Marlon Byrd for 2009 seems like a fine enough idea, but I hated that deal when it was announced. It’s yet contract made longer than it needed to be, and weighed towards the end, making the player harder to move as his performance goes down. That’s the formula Hendry’s stuck to, and it’s only caused problems for later years. They’re continually building a deficit for future years to pay for, and that bill is coming due really soon. With both Lee & Lilly as free agents after this season, the window for this core may be over this season, or it may be over the next when Ramirez has his opt out.
The only good thing is looking up the contract, preparing for a doomsday 2012 scenario (where Soraino, Byrd and Fukudome are all getting big money, and not a one of them should be an every day player), I finally remembered Fukudome only signed for 4 years (or this one and next.) Thought it was 5 for some reason, glad to be wrong.
On the other hand, the Cubs are not even halfway thru the Soriano deal yet. Yuch.
One of things I wanted to do is take a look at where the roster stands, and where the Cubs stand with that roster. I’m using the WAR – Wins Over Replacement – stat from the FanGraphs site; it’s a catch-all stat that factors in and compares hitting, defense and pitching (though it’s missing baserunning and catcher defense.) You can google a whole long explanation for that stat, but for my purposes, it breaks down pretty easy:
- 0 WAR is an freely available guy in AAA. The guys who are about to get Non Roster Invitations to spring training camps. Think Bobby Scales, over the course of a season
- 2 WAR (or thereabouts) is an average major leaguer. Kosuke was just a bit over 2 last season. Aaron Rowand, who hit poorly but fielded ok at a tough position, was just under 2 last year.
- 4 WAR is an all star season. No one actually had an exact 4.0 season last year. Aaron Hill had a pretty strong season and ended up with 4.2. Lilly, Dempster and Zambrano were all around the 3.6-3.7 range.
- 6 WAR is a hall of fame historically great season. No one who’s on the Cubs right now has had a 6 recently. There’s been 5’s – Ram, Soriano in ’07, Dempster in ’08, Lee last year. Adrian Gonzalez was a 6.3 last year, even though he felt like a 26.3 whenever he faced the Cubs.
Literally, a 4 WAR means the player is worth four more wins than than a random AAA guy put in that spot. A team with all AAA guys would be presumed to win just under 30% just based on random chances, or about 46 games a year. (It changes from year to year.) The Cubs need to stack wins on top of those 46. A lot of extra wins on top.
Here’s who they have, what they’ve done the last 3 years, and what I’m guessing they’ll do this year.
82 wins = probably not going to playoffs. While it seems like Hendry wants to add another arm, adding a marginal one there doesn’t seem like it’ll have much benefit. The really obvious starting lineup hole is at second base, where neither Baker nor Fontenot look league average. The obvious answer is Orlando Hudson, who’s been in the 2.0-3.0 range for the last 6 seasons and still can’t get a contract. It’s just unclear what’ll take, and if the Cubs have it in their budget to get it done.
Outside acquiring new people, what else can help? Alfonso Soriano being a better player than Ryan Theriot for one. A league average outfield means this team is staying home in October, and Soriano wasn’t even that good last year. Soto playing a lot more like ’08 and a lot less like ’09 would be good. Ramirez staying healthy all year would be great.
2012 edit: table removed, sorry