Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Mark DeRosa

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Mark DeRosa? Still with that old gag?

It's opening day and there are still Cub fans longing for our old hero, known as DeRo, who will probably spend his off-days this summer trying to extinguish lake fires in Cleveland. 

First, they're right to miss the guy.  He was extremely versatile, he hit the ball well, and he was on a short list of team MVPs last season.  Now he's gone.  But people continue to state that losing DeRosa was a mistake.  It was a salary dump that didn't dump salary.  It allowed for a positional upgrade for a player who isn't likely to be better.  It was, in short, a terrible mistake.  (According to those people.)

I don't think it was a mistake at all, though.  I understand the reasons the trade happened, and although I've blue-faced myself in explaining them on this blog, I will do it again. 

  • Mark DeRosa is in his mid 30's coming off of a career year.  Those guys don't have multiple career years unless they're injecting things.
  • Mike Fontenot is in the prime of his career and has demonstrated tremendous ability to hit at the Major League Level.  Furthermore, he bats left handed.
  • The Cubs needed another guy who bats left handed.
  • Based on a variety of factors, Fontenot projects to be better defensively at second than DeRosa and they should have very similar offensive seasons.

The funny thing is that while people will point out that Fontenot is "no sure thing" as a starter, nobody has stopped to consider that maybe DeRosa isn't a sure thing, either.  He's especially not a sure thing to duplicate his '08 season, and if we really look closely we'd realize that he's a career sub who's had 3 decent years in a row.  That's a trend, and a nice one, but it's hardly a certainty of future output.

Therefore, I say again ... are we still caught up on the departure of DeRosa?  Is there really anything he can do that Fontenot can't do, besides play three or four positions and juggle while riding a unicycle? 

The Cubs are an absurdly potent-looking team with a ridiculously high-projected offensive output.  I don't really think they'd even look better with DeRosa there.  So I say to you, Cub fan reading this blog, forget DeRosa and Fonteyes!

A Bad Decision

On a day when the city was still in euphoria over one of the biggest trades in Chicago sports history, another trade made months ago was made to look even worse than it was at the time because of the release of another player.  I am talking about the release of Chad Gaudin. This was obviously the right move and many of us saw this coming from a mile away.  Gaudin was pretty bad this spring and really since he came to the Cubs in July.  The only reason I was kind of hoping he would stick around would be so that the DeRosa trade would still make sense.  Now that Gaudin was released, it makes the DeRo' trade look even worse than it did in January.  At the time, people justified the trade by saying that they sold high on DeRosa because of the season he had last year and that they needed to cut salary to get Bradley.  Honestly, DeRosa was pretty damn good in the WBC and probably will have a similar season this year as he did last year so selling high is something I can say they did not.  He is just good.  The other reason, $$$, just took a hit.  They traded DeRosa's $5.5 million dollar salary for three players whose contracts totaled $1.2 million.  Then they signed Miles for $2.5 million.  This led to a net gain of $1.8 million, plus 3 players who many scouts say will never see the majors. Today, though, the Cubs released Gaudin and his $2 million dollar salary for...NOTHING! Great job Cubbies management.  You could have released Gaudin at the end of last season and it would have cost you what? 400K?  We knew that Lou didn't really like Gaudin so why give him a chance at $2 million? There is no good reason.  We knew he didn't stand a chance. So in the end, the Cubs gained roughly 200K and three players who probably won't amount to anything by trading DeRosa.  A lot of people have criticized the Bears this week for giving up a lot for Cutler, but at least they aren't the Cubs who gave up a lot for, well, nothing.

A long article on why Fontenot over DeRosa was the right way to go

It's been an interesting day in the Shout Box.  We've got a running debate on whether or not Cub fans should feel "safe" with Mike Fontenot replacing Mark DeRosa - assuming that Aaron Miles isn't the defacto starter.

The argument against Fontenot can be summarized as this:

1. He's only ever been a pinch hitter/occasional starter, and his good numbers come from one good streak
2. If he was actually any good, he would have been a highly-toted prospect and he would have started last year
3. He's neither going to be as good offensively or defensively as DeRosa

I'm going to systematically address all of these points now.

