Tag Archives: Chicago Cubs

Season Preview – NL Central


Time to look at the 6 team NL Central division. You can also take a look at my previews of the AL East, AL Central, AL West, and NL East.

Last Year’s Records
Cincinnati – 91-71
St. Louis – 86-76
Milwaukee – 77-85
Houston – 76-86
Chicago – 75-87
Pittsburgh – 57-105

Notable Additions

Chicago – Carlos Pena, Matt Garza, Kerry Wood

Cincinnati – Edgar Renteria

Houston – Clint Barmes

Milwaukee – Zack Greinke, Shaun Marcum, Yuniesky Betancourt, Takashi Saito, Mark Kotsay

Pittsburgh – Lyle Overbay, Garrett Atkins, Kevin Correia, Scott Olsen, Joe Beimel

St. Louis – Ryan Theriot, Lance Berkman

Notable Losses

Chicago – Sam Fuld, Tom Gorzelanny

Cincinnati – Arthur Rhodes, Orlando Cabrera, Aaron Harang

Houston – Matt Lindstrom, Felipe Paulino

Milwaukee – Brett Lawrie, Alcides Escobar, Lorenzo Cain, Gregg Zaun

Pittsburgh –  Zack Duke, Andy LaRoche, Lastings Milledge

St. Louis – Brendan Ryan, Pedro Feliz, Brad Penny, Jeff Suppan

My Thoughts

Chicago – The Cubs had a very disappointing season last year, and went out and tried to plug some of those holes this offseason. Bringing in Carlos Pena on a 1 year contract, despite its cost, looks like a very nice signing for a power bat. The acquisition of Matt Garza brings a young, cost-controlled high-end starting pitcher to their rotation, but at the cost of top prospects Hak-Ju Lee, Chris Archer, and others.  I am not sold that this team will compete this year, as they will need bounceback performances from Alfonso Soriano, Aramis Ramirez, and Carlos Zambrano to really end up in the thick of the race.

Cincinnati – The defending NL Central champions, the team has lost Aaron Harang and will hope that the combination of Mike Leake, Travis Wood, and others will be able to pitch complete seasons this year. The team returns nearly every player from last season’s title, but I don’t think that it is a slam-dunk that they will just run away with the division again this year.

Houston – Talk about a rebuilding effort. Here’s a team which has very few high-end prospects in the system right now, who also does not have a lot of higher-quality players at the Major League level either. There are some quality players in Hunter Pence and Brett Myers, but there’s not a lot of hope for the 2011 season. They will look to get a solid rookie season out of last year’s acquisition, Brett Wallace, but you have essentially gathered a group of mid-level players who can fill out a roster, but are unlikely to compete as a group for a division title, let alone a league championship

Milwaukee – And within the same division, you have a team who has gone all-in for 2011. The Brewers have traded nearly all of their top prospects in order to improve their pitching staff, and did so with the acquisitions of Marcum and Greinke. It’s not a great sign that Greinke is hurt already, but he should return in mid April and only miss a few starts. The bigger story throughout the season will be whether or not they fall out of contention and attempt to trade Prince Fielder before the deadline. They definitely remain a team to be reckoned with in the NL Central.

Pittsburgh – For a team that lost 105 games last year, they actually have a lot to look forward to. Center fielder Andrew McCutchen is poised to become one of the best young players in the Majors, and 2nd year players Jose Tabata and Pedro Alvarez both will look to build on their solid rookie years. They aren’t likely to compete this season, but there’s hope for Pirates fans that is starting to show itself at the Major League level.

St. Louis – The biggest story out of St. Louis up until the start of Spring Training was whether or not Albert Pujols would sign a contract extension prior to the start of the season, and unfortunately it’s no longer the current top story out of their camp. With Cy Young runner up Adam Wainwright out for the season with Tommy John surgery, they will now look to replace at least some part of his production in the starting rotation. I’m not sold that this team, as constructed, can compete for the division title. They will need everything else to fall just right for them to win this division.

Overall Thoughts

The NL Central really has the look of a wide open division. If things fall just right, 4 of the teams could conceivably win the division this season. That said, I’m not sold that things will fall right for all of them, but it should be intersting to watch regardless.  Here’s my predicted order of finish:

1. Milwaukee
2. Cincinnati
3. St. Louis
4. Chicago
5. Pittsburgh
6. Houston

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Who are the Faces of the Franchise? NL Central Edition


Only two divisions left to look at for the Faces of the Franchise, but there’s some definite notable ones here .

  • Cubs – At the moment, the player who is most known for being a Cub has to be Carlos Zambrano. Whether or not that is a good thing or not remains to be seen, but the team seems like it is more associated with him than some of the more famous position players like Alfonso Soriano and Aramis Ramirez. Continue reading

Prospect Review – Brett Jackson


The next prospect up to be reviewed is Brett Jackson of the Chicago Cubs.

