The Winter Meetings in Orlando have been stalled by Cliff Lee, however, the Cubs have managed to find their first baseman for the upcoming season. Carlos Pena has agreed to a one-year contract worth about $10 Million.
Jim Hendry was running out of options as the search for a first baseman intensified. Adrian Gonzalez was traded to Boston, Lance Berkman was signed by the Cardinals, and Adam Dunn will join Paul Konerko on the White Sox. With available Free Agents dwindling, Hendry had to do something, something fast. Hendry has been talking to Carlos Pena and Adam LaRoche, but has decided to go with former Tampa Bay, first baseman, Carlos Pena.
Pena is the top defensive first baseman in this year’s free agent market. He is a Gold Glove Award winner. Despite his offensive struggles, Pena still managed to hit 28 homeruns last year. He only batted .196, which has some Cubs’ fans nervous, but by coming to Chicago, Pena will have the opportunity to work with Cubs’ Hitting Coach, Rudy Jaramillo. A change in his batting approach should improve his swing. Poor hitting is fixable, especially when a hitter is willing to learn and make adjustments. With a one-year deal, Pena will be motivated to make vast improvements to increase his market value next year. I think Jim Hendry made the right decision by signing Pena. In my humble opinion, Carlos Pena will be a good fit for the Cubs. He will improve a defense that struggled last season, he adds a left-handed power bat to the middle of the line-up, and he is a leader in the club house. The Cubs are in desperate need for all of those things. While I have criticized Hendry for not making any moves up to this point, I will admit that he has done the right thing in signing Pena. He will be a welcomed addition.
In other news, the Cubs have shown interest in some pitchers this week. According to MLB Trade Rumors http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/chicago_cubs/index.html, the Cubs have had discussions concerning Zack Greinke, Matt Garza, and Brandon Webb. There are talks of a trade with the Rangers for Chris Davis, a potential power-hitter, and Darren O’Day, a side-armed reliever with an ERA under 2.00. It has also been reported that the Cubs are shopping Tom Gorzellany around to create an opening in the starting rotation.
Good news! The Winter Meetings are starting to heat up, but the Cubs are just getting warmed up. I can’t wait to see what happens next. With pitching a top priority, look for Jim Hendry to target a pitcher to solidify the starting rotation next.
The Cubs plan to add a pitcher to the starting rotation. Let’s examine the current pool of free agents and try to find the best fit.
First, I will list some of the best options, then we’ll go from there and decide who would fit in well with the Cubs.
Erik Bedard is a left-hander with solid numbers. A career 3.71 ERA and a 51-41 record. He has one of the best curve balls in the majors.
Jeff Francis, another southpaw, has a career 55-50 record and a 4.77 ERA.
Freddy Garcia is a right-handed veteran who knows how to win. A career 133-87 record and a 4.13 ERA. He has 1,390 career strikeouts.
The Cubs have reported interest in Jon Garland, a former Whitesox right-hander. He has a 131-114 record in 11 seasons. He has 1096 career K’s with an ERA of 4.32.
Cliff Lee is probably not an option. That’s all I will say, other than yes, I want him on the Cubs too.
Aaron Harang has an 81-87 record and a 4.33 ERA.
Vincente Padilla has a 104-90 record and a 4.31 ERA. He has thrown over a thousand strike outs.
Brad Penny is available. He boasts a 108-88 record with a 4.11 ERA. He has 1,176 K’s in 11 seasons. Penny was injured most of last year.
Andy Pettite is 39, but has proven that he can still pitch. A post-season veteran who knows how to win. In 16 seasons, Pettite has a 240-138 career record, 3.88 ERA, and 2251 K’s.
Brandon Webb has had his set-backs but will be on the Free Agent market. He is 87-62, has a 3.27 ERA, and over a thousand strikeouts in 7 seasons.
Jake Westbrook has a career 73-75 record, a 4.29 ERA in 10 seasons.
With the struggles that Dontrelle Willis has had with Detroit, the Cubs may find a bargain, provided he can turn his career around. The D-Train is a lefty with a 71-63 record and a 4.12 ERA. He has declined over the past few seasons and has some serious question marks. He was drafted by the Cubs so maybe the Cubs could resurrect his career.
The San Diego Padres parted company with Chris Young. Although he is bouncing back from surgery last year, Young remains a solid pitcher, but has something to prove, mainly that he is healthy. He has a 3.80 ERA in his career, with a 48-34 win-loss record in 7 seasons.
Jeremy Bonderman is last on the list. He has a 67-77 record and a 4.89 ERA in 8 seasons.
That is the list of possibilities that the Cubs may explore to complete the starting rotation. If a pitcher wasn’t listed, then I felt that they weren’t a good fit. I have not concluded who I would want, but a few of my favorites are the ones listed. Hopefully the Cubs will choose wisely amongst them.
Among trade possibilities, the Cubs may pursue Zack Greinke. The Kansas City Royals are willing to make a trade. K.C. has reported that they will accept trade offers if the other team is willing to part with 2 Major League ready starting pitchers.
The Cubs have quite a few pitchers that the Royals may be interested in. We’ll see if Jim Hendry makes a pitch for him in the offseason. He is a solid starter, but is still owed 27 million over the next few years, so it isn’t clear if the Cubs are willing to take on more salary. We’ll have to wait and see.
Those are my suggestions. A left-handed starter would be a good choice to replace the absence of Ted Lilly, but a solid right-hander would also work. Let’s go out and get some solid pitching. Go Cubs!
Please add to the SUGGESTION BOX. Feel free to leave a comment. Who do you think would be the best fit?