Friday, January 28, 2005

I like this kind of speculation…

Instead of contemplating a Dubois/Hollandsworth platoon, Baseball Prospectus is speculating about a possible Orondez/Hollandsworth platoon, which would take advantage of the fact that Hollandsworth seems to hit better in a platoon situation and also allow Maggs time to recover:

Ordonez to the Rescue? Even with Sosa still on board, Moises Alou's departure has left a void in the Cubs outfield. Though he likely will not be 100 percent, there has been talk regarding Magglio Ordonez as a possible replacement. An Ordonez/Todd Hollandsworth platoon could work out very well until Mags is ready to go full-tilt. The Cubs could take advantage of Hollandsworth's platoon split (.255/.307/.368 vs. LHP and .286/.351/.481 vs. RHP from 2002-2004), as their early schedule promises to include a lot of lefties (Shawn Estes, Doug Davis, Chris Capuano, Eric Milton, Oliver Perez, Mark Redman, etc.). Such a platoon could give the Cubs time to work Ordonez back to full-time duty.

Unfortunately, Ordonez’s greedy agent (one $cott Bora$) has indicated that Magglio will not sign a cheap one-year incentive laden deal (via the Cubs Chronicle):

ARLINGTON, Texas - Agent Scott Boras confirmed Tuesday that free agent Magglio Ordonez is interested in playing for the Rangers but made two things clear:

Ordonez's injured right knee is healthy after multiple surgeries, and he has no intention of being a designated hitter.

The power hitting outfielder is not willing to accept a one-year contract and a reduced salary well below the $14 million he made with the Chicago White Sox in 2004.

"The market place has been very aggressive for him," said Boras, who has had two conversations with the Rangers about Ordonez. "You're talking about a guy who hit .300 with about 30 home runs and over 100 RBI for five straight years. This is a high-end player."

And that, my friends, probably means Magglio Ordonez will not be a Cub next season. We are speculating that he will end up back in the AL Central with the Detroit Tigers, who have already demonstrated a penchant to overpay (e.g., Troy Percival), and who just received a counteroffer from Bora$ Thursday night. If the knee is gimpy, we will all be thankful for having passed. On the other hand, if Maggs puts up the type of numbers he’s consistently put up the last five seasons (and I suspect he will) – this commentator will be engaged in the perpectual activity that has become commonplace for a Cubs fan – hand-wringing.

I personally am very much in favor of Hendry going after Magglio and platooning him with Hollandsworth while also retaining Sosa for this year. I don’t think it should be an either/or but rather a both/and proposition for Maggs and Sammy. In fact, if Jim Hendry would go out and actually sign Ordonez, I think I would be about as happy as this extremely annoying gentleman:

The relevant question is - Will the Tribune Co. open up the coffers? Probably not, and especially since Hendry is apparently happy with this present squad which underachieved so splendidly well last year.

In any event, from the same Baseball Prospectus article cited above, they make the following interesting comments on the Cubs closer situation:

A-S-T-A-C-I-O: Conventional wisdom has the Cubs signing Robb Nen to be the closer. Nen's numbers certainly stack up well, and he played under Dusty Baker in San Francisco, which may be another plus. Other ideas are to make a deal for Orioles closer Jorge Julio, or turn the job over to an incumbent such as Joe Borowski or Ryan Dempster.

A third option could be turning to Pedro Astacio. While the Cubs have not been included among his list of possible suitors, he could fit well here. He performed well in the Dominican this winter, and the combination of his age and shoulder history make him tailor-made for short outings.
Here's how the candidates stack up:

Nen 2.95 .68 14.7
Julio 1.71 .91 10.7
Dempster 1.40 .93 8.8
Astacio 2.08 1.05 6.7
Borowski 2.09 .76 4.3

Nen is clearly superior among this group, though the risk for someone who hasn't pitched competitively in two years is high. Julio is not only temperamental, but will cost the Cubs prospects, something Jim Hendry has successfully avoided doing. If the Cubs are reluctant to turn the role over to Dempster or Borowski, then Astacio may be a good fit, and he is certainly worth signing even if his shoulder does not hold up.

I personally like the idea of either trading for Julio or giving Dempster a shot. I think Borowski is finished, and Nen is a major question mark with regard to his health. Should be interesting to see how this shapes up in Spring Training!