1. He's only ever been a pinch hitter/occasional starter, and his good numbers come from one good streak. You know who else that used to be true of?  Mark DeRosa.  DeRo was 31 years old before he played a season in which he saw more than 309 at bats.  In 1,123 at bats as a pinch hitter/occasional starter, DeRosa had a lifetime batting average of .262, and he'd hit 25 homeruns.

Do you know why he's done so much better as a starter since then?  It's partly because it's really hard to have good hitting numbers while playing as a pinch hitter/occasional starter. This argument is bunk for that reason alone.  If Fontenot has managed to put up not just acceptable but flat-out good numbers, it's a testament to his ability.

As for this "one good streak" line of logic ... Fontenot was solid in all of 2008.  He had an OPS higher than .786 in every month but April.  He had a Pre All Star batting average of only .266, but his OPS in that time was still .864 - better than DeRosa's over the span of the season - and he just got better after the break.

2. If he was actually any good, he would have been a highly-toted prospect and he would have started last year. Actually, Fontenot was a first round draft pick - they don't get much higher-toted than that - who was traded to the Cubs as a 24-year-old.  He actually made his debut in 2005, where noted prospect-lover Dusty Baker only gave him 2 at bats before he was banished back to the minors until Lou Piniella came along.

Before he earned his way onto the 2007 team, the Cubs signed Mark DeRosa to a 3-year deal to mostly play the position that Fontenot calls his own.  In other words, he wouldn't have started because before he had the chance to prove himself, the Cubs had already filled his position with a very able veteran player.

However I need to point out that this argument comes from somebody who also wrote, "I don't follow hype, only performance."  This is ironic in two ways.  First, he'd already argued that the evidence against Fontenot as a starter ignores his performance as a major leaguer and stems from how Fontenot wasn't "hyped" - he was apparently not a hightly-toted prospect.  Second, the same reader feels that Felix Pie - a well-hyped former top center field prospect - should get to replace the outstanding production of Jim Edmonds/Reed Johnson despite the fact that Pie is a career .223 hitter in 260 major league at bats.  But apparently it should be easier to put up better production when you've only had 200 or 300 career at bats, since you're "only" playing as a pinch hitter/occasional starter.  I'm just pointing out the flaws in logic.

3. He's neither going to be as good offensively or defensively as DeRosa

In his career, Fontenot has seen 479 at bats - the equivilent of just under a full season.  He's a .290 hitter, with an OBP of .369 and an OPS of .826.  He's hit 34 doubles, 5 triples, 12 homeruns, and he's stolen 7 bases.

Let's ignore DeRosa's career offensive numbers and give him the benefit of the doubt.  Let's say that DeRo puts up the average of his past 3 years, despite the fact that he'll be 34 years old and may be at the beginning of a decline.  This is what he'd look like:

566 plate appearances - 509 AB, .291 AVG, 33 2B, 3 3B, 15 HR, 57 BB, 4 SB, .368 OBP, .821 OPS.

In 566 plate appearances, Fontenot projects to the following based on his career numbers:

505 AB, .290 AVG, 36 2B, 5 3B, 13 HR, 61 BB, 7 SB, .369 OBP, .826 OPS.

In other words, they would be very similar offensively, except Fontenot is 6 years younger and bats left handed.  But what about defensively?  To best determine this figure, let's consult Fangraphs and the UZR150.  UZR150 refers to the "ultimate zone rating" and it calculates the number of runs above or below average a fielder is in both range runs and error runs combined per 150 defensive games.

According to Fangraphs, DeRosa's UZR150 at second base last year was -3.2.  Fontenot's was 12.4 - a difference of 15.6.  It's conceivable that Fontenot won't have an UZR150 that high as a full-time starter, but Fangraphics writer David Golebiewski paints Fontenot "pessimistically" at half that total.

