Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Trades

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Open Forum: Cubs trade chips

It only took 36 games played for the trade talk to begin here at GROTA. And now that it's begun, let's keep the ball rolling with a question for readers:

Of the guys you'd like to see the team trade, which players do you think have the most value on the open market? Remember to consider not just past and current performance, but also age and contract status.

I think I'll hold back on my list until a few other folks submit their own.

One trade makes sense for the Cubs.

In terms of how the 2010 roster is built, I'd say the Cubs have a surplus of one thing, and are at the same time missing one prominent piece of the puzzle.

We have too many starting pitchers. Case in point: Z is in the 'pen. We've got a guy in Iowa doing everything he can to earn his way into the rotation (Andrew Cashner), and our mop-up/LOOGY/set-up man has starting experience as well (Sean Marshall). So we're, what, eight deep?

And normally that's all well and good, except the Cubs are lacking a right-handed power reliever (how 'bout a big WHOOPS for trading away Mike Wuertz for next to nothing?).

So first, you gotta ask: which starters could be moved?

I mean, theoretically we could trade anyone without a no-trade clause. But I don't think there are many teams out there that want to take on an extra $30 million in guaranteed dollars. So that eliminates Dempster (owed $12.5m this year, $13.5m next year, and has a player option which you can assume he'll take for $14m in 2012), and of course, Carlos Zambrano (owed nearly $18m for each of '10, '11 and '12).

If the Cubs' window is indeed closing on this group of veterans (and I think we all agree that it appears to be doing so), then it would be stupid of the team to trade a younger pitcher for an older reliever just so they could feel marginally better about this year. So it's probably not in the team's best interest to trade Wells or Gorzelanny.

That leaves two candidates for the Cubs' trading block, effective immediately:

1) Ted Lilly - owed $12 million for 2010, FA in 2011
2) Carlos Silva - owed $8 million in 2010, $6 million in 2011, and a $2 million buyout in 2012

Given their recent performances, I think it's difficult to say which contract is more valuable. I suppose y'all can argue about that in the comments.

Now that we've got guys we're willing to move, we need to identify a reasonable target. Given the performance from their starting rotation so far this year, and the fact that they have a pretty decent team aside from the back of their rotation, I think the Colorado Rockies are a good trade target.

Furthermore, and most importantly for the Cubs, the Rockies have a surplus of decent, hard-throwing, right-handed relief pitching. Even if we assume they want to hold on to their closer, Huston Street, they've got two well-paid righties in the 'pen beyond him:

1) Rafael Betancourt - owed $3.775 million in each of '10 and '11
2) Manny Corpas - owed $2.75m and $3.5m in '10 and '11 respectively

How about Carlos Silva, Jeff Gray, and $5 million, for Rafael Betancourt?

The best idea for a Cubs trade that you will read over the course of this offseason.

I'm going to cut to the chase on this one because I think it's such a good idea.

Milton Bradley and Ryan Theriot, for Curtis Granderson and Dontrelle Willis.

Boom. Absorb that gem of amazingness for a second while I tell you about how awesome it is.

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Before we try to decide which baseball numbers are most relevant, let's talk cash for a minute here.

As you well know, MB is owed $9mil in '10, and $12mil in '11 (guh).

Ryan Theriot is in his first year of arbitration eligibility, so it's hard to say what he'll be owed. Let's just call it $2mil every year til 2013 when he becomes a free agent.

As for the Tigers, Dontrelle Willis is owed $12mil next year (!), and Granderson is owed $5.5mil, $8.25mil, and $10mil over each of the next three seasons, with an option in 2013.

SUMMARY: Cubs would pay MB and RT about $27mil over the next three seasons, Tigers would pay CG and DW a combined $36mil.

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Let's move beyond business, to baseball.

The Cubs are (still, even after trading away Mark DeRosa,) too right-handed. They've got a right-handed shortstop that plays league average defense there -- surely, a commodity, but not necessarily an automatic keeper, either.

They need a center fielder, and they could use a lefty. Oh yeah, there's also the whole get-rid-of-Milton deal.

