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Today’s series against the New York Mets marks a nine-game stretch of eminently winnable games. After the Mets, the Cubs take on the Astros and Pirates. If the Cubs cannot come out of this stretch with a winning mark (5-4, at a minimum), even with the injury issues, it may well be time to call it a season.

  • Speaking of the Mets, you’ve probably heard by now that Mets’ chairman Fred Wilpon – already embroiled in a Bernie Madoff-induced financial crisis with respect to the team and his ownership interest in the Mets – was quoted in a New Yorker magazine article as saying some pretty unflattering things about some of his team’s star players, including Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran. The quote that jumped out at me was about third baseman David Wright. Wilpon described him as “[a] very good player. Not a superstar.” Wright is signed through next year for $15 million, and, given the Mets’ situation and Wilpon’s comments, I couldn’t help but wonder if they might be willing to part with Wright next year. If so, he might be a good fit for the Cubs, who will likely let Aramis Ramirez leave with a $2 million buyout at the end of 2011. The Cubs don’t have a sure-fire replacement ready to go, so you’d have to believe that, if Wright is made available, the Cubs will kick the tires.
  • Marlon Byrd expects to return to play this year, but it could be a long time before he gets back. We may get more information on his prognosis this week after he meets with team doctors. In the interim, the Cubs are likely to call up AAA outfielder Lou Montanez to be the team’s fifth outfielder. We’ll have more on that when the move is official.
  • Geovany Soto’s DL stint is up on Thursday, and there has been no indication that he will not return when that day comes. Obviously the difference between he and Koyie Hill is significant. His absence has hurt.
  • AA Tennessee pitcher Robert Whitenack and kid-who-plays-all-over Ryan Flaherty were the players of the week in the Southern League. Whitenack, not a top prospect entering the season, is said to have added a few MPH on his fastball this year as well as a crispness to his off-speed stuff, and is tearing up AA after an early promotion from High A. He should definitely be on your prospect radar now. Flaherty is playing all over the diamond (which is both a credit and a demerit), and leads the Southern League in RBI and is second in homers. He was a supplemental first round pick for the Cubs in 2008, and turns 25 this year. You can expect to see him with the big club if not in the second half of this year, then next year for sure.
  • pfk

    In the discussion of firing Hendry, I kept reading that teams don’t fire GMs in mid season. I thought that was strange so I did some research and indeed dozens of well-known GMs were fired in mid season. So, throw that misconception out the window please.

    • Ace

      I don’t know that anyone has said teams “don’t” fire GMs mid-season; we’ve said it’s rare. And it is. It’s more rare than mid-season managerial changes, that is.

      • Jeff

        Love the idea of David Wright at third. I think it would be a huge move for him from Citi Field to Wrigley. I don’t know what kind of moron goes out and bashes all the big money guys on his team when he’s obviously about to rebuild. At least Ricketts is smarter than this.

        It’s becoming less and less rare to fire a gm midseason. Although there do seem to be circumstances behind it when it does happen. The Cubs fired Ed Lynch in June when Andy McFAIL took over, but that was different owners, different situation, I just don’t think Ricketts has the confidence to do it right now. One of the guys who was let go midseason is a guy I think would be a great fit for the Cubs; Josh Byrnes. I think he’s working as an assistant somewhere, so I think he would jump at the chance to run a major market team.

      • pfk

        Not rare at all. I’ll put together the list and post it.

        • Ace

          Maybe we should define “rare.” A manager or three is fired every single season. That’s not rare. I would be shocked to learn that a GM is canned mid-season more than once every couple seasons. That, to me, is rare.

          • pfk

            Just a difference of opinion of rare. The point is, there is no “code” that you don’t fire a GM in mid season and if you make the decision to go in another direction, then you might as well get on with it and not be afraid of breaking some code.

            • Ace

              Not only do I not disagree, I think moving on now – right now – is the right move.

  • Bridger

    Rebuilding a management structure in the middle of a season is difficult. It would make sense if the roster is more or less set for the rest of the season. You want to give new management time to evaluate, build relationships with other organizations, and begin to get a plan in place…not throw them in a month or two before the trade deadline and force them to try to do it all in a hurry.

    • pfk

      Which is EXACTLY why Hendry should go now – not later. First, you have to find someone, then that person has to get to know the organization. If we wait until after the season, we will wind up missing out on the free agent market. There is no etiquette here folks. If he is going to go, then get it done now. Don’t let him screw up the deals at the trade deadline and be so late that we miss the free agent market, which starts not long ( I think 30 days) after the World Series.

