The Cubs scored more runs than any NL team in 2008, and they gave up fewer runs than any team other than the Dodgers. That’s a recipe for success.

Moreover, it’s not likely that the 2009 Cubs will look much different from the 2008 Cubs. All of the team’s major players are set to return, with the exception of the following free agents:

  • SP Ryan Dempster
  • CL Kerry Wood
  • OF Jim Edmonds

Edwards Edmonds’ emergance as a dependable regular last year was gravy for Chicago, who picked him up after San Diego cut him. He won’t be back.

Wood has been a Cub his entire career, but if he departs Chicago has several capable replacements lined up, most notably Carlos Marmol.

Dempster is the key. He won 17 games in 2008, posted a sub-3.00 ERA and he’s an important part of Chicago’s rotation. All indications are that Dempster wants to stay with the Cubs, but it’s unlikely he’ll give the organization much of a discount. He’s 31. This might be his one chance to cash in and he’s not going to blow it.

Even if the Cubs lose Dempster, they’ll still have Carlos Zambrano, Rich Harden and Rich Hill Ted Lilly at the top of their rotation. And that ain’t bad. With Dempster and a healthy Harden, I just don’t see any team competing with Chicago.

Outside of pitching, the only position the Cubs will need to address this offseason is right field. Cubs manager Lou Piniella says the Cubs will move RF Kosuke Fukudome to center field to platoon with Reed Johnson. Fukudome played well over the season’s first three months, hitting .296/.404/.430, but he fell to just .207/.297/.313 the rest of the way. He saved four bases compared to the average right fielder. Moving Fukudome to center will make his lackluster offense more palatable. And it will open up a whole in right field that the team can fill with somebody who can hit. Bobby Abreu has been a popular rumor.

Cubs fans are no doubt a little down on their team after it’s postseason implosion. But I’m a Phillies fan and take it from me: October is a crapshoot. Last year, the Phils got swept by a very mediocre Rockies team that just happened to be on a mission from God. This year, the Phillies brought a very similar team to the playoffs and went the distance.

Chicago can make a similar turnaround. If they make just a few tweaks, like signing Bobby Abreu and bringing back Dempster, they’ll be favorites to win it all.

– What They Need Index –

9 Responses to “What They Need: Cubs — A new right fielder”

  1. Hrmmm…Jim Edwards? How about Edmonds.

  2. Also Edmonds can hardly be called a regularly, he platooned CF with Johnson. You also mention Rich Hill at the top of their rotation. Hill has been banished to the minors and is a longshot to make it back to the bigs anytime soon. Do you even follow the Cubs? Honestly, this is piece is riddled with errors, and should be re-written by someone who actually follows the Cubs.

  3. Coley Ward says:

    You’re right that my mispelling of Edmonds’ last name was embarrassing. What can I say? It was a mental slip. Believe it or not, I did know how to spell his name. And you’re right that I should have pointed out that Hill has fallen from grace. But I think it’s nitpicking to criticize me for calling Edmonds a regular. You would have preferred, “semi-regular”? My point was simply that he was more than a bench player.

  4. Yeah, I’ll let it slide. I think I was a little ornery this morning and your mental slips set me off. You guys usually do a pretty good job. Besides the egregious Red Sox coverage.

  5. I’m a diehard Cubs fan and it’s an exciting time of year. Half of Chicago is down about Kerry Wood not coming back. The other half (White Sox fans) are busy getting arrested. You’re correct when saying the biggest need is right field. I am not sure why, but I personally don’t picture Bobby Abreu there. Maybe it’s because I haven’t followed him EVER or if it is because he is older. I personally would rather throw money towards the likes of Adam Dunn, Raul Ibanez, or a cheaper option, such as Jeremy Hermida. My darkhorse would be Milton Bradley — if he can just stay sane.

  6. Coley Ward says:

    I honestly don’t know what kind of a defensive outfielder Bradley would be. Probably not very good. And I’m sure he’d be more likely to get hurt playing the outfield. But for sure the guy can hit.

    Hermida, I think, would mean trading more than the Cubs are willing to part with. Ibanez is a good option who I should have mentioned in my post, though he’s a defensive liability.

    I watched Abreu play when he was in Philly and, while he never lived up to the fans’ standards, he was a very productive player. I know this is an older, slower version, but I think he’d still be a big improvement for the Cubs.

    My guess is that Abreu is going to continue to see if he can land an expensive three-year deal somewhere and if he can’t he’ll accept the Yankees’ arbitration offer.

  7. Coley Ward says:

    I just went and looked it up, and Abreu’s offense-plus-defense last season was -7.9, while Ibanez’s OPD was 2.42. So unless you really value Abreu’s leadership skills I think Ibanez is probably the better bet.

  8. The Cubs for sure are looking for a left handed power hitter to play right next season. Ibanez and Abreau are possibilities, I would prefer Adam Dunn or Milton Bradley. It’s also not out of the question that the Cubs can make an offer to get Hermida as well. They do have some half way decent young arms that are cheap. Hendry has made quite a few deals with the Marlins, most recently with the acquisition of Kevin Gregg.

  9. Bradley wouldn’t be a bad option. I can’t stand Dunn and I think Abreu is washed up. Maybe they can bring Corey Patterson back (sarcasm). It’s sad to see Wood go, but maybe it officially washes away the curse. I honestly think they should train for Brian Roberts to play 2nd and move DeRosa to RF. That way they’d finally have a leadoff hitter. Soriano is a 5th hitter.

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