Confession time -- I have not exactly been spending a ridiculous amount of time thinking about the Cubs this off-season. In fact, if I measured the amount of time I've really considered the future of the Chicago Cubs, I could probably count the minutes on both hands. It's not that I am Cub-burned out, or anything, I've just been busier than ever before in my life.
Luckily -- or not, depending on your outlook for 2010 -- the Cubs haven't exactly been burning up the AP wire with moves so far this winter. They finally managed to deal Milton Bradley for an equally detestable, overpaid, abortion of a human being (whose presence will only be detrimental every 5th day, rather than every single day) and the Cubs have also managed to sign themselves Marlon Byrd, who'll make about half of what Bradley made with about the same offensive output. In other words, the team is hardly any better, except maybe in the clubhouse.
Still, as the cliche goes, it's relatively early. There's plenty of time for Jim Hendry to pull a team-saving deal out of his ass, even if it's about as likely as Charlize Theron returning my phone call -- or even making eye contact with me. Without really weighing favor in any one move, the following is my take on what should happen between now and March:
First, the likely 25-man roster:
SP - Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster, Ted Lilly, Randy Wells, Tom Gorzelanny, Carlos Silva
MR - John Grabow, Sean Marshall, Angel Guzman, Carlos Marmol
C - Geo Soto, Three Finger Hill
1B - Derrek Lee
2B - Jeff Baker, Mike Fontenot
SS - Ryan Theriot, Andres Blanco
3B - Aramis Ramirez
LF - Alfonso Soriano, Micah Hoffpauir
CF - Marlon Byrd, Sam Fuld
RF - Kosuke Fukudome
My initial thoughts here are that while this is better than the far-gone days of Ronny Cedeno-to-Neifi Perez, or Ron Coomer and Matt Stairs straddling the corners, this is not the team that will hold up a World Series trophy. The rotation is a borderline weakness, the bullpen is incomplete, the middle infield is about offensively able as a one-armed cricket player, and neither Soriano nor Fukudome can be relied upon at this point to justify their bulging contracts.
So -- why does Jim Hendry still have a job? What's he done this winter to justify his position? And how will Tom Ricketts prove himself as an owner? At this point this whole thing has kinda sucked ass.
Still, let's look at the free agents who remain and the things the Cubs can do to surprise us:
First and foremost, Marmol is the defacto closer. This is a concern unless you want your 9th inning pitcher to be as likely to bury a ball into the batter's ear as he is to throw an epic strike-out pitch. My general rule about relief pitchers is that they should be no older than 32 when signed as free agents, because they seem to become dramatically less reliable once they're in their mid 30's. Although the best of the crop are gone, according to ESPN the following remain available:
Danys Baez, 32, - A former closer who posted a 4.02 ERA in the most offensively destructive division in baseball last year. Worst case scenario, Baez could be a 7th inning guy or even a set-up option. Best case scenario, the man with 22 walks in 71.2 innings of work last year could be an alternative if Marmol melts down or flames out.
Joe Beimel, 32, - A lefty, Cub fans might best remember him from that time he owned our team in the playoffs in 2008. He posted an ERA of 3.58 last year with two teams, including the Rockies, and although he looks like a douchebag he can't possibly be worse than Bradley/Silva. Then again, the Cubs have their bullpen lefties, so he's not a necessity.
D.J. Carrasco, 32, - How do you throw 48 games in relief, including 89.1 innings, and not manage to log a single hold the entire season? Ask Carrasco, who must've done something to piss off former manager Ozzie Guillen. Still, Carrasco logged a 3.43 ERA as a reliever last year.
Mike MacDougal, 32, - Another White Sox cast-off, MacDougal had a 12.46 ERA in his 5 White Sox appearances last year, before finding himself in D.C. where he pitched 54.1 innings, posted a 3.60 ERA, and saved 20 games in 21 tries. That's the good. The bad - he walked and struck out 31 players, neither number particularly encouraging especially when compared to each other. But as far as insurance options go, the Cubs could do worse.
Jose Valverde, 31, - After rejecting arbitration from the Astros, Valverde is probably looking for a big payday in 2010. And he just might deserve it -- he's struck out 470 in 386.0 career innings, and saved 167 to only 27 blown (that's a very respectable 86% conversion ratio). If the Cubs wanted to forgo the Marmol experiment, Valverde would be the player to target.