      • Ace

        Actually, the free agency period starts five days after the WS ends (used to be 15 days). During those five days, players can negotiate only with their old team. After that, it’s open season.

  • Ron

    Also, I don’t know how many mlb ready GMa are out there out of work. It sounds like a good idea to let the new gmt build for the future but impractical at the same time. This is when the owner needs to step up and make sure he doesn’t hurt the team to bad in the interim.

  • Ron

    Darn auto correct

  • TimmyD78

    I would love having Wright and Fielder as corner infielders and batting 3-4…. I know we are going to have some money to spend but would that be in the budget?

    • Ace

      That’s the $140 million question.

  • Michigan Goat

    I think Wright would be a great addition to the Cubs, the question is whether we are willing to pay 15M for 3B. I think if that doesnt interfere with us getting Prince then I think it’s a great idea, Wright also has a club option for 2013. The other question is what we would have to give up, hopefully no more than a couple of mid-level prospects since this is a fire sale, but we would have to move ARam. I’ve always thought Wright was a true professional and he is a fan favorite in NY, he is about 5 years younger than ARam, better hustle and defense than we currently get and much more productive with his bat. I think a change of scenery would benefit him and he has handled all the disappointments and negative NY talk like a real pro. I think he would excite the fan base and give us another quality bat fir next year… If I was Hendry I’d be all over this so I could prove to everyone how great a trader I am… And that would be the greatest negative to this move.

    • pfk

      Amen. If he is going to move Wright, there will be no shortage of teams looking to get in on that deal. And, the Cubs don’t have a lot of great prospects to give up anymore. It will take much more than mid level types as a bunch of other clubs will step in and that will up the bidding. Fielder and Wright would be one heck of a corner combo. Whew! Just the thought gets me dizzy.

      • Ace

        I’m not sure how expensive he’d be. He’s set to make a very healthy salary next year, it’s basically a one-year deal, and he’ll be coming off a down/injured year.

        • Jeff

          His back is another thing to consider. It might lower his trade value in the short term, but back issues could be a career long problem and the Cubs definitely need to stay away from anyone with injury problems.

      • Michigan Goat

        I’m with you it sounds like a great combo, and great leadership (something we never had with Ram/Lee), and if Barney continues to maintain we’d have one he’ll of an infield. Maybe the youngster we brought up will shine and one if them could be used in a trade. I really think the Mets will be focusing on the salary dump vs the trade return. Go get him now before a bidding war starts.

        • Jeff

          Wouldn’t that be a jaw dropping infield to put out everyday? Wright, Fielder, Castro, and Barney? The future certainly looks brighter when you think about who the Cubs could get and not about what’s happening on the field right now.

          • http://twitter.com/thomaswconroy TWC

            I’m sorry, Jeff, did you just say “wait ’til next year”?

            • Jeff

              You have to come up with new ways of saying it after all these years.

  • Michigan Goat

    That sucks about Byrd, since we have heard so little on his status I fear this will be at least 60 days if not longer. It’s a real shame for such a quality player, and most attractive trade price, to suffer such a severe injury.

  • Mark

    Why haven’t they called up Whitenack yet?

  • willis

    Look what you did Ace, you got these guys being optimistic and down right giddy about the future. Shame on you.

    I think it would take some doing, but seeing that there really isn’t a 3rd baseman in tow for the future, it would be worth it, and still allow for some cash to go after Fielder.

  • pfk

    Hell, I’d throw in some money if we can swing both Wright and Fielder. What an infield that would be!! Unfortunately, it now looks like we have to rebuild our pitching staff. Yikes, if it isn’t one thing its another.

  • hardtop

    i dont know? Wright is what 29 or 30 next year? Though thats far from 35 its not exactly 26. I’d dont know what kind of deal it would take to get him and keep him, but I’d be reluctant to give him big dollars for even 3 years. Why? Becasue in 3 years we’ll have an overpaid, 33 year old, playing 3rd, whos best years are behind him, and who we’re desperate to dump for salary room…Just exactly like we do now! Not to say we should extend Aramis, but it be nice to land someone who isnt already making rediculous money looking for a retirment deal and a raise, which, I assume Wright is looking for. is he represented by scott boras by any chance.

    • Ace

      Even if the Cubs wouldn’t be able/want to re-sign Wright long-term, trading for him still makes a fair bit of sense. They don’t have a ready-made 3B for 2012 (a season in which, in theory, they could be competitive), and then they could squeeze a couple first round draft picks out of him if he signs elsewhere (which, if the Cubs offered arbitration but no long-term deal, you’d have to believe he would). I’d have to think about it, but I still think a deal could make some sense even if the Cubs only wanted him for one year.