The Basics
Bats: Left
Throws: Right
How Acquired: Drafted by the Chicago Cubs out of UC-Berkeley in the 1st round (#31 overall) of the 2009 Amateur Draft
Age as of 4/1/11: 21

Scouting Reports and Statistics
The Baseball Cube

Tm            Lg  G  R  H HR RBI SB BB SO   BA  OBP  SLG
Daytona     FLOR 67 56 83  6  38 12 43 63 .316 .420 .517
Tennessee   SOUL 61 47 63  6  28 18 30 63 .276 .366 .465

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/10/2011.
Prospect Ranks

Hardball Times: #1 (CHC – 2011)
Deep Leagues: #5 (Outfielders– 2011), #21 (Overall – 2011)
Bullpen Banter: #4 (Center Fielders – 12/2010)
Baseball America: #7 (Florida State League – 10/2010), #2(CHC – 2011 pre Garza trade)
John Sickels: #1 (CHC – 2011) B
Baseball Prospectus: #1 (CHC – 2011)
Scouting Book: #17 (Outfielders – 2011)
Top Prospect Alert: #1 (CHC – 2011)

Analysis

Jackson was a first round draft pick out of the University of California, Berkeley in the 2009 draft, and signed for a bonus just shy of $1 million. He got off to a quick start, hitting .318/.418/.488 with 8 homers and 13 stolen bases in 53 games between 3 levels. He continued to advance quickly, starting 2010 at the Cubs’ High-A affiliate, and was promoted to AA near the end of June.

Continue reading

Trade Review – Matt Garza to the Cubs


Another starting pitcher came off the trade market on Friday, as the Rays traded starter Matt Garza and minor leaguers Fernando Perez and Zach Rosscup to the Cubs in exchange for prospects Chris Archer, Robinson Chirinos, Brandon Guyer, Hak-Ju Lee, and Sam Fuld.

Chicago Cubs

The Cubs acquire Garza coming off what was probably his best season to date, as he posted a 15-10 record with a 3.91 ERA, 150 strikeouts and a 1.25 WHIP for the Rays. They will add him to a rather deep rotation already, with Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster, Carlos Silva, and Randy Wells likely to hold spots. Also in competition for a rotation spot for the Cubs are Andrew Cashner, Tom Gorzelanny, and possibly Sean Marshall. Continue reading

Loss of a Legend: Ron Santo


Sad news came this morning for the Chicagoland area with the passing of Cubs legend/broadcaster Ron Santo. Santo was pretty clearly before my time in terms of his playing days, as he was retired by 1975. He was definitely a character, and I became a bit more familiar with him watching Cubs games on WGN from time to time.

Santo spent 15 seasons playing 3B in the Majors, making his debut in 1960 with the Cubs and holding down the position for them until 1974. He spent his last season with the cross town White Sox, but it is clear that his allegiance lies with the Cubs. While with the Cubs, he posted 4 straight 30 home run seasons (1964-1967), won 5 Gold Gloves, made 9 All-Star teams, and the numbers show him to have been an excellent hitter with a great eye:

  • Averaged nearly a walk per strikeout for 9 straight seasons (1964-1972)
  • Led the league in walks 4 times
  • Posted an OPS+ of 125 or higher 7 straight seasons (1963-1969)

In an era where pitchers were a much more dominant force than the hitters, Santo was a top level slugger for the Cubs.

He’s almost become as well known for his broadcasting and his unashamed love for the Cubs. Usually the color commentator for the Cubs broadcasts since 1990, Santo was known for cheering the team when they were doing well and being upset when they weren’t playing as well.

The team retired his number #10, an honor generally reserved for players that are either in the Hall of Fame already, or widely expected to have been elected. Santo was known to want to be elected to the Hall of Fame, but sadly he won’t see this happen.

Santo was definitely a character, and will be truly missed by the Cubs and their fans everywhere.

Update: I actually forgot to mention his battles with diabetes and being one of the first players to come out and mention the condition. Here’s some links of some of the thoughts coming out about Santo now as well.

The Hall of Very Good has their writeup about Santo, and his time trying to get into the Hall of Fame.

Babes Love Baseball also had their take on Santo. I’m inclined to agree with their take on what Santo represented: Courage.

Another Cubs Blog breaks down the case for Santo to be in the Hall of Fame as well, and I’d definitely be inclined to agree. He belongs.

UPDATE #2: As I am finding some other great writeups, I’ll probably continue to add them to this post – but I thought this one stuck out, especially coming from a Cardinals blog.

Pitchers Hit 8th has a great writeup talking about Santo, how he helped to build the rivalry between the Cards and Cubs, and also his credentials for the Hall of Fame.

Season Preview in Review – National League Central


Back during Spring Training, I took a look at each team and made predictions about how each team would do and how I thought their season would go. This was the first year doing this, and I figured now was a good time to take a look back and see how it went. I previously looked at each of the divisions in the American League and the NL East, and I move now to the NL Central.

Chicago Cubs

Predicted Record: 87-75
Actual Record: 75-87

I had thought that the Cubs would find a way to put it together this season, and find a way to win what definitely appeared to be a weak division. Unfortunately, it was not to be, and the team really spun out of control throughout the season. The bright spots for the team really seemed to be the emergence of rookie shortstop Starlin Castro and the performance that manager Mike Quade was able to coax out of the team. Hopefully they will be able to make a quick recovery in 2011. Continue reading

Week in Review – August 16 to August 22


If the Playoffs Started Today

Tampa Bay Rays (76-48) vs. Texas Rangers (69-54)
Minnesota Twins (71-52) vs. New York Yankees (77-47)

Philadelphia Phillies (70-53) vs. San Diego Padres (74-49)
Cincinnati Reds (72-52) vs. Atlanta Braves (73-51)

