Trade Deadline Week: Friday Edition


Posted by Lionel on July 31, 2009.

With things being all quiet on the North Side front (I haven't even heard a peep about another move involving the Cubs, except Bruce Miles saying if they did, they'd be looking for a bat off the bench), I thought I would give the Cubs trade another look now that I've slept on it.

I know there are a lot of people out there who didn't like the trade because they thought the Cubs gave up too much in Kevin Hart. Hart, rated as the 6th best Cubs prospect by BA, was not in the top 14 by Baseball Prospectus. He is the ultimate 'tweener; he struggled this year in the Iowa 'pen, pitched better as a AAA starter, and pitched well in both roles for the Cubs. But I think long-term he's a better reliever than starter. That's not to say that the Pirates won't use him as a starter, I just think his stuff would work better out of the 'pen.

But what I think is lost in this is that the Cubs had to give up something to get something. And when you look at the Cubs long-term, they didn't need Hart. They have a stockpile of reliever arms. You could argue that they could've kept him in the rotation, but again, I just don't see him a member of the starting 5 any time soon for the Cubs. The Cubs will have a rotation opening this offseason with Rich Harden's free agency, but with a new owner in place (hopefully) and few other offseason needs, the Cubs will either try to make a big splash or annoint Jeff Samardzija as their 5th starter.

Both Jose Ascanio and Josh Harrison were nice prospects ranked in the 30-50 range of the Cubs top prospects. Harrison's on field performance this year could've potentially put him in the top 30 next year. But again, the Cubs have a logjam of right-handed, MLB-ready relievers, so the need to keep Ascanio was reduced. Harrison played some 2-sack and some 3-sack this year, and projects long-term as a utility-infielder. While he was getting PT, the Cubs are overflowing with infielders, especially middle infielders, in the lower levels. This move could help the Cubs develop some of their higher-ranked prospects.

There is value in both the players the Cubs got in return. While it appears on the surface that they are renting John Grabow for 3 months, he currently projects as a Type A free agent. That means that if the Cubs offered him arbitration and he turned it down, they would get a first round compensation pick in next year's draft. I think that would change the minds of some Cubs fans. Whether he'd do that or not would be interesting; if he accepts arbitration, he'll probably get a bump up from the $2.3M he's making this year. If he turns it down (assuming he's successful during the stretch for the Cubs), he's looking at a multi-year deal (always a plus for relievers). I'd assume that unless the Cubs see some other lefty that absolutely have to have, they'd offer him arbitration.
The Cubs are also getting Tom Gorzelanny. Gorzelanny was a 14 game winner two years ago and in 2006 was ranked among the top 100 prospects in baseball. Gorzelanny struggled to a 6-9, 6.66 ERA last year, in large part to the number of walks he issued. That trend has reversed course this year, where he's only walked 30 in 87 innings of work at AAA. When the Pirates needed another lefty in the 'pen, they called him up without much success (a 5.19 ERA in 9 appearances, but he somehow managed 3 W's). He will be arbitration-eligible, so the Cubs will continue to have control over him. If he performs well, he could fight for the fifth starter's spot next year.

So, I look at it as a situation where the Cubs spent some of their excess (right-handed relievers and lower-level middle infielders) to address specific needs (left-handed relief and left-handed pitching depth). The Pirates were reportedly asking for Jay Jackson, the Cubs 9th ranked prospect. While some believe Jackson has already peaked and doesn't project to be successful long-term, I think the Cubs were better off sending Hart than Jackson.

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A Trip Around the Minors


Posted by Lionel on July 31, 2009.

A former top ten prospect makes a guest appearance in the bonus section, a top ten player officially waves goodbye (Kevin Hart), and a sneak peak at a potential top ten player next year.

Iowa

Steve Clevenger-I guess Clevenger is now unofficially a top ten prospect, as he was the #11 prospect pre-season and is now in the top ten with the departure of Hart. He's 3 for 13 in the past week with 3 K's. He's struck out 5 times in his last 5 games, after K'ing only 15 times in 41 games at AAA and 23 times in 67 games overall this year.

Bonus-J.R. Mathes likely just got passed by Tom Gorzelanny in the lefty starter to get called up if needed, but he's trying his best to show the Cubs he's deserving. He had two starts this week, 2 victories, 2 7 inning outings. He gave a total of two runs (a 1.29 ERA), 11 hits and a walk (a 0.86 WHIP). He also recorded his 10th win of the season, the fourth time in the last five years he's accomplished that feat (he had 9 wins in 2008).

