Friday, January 06, 2012

Rizzo/Cashner Trade, Soriano, BRob, DLee, Wood, and More....

The Chicago Cubs made another big move today acquiring Anthony Rizzo and Zach Cates for Andrew Cashner and Kyung-Min Na. I will look at what the Cubs gave up, what the Cubs are getting, and what I think about the trade.

First let’s take a look at what the Cubs gave up. Andrew Cashner is no doubt going to be a top pitcher either in the rotation or out of the pen if he can stay healthy. At only 25 years old and a fastball that sits in mid 90’s he looks really good. The one big thing wrong with Cashner is he is a young power pitcher who relies on throwing his pitches hard which would not be an issue if he had flawless mechanics which has been problem. Earlier this year it was discussed that his form caused his issues with his rotator cuff that landed him on the DL. This is something that has to be fixed so he can stay healthy but one thing we have learned from the Cubs is that altering mechanics can be a big issue and cause you to be less effective. But there is no doubts the Padres are getting a good; possibly great, pitcher in Casher. The Cubs also gave up outfielder Kyng-Min Na (more info here) who is also a prospect in the Cubs system but is expendable because of the amount of OF minor leaguers in the Cubs system.

The only thing the Cubs got is a 22 year old first baseman (Anthony Rizzo info HERE) who hits from the left side and hit .331 with a .404 OBP 26 homers 101 RBI and 7 SB in 413 PA last season; THAT’S ALL! Rizzo is now the Cubs future first baseman for at least the next decade you would think. Rizzo was drafted under Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, and Jason McLeod so the interest was definitely there and why Rizzo cost the Cubs Cashner and Na. The Cubs also got a 22 year old right-handed pitcher named Zach Cates (more info found here). Cates was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2010 MLB Amateur Draft so there is obvious interest from McLeod and Hoyer to reacquire him. In Cates first year in the minors he started 25 games, had a 4.73 ERA, with 111 Ks in 118 IP. While his numbers are not bad they are not good either but being 22 years old he has a ton of time to develop in the Cubs system.

Now looking at the trade I see this as a huge win for the Cubs and the Padres. This is another case where both teams are benefiting and taking a “gamble” (and I use that loosely) on younger players. The Padres have been working hard to acquire young pitching and the Cubs have been looking for their first baseman of the future which both helped out each other with their needs. I love this trade and applaud the Cubs brass for making it!

Now taking that into consideration here are some news and notes addressing the aftermath of the trade (plus other rumors and notes)-

-According to Carrie Muskat Hoyer says Bryan LaHair will be the starter at 1st next season and Rizzo will start the season in AAA.

-Jed Hoyer says the Cubs are willing to go through some growing pains with young players. I really like that idea.

-Because of this trade and the news following the Cubs maybe looking for a backup at first. They have been linked to Derrek Lee, Jorge Cantu, and Connor Jackson.

-Twitter blew up with the rumor of Soriano going to Baltimore for Brian Roberts being discussed. This trade makes sense for both teams but it is not a Theo type move. I think Theo would rather get a young player and pay almost Soriano’s entire contract than pay half his contract and acquire a guy like Roberts. At least that is what I see.

-The Cashner/Rizzo trade signifies the end to the Prince Fielder talk (thank God) and now the talks will heat up involving Marmol, Garza, Byrd, and Dempster.

-According to reports the Cubs and Kerry Wood are nearing completion on a one-year deal.

-The Red Sox and Cubs have been talking about a Marlon Byrd trade which makes a ton of sense for both teams. The Cubs will look for a low level minor leaguer and salary relief.

-The Cubs are still very interested in Paul Maholm.

-The Cubs have interest in Omar Vizquel and Jack Wilson according to sources.

-The Cubs signed Edgar Gonzalez and Joe Mather to minor league deals.

Until Next Time…

Thursday, January 05, 2012

What Does the Z/Volstad Trade Mean?

