That got your attention, didn't it? The truth is, I'm dead serious. I'd like to present to you my plan for the offseason as the Cubs head toward winning the World Series in 2009. It begins with a drastic move, a bold move that demands teams take notice of Jim Hendry and the Cubs. The move? Trading Carlos Zambrano.
All year we heard that the Cubs needed to bring in another starter, and we did. Rich Harden came in and pitched well. In the end it was hitting that let us down in the playoffs. Say what you will about how pitching wins in the playoffs, but the Cubs have done everything humanly possible to disprove that age old theory in the past two years. We've seen the team beat itself and virtually go hitless. Now, I'm proposing we fix that issue with a move to bring in some of the hitting needed.
Move 1 - Trade Carlos Zambrano and Mark DeRosa to the New York Yankees for Robinson Cano, Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy.
The snag with this move is Zambrano's no trade clause. If you can get him to waive that for the opportunity to play in pinstripes, this deal works. In my mind, and obviously I may be wrong on this, Phil Hughes' value is lower than the Yankees would have hoped. He struggled in both the Major Leagues as well as AAA this season and forced the Yankees to turn to guys like Carl Pavano and Sidney Ponson. He and Kennedy would give the Cubs two promising young arms to begin to build around. They would be able to slot into the rotation near the back and compete with the likes of Sean Marshall and Jason Marquis for those last few spots in the rotation. Cano would allow the Cubs to have a left handed bat in the lineup that doesn't strikeout a good amount of times. He hits for above average power and has the potential to one day be a 25 - 30 homerun guy. He's coming off a down year and because of the need for starting pitching, becomes expendable for Brian Cashman, who loves to move the farm and leave the team with a thin prospect pipeline.
For the Cubs, moving Zambrano makes sense for a simple fact that many may not agree with: He's now an injury risk. He wasn't himself down the stretch and was forced to get a cortisone shot to even pitch. For years we've seen him take the ball each and every day and never had injury concerns ... until 2008. It's time to move him before he becomes an all too familiar problem for Cubs fans. We've had our share of arm injuries to franchise pitchers, and I'm not in the mood for another. We had a chance to move Mark Prior back in the day for Erik Bedard and Miguel Tejada. In the end, we got nothing for him. Let's not let that happen with Zambrano.
On the Mark DeRosa front, it would be tough to lose him. He's one of the most likeable Cubs and was one of the most valuable members of this team over the past two years. He's versatile and has a great attitude. But sometimes you have to give up to get something in return, and DeRosa would be an appealing replacement for Cano in the lineup.
Move 2 - Sign Raul Ibanez to a one year deal with a mutual option for a second.
Ibanez doesn't get much praise as a quality left handed stick, but the truth of the matter is that he has driven in 100+ runs over the past three seasons, all while playing for a bad Seattle team. At 37 years old, he's not going to warrant a long term deal. He would provide another quality left handed bat in the OF and could play RF for the team next year as well as fill in for Soriano in LF and Derrek Lee at 1B. What would that mean for Fukudome? Just wait and find out.
Move 3 - Resign Kerry Wood, Ryan Dempster and Reed Johnson and pick up the option for Rich Harden.
These guys all deserve to come back and it's important to reward them for a job well done all year. All four were welcomed surprises to the team this year and I feel all will be important in the 2009 run as well. Some may worry that Wood and Harden will break down or that Dempster and Johnson were just flashes in the pan. With any move comes risk, but Wood and Harden still have electric stuff. Dempster played a vital role as the ace and seems to have figured out his issues with tipping pitches. Johnson found a role on this team in the platoon and that can help Felix Pie in the long run.
The Cubs have the tools to make it to the World Series in 2009. I liked this team coming into 2008 and I don't think it needs much tweaking. Sometimes you just go cold at the worst possible times and for the Cubs it's happened to the bats the past two years. In my mind we were the best NL team this year and in the end, we went home early. Tough break.
That's it for the off-season. Here is my Opening Day roster for 2009:
Catcher (2) - Geovany Soto, Koyie Hill
Infield (6) - Derrek Lee, Robinson Cano, Ryan Theriot, Aramis Ramirez, Mike Fontenot, Ronny Cedeno
Outfield (5) - Alfonso Soriano, Felix Pie, Reed Johnson, Raul Ibanez, Kosuke Fukudome
Starters (5) - Rich Harden, Ted Lilly, Ryan Dempster, Jason Marquis, Sean Marshall
Relievers (7) - Chad Gaudin, Michael Wuertz, Jeff Samardzija, Carlos Marmol, Neal Cotts, Kerry Wood, Angel Guzman
Down on the Farm
In addition to the 25 man roster, we're presented with a bright future from possible reinforcements down below. Here are some notables:
Micah Hoffpauir (1B / RF)
Wellington Castillo (C) - Hit .292 / .362 / .414 in AA in 57 games
Casey McGehee (IF)
Josh Kroeger (OF)
Jake Fox (1B)
Ian Kennedy (SP)
Phil Hughes (SP)
Rich Hill (SP)
Mitch Atkins (SP)
Donald Veal (SP)
Jose Ceda (MR)
Jose Ascanio (MR)
Kevin Hart (MR/SP)
Dumas Garcia (MR)
Andrew Cashner (MR)