    • Raymond Robert Koenig

      Wright turns 29 in December.

    • Michigan Goat

      He does have a 16M club option for 2013, don’t know if a trade makes that automatic or even comes with, but 15-16M for a player who is 28 right now and has a proven record of leadership and performance is a very good value. Remember Carlos Pena got 10M mainly cause he was a good guy and a guy like Wright would demand at least this much plus 5+ years. Getting him now is a great idea because it could me a major push for 2012/2013 especially if we have a whole new leadership team up top. I also think Wright would help sell tickets because he has that “DeRosa” factor of charm and looks that the ladies just love. I know alot of female fans that turned off once DeRo was gone

  • Odd

    Yeah, let’s pay $15m for a player because the ladies love him and he’ll sell tickets… I would be pissed if the Cubs traded for Wright. He’s aging, injury prone, and way too expensive. How is that different from Ramirez? Wright’s batting average has dropped big time over the past three years. Including 2011, two of his past three seasons have been terrible. He was supposed to have a huge year this year and he’s putting up numbers comparable to Carlos Pena.

    And why is everyone so quick to get rid of Aramis? I’d still take him over half the third basemen in the league, his defense is great, and he’s a great clubhouse guy and leader. Perhaps when his contract is up, he’ll want to stay with the Cubs a few more years and give them a discount, maybe Kerry Wood style. If we could keep Ramirez for not top dollar, I say we do that until we can acquire/call up a sure fire replacement.

    • Ace

      You mean it’s dropped since he started playing at Citi Field? Gotcha. Wright is three and a half years younger than Aramis Ramirez.

      And, well, Ramirez is many things, but a leader he is not.

      • Raymond Robert Koenig

        I hear Wright hates hitting at Citi Field, but he’s a little more tactful than the Mets’ owner.

      • Odd

        What does playing at Citi Field have to do with his average?

        And I didn’t say he was the same age as Ramirez, I said he was aging, as in getting older. Soon to be on the wrong side of 30.

        • Raymond Robert Koenig

          Balls that would be HRs at Citi Field would mean more hits for Wright, thus a higher BA. Also, Citi Field’s park index for BA is .96.

        • Ace

          I know you didn’t say he was the same age – I didn’t say you did. You said he was aging, and equated that to Ramirez aging. I simply pointed out that, even though we’re *all* aging, Wright is three and a half years younger than Ramirez. So if you’ve got a beef with dudes getting older, I can’t see how you can use that as a sting on Wright and then suggest the Cubs turn around and re-sign Ramirez.

  • Odd

    Citi’s walls are twice as tall as Shea’s were, so just about every ball that would have been a home run in the old park is still ending up a hit, so that’s not affecting his average.

    I’m saying I would rather sign Ramirez for half what they would pay Wright, if Aramis were to give the Cubs any kind of discount.

    • Jeff

      Citi Field is a pitchers park, no doubt about it. Everyone’s numbers declined in the new stadium and not just because of the walls.

      No way is ARam still worth 8 million a year. He hasn’t hit like ARam in two seasons now, and he hasn’t played defense well in at least that long. If he came back for a couple of million with some large incentives, I’d welcome him back. I wouldn’t saddle the team with his full salary next year for the type of production he brings, even making half his salary puts him at producing well below his value.

    • Raymond Robert Koenig

      You missed the part about Citi Field’s park index. BAs there are lower than they would be in a neutral park.

  • Odd

    Especially if the Cubs plan to go after Pujols or Prince, there’s no way they’re throwing out 15m+ for a third baseman.

  • Raymond Robert Koenig

    With Fukudome’s, Ramirez’s and Pena’s contracts coming off the books for next season, the Cubs might have salary room for Wright and a FA 1B. Besides, 3B is a bigger concern for next season.

    • Jeff

      Carlos Silva and John Grabow come off the list for another 10 million. The Cubs could talk to Dempster about an extension with an annual pay cut instead of him exercising his 15 million dollar option, which could hopefully save some more. There will be plenty of money to spend if they plan things out right.

      • http://twitter.com/thomaswconroy TWC

        Didn’t Dempster (quietly) rearrange his contract last offseason to defer some of what he’s due over the last two years of his contract? Thought that was supposed to free up some money to spend over last winter. On Koyie Hill’s arbitration raise.

        • Jeff

          Well I didn’t say they would spend the money they free up wisely, I’m just saying it’s another possible source of payroll for next year.

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