ESPN's Bruce Levine is reporting that the Cubs have traded left-handed pitcher Tom Gorzelanny to the Nationals.
The articles says the Cubs are receiving three prospects (two pitchers and an outfielder) in return. No word on whether any of them have a sweet Tumblr blog.
As Levine points out, this now leaves James Russell as the only lefty on the roster with the potential to be a starter. Happy Monday.
I have had several discussions thus far about whether 2010 is more hopeless than 2006, or 2002, or 1999, or several other perceived low-water marks in recent Cubs history. Ivy Chat Chuck, for example, thinks 2006 was worse than now. I do recall the Last Days of Dusty to be damn bleak. But Sam Zell bought the Tribune and handed Hendry a loaded checkbook, and there should have been a World Series, except Hendry bought the wrong players and, in retrospect, the wrong manager for the job.
Of course, in August of 2006, we knew of none of this. Now? I don't practice santeria, I got no crystal ball, but I do know Ricketts is not going to give any loaded checkbooks to anyone this winter, so forget about the fantasy that we are going to find the World's Best GM who will bring in the World's Best Players to get us over the World's Biggest Slump.
Here are some things we do know: all through his tenure, Hendry has drafted pitchers, early and often. Going into this season, some of these draft picks were highly regarded by the national scouts, in fact, several of these guys were regarded as close-to-ready. The first half of this year, our minor league teams did very well, anchored by our decent pitching on every rung of the ladder. Many made all-star teams. Many of these guys (12, in fact) have had a chance to pitch for the Cubs this summer.
And every last one of them sucked.
Hendry's response has been typical and predictable: except for the straight Theriot-for-DeWitt trade, all his moves have been to bring in more pitching. And, well, there have been several discussions here and elsewhere over the years that trying to fix bullpens by spending money on experienced relievers is risky, a 50-50 proposition at best, so there is a certain wisdom to stockpile an army of arms, and even if a small percentage of them work out ok, it will be sufficient. If you have twenty guys in the minors who are callup candidates and only 20% of them work out, well, that's the four guys that aren't named Marmol, Marshall or Grabow that will pitch in Wrigley in 2011.
Do I agree with that philosophy, personally? Not in the least. The Chicago Cubs, for as money as they wring out of us, the fanbase, should never, ever have to consider salary as a limitation. Do I think we should be the highest paying team in the NL? Damn right! Just wish we'd spent that money more wisely...But, I will admit we've spent money on relievers over the years (Grabow, Howry, Remlinger come immediately to mind) without much luck, so I am not going to barbecue Hendry for his scheme.
What I will ask him to consider, though, is to truly do the due diligence and find out why EVERY LAST ONE of the guys we've called up this year have failed. They pitched well in Iowa, Tennessee, and they come up here and forget how to throw strikes. Why is that? Assuming the manager has little to do with how a guy pitches, can we look at the pitching coach and the bullpen coach this winter? Obviously, these guys are either not executing a plan, or they have no plan to begin with.
If the Cubs are going with the young arms option, which is their prerogative, then it is absolutely vital that the Cubs pitching coach be able to communicate with young pitchers, impart a plan of action for them, and adjust the plan accordingly. Larry Rothschild and Lester Strode have failed to do this in 2010. They need to go, and someone smarter needs to replace them.
Fire the damn bullpen catchers, too. Obviously, they ain't catching right, either.
Every baseball fan's favorite deadline has come and gone, and as you well know, the Cubs' roster is constituted a bit differently today than it was a week ago. You may be wondering what my opinion is on all that's happened. (Or maybe you aren't wondering, in which case: Congratulations! You're sane!)
At this point, the names of the players exchanged in the Cubs' lone deal have been so widely disseminated that stating them again here borders on worthlessness, but for the sake of cohesion I'll do it: the Cubs gave up starter Ted Lilly and infielder Ryan Theriot, in exchange for infielder Blake DeWitt, A-level starter Brett Wallach, and A-level reliever Kyle Smit.
Furthermore, there are two other names that, as far as I can tell, have been omitted from the discussion despite the fact that they probably shouldn't be. Those are Mike Fontenot and Jeff Baker.
