Baseball Toaster Cub Town
And Then There Was One
2006-02-02 13:03
by Derek Smart

It looked like the Cubs' Magical Mystical Hearing Free Streak was going to come to an end tomorrow with the club and Will Ohman going toe to toe in Florida, but not only did they avoid such an unsavory confrontation by reaching agreement with Ohman today, they managed to obviate the need for a Juan Pierre hearing as well, leaving only Carlos Zambrano to be dealt with.

The piece on doesn't give financial terms as I'm writing this (although I imagine the link will be updated with that information later), but has Ohman coming in at $610K, and Pierre at $5.75M, Juan's being the exact halfway point between the two submitted figures, and Will's leaning closer to the $500K the team offered rather than the $775K he requested.

Some might find the Cubs' willingness to go to a hearing over such a small amount of money in Ohman's case to be a little strange, but articles in the Sun-Times and Daily Herald this morning actually shed some light on the subject, the gist of which being that while Ohman performed very well last year, a great deal of the service time he accumulated to be at the point where he could go to arb in the first place was spent on the DL.

In other words, while Ohman technically has the service time and is therefore entitled to something more, giving him over twice the salary of someone like Michael Wuertz, who has both stayed healthy and thrown nearly twice as many Major League innings in a shorter window of opportunity, seems kinda unfair.

You know what? I'll buy it. Hendry and Co. have been nothing if not generous toward the bullpen and bench guys (see: Perez, Neifi! or Blanco, Henry or Eyre, Scott or Dempster, Ryan or Howry, Bobby or Macias, Jose or Mabry, John, etc, etc, etc.), so I doubt they'd engage in this kind of brinksmanship over $30K or so (I'm assuming here that an early offer to split the difference gets the job done).

I have to believe the primary motivator was some iteration of the principle of fairness I outlined above, and while I'm happy the parties never reached the confrontational stage of the process, as far as I'm concerned, the club had good reason to stick to its guns.

Now, if the team can get a nice, tasty, long term deal done with Big Z, I'll be as happy as I can get with the current state of things. Not that I'll actually be happy, mind you.

2006-02-02 21:09:00
1.   Sandus
Am I the only one who thinks that Juan Pierre isn't worth half that money?
2006-02-03 04:34:27
2.   jgpyke
Agreed, Sandus.

Methinks the Cubs really have done absolutely nothing in this offseason to upgrade. Nothing. It's shameful.

My dad and Jay Marrioti have been saying that for years, and I usually sound like a Tribune Co. apologist and defend their moves. But the window is closing on this current configuration of the team (as far as a "current configuration" goes in this day and age of free agency and wholesale roster turnover), and Hendry did nothing this winter to improve our chances at a title shot.

2006-02-03 06:30:20
3.   The Boar
Well, I wouldn't agree that the Cubs have done nothing to improve, though I do agree this isn't a team built to win a World Series. I don't see, however, why the window is necessarily closing. We've got ample time and resources to tie up Prior, Lee, and Z over the next two years, and along with ARam, they are the only true talent on this team we need be concerned with.

Of course, after the bad Jones signing, the Cubs are going to have a crunch in OF next year, especially if they determine they need more power from those positions in '07. Of course, you can't fit Murton, Pierre, Jones, Pie, and some FA slugger into one outfield. Preferably, if Murton and Pierre produce like I think they should this year, you keep both of them, trade Jones and Pie for a slugger outfielder. Throw in Jerome Williams or Rich Hill, and maybe we could have Bobby Abreu by the deadline. Brilliant, heh?

2006-02-03 06:31:54
4.   The Real Neal
I'm not a big fan of Pierre, but to say 'Cubs really have done absolutely nothing in this offseason to upgrade. Nothing' is... what's that word I am looking for? Oh yeah it's wrong.

Pierre is an upgrade over what Patterson/Hairston provided last year.

Cubs CF's last year
.234 .281 .362 .643 18 7

Pierre - in what is described by most as a down year:
.276 .326 .354 .680 57 17

If you park adjust those stats, Pierre actually outslugged the Cubs CF starters.

Replacing Remlinger (4.91 ERA), Mitre (5.82 BP ERA), Van Buren (3 to 1 BB/K ratio), Wellmeyer (6.12 ERA) and Leicester (7.5 ERA) with Eyre and Howry is an upgrade.

Whether those will be big enough upgrades to put the Cubs in contention for the WS- it's hard to say. Just like the last two years if Wood and Prior don't pitch better and more the Cubs aren't going anywhere- even if had they signed Giles and Furcal (or whatever other moves you thought they should have made).

2006-02-03 12:19:21
5.   Sandus
Now project those stats to a non-cavernous Wrigley outfield and you're left with a guy who can run pretty fast, can't throw, and half of whose batting average is based on legging out infield singles. He won't as readily find those outfield gaps to stretch into doubles and triples because there's less space to work with. Couple that with the fact that he's aging (as many players do) and you're left with a guy who had a couple good years in Colorado and one good year with a World Series team who, for all intents and purposes, appears to be declining. Hardly Rickey Henderson, as everybody keeps trying to make him out to be.
2006-02-03 21:07:42
6.   The Real Neal

You've changed my mind. I think Pierre will hit .233 with a .280 OBP this year, thanks for the enlightenment.

It's just too bad that that long infield grass at Wrigley doesn't help bunts and slow rollers. He probably won't have any of his 'mistakes' which became outs at Pro-Player drift into the basket at Wrigley, either. It's also too bad that his top BR Similar player had one down year at the age of 27 then came back to have 4 solid years, because given one down year a player is obviously in irreversible decline.

Once again, thanks for revealing these baseball truths to the un-initiated like me.

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