None available really reek of hero to me. Of the guys who the Cubs might grab, a few names are familiar - and were smack-talked by me a year ago - like Orlando Hudson, who's living off of his reputation of defensive goodliness. Despite his slightly-above-average year, though, I wouldn't call Hudson a viable option. Probably the only half-decent second base option is the following:
Felipe Lopez, 29, - He's on the right side of 30 (well, until May 12th), he hits doubles, gets on base a lot, and posted an OPS last year of .810. Then again, his next team will be his 7th in 9 seasons. He isn't a game-breaking offensive player, nor is he a Gold Glove caliber infielder (but his defense is indeed better than Hudson's, according to Fangraphs), but he's probably a better option than Fonteblow or Jeff Baker.
Miguel Tejada, 35, - Probably too old, and no longer an offensive force since they hid his needle on him, Tejada would still be a better bat at short than Ryan Theriot at shortstop. Of course, the problem would be that if the Cubs grabbed Miguel, then they wouldn't have a "leadoff" hitter anymore ... not that Theriot is really a great leadoff hitter, either. Assuming he'd take a ridiculous pay-cut, and pretending the Cubs have money to play with, and ignoring that he's a defensive miscarriage of justice, then Tejada might just be an option to consider.
-- Side bar --
Something I really enjoy about the hypocrisy of Cub fans who think they know everything is that they will consistently argue the value of Kosuke Fukudome (whose defense apparently makes up for his inability to regularly hit tossed balls) while criticizing Ryan Theriot, whose defense is apparently atrocious. Yet, in 2009, Fukudome had an UZR/150 rating in center field of -18.1, while Theriot's was 8.3 at shortstop, making him one of the 10 best defensive shortstops in all of baseball in 2009. I don't care that they overvalue Fukudome -- although I don't understand why -- nor do I care that they constantly harp for Theriot to be moved to second base, but the kind of thinking where a person conveniently cites a statistic to back up an opinion in one case, while conveniently ignoring a statistic to back up an opinion in another case is (pardon my French) really fucking stupid. Even better, though, these stat-loving Cubtards have chosen to ignore the numbers in both cases this time to make their point. This is totally typical of the cynical, smart-ass, idiotic Cub fans who spend their time on the internets wasting their time and yours. But I digress.
-- end side bar --
Looking closely at the pieces available in contrast with the needs of the Cubs, it seems pretty evident to me that the only hope the team has is for an HGH dealer to set-up shop outside the ballpark in April. The pieces do not fit the puzzle. Soriano is probably going to bounce back a little bit this year, but not to the point of justifying his contract. Zambrano is an episode away from being committed, and the once-turgid Cubs offense appears increasingly flaccid.
Hendry will not be able to dramatically improve the team through free agency. Maybe he'll swing a trade, probably he won't, and the hopes of the team will depend upon rebound performances from guys like Soto and Zambrano and offensive outbursts from players like Ramirez, Soriano, and Fukudome.
In other words, maybe I've been avoiding the act of looking closely at this team for a reason. I don't like what I see. Does anybody?
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.
As it turns out, the Cubs appear poised to improve -- in theory.
But before the Cubs can get better through addition, they have to both subtract and delete. That's my (attempted) clever way of saying that they need to subtract some players through trades (ie: dead-weight) while deleting large contracts of the books.
The present rumor is that Jim Hendry is poised to sign future Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez to a contract, adding the formerly golden arm to an already stacked rotation that has proven to be the best in baseball so far.
We can debate the merits of adding Pedro. But if 2008 is any indication, he's a 5th starter at best. Then again, 2008 was a recovery-from-surgery year and maybe, just maybe he can be a spark plug for the team. But then again Hendry isn't trying to sign Pedro Martinez because he thinks the former ace is good. He's doing it to add depth to a very strong rotation, allowing him to trade one of his other, expensive starters somewhere else in order to free up cash and pick up a bat.
That brings up this question: of the five guys currently on the Cubs staff, who is tradable? Lilly and Harden immediately spring to mind as discussed in the ShoutBox as they are talented, moderately expensive, and are lacking no-trade clauses in their contracts.