League Leaders

Batting Average – Josh Hamilton (TEX) .357
Runs – Mark Teixeira (NYY) 92
Home Runs – Jose Bautista (TOR) 38
Runs Batted In – Miguel Cabrera (DET) 102
Stolen Bases – Juan Pierre (CHW) 49

Wins – Ubaldo Jimenez (COL), C.C. Sabathia (NYY), and Adam Wainwright (STL) 17
Saves – Rafael Soriano (TAM) and Heath Bell (SD) 37
ERA – Adam Wainwright (STL) 2.06
Strikeouts – Jered Weaver (LAA) 188
WHIP – Adam Wainwright (STL), Cliff Lee (TEX), and Mat Latos (SD) 0.98

Roster Movement

To the Disabled List: Eric Patterson, Nelson Cruz, Jason Berken, Gabe Kapler, David Purcey, Dustin Pedroia, Carlos Guillen, Brian Bannister, Troy Glaus, Chris Ray, Sean West, Lance Berkman, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Josh Willingham, Tony Gwynn, Matt Lindstrom, Jeff Keppinger, Vicente Padilla, Nick Punto, Kevin Slowey, Maicer Izturis, Alex Rodriguez,

Return from the Disabled List:  Carlos Pena, Joaquin Arias, Martin Prado, Dustin Pedroia, Chase Utley, Juan Gutierrez, Nyjer Morgan, Tommy Manzella, Rod Barajas, John Buck, Andrew Bailey, Jeff Weaver, Ryan Howard, Manny Ramirez

To the Minors: Chris Carter, Jose Morales, Tyler Greene, Brandon Hicks, Greg Dobbs, J. P. Arencibia, Fernando Martinez, Taylor Tankersley, Nick Stavinoha, Everth Cabrera, Jeremy Hellickson,

Called Up: Travis Buck, Rich VandenHurk, Ryota Igarashi, Daniel Nava, Bryan Anderson, Jhoulys Chacin, Will RhymesAlex Sanabia, Travis Wood, Ryan Webb, Sam Fuld, Andrew Miller, Jeff Larish, Jordan Walden

Other Roster Moves:

Top Stories and Weekly Links

  • Francisco Rodriguez will miss the rest of the season after injuring his thumb in the incident involving his girlfriend’s father. He had surgery on the thumb earlier in the week, and should be ready for 2011. But it remains to be seen where that could happen, as the Mets placed him on the disqualified list, and will try to avoid paying him the remainder of his salary for this season. There was talk of trying to void his contract for 2011, but that seems pretty unlikely to happen in my opinion.
  • In a rather unusual turn of events, Diamondbacks 1st round draft pick Barret Loux was granted free agency, rather than being placed back into the draft eligible pool for following seasons. This occurred it appears because of the fact that the player was ready to sign, but failed his physical exam. Throw in that he would no longer be eligible to play in college because of his contact with an agent for these proceedings, and it actually looks like MLB made a very good decision here. The kid probably won’t get the same kind of money he would have had he passed his physical, but he should still get a chance to start his career in short order.
  • White Sox skipper Ozzie Guillen had a bit of a meltdown on Wednesday in front of the media. You can google it to find the video, but it was pretty much standard fare coming from Ozzie. Always a good show with Ozzie.
  • Ronny Paulino was suspended on Friday for 50 games after testing positive for a banned substance. According to him, the substance in question was a diet pill he had taken during the offseason. Tough break for him, as he’s probably cost himself money on next year’s salary as well as the money for this year.
  • Derrek Lee was finally traded on Thursday, going to the Braves in exchange for 3 prospects. Clearly, going to Atlanta has a much higher potential to be in the playoffs than the Angels did, and I was actually surprised that the Cubs got back 3 players in return for him.
  • The amateur signing deadline came and went, and nearly all of the top picks ended up signed. You can read my thoughts on ways to fix the draft here.
  • The biggest story of the week has to be the indictment of Roger Clemens on charges that he lied to Congress when he testified before them back in 2008. Not sure where I stand on this one yet, but it will be interesting to see how it all turns out.
  • It was known that this would be Lou Piniella’s last season as a manager, but we found out on Sunday that the game against the Braves would be his last, as he has a situation involving his mother’s care which requires his attention more than managing does. I think that this might have gone a little differently had the Cubs been in the race, but this is clearly the right move for Piniella personally. Kudos to him for a great managerial career, and hopefully the Cubs will bring him back before the end of the season to have a planned out going away/retirement day for him at Wrigley Field.
  • Vin Scully announced that he had signed a contract for the 2011 season, and will broadcast for the Dodgers again. To me, there’s no one better to listen to that Scully, and next season will be his 62nd behind the mike for the Dodgers. Just one of the greats of all time.

Upcoming Posts This Week:

Tuesday and Wednesday: I’ll be continuing on with the Original Draft Series, posting teams #9 and 8.

Friday:  Trade Retrospective of Josh Beckett to the Red Sox. This one really interests me because the players involved had such an impact on both their team’s futures.

One Other Thing

Lastly, I wanted to bring up a charity that the Baseball Bloggers Alliance has taken up. Here’s the official word, and what you can do:

Pitch In For Baseball is delighted to have been selected to participate in State Farm’s ‘Go To Bat’ campaign.  Now we need your
help!

