Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Trade Rumors

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Sabathia Redux

As was discussed yesterday, C.C. Sabathia is now a Milwaukee Brewer. Reportedly the Brewers were able to get a deal done because they had a uniform his size already available. (Yeah, that was cheap. I’m sorry.) The package is reported to be “Class AA outfielder Matt LaPorta, Class AAA left-hander Zach Jackson, Class A right-hander Rob Bryson and a player to be named.” Outside of LaPorta, the PTBNL is probably the biggest part of the deal – it could be one of several very good prospects the Indians want some additional time to scout. (PTBNL are chosen off a list predetermined by both teams, so the Brewers can’t just forward some 28-year-old Midwest League non-prospect.)

His updated ZiPS projection is a 3.48 ERA, 101 innings pitched. Now let’s presume that the Brewers take this opportunity to move Dave Bush to the bullpen (they could also move McClung to the pen instead, but McClung has been more effective.) Bush projects to have a 4.76 ERA in 85 IP. I’m taking a shortcut here, but I’m filling the rest of those innings with the average ERA of the Brewers pen, 4.07 – so Bush/bullpen hybrid would put up a 4.65 ERA in those innings.

Using some formulas from Tango, I have Dave Bush’s win percentage pegged at .464. Sabathia, meanwhile, is a .596 win percentage pitcher. Assuming 101 IP is correct, that’s 1.48 wins more than Dave Bush. (This doesn’t factor in improvements in the bullpen – but I really don’t feel like resorting to the utter witchcraft that is bullpen projections, so I’ll pass that for the time being.)

This is why I caution that trade-deadline moves are overblown; so much of the season is already passed, that it becomes harder and harder to find a meaningful upgrade.

Also, I want to add – we lead the Brewers by more than a game and a half at this point. Sabathia alone won't give them the division. I know being a Cubs fan is like being some constantly-jilted woman, and we're always afraid of disappointment. On plenty of Cubs sites, I see a lot of handwringing and self-flagelation.

Please, for your own sakes, get over it. Find some Cubbie swagger, commit to the Indian, whatever you want to call it. We're a first-place team right now in the best division in the NL. The Brewers are doing this because they aren't happy with where they're at in relation to us. Take it as a compliment; we have a good team and they know it. And they have a good team too, and this should be a good race. (The Cardinals should attend to themselves.) So let's enjoy the summer.

Other news:

Jays looking to deal Burnett for a SS

According to ESPN.com, the Blue Jays are looking to deal starting pitcher A.J. Burnett for a shortstop because they are not impressed with play of Mini Me or John McDonald.

Rumor has it an American League GM is quoted as saying, "They're offering Burnett to any team that needs pitching."

Well the Cubs need starting pitching and they have a decently skilled shortstop riding the pine...so Cedeno (and perhaps a pitching prospect) for Burnett?

Sounds like both side would be getting a decent deal out of this. What do ya think?

Just a little late afternoon trade speculation for everyone.

C.C. you soon?

If there is one thing Cubs fans love (besides large-chested woman, cheap booze and old men with microphones who have an undying love for the North Side), it’s trade speculation.

Yes we sure do love playing fantasy owner with our real players and within the confines of the realistic baseball landscape…except that we tend to completely ignore the intelligence and existence of our potential trading partners and their fan base.

“Marquis for A-Rod. The Yankees would be dumb not to do it. They need the pitching.”

Anyway, as I’m sure many of you have been able to tell from this blog, other Cubs blogs and every other form of mass media in Chicago, the Cubs may have their eyes on Cleveland Indians ace C.C. Sabathia.

The hefty lefty is currently 5-8 with a 4.26 ERA (although he has been pitching much better in his last few starts…actually looking like the reigning AL Cy Young winner) for an Indians team that is only 5.5 games out of first place in the AL Central.

While the Indians can in no way be consider out of the race (we all know the White Sox are going to implode some time this season…and it will be oh so glorious), the Cubs will surely express their interest in acquiring C.C. with a fleet of MLB-ready players just chillin’ down on the farm.

While I’m sure we’d all love to send the amazingly talented, upside-laced, knee-buckling curveball thrower Rich Hill (Sounds pretty good doesn’t it Indians? You can trust us. Seriously.) for a Cy Young caliber player who is almost guaranteed to leave in the offseason anyway, it’s just not that simple.

