$49.5 million, that's what the Cubs have to work with to make this a better team. This is a pretty solid team as we have gotten rid of waste and have at least competent players in most positions. We have wants and needs, let's get started:
1. Starting Pitcher - First off, sign Mark Prior. That's obvious. Prior's workout was described by a scout as "just alright," but that could have meant that it was just alright for the former greatest pitcher ever. If Jim Hendry can sign Soriano for eight years and not lose his job immediately, I think we can give a contract to Mark Prior. Also, there is a disappointingly small amount of clips of Mark Prior pitching, but I was able to dig up a video of him at USC. It's so smooth and easy for him. I love Prior, and will love him more than any wife or child of mine, but Strasburg has been more impressive than Prior was when he started his career. Still, Strasburg's dominance can compare to a Pedro Martinez where Prior's dominance more compared to a Greg Maddux (not comparing pitching styles, just levels of dominance).
The Chicago Cubs sign Mark Prior to a one-year, $1 million deal, with a club option for 2012 of $4 million or a 250K buyout.
Expecting Prior to fill a spot in the rotation takes some wishful thinking. So I would like to add another starter to the mix for the Cubs. The top guys on my list are Bedard, Bonderman, Sheets, and Westbrook. I know that Cliff Lee isn't on my list, and this is both because of cost and injury risk. Lee seems to always miss at least a couple weeks with injuries, and I don't see that getting better as he gets older. For the contract that he is seeking, I don't think the risk matches the reward, and I will not screw over the team for the future. I'm going to take a chance and figure that moving to the National League will help quite a bit and predict a bounceback year for Ben Sheets.
The Chicago Cubs sign Ben Sheets to a one-year, $7 million deal, with a club option for 2012 of $12 million or a $1 million buyout.
2. Outfielder - Next up, the Cubs need to add depth to the outfield. I'll admit that there doesn't seem to be an ideal fit on the free agent market, but I'm not ready to completely trust Tyler Colvin's breakout. It screams a little too much Shane Spencer for my liking. My first thought was Rick Ankiel, but that seems like I'm just going for an older Tyler Colvin.
After that, I considered Jose Guillen, but he's kind of a head case, and since he's had a good year, he'll probably be looking for legit money and possibly multiple years, neither of which I want to give Jose Guillen. After that, I considered Gabe Gross, but that's just desperate.
After looking at those guys, I had to consider a guy who would be a left field only guy moving Soriano over to right field. I know this will not be optimal for the defense, but Soriano has a good enough arm to play right, so I think it can work on days where Tyler Colvin isn't playing.
Although our defense would be worse than atrocious, Manny Ramirez would be ideal with a one-year, $18-$20 million deal. But I honestly think it could depress our pitching staff too much knowing that every fly ball is an adventure for our outfield. Plus, the money is a little steep, so I have to pass on him.
And finally, we settle on our new outfield option. He has good range, and a girly arm, but he gets on base and could actually be a legitimate leadoff hitter for the Cubs. That's right, we're going after Johnny Damon. With Soriano always having ailments where he needs rest, Damon being old and needing rest, and Marlon Byrd using the occasional day off, Colvin can still get a decent amount of playing time at the different outfield positions so it's an ideal fit for the Cubs.
The Chicago Cubs sign Johnny Damon to a one-year, $7 million contract.
3. Infielder - This is a position that we have a lot of flexibility at, since Theriot can spot for Castro at short, and Fontenot can play second or third, this player could play absolutely any position. My first thought was to jokingly suggest Derek Jeter for backup infielder, but people might take me seriously. Then I thought about seriously suggesting Eric Chavez, but then I assumed people would think I was joking. After looking at the list, and realizing we weren't going to pull off Jorge Cantu for $2 million, I have decided to sign Eric Chavez to a minor league deal and put him in a competititon with Micah Hoffpauir. Hoffpauir has earned his shot, and if he can't beat out Eric Chavez, he doesn't deserve to make the team. And if Chavez goes back to 2003 form, then I look even better.
The Chicago Cubs sign Eric Chavez to a minor league deal.
5. Relief Pitcher - I am adamantly against signing relief pitchers to big contracts, but if I can get a guy with experience for cheap, then I'm going to do it. I love Juan Cruz, so I will sign Juan Cruz.
The Chicago Cubs sign Juan Cruz to a $1 million deal for 2011, with club options of $2 million in 2012 and $3.5 million for 2013.
And since everybody loves him, let's get the Big 3 back together, Zambrano, Prior, and Kerry Wood.
The Chicago Cubs sign Kerry Wood to a two-year, $8 million deal.
First Baseman - The Cubs can't count on Micah Hoffpauir to be a legitimate big league first baseman so they need to do something to give them offensive firepower. Both Adam Dunn and Carlos Pena are top free agents at first base, and I'm sure they can do an admirable job for a team. But I'm not looking for an admirable job. I'm looking to make a splash. I am going to have to get a fan favorite that will absolutely thrive at Wrigley Field, and I can actually pull this off.
If the Bulls get the King, then the Cubs will need a Prince. That's right, I'm making a super offer to the Brewers to get Prince Fielder. We will trade Andrew Cashner, Josh Vitters, and Jeff Samardzija to the Brewers for Prince Fielder. We will then sign Prince to a six year, $162 million contract, because Howard set the market, so we have to go with it. He's much younger than Howard, as this only takes him through Age 32 season. Paying great players great sums does not kill teams, paying mediocre players great sums kills teams. Prince is not Alfonso Soriano.
The Chicago Cubs trade Andrew Cashner, Jeff Samrazija, and Josh Vitters to the Milwaukee Brewers for Prince Fielder.
The Chicago Cubs sign Prince Fielder to a six-year, $162 million deal.
Here is how the roster shakes out:
1. Johnny Damon - LF
2. Marlon Byrd - CF
3. Prince Fielder - 1B
4. Aramis Ramirez - 3B
5. Alfonso Soriano - RF
6. Geovany Soto - C
7. Starlin Castro - SS
8. Ryan Theriot - 2B
Tyler Colvin - OF
Micah Hoffpauir - OF/1B
Mike Fontenot - Util
Welington Castillo - C
Sam Fuld - OF
1. Ryan Dempster
2. Ben Sheets
3. Randy Wells
4. Carlos Zambrano
5. Tom Gorzelanny
Kerry Wood - CL
Obviously, the biggest holes that we have is no legitimate number one starter, but I think the bullpen is very good which should help. Thomas Diamond was a former top prospect who is doing very well at Triple-A so he'll be my sixth starter (because we'll definitely need one). After that, Jay Jackson would step up in the rotation. Plus, we've still got Mark Prior and $2.5 million left over without raising payroll.
The lineup looks pretty good, but it's all dependent on how A-Ram performs. It should be good enough, and Prince Fielder moving into a hitter's park should make him even more of a force.
The bottom line is that I took a team with no hope and turned them into a contender. You can thank me later.
P.S. I don't know if anybody agrees with this, but I often feel that Bad Company is one of the most underrated classic rock bands. They kick ass, yet they don't get nearly the love of Journey, Rush, or Foreigner. So go out and listen to some Bad Company, you won't regret it.