‘Go To Bat’ was launched nationally during the State Farm Home Run Derby.  ’Go To Bat’ gives entrants a chance to win tickets to the upcoming World Series and selected charity partners the chance to receive significant financial support.

Here’s how to play and how to help Pitch In For Baseball:

* Go to  www.statefarm.com/gotobat to register for your chance to win World Series tickets.
* As you register, you will get a chance to designate a charity that could win up to $25,000/week.
* To designate Pitch In For Baseball as your charity, select PUBLIC GOOD as the charity category and then choose Pitch In For
Baseball from the drop down list.
* Revisit www.statefarm.com/gotobat each day and play the ‘Go To Bat’ online game to increase your chances for tickets and Pitch In For
Baseball’s chance at financial support

Thanks to all the readers who help out with this. You can find a lot more information about Pitch In For Baseball at their website

Trade Deadline Review


Well, we are now officially one day past the non-waiver trade deadline, and there have been quite a few different trades made. It was definitely one of the more active periods in a lot of years. I wrote up the major trades as they happened, and you can read my thoughts with the links below.

Major Trades

Texas Rangers acquire SP Cliff Lee and P Mark Lowe from the Seattle Mariners for 1B Justin Smoak and 3 minor leaguers
Los Angeles Angels acquire SP Dan Haren from the Arizona Diamondbacks for SP Joe Saunders and 3 minor leaguers
Philadelphia Phillies acquire SP
Roy Oswalt from the Houston Astros for SP J.A. Happ and 2 minor leaguers

Semi-Major Deals

1. New York Yankees acquire RP Kerry Wood from the Cleveland Indians for a player to be named later or cash
2. New York Yankees acquire 1B Lance Berkman from the Houston Astros for P Mark Melancon and Jimmy Paredes
3. Los Angeles Dodgers acquire SP Ted Lilly and IF Ryan Theriot from the Chicago Cubs for IF Blake DeWitt, minor league P Brett Wallach and Kyle Smit
4. St. Louis Cardinals acquire SP Jake Westbrook from the Cleveland Indians and minor leaguer Nick Greenwood from the San Diego Padres, San Diego Padres acquire OF Ryan Ludwick from the St. Louis Cardinals, Cleveland Indians acquire minor leaguer Corey Kluber from the San Diego Padres
5. Pittsburgh Pirates acquire C Chris Snyder and OF Pedro Ciriaco from the Arizona Diamondbacks for P D.J. Carrasco, IF Bobby Crosby, and OF Ryan Church
6. Chicago White Sox acquire SP Edwin Jackson from the Arizona Diamondbacks for SP Daniel Hudson and P David Holmberg
7. Minnesota Twins acquire RP Matt Capps from the Washington Nationals for C Wilson Ramos and minor league P Joe Testa
8. Texas Rangers acquire IF Jorge Cantu from the Florida Marlins for minor leaguer pitchers Evan Reed and Omar Poveda
9. Los Angeles Dodgers acquire OF Scott Podsednik from the Kansas City Royals for minor leaguers C Lucas May and P Elisaul Pimentel
10. Los Angeles Angels acquire 3B Alberto Callaspo from the Kansas City Royals for P Sean O’Sullivan and P Will Smith
11. Toronto Blue Jays acquire SS Yunel Escobar and P Jo-Jo Reyes from the Atlanta Braves for SS Alex Gonzalez and minor leaguers Tyler Pastornicky and Tim Collins
12. Los Angeles Dodgers acquire RP Octavio Dotel from the Pittsburgh Pirates for OF Andrew Lambo and P James McDonald

Minor Moves

1. Texas Rangers acquire IF Cristian Guzman from the Washington Nationals for minor leaguers Ryan Tatsuko and Tanner Roark
2. Texas Rangers acquire C Bengie Molina from the San Francisco Giants for P Chris Ray
3. Toronto Blue Jays acquire 1B Mike Jacobs from the New York Mets for a player to be named later
4. San Diego Padres acquire IF Miguel Tejada from the Baltimore Orioles for minor league P Wynn Pelzer
5. Tampa Bay Rays acquire RP Chad Qualls from the Arizona Diamondbacks for a player to be named later
6. New York Yankees acquire OF Austin Kearns from the Cleveland Indians for ?
7. Detroit Tigers acquire IF Jhonny Peralta from the Cleveland Indians for minor league P Giovanny Soto
8. San Francisco Giants acquire P Javier Lopez from the Pittsburgh Pirates for P Joe Martinez and OF John Bowker
9. Atlanta Braves acquire IF Wilkin Ramirez from the Detroit Tigers for cash or a player to be named later
10. Florida Marlins acquire RP Will Ohman from the Baltimore Orioles for P Rick VandenHurk
11. San Francisco Giants acquire RP Ramon Ramirez from the Boston Red Sox for P Daniel Turpen
12. Atlanta Braves acquire OF Rick Ankiel and RP Kyle Farnsworth from the Kansas City Royals for P Jesse Chavez, OF Gregor Blanco, and minor league P Tim Collins
13. Boston Red Sox acquire C Jarrod Saltalamacchia from the Texas Rangers for 1B Chris McGuiness, P Ramon Mendez and a player to be named later or cash

Wow. There’s still stuff coming in as I write this, and in the last hour there have been a lot of these to get done. So who did well here and who didn’t?

