Here's my yearly trend of "If I was Jim Hendry" what I would do this offseason. I am going to write in 1st person as if I was Jim Hendry. This is just for fun and I want to see how I do. I'm going to try and be realistic as best as I can.
1) Hire Ryne Sandberg as the manager: My first choice was Joe Girardi but I hear he is staying with the New York Yankees. As I'm trying to make the team younger and since Ryne Sandberg was the Double A and Triple A manager, he would know the players the best and how to work with them. Also, he does not take anything for granted. I know Mike Quade did good in relief of Lou Piniella, but that Castro benching and playing Koyie Hill over Welnington Castillo drove me nuts. That's why I did not pick him as manager. I also do know Sandberg does not have major league managing before but he had a good track record in the minors. Quade didn't either, before taking over the Cubs for about two months.
2) Sign-Trade for 1B Adam LaRoche: The D'backs still don't know if his 7.5M option would be exercise, so I would trade for or sign him. I would sign him to a 1 year contract worth 7M, with a team option for 2012 worth 8M. If LaRoche's option is exercised and I think the D'backs would shop him, I would trade utility man Jeff Baker and starting pitcher Randy Wells. Baker was good but with the emergence of Darwin Barney, he has to be traded. Wells has looked good at times but he was really inconsistent this year and I think pitchers in the minors would do a better job (i.e. Archer and Jackson). I like a lot in LaRoche, besides his high strikeout rate and his low walking ability. I would hope the best hitting coach in the business (Rudy) will help him. He does have pop in his swing, he can bat in the middle of the order (3-5), a left-handed bat and he plays good defense. And, with the fielders throwing the ball in the dirt, a good defensive 1B would help out a lot.
3) Sign RP Kerry Wood: I would love for a Cubs-Wood reunion and I'm going to try and make it possible. Wood struggle with the Indians, but since being trade to a good team (Yankees) he has been lights out. Maybe it has to do something with the Indians being no good. I would sign him to a 1 year contract worth 6M and with a team option for 2012 worth 7.5M (Plus incentives). Only because of recent injuries. This is only if the Yankees do not retain him.
4) Re-Sign Nady: Nady said he would like to return to the club and I think that wouldn't be a bad idea. He would be the Cubs back-up 1B and 4th-5th OF like he was assign to when the Cubs signed him last offseason. But, this time, he will play more often, not once a week like he did before Lee was traded to the Braves. Nady showed he was useful as he hit and played wonderful defense at 1st base. The contract would be a one year deal worth 3M. plus incentives that could make it around 5-6M.
5) Trade Jeff Baker: I would trade Baker and save the 1-1.5M he would get in an arb raise. I know he killed lefties, but I think Barney can do the same, if not better in his place. Barney has shown great defense and he can play 3B, SS and 2B. Like I mention above he would be in the deal for 1B Adam LaRoche. If I was for some reason not able to trade him, I would non-tender him and still save the 1-1.5M he would earn in 2011.
6) Non-Tender Koyie Hill: This is such an obvious move, as Hill can't hit and plays OK defense. So, he has nothing spectacular to offer. He took playing time from Castillo in 2010 and that made me mad. I think Castillo would be a good fit, but if not, our system has more catchers that can do better than Hill. My pick goes to Welington Castillo. This would also save us about 1-1.3M.
7) Trade Kosuke Fukudome: This is a move that has to be made as the the OF is already crowded as it is. I would take on half of the 13M owe to him next season and that way I should be able to find a taker. Kosuke started hitting the ball as of late (when Piniella left) and he plays stellar defense. I would just look for prospects in return. So, this move will save us around 6.5M.
8) Shop Byrd: I would love to keep Byrd, but Brett Jackson who is supposedly on the same path as Starlin Castro was, could make the team in May or June. So, we will have Soriano in left, Jackson in CF and Colvin in RF. Then, Colvin would be the 4th OF if Byrd is still on the team or what. I would not trade Byrd in the offseason because what happens if Jackson struggles in the minors and the plan is on delay. We would be screwed. Also, this would allow me to see what value Byrd has. Then, if Jackson plays good next season, I could trade Byrd because his stock is high right now and I doubt he has the same season as last year. I will also keep an eye on Jackson this winter as he is playing for the USA.
9) Sign Brandon Webb: I think this could be a good signing because he will not cost much and he's a former all-star. Webb has gone through arm injuries the past season, but this could be a low risk high reward kind of a deal. I would sign him to a 1 year contract worth 1M, with a team option for the next season worth 3M. Plus incentives that could make the 1M into 3-5M.