Granderson bats lefty and plays center. And even though he's traditionally led off, his .453 slugging percentage would put him behind only Lee and A-Ram of the Cubs' everyday players in the category -- as in, perhaps could be that middle-of-the-order lefty RBI guy.

The Tigers' starting shortstop, according to their depth chart, is some guy with a last name starting with D that I have never heard of. As in, they could use an unterrible shortstop. And given the state of the Detroit economy, they'd thank God if Hendry called and offered to take D-Train off their hands.

Would taking on Dontrelle be a complete waste of money? Maybe. But aside from the amount owed him in 2010 being exactly equivalent to MB's 2011 requirement, the NL is an easier place to pitch than the AL.

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The Cubs get rid of Milton. They lose Theriot, who is a player with positive value, but they have Andres Blanco's glove on the roster, and Starlin Castro on the fast track. They'd also get a quality left-handed bat to man center field for them.

The Tigers get a good shortstop, a guy that's proven he can mash at the DH spot, and the chance to erase the $12 million owed to Dontrelle from their books.

One potential challenge: convincing Dombrowski, who's wanting to get Granderson's contract off the books, to take on Milton's 2011 commitment (the 2010 pill should be easier to swallow given the savings the deal generates on D-Train's deal).

To that end, I'd be willing to spend a few million 2011 dollars on getting Milt's contract within a workable range to make the deal happen. That's how much value I think the trade adds to the Cubs.

Beyond that reason, tell me why this isn't a great idea.

Gamecast: July 31st at Marlins

Rich Harden (7-6, 4.55 ERA) vs. Chris Volstad (8-9, 4.44 ERA)

Story Lines

The Cubs are once again in first place thanks to a comeback victory by the Dodgers last night in St. Louis. After St. Louis struck for Matt Holliday, Mark DeRosa and Julio Lugo, the Cubs went out yesterday and dealt for John Grabow and Tom Gorzelanny.

The move has been discussed at length, but it probably helped the team. For one, it does give the Cubs another arm in the bullpen to go along with Sean Marshall, even if he gets out right handers better than lefties. The Cubs should get better on their own over the next few weeks with Ted Lilly, Geovany Soto and Reed Johnson coming back.

Tonight's game starts a long road trip for the Cubs. They make trips to the Marlins, Reds and Rockies, and this is a very important time for the Cubs to continue to play well.

Rich Harden heads to the bump tonight, and it will be interesting to see  how he pitches at night after all the fuss the last few weeks. Harden's been great since the All-Star brek. In three starts, he's 2-0 with a 0.95 ERA with 21 strikeouts and two walks. Harden's lack of walks have been the key for him, but that's true of any pitcher.

Who's Hot

Aramis Ramirez - The "Real" Aramis Ramirez is back, and maybe stronger than ever. Ramirez has crushed the ball of late with a .520 average with four HR's and 10 RBI. That translates to a 1.746 OPS during the streak.

Kosuke Fukudome - It is no shock to see the Cubs turn things around when Fukudome and Alfonso Soriano starting to hit. In his last 7 games, Fukudome is hitting .409 with a 1.109 OPS.

Milton Bradley - He's still hitting a lot of singles, but he does have two home runs in the last week. His line in the last week of .333/.483/.619 is showing real signs of improvement. Overall, his OPS is up to .776. Still not great, but getting better.

Who's Not

Mike Fontenot - I really thought the Cubs would make a deal for a 2B, but it does not look like it is going to happen. Even with his two hits yesterday, Fontenot's still just 3-for-17 in his last six games.

Conclusions

The Cubs have traditionally struggled with the Marlins, but they did take 3 of 4 back in April during a homestand. Hopefully, the Cubs can find a way to take 2 of 3 this weekend.

Time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping


With just over 24 hours remaining, the 2009 Cubs remain trade free even as potential playoff opponents have gotten faster and stronger. Even worse, we have heard nothing about even the potential for a move. In the wake of the Cubs sale/bankrupcy chaos, Jim Hendry's hands appear remain tied and the Cubs look intent on trying to win the playoffs with the offensive juggernaut that is the Fontenot/Baker platoon.

