Cubs Roster Report: November 1

Will the Cubs deal Sammy Sosa this offseason? He slumped and sulked, and it's a good bet the Cubs are going to try to find a taker for him.

OVERALL: The Cubs declined the options on LF Moises Alou, 2B Mark Grudzielanek, RHP Matt Clement, LHP Glendon Rusch, and 2B Todd Walker. INF Ramon Martinez filed for free agency.

OUTFIELD: Sosa (.253, 35 HR, 80 RBI) had his lowest homer total and average since 1997 and lowest RBI total since 1994 and might have sealed his fate with the club when he left the final game of the season early without permission and then blasted manager Dusty Baker.

It won't be easy to unload him (a new club would have a pay $35 million for two years) but it appears the Cubs will try.

Alou (.293, 39 HR, 106 RBI) led the Cubs in the power departments, but he is 38 and they are not exercising an $11.5 million option on his services next year. It's possible but not likely the Cubs and Alou will be able to settle on a lesser figure.

Corey Patterson (.266, 24 HR, 72 RBI, 32 stolen bases) led off the final two months of the season and had a red-hot August but faltered in September. He led the club with 168 strikeouts, so it's doubtful he will be the leadoff man when the team breaks camp in 2005.

Todd Hollandsworth (.318, 8 HR, 22 RBI) suffered a shin injury in late June and never returned. He was a great lefty bat to have come off the bench, and his loss was felt.

Tom Goodwin (.200, 0 HR, 3 RBI) was a handy guy to have around to pinch hit and pinch run, but he might not be back with the club after a two-year run.

INFIELD: The Cubs will have some decisions to make up the middle, but the corner positions should be solid for the next couple of years.

Grudzielanek (.307, 6 HR, 23 RBI) had troubles with his right Achilles tendon all year but played solid defense while posting his second .300-plus season in a Cubs uniform. The Cubs will have to decide if they want Grudzielanek or Walker back.

Walker (.278, 15 HR, 50 RBI) came to the Cubs with the idea he would be a backup player for one year. But he will be looking for a chance to start next year. The Cubs like his offense but not necessarily his defensive range or ability to turn a double play.

Martinez (.246, 3 HR, 30 RBI) might have played himself off the team after doing a so-so job while then-starting shortstop Alex Gonzalez was hurt early in the season.

Derrek Lee (.278, 32 HR, 98 RBI) is used to a heavy workload every season but swung a tired bat toward the end of this season (20-of-93 in his last 24 games) after leading the team with 159 games.

Aramis Ramirez (.318, 36 HR, 103 RBI) enjoyed another great offensive season, but the Cubs' bosses are delighted with his 10 errors on defense after committing 77 in his last three seasons.

Nomar Garciaparra (.297, 4 HR, 20 RBI) was a nice acquisition at the trade deadline, but the Cubs are not going to get into a bidding war for the star's long-term services. He said he loves Chicago and would consider coming back, but the Cubs don't plan to shell out huge money for his return.

Neifi Perez (.377, 2 HR, 6 RBI) might have earned a spot on the team next year after providing a spark when starting shortstop Nomar Garciaparra was injured for a handful of games late in the season.

Jose Macias (.268, 3 HR, 22 RBI) could play a variety of positions and might be back next year.

CATCHING: Michael Barrett enjoyed career-high numbers but played in 133 games and wore down toward the end of the season. Barrett (.287, 16 HR, 65 RBI) provided an offensive spark at a position from which the Cubs haven't gotten a lot of offense in recent years.

STARTING ROTATION: The Cubs figured Kerry Wood and Mark Prior would be their leaders, but the two had injury problems early in the season and combined to win only 14 games. Carlos Zambrano and Greg Maddux picked up some of the slack with 16 victories apiece. The Cubs will be looking for a No. 5 starter in 2005 because it appears they will not re-sign Matt Clement.

Wood (8-9, 3.72) had his first losing season on the major league level. Despite his heroic performance in the National League Division Series in 2003, his critics are wondering if the 27-year-old has underachieved in his career. Still, with his stuff, Cubs officials wouldn't be surprised for him to enjoy a breakout season in the next year or two.

Prior (6-4, 4.02, 139 strikeouts in 118 2/3 innings) was up and down after missing two months with Achilles and elbow problems. But in six starts with backup Paul Bako behind the plate, Prior was 4-0 with an 0.82 ERA, only five walks and 54 strikeouts.

Zambrano (16-8, 2.75) was rock solid all year while the rest of the staff was up and down. He was named the National League Pitcher of the Month in September when the Cubs were trying to nail down a wild-card spot. He led the league with a home ERA of 2.06 and day ERA of 1.70.

Maddux (16-11, 4.02, two of the team's three complete games) gave the Cubs a boost with a 9-4 mark after the All-Star break. For a guy who wasn't expected to give the Cubs big innings because of his age (38), he led the squad with 212 2/3 innings of work. He did a lot of good things this season, which can help overlook the fact he allowed a career-worst 35 home runs.

Clement (9-13, 3.68) was the hard-luck pitcher of the year in July and August but then couldn't go five innings in three of his last four starts and was skipped in the final two turns in the rotation. He will likely leave as a free agent.

BULLPEN: Closer LaTroy Hawkins blew two ninth-inning leads as the Cubs dropped eight of their final 10 games to fall out of the playoff picture. Hawkins (closer, 5-4, 2.63, 25 saves in 34 chances) will likely be a setup man, which is what the Cubs signed him up to do. He took over the closer's role in early June, when Joe Borowski was injured.

Borowski (2-4, 8.02, nine saves) went on the disabled list with a shoulder injury in early June and did not return. He's signed with the team for 2005, but it's unlikely he will be the main closer.

Kyle Farnsworth (4-5, 4.72) continues to baffle the Cubs with his lack of consistency. Will he be the lights-out, closer-of-the-future they have been hoping for since 1999? Or is it time for a change of scenery for the 28-year-old? The Cubs are not actively shopping him this offseason but will listen to offers.

Ryan Dempster (1-1, 3.92) was a longtime starter who was placed in the bullpen after recovering from Tommy John surgery in August, 2003. He could be a setup man or closer in 2005 if his arm continues to get stronger.

Mike Remlinger (1-2, 3.44) will be back for a third year, but his sore shoulder cut his availability down in 2004. His 36 2/3 innings of work was his lowest output since 1996.

Kent Mercker (3-1, 2.55) had good raw numbers, but some of the off-field controversy he got into with the Cubs radio announcers plus nagging back injuries could cause the North Siders to sever their ties with the veteran.

Jon Leicester (5-1, 3.89) had one less victory than Prior. Leicester, Todd Wellemeyer (2-1, 5.92) and Michael Wuertz (1-0, 4.34) were young players who picked up significant playing time because of injuries and will be fighting for more time next year.

Lastly, the aforementioned Rusch (6-2, 3.72) made 16 starts and 16 relief appearances in a do-it-all role after a disastrous 1-12 season with Milwaukee in 2003. The Cubs would like to bring him back in 2005, and he might be in the mix to be the team's fifth starter.

MEDICAL WATCH: Hollandsworth, despite missing the final three months of the year, hopes everything will heal and he will be ready in 2005. Borowski (torn right rotator cuff) hopes offseason surgery is not needed and that a few months off will help strengthen his arm for 2005.


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