I was reading up on the MVP races last night after Miguel Cabrera and Andrew McCutchen won the award for their respective leagues. I felt both players were the right choice.
Then I received a call this morning from my buddy Dave, a Red fan, and was reminded about Josh Donaldson who finished 4th in the AL MVP race. You see, Josh Donaldson was drafted by the Cubs in 2007 and traded to the A’s in 2008 in a deal that netted Rich Harden and Chad Gaudin for the Cubs. Just think, Donaldson could have been our future at third base.
In addition to Donaldson, another former Cubs prospect received some attention in the AL Rookie of the Year race. Chris Archer, originally drafted by the Cleveland Indians, was acquired by the Cubs after the 2008 season in a deal that sent Mark DeRosa to the tribe. Archer was later dealt to the Rays in a deal that brought Matt Garza to the Cubs. He finished third in the AL ROY voting this year posting a solid 3.22 ERA in the tough AL EAST.
These are just two examples of players the Cubs traded away while trying to add pitching just a handful of years ago. Rich Harden, Chad Gaudin and Matt Garza have all moved on from the Cubs now.
Donaldson and Archer have bright futures ahead of them and I wish them the best. Yet, it still makes me wonder what could have been…………..
If you’ve read any of my posts over the last month or two you would know that I wanted the Cubs to trade for Adrian Gonzalez and Matt Garza. Well, the Red Sox made a deal for Gonzalez trading away their top pitching prospect Casey Kelly. It was a great trade for both teams in my opinion and I only wish the Cubs would have made the deal. During the winter meetings in December, we discoverd that the Cubs and Rays had talked about a potential deal for Garza. Immediately I was excited. I wanted Garza bad! The only thing I didn’t want the Cubs to do is overpay. Well, the trade saw the Cubs send 5 players to the Rays for Garza and two other players. Here’s my “expert” analysis!
Garza will be under team control until 2013. He’s due a raise this year via arbitration. It’s been estimated to be around $5-6 million a year. He just turned 27 in November and isn’t in his prime yet. He had a 15-10 record in 2010 with a 3.91 ERA in the AL East. He’s going to be be with the Cubs for a few years at least and should do well in the National League. He makes the Cubs rotation significantly better and is a good start to improving the Cubs for the future. Remember, we have a ton of money coming off the books at the end of this season. Can you say, SPENDING SPREE?
Chris Archer pitched great for the Cubs in single A and double A in 2010. He’s 22 and some say has the making of a top of the rotation starting pitcher. However, we didn’t draft him. We got him in the Mark DeRosa trade after the 2008 season. At the point in his career, Archer had never posted an ERA below under 4.29 in the minors and his career minor league record was 5 wins and 18 losses. Losing Archer doesn’t bother me too much, but I hated to lose him after the success he had in 2010.
Hak-Ju Lee is a 20 year old shortstop from Korea. He’s got the making a leadoff hitting, slick fielding future All Star! This loss really hurts me, but we have Castro at short and you must trade talent to get talent.
Brandon Guyer, who turns 25 later this month, has the potential to be a solid outfielder in the major leagues. However, we already have Tyler Colvin in RF and 22 year old Brett Jackson working his way up the minors. Losing Guyer wasn’t that huge of a loss.
Robinson Chirinos is a 26 year old catcher that hit the cover off the ball in 2010. But remember, he did this playing against younger players and this wasn’t his first time playing for double A Tennessee. He spent parts of the 2007, 2008 and 2009 seasons with the double A affiliate too. I’m glad we were able to package him along in this deal. I hope he does well.
Sam Fuld is a 29 year old outfielder that is a 4th outfielder at best. The Cubs received outfielder, Fernando Perez, from the Rays in the 8 player deal and he pretty much is a 4th outfielder at best as well.
The other player involved was left handed pitcher, Zach Rosscup who turns 23 in June. He’s pitched well in rookie ball for the Rays and could be the difference maker in this trade.