For a while now we've been saying that Hendry has done a spectacular job of tying his hands. He's got expensive players with no-trade contracts, and really the only easy positions where the Cubs can upgrade are in the middle infield. But in order for that to happen, Jim would probably need to convince any potential trade partner to eat a lot of contract -- either in cast-off Cubs, or in the remaining dollars owed to any player coming to Chicago.

Not that we can expect a trade to be made -- in fact, it would probably be more than a little shocking if one did -- but teams that are selling right now include Toronto, Baltimore, Cleveland, Kansas City, Seattle, Oakland, Washington, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Arizona, and San Diego. I'm tempted to dig in and do some research -- to find out which team has what player that might fit the hole the Cubs are looking to be filled* -- but I really think it's pointless. If a big trade is to come, it will occur perhaps in August, with players who have cleared waivers, if by then the Cubs ownership sale fiasco has finally been resolved. Until then, your 2009 Cubs are exactly what you see on the field right now.

(*and hello to the porn-seeking Google crowd who found this site by typing in "hole looking to be filled")

On the bright side, "what you see on the field right now" is a team that's won 10 out of 13 since the All Star break, and has a July record of 17-8. This same team has gone 6-3 since I predicted that they would need to finish the month 7-5 if they wanted to be on pace to win enough games to take the division this year. So, maybe Fontenot/Baker are not the ideal second basemen, maybe Rob has a point when he suggests that Andres Blanco and his plus plus plus defense might be a better choice to play second base, but either way it would appear that the Cubs do not need 8 good hitters to compete. Hell, with all the injuries they've had, and the slumps, they've been lucky to have even 5 good hitters on any given night even during this hot streak. Imagine what happens when Geo returns. The Cubs won't be the flashiest, most spectacular team, but they might just be good enough to surprise us.

Still, a big trade would be really, really nice, even if not absolutely necessary.

For those who wish to see the fire sale

The other day somebody posted on the ShoutBox that he hoped the Cubs would get swept and subsequently be broken apart.

I get that.  This team has been nothing but frustrating, and much like the narrator from Fight Club a lot of us probably just want to destroy something that's beautiful right now.  But there are a handful of things we need to consider before we advocate the dismantling of this disappointing Cubs team.

First -- do we really want to be the fans that supported the fire-sale of a baseball club that is, as of July 23rd, 1 game behind the division lead in the NL Central, while actually having 1 less loss than the first place Cardinals? 

A little perspective from Rob - recall the 1997 season, when the Sux pulled off their infamous "White Flag" trade at the deadline - pawning off Wilson Alvarez, Danny Darwin and Roberto Hernandez - their top two starters and their closer - for six prospects.  Three of the prospects actually saw big league action - most notably Keith Foulke and Bob Howry (yep, HIM).  The Sux were 3 1/2 out at that point.  But 12 years later, the mopes on the other side o' the tracks STILL moan about the White Flag trade, how Reinsdorf lost faith in his team, that could have and "should have" won the division.

So the answer is NO, as shitty as we are right now, we are kind of stuck by our place in the standings.  If we can improve incrementally, we should.  But blowing it up, even if we COULD (read on), is hysterical.

Second -- let's say the answer is "yes."  I'll reserve my judgment for anybody who'd feel that way until the end of this post, but how?  What kind of moves do you propose the Cubs make to break up this team?  Is anybody going to accept a trade for a 33-year-old left fielder who has struggled all year long and will be earning 18 million a year until 2014?  Will anybody take an underperforming Asian sensation who's making 12 million a year?  Does anybody want an angry, underperforming right fielder who has just reached his vested option to collect an additional $10 million? 

Rather than just post about how the Cubs need to blow the team up, please, tell us how.  You are welcome to use the Reader Blogs feature to do this -- I'll even promote your article to the front page of GROTA.  And if you don't have reader blog access, EMail me and I'll set you up.

Back to the "yes, blow 'em up" mentality.  Let's be realistic here.  If the Cubs decide to rebuild for another run, it won't be until the new owner steps in.  It won't be with Jim Hendry -- nor should it be.  He's had more chances than I believe he should have gotten.  It won't even be with Lou Piniella -- he's here to win now, and he's not going to hang around to wait for a new squad to grow into winners.  Whether or not it should happen, it can't happen.  There are too many factors against it, the least of which being that Jim Hendry does not want to surrender his job so easily.  He very well may burn the village to save it.