Therefore, it's pretty easy to conclude that while Fontenot may not match DeRosa's numbers offensively next year, it would hardly be a stretch of the imagination to think he's capable.  What's more, Fontenot is defensively superior.

Considering that Fontenot is much younger, far less expensive, bats left handed, and has shown the capacity to produce at the major league level, then dealing DeRosa and letting Fontenot start is a no-brainer even if money wasn't the impetus of the trade. The Cubs are now more likely to upgrade in RF - and Bradley would be a great upgrade - and be a damaging team offensively next season. It's pretty hard to question this line of logic, at least on my end.  Let's see how far the logic gets stretched, though, should this debate continue.

Done deal

ESPN reports that DeRosa is gone to the Tribe for Jeff Stevens, Chris Archer and John Gaub.  The Cub Fan Nation is burning, as DeRo was a very popular player.  Me, I'll just direct you back to November when I speculated that he was the odd man out because of the hand he signs his name with.

Anyway, while Aaron Miles would be a crappy replacement second baseman, I'll just remind you that apparently the Cubs are just getting started, DeRo would've been 34 next year, his value would never have been higher, and the team might be in it still for a Jake Peavy.

Blowing it up: the final DeRo comparison, from me anyway

While I realize that some of us want to have a DeRosa lovefest, I'm playing the realist today on this, Christmas Eve.  (To prove my point: Jesus wasn't actually born on Dec 25.)  However, between paragraphs I will have tidbits called DeRo Facts to help stem the tide of resistance from those who would fluff him if they could.

Mark DeRosa could have been an MMA champion, but he instead chose to devote his time to saving the lives of sick puppies and kittens.

Fact: Mark DeRosa had a career year in 2008.  In the past few days, one or three people have repeatedly said that I've been ignoring certain statistics or facts when arguing about DeRosa, but I haven't read much acknowledgment on their part about this piece of truth.  At the age of 33 (Fact: players tend to do worse at the age of 34 than they did at the age of 33, or 32, or 31), he hit .285 with 21 homeruns - 8 more than his previous best.  He drove in a career high 87 RBI.  He had a career high .857 OPS - a full 87 points better than his career average.  His numbers put him among the best second basemen out there, at least offensively.

Mark DeRosa was expelled from the NASA astronaut program because they refused to let him get to the moon on a starship powered by his immense, unmeasurable willpower.  He called them "pussies" and they kicked him out.

DeRosa also played 38 games in right last year, 32 of which were as a starter.  He's played 150 games in RF in total in his career, incidentally.  It is of my opinion that DeRosa would probably be somewhat below average as a right fielder over the span of a full season because I doubt he has the arm you'd want from that position.  Regardless, some people who know more than me about defense say he'd be above average.

Mark DeRosa has single-handedly ended the regime of four communist dictators in various South American countries.  He fights for democracy. He fights ... for freedom.

Regardless, DeRosa as a regular right fielder does not strike me as being a wise option.  We've battled back and forth about it for a few days now, but I'll summarize it.  He won't have an OPS of .857 next year.  He won't hit 21 homeruns.  Having lost the surprising offensive bat of Jim Edmonds, and considering the likely return to average of Theriot and DeRo, I've been arguing for a while that the Cubs need to pick up some extra offensive oomph, preferrably in RF, and preferably a left-handed bat to make up for the imbalance of the Cubs lineup.  I base this argument on the fact that the Cubs failed miserably in the playoffs - and while the playoffs are a big crapshoot, I would not be satisfied with the Cubs if they sat on their laurels and didn't find a way to improve before the start of the 2009 season.  After all, in baseball those who sit on their laurels rarely get to stand up, if you get my meaning.  The Cubs need a good hitting outfielder, and most importantly they need a good hitting #3 hitter who can allow for Derrek Lee to move down the lineup.  Mark DeRosa is not that guy.

Mark DeRosa has a reputation Europe-wide of being a gentle, fulfilling lover.  He reportedly has 10 love-children in every country in the EU, who he hopes will one day spark a new baseball league that will take that continent by storm.