However, because Lilly has another year after this one, is older, and makes more money, I'm going to argue that he'll be harder to trade -- even if he's healthier. The sheer talent of Harden's oft-injured arm coupled with his cheaper contract combined with having no obligation to keep him after this season probably makes him the juiciest target of various GM's throughout the league.
As for who may be interested, at a glance there are a handful of teams presently in competition who might play the role of buyers. They are as follows:
(Note: Listing teams and players who could actually help the Cubs is not necessarily an advocation on my part that those teams would actually consider parting with those players. I'm just mentioning the ones who might fit in Chicago)
The Blue Jays
How pissed would Ted Lilly be if he was traded back to Toronto? Assuming the Jays have room to take on salary -- no sure bet in these economic conditions -- they would surely be happy to add a talented pitcher to their roster. Candidates for trade in Toronto include Marco Scurato, a 33-year-old versatile player in the midst of a career year (revert-alert), and perhaps somebody like Jose Bautista, a 28-year-old who plays 3B and LF but isn't exactly an offensive savant. Odds are Toronto doesn't have the horses to spring for Harden or Lilly and they are probably unlikely to swing a deal including some of their top talent.
Speaking of teams without the best economic situation, it would be huge for the Rays to grab another top pitcher, especially since part of their present problem has been a lack of consistent starting. (Consider also that they are presently involved in the Pedro to... rumors, albiet only modestly.) Maybe if the Cubs would be willing to eat Troy Percival's contract they could make it happen. Nevertheless, the players to go after would be Willy Aybar and Ben Zobrist -- two young players, one of whom doesn't necessarily fit into Tampa's plans as a full-time starter this year. Then again, the versatile Zorbist has played a ton of games at various positions and is hitting the crap out of the ball, so he might be hard to pry from the Rays but he'd be a hell of a grab if the Cubs could pull it off. Aybar might be a more realistic grab, but probably not deserving of Lilly or Harden. Maybe if Tampa would also throw in sometimes-starter Gabe Gross...
The Tigers are early surprise leaders in the AL Central. Their rotation certainly lacks a little oomph, but so does their lineup. They don't really have the same amount of depth as the Rays, which means they probably wouldn't be too likely to part with one of their few productive offensive stars for a pitcher, unless of course the Cubs threw in one of their presently-under-performing hitters as well. (Of all of them, Fontenot might have the most trade value due to his low wage.) But even then, the only two really good hitters on the Tigers roster right now are Miguel Cabrera (who I doubt they'd trade) and Curtis Granderson -- also an unlikely piece of trade bait.
If they could afford them, the Twins would probably take Lilly or Harden although they already have an impressive rotation. The problem is that they too are short on offense and have little to offer that would help the Cubs now. (Although I'd probably roll the dice on Delmon Young... even if there's a chance that he too inherited the fat, alcoholic gene.)
The Angels are gaining and Texas could always use more arms.
In the off season we had a big debate about whether or not Michael Young would be worth trading for. I'm pretty sure I fell on the side of Pro, to the alienation of some readers. Anyway, he's presently batting .322 while on pace to hit 56 doubles and 23 homers. Maybe he could handle a move to second base? At this point is there anybody out there who'd take Young and his 13 million dollar salary straight up for Lilly?
Goat Friend Al Yellon recently proposed a Harden-for-Wood deal involving the Angels. It's about as likely to happen as me scoring with Roseanne Arnold -- and she's a fat pig. A more likely candidate would be Chone Figgins, a powerless switch-hitting third baseman who would be the ideal leadoff man. This would allow the Angels to give Brandon Wood a shot to crack the roster while giving the Cubs an extremely versatile player who can handle six positions -- including second base.
They're two games under .500, about 5 games out of first place, am I crazy or is it possible that the Mariners may see themselves as buyers? The only problem is that their success has at least partially been built on the back of one player, who also happens to be their only real trade bait -- Russell Branyon (who isn't exactly a friend of Chicago anyway). The versatile Branyon (who probably is no better a fielder than Jake Fox) has hit 15 homeruns so far this year for the M's.
Then again, the American League is notoriously known for not wanting NL pitchers. After all, NL pitchers tend to underperform due to the differences in offense -- many AL teams are solid 1 through 9, most NL teams are lucky to be solid 1 through 7. (I'm waiting for an ACB counter-programmer to demand that I prove this last statement.)