Every time Theriot started at second base and/or led off leading up to the end of July, folks may have been asking themselves, "Wouldn't a Fontenot/Baker platoon be more effective than this?" And if they had asked me, I would have said to them, "Yes, it would." It would probably be a half-decent option for next year's team, too.
But Fontenot and Baker have each been in the majors for a few years now, meaning they're eligible for some pay raises. And then there's the obvious fact that a platoon requires two rosters spots, which may block a better bat from being available in pinch-hitting scenarios.
With yesterday's trade, I expect the Cubs to non-tender both Baker and Fontenot in this upcoming offseason, giving Blake DeWitt the keys to second base on a full-time basis. Since DeWitt is not yet arbitration-eligible (at least I'm pretty sure he's not), he'll only cost the team about a half-million dollars. Baker plus Fontenot plus additional raises would have cost between $2.5 million and $3 million, I'm guessing, so, look at that! I just found the money we sent to the Dodgers in this recent deal -- not to mention our new 2B is 25 years old rather than 30, which most baseball folks interpret to mean he may still yet increase his skills. And as a member of the 2011 Cubs, by all means he should have every opportunity to do so.
(An aside: You may have your arms in the air right now, saying, "I thought Starlin Castro was going to slide over to second when The Cubs' Other Franchise Player, Hak-Ju Lee, took over at short?!" Not so, my friends; if Castro is to be moved from SS, I think his strong throwing arm plays much better at third base than at second. That'd be one young, talented infield, no?)
One final point: there's a pretty long list of Cubs that weren't traded this weekend that don't exactly fit with the current team, which is very much in rebuilding mode right now. That list includes, but is not limited to: Kosuke Fukudome, Xavier Nady, the aforementioned Mike Fontenot and Jeff Baker, Carlos Silva, and perhaps even several established veterans like Ryan Dempster, Alfonso Soriano, and Carlos Zambrano.
Remember: there's no guarantee these players will finish the season as Cubs. Likely, most of them will be placed on waivers, which is a-whole-'nother ball game from trades entirely, but it suffices to say that the process could result in some or all of those players being moved.
For now, though, I'm pleased with the return obtained by Jim Hendry in yesterday's deal, and am excited to see the team finally take at least one small step in the direction of a youth movement, rather than patching up our aging roster with 31-year-old, left-handed hitting right fielders.
Hi all. Here are some Cub related notes on today's trade deadline:
The Cubs themselves sent Ted Lilly and Ryan Theriot to the Dodgers for second baseman Blake DeWitt and two varying degrees of good prospects. Brett Wallach is the jem here and will immediately move into the Cubs' top 15 prospect lists. Good Bye to Ted and Ryan, both of whom have been key parts of the team over the last four years and deserve our respect and honor. I am very interested to see what DeWitt will be able to do for the Cubs.
The Cardinals traded away Ryan Ludwick and received Jake Westbrook in return. Westbrook is an ok pitcher, everyone keeps speculating that he will be fixed somehow by Dave Duncan and while agree that Westbrook is the type of pitcher who has had success working with Duncan, I also think that rookie John Jay is going to be out of his depth and this deal further hurts the Cardinals' offense. I actually think that overall, the Cardinals have not really improved themselves.
The Astros, of course, traded both Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman away in an effort to turn those 2 out of 3's against the Cubs into sweeps.... I don't think they got back near enough and don't consider Bret Wallace to be anywhere near the offensive force that Berkman has been. I wonder if the Astros wouldn't have just better off keeping both players and trying to swap them in 2011. I don't think they did well.
The Reds did nothing. Kind of surprising. If I were a Red fan, I'd be angry. It may not matter. They could win it anyway. Oh and Jonny Gomes is still a huge Ahole. Just saying.
The Pirates flipped some of their roster for some potentially nice players and pretty much got more from trading Octavio Dotel, Javier Lopez, Bobby Crosby and Ryan Church than the Astros got for dealing Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman. Wow.
Ex Cub Kerry Wood got traded to the Yankees. I wish him well and now I'm rooting for the Yankees to win the World Series. Wood is a Cub and will always be one. As such if he wins a title.... in a way we all do. Go Kerry!
