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Free-Agents for the Cubs

By bullpenbrian - December 22, 2008 - 12:45 am Leave a comment.

The Cubs should bring Edmonds back in 09

The Cubs should bring Edmonds back in '09

The Cubs, as expected, didn’t make a peep at the Winter Meetings after the Jake Peavy deal fell through.

And although I was in favor of trading for Peavy (and I still am), it’s not the end of the world on the North Side.

The bright side of not landing Peavy is the Cubs retain what little remaining minor league talent they have at Triple-A Iowa and Double-A Tennessee.

However, this team is still in need of some left-handed hitting despite the signing of outfielder Joey Gathright.

While I’m an early believer in Gathright’s potential to become an everyday player, he’s still a role player on this Chicago team until proving otherwise.

That being said, below I’ve listed – in no particular order- a few free-agents who I think would complement the Cubs’ left-handed needs for the lineup.

First of all, I like the idea of resigning Jim Edmonds.

Sure, he’s old (39) and a former Cardinal but, the guy played rejuvenated baseball after joining the club in May.

Give Edmonds another year on a winner like Chicago and I like his chances of posting similar numbers to last season’s .256 avg., 19 HR & 49 RBIs.

Not to mention, Edmonds’ knack for hitting fly balls plays well in tiny Wrigley Field and Gathright’s arrival gives the aging star plenty of days off in centerfield.

One below-the-radar type player is Brad Wilkerson, a 32-year-old lefty with some pop and a decent glove in right field.

It’s been four years since Wilkerson notched 32 HRs with Montreal but, since then he’s averaged around 13 bombs per season.

The good news is he has a lifetime (8 seasons) .350 OBP and plays right field…the downside is his durability which has limited him to playing in no more than 119 games since 2006.

The Cubs could probably get Wilkerson on the cheap for something around $2.5 to $3 million per year while platooning him in right with Fukudome.

Another possibility is first baseman Sean Casey.

Given Lou’s penchant for double switches and playing his entire bench, Casey’s left-handedness would come in handy especially as a pinch hitter.

While Casey is far from a spring chicken (34), he’s a career .302 avg hitter including a .296 avg. with Detroit in 2006 and a .322 avg. with Boston last season.

The positives with Casey is that he’s no threat to current first sacker Derrek Lee, who’s never played fewer than 150 games since 2000 with the exception of his broken wrist in 2006 that limited him to just 50 appearances.

And most importantly, Casey has been clutch during the post season.

During Detroit’s World Series run in 2006 Sean batted .353 avg. in the ALDS, .333 avg. for the ALCS and .529 avg. in the Fall Classic.

In all for the 2006 post season Casey went 16-for-37 (.432 avg.) with 2 HRs and 9 RBIs.

That’s the kind of hitting Chicago needs from a left-hander come October.

On the contrary, Casey is sub par defensively, slow on the bases and injury prone.

Lastly, I think whoever signs former Cub Jerry Hairston Jr. is getting a real bargain.

With Cincinnati last year (80 games) Hairston batted .326 with high .384 OBP.

Although Hairston is a right-hander hitter, he’s also an above average centerfielder, can play shortstop as well, and stole 15 bases vs. being caught stealing just three times.

However, he had two extended stays on the DL with leg injuries in 2008 and that’s a scary trend at 34-years-old.

Still, it’s likely Hairston is signable at less than a million dollars meaning he’s a cheap risk.

Basically, it’s crucial the Cubs sign someone left-handed to complement its everyday lineup dominated by righties.

And while I love the idea of a Micah Hoffpauir having a break though year come spring training, it’s better safe than sorry in signing one of the above free-agents.

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Holy Hamilton

By bullpenbrian - July 15, 2008 - 2:00 am Leave a comment.

So who plays the lead in the inevitable Josh Hamilton movie?

I’ll take Dennis Quaid who did a fine job with his portrayal of Jim Morris in The Rookie (2002).

Plus, Dennis is a natural lefty and has some resemblance physically to Hamilton as well.

Not to mention, Quaid, like Hamilton, also battled his own addiction to cocaine in the early 1990s.

My runner up is Edward Burns (27 Dresses & The Gift).

Not sure what Ed can do on the baseball diamond, but I think he can pass for Hamilton in Hollywood.

Anyway, thanks to Hamilton’s national breakthrough in tonight’s Home Run Derby, poor Justin Morneau will simple be a foot note in the contest by next year’s Mid-Summer Classic.

And, 10 years from now (if that) naming the winner of tonight’s derby will be an easy bar bet for those who can remember the actual winner of the contest.

Jesus would beat Justin Morneau in the derby

Jesus shows his approval of Hamilton's 28 HRs during the first round

What’s also interesting is Morneau admitting his participation in last year’s derby threw off his timing at the plate during the second half of the season: 24 bombs before the break and just seven afterwards.

This is eerily similar to what happened with Bobby Abreu after his immortal performance in the 2005 derby at Comerica Park in Detroit: 18 home runs before the break and just six the remainder of the season.

Furthermore, a year later the Mets’ David Wright finished second in the derby and then capped off the second half of the season swatting a mere six home runs the rest of the way.

So, is Hamilton in for a power outage during the second half? Who knows?

Although, I wouldn’t bet on it.

Instead, my money is on Hamilton winning the MVP honors tomorrow night.

After all, it’s an even numbered year meaning a Rangers’ player is due: 2004 MVP – Alfonso Soriano & 2006 MVP – Michael Young.

  • Notes: Hamilton has a stolen base in a career-high three straight games.
  • Wednesday night Hamilton hit his first career walk-off home run against the Angels’ Francisco Rodriguez.
  • He also ranks among the AL leaders:
  • Tied for 1st with 9 sac flies and multi-hit games (38)
  • 2nd in total bases (208)
  • Tied for 2nd in HRs (21)
  • Tied for 4th in hits (117), extra base hits (46) and slugging percentage (.588)
  • And he became the first player in AL history to win the league’s Player of the Month Award (April & May) for each of his first two months in a season.
  • “I remember seeing him taking BP with the Devil Rays in 2000 during spring training, and I was like, Who’s that?” “He was 18 years old and hitting balls farther than anyone else. I went up and introduced myself, and I said, ‘That’s one of the greatest swings I’ve ever seen.’ I don’t think I’ve ever done that [with anyone else] my whole career.” – Boston 1B Sean Casey
  • “The ball just sounds different coming off his bat, almost like a gunshot,” “You watch him track down a ball, you watch him throw a guy out at third. Then he hits a ball down the line and gets a triple, and it’s like, The guy can run too?” – A’s LHP Greg Smith
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