The pool of teams in the NL is smaller, considering that most teams competing for the playoffs right now reside in the Central and the Cubs are unlikely to trade pitching help to a divisional rival. But as far as NL teams go...
The Phillies are not surprisingly at the top of the division in the NL East ... but they sure as hell could benefit from some pitching. It seems pretty unlikely though that they have the needed players to strike a deal. Probably the best option would be versatile third baseman Pedro Feliz, and if he's the best option you don't want to see the other ones.
The Marlins aren't a team I'd want to help improve and if the Cubs managed to deal them either Lilly or Harden it would probably require a small financial miracle. No Marlin makes more than 5.5 million this year. If they'd be willing to part with Dan Uggla -- whose .215ish AVG this season wouldn't exactly warm the hearts of Cub fans -- then they could probably afford to take on Harden's salary. Appart from Uggs, there doesn't seem to be much that'd either be worth the Cubs pitchers or likely for Florida to part with.
The Braves still have a dog in this fight, even though they haven't exactly been burning up the league with their 31-34 record, 5.5 games out of first. They've already made one killer move, scooping up Nate McLouth from the Pirates in what may have been a preperational move to pursue Jake Peavy -- who is now on the DL until July. If made available to them, it's very possible that they might redirect their interests and try to pull in Lilly or Harden, either of whom would fit in very nicely with their rotation.
The only problem is that Atlanta doesn't seem to have what the Cubs need -- a solid-hitting infielder who can play third or second base. But Atlanta does have a pair of middle infielders who, if they could part with them, might be worth the Cubs' time -- Yunel Escobar and Kelly Johnson. Escobar is a Cuban-born shortstop with respectable numbers; Johnson is a middle infielder with past success who's struggilng dramatically so far this year.
New York Mets
The Mets probably don't have the components necessary to make a trade with the Cubs, unless they'd be willing to take with Harden/Lilly a bat like Fukudome's. But for that kind of trade, the only player with a comparable contract who the Cubs could at that point benefit from would be Carlos Beltran -- and would the Mets part with him? Probably not.
The Giants are already out of it for the division but remain in the thick of the Wild Card. The only problem is that they don't really have the kind of talent necessary to justify a trade with the Cubs. Maybe if they'd be willing to throw in a Pablo Sandoval if the Cubs would eat the contract of Busty Zito, then that would be at least something to ponder. Otherwise, though, I doubt these teams would have anything for each other.
The Rockies -- who are not proof that teams can suddenly turn around for no reason but the firing of a manager, no matter how many games they win! -- are now in the hunt for the Wild Card. Probably the best possible trade would involve somebody like Harden for the over-paid, under-performing Garrett Atkins (who, despite his loss of a starting gig is far from washed up and probably a commodity nonetheless) and well-performing Clint Barmes. But whether the Rockies would accept that kind of trade is, at the very least, highly unlikely.
Here come the crazy pants
So. What would I do? First, the only way I'd trade Lilly would be if some team offered a legitimate, undeniable superstar to the Cubs. However I don't see that happening. I think that, more realistically, the Cubs will eat a big shiz-burger of a salary in order to get at a tasty treat of a budding star.
Possibly my favorite scenario of the bunch would be something like Harden&Fukudome (plus minor league pitching prospects) to the Mets for Beltran and righty reliever Brian Stokes. But why the Mets would deal their across-the-board offensive leader for Fukudome and Harden is a mystery. So don't count on it.
Or how about Rich Harden & Fontenot to the Rays for Percival, Aybar & Gross? The Cubs get desperately needed depth, but no big stick out of this trade.
Maybe Ted Lilly to the Rangers for Michael Young? Not my favorite scenario personally.
How would you respond to Rich Harden and Kosuke Fukudome to the Giants for Barry Zito and Pablo Sandoval? I think that any trade which would net the Cubs Sandoval would be one worth strongly considering, although the Giants are neither so stupid nor so desperate to trade him for a couple of stop-gaps.
No matter what they do -- and whatever it is, it'll be surprising -- the Cubs are probably working hard on making one of their players expendable in order to fix up the offense. But it's unlikely that any blockbuster trade is coming, and more likely that any trade made will be for good, sturdy spare parts but spare parts nonetheless.
Then again, I could be wrong. When it comes to trade speculaton, bloggers usually are.
Ciao friends. I've just returned from two weeks gallivanting across Western and Southern Europe and looky looky what I've come back to find.