Winners

The Yankees – Let’s see if we have this right. The Yankees picked up Lance Berkman to be their designated hitter. They added Kerry Wood to help solidify the back end of the bullpen behind Mariano Rivera. And they got both of them for a pair of players that are of no use to the Yankees, and even got some money in the deals? Really? They already have the best record in the Majors, and have decidedly improved their team with both acquisitions. Oh, and they added to their bench depth with Austin Kearns as well.

The Rangers – With a decent lead in the AL West, the Rangers went out and got themselves an ace starter (Lee), a solid catcher who can help them play defense at the position (Molina), a run producing right handed bat who can play two positions (Cantu), a backup infielder who will be able to spell their third baseman and shortstop, and fill in while their second baseman is on the disabled list (Guzman),  and moved a player that they had soured on for some prospects. They are the prohibitive favorite in the AL West at this point, now being 8 games ahead of the 2nd place Angels and 8.5 of the 3rd place Athletics. They plugged nearly every gap they had in their team, and will go into the pennant chase with a very good chance of being in the World Series at the end of it.

The Angels – Even though the moves may end up being more for next season, acquiring Dan Haren to give them a very good 1-2 punch in their rotation for “some magic beans” as Matthew Berry put it on the Fantasy Focus podcast was a stroke of genius. Callaspo also gives them a solid hitter to play at 3B which they had sorely been missing. While it may not be enough to catch the Rangers, they gave up very little of value to do both trades.

The Pirates – They took D.J. Carrasco, Bobby Crosby, Javier Lopez, Octavio Dotel, and Ryan Church and turned them into a major league backstop (Snyder), two solid potential major leaguers (Bowker and Martinez), and 2 higher end, albeit risky prospects (Lambo, McDonald). Someone must have put something in Neal Huntington’s coffee that helped out a lot. They did extremely well to turn a lot of random pieces that aren’t really that helpful into all that.

The Royals – Pieces that aren’t for the future: Podsednik, Ankiel, Farnsworth, Callaspo. All moved for players with varying levels of upside who can help with the rebuilding process: Lucas May, Tim Collins, Jesse Chavez, Gregor Blanco, Sean O’Sullivan, Will Smith. Not the most amazing group of players, and definitely no high-end prospects here. But the Royals have a lot of high-end prospects already, and need others to help give them some balance as well with regard to position scarcity and depth overall. Very well done today.

The Padres – They gave up a pair of pitching prospects to acquire a much needed outfield bat, and a utility player who should provide some value over the remainder of the season. Nothing too major here, and definitely nothing that mortgages the future. I like the Ludwick acquisition, as he could see an improvement with a change of scenery. I’m not 100% sold on the Tejada acquisition, but they didn’t really give up that much to get him in my opinion.

Losers

The Nationals – The trade of Matt Capps was nice, netting them a very good catching prospect in Wilson Ramos. But the way that they handled Adam Dunn leading up to the trade deadline was inexcusable. They clearly had not made up their mind as to what they wanted to do with him, and in the end they simply ran out of time. They clearly could have gotten more for him had they moved him instead of waiting for his free agency to play out, and the only reason to do that would have been to get him signed to an extension (which they didn’t do either). Not sure what happened here, but we’ll see if this was a really bad plan from the start.

The Dodgers – In a division where they are 7.5 games back of the leader and 5 games back of the wild card leader, the Dodgers decided to go for it, sending prospects Brett Wallach, Kyle Smit, Lucas May, Elisaul PimentelAndrew Lambo, and James McDonald (along with Blake DeWitt) to other teams to acquire: the remainder of this season from Octavio Dotel, Ted Lilly and Scott Podsednik, and also Ryan Theriot. I’m pretty sure that if they had offered those players to the Diamondbacks they would have been able to get Dan Haren, Kelly Johnson, and a bullpen arm. I’m also pretty convinced that they could have offered that group to the Mariners and gotten Cliff Lee, Jose Lopez and possibly David Aardsma. I’m not at all impressed with what they did here, and are only one bad week from being completely out of the race.

The Orioles – It’s a tough beat, but they were only able to move Will Ohman and Miguel Tejada, and would have been served by moving Ty Wigginton and Kevin Millwood, among others. Unfortunately, neither player has been playing well of late, and had essentially managed to knock their own values down to next to nothing.

The Twins – They needed some help in the bullpen, and really could have used another starting pitcher behind Francisco Liriano and Carl Pavano. Unfortunately, they only filled one of those gaps, and at a cost that seems high even considering that the prospect that they gave up had no place to play in the Twins’ future.

Mixed Bag

The Astros – They were able to get out from under a lot of the big dollar contracts owed to Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman, and got back at least a reasonable return. Brett Wallace will slot in at 1B to replace Berkman, and J.A. Happ will fill Oswalt’s slot in the rotation. But time will tell if they get anything other than salary relief for Berkman, and Happ and Wallace will have to be very good to replace the value of Oswalt in my opinion.

The Phillies – They gave up a lot more to get Oswalt than they got back in return for Cliff Lee, who would have played a similar role for the Phillies this season had he not been traded. Oswalt will need to be the piece that moves them over the top for this one to really be a winner for them.

