Friday, January 1, 2010

The Cubs Crash Will Get Ugly

  • Cubs sign Marlon Byrd:

One can only speculate as to what the Cubs are going to look like in three years time as 2/3 of their outfield will consist of a 37-year-old Alfonso Soriano (who'll still have a guaranteed $36 million coming to him) and a 35-year-old Marlon Byrd. Byrd agreed to a 3-year, $15 million deal with the Cubs on Thursday that is said to be heavily backloaded, so you can figure that he'll be a nice financial albatross in the third year of the deal and, just like Soriano, unmovable.

Nice work.

Marlon Byrd is a good player; he had a solid couple of years with the Rangers and his hitting splits weren't bolstered to a massive degree by the hitter's haven of Rangers Ballpark at Arlington; but they were improved by the bandbox especially in the power department. He's never hit particularly well at Wrigley Field, but he hasn't been a National Leaguer since 2006. He's useful. He'd help any team he joined, but as the landmark move for a club with the holes that permeate the fading Cubs? Is Marlon Byrd the answer to their problems?

Can Byrd play center field every day as he enters his mid-30s?

Does he have the range to cover for the disinterested and declining Alfonso Soriano as he grows slower in left?

You can bank on Byrd's high-power year of 20 homers dropping back to around 10 or so as he leaves Texas and while he can man center field and hold a place at the bottom of the Cubs lineup, does he fix the problems----the in-fighting, injuries, bullpen failures, and age----that led to the Cubs flameout and fade in 2009? No.

The 2010 Cubs are a disaster in the making. They're trying desperately to brighten a crumbling foundation by spackling the cracks with Mighty Putty, but it's not going to work. They're old; their bullpen is horrific; their starting rotation is short; their lineup is one-dimensional; their guaranteed contract-situations are disgusting and will haunt them for the next four years at least; and they continue to make the same mistakes that got them into this mess in the first place.

2010 is the final year that they can even entertain the fantasy of making a playoff run with the current group; all the pieces are in place for a crash that will result in the new ownership embarking on a necessary bloodletting that will spell the end for both GM Jim Hendry and manager Lou Piniella. (Hendry's going to get fired; Piniella will simply resign.)

The housecleaning will begin at mid-season for this group. Their time has passed. If they were going to finally contend for a championship, the time was in 2008 and they blew it. It's over. And the signing of Byrd is the last desperate and wild swing to cling to whatever remains from that lost year and take one final stab at glory.

And it won't work.

Cover your eyes, because this approaching horror show is not for the squeamish----not for the squeamish at all.

  • A lesson the Mets should take from the Red Sox:

We'll ignore all the garbage coming out of Boston about Jason Bay and how his shoulders make the chances of him passing the Mets physical iffy; after three days, it's clear there's no coherent response to my query as to why the Red Sox----so disturbed by Bay's condition---offered him $60 million to stay. Maybe they wanted his final few seasons to be comfortable despite his debilitating injuries; the organization is so benevolent.

Never mind that.

One thing the Red Sox are doing to which a team like the Mets should take heed is the way they cut their losses when they need an upgrade at a certain position. The Red Sox apparently have no intention whatsoever to go into the 2010 season with Mike Lowell as part of their lineup in any capacity despite the $12 million he's still owed.

First, they negotiated a trade that sent Lowell to the Rangers (along with $9 million to cover three-quarters of his contract) for journeyman backup catcher Max Ramirez, but Lowell's injured thumb nixed the deal for now. (He's gotten it repaired and is expected to be ready for spring training.) Even with that, the Red Sox have explored a deal for Adrian Gonzalez, which would necessitate the shifting of Kevin Youkilis to third; and are talking to Adrian Beltre.

That $12 million owed to Lowell is already a sunk cost, so the Red Sox aren't messing around. They want a better hitting third baseman with more range, or a power hitting first baseman. The money for Lowell is secondary to that end.

The Mets have been desperately trying to unload second baseman Luis Castillo and the $12 million he's owed over the next two years so they can sign Orlando Hudson, who seems to be waiting around for the Mets. If they're so enamored of Hudson and vice versa, the Mets need to make the move, sign Hudson, and worry about dealing Castillo later----even at mid-season if need be.

No one knows what kind of injuries or holes are going to open up around the majors to make Castillo a viable option for a desperate team willing to take the contract; the Mets would give him away at this point, so the smart move would be to get the player they really want to man the position and worry about later, later. Just like the Red Sox are doing with Lowell.