Besides ... they are 1 game out of first place.  I know, I know, the offense sucks.  Surely, if they manage to sneak into the playoffs they will only disappoint us again.  Clearly, they are not likely to win a World Series in 2009.  But if you truly want the team to be blown up right now with the team 1 freaking game out of first place, then you are not a Cubs fan.  Sorry, I'm not trying to piss you off or anything, but you need to stop following professional sports if you don't have the stomach for an agonizing year like this one.  Go take up calligraphy or something. 

Kid has a point here, one that I myself should probably take to heart.  The chances are slim to none that this is the Team that will Lift The Curse.  But Cub Fan-ness is not a cheap thing.  It is a privilege that is earned, and by gawd, we are going to earn it by sticking with this bunch who can't hit straight.  What you see is what you get for 2009, save a relief pitcher or two.  What does not kill us will make us stronger.  If you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen.  Maybe next year, the team will be sold, another GM will be brought in, and some great trades made.  All right, this is me, signing off...

Anyway, I'm not at this point saying the Cubs will get to the playoffs, I'm not even saying that they are likely to, but the situation determins the course of action and whether we know better or not, the course of action cannot be a fire-sale.  But like I said before -- if I'm wrong, explain to me how.

Fixing the F***ing Roster?

I don't really believe in trades just to shake up a team, but. Here is a thought


Trade Lilly @ 13 million, Heilmann @ 1.6 million, Miles @ 2.2 milliuon and David Patton for Ian Stewart @ 400,000  (plays 2nd, 3rd, LF&RF), Ryan Spillboughs @ 400.000 (plays all 3 OF ppostions), Manuel Corpas @ 750,000 (had 19 saves 2 years ago) and Seth Smith @ 400,000 (plays all 3 OF positions and left handed). May have to pick up some of the money.


Trade for Yunel Escobar @ 400,000 (can play 2nd, SS, 3rd) the Braves are suppose to have a hot shot SS at 3A, for Fukudone @ 12.5 million and Jake Fox (my guess it that it would have to be Spillboughs and not Fox). The selling point on this may-be that the Braves have Kenshin Kawakami who was Fukudome's team mate in Japan and all Fukudome needs is a fellow country man to hang out with to get his game together.


This would hurt our starting pitching and bullpen since we would have to move Marshall (Marshall is no Lilly yet) into the rotation. Depending on how much of the contracts we had to pick up we could save 5 million to use to make an addition to the bullpen.


I know the Braves have been looking to improve their outfield and the Rockies are on a hot streak and not out of the wildcard race at worst. Bottom line is how much would it hurt?

Cubs Get New and Improved Player*

The Cubs dealt fan favorite** and celebrated car jumper, Joey Gathright to the Baltimore Orioles for another favorite*** Ryan Freel today.

This does two things:

• First off, the Cubs now have a player that can play pretty much everywhere, and a player with decent speed. The problem is that he hasn't been healthy in a few years. He only played 48 games last season, and 75 games in 2007. He's already been on the DL once this year as well.

• Secondly, the Cubs get to clear a roster spot today for Randy Wells, and it keeps the feel-good story of year Bobby Scales on the roster for a few more days. But, I feel that with Freel around it probably means Scales is headed back to Iowa at some point.

(*Ok, the title is misleading, because Freel is new, but not really any improvement on the team. **Gathright a fan-favorite is probably the most absurd thing I've written at Grota since joining, but he can jump cars.)

The Cubs aren't gaining any payroll since the O's are send us some cash, and Freel can provide some much-needed utility play that the Cubs lacked during all the injuries. I'm not sure if this will cause a dent, but he's probably better than Gathright, at least with the bat.

Q&A with minor league pitcher Brian Schlitter

So who remembers good ole Scott Erye?

The big (and I don't mean that in a healthy way) lefty was traded from the Cubs to the Phillies last season where he went on to help the Phillies win some kind of thing that I really don't feel like talking about.

