Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Marquis officially joins Cubs, Hendry content

It's been almost two weeks since we knew that Jason Marquis would be a Cub, but finally the 28-year-old right hander has finally passed his physical and signed the contract. The three-year deal is worth $21 million, just like his number, 21, which he plans to keep, despite the history of the number within the organization. Earlier this month, Ted Lilly was told to choose a different number when he requested 31, the number he wore with the Blue Jays. Though there are no plans to formally retire the number any time soon, team president John McDonough didn't feel that it was appropriate to let another player wear it. Of course, hall-of-famer Fergie Jenkins and future hall-of-famer Greg Maddux have previously worn 31 with the Cubs. Instead, Lilly will wear number 30.

Cubs' GM Jim Hendry seems to be content for the moment, and he should be. After re-signing Ramirez, Wood and Miller, as well as adding free agents DeRosa, Soriano, Lilly, Ward, and Marquis, the Cubs have spent over $300 million this off-season. There are still a few issues that need to be addressed before the start of the season, though.

The Cubs would still like to add a left-handed bat in right-handed heavy offense, though Daryle Ward should be a threat off of the bench. Ward hit .345 in 113 at-bats last season against right-handers, posting a 1.032 OPS while slugging all 7 of his homeruns and collecting all 26 of his RBI's against righties. The team was interested in Cliff Floyd for a while, and though the interest has died down recently, Floyd is expected to remain a free agent for quite some time.

Center field also appears to be an issue of concern, as there currently isn't a clear-cut starter for the job. Though the team is leaning toward giving Felix Pie the job, the Cubs organization should be careful not to let Pie turn into another Corey Patterson. Moving Jacque Jones or Mark DeRosa to center field has also been considered.

Saturday, December 9, 2006

Report: Marquis to join Cubs

It appears that Jason Marquis will join the Cubs.

If you thought that paying Soriano $136 million over the next eight years or giving Lilly more than $40 million for the next four years was bad, wait till you hear what Hendry has agreed to pay Jason Marquis.

Though sources have been reporting figures between $20 and $28 million over the next three years, the Chicago Tribune announced Saturday that Marquis will join Lilly, Zambrano, and Hill in the rotation. Having to pay Izturis over $4 million next season doesn't seem too bad anymore, does it?

In any case, I still like the signing. I'm sick of worrying how much we're paying any of these players to come to Wrigley Field. The rotation needed help, and Marquis brings it. Sort of.

Marquis won 14 games last season, but finished with an ERA over 6, including a 3-10, 6.72 second-half. Marquis has shown some success in the past, however, posting a 15-7 record with a 3.71 ERA in 2004 and a 13-14 record, with a 4.13 ERA in 2005. Despite the fact that he's allowed an average of 30 homeruns per season over the last three years, Marquis has recorded almost 50% more groundouts than airouts in his career. Hopefully the thick grass at Wrigley Field will help him keep the bases empty when he does give up the homers.

Lilly, Ward sign with Cubs

We may have overpaid for Ted Lilly, as we have with Aramis Ramirez, Kerry Wood, Mark DeRosa, and Alfonso Soriano, but it seems like Jim Hendry is finally sick of losing. It’s about time, too.

Ted Lilly may not be a quality arm like Schmidt or Zito, but he is still a great addition to the team. Lilly posted a 15-13 record last year with a 4.31 ERA with the Blue Jays last year, and has averaged over 12 wins per year for the last four years. The pitching does not need to be as dominant as it was in 2003, because of the fact that the offense contains Lee, Ramirez, Soriano, and Barrett, who should, in all likelihood, combine for over 120 homeruns.
The starting rotation still lacks one arm though, as Lilly joins Zambrano, Hill, and Marshall. While Glendon Rusch, Wade Miller, or Mark Prior could take up the fifth spot in the rotation, the team should not enter the season having to count on one of them to step up.

I also like the addition of Daryle Ward. With Dusty Baker no longer around to play the wrong guys, shoring up the bench with quality pinch hitters is not a bad idea. Ward hit .308 last season in 98 games with the Braves and Nationals, while clubbing 7 homeruns in just 130 at-bats. Ward should serve as a backup at first base and the three outfield positions as well as giving Pinella a decent bat off of the left side of the bench.

Jim's real close to being done. But he's not done yet.