Overall, we gave up a lot of talent for Garza. I hated to do so, but we kept Starlin Castro, Andrew Cashner, Brett Jackson and Chris Carpenter. And just because a guy has potential doesn’t mean he’s going to be successful in the major leagues. Remember Corey Patterson, Felix Pie, Sean Gallagher and Ryan Harvey are just a few prospects that the Cubs were hoping would become stars. So, while we traded away talent none of them have a proven resume like Garza does. I give Jim Hendry credit for trading for a young and talented pitcher. Remember, pitching wins championships and I think this is a good move for the future of the Cubs.
BOTTOM LINE: THIS WAS NOT A GREAT TRADE, BUT A GOOD ONE FOR THE CUBS!
I just received a phone call from my buddy Dave from Denver. He says, “Have you heard the news?” I said, “No, what news?” Well, I go to my computer and pull up MLB Trade Rumors only to discover that the Cubs and Rays are close to a deal involving Matt Garza. Now, I’ve obsessed about Garza earlier this offseason. I want him, but I don’t want to overpay! It looks like we are trading away at least 4 minor leaguers! Outfielder Brandon Guyer, that’s okay with me. Catcher Robinson Chirinos, I can live with this one. RHP Chris Archer, this one kind of stings. And shortstop Hak-Ju Lee……..OUCH!!!!!!!!! Losing Lee in this potential trade hurts. I truly believe he is a future leadoff hitter and excellent defensive shortstop. Heck, there may be more players involved in the deal and it’s not finalized just yet. As long as we don’t give up Brett Jackson or Chris Carpenter too! Anyway, at least Jim is making a move. I just hope he doesn’t trade away too much talent.
Okay, I know everyone has their own “expert” opinions. Well, I have mine too! Here’s my projected position players, bench players, starting rotation and bullpen for the Cubs in 2011. Feel free to share your ideas and/or thoughts.
Starting Lineup Bench players
C-Geovany Soto (R) C-Koyie Hill (S)
1B-Carlos Pena (L) IF-Jeff Baker (R)
2B-Blake DeWitt (L) IF-Darwin Barney (R)
3B-Aramis Ramirez (R) OF-Kosuke Fukudome (L)
SS-Starlin Castro (R)
LF-Alfonso Soriano (R)
CF-Marlon Byrd (R)
RF-Tyler Colvin (L)
Starting Rotation Bullpen
Carlos Zambrano (R) Carlos Marmol (R) Closer
Ryan Dempster (R) Kerry Wood (R) Setup
Tom Gorzelanny (L) Sean Marshall (L) Setup
Randy Wells (R) John Grabow (L)
Carlos Silva (R) Andrew Cashner (R)
Well, I’ve listed only 22 players so there are three slots still open. Here’s a list of players that will be on the verge on making the team in spring training or getting called up early in the season.
Justin Berg (RHP), Casey Coleman (RHP), John Gaub (LHP), Scott Maine (LHP), James Russell (LHP), Jeff Samardzija (RHP), Jeff Stevens (RHP), Wellington Castillo-C, Sam Fuld-OF.
And here’s my sleepers.
Alberto Carbrera (RHP), Rafael Dolis (RHP), Brian Schlitter (RHP), Jay Jackson (RHP), Chris Archer (RHP), Chris Carpenter (RHP), Kyle Smit (RHP), David Cales (RHP), Robinson Chirinos-C, Brett Jackson-OF, Brandon Guyer-OF, Bryan LaHair-1B.
I’ve left some players off the list such as SS Hak-Ju Lee and CI Josh Vitters, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see them get called up later in the season as well as several other minor leaguers.
Overall, I believe our future is very bright. We are getting younger and more athletic. We have some really good arms in our system to be excited about and some position players that can flat out hit the ball. 2011 is almost here and things are looking brighter!
