Saturday, December 11, 2004

Cubs News

Chicago Sun-Times - Hendry supports Sosa but still could trade him

First off, I'm thinking about re-tooling this blog into a Cubs/Baseball blog rather then a politically-oriented anything goes blog. I'm finding I just don't have much to say when it comes to politics lately and there are a million other blogs that cover that area pretty well. I feel I can contribute more to a baseball discussion so I'm going to start focusing on that.

That said, I was combing the Chicago newspapers this morning and I found this little gem of an article.

The main topic is regarding Sosa and whether or not he'll be back next season. I have a lot to say about that, but I think the most important thing mentioned in this article is regarding the Cubs payroll. Apparently, Hendry has been authorized to spend up to $100 million on players this season. For the Cubs, a team which has always maintained a low payroll despite being one of the most profitable teams in the league, this is a huge step. It seems as though they're finally committed to using their vast financial resources to field a successful team.

Now, obviously one does not have to spend a lot of money to compete in MLB. Just look at the Oakland A's and the Minnesota Twins. No one can deny, however, that having some spending money gives you a bit more room for error when making personnel decisions. It's all in how you spend it, but if Hendry has shown us anything it's that he's a smart GM who isn't prone to wasting money (Blanco and Neife aside).

The most obvious way to spend the money would be to go after Carlos Beltran. They could, potentially, sign him even if they don't trade Sosa but that is unlikely. If Sosa stays then J.D. Drew becomes the most likely candidate to replace Alou in the OF. I assert, however, that even if Sosa is traded J.D. Drew would be a better fit then Beltran would. Let's compare...

 Year Ag Tm  Lg  PA  Outs  RC   xR  xR27  xW   OWP    BA *lgBA   OBP *lgOBP  SLG *lgSLG  OPS *lgOPS*OPS+ psOPS  SB%

7 Seasons 3911 2621 603 | .284 .278| .353 .348| .490 .446| .844 .794| 111 89%

* indicates the value is park adjusted

Over the past 7 seasons, Beltran has consistently hit above league average in all major catagories. Most importantly, he's had a decent OBP in his career. As I said in my earlier Cubs article, their biggest failing right now is their in-ability to get on base. They just can't do it. They can hit HR's with the best of them, but no one is getting knocked in. In addition, Beltran has a very good Stolen Base (SB) rate which is another area where the Cubs are sorely lacking.

Now let's look at Mr. Drew...

 Year Ag Tm  Lg  PA  Outs  RC   xR  xR27  xW   OWP    BA *lgBA   OBP *lgOBP  SLG *lgSLG  OPS *lgOPS*OPS+ psOPS  SB%

7 Seasons 2869 1811 484 | .287 .268| .391 .341| .513 .433| .904 .775| 133 76%

* indicates the value is park adjusted

As we can see JD has is well above league average in OBP, much more so then Beltran. He's also higher in SLG% and BA. His SB rate is also good, though Beltran has him beat there. On the surface it looks like a no-brainer, but there is one statistic that is troubling. We notice that Drew, in the same number of seasons, have more then 1000 fewer Plate Appearences (PA) then Beltran does. This is due to a number of significant injuries that Drew has suffered throughout his career. Last season, with the Braves, was Drew's first full season. He hit very well last year, but the injuries are still a cause for concern.

Oh yeah, Drew used to play for St. Louis. BOOO!!!!

So, why do I believe that Drew would be a better fit then Beltran? It's simple, the Cubs need people on base and Drew is ahead of Beltran in that respect. While his injury history is a concern, that is mitigated by the fact that Drew will, most likely, be much easier for the Cubs to sign. They're not competing with the Yankees for Drew and their increased payroll should give them the ability to out-bid most other teams.

If the Cubs can sign Drew, they will have filled their biggest hole. There will finally be someone on base for Ramirez and Lee to drive in. Couple that with full seasons from Wood and Prior and I think you have the makings for a much improved Cubs team, with or without Sosa.

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