Therefore, the Cubs need to sign a guy or trade for a guy.  As for DeRosa, I feel that he either needs to stay at second base or be dealt, paving the way for a Fontenot who will put up comparable production but as an inexpensive lefty.  But under no - zero - circumstances should DeRosa start in right field next year, and this has been the crux of the argument.  It was spurned by a comparison of DeRo and Adam Dunn, but if I haven't made it clear by now I will try again: Adam Dunn is not my first choice as a Cub, but I'd still choose him over DeRosa all day long if the Cubs could find a place for him in the outfield.

Mark DeRosa with one hand tied behind his back could kick Adam Dunn's mammoth ass in about 3 seconds flat.

If DeRosa could duplicate his '08 numbers, it'd be acceptable.  The problem is that the Cubs would still have not replaced the surprising numbers of Jim Edmonds/Reed Johnson in center field - unless Fontenot went buck wild and Babe Ruth'd the ball all year long.  Again, my concern here is finding a better #3 hitter, balancing the lineup, and helping the Cubs improve in order to increase - even if only minutely - their chances of winning a World Series.

Mark DeRosa doesn't win the World Series.  If it's lucky, and with a lot of hard work and team play, the World Series may win Mark DeRosa.

Anyway, that's my philosophy on DeRo.  Use him where he's strong - second base.  Upgrade in the outfield.  But to back up my measly opinion with cold, hard statistics...

Mark DeRosa doesn't need statistics.  Statistics need ... well, you get it.

DeRo played 38 games in RF last year where he had an RF of 2.43 (although range factor is a questionable stat according to some).  There were 44 players in baseball who played more games in RF than DeRosa, and 56 who played at least 30 there.

Of those 56 players, 53 had more assists than DeRo.  (Remember how I said he's played 150 games there in his career?  He's had 6 assists ... 25 of the 56 had at least that many, some in as few as 60-or-so games.  But hey - only 7 had a better RF than DeRosa's 2.43, although his career RF is 2.26, and 26 of those 53 beat that last year.  (BTW, in 82 career games in RF - 33 started - Dunn has a RF of 4.07, which tells you just how ridiculous a stat it is, and he has 5 assists, just one fewer than DeRosa despite playing 828 fewer innings over their careers.  He also has 5 errors out there to DeRo's 1, so I guess you can theoretically tack 4 runs onto Dunn's tally, even though we don't know for sure if those errors turned into runs.)

For the record, I'm going to make this comparison 3 different ways.  First, among all qualified right fielders in 2008, DeRosa would have been 9th in OPS, tied for 8th in HR, 13th in AVG, and 4th in OBP.  That would be out of 22 "qualified" right fielders, making DeRosa slightly above the middle of the pack in terms of his production last year during Fact: a career year performance for DeRo.

Second, among right fielders including the guys who didn't quite make it to the necessary plate appearances, DeRosa would have been around 13th in terms of OPS, depending on where you draw the line for "qualification."  He would have been tied for 9th in HR, he would have been rougly 19th in AVG, and 11th in OBP.

Third, among all guys who played in RF as often as he did, DeRosa would have been 15th in OPS, incidentally.  Here's a list of guys who out OPS'd him:

Guys with a better OPS: Jayson Werth .861 (*note: 418 at bats), Elijah Dukes .864 (*note: 276 at bats), Xavier Nady .867, Maglio Ordonez .869, Brad Hawpe (*note: 488 at bats) .879, Jermaine Dye .855, Andre Ethier .885, Vlad Guerrero .886, Nick Markakis .897, Adam Dunn .889, Josh Hamilton .901, J.D. Drew .927 (*note: 368 at bats), Sin-Soo Shoo .946 (*note: 317 at bats), Ryan Ludwick .966

And none of that takes into account how many guys outslugged him as well - a stat that is only important because my main thesis is that the Cubs need a new #3 hitter if they want to improve their chances of winning the World Series in 2009.