The Diamondbacks – They acquired a pretty good young pitcher in return for Edwin Jackson (Hudson). But they practically gave away Dan Haren, a better pitcher who was not that much more expensive than Jackson. They got back a bunch of garbage essentially for their second catcher Snyder. Crosby is a free agent after the season, and Church and Carrasco are both likely candidates for a non-tender after the season. They also did not move Kelly Johnson and Adam LaRoche, both of whom had a lot of value built up despite poor performance of late. Some of the players they acquired could turn out to be good, but it remains to be seen.

The White Sox – They really could have used a bat, and it sounds like they were trying to get one by acquiring Edwin Jackson. I honestly can’t remember the last time I heard about a player being acquired with the hope of moving him to another team, only to have that other team tell them it wasn’t enough. Jackson is a nice pitcher, but is not that much better than Hudson should be.

Overall, a very exciting trade deadline, and there is still the possibility that we will see a lot more trades before the waiver deadline of August 31st.

Trade Retrospective – Nomar Garciaparra


On July 31, 2004, as a part of a massive 4 team trade, the following happened:

Chicago Cubs acquired SS Nomar Garciaparra and OF Matt Murton
Minnesota Twins acquired minor leaguer Justin Jones
Boston Red Sox acquired 1B Doug Mientkiewicz and SS Orlando Cabrera
Montreal Expos acquired SS Alex Gonzalez and minor leaguers Francis Beltran and Brendan Harris

The Background

The Red Sox had previously tried to move Garciaparra after nearly acquiring Alex Rodriguez from the Rangers, so it wasn’t really a huge surprise that he might get moved during the 2004 season. He was due to be a free agent after the 2004 season, and the Sox were hoping to improve their team overall.

The Cubs were 56-48 at the trade deadline, and over 10 games out of first place. They were, however, in the wild card race, being only 2 games back of that at the time. They had been running the offensive (in a bad way) shortstop Ramon Martinez out there every day, and clearly were in need of an upgrade.

The Twins were looking to cut salary, and had a top prospect ready to take over the first base job in Justin Morneau.

The Expos appear to have been looking for some return on free agent to be Orlando Cabrera. There had been concerns about what would happen to the team following the season. From a CBC article then:

Montreal, which occupies the National League East basement, is rumoured to be on the move to several cities, including Washington, Northern Virginia, Las Vegas, Norfolk, Va., Portland, Ore., and Monterey, Mexico.

The Moving Pieces

In Boston, Nomaah was gone, but the Red Sox had found an able replacement in free agent to be Orlando Cabrera, and had a solid backup first baseman in Dougie Baseball. GM Theo Epstein had this to say about the trade at the time:

“We lost a great player in Nomar Garciaparra, but we’ve made our club more functional,” Epstein said. “We weren’t going to win a World Series with our defense.”

In Chicago, Nomaah had arrived with the hopes that the Cubs would be able to return to the playoffs for a second straight season, something that they had not done in a very long time. From GM Jim Hendry (via SI.com article):

“I think he will bring a ton to the table and a presence on the field and off,” Hendry said. “You never go to work thinking he’s going to be available.”

The Twins got the salary relief that they were looking for, and were able to plug in Morneau as the everyday first baseman. Strangely, the Twins were actually hosting the Red Sox on the day of the trade, and Mientkiewicz actually played against the Twins in that game. From Mientkiewicz (via SI.com article):

“It’s a little awkward right now, but I think it’s better for everyone,” he said. “The situation over there was a rough one. They gave me an opportunity in the big leagues, and what the Twins are all about is they give the young guys chances.”

The Expos were able to get 3 solid, if not amazing players or prospects in return for Cabrera.

What Happened Next

The Red Sox, helped by acquisitions Orlando Cabrera and Doug Mientkiewicz among many others, won the World Championship in 2004 without the services of Nomar Garciaparra. In Chicago, the Cubs ended up with an 89-73 record, good for only 3rd place in the NL Central and out of the playoff picture. The Twins

The Net Moves

Red Sox – First Level

  • Orlando Cabrera hit .294/.320/.465 with 6 homeruns for the Red Sox, and left via free agency after the season. He netted the Red Sox two compensation draft picks, which they used rather well: Jacoby Ellsbury was drafted with the first pick, and Jed Lowrie with the other.
  • Doug Mientkiewicz hit .215/.286/.318 with 1 homerun and caught the final out of the World Series. He was traded on 1/27/2005 to the Mets for minor leaguer Ian Bladergroen.

Twins – First Level

  • Justin Jones was a reasonable prospect for the Twins, in spite of only being 19 years old when he was acquired. He had been the #56 prospect according to Baseball America, and posted his best season with the Twins in 2005, going 7-3 with a 3.01 ERA at High-A. He was no longer with the organization after the 2006 season, spending 3 seasons with the Nationals. It appears he retired after the 2009 season.

Cubs –  First Level

  • Nomar Garciaparra hit .297/.364/.455 with 4 homeruns and 20 runs batted in for the Cubs in 2004, and resigned with the team as a free agent after the season for a 1 year contract. In 2005, he hit .283/.320/.452 with 9 homeruns and 30 runs batted in over 62 games due to injuries. He left via free agency, and no compensation was received for him.
  • Matt Murton spent from 2005 to 2008 with the Cubs, posting a .294/.362/.448 line with 28 homeruns and 104 runs batted in over 308 games. He was one of the players included in a trade that netted the Cubs pitchers Rich Harden and Chad Gaudin from the Athletics.