Tennessee

Welington Castillo-Has Castillo finally broken out of his 3+ month slump? It's looks like it. He has a solid 9 game hitting streak in which he's hitting .441. He's hit 4 HR's during that time, including a 2 HR game on Wednesday. He's tied for the team lead in HR's. He's also driven in 10 runs, or 36% of his total RBI's for the season.

Tyler Colvin-Covin came up in a pinch role during game 1 of a doubleheader on Wednesday and singled. That broke an 0 for 18 streak. After K'ing once per 5.3 AB's last year, he's "down" to once every 4.4 AB's this year, and he strikes out almost 30% of the time he faces a leftie. He needs two hits tonight to finish the month of July with a monthly BA above .200.

Andrew Cashner-Cashner made his 17th start of the year and recorded his first W of the year, because he finally pitched at least 5 innings (he's done that only 3 times this year) and the team has finally given him some offensive support. He struggled in his Wednesday start, putting runner's in scoring position in four of his five innings, but the only run to score was unearned. He now has a 1.09 ERA at Tennessee.

Bonus-Tied with Castillo for the team lead in HR's, Tony Thomas is mimicking Castillo's year in a lot of ways. He also his an HR on Wednesday and he also seems to be finding his stick. Before an 0 for 4 in game two of the doubleheader on Wednesday, Thomas was 10 for his last 27 (.370 BA) with 2 HR's, 6 RBI's, 6 runs, and 3 swiped bags. This after starting the month hitting .128 .

Daytona

Josh Vitters-If you looked at Vitters last ten games as a whole, you'd say it doesn't look bad. 4 two hit games, 4 RBI's, 4 runs, overall pretty solid. Then you'd see his BA in those ten games is .233. How? Well, he's 0 for his last 8 and he has an 0 for 6 stuck in the middle of a streak where he hit safely in 5 of 6.

Starlin Castro-Castro is only hitting .268 in his last 10 games, but he has an OBP of .375. His 7 walks over the last 10 days represent 39% of his walks for the year. He's hitting an even .300 on the season and while his OBP is only at .339 (showing he doesn't walk a lot), he has K'd only 38 times in 343 AB's. For a 19 year old playing in Advanced A ball, that's fantastic.

Jay Jackson-For reasons I have yet to find, the Cubs decided to send Jackson down to Daytona. But Jackson took it in stride and showed that he's past Advanced A Ball, at least in one outing. He started last night, giving up 4 hits and a walk in 5 and 2/3 innings pitched. He struck out 9 of the 23 batters he faced.

Bonus-If ATAtM came out on Thursday, this week's Daytona bonus would've been Josh Harrison, who earned player of the week honors. But since he's no longer in the system, we'll focus on D-Cubs closer David Cales. Cales has a 0.92 ERA at Daytona (he struggled in a short stint at Tennessee) and has better than a 3:1 K/W ratio. His WHIP is under 1 for the year at Daytona.

Peoria

Ryan Flaherty-In the last week, Flaherty has shown some muscle, hitting 3 HR's to bring his season total to 14 (including one on Monday, his 23rd birthday). He's now one behind former teammate Josh Vitters and is 6th in the league in HR's. He's now reached safely in his last 7 games and his hitting .310 over that span with an OBP of nearly .400.

Bonus-The HR party extended to Rebel Ridling, who joined Flaherty in a 3 HR week. He now has 12, putting him in the top ten in the league in HR's. While Ridling is only hitting .283, he is 3rd in the league in hits, with 108. He is also 3rd in the Midwest League in RBI's, with 69, folloing a 9 RBI week.

Boise

Hak Ju Lee-Lee's had a slightly above average week, which is a great week for most players.In 6 games, he had 10 hits, 5 RBI's, 4 runs, 3 walks, 2 doubles, and a stolen base. That's a .400 batting average and a .464 OBP. He did get caught stealing once this week, dropping his stolen base success rate 4% to 78%. He leads the league in stolen bases and 6th in batting average.

Bonus-If he continues at this pace, Cubs 1st round pick Brett Jackson will be on this list next year. Jackson has a 9 game hitting streak, including a 4 for 5 performance Wednesday. It has bumped him into the top ten in the league in batting (with 3 Hawk teammates). He's struck out 20 times in 24 games, but has also walked 17 times, giving him an OBP of .443, good enough for 4th best in the league.

No News on Dae Eun Rhee

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Cubs Acquire John Grabow and Tom Gorzelanny


Posted by Lionel on July 30, 2009.