But who remembers which player the Cubs got in return for him? Give up?

That's right, it's right-handed pitcher Brian Schlitter.

I'll never forget that trade because I went to high school with Schlitter and we played football together. It makes you feel quite old and worthless when a person from your high school becomes a member of the Chicago Cubs. Le sigh.

While Brian was catching touchdowns and dreaming of a life as a professional athlete back in high school, i was sitting on the pine dreaming of interviewing athletes for a blog someday.

So I guess we're even when it comes to achieving our dreams. Suck on that Maine South High School Class of 2004.

Anyway, I saw Brian back home over winter break and he decided to answer a few questions about being in the Cubs organization and what it's like to be a minor league pitcher. Enjoy.

Goat Riders: Let's start off by letting the good people know a little bit about yourself.

Brian Schlitter: I was born in Oak Park, Ill., and lived in the city of Chicago.  I lived there my whole life up until the summer before high school, where my family and I moved to Park Ridge, Ill.  I attended Maine South High School and played football, basketball and baseball all four years, but I always knew I would go on to play baseball after high school.  I only got one offer to play baseball after high school and it was to Lake City Community College in Lake City, Fla.  I pitched as a starting pitcher there for two years and was drafted by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the 34th round after my first year in school.  I didn't sign with them and went back to school.  At Lake City, I had offers to go to the University of  Louisiana at Lafayette and the College of Charleston in South Carolina for my junior year.  I decided to go to the College of Charleston and pitched there as a reliever.  After one year there I was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 16th round and signed with them.  I played one game in short season A ball and was moved up to Low A.  I finished out the season in Low A in Lakewood, NJ.  The next season I started in High A in Clearwater, Fla., and played all of the season expect in August when I was traded to the Chicago Cubs for Scott Eyre.  The Cubs sent me to the Daytona Cubs which is their High A team, and we ended up winning the Florida State League.

GR: So how about we get the obvious question out of the way, has Ted Lilly threatened to murder you yet? Just kidding. Why don't you tell us what it's like to be in the Chicago Cubs organization.

BS: Playing for the Chicago Cubs is already a dream, and I haven't even made it to Wrigley Field yet.  I grew up a huge Cubs fan and went to as many games as I could growing up. So far I couldn't think of any other team I would want to play for.

GR: Besides the near orgasmic joy that most of us will only live out in our fantasies, what did it feel when you found out you were traded to the Cubs?

BS: The day that I was traded, we were in the clubhouse packing our bags to go on a road game, when my manager came in and called me into his office.  My first reaction was "what did I do wrong now?"  everyone in the room was just looking at me walk into his office because normally when the manager calls someone into his office it's either they are getting released or moved up to double A.  So when I came out my teammates were all asking if I got moved up, and I said no I got traded to the Cubs.  No one believed me at first but they soon realized that I wasn't joking.  My first reaction was shock because I never would've thought  that this kind of thing would happen.  After I got over that I couldn't stop smiling, I called my family and all my friends to tell them the news.  I got back to my apartment and was on the phone with all sorts of people for the next three hours until I was finally able to relax and think about what just happened.  The next day I drove three hours north from Clearwater to Daytona.

GR: Tell us about the experience of being a minor league baseball player. You must have some interesting stories from down on the farm.

BS: Being in the minors definitely has its ups and downs.  Playing baseball everyday is great, but the road trips and spending half the season in a hotel can wear on you.  But if you love playing the game then you get used to the daily grind of things.  You never really run out of things to talk about being around 2 dozen guys from all over the country and even out of the country.  You're always learning new things.

GR: Do you have a nickname? If not, can we forever refer to you as S-Bomb on this Web site?

BS: I don't really have a nickname.  My first pitching coach would call me Big Donkey.  My coach in Clearwater would either just say "bring in the big guy" or just call me Schlit or Schlitz like everyone else.

GR: Who is your favorite pitcher past or present? Why?

BS: I would probably say Greg Maddux was my favorite pitcher growing up, because he doesn't throw the hardest but he goes out there and competes and gets guys out.

GR: Chicago can really suck in the winter. How have you been dealing with the suckitude?