So, my working theory here is that DeRosa will not match that production next season.  All the odds are against him - his age, his 3-year-splits, his career averages, all of them.  That doesn't mean that DeRosa is a piece of crap or anything, it just means that as Cub fans, we need to be fair and reasonable and accept him for his limitations. So, leave him at second base where he'd be just fine with a .280 AVG, 12 homers, and an OBP of .345 or so.

But put him in RF next year with those numbers, and I seriously doubt he'd be responsible for a net gain of +20, as Maddog is hypothetically suggesting.*  If the Cubs were looking for that kind of production in right, then they might as well leave Fukudome out there.

(*I know you just threw that number out there as an example, Maddog, not as what you are actually expecting)

But what they need is increased production.  That's just not in DeRo's bag for 2009.  So, with all of that said, and explained to ridiculous detail, I'll summarize by outlining the following:

1. This conversation started out with somebody suggesting Dunn in RF, then with somebody else saying that DeRo might be a better option for a variety of reasons, and then it spiraled downward.

2. I would not advocate Adam Dunn in RF, but yes, I would take him there over DeRosa any day, unless the Cubs managed to make a serious upgrade at another position.  If the Cubs were to seriously upgrade in CF, or SS, or even 2B - and by "serious" I mean a net gain of 10 to 20 homeruns and lots of points on the OPS - then DeRosa would be a fine choice to play RF next year.  Otherwise, the offense will be worse and the Cubs will be worse and you don't make a team *worse* if you want to do better.

3. To Maddog - if DeRosa was even just likely to duplicate last year's numbers, I'd happily settle for him in RF next year even over Dunn.  But it's not likely at all, in fact it's probably very unlikely.  But I'll ask nicely - please don't accuse me of obscuring the argument, or ignoring statistics or opinions strongly based in fact when you haven't once acknowledged that DeRo's likely production will be drastically down next year.  I find it very frustrating.

And that's where I'll leave it.  Have a good Christmas Eve, everybody, and thanks for participating in the most heated December Argument of recent memory.... ya Cub marks!

Slowly beating the horse to death - Mark DeRosa and Right Field

A couple of times today, I referred to an article I wrote toward the end of November about why starting Mark DeRosa in RF is not a brilliant plan.  I won't rehash the entire article, but I'll point out again a few figures for you folks so you can see my standpoint.

First and foremost, Mark DeRosa is not a viable option in RF next year for two primary reasons.  1) Defensively he'd probably be below average in RF (to be fair, Colin thinks he'd be average, or maybe even slightly plus) and B) Offensively he'd be below average compared with the league.

Consider the following three lines as evidence:

Mark DeRosa:

2008  AVG - .285 AVG, 30 2B, 3 3B, 21 HR, 87 RBI, .376 OBP .857 OPS
Career AVG - .279 AVG, 27 2B, 2 3B, 13 HR, 64 RBI, .348 OBP, .770 OPS
MLB 08 AVG - .270 AVG, 37 2B, 4 3B, 21 HR, 87 RBI, .347 OBP, .797 OPS

The third line represents the overall production, by average, of every RFer in baseball last year.  DeRosa was actually on par, if not slightly better than average in 2008, although his numbers would have placed him as the 14th-or-so best right fielder in 2008.

In other words, DeRosa's career year puts him as an average starting right fielder with below average defensive tools.  Does anybody really think he'll match his career year numbers in 2009?

Contrast that with DeRosa's career average and the average output of a second baseman in baseball:

Him - .279 AVG, 27 2B, 2 3B, 13 HR, 64 RBI, .348 OBP, .770 OPS
Them - .275 AVG, 36 2B, 4 3B, 13 HR, 72 RBI, .338 OBP, .747 OPS

Here, DeRosa's likely output next year puts him slightly better than average compared with the league's second basemen.

Basically what I'm getting at is this: the Cubs don't need to turn a strength into a weakness.  They need to turn their weakness in right field into a strength.  Moving DeRosa to right field doesn't fix their offensive holes, it just shifts them around a little.  After all, they will no longer have the 3rd best production in CF, which is what the Cubs had last year.

