Tuesday, December 6

I love the sound of my own voice

There's not a whole lot going on at the moment, but there's always tons of idiotic rumours to put to bed. I've seen a bunch in the last few days, so let's review "The Crazy Shit that could happen to the Cubs":

With Bobby, every day's a party

- Trade SP Mark Prior to the Phillies for OF Bobby Abreu
A report surfaced in the Philly Daily News that the two clubs are talking about swapping ace pitcher for ace Home Run Derby winner. I think this perhaps the most outlandish rumour out there, considering how the article made it sound. Basically their argument is that the Cubs didn't say yes, but they didn't say no either. You know, one of those James Bond things where everything is vague and implied by facial movement. A smile, a wry nod, a Roger Moore eyebrow raise.

New Phillies GM Pat Gillick and his manager Charlie Manuel have been most vocal about the endless quest for pitching. While the Cubs would definitely not consider shipping out Zambrano (aka "The New Ace of our Squad"), there is apparently all this hubbub in PA about Prior, and the murmurs might continue if top SP free agent AJ Burnett does end up signing with the Blue Jays sometime this week.

Fact: this will not happen. I just can't see it. While Abreu would be a good fit in terms of power numbers (perhaps DLee and BAbreu can be the NL Manny/Ortiz?), I don't think we would risk that. It doesn't solve our leadoff problem necessarily, and I think that a trade for an OF like Aubrey Huff, Pierre or even Reds IF/OF Ryan Freel to set the table would mean that we'd give up younger pitching. This would make Prior even more valuable to anchoring our rotation, so sorry Philly, keep on looking.

Now with realistic Corey Patterson batting stance!

- Trade pitching prospects to the Reds for OF Austin Kearns
Kearns is a guy that Hendry and Dusty love. Why? Because he hits lots of HRs at Wrigley Field, a fact that is neither here nor there for a guy who has yet to complete a full season in the major leagues. He's a right-handed RF who can hit, albeit still in the developmental stage (.266 BA/.360 OBP/.461 SLG in a truncated 3-year career), and it would take some solid AA or AAA to really interest Cincinnati. You know what I mean: when a team knows that a rival wants something really bad, the price goes sky-high.

Fact: if we had to give up one or more of what the Dayton Daily News thinks are good options:

Ricky Nolasco (AA) 14-3, 2.89 ERA, 161 2/3 IP, 173 K, 46 BB
Sergio Mitre 2-5, 5,37 ERA
Jerome Williams 6-10, 4.26 ERA
Todd Wellemeyer
Rich Hill (he has been declared "pretty much untouchable" by the Cubs FO)

Then I don't think this would work. To get Hill, they'd definitely need to sweeten the pot, and I think Nolasco could have a great future at the major league level. With solid numbers like that, he is made for those 4th/5th rotation spots that Williams and Rusch are currently inhabiting. That being said, Mitre would be a good fit for Cincinnati (they are craving a sinkerball pitcher in a hitter's paradise), so that might not be a bad low-level trade. It would start getting silly if bigger names are involved, as I'm not sure Kearns is where it's at.

Aubrey Huff: he'll put in that hard yard on Jason LaRue

- Trade pitching to the Devil Rays for RF Aubrey Huff/SS Julio Lugo/CF Joey Gathright
This won't all happen in one deal, but that trio are high on Hendry's wishlist. Lugo put in a solid year offensively from the SS position, and would form a good young duo with Cedeno at second. Gathright is good defensively in the CF spot, and his offense is developing, while Huff is that RF/left-handed "finesse" bat (22 HR, 92 RBI in 154 G last year) we need in the lineup.

Fact: I think this is where most of our movements will be made. We've talked and debated Pierre to death, and we all know where we stand on the matter. Whether we can get him or not, expect to see at least one of these guys somewhere in the Cubs lineup come next season. It makes sense; the D-Rays are prolific in taking young prospects, developing them into tidy major leaguers and then trading them away, and although none of them would fulfill that lead-off need, it would leave us free to try Murton or Cedeno up top and let either Lugo or Huff hit in the order. Lugo would be a solid #2 in the order, and with Huff behind Lee, we could get something going.

Huff is a good player overall (5 year career: .288 BA, .320 OBP, .478 SLG), can play IF or OF depending on need, and he could develop well amid proven power like Ramirez and Lee. Lugo can hit and steal from the SS position (2005: .295 BA, .362 OBP, .765 OPS, 89 R, 39 SB) and would be a solid addition. Low-key and hopefully cheap. Gathright is the reach of the trio -- .271 BA, .316 OBP, 40 R and 26 SB in 95 career games -- and we would need someone with more MLB-established skills to fill that CF spot.


