Tagged: Rays

WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN…..

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…………..

BREAKING DOWN THE TRADE FOR GARZA

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! 

HERE WE GO AGAIN WITH THE MATT GARZA RUMORS!!!

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. 

ODDS AND ENDS ON TRADES, ANDREW CASHNER AND JEFF SAMARDZIJA

Things have been slow since the Cubs signed Carlos Pena back in December.  I expect Jim Hendry to try and make a move or two before pitchers and catchers report in February.  I have read that we shopped around Tom Gorzelanny and Kosuke Fukudome.   I also know we inquired on Matt Garza during the winter meetings.  I would love for the Cubs to trade for him, but I am thinking the Rays are going to hold on to him for now.  I also know we talked to the Rangers about acquiring Chris Davis…..a good move in my opinion.  AIso, I personally feel we need to trade Randy Wells in a deal soon and open up a spot in the starting rotation for one of our younger pitchers.  So, look for a deal or two to be made involving any of the names mentioned above.  At least that’s what I anticipate at this point. 

Speaking of younger pitchers, I believe the Cubs need to make a decision on Andrew Cashner soon.  Is he a future starter or reliever?  I think he will be great at either, but we can’t do to Cashner what we’ve done to Jeff Samardzija.  For those of you that don’t know what I’m talking about here’s a quick summary.  Samardzija was a starter before getting called up to the Majors in 2008 and used as a reliever.  In 2009 he was used primarily as a reliever for the Cubs, but as a starter in the minors once again.  In 2010, Samardzija pitched in 7 games for the Cubs with 3 of them being starts.  In the minors, he made 35 appearances with 15 being starts. I think doing this has hampered his progression.  It’s been 3 wasted seasons for Samardzija and we can’t afford to do the same thing to Cashner.  I hope we’ve learned our lesson.  I still believe Samardzija can be a successful major league pitcher and I know Cashner can too.  I say we let them have a shot at the starting rotation this spring.  If they don’t pitch well enough then send them to Iowa as starters and let them work on their pitching. 

That’s all I’ve got for now.  I plan on writing something more in depth on Samardzija, Cashner, Casey Coleman and a couple other young pitchers soon. 

LOCKING UP STARLIN CASTRO

Starlin Castro.jpgThe Cubs have several young players that had some modest success last season.  Castro had the most success managing to hit .300 in his first major league season at the age of ripe old age of 20.  I believe that this kid will become a regular .300 hitter and should hopefully develop a little more power than his total of 3 homers last season.  I would be happy if he hits around 10 homers or more a year and he’s got to steal more bases too.  He managed to swipe 10 bases in 18 attempts last year.  So, it’s not a question of speed so much as it is learning how big of a lead to get, getting a good jump and reading the pitcher’s pickoff move.  Since he is so young, I believe he well learn those things on the job over the next couple of years and I expect him to be a 20 stolen bases a year type of player.  I also think he will eventually be moved to second base when Hak-Ju Lee is ready to take over at shortstop for the Cubs in the next 2-3 years.  

With all of that said, I believe the Cubs need to take a hard look at signing Castro to an extension in about 1-2 years from now.  I would rather Hendry be proactive and lock this kid up as opposed to taking a risk of losing him to free agency down the road.  We all know Derek Jeter won’t be around forever and the Yankees like to spend money.  However, before we go throwing money around I want to make sure Castro has another productive season in 2011.  If he does well then I think we start thinking about locking him up.  I’m thinking that we may spend a little bit of money in the near future to avoid having to spend a lot money down the road.  Look at what the Rays did with Evan Longoria.  They locked him up until he’s 30 years old.  The Reds just agreed to extend Jay Bruce for 6 years.  I think if young guys get extensions like this early in their careers it will save their organization money over the long haul and that’s why I think the Cubs should consider doing this with Castro after next season. 

FIRSTBASE TAKEN CARE OF AND NEXT UP…..STARTING PITCHING

Okay, I spent most of November drooling over the idea that we could land Adrian Gonzalez in a trade and that he would be our firstbaseman for the next 7-8 years.  Well, that didn’t quite work out and the Red Sox made a deal with the Padres instead.  Congrats Beantown, you just got one great player!

I also focused on Adam Dunn.  I really thought he wanted to stay in the National League and that the Cubs would offer him a 3-4 year deal.  I wasn’t shocked that the Cubs did not sign him but a little surprised he went to the American League to play for the White Sox.  Then they resigned Paul Konerko as well.  Way to be aggressive Kenny Williams!

Then the Cubs went out and got Carlos Pena.  A one year deal.  Hmmmm, not a great average guy, plenty of power, great defense and a good clubhouse guy.  So, I’m hoping he stays healthy, brings his average up without sacrificing any power and continues to play great defense at first.  So, firstbase is taken care of, at least for 2011.  Remember, it’s only a one year deal.

Now we need to focus on acquiring a starting pitcher.  I’ve read that the Cubs have shown interest in Brandon Webb, Matt Garza, Zack Greinke and Armando Galarraga.  Webb is a free agent and the other 3 we would have to trade for.  I know that Gorzelanny and Fukudome are on the trading block, but I don’t know how much they will bring in.  Gorzelanny is a lefty and is a great guy to have on the team in any role.  He can start or come out of the pen.  I don’t think we need to trade him, but I guess for whatever reason he is available.  I would rather trade Randy Wells myself. Anyway, of the 4 pitchers I mentioned, I like the idea of acquiring Matt Garza the most.  Greinke is going to “cost” too much in the way of prospects.  Galarraga hasn’t impressed me outside of his near gem this summer.  Webb is coming off a major injury and his velocity is barely in the mid 80s.  Garza, on the other hand, is a stud!  He just turned 27.  He’s a right handed pitcher that stands 6’4″.  He won 15 games with an ERA just under 4 last season and that’s in a division with the Yankees and Red Sox.  Imagine what he would do against the Pirates and Astros!  He’s a young man with a bright future.  I hope Hendry can make a solid offer and I hope the Rays accept.  If not, then we’ll have to figure something else out.