10)Arb raises: All of these are 1 year contracts. I would offer Sean Marshall 1.3M, Angel Guzman 850K, Tom Gorzelanny 1.2M, and Geovany Soto 3M. I would sign Guzman just one more time and if he comes back healthy, it could be a good signing, but if not I would release him or non-tender him next offseason. I was thinking about signing Geovany Soto to an extension in which it would buy off all his arb years, but I thought this would be cheaper for the next season. In which it would. Maybe next offseason.
11) Sign Carlos Marmol to an extension: This would buy out the final 2 years of arbitration. He's 27 years old. I would sign him to as 3 year extension worth 18M at 6M per year. He has shown to be worth that contract and the contract is not long because for some reason RP don't pitch the same way for years. Also, in case of injury.
12) Release Silva: I would pay the 5.5M left on his contract, to save roster spots for a veteran or a youngster who shines. I will not be able to trade Silva, unless I take a bad contract in exchange and I don't want to do that. I think this is the best for the ball club.
13) Hope the youngsters shine and make the team: I would hope 2 pitching youngsters shine in spring training...Chris Archer and Jay Jackson. Chris Archer was one of the better pitchers in the minors last year and has been thought to make the team out of spring training. He came over in the Mark DeRosa trade. I will also keep an eye on him, as he is pitching for USA this winter. Also, another pitcher to keep any eye on is Jay Jackson. He was OK last year, but he has a good fastball and a good breaking ball. I was told he is going to be a good pitcher. Like I mention above, Castillo and Barney would also make the team out of spring training. Also, Brad Snyder being the 4th OF. He played good defense in limited time and he has potential to hit and I hope he does.
14) Other Notes that will be different from the 2010 team: My plan from the offseason moves would move Tom Gorzelanny from the rotation to the bullpen, Castillo will be back-up catcher, Barney will the utility guy and the pitching (both SP and RP) will be completely different.
15) Potential mid-season call-ups: OF Brett Jackson, OF Sam Fuld, P Chris Carpetner, 3B Marquez Smith and more depending on their performance next season.
16) Sign Felipe Lopez: I know he struggle with the Cardinals last year, but he has potential and is a cheap option. He would be a utility guy like Barney, but Barney would be ahead of him for playing time. Lopez can play 3B, SS, 2B, 1B and the OF. I would sign him to a 1 year contract worth 1.5M plus incentives that can make the 1.5M into 3-4M. Also, I would add a team option in there worth 3M for 2011.
Here's what the 25 man roster would look like on opening day:
2011 Batting Order:
1) DeWitt 2B-Barney IF (When plays)
2) Castro SS
3) LaRoche 1B
4) Ramirez 3B
5) Byrd CF
6) Soto C
7) Soriano LF
8) Colvin RF
9) Pitcher P
2011 Starting Rotation:
1) Carlos Zambrano
2) Ryan Dempster
3) Brandon Webb (hoping he comes back healthy, but that's a big IF.)
4) Chris Archer
5) Jay Jackson
Closer: Carlos Marmol
Set-up: Sean Marshall
Set-up: Andrew Cashner
RHP: Kerry Wood
LHP: John Grabow
LHP: Tom Gorzelanny
RHP: Angel Guzman (hoping he comes back healthy, but that's a big IF)
C: Welington Castillo
1B/OF: Xavier Nady
Utility: Darwin Barney
4th OF: Brad Snyder
2nd Utility: Felipe Lopez
C: Soto, Castillo
1B: LaRoche, Nady, Lopez
2B: DeWitt, Barney, Lopez
3B: Ramirez, Barney, Lopez
SS: Castro, Barney, Lopez
OF: Soriano, Byrd, Colvin, Nady. Snyder, Lopez
Pitchers: Zambrano, Dempster, Webb, Archer, Jackson, Marmol, Marshall, Cashner, Wood, Grabow, Gorzelanny and Guzman.
As Tom Ricketts already mentioned, the payroll will decrease from this season to next season. So, I could not offer big contracts or spend a lot. I would spend...counting FA signings, trades, arb raises: With me trading for LaRoche: 30.5M, and could go up to 40M or so with incentives but unlikely. With me signing LaRoche: 30M, that can go up to 40M with incentives but very unlikely. But, that does no account the 6.5M I save on Kosuke's contract. Just subtract than from the totals and that's where I would be at. Not too bad. The roster would be complete with all those moves.
However, I don't know if the player would accept the deal, the team accept the trade, if the player wants to come to Chicago, etc. That's what it makes this harder. But, I tried my best and this is what I came up with. It was fun and that's all that matters. I think this team would be in contention, if the young players shine and if the vets play to their potential, but if not, we can wish 2011 good bye.