- Trade 2B Todd Walker and pitching/prospects (Mitre, Cedeno) to the Mets for OF Cliff Floyd
Another intriguing thought set forth by the Tribune. This would be a late-developing trade, as the Mets have to get Manny first before they would consider shipping out Floyd. The Cubs have wanted him for years, as he can play in right, can bat for power, and is left-handed. This is pretty much Hendry's wet dream wrapped in a fantasy that's swimming in porn stars. For that, and with the Mets being fully aware of that, we would need to pay through the nose. The Mets aren't too happy with Kaz Matsui as the long-term option for 2B, and Hendry's made no bones about declaring the availability of Walker in a trade package.

Fact: Again, this is intriguing. Floyd, despite the injuries, can be devastating with the bat -- .273 BA, .358 OBP, .505 SLG, 34 HR, 98 RBI in 150 games in 2005 -- and would solve a lot of problems. With another proven slugger in the lineup, imagine our middle order of DLee, Floyd and ARam coming atcha. That could be an absolute RBI/runs machine if someone's setting the table at 1 and 2 in the order. I'm not sure just how much Hendry would part with to seal the deal, but Walker is expendable, and throwing in a pitcher like Mitre or Williams might be considered a steal. We would need to be sharp in dealing with Minaya, who'll most likely still be dazzled by having Manny in Queens to notice Floyd catching the first plane to O'Hare.


There are other thoughts out there, including Pierre and Mr. Milton Bradley, but these dreamy could-be deals are enough to wet the whistle for today. Plus it's lunchtime, and I'm in need of a sandwich.

Any thoughts on these flights on fancy?


At 8:20 PM, Anonymous Lazlo said...

First, I'm not gonna let that Pierre argument go just yet. Yes, career .355 OBP is not that hot. I'm not saying Hairston or Patterson's career numbers are great either, but I don't think anyone is considering trading away pitching prospects for them since they are kind of already on our team. No one thinks CP or JHJR is the next coming, as people have been saying about Furcal, Pierre, Damon, Griffey, and every other overpaid star in the game. And I include Nomar in that statement. Treating any player like a cure-all for a team is going to turn out badly (which is not to say I've changed my mind about wanting Nomar back). But here's the main reasons I don't want us to trade for Pierre:
1. Poor defense (extremely weak arm).
2. Coming off a down year (.326 OBP).
3. Overpriced and we'll be trading off the future (unless we can send them Mitre and Macias to get Pierre, it's just not worth it, since the Marlins will likely want Nolasco or Hill and Cedeno).

As far as Aubrey Huff, I'm for it as long as we don't have to give away too much. I don't see the need for Lugo or that other guy. We've got Cedeno to play short, and it looks like the other guy would be just as risky as giving CP another shot or playing Pie.

Please no Austin Kearns.

Please no Cliff. He's a heck of a hitter and plays pretty good outfield, but I can't imagine what we'd have to give up. If we somehow found a way to get him for very little I could be convinced.

Trade Prior for Abreu? You've got to be kidding. That's just crazy. Prior is worth a lot more than Abreu is. A great starting pitcher is worth more than a good slugger any day. It turns out that Mark Beuhrle, Jon Garland, Roger Clemens, and (ugh) Chris Carpenter made much bigger differences on their respective teams than did Derrek Lee, Alex Rodriguez, Andruw Jones, or Miguel Cabrera. I know it's an old saying, but "Great pitching beats great hitting every time." Abreu didn't even have that great a year, did he? I mean, it was good, but he didn't hit over .300 did he? Or hit the most home runs in the league? I really don't know what his numbers were, but that fact alone indicates to me he is not worth a pitcher of Mark Prior's calibur.

Ah. Crazy trade rumor to report from a Cubs blog- Barry Zito deal anyone? I have no idea what this guys idea was, but apparently somebody thinks the Cubs could get Zito in a trade. What do you guys think that deal would entail?

At 9:36 PM, Blogger JT said...

Yeah, let's just leave everything alone and hope it fixes itself. I mean, it doesn't really take something to make something, does it?

Aren't we referring to Nomar as a "cure-all"?

Oh, and we tried having a great CF defender in CP, but it turned out that diving catches didn't equate into any runs did they? I can forgive a weaker arm for 100 runs in a year.

I also wish I knew why you're so afraid to give away a couple of guys in order to get something back. You're in favour of getting Huff "as long as we don't have to give away too much." What does that mean?

Does it ever work out that way, where a team gets exactly what they want while giving away relatively nothing in return? I wish it were the case.

Phew, sorry about that. Bit too much hot sauce on me dinner tonight and I'm breathing fire. But I would love to understand what it is we're supposed to do if we shouldn't give anyone away etc. etc. Also, I'm just analyzing what's out there. I'm not necessarily in favour of any or all of these, but I need to keep writing during these freezing days or my hands will fall off!

