So far the Cubs have picked up the 2006 options on Todd Walker and Scott Williamson. They have also signed two-year deals Glendon Rusch and Neifi Perez and a three year deal with Ryan Dempster. The Walker and Williamson moves were predictable and intelligent. I don't think there is anyone who will balk at these. Dempster was probably given more $ than some would like, but all in all this seems to be a solid move. The Rusch and Perez signings though are curious for both the length and reported size (2yrs, $6M total & 2yrs $5M rumored total respectively).
Personally I'm a Glendon Rusch fan and I don't have a huge problem with bringing him back for '06. For those out there who say you can't win with him as the 5th starter (Steve Stone included), take a look at the 5th starter for the playoff teams the last several years. Glendon fits the bill and you can win with him in the 5 spot in the rotation, just not as your #3 or #4. If he's beaten out, he could become valuable to some other team prior to the trading deadline and net a prospect or two. But I do have a suspicion that Hendry is hedging his bets with this signing. I believe that he is exploring trades involving some of the young arms and that the team is also concerned about Wood being fully healthy come Spring Training (and staying healthy all year). If I was a betting man, I'd see what the odds are on Kerry Wood getting twice as many relief appearances and starts in '06. The only reason I see for having him signed for '07 is that he provides an in-house option for the likely departures of Maddux and Wood.
Like everyone else, I think Neifi Perez is a wonderful back up IF (spot starter and late inning defensive replacement). But as a regular starter he's, at best, average, likely below average and that's when he's hitting at the bottom of the line up. If this move helps Hendry ink Rafael Furcal and signals the exodus of Jose Macias, then I applaud it. If not, I'll reserve judgement until I see how Baker uses him next season.
So, the position players on the current 25-man roster, assuming a 12 man pitching staff are...
So catcher is set. As for the arbitration eligible guys, I don't expect any of them back with the signing of Perez and press about potentially bringing on Furcal. Attempts to trade these guys will be made, but sans a deal(s) all three will likely be non-tendered. So, if the Cubs sign Furcal and don't trade Walker (as is being speculated), the IF will be set. Personally I'd like to see them add an IF-OF guy, but not a Macias-Hairston type. Someone more like John Mabry, a guy who can play the corner IF & OF spots and can pinch hit, would be great fit for the 5th OF.
There's been speculation that Hendry is also interested in Kevin Mench and Juan Pierre (and we all know how much he loves Kearns and Dunn). I like Mench as a 4th OF/PH. He has some power and he's a blue collar, hard working type. Pierre is real deal in my eyes. He had a down 2005, but this may help the Cubs get him on the cheap. My money is on him returning to form next season. Let's say the Mench and Pierre moves are made along with a pick up of a corner IF/OF, while the Cubs only lose the arb-eligibles and some of the minor league/young arms (that's alot of supposing, I know) during these acquisitions. So, they'd only have the starting RF spot to fill out of the position players assuming a 12 man pitching staff. At that point, I'd expect talks with Giles and Matsui (if he becomes a FA) and inquiries with the Reds about Kearns. Taking all this into account the position players look like
Mystery Corner OF/IF (back-up)
Well I've typed enough for now.
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