SI's Jon Heyman separates the wheat from the chaff in this column as he breaks down baseball's offseason. He puts the Cubs in the 'winners' column ... though it sure sounds like he's talking himself into that move:
11. Cubs: Milton Bradley and the lovable losers have the potential to be a dicey mix, and it doesn't help that they'll need the volatile slugger to remain healthy enough to play the outfield. Kevin Gregg doesn't make up for the loss of Kerry Wood, and Aaron Miles isn't as good as Mark DeRosa, who was a great find for them. But they did keep their fine rotation intact, Aaron Heilman may be a find and they're already the favorites to import Jake Peavy at midseason.
Let's go move by move here:
Milton Bradley: don't like it.
Kevin Gregg: ain't no Kerry Wood.
Aaron Miles: ain't no Mark DeRosa (and thank GOD that fucker is gone; was there ever a Brewers-Cubs game where that asshole didn't hit a home run?).
"But they did keep their fine rotation intact..."
Well, yeah, they did, but that only involved signing Ryan Dempster to an absurd 4-year, $52-million contract. (Call me in two years; lemme know if you'd like that to spend that $13 million per on somebody else.)
And are we really convinced about the soundness of the starting five? Dempster had one great year after four years in exile in the bullpen. Zambrano's stats have been in a consistent decline since 2003 (did you realize he only struck out 130 guys last year?), and he had to be shut down twice last year (albeit briefly) because of a balky shoulder. DickHard is a mortal lock for two trips to the DL. Ted Lilly ... will throw 82 mph and confound the Brewers every time he faces them. Fine, I concede that one. And who's the fifth starter? Sean Marshall? Samardasijzakjla? Aaron Freaking Heilman?
I'm not saying that it's not a good group, nor am I saying that it's not a better rotation than the Brewers starting five. Alls I'm sayin' is that there's a couple sticks of dynamite there that could blow a hole in that team.
Enough with the Cubs. Heyman tosses the Crew with the rest of the dregs of the league in his "losers" column (though he calls them "non-winners," apparently having been brainwashed by the political correctness police):
24. Brewers: They caught a tough break when the losses of both Sabathia and Ben Sheets netted them only one second-round pick (for Sabathia). Braden Looper should help, but it's hard to imagine what they see in Eric Gagne again. Their fine nucleus of everyday players is going to have to do a lot of meshing.
Can't much quibble with the first point, though it's hard to classify anything involving Ben Sheets and his ever-expanding claptrap as a "tough break." After living the Ben Sheets Experience for six years, I'd say Capt. Snatch going on the free agent market only to eventually reveal that he still has a shredded elbow tendon and never properly rehabbed it, thereby necessitating surgery that he wants the Brewers to foot the bill for, and ending the chances that any team will sign him before June and costing the Brewers a draft pick ... yeah, that'd fall under the heading of "business as usual."
Re: Mr. Looper. I remain firmly in the DID NOT WANT camp. And let me finish Mr. Heyman's sentence for him: "Braden Looper should help ... deflect some of the fans' hatred for Jeff Suppan, because he undoubtedly will be just as shitty." There. That's better.
I'm not ready to talk about Eric Gagne yet. Check back next week.
Finally: I don't know what this sentence -- "Their fine nucleus of everyday players is going to have to do a lot of meshing" -- means. I'm hoping that last word is a typo, because it doesn't make a whole hell of a lot of sense. They have to 'mesh'? You mean, like this (possibly NSFW)? Methinks you might've meant to say 'mashing.'