Kyle Farnsworth was traded at the deadline to the Braves along with Rick Ankiel for a whole bevy of interesting prospects. Farnsworth doesn't have anywhere near the same level of respect in Chicago that my man Kerry has, thus I am not particularly concerned with this deal. I do find new Royals prospect Tim Collins particularly interesting.
Other than that, the rest of the Cubs are still here. No Fuku trade, no Zambrano trade, Nady will be passed through waivers I'm sure and could be dealt. I am a fan of Mike Fontenot bug with DeWitt on board, I don't really see what he does for the Cubs so I expect Fontenot be also be passed through waivers and possibly traded. Jeff Baker may still have value on the team.
Overall, a massively interesting day. I'm happy with the deal. I would have liked to have seen the Cubs do more but I don't believe I was ever one of those "Blow up the team" people so I won't complain. I will leave this up for two hours before posting today's gamecast.
(Edit) I forgot to mention Will Ohman traded back to the NL to play for the Marlins. He's still around and is pretty effective.
Dear Goat Readers:
It has come to our attention -- despite our best efforts at total denial -- that the 2010 Chicago Cubs, despite their massive salaries and high expectations, are a steaming pile of crap.
As July is just around the corner, it's totally reasonable to expect Jim Hendry to fire up his ol' cell phone, duct-tape it to his head, and work non-stop to unload the numerous disappointments on teams too dumb -- or too desperate -- to say no.
As we've highlighted in other posts, the following players are likely candidates for trade -- assuming any team will take their bloated salaries:
SS Ryan Theriot - Sure, he'll give you a .280-.300 AVG most years, and he steals a decent amount of bases, but do you really want your team's shortstop to be a guy with middling defense and no power whatsoever? No? Me neither, but with a little bit of luck, some other teams feel differently.
And remember -- before you decide to fellate Theriot, assuming anybody would at this point, the dude's got a slugging percentage of .307 and an OPS of .628. Unload him!
1B Derrek Lee - He has a no trade clause, a big salary, and a batting average that only Dave Kingman could be proud of, but I think he should be on the block. All Jim Hendry has to do is pull him aside and say, basically, "we are not re-signing you, but we can try to trade you to a competitive team -- and who knows, if you do well, maybe they'll extend you." If Lee knows his time in Chicago is ending, he may agree to something like that. The hard part will be finding any team willing to take him.
2B Mike Fontenot - He's a journeyman middle infielder who could be a servicable backup on any number of competitive teams. Hell, trade him to the Red Sox or the Yankees -- they love their scrappy white guys.
3B Aramis Ramirez - He has a big contract and this is an opt-out year. But, as Rob observed, A-Ram would have to be about as stupid as Bam-Bam to vie for free agency in a season where he's batting .173 into July! The Cubs would have to eat a considerable amount of his salary -- probably the remainder of 2010's, and maybe even up to half of his salary for 2011, which I'm guesstimating to be in the $7 million range.
LF Alfonso Soriano - Ah yes. The White Sox had The Big Hurt in Frank Thomas, the Mariners had the Big Unit in Randy Johnson, and the Cubs have The Big Albatross in Soriano.
At this point, Sori's numbers aren't so bad -- he's on pace to play in more than 150 games, to hit nearly 50 doubles, 4 triples, nearly 30 homeruns, 80+ RBI, and his OPS is .910. The only problem is that he's making 19 million this year, and he's going to earn roughly that much money for the next four seasons. How the hell do the Cubs trade a guy who is still owed more than $70 million?
RF Kosuke Fukudome - He has one year remaining after this season, in which he will earn around 12 million dollars. Stat-hounds everywhere will tell you that the Cubs are paying him appropriately. Realists who watch the games and have even the smallest semblance of how reality works will tell you that he's been a tremendous, heaping disappointment. But -- if the Cubs will eat half his salary in 2011, who knows, maybe somebody will take him.
SP Ryan Dempster - He has two years left on his current contract. At this point, he's actually pretty much earned his wage. But based on his age, that probably won't be the case as he transitions from Year Three to Year Four. Therefore, the Cubs should swing a deal for him while he might actually be worth something.
SP Carlos Silva - With the Mariners already eating a good portion of his salary, and with one year remaining on his present contract, and with Carlos pitching better than he ever has in his entire career, this might be the ideal time to unload him on a team needing a starter.