BS: The winter/offseason is at first relaxing. Usually guys wont do very much of anything for at least the first 2 weeks, maybe even a month.  But you get pretty bored and eventually start running and working out in the gym.  Pitchers will start throwing around new years and build their arm strength back up so that they come to spring training at about 90-100 percent.

GR: Do you see yourself as more of a relief pitcher or a starter in the future?

BS: I like coming out of the bullpen because you never know when you're going in and you come into high pressure situations.  Being in the bullpen is also fun, because you get a different look at the game and all the people in the stands.  Plus bullpen talk is always a good laugh.  We talk about anything that comes to us….from the game to what we are eating after to what girls are in the stands haha.

GR: Why do you think the Cubs wanted you in the trade for Scott Eyre?

BS: I couldn't tell you why the Cubs traded me for Scott Eyre. The way I looked at it was that they had known me coming from Chicago and I was having a good year, and thought that I would fit in well with the Cub organization.

GR: On a scale of 1-10 (1 being the least and 10 being the most) how much has your baseball experience been like all the baseball movies you've seen? Do local hussies try to seduce because they want to make you a better baseball player?

BS: I would say that my baseball experience compared to the movies is around 5.  The lower levels would compare more to Bull Durham because the fields were never good, the bus trips were long and boring, and the hotels were usually on the cheaper end.  Then there is the big leagues, which I hope to find out what it is actually like but, I would probably compare it to For Love of the Game.  Those two movies I would say are my two favorite baseball movies because they capture true baseball life on both sides of the spectrum.

GR: What's your team like? Is there a lot of turnover? Do you guys have time to gel as a team?

BS: Spring training is the best time to get to know guys that you don't already know.  I think guys get along easier, especially in baseball, because we are there to make a team and are professional about it.  Sure there is always going be some issues here and there, but it usually doesn't last any longer than that day.  You usually get along with your roommate during spring training the best because you spend more time with him back at the hotel after practices.  You meet managers and other coaches through out spring training and get to know them and their personality and also their coaching styles.  Some are more loose and relaxed and some are more "old school".  Once you leave spring training and know what team you made you plan on you and a few guys getting an apartment or townhouse.  Its pretty much a rush to find a place from the second you get there.

That's about all I got. Hopefully we'll hear from Brian in the future and maybe I can get him to write some posts for us on his minor league experience this year.

The Player to be Named Later

Just to clear up any misconceptions about the PTNL rule, I thought I'd post it directly so we'll know how it works should that be what Rich Hill gets traded for.

According to a handful of sources: The "player to be named later" (PTBNL) is generally used to postpone a trade's final conditions or terms. This is often done for two reasons. First, the team receiving the PTBNL might not be certain which position they want to fill, so this type of deal gives them more time to figure it out. Second, this type of arrangement gives the team receiving the PTBNL more time to evaluate the available talent on the other team. When one of these PTBNL transactions occurs, the negotiating teams usually agree on a list of 5-10 players (typically minor leaguers) that the PTBNL will ultimately be chosen from. If the teams can't agree on who the player will be, then they will agree on a price to be paid instead of a player. There are two rules to a PTBNL transaction. The deal must close within a six-month time frame following the conclusion of the rest of the trade, and the player must change leagues.

Just for clarifaction to what HC was saying in the shout box ... the list does not change based on Rich Hill's production.  If Rich Hill doesn't make it out of Spring Training in Baltimore, the Cubs list of players do not change.  if Hill becomes the Cy Young of the American League, the list of players the Cubs can pursue does not change, either.

The list of players is decided before the trade is completed and the Cubs can choose from those guys at any point.  Should they not choose anybody, they get cash.

Them's the rules, HC.  The PTNL is not performance-based.

Sources:

Slate.com
Rob Neyer of ESPN "Sometimes, at the time of the deal the team receiving the player will provide the other club a list of minor leaguers, and later the club will have their pick of the players on that list. This list is negotiated at the time of the trade." (emphasis mine)
Biz of Baseball which says "At the time of a trade, clubs sometimes agree on a list of players from which the player to be named will be selected. They also may agree on an amount of money to be exchanged in lieu of a player."

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