So to have some of our questions about the potential C.C. trade of totally awesome awesomeness answered, I decided to take a page out of Byron’s playbook and ask a few questions to Indians blogger Ryan of Let’s Go Tribe

(Let’s assume Lee, Ramirez, Soriano, Zambrano, Marmol, Soto, Fukudome are probably untouchable in Hendry's eyes, but everyone else is fair game in a potential deal with Cleveland.)

Question: If the Indians were to trade Sabathia to the Cubs, who would YOU WANT them to get in return?

Ryan’s Answer: Best case scenario, a major-league player or a prospect that's at worst a year away, with third base, second base, and corner outfield being a priority. Given that Jake Westbrook is going to be out a least a calendar year, a starter would be nice as well. If I'm allowed to be irrational, Sean Gallagher would be ideal (young, MLB-ready, low service time). And as far as I'm concerned, quality >>>> quantity - I'd much rather receive back one or two good prospects than five mediocre ones.

Question: If the Indians were to trade Sabathia to the Cubs, who do YOU THINK management would get/ask for in return?

Ryan’s Answer: I'm sure they'd be asking for any of Chicago's top prospects/young major-leaguers, with emphasis at the positions mentioned above. Whether they can get what they ask for depends on how many other clubs are seriously interested in Sabathia. And I'm pretty comfortable in predicting that there will be at least several clubs seriously interested in CC, including several who have the cash to keep him after this season. That means at least the best MLB-ready prospect in any system. I doubt we're ever going to see a Randy Johnson-type haul again (even the big markets value their prospects now), but Sabathia would be a huge upgrade for any team, even those with good starting pitching already. That means any player not contributing to the major-league club should be on the table.

Question: How do you think C.C. would fit in with the Cubs and the National League? Do you think he would want to go to Chicago? Would he bolt at the end of the season? Would he consider signing a long-term deal with the Cubs after the season or at the time of the trade? (OK, so this is like 4 different questions…but who’s counting).

Ryan’s Answer: Barring a crazy contract offer, Sabathia's going to test the free agent market - he's come this far, he'd be a fool to sign this close to free agency. CC loves hitting, so he'd actually like being in the National League. And although, all things being equal, he'd like to stay in Cleveland or go to the West Coast, I doubt he's going to limit his earning potential by ruling out anybody. I would go on the assumption that trading for Sabathia would get you nothing more than 3 months of Sabathia plus draft picks.

Question: What is the general feeling among Indians fans about trading C.C. and getting something in return instead of letting him walk away at the end of the season?

Ryan’s Answer: If the Indians are out of it (10+ games back in both races at any time from now to the deadline), I think most fans are resigned to trading Sabathia if the return is good enough (in other words, better value than the two draft picks could give you).

So as far as I can tell from Ryan’s opinion, it seems likely that the Indians would probably be seeking Sean Gallagher/Rich Hill and a combination of young position players like Matt Murton (for the outfield), Josh Vitters (for third base) or maybe even Eric Patterson (for outfield or second base). Perhaps you could even put Felix Pie into the mix despite his continuing struggles in Iowa.

So for recaps sake, here is the list again…

Sean Gallagher
Rich Hill
Matt Murton
Eric Patterson
Felix Pie
Josh Vitters

All of these players are MLB ready/proven or could be ready within a 1-2 years (Vitters probably needs the most development time).

But now the eternal baseball trade question still remains: How much of your team’s future are you willing to accept giving up in order to have the best chance at winning the World Series.

Of course those words (World and Series) mean a little something extra to Cubs fans…so I’m more than willing to trade just about everything outside of the core players…

Or we could just give them Marquis. That’s a great deal for everyone.

Monday Odds And Ends, We're Going To Need A Bigger Boat Edition

Since there is no baseball today - well, if you're really desperate, WGN will be showing a matchup between Cubs Low-A affiliate Boise Hawks and Padres Low-A Affiliate Eugene Emeralds - it might be a good moment to step back and reflect on the state of the team.

The Cubs are 20 games over .500. Andere Richtigen over at Baseball Think Factory runs down the postwar teams with similar records; it's a small list. Only six Cubs teams have been over .500 in that time frame.

So this is an odd feeling for Cubs fans, being where we’re at right now. On one hand, if we were able to process the idea that this success could be fleeting and transient… well, we probably wouldn’t have been able to stick out as Cubs fans so far. [Or we could be the sort of bitter caricature of a Cubs fan, who can’t figure out what all of the fuss is about, because of course we’re going to blow it all anyway. I don’t understand the point of this line of thinking, but whatever – if you want to be sad and joyless I won’t stop you.] So for the most part, we're just enjoying the ride.