Well, yesterday I attempted to breakdown free agent signings and resigning of players. It only leads me to believe that when Hendry makes modest moves he does well, however, when he tries to make a big splash in the free agent market it seems to backfire.
Now, I am going to try and focus on his trade history as GM for the Cubs. I won’t feature every trade just ones that I think that help define Hendry. Hope you enjoy!
I’ll begin in December of 2002. Hendry traded Todd Hundley and Chad Hermansen for Mark Grudzielanek and Eric Karros. This was an excellent trade. Both players helped the Cubs in 2003 make the playoffs.
July 2003. Jose Hernandez, Matt Bruback and Bobby Hill were traded for Aramis Ramirez, Kenny Lofton and cash. Another excellent trade as both of these players helped lead us to the playoffs in 2003 and Aramis is still with the team. Kenny Lofton became a free agent and I really wanted the Cubs to sign him, but we didn’t. Oh well, still a great trade!
November 2003. Hendry made another excellent trade this time moving Hee-Seop Choi for Derrek Lee. Lee quickly became one of my favorite players for the Cubs and he still is.
December 2003. Traded Damian Miller and cash for Michael Barrett. This trade worked out real well for Hendry until Barrett and Zambrano came to blows. We did manage to get three consecutive years of 16 homers from Barrett before he was traded to the Padres in 2007.
December 2005. Sergio Mitre, Ricky Nolasco and Renyel Pinto were traded away for Juan Pierre. Terrible trade in my honest opinion. We should have resigned Lofton to play CF after 2003 and bat leadoff. Instead, we traded away 3 pitchers for Pierre who played one season with the Cubs then signed with the Dodgers as a free agent.
November 2007. Traded Jacque Jones for Omar Infante. Bet you didn’t know Infante was a Cub! Well, he didn’t last long because he was traded less than a month later along with Will Ohman for Jose Ascanio. Then we traded Ascanio in 2009 along with Josh Harrison and Kevin Hart for John Grabow and Tom Gorzelanny. Maybe we should have held onto Infante to play secondbase. This one’s a tossup. I’ll let you decide for yourself.
December 2008. Very unpopular at the time by trading Mark DeRosa for Jeff Stevens, Chris Archer and John Gaub. Both Stevens and Gaub pitched in the majors for the Cubs in 2010 and Archer was one of our best starting pitchers in the minors. This may end up being a good move by Hendry. Still too early to tell.
December 2009. Milton Bradley for Carlos Silva. GREAT TRADE! “Meltdown” Bradley was a terrible free agent signing, but Hendry turned around and traded him for Carlos Silva and his bad contract. The good news……after the 2011 season we can buy out Silva for $2 million!
So, that’s a quick summary of trades that help define Jim Hendry as a General Manager. If history tells us anything, I look for Hendry to make a move before the new year. I see us trading or signing for another starting pitcher soon. Anyway, I think Hendry has made some good trades for us and maybe I need to be more patient with our GM. He’s done pretty good with his trades. We may need to limit him to modest free agent signings though!
I wanted to rank my top 10 Cubs pitching prospects. When I started looking at all of the possibilities I realized that I had to create some parameters to make it easier for me to determine a top 10. So, I decided that the pitchers must be under 25 at the time of this post, have not pitched a single inning in the Majors and preferrably pitched at double A or higher in 2010. I also have given priority to some guys due to the fact that they did pitch at triple A Iowa some last year. That helped me narrow down my list pretty quickly. So, you won’t see guys like Andrew Cashner, Casey Coleman or Jeff Samardzija on this list.
1. Chris Archer RHP. He’s 22 years old and is 6’3″. He was great this season going a combined 15-3 with a 2.34 ERA between Daytona and Tennessee. I look for him to start 2011 in Iowa. If he continues to have success there a midseason call up to the Cubs could happen.
2. Jay Jackson RHP. He’s 23 years old and is 6’1″. He spent 2010 in Iowa and recorded a winning record, 11-8, despite having an ERA of 4.63. I look for him to pitch better than that in 2011 and is another possiblilty to get called up sometime next season.