UPDATED: 5:21 PM CT

The Cubs have acquired Pittsburgh's John Grabow and Tom Gorzelanny. Grabow will be put in the Cubs 'pen immediately, while Gorzelanny will be sent to AAA.

In return, the Pirates receive Kevin Hart, Jose Ascanio, and Josh Harrison. Hart is the centerpiece of this deal, being ranked as the Cubs 6th ranked prospect before the season according to BA. Ascanio had a 3.52 ERA with the Cubs, 3.16 in AAA. Harrison was a 2-sack/3-sack, drafted by the Cubs in the 6th round of the '08 draft. He was hitting .327 between Peoria and Daytona this year with 26 stolen bases.

Basically, the Cubs gave up two relievers and a long-term prospect for a reliever and possibly the team's fifth starter (just because he's heading to AAA doesn't mean he won't be called up in a few days). Maybe the Pirates see Hart as a starter, but I think his greatest potential is in the 'pen.
This move makes a ton of sense for the Cubs. The Cubs had a plethora of right-handed relievers in their system and exactly 4 lefties on their 40 man roster...Lilly, Marshall, Cotts, and Jason Waddell. Lilly and Cotts are on the D.L., Marshall is already in the 'pen and Waddell has a .316 BAA vs. lefties. In addition, there is a logjam in the Cubs lower levels in the infield.
Would I have traded Kevin Hart for John Grabow? Probably, especially with the Cubs right-handed depth. Would I have traded Ascanio and Harrison for Grozelanny? Yes. So, these two for those three make sense.
As a final note, the Cubs essentially traded Freddie Bynum (traded for Hart), Jacque Jones (traded for Omar Infante who was traded with Will Ohman for Ascanio), and a 6th round pick.

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Trade Deadline Week: Thursday Edition


Posted by Lionel on July 30, 2009.
UPDATED (2:11 CT): According to John Heyman of SI.com, the Cubs and Pirates are in serious discussions about John Grabow, but the Cubs may be looking to add a second pitcher. With the growing depth in the 'pen (and Hart struggling a little bit in today's game), I'd assume the second pitcher is a starter. That probably means Tom Gorzelanny (as mentioned here first), a former 14 game winner in the Bigs (2007) who has a 2.48 ERA in AAA this year. He would provide the Cubs with a left-handed starter than they are currently missing with Tedders on the D.L. The Pirates have full control over their current 5 man rotation, so they are unlikely to part with any of them (and the Cubs probably aren't going to want to have to pay in prospects for them).
By the way, I'm fully aware that I said the Cubs would call up Sam Fuld to replace ReJo. They will, they just chose to add another in recalling Jeff Stevens for now. Lou said on the radio pregame show that they could call up Fuld as soon as tomorrow. What may happen is that Fuld will replace Mitch Atkins.

Where's Kenny Lofton?
  • In case you haven't heard the news, Reed Johnson broke his foot and will be out at least a month. The immediate plan is to call up Sam Fuld, but he doesn't serve the long-term need, because he is left-handed (the Cubs need a righty who could play center to spell Fukudome and to be in the lineup against righties unless MB figures out how to hit left-handed).

  • Paul Sullivan suggests the name Cody Ross, the Marlins CF who has 14 HR's. But according to Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com, the Marlins are looking to add, not subtract.

  • Jeremy Hermida is also on the list...he's a guy who has been linked to Cubs rumors before, but doesn't fit the need for a 2nd CF.

  • Jayson Stark says the Cubs are only in the market for relievers and Fox Sports says the Cubs will stay in-house in replacing ReJo. They also say the Cubs are more interested in John Grabow than Joe Beimel.

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Trade Deadline Week: Wednesday Edition


Posted by Lionel on July 29, 2009.

New"ish" names on the list...
  • Bruce Levine of ESPN1000 said last night that the Cubs were still poking around to see if Mark Teahen was available. There have been reports of the Cubs interest dating back to when ARam went on the D.L. Teahen has played primarily the 3-sack position for the Royals, but with the return of Alex Gordon, the Royals have played him some in RF (he's also played the other 2 sacks this year), or maybe they have been showcasing his diversity. In any case, Teahen would be a utility guy for the Cubs.

  • Whether Joe Beimel or John Grabow heads to the North Side may be dependent on how B.J. Ryan performs. The lefty made his I-Cubs debut last night, throwing a scoreless inning. He walked a batter, then promptly forced a ground ball that resulted in a double play.

