soriano. Once Felix Pie is ready to come up to the big club, Lugo could become trade bait or could become the everyday SS with Izturis either becoming a bench player or trade bait. Lugo provides a lot of flexibility. Plus, Piniella already knows and likes him.

The Cliff Floyd rumors have me a bit puzzled. Floyd would be an excellent left handed bat off the bench, but I doubt that he would agree to such a role. Floyd’s injury history makes him questionable as a starter, but some team will probably risk signing him to be their starting LF. Some have suggested that Floyd could platoon with Murton. That’s not a good idea. Murton is coming into his own and has earned an everyday job. True, Murton and Floyd could make a good righty/lefty platoon (especially considering that the Cubs could use another lefty bat in the lineup), but Murton has shown that he can hit well against both left-handed and right-handed pitching.

It wouldn’t surprise me if the Cubs didn’t add any more position players. Jacque Jones is fully capable of playing CF (assuming Soriano is in RF) and his arm is much better suited to CF. Putting Jones in CF would keep a reasonably priced hitter in the line up and will provide the only lefty bat the Cubs have at the moment. Of course, Jones may also be one of the most valuable trading chips the Cubs have and they may need to trade him to get a starting pitcher. Colorado in particular is looking for a CF and may be willing to part with Jason Jennings if the Cubs throw in a sweetener.

There’s also a rumor floating around that the Cubs have offered Jason Schmidt a 3/$45 million deal. Schmidt is likely looking for four years, but his age and injury history make that a bit risky. Schmidt is the most sought after FA pitcher on the market, but I just have a feeling that the Cubs would be better off signing two second tier pitchers (or sign one, trade for one) rather than commit a bunch of money to Schmidt. I think I’m probably in the minority on that, but I’m not as high on Schmidt as some others are.

I’d like to see the Cubs sign one of Jeff Suppan/Gil Meche/Ted Lilly/Randy Wolf and then trade for either Jake Westbrook or Jason Jennings. The Cubs have also taken a look at Jason Marquis and rumors have it that Larry Rothschild has given Marquis his stamp of approval. Marquis apparently had a mechanical flaw in his delivery in 2006 that significantly hampered his effectiveness. Supposedly, the flaw has been corrected. However, if Dave Duncan couldn’t fix the flaw in St. Louis, I don’t trust Rothschild to be able to correct/maintain Marquis’ delivery with the Cubs.

Also, keep in mind that the Cubs have Mark Prior, Wade Miller and Neal Cotts as all potential starters in 2007. Personally, I’d like to see Cotts stay in the bullpen, but a healthy and effective Prior and/or Miller would be a Godsend to the Cubs. The club could end up with 7 potential starting pitchers. That would be interesting.

How would you like this starting rotation:


I know I’m treading on thin ice expecting Prior to be ready and able to pitch, but I figure it’s better to have false hope rather than no hope at all.


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