On the other hand, we’re used to being termed the Lovable Losers, and are starting to come to grips with the fact that we may be neither. Lovable teams have Neifi Perez at shortstop – you have to give them credit for even showing up to play under those conditions. Meanwhile, the advance scouting report on the Cubs this season is: “We’re gonna need a bigger boat."

There is nothing lovable about Jaws.

On to the trade rumors - Jaws, of course, is always on the lookout for laser beams for his forehead. Peter Gammons (who also has a fascinating piece on the mind of Lou) has this to say:

The Cubs, who are serious about acquiring another starting pitcher, may not have enough to get Sabathia, have let the Padres know they're interested in Randy Wolf and Greg Maddux and even let it be known to the Mariners that if they want to discuss Erik Bedard, they want in. In time, if Toronto never gets hitting and keeps sitting near the bottom of the standings, the Jays may deal A.J. Burnett rather than allow him to opt out of his deal in November.

Opinion on Maddux is divided around these parts; I'd love to see the Cubs try to pull off a Maddux-for-Marquis deal, because it would be amazing to see how Kevin Towers works out the logistics of spitting in Jim Hendry's face via telephone.

If the Cubs can get a top-shelf guy - Sabathia, Burnett, maybe Bedard or Harden - that would be great. But if not, then I'm left wondering if a guy like Sean Marshall (who is showing promising signs in AAA) or even Jon Lieber taking Marquis' spot in the rotation wouldn't be a better use of resources. The Cubs don't have a shortage of back-of-the-rotation options.

Speaking of Jason Marquis, Joe Aiello asks:

Jason Marquis is doing well of late, but at this point, does anyone really care? Be honest with yourself. If you’re a Marquis hater, and you know who you are, the truth is that he could have 10 straight starts in which he’s masterful and you’re still going to trust him the same amount. You’re still going to want him off the team as soon as possible. Right? I think that’s the way Cub fans have gotten with him. I went on record and called for his head, only to regret that statement as he’s gone out and been great lately.

...

Perhaps it’s time for us to bite the bullet and forgive Jason for all the talk we’ve done about wanting him off the team. I understand that he’s notoriously been an above average pitcher in the first half of the season, but as a player ages, he’s got to begin to figure things out, right? Couldn’t this year be that year that he finally figures out how to be successful throughout the entire year? I believe he can.

There's two issues here. The first is believing short-term success over what else we know about a player. Baseball is a game of streaks - just like any other player, Marquis has good streaks and bad streaks. It doesn't mean that he's figured anything out; at the end of the day I'm willing to bet that Jason Marquis is who we thought he was, a pitch-to-contact guy who lacks the necessary ability to keep the ball in the yard. Okay, sure, you ask : "Couldn’t this year be that year that he finally figures out how to be successful throughout the entire year?" And I can't say you're wrong. This could be the year I win the Powerball, too. It's technically feasible. But 9, 11, 20, 31, 15 and the Powerball of 14 is not a retirement plan. And Jason Marquis is not a good investment as a starting pitcher.

As far as trading him... well, when exactly would you propose trading Jason Marquis, when his ERA is above seven? J.C. Bradbury has a great post about trade speculation, and here's the relevant section:

The most popular fan solution to poor performance is to ship the guy out in a trade, especially if the player was once much better. If he’s not good, then you can’t get much for him unless other teams are dumber than the fans suggesting the trade. If you’ve noticed a player has declined, chances are that scouting departments of all teams are also aware. Trades occur when teams agree that they would prefer what the other team has.

The time to demand that Jason Marquis is traded is not when he's doing poorly, but when he's doing well. Nobody's going to trade for an obviously bad player. But if some GM thinks that maybe Jason Marquis has finally figured out how to keep fly balls from ending up on the street, I certainly won't argue with him, so long as that GM isn't Jim Hendry.

For years, the Cubs have had a problem with understanding the idea of selling high on a guy - that's why so often we'd see players piss away their value and end up traded for peanuts. It would be nice to see something different.

UPDATE: Cubs assistant GM Gary Hughes was spotted scouting the A's-Giants crosstown series. No idea what Hughes was looking for - he's based in the area, and could have just been doing usual coverage without there being any particular trade interest.

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