SP Ted Lilly - I'll be sad to see the best free agent acquisition of my lifetime traded away, but why would Lilly come back next year? Could the Cubs even afford him? Despite his crappy record -- 3-6 -- Lilly surely has some value right now.
SP Carlos Zambrano - Alfonso Soriano's Albatross-in-Crime. Who knew that Carlos would not only remain an immature asshole, but at the still-young age of 29 he'd lose the talent which justified his insanity? If the Cubs can find any team willing to roll the dice on him, and if he'd be willing to approve a trade, this needs to happen.
Realistically speaking, Theriot, Fontenot, Silva, Dempster, and Lilly are all capable of finding homes without the Cubs needing to pay for parts of their salaries. At the same time, Lee, Fukudome, and Ramirez would require some financial sacrifice to deal, and Soriano and Zambrano are probably untradeable.
All that said, I was originally going to suggest likely teams for whom each player might fit some needs, but I think I'd rather leave it up to you guys to make suggestions.
So -- what teams would take these jabrones, and how much might they be willing to pay for them? I leave it to you.
Alex Rios has been mashing for the White Sox this year with a .317 average, 13 home runs, and 19 steals. You don't happen to remember how Chicago's AL team got him onto their roster, do you?
Rios was claimed off of waivers. That is, his former team -- the Toronto Blue Jays -- simply gave him away, for absolutely nothing in return.
Given Rios' recent performance at the time, it was thought that the Blue Jays were making a potentially shrewd move to eliminate some salary; Rios had six years left on a seven year, $70 million deal. At the same time, many in the media scoffed at the White Sox' gamble. That was a heckuvalot of salary to take on.
What does this have to do with the Cubs? Well, it appears the hot stove is truly beginning to heat up already. (Aside: what's with everyone writing about how the Cubs aren't sure about whether they have a shot at the playoffs or not, and won't entertain trade ideas until then? You're kidding, right?)
If this team does, as it should, enter full-on sell mode in the next few weeks, there are a few names you can expect to see pop up in all sorts of trade rumors: Lee, Nady, Lilly, etc. But here's my question for the trade-happy public:
If the entire Cubs roster were put on waivers tomorrow -- that is, offered up for zero in return -- how many players would be worth a roster spot to other teams?
I look forward to reviewing your answers in the comments.
In this weekend's Tribune, there was an article about the "Third founder of Apple". Really? There was a third founder of Apple, just like there was a fifth Beatle? Seems that there was; he was the 'business guru' part of the deal, along with Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. You know the Steves; this third guy was in the garage, too, but he got sick of the Steves always turning on and letting their minds wander into fancy thoughts. This third guy even designed the first Apple logo; but finally he got sick of all the talk about mice and pointing and clicking and let the Steves buy him out for $800. Now, this guy lives simply, on Social Security, and he says sure, he has 'regrets' because of course, the Steves are now richer than God. But, as the article explained, not all regrets have to be negative. He did what he thought was right at the time; all the knowledge he had at his disposal was that the Steves were a couple of burnouts, and that they were just gonna run through whatever little they had, and that would be the end of it.
If he had to do it over again, he'd make the same decision, because he went with what his gut said was right, and that is all he could do. For every Apple success story, there are thousands of other guys who get together for a few weeks, burn through their savings, and have nothing to show for it but a sack of empty beercans. So he doesn't let his 'regret' eat him up.
A couple of things got me thinking: the first being that we may now possibly have the oxymoron for 2010 - "Positive Regret", to go along with "negative success", one of my favorites (/eyes roll) from the past decade.
The second thing has to do with decisions; specifically sports decisions; even more specifically baseball decisions; well, let's get down to it - trading decisions, particularly those involving the Cubs. Those of you that know me know that I do exist somewhere on the near side of the ol' Autistic Spectrum, and that I love me some categorizations. Some kids played with Hot Wheels; I sorted them in boxes by color; then make and model.
Today I am going to sort some of the Cubs' trades over the years, in terms of regret levels, from positive regret (yo, don't let the door hitcha where the good Lord splitcha) to total Brock-for-Broglio-esque misery.