Expos/Nationals – First Level

  • Alex Gonzalez was only with the Expos for 35 games, posting a .241/.289/.383 line before being traded as a part of a conditional deal to the Padres. It doesn’t appear that any compensation or players was received for Gonzalez.
  • Francis Beltran made 11 appearances for the Expos in 2004, with a 7.53 ERA in 14 1/3 innings pitched. He missed the 2005 season due to injury, and spent the 2006 season in the minors for the Nationals. He left via free agency after the 2006 season.
  • Brendan Harris appeared in 41 games from 2004 to 2006 with the Expos/Nationals as a bench player. He was included in the trade that netted the Nationals OF Austin Kearns, IF Felipe Lopez, and P Ryan Wagner from the Reds.

Red Sox – Second Level

  • Jacoby Ellsbury is currently with the organization, but still recovering from broken ribs this season. To date, he has hit. 295/.347/.412 with 20 homeruns, 128 runs batted in, and 131 stolen bases in just over 3 seasons. He has lead the American League in steals twice, with 50 and 70 respectively.
  • Jed Lowrie is also with the Red Sox still, but has not had nearly the success that Ellsbury has. In 116 games over 3 seasons, he has hit .236/.316/.370, and is essentially viewed as a bench/role player for the Red Sox at this point. A change of scenery might be good for him, as there is no place on the field for him to play with SS Marco Scutaro and 2B Dustin Pedroia manning the middle infield spots long term.
  • Ian Bladergroen spent 2005 and 2006 with the Red Sox in the minors, but was in independent ball from then onward.

Cubs – Second Level

  • Rich Harden pitched well down the stretch of the 2008 season, going 5-1 with a 1.77 ERA and 89 strikeouts over 71 innings. He was also with the Cubs in 2009, but injuries derailed parts of both seasons for him, as he went 9-9 with a 4.09 ERA and 171 strikeouts in 141 innings. He left after the 2009 season via free agency, and signed with the Texas Rangers. No free agent compensation draft picks were received.
  • Chad Gaudin went 4-2 with a 6.26 ERA in 24 relief appearances for the Cubs down the stretch, and was not tendered a contract after the season.

Expos/Nationals – Second Level

  • Austin Kearns played for the Nationals through the 2009 season, and posted a .242/.346/.376 line with 34 homeruns and 159 runs batted in over 390 games. He was not tendered a contract after the 2009 season, and became a free agent.
  • Felipe Lopez was with the team through the trade deadline in 2008. He hit .250/.320/.344 with 49 steals in his 3 seasons there. He was released on July 31, 2008 by the Nationals.
  • Ryan Wagner was with the Nationals through the 2008 season, posting a 3-5 record with a 5.05 ERA in 40 appearances. He is currently out of organized baseball.

Overall Reactions

This is one of those trades that is extremely hard to dissect. Clearly, the Red Sox did well with these acquisitions as they were able to win the 2004 World Series. Throw in the fact that they used one of the draft picks they received for Cabrera to draft potential All-Star Jacoby Ellsbury also helps out a lot with them potentially winning the trade. The Cubs didn’t get quite what they needed, but did get solid production from Nomar when he was healthy, and also ended up netting them Rich Harden for 1 1/2 seasons by moving the other player in the deal, Matt Murton. The Twins, sadly, look like they did the worst in the trade, but accomplished what they wanted to in clearing a spot for prospect Justin Morneau.  Even the Expos did alright with this trade as they used one of the pieces in that trade to help facilitate the theft of Austin Kearns and Felipe Lopez from the Reds. Overall, I would rank them in this order: Red Sox, Expos, Cubs, Twins. But I think that all the teams ended up accomplishing what their goals were for this trade.

Trade Retrospective – Rafael Palmeiro to the Rangers


In an extremely large trade, the Rangers acquired 1B/OF Rafael Palmeiro, SP Jamie Moyer, and P Drew Hall on December 5, 1988 from the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs got back minor leaguers Luis Benitez and Pablo Delgado, pitchers Paul Kilgus, Mitch Williams, Steve Wilson and IF Curtis Wilkerson.

The Background

The Cubs had played Rafael Palmeiro in left field through the 1988 season, as they had perennial fan favorite Mark Grace slotted in at 1B. Realistically, Palmeiro would have been a defensive liability out in LF. They also needed to replace free agent closer Goose Gossage, who had signed with the Giants during the offseason.

The Rangers needed a replacement for free agent 1B Pete O’Brien, who had signed with the Indians shortly before the trade.

The Moving Pieces

In Chicago, the Cubs slotted reliever Mitch “Wild Thing” Williams in at the back end of the bullpen, and elsewhere on the roster included pitchers Paul Kilgus, Steve Wilson and IF Curt Wilkerson.

The Rangers gave Palmeiro their 1B job, and put Moyer and Hall into the starting rotation at points during the 1989 season.

What Happened Next

Immediately upon completion of the trade, Rafael Palmeiro trashed the deal (quote courtesy of this article written by Phil Rogers):

“These people don’t know what they’re doing,” Palmeiro said of general manager Frey and manager Don Zimmer. “These guys in the front office … it’s going straight down, it seems like.”

Palmeiro still insists there was no reason for the trade. He says it should have been a good thing, not a bad one, to have him and Grace in the same line-up.

