Chicago Cubs Trade Rumors - July 8th

Now that we've looked at how the CC Sabathia to the Brewers trade affects the Cubs, let's move on. CC ain't comin' to town, let's get over it. What I care about is this: What will the Chicago Cubs do to counter the big move by their NL Central rivals? Lots of ideas and opinions, so let's get goin':
  • Perhaps the most intriguing pice out there in all of Internetland today is this article from the Chicago Sun-Times's Chris De Luca regarding Rich Harden. A sampling:
    "The Cubs have spent a lot of time on the phone recently with Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane trying to pry away right-hander Rich Harden. Expect the phone lines to start burning a little hotter beginning today."
    De Luca correctly guesstifies that if a deal for Harden is going to come, it's going to come late. The Oakland Athletics are currently just 6 games back of the Angels in the AL West and their "rebuilding" year continues to resemble a contending year. If Beane is going to deal Harden, it's not going to be until much closer to the July 31st trade deadline when he has a much clearer picture of his team's shot at the postseason. This might clash with a seeming urgency from Cubs GM Jim Hendry and the rest of the Northsiders to get a deal done ASAP as a response to the Brewers acquisition of Sabathia. Finally, De Luca states that the Cubs "Plan C" is Padres SP Randy Wolf, who Towel Drills took an in-depth look at here.
  • MLBTradeRumors.com, quoting ESPN's Jayson Stark, reminds us that if Billy Beane trades his stud SP Rich Harden, he isn't going to do so cheaply. We're probably talking something similar, though not quite as much due to Harden's injury history, to the Dan Haren deal to Arizona that went down last winter. MLBTradeRumors.com reminds us the high price the Diamondbacks paid to wrassle Dan Haren away from the A's:
    "A reminder: Baseball America ranked Carlos Gonzalez as the game's #22 prospect, and Brett Anderson was #36. The Cubs don't have two players like that. Then add Greg Smith and Dana Eveland, who have combined for a 3.52 ERA in 207 innings this year. Oh, and toss in Chris Carter and Aaron Cunningham for good measure. That was a haul, even for an ace like Haren."
  • "An official from another NL team" shares the sentiment that not only are the Cubs planning to counter the Sabathia deal, but that they're planning to do so quickly:
    "I'd be very surprised if [Cubs GM] Jim [Hendry] doesn't make a move," an official from another National League team said Monday. "Remember, [starter Ryan] Dempster has been a reliever the last few years, so they've got to wonder if he can keep this up all year. [Carlos] Zambrano's had some health issues in the past. Those questions had them looking for pitching before. Now you've got a hot Milwaukee team adding the best available starter. I can't see the Cubs standing pat. Not after this."
  • From Baseball Prospectus's Will Carroll (BP freebie):
    "The Jays are not going into a fire sale mode as long as J.P. Ricciardi is in control. Of course, that could change sooner rather than later. The Cubs think they match up well for A.J. Burnett. Remember that Jim Hendry has always had a thing for those 2003 Marlins, in large part because he’s a big fan of their scouting staff."
  • In the same BP article from above, Carroll gives the following blind quotes he received from some calls around the league: "The Cubs will react quickly to any deals in their division."
  • Some original speculation here regarding A.J. Burnett. There was some early season worry that Jim Hendry and the Cubs front office would be limited in the deals they could make and the amount of money they could spend with the pending sale of the Cubs. This speculation turned out to be overblown and the Cubs re-upped with Carlos Zambrano, signed Kosuke Fukudome, etc. We've been assured by Hendry and by others in the front office that they have the green light to make the deals they need to make to put this club in a position to go for it this year. While this has proven true thus far, I think that this leniancy may stop with A.J. Burnett. As TD covered here, Burnett's contract is a potential time bomb. If he's acquired and pitches well, he opts out and you just gave up some top talent for a rental. If he's acquired and he's awful, he doesn't opt out and the club is on the hook for $12M in both '09 and '10. While Sam Zell and the Tribune Co. have been willing to allow the club to do what it needs to do thus far, putting the team in a situation where Burnett is terrible or, worse, injured over the next 2 years and the club is on the hook for $24M is probably pushing it. I don't think Burnett is the best fit for the club anyway-but the unknown in his contract situation and the pending sale of the Cubs makes this one seem unlikely to me.
  • Several teams, including the Dodgers and Orioles, are in the market for a shortstop. The Dodgers have been looking hard at Jack Wilson of the Pirates. Wilson seems to be the name most brought up in the SS market, but here are some other potential SS trade candidates courtesy of MLBTradeRumors.com. The 30 year old Wilson is hitting .346/.358/.304 on the year in 148 ABs. The effort is only good enough for a 4.8 VORP-24th among SS's. Wilson has at least $8 million left on a deal that takes him thru 2009 with a club option for 2010. Cubs utility IFer Ronny Cedeno is hitting at a .343/.357/.271 in 129 ABs, good enough to manage a 2.5 VORP. Not much difference in the stats. But Cedeno is 5 years younger than Wilson, is under team control, and is only making $407k this year. What I'm getting at is this: Cedeno won't bring us stud SP, but with the need for SS strong on several teams, the Cubs could get something useful in return for him as part of a larger deal involving multiple teams or in a smaller deal.
  • And finally, as I've been preaching here, getting Rich Hill back on track in time for a September call-up could be enormous for the Cubs. After some pretty horrible outings of late, Hill is starting to show some encouraging signs. The Cub Reporter has some great info on Hill's last start in Arizona:
    "Prior to the game, Rich Hill threw a simulated game that featured his new delivery, and it looks like he may actually have found the cure for his version of Steve Blass Disease.

    He no longer tilts his shoulder and head back to the exent he had been doing (a la Fernando Valenzuela), which allows him to keep his eyes on the catcher's target. That might sound like a simple thing to fix, but we're talking body memory here, and that can be a stubborn force to work against.

    And the results this morning were that he was able to throw his fastball and curve over the plate pitch-after-pitch, just like he was doing in 2006 and into Spring Training 2007 and through most of last season. He was absolutely unhittable today.

    The curves literally buckled the knees of the young AZL Cubs hitters, and (probably more importantly) he was able to consistently throw his fastball for strikes And maybe most importantly, Hill looked relaxed and he even was able to crack a smile at one point. (One of the telltale symptoms of Steve Blass Disease is the inability to smile).

    Now the key is whether he can keep the new delivery in his head and make it repeatable from outing-to-outing. If he can, the Cubs might have the rotation starter they think they need for the stretch run right in their own backyard (Fitch Park)."

Comments (2)

Andrew Reilly

July 8, 2008 at 12:33 PM

I wonder if De Luca's inside source on this is the same source who reported the Brian Roberts trade as good as done last winter.

Anonymous

March 19, 2010 at 10:25 PM

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