In other words, last year, the Cubs looked like this offensively: they were above average at 5 positions, average at 2, and below average at 1

Moving DeRosa to RF and starting Fontenot - or Hudson - at 2B won't improve that figure.  They will be a weaker team offensively when last year's biggest failings were the offense in October.  So, I'll say it again, and again, and again.  Mark DeRosa is not a good option to play right field in 2009.

See, what I don't get.....

...is the notion that the Cubs have to clear Mark DeRosa's contract off their books before they take on Peavy.

Yes, I would agree that his contractual situation, along with his versatility, makes him the most valuable tradebait we have.  But it's still only, like, $5.5MM I believe.  I forget which one of you did the math yesterday, but I think the bottom line was that after we traded DeRo and Marquis, that we would have $13MM to devote to a backup catcher and a right fielder.

Ooookaaay, and the latest plan either calls for us to use Koyie Hill or Paul Bako, either one making the minimum...

...that means we are going to devote $12.5MM to someone like Milton Bradley?  Really?  We can't pay a guy who has been instrumental to our 2 division titles $5.5MM, but we can pay Bradley over TWICE that??

Something about that just seems, um, unjust.

I believed in the Peavy trade, at its start.  Getting a true staff Ace, although it bolsters our strength instead of our weakness, would have been something different, a breath of fresh air, that would help us fans (and perhaps the players) forget the Failure of the 2008 playoff sweep.  If we could package our spare parts, some iffy prospects, along with the albatross that is the Last Year of Marquis' Contract, and come away with one of the handful of true Aces in the world today, that would be a psychological boost.

Bringing in anyone from the Core of our team was never part of the original plan.  The Padres had everything to gain from this deal, and I am glad Hendry did not cave in to their increasing demands.   

Good luck, Mr. Moores, on your divorce.

In which the Sloth reiterates his stance on Winter Meetings moves

Are THESE the Goatriders of the Apocalypse?

Are THESE the Goatriders of the Apocalypse?

No, actually, this picture provided by Big League Stew.   Seems Duk went on a In-and-Out run for his boyzz.  LMAO!!

Anyway, here is my list to Santa:

1) I know he's now officially past his prime; his trade value will never be higher; and he was never a Gold Glover or Silver Slugger to begin with.  But I DO consider him the heart and soul of the Cubs, now that Woody is gone.  So I don't want to include Mark DeRosa as any part of a Peavy deal UNLESS we can make the removal of the Marquis du Suck a contingency of the deal.

2) If we are truly looking at people like Raul Ibanez, Milton Bradley, and Bobby Abreu to play right field (RIGHT FIELD!!!) for us, then WTF, might as well bring in Adam Dunn instead.  The man was born to hit at Wrigley, and he isn't any worse in the field than any of these guys.

3) I still believe Sean Marshall, Micah Hofpauir, Felix Pie and Ronny Cedeno all deserve a chance to play in the majors in 2009; just not with us.  I hope they all find good homes as a result of the Peavy deal, or any other deal we complete.

4) We still need bullpen help.  I think Juan Cruz should come back.

5) Abolish the Veterans Committee.  There is an inherent conflict of interest in the whole design of this procedure.  There may have been a purpose for them earlier - to recognize those who played before 1900, as well as the Negro Leaguers.  Now that these areas have been addressed, it does not serve a purpose anymore.  Dissolve the committee.  There is no more need for a post-election method of entering the Hall.  Stop torturing Ron Santo and his ilk.

6) Tbird (can I call you Tbird), I loves me some Andre Ethier, too.  But I'm afraid even Santa can't make that happen for us.  Ned Colletti ain't stupid. 

7) THIS is long overdue.  Retire #31 next year!

If it keeps on rainin' the levee's gonna break (Peavy, Derosa, and why I don't like Kevin Towers aka the Vitters issue)

At this hour a great deal of news has been raining down and flooding my brain.  Perhaps it is the sheer amount of information saturating my brain, but I feel like I have made a breakthrough on all things Jake Peavy.  All of a sudden, the news reports are much more transparent than before.

