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!
Okay, since the Rangers signed Adrian Beltre there’s been a lot of speculation that Michael Young would be on the trade market. I don’t know if he is, but I think the Cubs should take a look at making a deal for him. He could play second base next year and provide us with another good bat. The last time we got an infielder from Texas was when we signed free agent Mark DeRosa. That worked out okay and I think Young would too.
The Cubs have already discussed a deal with the Rangers for corner infielder Chris Davis and pitcher Darren O’Day. Why not throw Young into the mix and make it a big deal? If Hendry has proven anything in his time as GM for the Cubs, it’s his ability to make good trades. Remember, that’s how we got D. Lee and Ramirez!
Looking closer at Young, he’s 34 years old and won’t be a free agent until after the 2013 season. He’s due $16 million each of the next three years. That’s a lot of money for a guy who hasn’t played second base in several years and who is in his mid 30s. So, who would we trade in a deal for Young that the Rangers would want?????
My first guess would be Alfonso Soriano. He could play outfield or more than likely be a DH. With his fielding abilities I think he’s better suited to be a DH and just focus on hitting. He’s signed through 2014 at $18 million each year. If we traded him in a deal for Young we would have to compensate the Rangers some to cover his salary.
Getting back to the Davis and O’Day deal, I read that the Rangers wanted minor league catcher Robinson Chirinos. I say let’s trade him! He’s got Soto, Hill and Castillo in front of him. No sense wasting his talent in the minors.
So, adding these two potential deals together means the Rangers trading us Davis, O’Day and Young for Soriano, cash, Chirinos and maybe another player or two. I don’t think this deal will happen. Plus, I believe the Cubs are set on having DeWitt at second base for the time being. My only other guess is that they are waiting for Hak-Ju Lee to take over shortstop and Castro to move to second in the near future. If this is true, and works out, then I’m okay with having DeWitt at second for now.
I still keep reading that we have an interest in Matt Garza and Fausto Carmona. Well, I have wanted the Cubs to trade for Garza ever since the winter meetings. But after second thoughts, I think it’s best we hold on to our young talent. That goes for Carmona too! We have a bunch of young players that are close to making it to the big leagues.
While I like the idea of getting Young, Garza and Carmona, I feel they would cost us too much. However, I think we can get Davis and O’Day for a fair price. So, go ahead Jim and make a deal. It’s been a quiet winter and I know you are not finished dealing yet.
Okay, I’ve been a little critical of our GM, Jim Hendry, this year. I’ve been frustrated with him and the fact that I feel we should have been in serious talks with the Padres about Adrian Gonzalez. I also want him to go after Matt Garza as well. Anyway, I decided to dig a little bit and look at his “stats” as a GM. I decided to breakdown his trades and free agent signings over the years and what success or failures he’s experienced.
I’ll begin by taking a closer look at his free agent signings. This will be in chronological order, but I will only list signings or re-signings that I think are relevant to this post. Beginning in 2003, he signed LaTroy Hawkins to a 2 year/$8 million deal. At the time, this was a needed move. In 2004 he signed Ryan Dempster after he was released by the Reds. Dempster only pitched 20.2 innings in 2004 and was our closer for three years before moving to the rotation the last three where he has really succeeded. This was a great move and Dempster has been a key part of the Cubs rotation. In 2004, Hendry also signed Greg Maddux. This was a good move for a lot of reasons. First, it was 3 years/$24 million. Not bad in my opinion. Maddux has always been a fan favorite in Chicago and it was great to bring him back home. Maddux now works for the Cubs and I can’t help but think that his relationship with Jim Hendry is one of the reasons why. In 2006, Jacque Jones was signed to a 3 year/$16 million deal. Not a bad price and Jones performed really well that year hitting 27 homers and batting .285. He was later traded by Hendry in November of 2007. So, I chalk the signing of Jones up as another good move by Hendry. There were 3 more significant signings in 2006 that have helped define Jim Hendry and the Cubs. First was Mark DeRosa to a 3 year/$13 million deal. GREAT MOVE!!!! DeRosa became a fan favorite and a lot of that had to with his willingness to play anywhere on the field and his success at hitting too. Then Hendry made his first mistake. Signing Alfonso Soriano to an 8 year/$136 million deal. I understand that a big move needed to be made at the time. I agreed with that idea at the time as well. However, 8 year deals don’t work out very often and that’s why you rarely see a player get one. So, Soriano’s signing was necessary at the time, but was too long of a deal and has come back to bite Hendry a little bit. The next signing was Ted Lilly for 4 years/$40 million. This was another great move. Lilly was a solid pitcher and provided us with a good lefty in the rotation. Also, before I forget, Hendry resigned Derrek Lee to 5 years/$65 milion and Aramis Ramirez to 5 years/$75 million in 2006 as well. I like both of these moves because they were only 5 years and I don’t feel we overpaid for either player. Then 2007 rolled around and Jim signed Jason Marquis to 3 years/$21 million. It wasn’t necessarily a bad move, but wasn’t a great one either. We also resigned Carlos Zambrano in the summer of 2007 for 5 years/$91.5 million. Okay, I know the Cubs needed to keep Big Z at that time. He