Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Don't Expect Any Big Moves from the Cubs this Winter

If there are any Cubs fans out there dreaming about a the Cubs making a big splash this offseason, dream on:
Except for one thing. Anyone expecting a dramatic shift in philosophy will be in for a huge letdown. The Cubs might be getting a new owner, but they figure to keep doing business the same old way. At least for the next year or two. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it could be a blind-side blow to frustrated Cubs fans craving instant change.

In fact, this might be the most dormant offseason for the Cubs during Jim Hendry's eight winters as general manager. The message you can expect Ricketts to deliver Friday will be simple: There is no magic formula or giant check that will instantly turn the Cubs into champions. He won't start throwing money around to right 101 years, worth of wrongs.

It's enough of a shock to leave Ronnie Woo Woo speechless. Ricketts has a sound baseball philosophy, but that won't soothe the masses. If you want a glimpse at how the Ricketts era will begin, study the final two years of the Tribune Company's tenure under president Crane Kenney, who remarkably retains his title even without the security blanket he enjoyed in The Tower.

When team executives meet in Arizona next month to map the future, Hendry can expect a payroll in the $143 million range—a tick above what he had last season. With so many contracts ballooning in 2010, there won't be any room for a big deal. And don't expect Ricketts to cave in at the last minute to get that big name."
According to Cot's Baseball Contracts, the Cubs already have $120 million committed in player salaries before arbitration. The Cubs payroll is sure to increase once arbitration raises are given out to Ryan Theriot, Carlos Marmol, Sean Marshall, and others.

So if the Cubs' 2010 payroll is indeed $143 million, then you'd figure that GM Jim Hendry would have about $6-10 million to play with to sign free agents and re-sign their own free agents (John Grabow). I'd love to see the Cubs add another arm in the bullpen and maybe even a second baseman depending on how much the Cubs trust Mike Fontenot and Jeff Baker.

The best things the Cubs can do this offseason are simple:
1. Figure out what is happening with Milton Bradley
2. Get healthy
3. avoid any more long term deals
4. accumulate depth

I still think the Cubs are one of the more talented groups the National League. While this group as a whole underperformed in 2009, there is plenty of upside on this roster for the Cubs to make some noise in 2010 without making significant noise on the free agent market.


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