 

Today was a bit too much early on:  the trade was on, and then off, then on again, and then off again.  In the meantime you had Rosenthal blabbering about how no deals can be done until the Cubs find new ownership, despite being told the contrary for the past few weeks.  Luckily, Crane Kenney came down with the wrath of God tonight and gave a subtle "f--- off" by saying [and this is paraphrased]:

 

The Cubs do not need approval from a potential new owner to make the kind of four-year, $63 million commitment Peavy's contract would require, nor do they have to know who the new owner will be before making such a multiyear commitment.

It seems that at this hour, the Peavy deal is down to a three team deal between the Cubs, Padres, and Phightin' Phillies of Illidelph.  The framework is set, yet it seems there have been some developments since we last spoke.  Marshall is no longer on the table for the deal.  Moreover, according to Paul Sullivan, he has been replaced by Jason Marquis going the Padres way.  The caveat to the whole thing is the Cubs must eat more than half of the Marquis de Suck's contract.  I'm ok with this.

 

There are also conflicting reports about the inclusion of Mark Derosa.  It is clear that the Phils have a very large interest in Mark, as they should.  The versitility of Mark Derosa pays dividends in a situation such as this.  The Phillies are desparate to fill the whole left by Chase Utley for half of a season.  They have two real options:

 

(1) Sign Raul Ibanez to a 4-year contract at about 10-12 MM a year and suffer through him being in his 40's by the end of the contract.  Move up Donald to play second base in the mean time.

 

(2) Trade for Derosa.  Have him fill in until Utley comes back and then move him to LF or 3b (while moving Feliz to LF).  Moreover, Derosa is only signed for a year, will be a Type A free agent, and is not likely to accept arbitration... meaning 2 draft picks.

 

Sullivan thinks that the Phils will send the Padres two pitching prospects as part of the deal (via the Cubs).  My best guess would have two of the following be those pitching prospects: JA Happ (obviously), Kyle Kendrick, Kyle Drabek.  I personally don't think Carrasco being one of those names.  Derosa is worth a lot in this trade, but not worth the Phillies #1 prospect.  I think the package is most likely centered around Drabek if anything.  Kendrick hasn't shown a whole lot just yet, and Happ is projected to be one of those Mark Redman types: decent K:BB ratio, but if his control is of he's gonna get lit like an alcoholic at an open bar.

 

Although the transition is not great, this gets me to the topic of Kevin Towers.  From the outset, KT stated that he wanted to get something along the lines of a 5-to-1 trade in return for Jake Peavy.  Given his current bargaining power, I thought it was a bit ambitious, but I will give him the benefit of the doubt here... for a moment.  Of this five player package, Towers stressed that pitching was important.  There was nothing wrong with this desire until today.

 

It seems now that Towers wants to have his cake and eat it too, despite his lack of barganing power to really be able to call the shots.  The only power he has been able to rely on is the power of being "transparent" to the media about what is going on in an effort to make the Cubs make a dumb move.*  The most recent move involves what he told one of his reporters earlier today:

The Padres continue to like their chances of getting Cubs prospect Josh Vitters and Cubs reliever Kevin Hart, a power right-hander whose upside is that of an eighth-inning reliever. Vitters, 19, is a Single-A third baseman described by Baseball America as a potential All-Star.

 

Now, let me take a step back.  Towers wanted five players.  From what I have been able to gather, so far the package coming to SD (assuming Sullivan is right) involves 2 pitching prospects coming from the Phillies, a starting pitcher coming from the Cubs in Marquis.  Those are three players, all of them pitchers.  Now add to the equation that Towers desparately wants Kevin Hart and that gets you to four players, all of them pitchers.  That leaves one spot open: well, that is perfect, you say, he can get Vitters as the last piece of the puzzle and the trade should happen, right?  No.

 

Take a step back again... a little bit more towards the present where the Braves were still in contention for Peavy.  It was understood that at the time the Cubs did not have the pitching Towers required to make the deal on their own.  Thus, Josh Vitters came into the discussion.  Vitters was to do one of two things for the Cubs: (1) He was supposed to be traded to another team for the pieces the Cubs could ship to SD; or (2) he was to be shipped to SD in lieu of pitching/pitching prospects to be either developed or spun off for pitching.