won 18 games in ’07 and just had his fifth straight year with over 200 innings pitched. However, between 2008 through 2010, he has only won 14, 9 and 11 games and hasn’t reached 200 innings since the ’07 season. He got his money, but hasn’t produced. This move has made Hendry look bad, but at the time I agreed with it. Longer deals for pitchers are a big risk and this one is a perfect example. In the winter of 2007 we signed Kosuke Fukudome for 4 years/$48 milllion. With that kind of contract and from what I had read, I expected him to be a combination of Ichiro and Hideki Matsui. Some speed, some power with a good average. Well, he’s not panned out that well and he’s finally in the last year of his contract. This is another move that Hendry took a risk on and it’s backfired. Soriano, Zambrano and Fukudome have all hurt Hendry and the Cubs at this point. Then with have 3 more moves that I want to focus on from 2009. The first is the terrible move of signing “Meltdown” Bradley in 2009 to 3 years/$30 million. I wanted the Cubs to pursue Raul Ibanez or Bobby Abreu that offseason. Instead, we ended up with Bradley and we all know how that turned out. Hendry was looking to add some pop from the left side and ended up with a “bust” in Bradley. Then Hendry resigned John Grabow after 2009 season to 2 years/$7.5 million. That’s not much money when you first look at it, but he’s a setup man at best! Plus, he spent almost all of last year on the disabled list. Sean Marshall filled the role of lefty setup man beautifully. Goes to show you that sometimes you need to trust the players you already have in your organization and spend the money elsewhere. Grabow has the chance to rebound this year, but I doubt it happens. And then in December of 2009 Hendry redeemed himself by signing Marlon Byrd to 3 years/$15 million. Byrd plays the game the right way and was a great price!
This offseason we’ve signed Carlos Pena to a one year deal worth $10 million and Kerry Wood for 1 year at $1.5 million. I’m cautiously optimistic about Pena’s deal and really excited about Wood coming back.
When I look at all the signings and resignings Hendry has made it’s up in the air. Here’s the names of guys that I don’t think worked out too well: Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Zambrano, Kosuke Fukudome, Milton Bradley and John Grabow. And the names of guys that did work out: Ryan Dempster, Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez, Mark DeRosa, Ted Lilly and Marlon Byrd. So, I guess it’s about 50/50 when Hendry signs or resigns players. I’ll breakdown his trades later today or tomorrow.
This offseason has been a slow one for Cub fans. We haven’t made any visible progress on acquiring someone to play first or strengthen or starting rotation and bullpen. Instead, we sat on the sidelines while the Red Sox traded for Adrian Gonzalez. We sat on the sidelines while the White Sox signed Adam Dunn. We sat on the sidelines while our “Arch” rival, the Cardinals, signed Lance Berkman. We’ve absolutely made no progress…….yet!
We still need someone to play first. Paul Konerko is available as of this post….heck, by the time I finish this someone else may have nabbed him. There’s Carlos Pena too. But I’ve been reading that the Cubs are interested in two other options. The first option would be via free agency in Adam LaRoche. I think we could sign him for $6-$8 million per year. I vote against that option. I think we would be better suited with Colvin at first instead of LaRoche. The second option, which I just read about, is more intriguing is making a deal with the Rangers for Chris Davis. Davis bats left, has plenty of pop in his bat, but strikeouts a ton and doesn’t hit for a high average. I don’t know who we would trade, but a couple guys that the Cubs are shopping are Tom Gorzelanny and Kosuke Fukudome.
I still say we need to sign Kerry Wood to help strengthen the pen but I haven’t read any updates on this issue as of late. I did read that he may go back to the Yankees though. I hope Hendry at least makes an offer.
Then there is the possibility of signing Brandon Webb. I doubt we go after him. I see him landing with the Nats. But if we did get him I think he could help our rotation if he’s healthy.
Whatever happens, I would rather see Hendry make a trade instead of a free agent signing. To be fair, Hendry has done okay when signing guys like Marlon Byrd, Ted Lilly and Mark DeRosa. However, his deals with Kosuke Fukudome, Milton Bradley and Alfonso Soriano haven’t worked out that well.
I guess all we can do is to stay tuned and hope Hendry can still make a good move or two.
As a diehard Cubs fan, I not only follow the big league team, but I also follow the minors as well. I want to know who we have that we can bring up or use in a trade. This list here is my top 10 position players in the Cubs minor league system that are 25 years old and younger. Since, I limited myself to 10 I know that I have left out some good ball players. Anyway, here’s my top 10.
1. Hak-Ju Lee. Shortstop. This young phenom just turned 20 last week on November 4th. He is supposed to be the shortstop of the future. I have read that the plan is to move Starlin Castro to second base when Lee makes it to the big league team. Lee is a left handed hitter with blazing speed and a great glove. With Lee and Castro up the middle the Cubs should be set in the near future.
2. Outfielder Brett Jackson is my number 2 ranked prospect. This 22 year old stud is capable of playing all three outfield positions. He has the ability to hit for average and power and possesses good speed. It’s possible that this left handed hitter will be our center fielder of the future. Baseball teams that are strong up the middle usually do well. Have Lee, Castro and Jackson and SS, 2B and CF could be the start of something special.