Cheers Lazlo, I look forward to a response.

- JT aka President of the Juan Pierre Fanclub, and Treasurer of the "All in Good Fun" Society.

At 11:30 PM, Anonymous Lazlo said...

Here's the deal, as far as why I feel the way I do, particularly about Pierre and Nomar and not giving away too much in a trade.

Pierre- I've stated a lot of the reasons already. A trade with the Marlins would most likely not involve CP, since he is earning big league wages, while Felix Pie would be a cheaper option for the Marlins. We've waited too long to trade Pie now. I also believe that it could not possibly be that hard to teach Patterson to hit like Pierre, provided he AND MANAGEMENT take focus away from power completely and look at pitch selection and scratch hitting. I'm not saying this will happy, I'm saying it SHOULD happen. I just feel Pierre is over-hyped. Yes he's got speed. And yes he hits for a decent average while not striking out much. Those are good things, undeniably. But I think a great baseball team needs great defense, and too much hope is put in trades and free agents, myself included.

Nomar- No, I for one do not see him as a cure-all. I see signing Nomar as a smart move. We've still got the $13 million (or so) Sosa dollars to spend, and according the NY Times Nomar is willing do anything but pitch or catch. Sign him and play him primarily in the outfield and spot start him at short and third. He will hit. Nomar scares the opposition when he comes up to bat. This is probably going to be the cheapest year to sign him, unless the shallow free agent market negates his last two years of play.

Trades- You're right, it rarely works out that teams get exactly what they want while getting relatively little in return. But the problem is that you usually want to find a team that needs what you have a lot of and that has a lot of what you need. Do we really have a lot of pitching prospects? We've hurt ourselves in the past trading prospects (which is always a risk). How many of the prospects we have are going to turn into good major league pitchers? There are some guys I'm willing to send off if we are trading for someone we really need. Mitre is one of them. He's had a lot of chances and never proved anything. He may do well, but I don't think he'll do well in our organization. It's important to note that I will not be won over by players we trade for until they come here and prove something to me. Then I'll love them. I'm a flip-flopper in that way. It happens.

The overriding influence here is sentimentality; I'm for it. It's what keeps me from being a Yankees or Atlanta fan. I get attached to our players, especially after they've had a good season or two. The most memorable moments of 2003 for me are Eric Karos's homerun against the Yankees, Choi getting knocked unconscious trying to save a no-hitter (same game), and Sammy Sosa, Alex Gonzalez, and Kerry Wood all getting post-season home runs. Why? Not because they were the best plays of the year. I'm sure better games were pitched and diving catches were made in the outfield, and players hit the ball farther and harder, but these ones mattered to me. I was sad to see Alex Gonzalez go last year. Not even because I thought he'd turn it around, just because I really liked the guy. So as far as building the team that has the best statistics I am probably not the man for the job. Even as far as judging whether I will like any of the players we may trade for a year from now I am probably not a good judge. But I still think sentimentality belongs in baseball. Otherwise we'd all just be fans of whoever wins the most games.

At 11:38 PM, Anonymous Lazlo said...

Right now I'm also lamenting the fact that it is going to take a trade to fill right field. The $13 million we had left over from Sammy could've gone towards Giles. He's making about $10 million a year, right? That would've certainly filled left field. But it's a little late for 20/20 vision.

At 11:38 PM, Anonymous Lazlo said...

Ah. I mean right field.

At 11:21 AM, Anonymous Lazlo said...

Here's the upside to possibly making a Milton Bradley deal right now: The Dodgers are reportedly interested in Manny Ramirez, so they may simply look to dump Bradley on someone to lower payroll, meaning we MIGHT be able to get him for relatively little. This is a long shot, since the Dodgers getting Ramirez seems to be a long shot. Plus, they might trade Bradley directly to the Red Sox (along with others) in order to get Ramirez. But this is a possibility.

It looks like the trade for Pierre is going to go through. The report I read said we are sending Nolasco and Pinto. That's not too bad a deal. It's too early in their careers for us to be thinking about what they might be, and they certainly would not factor into playoff hopes for at least the next two years.
Also, the upside to Patterson not being involved in this deal, as I see it at least, is perhaps this could be the spark that ignites his offensive change. Pierre is a leadoff hitter who has made himself a success by doing all the things we want Patterson to do (except maybe take a lot of walks) offensively. This might serve as more of an incentive for Patterson to change his approach at the plate and on the basepaths. That's what I hope at least. I still don't like Pierre's defense, but if he can get that OBP back over .350, towards .375 or so, I could be won over. .326 isn't gonna make me especially happy, but I have a tendency to like anyone in a Cubs uniform.


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