 

Yet, as of today, it looks like Towers is going to get his pitching pieces.  Four of them.  Yet he still thinks he is going to get Vitters.  That sentiment defies all logic, and I think it is at best hollow posturing.  From the beginning he said he wanted quality, not quantity.  I think he gets the quality from those proposed (and I understand Marquis is in that statement, but a cheap, way under market value Marquis is a good price for league average).

 

I am undecided on who the final piece would be to set it to five players going in return to the Padres.  Before the mention of JA Happ, I would have volunteered Mitch Atkins, but the two are far too similar pitchers, albiet from different sides.  The Padres have been showing a great deal of interest in Phillies catching prospect Jarmarillo.  I think what really would seal the deal is the inclusion of Wellington Castillo.  He is fairly advanced with his bat right now, is compared to Soto (although a bit behind in defense) and has september callup written all over him.  Will likely turn out to be a Bengie Molina/Dionnar Navarro type.

 

In an ideal world we could use Pie or Cedeno instead of Castillo.  I would prefer Cedeno, but I understand the allure of Pie.  However, their bigger whole is at shortstop.

 

In the end, we cannot expect anything to happen until late on Thursday anyways.  The Padres do not want to make this trade until after the Rule 5 draft for legitimate reasons.  The Padres 40-man currently stands at 37.  During the Rule 5 draft, they are able to select as many as 3 players.  If the Padres were to perform a 5-1 trade it would put their 40-man at 41, causing them to leave players that were once protected well, unprotected.  Soon after the Rule 5 concludes, I expect a great deal movement on this trade front.

 

However, there is no need to include Vitters if Derosa is involved.  Period.

 

* I kinda want to compare him to a car salesman that wants you to pay sticker price, even though the new model will be out in a day or two: he knows hes screwed, but wants to screw you first.

2008 Season Recap: Mark DeRosa

DeRo

When I came up with the SWP stat (Scrappy, White People for your new peeps), I had guys like Mark DeRosa in mind. He’s not particularly athletic. He doesn’t have a lot of hype or name recognition. He does the little things well but rarely makes highlight plays. He fits in at multiple positions and could often be considered a “grinder”. Not to mention he is a whitey.

But then 2008 happened and had to ruin all of that.

D-Ro hit .285 over 149 games (505 AB’s) with a .376 OBP and 21 dingers. He also had 30 doubles and a .857 OPS.

Zang.

Marky Mark did fulfill a bit of his natural scrappiness though, as Uncle Lou had him step away from second base and play a little right field (as well as a few other positions) from time to time.

You could consider several different people for the Cubs MVP in 2008, and DeRosa should be one of them. He filled in the gaps when needed, he hit for power, he was clutch at times and the ladies swooned over him. Okay, that last part didn’t help the Cubs too much, but I’m sure it’s a nice ego stroke (among other things).

I remember very early in the Cubs season – during spring training I think – I saw two guys wearing Cubs jerseys around town. The first guy had an authentic Jason Marquis uniform. If that statement was a clue on Jeopardy!, the answer would be: What is the best way to throw away $100 while simultaneously losing the respect of your peers. The other guy, however, was wearing a DeRosa jersey. I thought to myself, “That’s like buying Adam Kennedy’s jersey.” Oh my how I was wrong.

In the wake of arguably his best season as a major leaguer, a lot of Cubs fans are speculating trade deals packing DeRosa with some other players. At 33, one would expect D-Ro’s numbers only to decline from here and it seems the smart move is to deal him while his value is at its highest. But answer me this my friends, where would the Cubs have been last year without him? He might not be a superstar next season (Hell, he might not even be good) but he won’t be a liability. He can fill in when needed and hit practically anywhere in the order.

Of course if it helped bring Jake Peavy or a nice left-handed RF to Chicago then I’d be the first to boot his ass out of town…I mean that in the nicest way possible of course.

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