3. Next I have ranked is Josh Vitters. This young prospect, only 21, may be the Cubs future thrid baseman. He has a strong arm, but may end up being moved to first base or a corner outfield position. Vitters’ hit the ball pretty well in 2008 and 2009, but struggled some this year. He’s a right handed hitter that is still developing power. His strikeout to walk ratio concerns me as well. I would like to see him put together a healthy and productive season in 2011 most likely at double A Tennessee.
4. My next pick is Catcher Wellington Castillo. He turns 24 in April of next year and even had a cup of coffee this year with the Cubs getting 20 at bats and even hitting his first major league homerun. Many will remember him for his broken bat impaling teammate Tyler Colvin during a game in Florida last September. Anyway, Castillo is not known for his hititng abilities but more for his defense. He has a really strong throwing arm. The last two years in the minors has resulted with Castillo hitting 24 homers in 558 total at bats. So, while he won’t hit for average he does have some pop in his bat.
5. Brandon Guyer is the next player on my list. The right fielder will turn 25 in January and had his best year yet in the minor leagues. The right handed Guyer batted .344 with 13 homers and 39 doubles in 369 at bats and he managed to swipe 30 bases too while only getting caught 3 times! All of this was accomplished while Guyer was at double A Tennessee in 2010. I probably should have Guyer ranked above Castillo. Anyway, Guyer could be in the outfield at Wrigley Field soon if he keeps hitting like he did this year.
6. Next on my list is second baseman Logan Watkins. Watkins, 21, was originally a shortstop but has made the transition to second without any problems. He is very athletic and fast. His speed and athleticism may allow him to play shortstop, secondbase or any of the outfield positions in the future. A lot of this depends on how well his bat progresses. This year at Peoria, Watkins only hit .261 after hitting .326 at Boise in 2009. Watkins is a left handed hitter with little power in his bat, but his speed and versatility will help him as his career continues.
7. Six foot three inch Ryan Flaherty comes in at number 7 for me. Flaherty, 24, is another left handed bat in the Cubs organization with promise. He’s capable of playing second base or third base. He could possibly be a left handed version of Mark DeRosa. Flaherty spent most of the season at single A Daytona in 2010. He did manage to get 71 at bats at Tennessee but struggled. I look for him to start the year at AA Tennessee in 2011.
8. D.J. LeMahieu is another infielder the Cubs have that has shown some promise. He’s 22 years old and stands tall at 6’4″ and is a right handed hitter and fielder. LeMahieu played second base in 2010 for Daytona and hit .314 in 554 at bats with 15 stolen bases. His ability to hit for a good average despite not having much power may help D.J. continue to progress well in the Cubs minor league system.
9. Tony Thomas is a versatile player who is a second baseman but he may have to move to another position or be a utility player. Thomas batted .276 for AA Tennessee in 2010 with decent power numbers and steals. If his bat continues to produce he will work his way up the system even if it’s not at second base. He’s athletic enough to play middle infield or any outfield position. Thomas bats right handed and is only 24 years old.
10. This was a tough decision. There are several playes I could have listed. I have chosen right handed hitting first baseman Russ Canzler. Canzler had a breakout year in 2010 at AA Tennessee batting .287 with 21 homers in 355 at bats. The Cubs don’t have a lot of young guys at first base in their minor league system that have impressed me too much. Canzler’s performance this year did though. I hope he can produce another productive year in 2011 and give the Cubs another option at first base.
So, there it is, my top 10 future Cubs (position players). There’s a few guys I would like to give honorable mentions too. Darwin Barney, whom I think will be a utility infielder on the big league club in 2011 so that’s why I left him off. Kyler Burke, who had a great 2009 but struggled in 2010. Matt Spencer OF/1B, Steve Clevenger C, Tony Campana OF, Michael Brenly C, and Rebel Ridling 1B.
When the season began I was looking at this weekend and the 3 game series versus the “Arch” rivals as an opporortunity for the Cubs to clinch the central division. Even as late as July I thought this was possible. Then August came around and the Cubs wilted faster than a weed sprayed with RoundUp. But not only did they wither in August the Cubs have disappointed me all season. Last nights game winning homer by Matt Holliday didn’t shock me at all. When Aaron Heilman came in to pitch the bottom of the ninth I was ready to turn off the tv. But being the ever loyal and stubborn Cub fan I kept watching. He fell behind 3-1 to Holliday and the rest is history.
Not only did the Cubs lose to the Cardinals last night, but they lost out to them all season long in many ways. The Cards go out and get Mark DeRosa, Matt Holliday and John Smoltz. The Cubs added Grabow and Gorzelanny, both pitchers that I like, but it doesn’t compare to what the Redbirds acquired.
The Cards have played great ball this season and when you have Albert Pujols in your lineup you always have a chance to win. The Cubs will need to do something this off-season to counter the team the Cardinals have now surrounding Pujols. Hopefully, the sale will be approved by the owners soon and the Ricketts family can go to work. Lord knows there is a lot to be done.
Maybe the Cubs can take today’s and tomorrow’s games and we can finish the season strong.