Kurt's latest post about sums it up: Trouble is a brewing and changes need a making. When I left the Cubs were 25-25, so a .500 record at 30-30 doesn't seem like a big change. From what I can tell however, the offense has taking a significant turn to Crap Town, USA.
Now I've been out of the loop for a while, so I haven't heard the latest trade rumors, but I'd like to put my own idea out there (forgive me of this has been mentioned already).
How about Arizona Diamondbacks second baseman Felipe Lopez?
Currently Lopez is hitting .305/.359/.425 with 4 HR and 11 RBI. Although his run production doesn't seem particularly impressive, the guy has been getting on base. For comparison sake, annual wet dream Brian Roberts is hitting .299/.366/.462 this season. Pretty close if you as me.
In addition to having a solid stick, Lopez is also a switch hitter and (if my memory serves me correct from when he was with the Cardinals) he can play a little third base.
According to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic, it appears that the Diamondbacks won't be participating in any trading, but I don't see why the Cubs can't pry Lopez away from them.
The Backs are 15 games out in the West and Lopez is due to be a free agent at the end of the season. I'm sure the Cubs could make a deal that wouldn't drain the talent pool or require them to give up any current big league talent.
Again, I apologize if this has been mentioned already in the past few weeks. It just seems like Lopez could be a cheap and quick upgrade for the offense, no?
I'm usually not the type to look for deeper meaning where one most likely doesn't exist, but I couldn't help but notice perhaps some interesting info in Chicago Sun-Times reporter Gordon Wittenmyer's latest Twitter post.
cst_cubs: Cubs moving on without Peavy. Tonight's lineup: sori, riot, fuky, lee, milt, font (2b), soto, freel (3b), marsh.
Wittenmyer (who uses the "cst_cubs" handle) always posts the lineup a few hours prior to game time, but that's not the part I'm interested in. I'm interested in the first part. You know, the part that says something about "Cubs" and "Peavy."
Is Wittenmyer implying the Cubs made a move on Peavy today? Or is he just being playful considering all the action that happened between the Sox and the Padres?
I haven't been able to find any stories seriously reporting the Cubs inquired about Peavy today, but maybe Wittenmyer is trying to let all his fellow Twits know a little somethin' somethin'.
Even though Paul Sullivan of the Tribune wrote that it was "not likely" for the Cubs to make a play on Peavy at this time, I got to believe Hendry picked up the phone and talked to Kevin Towers, Jake Peavy and/or Kenny Williams. Maybe Peavy's reluctancy to accept the deal was because he knows the Cubs will make a serious play when the time is right (sentence pending). Maybe Hendry just had to remind him of that today. Oh Gordon, you're such a tease.
But really, who knows. That's the fun with Twitter. It doesn't make any sense...ever.
Sean Marshall (2-2, 4.02 ERA) vs. Adam Wainrwright (3-2, 3.83 ERA)
The Cubs hope to find their offense tonight against Adam Wainwright, after two days of nothing. The Cubs have looked lifeless on offense, and if it weren't for a two-out pinch hit single by Micah Hoffpauir the Cubs would've been shut out twice in a row.
Both games have been close thanks to good pitching preformances from Ted Lilly and Ryan Dempster. Tonight, Sean Marshall takes the mound in possibly his final start, before getting moved to the pen to replace our favorite lefty Neal Cotts. I don't know if that is a good move, but Lou hasn't used him in weeks.
The Cubs are still 3 games back after the Brewers lost to the Astros last night. There isn't much to say after the last two nights.
The other news involves Jake Peavy, who once was rumored to be heading to the North Side. There is a chance he could be headed to the White Sox. I know some people are upset about this, but the Cubs really need offense right now and not starting pitching. Now, if we could trade for a lefty in the pen or another solid bullpen guy, that might actually help.
The Cardinal pitchers - the Cubs have scored 1 run in two games.
The Cub hitters - they have manged 1 run in two days.
The Cubs need to score about five runs in the first inning just to take the pressure off themselves. I've predicted wins in the last two nights. So no predictions tonight. I just hope the Cubs put a better fight.
With the return of Colin (can I call it a return?) comes the return of Mark DeRosa talk in Chicago.