LEVEL 0: No Regret Whatsoever - total lopsided trades in our favor; ones that might be considered Level 4 or 5 by the other guys. DeJesus-for-Bowa, with Sandberg thrown in. Bobby Hill-for-Aramis Ramirez.
LEVEL 1: Regret as a form of blessed release - Turd Hundley-for-Grudz&Karros in 2003; Sosa-for-Hairston&Font in 2004; Bradley-for-Silva last winter. God help me, these are the trades that feel like curing cancer - chemo that works!
LEVEL 2: Meh-gret: most trades fall into meh-gret: a recent example would be Kevin Hart-for-Grabow and Gorzellany. What-ever...(NOTE: please do not confuse the trade for Grabow with the subsequent 2-year-contract for Grabow. That's a whole 'nother topic). This includes the vast majority of trades that don't work out well for either side.
LEVEL 3: Regret for some; Meh-gret for others: the DeRosa trade falls into this category. We give up something of value, and whether or not we get like value back, there will be some who will be disappointed for a long time. In the case of DeRosa, some 'fans' are still pointing to his departure as the crack in the windshield that broke up the 2008 juggernaut, as it were. Others, such as myself, while admitting that we gave up some measure of value, aren't going to lose a nugget of sleep over it. There haven't been many other recent Level 3's, unless of course you're one of the ten people left on Earth who still feel Jake Fox can play ball.
LEVEL 4: Now we're starting to feel the sting; giving up on a major league impact player. Garland-for-Karchner. Raffy Palmiero (AND Jamie Moyer!)-for-Wild Thing. Bill Madlock-for-Steve Ontiveros. Dontrelle Willis (as a throw-in!)-for-Clement & Alfonseca. You might even throw in Joe Carter-for-Sutcliffe. I would, you might not. Carter-for-Sut might be a Level 3 in your world, because 1984 simply does not happen without Sut. I understand that, and 1984 Chicago might mean more to any franchise than any other season in MLB history where a pennant was NOT won.
But it was pretty clear that Carter was the real deal, he did not immediately impress upon his first callup, we traded him off, and he then spent the next 12 years or so just KILLING fools.
But even considering the regretful nature of Level 4, there is:
LEVEL 5: Brock-for-Broglio. Letting Maddux walk in 1993, which is not in itself a trade, except in effect, it was when the "Maddux Money" was then given to Jose Guzman and Candy Maldonado. Letting a Hall-Of-Fame talent go is inexcusible under any circumstances. These are trades that just kill a franchise, and just EAT into your sleep.
Now then. Take a good hard look at your team today. I have recently come out here, myself and others, to accurately note that the offense for the Cubs sucks on toast, and what's more, outside of a couple of guys with large expiring contracts, and of course our "beloved prospects", we had nothing to offer in trade to improve matters any.
Now and again, someone like Phil Rogers will wonder out loud (in the paper) if there was any possibilities about someone like Fukudome being sent in a 3-way trade with Boston and perhaps Texas. You may think that Phil Rogers realizes what he does for a living, that if he publishes his idle thoughts, that there will be people who make the implication that there may be some substance behind them. I actually do not think so; I don't think Phil thinks that far ahead.
But back to our trade prospects now in 2010. I don't think we are going to be able to get rid of Fukudome, or Ramirez, or Lee, or Soriano, or Zambrano. Someone may try Lilly (especially after last night) or perhaps Nady. Neither one will bring much. Neither will the rest of the rabble: the Cajun boys; Tracy and Baker; the 10 or so feeble bullpen arms we've shuffled in and out so far this year; Three-Finger Hill. Any trades containing any of them falls under Meh-gret.
But what about Castro? Cashner? Colvin? Josh Vitters? What about Marmol and Soto? Could we possibly bring in a decent-hitting infielder, at any position, for one or more of them? Is it as easy as that?
This is the main point of today's column: any trade has risk. We could, hypothetically, trade Castro, Colvin, and Cashner for Albert Pujols today, and quite possibly once he puts on a Cub uniform, Pujols forgets how to swing a bat for the rest of his natural life. If that happened, there would be regret. The question is, how much?