  • Viewer Mail 1.1.2010:

Jane Heller at Confessions of a She-Fan writes RE Jason Bay and the Red Sox:

Excellent point. Why would the Red Sox offer Bay that much money if they thought so poorly of his skills and his health?

It's typical whining coming out of Boston, but they have no answer for it; and they're conveniently glossing over the fact that it was they----the Red Sox----who walked away from Bay!!

If they'd waited, there's every chance he would've taken the shorter money to stay; and it's not as if they were under a deadline to get Albert Pujols to replace Bay----they signed Mike Cameron!! Where was he going?

If they'd told Cameron that they were waiting to see whether Bay took the deal and were still interested in Cameron either way, I think he would've waited a reasonable amount of time. And if Cameron went to the Cubs, so what? These are the Red Sox; one would assume they'd figure something else out. It's insanity.

Issac at A Baseball Thing writes RE Jason Bay:

I agree with the Bay signing, and I'm not all that worried about his defense, but I wouldn't trust the Mets to have solid fundamentals. I do think beltran can help, though.
---And thanks for the support.

The Mets had to make a bold statement and signing Bay is it. I don't know what the critics want; under the same logic they're currently throwing out there against Bay, the Red Sox (a darling organization of the stat zombies) would've made almost an identical mistake had he chosen to stay with them. This one move opens the floodgates for the Mets and was a no-brainer.

Joe at Statistician Magician writes RE Jason Bay:

"Also, just throwing this out there – this deal should make Mets fans want to throw something. Realistically, Jason Bay is about +1 win better than Marlon Byrd, maybe +1.5 if you think UZR is just way off on his defense. Byrd signed for $5 million per year, while Bay gets $16.5 million per year.

Given the relative costs, the Mets would have been far better off with Byrd and $10 million to spend on a pitcher than with Bay."

- Dave Cameron

Here is something for you to hate. :)

Joe, there's no hate here. It's not personal with me. It's strictly business.

As for the Cameron comment, yeah, I'm a Mets fan; and yeah, I'd like to throw something----something heavy at Dave Cameron's head.

Cameron's solution to the Mets problem of needing a basher was Marlon Byrd?

Marlon Byrd, whose numbers----as mentioned earlier----were helped by playing in a bandbox ballpark that has turned slightly above-average hitters and worse (remember Kevin Elster?) into 20-homer men? The litany of players who got paid based on playing in Texas is massive.

Byrd for the Mets?

In Citi Field?

Byrd might---might----reach ten homers based on the games in Philadelphia and a couple of other bandboxes in the National League; he'd be a disaster in Citi Field and nowhere close to what the Mets needed on and off the field. Would the club be able to hold a press conference and sell a dubious fan base that Marlon Byrd would cure the ills of the Mets from 2009? Even without the ludicrous litany of injuries that demolished the season, Marlon Byrd wouldn't inspire one fan to buy a ticket to see the Mets. Not one. Jason Bay does.

Marlon Byrd?

If the Bay signing had caused the Mets to exhaust their resources for subsequent moves, then maybe there's a basis for the stat zombie concern over money; but the Bay signing is the first move of the winter with others to come. They're going to spend $10 million on a pitcher.

What possible difference could the money make to the Dave Camerons of the world other than the stat zombie goal of implying they're smarter because they did it cheaper. Is he paying the Mets' bills?

It's that kind of thinking that led to the Red Sox missing the playoffs in 2006 and flinging money at every one of their problems to come back and win the World Series in 2007; and the Yankees missing the playoffs in 2008 and flinging money at every one of their problems to come back and win the World Series in 2009.

You can choose to listen to the Dave Camerons of the world with this brand of monolithic, dogmatic, self-righteous nonsense based on nothing other than advancing his shattered agenda, or you can listen to common sense.

If you want to buy into Cameron's absurd justifications, then you're beyond my help.

As much as I like to believe the opposite, my powers have limits. Unfortunately.

Even I can't save you.

I admit it.

I leave you to your fate.


Joe said...

I felt the same way about Cameron's comment (found in the comment section of his post at Fangraphs). If the Mets *only* had $16 million to spend, they could have better used that money to address multiple issues. But they can sign Jason Bay AND a pitcher, and maybe a few other small pieces as well. Plus, Byrd would be playing left, not center, meaning that his value would decrease (more easily replaceable, doesn't have the opportunity to field as many balls, impacts the game a little less, etc)

Anonymous said...

It will be great to watch World Series: New York Yankees, i have bought tickets from looking forward to it.