  • The Mariners and Pirates made a trade today which has Cubs ties. First, former Cub Ronny Cedeno will make his return to the N.L. Central in the trade. Second, the Pirates gained Jeff Clement in the deal. Clement was one of the Mariner's top prospects (#1 ranked prospect by BA in '06 and '08), giving the Pirates 4 catchers/catching prospects. I know I'm beating a dead horse here, but the Cubs could use a catcher until Geo Soto comes back. K. Hill has caught 18 straight games (more consecutive starts for any Cubs catcher in roughly 20 years) and the Cubs are still more than a week away from their next off day. I'm not saying Clement would be the guy, but the Pirates have current backup Jason Jaramillo (batting .255 in limited AB's) and AAA catcher Robinzon Diaz.

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Some Signing News


Posted by Lionel on Jul 28, 2009.

The Cubs have been very active in signing talent from Tawain and South Korea this year. East Windup Chronicle is reporting the Cubs have signed 3 players from Tawain and 1 from South Korea.

The latest is Wang Tsu-an, a HS pitcher who stands 6-5 or 6-6. He is relatively raw, but reportedly throws in the low 90's. They had already signed Yao-Lin Wang, an 18 year old pitcher. He is only 5-11, but also has been clocked in the low 90's. Joining them from Taiwan is Chen Pin-Chie, a 2-sack. All three have reportedly received bonuses around 300K. From South Korea, the Cubs signed Don-Yeop Kim, a 6-1 HS outfielder, to a reported bonus over half a million dollars.

Back stateside, the Cubs signed their 3rd round pick, Austin Kirk. Kirk is a left-handed pitcher out of high school who was ranked as the 61st best high schooler by Rivalshigh.com.

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Trade Deadline Week: Tuesday Edition


Posted by Lionel on July 28, 2009.

Do the Tigers want Bradley?
  • Peter Gammons mentioned last night on Baseball Tonight that JH is usually very active at the trade deadline, but the unresolved ownership situation will prevent the Cubs from making any big moves. He mentioned they were still searching for a utility infielder and/or a left-handed reliever, but he's the only one I've heard still mentioning a utility-infielder.

  • This is a bizarre one, but Jim Leyland had to answer a question as to whether the Tigers would be interested in Milton Bradley, because there was that rumored trade to the Tigers out there. Not surprisingly, Leyland said they had no interest in Bradley.

  • Bruce Miles says the focus continues to be on Joe Beimel and John Grabow.

  • Gordon Wittenmeyer adds George Sherrill to the list.

  • Reports out of Pittsburgh say the Pirates asking price for John Grabow is too rich for the Cubs blood.

  • Overall, I would have to say that Beimel leads on the backstretch. It is curious that the Pirates would have a high asking price for Grabow, because they have sold off pieces for next to nothing this year, and Grabow would save them another $700K or so, but maybe it has to do with the Cubs being in the same division. As for Sherrill, I know this is a trendy rumor, based on the relationship between JH and Andy McPhail, but Sherrill is a closer. The Cubs already have a closer and setup man, so why would they pay a closer's price in trade for a 7th inning/situational leftie? Beimel is the only name still being mentioned in trade rumors on the Nat's team, so you'd figure they'd be motivated to show their fan base something. Reports are the Cubs could get him for a couple of mid-level prospects, which sounds about right.

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Trade Deadline Week: Monday Edition


Posted by Lionel on July 27, 2009.

Nothing much to report on the trade rumor front so far...
  • John Grabow remains the name most mentioned in terms of guys the Cubs are pursuing, and vice-versa (Grabow's name is most-often linked to Chicago). But, there are reports that the Pirates are also interested in retaining him and trying to sign him to an extension, because he's a good clubhouse guy. I have to believe that this is just posturing by the Pirates...they are having a firesale, but want to keep a reliever when relievers may be the hottest commodity south of the International Boundary (the border between the U.S. and Canada)?

  • The Twins have reportedly been keeping an eye on Pirates catcher Robinzon Diaz, currently stored away at Indianapolis. You have to wonder if JH would consider making a move to bring in Grabow and either Diaz or backup Jason Jaramillo to help out the catching situation. I know the Cubs expect Geo Soto to be back sooner rather than later, but it still baffles me that the current backup plan the Cubs continue to have is Jake Fox, who has caught a total of 3 games this year.

  • The other interesting take I heard the other day is that July 31 this year might be the softest trading deadline in history. With the economy the way it is, the thought is that fewer teams will be putting in waiver requests just to block guys out of fear that they will get dumped with their salaries. Usually, the overpaid underproducers are the only ones who leak through, but more guys are expected to clear waivers this August.

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