Look at each one of our prospects. Are they certain future Hall-of-Famers? Are they certain impact big-leaguers? Are they even certain major-league contributors? How much regret would we feel if one or more of our so-called top prospects were dealt, in an attempt to make something out of this offense the next couple of years?
My take? I don't feel I am watching certain Greatness when I see Colvin, Castro, Cashner and Soto play. Marmol? Heh heh, God only knows. He has a unique gift - it may stay with him 10 more years, or it may leave him tomorrow. I wouldn't mess with him right now.
The rest of them? Aren't going to cost me any sleep, ever.
This has officially become an abortion. Know what? Suppose they manage to come back and get a Wild Card berth or even the Central title? I don't care. I am totally, thoroughly disgusted with this team, this management and this owner. I suppose at this point in time it is numerically possible for the Cubs to make the playoffs, but even if they did, they're not going to accomplish anything, and even if they did, I dislike this team so much right now, I don't care to see them win anything.
The backslapping bleacher bum owner loves his donut eating GM, who in turn respects his unshaven, slovenly manager, so none of the braintrust is going anywhere this year. Most teams, nay, nearly ALL teams in our place at this point in time would fire their manager. Now, I've never been one to advocate firing a manager for change's sake, because it rarely, if ever, works. But at least you are offered a sliver of hope your team will make like the 2008 Rockies or 2003 Marlins. That kind of thing happens about 0.003% of the time in sports, but that's 3-thousandths percent more hope than we have right now.
So we're not firing anyone. The only two choices that remain is to clean house, or stand pat and rot in the steamy sun. Me, I'm for cleaning house.
One teensy, weensy problem.
We have prospects that teams want, but we'd be crazy to trade them. And the people we'd want to trade? Nobody wants them. Thus is the power and the glory of the explosively obese 8-digit (and in some cases, 9-digit!) contract.
Category 1: the Future, the Untouchables, the Kids
Colvin, Castro, Cashner, Marmol, Wells, Russell, and grudgingly so, only because the state of catching is at an all-time low: Soto. Yes, I said it, you have to keep him, even with his May slump, he's still in the upper half of catchers in the NL.
Category 2: the Poison Pills, the Untradeables, the Albatrosses
Zambrano, Soriano, Ramirez, Silva, Dempster, Fukudome - all are owed over $10MM per annum for multiple annums
Category 3: the Has-beens, Never-weres, and Hangers-on
Fontenot, Theriot, Baker, Chad Tracy, Grabow, Hill, Howry, Stevens, Berg, Caridad, Guzman, most if not all of the rest of AAA Iowa (Hoffpauir, Jason Dubois, Bryan Lahair, Bobby Scales). Any of these guys are just a waiver claim away, and thus won't return much
Category 4: brand new free-agents
Byrd and Nady. Can you trade these guys, legally? If so, would you? Isn't there something terribly desperate about trading a guy you signed this year as a free agent, especially one that hasn't performed badly?
Category 5: not overburdened by contract, past success of some sort
Lee, Gorzellany, and Lilly. And Marshall, I guess. Although he and Marmol ARE pretty much the bullpen, I suppose his value will never be higher.
We don't have enough of value to offer.
What we would get back would not be enough to overcome our deficiencies
Finally, most of these "deficiencies" stem from the Category 2 guys who are not going to be benched or cut, because of their contracts
From three years, we have gone from arguably the best team in the NL to one of the most hopeless.
Enjoy your Blackhawks. Don't get too ahead of yourselves. Gotta win two more before you can plan any Grant Park gatherings.
Multiple reports have Gorz 'pen-bound, with Wells sticking to the rotation. I would imagine the team doesn't want four lefties in the bullpen, so that means James Russell is likely on his way to Iowa, with Jeff Stevens sticking around with the big league team.
And after yesterday's performance, I guess Carlos Silva is now the staff ace? That gives us a rotation of Silva, Demp, Lilly, Z, and Wells.
And in the 'pen: Howry. Grabow. Gorz. Stevens. Cashner. Marshall. Marmol.
Finally, guys in Iowa that have appeared in the bigs this season: Russell. Berg. Caridad. Gray. Samardzija. John Gaub probably isn't too far behind from making an appearance, either.
But seriously, nobody wants to make a trade with the Cubs? Don't we have the depth to do something?