“It would have worked out fine,” Palmeiro said. “I don’t think I would be any different as a player. Left field was no problem. I could have played left field.”

The Cubs ended up winning the National League East division in 1989, and faced off in the NLCS against the Western division champs, the San Francisco Giants. They ended up losing the series in 5 games, and have only been back to the NLCS one time since (2003). Williams led the back end of the bullpen, posting 36 saves and a 4-4 record with a 2.76 ERA in 81 2/3 innings pitched. Kilgus, Wilkerson and Wilson all played minor roles with the 1989 team, mostly in the bullpen (Kilgus, Wilson) and off the bench (Wilkerson).

The Rangers went on to go 83-79 in 1989, and finish 4th in the 7-team American League West division. Palmeiro had a solid season, hitting .275/.354/.374 with 8 HR and 64 RBI. Moyer went 4-9 in 15 starts during the season, and posted a poor 4.86 ERA. Hall posted a respectable 2-1 record and 3.70 ERA in 38 appearances with the team, all in relief.

The Net Moves

Rangers – First Level

  • Jamie Moyer went 6-15 with a 4.74 ERA in 178 1/3 innings pitched for the Rangers over 2 seasons. He struck out 102, walked 72, and was released by the team on 11/13/1990.
  • Drew Hall pitched mostly out of the bullpen, posting a 2-1 record with a 3.70 ERA over 58 1/3 innings pitched in 1989. On 4/2/1990, he was traded to Montreal for IF Jeff Huson
  • Rafael Palmeiro was with the team through the 1993 season, posting a .296 batting average with 107 HR and 431 RBI. He made 2 All-Star appearances in this stint with the Rangers, and filed for free agency on 10/25/1993

Cubs – First Level

  • Luis Benitez and Pablo Delgado both were in the Cubs’ system through the 1990 season, but never made any Major League appearances, either with the organization or at all for that matter.
  • Paul Kilgus spent the 1989 season with the Cubs, posting a 6-10 record with a 4.39 ERA in 145 2/3 innings pitched. He struck out only 61 batters to 49 walks, and was traded on 12/7/1989 to Toronto for Jose Nunez.
  • Curtis Wilkerson was with the Cubs for 2 seasons, playing in 154 games as a utility player. He posted a .231/.262/.283 line with 1 HR and 26 RBI. He filed for free agency on 10/26/1990, and brought no compensation in return.
  • Mitch Williams was with the Cubs through the 1990 season, posting a 5-12 record with a 3.28 ERA and 52 saves. He struck out 122 versus 102 walks in 148 innings pitched. He also was an All-Star in 1989 for the Cubs, before being traded on 4/7/1991 to the Phillies for Chuck McElroy and Bob Scanlan
  • Steve Wilson posted a 10-13 record, and had the longest tenure of anyone going to the Cubs as he made it through most of the 1991 season. His 4.56 ERA over 237 innings pitched was nothing to write home about, and he was traded to the Dodgers on 9/6/1991 for Jeff Hartsock.

Rangers – Second Level

  • Jeff Huson was with the Rangers from 1990-1993, playing in 410 games and posting a .235/.314/.304 line with 6 homeruns, 80 RBI, and 38 steals in his time there. He missed the entire 1994 season due to an injury, and was released by the Rangers on 11/30/1994.

Cubs – Second Level

  • Chuck McElroy spent the 1991-1993 seasons with the Cubs, pitching exclusively out of their bullpen. He went 12-11 with 206 K and 133 walks in 232 1/3 innings pitched. His 3.06 ERA was solid, but the 1.42 WHIP that went with it, not so much. He was traded after the 1993 season to Cincinnati for Mike Anderson, Darron Cox, and Larry Luebbers.
  • Bob Scanlan also spent the 91-93 seasons with the Cubs, posting a 14-19 record with a 3.75 ERA. In 273 2/3 innings, he struck out 130 and walked 98. He was traded on 12/19/93 to the Brewers for minor leaguers Mike Carter and Rafael Novoa.
  • Jose Nunez went 4-7 in 1990 with a 6.53 ERA in just 60 2/3 innings pitched. Nothing special here it appears, and he was gone after the 1990 season.

Cubs – Third Level

  • Mike Anderson, Darron Cox, and Larry Luebbers all spent 1994 with the organization, but none of them made any appearances with the Cubs. Luebbers was selected off of waivers by the Reds after the 1994 season, netting the Cubs no one. Anderson and Cox both spent the 1995 season in the minors, but also appear to have left the organization after the 1995 season, netting the Cubs no one either.
  • Mike Carter spent 1994-1996 in AA for the Cubs, never even really breaking with a hope of making the Cubs. Rafael Novoa spent the 1994 season with the Cubs AAA team in Iowa, but left the organization after the season. Neither player appear to have netted the organization anything.

Overall Reactions

You know, if you just look at the names involved in the trade, it looks a little bit bad for the Cubs. But when you come to realize that 1)Jamie Moyer was essentially worthless during his stint in Texas, and 2)nearly everyone that the Cubs got back pretty much fell off the face of the earth after the 1989 season, I have to give the Rangers this one. Palmeiro evolved into an All-Star, and eventually became a power hitter as well. Williams helped the team to the NL East division crown, but that was essentially the only impact that was realized by the Cubs from any of the players at all.