As is was poined out in our Shout Box, the Brewers might be one of the teams interested in Mr. DeRosa's services. I'm not sure where Xblack_jeepX heard it from, but I first read this rumor on today's Sun-Times Web site in a Chris De Luca column.
In said column, De Luca stirs the shat pot (again) by suggesting that DeRosa would be the perfect replacement for the recently injured Rickie Weeks, who had his season ended with a wrist boo boo.
Well I say let the Brewers (or anyone else) have him.
Don't get me wrong, I like DeRosa and would welcome him back to Chicago with open arms assuming the Cubs wouldn't have to give up more than a few baseball bats for him (Hey, it's happened before), but I think we're starting to see why Mark was given a one-way ticket to Cleveland in the offseason.
While DeRosa has a respectable 25 RBI and 6 homers, the rest of his stat line is telling a different story (and I'm not talking about that .242 batting average). Currently DeRosa is hitting with a .312 OBP, .412 SLG and thus a .724 OPS. All of these numbers are below his personal average.
I think we can agree that his stats last season were inflated due to the level of talent and production around him in the high-powered Cubs offense, so maybe the fault isn't with DeRosa, but his crappy Cleveland teammates. Alas, this is not the case.
The Indians offense has been surprisingly strong. The are second in the AL in team OBP (.354), sixth in walks (161) and third in hits (375). They are putting men on base, and as such, DeRosa has responded with his 25 RBI. But his strongest statisical category is more complimentary to his teammates than himself. Being able to collect a large number of RBI is, in essence, based on luck. There needs to be people on base in order to drive them in. DeRosa has no control over the ability of teammates to reach base. So again, his RBI total in comparison to his weak offensive statistics everywhere else just shows you how good of a job the Indians are doing at giving him several opportunities to produce despite his repeated failures at the plate so far.
Outs and the ability to not make them is the most important thing in baseball...and DeRosa is making a lot of them.
Granted the season is still young and DeRosa could turn it around any day now, but I think we're starting to see that last season for D-Hero was an exception to the rule.
So I say let the Brewers have DeRosa. They have the fourth-ranked team OBP in the NL right now, so DeRosa on the Crew might actually help the Cubs.
Crazy Trade Rumor Guy - who actually has one of the best blogs on the net I digress - reports that Bruce Levin says that a Cubs insider notes that Jim Hendry might be in the process of completing a trade with the Mariners.
The Mariners are apparently asking for Ronny Cedeno, and are willing to offer up reliever Aaron Heilman. Heilman had a rough year for the Mets in '08 posting an ERA of 5.21 with 8 losses, but the 3 years previous he posted ERAs of 3.17, 3.62, and 3.03. More impressively, he has the tendency to come close to a K per inning.
Levin also says that there are 3 teams interested in the Rich Hill Reclamation Project and may make some kind of half-assed (but still better than what we thought we'd get) offer for Rich/Mitch.
For all intents and purposes Heilman is fully capable of putting up the same kind of numbers on the field as Kerry Wood. He also has the potential to be fast friends with the Shark, as they are both very tall and attended Notre Dame. Seems like a no-brainer to me.
ESPN confirms this trade. The Cubs also threw in Olsen. Considering that he was supposedly a key cog in the Peavy deal this may mean that the trade is off again.
The Cubs have now bolstered their bullpen while unloading one of the dumbest human beings to ever wear a Cubs uniform. The Peavy Trade-0-Meter, which was going to go up will remain static, and I maight even drop it a bit.
Rob's two cents:
I think we can probably drop the Peavy Trade-0-Meter into the red. I have a feeling that, with the exception of a Paul Bako here and a Juan Uribe or Rich Aurilia there, what you now see is what is going to camp.
By popular demand, I've decided to make the Peavy Trade-0-Meter a fixture on the blog for the foreseeable future. By this time tomorrow night, it should be located where the Zambran-0-Meter lives during the regular season, and it will look like this:
My brother called to tell me that they are reporting on XM that the Padres are trying to start up trade talks with the Cubs again for Jake Peavy.
The rumored bounty it would take to land the Padres ace are Marshall, Olsen, Vitters, Hart, and ... uh ... somebody else. I can't remember the name, but I don't think it was anybody grossly important. Probably one of the pitchers from the Indians trade or something.
Anyway, if that is what San Diego wants, then I can say only one thing to Jim Hendry: Pull the trigger!