Baseball Toaster Cub Town
Speculation Nation
2006-04-28 07:25
by Derek Smart

There are some thoughts, ideas, and rumor-esque rumblings rolling about regarding possible short-term patches related to Derrek Lee's absence, and now seems like as good a time as any to swish a couple around our collective mouths to see just how bad they taste.

  • Carlos Pena - Right now, he's with the Yankees' AAA affiliate in Columbus, but if he's not up with the big club by May 2 he becomes a free agent, and according to the New York Post, would likely sign with the Cubs.

    I mention this first because the idea's been around the longest, being the most obvious due to Pena's impending availability, and if the Cubs are looking for cheap, he's certainly it. Bringing him along wouldn't be a horrible move, but neither would it have much impact. For one thing, he's left-handed, and if the club really wanted to play a low-average, low-on-base, moderate-power lefty at first, they've already got John Mabry lolling about.

    Certainly, Pena's defense would be better, and that should be a consideration, but I don't think he's enough of an upgrade over what's on the roster - or different enough, for that matter - to really add much of value. Acquiring him wouldn't be a horrible thing, it would just be an awful lot like treading water.

  • Tony Clark - This is an interesting proposition. Clark has a no-trade clause, but he said yesterday that he'd be willing to waive it if a deal would help the D-Backs remain competitive. He's passable defensively, and he's a switch-hitter (his splits being basically even when it comes to average and OBP, although most of his power comes from the left side), which could be a boon both now and once Lee makes his way back to the lineup.

    There is an issue, though, which is expense. Not his salary - although the Cubs would be on the hook for a total of around $2M through next year - so much as what it would cost to acquire him. There's nothing like being over a proverbial barrel to make you vulnerable to price gouging, and I'd have to believe that since Arizona has no particular need to deal Clark that they'd be looking to get something beyond reasonable in return. If not, though, he'd be an interesting choice.

  • Jeff Conine - ugghhhhh..... His name got floated in the Sun-Times today, although it's unclear how much of that is coming from Mike Kiley, and how much is from the Cubs' brass. What does appear to be from the organization, however, is this idea that preceded the horrid uttering of The Barbarian's name:

    Hendry wants to acquire a right-handed hitter who could play first base against some lefties and serve as a backup outfielder if he's versatile enough.

    What intrigues me there is the possibility, slight though it may be, that the organization has recognized something we all knew coming into this year: Jacque Jones is helpless against lefties, and all the port-sided batting practice in the world won't change that fact.

    Of course, the other possibility is that they've all decided that since he's gone 1-18 against lefties in the early going that Todd Walker needs to take a seat when they're on the hill, an idea which I might have supported in the past, but which I'll have to vehemently rail against in the present, especially since from what I've seen Walker's been more a victim of horrible luck of late than anything else.

    In any case, the idea of adding a right-hander with some pop who can play both first and the outfield is an exceedingly sound one - I've advocated for quite some time the idea of having power on the bench from both sides of the plate - but I'll say right now that Conine ain't that guy. The Cubs are clearly not enamored with Michael Restovich either, despite his theoretically fitting the mold, so a deal would have to go down for the club to feel like they'd accomplished that goal.

You can't replace Lee, that much has been clear from the start, but the Cubs appear to be ready to try to make some marginal gains over what they've already got in house, which seems sensible. Whether these options are the best ones, however, is a topic open for debate, so fire away, good people.

2006-04-28 08:29:51
1.   JMan
One name that popped out at me was Michael Cuddyer. He's extremely versatile and is still young enough that he is some upside. He hasn't gotten much of a chance in MN and they appear to be doing their best at keeping it that way. Granted, his numbers aren't the greatest to look at but if they want to avoid the one-trick pony like Clark but get a player that may not have reached his peak this guy is a better bet.
2006-04-28 08:36:45
2.   nickb
I'm sure Allard Baird would be willing to let you have Mike Sweeney for Jacque Jones.
2006-04-28 10:12:13
3.   rynox
Clark has a no-trade clause, but he said yesterday that he'd be willing to waive it if a deal would help the D-Backs remain competitive.

Did this throw up a red flag to anyone but myself? He's willing to go elsewhere if it would help the dbacks?


2006-04-28 19:56:25
4.   KurtEvans
Sir, with respect to Carlos Pena:

It's true that he doesn't hit for average, but in his last full season in the majors he drew 70 walks in 551 plate appearances. Of course, he also struck out 146 times that year, but he does have plate discipline. Also, he's 27 which suggests that he might be at a point where his number improve, since he's entered his prime. I'm sure he'll never be a .300 hitter, but he just might be able to hit at a .260 or .270 clip, at least for a month or two. Even if he can't do that, he should still have an OPS in the .800 range, which will probably be better than what Hairston or Neifi could do if they were starting at second in place of Todd Walker.

I think that's really the way you have to look at it ... at this point, any first base replacement is stepping in for the Perez/Hairston duo, and at least Pena or Clark should be a better choice than either of those two.

2006-04-28 20:15:23
5.   dbt
"To my loyal fans and my neighbors, to whom I wish to be able to sell some form of property or merchandise when I retire after I am unable to remain on a major league roster, whether here or somewhere else:

I am in no way saying that I wish to leave your neighborhood, your team, and your company. If circumstances that the team feels justify dealing me and my immense talent elsewhere, I want it to be known that I do it with your best interests at heart; not because, say, I want to go play for a pennant-caliber team with a deep farm system that has a pressing need for a first baseman. Oh no. I love Arizona completely and wholeheartedly, after all, that's where all my endorsement deals are!

Tony Clark"

2006-04-30 10:10:13
6.   Sandus
I shudder when I say this, because I've never really been a fan, but what about Brian Jordan?

He's got outfield experience and has been spending time at first for Atlanta this year. Plus, since he's getting up there in age, it shouldn't take too much to pry him away.

He's an OBP guy with moderate power who hits lefties pretty well. I think it's a solid fit at a good price.

2006-04-30 19:55:05
7.   Ravenscar
3 and 5 -

Actually, despite the fact that he probably wants to play for a contender as opposed to a team that only has ONE Brandon Webb, Clark has a reputation for being one of the nicest and more honorable guys in the entire MLB. I'm not saying his motives are completely angelic, but of all the players who say this sort of thing, from Clark it's probably the closest to the truth.

2006-05-01 07:57:20
8.   LatNam
Sandus: As a Braves fan, let me tell you, you don't want Brian Jordan. His defense at first is terrible, and his at-bats are simply black holes of suck which will eventually lead to me knocking myself unconscious from banging my head against a wall/table/hammer.

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