3. Chris Carpenter RHP. He will be 25 in December this year and is 6’4″. He’s got the body of a major league pitcher. He had an 8-6 record at double A Tennessee this year and made 3 starts at triple A Iowa. He will most likely start the season in Iowa and will be another option for the Cubs to call up just like Jackson and Archer.
4. Hung-Wen Chen RHP. Chen is from Taiwan. He will be 25 next February and is 5’11”. Chen pitched well last sesaon at double A Tennessee but struggled in Iowa. He was strictly a starter in double A, but started and came out of the bullpen with the I-Cubs. With all of the competition at starting pitcher he may be better coming out of the pen if he wants to make it to the majors.
5. David Cales RHP. He is 23 and is 5’11”. Cales is a reliever and has had decent success closing games. He recorded 14 saves with single A Daytona in 2009, 10 saves at double A Tennessee and 3 saves at triple A Iowa in 2010. While he struggled at Iowa he pitched well in the Arizona Fall League just recently. If he can keep the momentum going……who knows!
6. Rafael Dolis RHP. He will be 23 in January and is 6’4″. This young man has a lot of promise. That’s why the Cubs added him to their 40 man roster. He split 2010 between Daytona and Tennessee. His overall numbers were solid and I anticipate him to open 2011 in Tennessee, but he could work his way up to Iowa by midseason and even a late season callup to the Cubs is possible though unlikely. Keep an eye on this young guy.
7. Alberto Cabrera RHP. He’s 22 and is 6’4″. I love guys that have a major league frame! This young man pitched really well at Daytona before getting promoted to Tennessee and struggling. I look for him to rebound at Tennessee and have a strong season for the double A club.
8. Kyle Smit RHP. He’s 23 and is 6’3″. The Cubs got him this summer in a deal with the Dodgers. He was a starter in the minors originally, but was used out of the bullpen in 2010 with a good amount of success. Look for him to start the year at Tennessee.
9. Dae-Eun Rhee RHP. He will be 22 next March and is 6’2″. This South Korean logged over 100 innings at Daytona in 2010 while struggling with a 5-13 record and an ERA of 5.27. He had Tommy John surgery a couple of years ago so I am hoping he puts things together in 2011.
10. Jeffry Antigua LHP. He is 20 and is 6’1″. Finally, a lefty! Antigua is the youngest pitcher on my list and the only lefty. He spent 2010 in Peoria and pitched decently. He throws hard and has a chance to be a good stikeout pitcher. I can see him making it to the big leagues some day as a starter or reliever.
Well, there were a lot of guys I left off my list. I tried to balance my list to guys who we may see on the Cubs in 2011 and others that are still a few years away. Regardless, I suggest you bookmark these guys on www.minorleaguebaseball.com
The Cubs starting rotation needs some work this offseason. Ryan Dempster, in my opinion, is the most consistent and reliable starter we have. Carlos Zambrano is a talented, yet, mentally weak pitcher who’s more of a wild card than anything. He could flop next year or win the Cy Young. You just don’t know what you are going to get with him. We also have veterans Randy Wells, Carlos Silva and Tom Gorzelanny. That’s five starters already. Then we have some younger guys in Jeff Samardzija, Casey Coleman and Thomas Diamond (who’s not all that young) that could make the rotation. And then there’s guys like Chris Archer and Christopher Carpenter working their way up the minor league system. So, we need to make some moves. I know you can never have enough pitching, but we need to get rid of Silva’s hefty contract if possible. I would also like to give Samardzija a true shot at cracking the rotation as the fifth starter. He’s out of minor league options and it’s very possible that he will work be succussful after his performance in the minors in 2010. If we had to trade Wells I could live with that. I say we keep Gorzelanny because he’s our only lefty at this point.
It will be interesting to see what Jim Hendry does this offseason to strengthen our starting rotation.