Last night the Cubs traded Carlos Zambrano for Chris Volstad which seems like a normal move but it means much more than just what is on the surface. Carlos Zambrano has been one of my favorite players to watch the past years because of his fire and passion and lets face it his theatrics. But until recently I chalked those things up to being just him and showing fire (now I know there are issues there). So when I heard the news last night about the trade it immediately go my attention and caused me to ponder the direction of the Cubs and what this move means below the surface.

First I want to give the details and my take on the deal. The Cubs sent Zambrano to the Miami Marlins for Chris Volstad. The Cubs are also paying $15.5M of the $18M left on Big Z contract. The Cubs are responsible for the arbitration case of Chris Volstad in which he is expected to make $2.6M so the deal is not really saving the Cubs any cash unless Z obtains his vesting option for 2013 which includes placing first or second in CY Young voting and being healthy at the end of 2012. If he does obtain that then he will be paid $19.25M for 2013.

So we already know about Zambrano so let’s take a look at Chris Volstad. Volstad is a 25 year old right handed pitcher who was 16th overall pick in the 2005 draft. Volstad stands at a tall 6 foot 8 230lbs but by no means is a power/K pitcher. Volstad has a career 32-39 record in 4 ML seasons; he has not pitched over 175 innings but has made at least 29 starts the past 3 years. Volstad is prone to giving up the homer but does not walk too many guys. He is a nice young option for the back-end of the rotation. He actually reminds me of a young Jeff Weaver.

The trade in its self on the surface looks like a standard salary dump and taking on a player that does not have a further career in Miami but I think it goes much deeper than that. The Cubs are going in the right direction by selling on guys that are not going to help them this year or the next few years. They have traded Sean Marshall with incredible value, they are dangling their star pitcher (Garza) but will not “settle” on a mediocre package for him, and now they have traded a headache not to mention a overpriced pitcher for a young 25 year old that best years still maybe ahead of him. The Cubs completed the Z/Volstad trade by not losing any cash or taking on another bad contract which is a nice change. This trade signifies much like the Marshall deal details the direction Epstein and Co. are going. They are cutting the fat that is the Chicago Cubs and replacing it with athletic players and youth with high ceilings. They are adding good clubhouse guys, leaders, and young prospects. They are cutting cash and not jeopardizing the future; not to mention brings in their guys. Yes they have done some moves that look questionable on the surface but now all the moves together they make sense on a whole. David DeJesus and Reed Johnson are both “baseball players” in every sense of the word, good leaders, and athletic. Trading Tyler Colvin and DJ for Stewart is sending two prospects that they feel did not fit the mold of the new movement and acquire a guy that had a down year but high ceiling that could bounce back and have a great year. Trading 1 year of Sean Marshall for a young, cheap, left-handed starter in Travis Wood, two potential solid ML player prospects, and not to mention saving money. Most of all trading a headache in the Cubs system named Zambrano for a 25 year old righty who is a solid back of the rotation starter for the Cubs this year and maybe beyond. The Cubs direction is simple and straight forward; get younger, get more athletic, cut salary, cut players that don’t fit the mold or won’t contribute down the line, get the highest trade value possible for those players, get a nice supporting cast, add leadership to the clubhouse, and build on that foundation never loosing site of the main objective.

Because of this direction the Cubs trade talk about Marlon Byrd should increase as well as Garza, Marmol, Wells, Soriano, Dempster, Baker, DeWitt, Soto, and others. Am I saying all of those players will be traded by Opening Day probably not but I have faith in Theo that he will try and not settle on an average return for any of them (with maybe exception of Soriano who is now gaining interest for 3 AL clubs according to George Ofman). Theo, Jed, and the Cubs now have a clear direction and I now can say it is about time. Cub fans you can finally get excited about the direction of your team because you have the Theo formula; the winning formula.

Until Next Time….

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Cubs Rumors and News Slowing Down... UPDATE- Now Z to Miami Thats News!


Levine was right; the Cubs have sent Carlos Zambrano to the Marlins for 25 year old righty Chris Volstad. The Cubs will pay all but $2.5M of his contract and Volstad is expected to make 2.6 so the Cubs are really not saving any money just headaches which could mean more. I wish Z the best in Miami and say what you will I still will call Big Z one of my favorite Cubs to watch.

More on this in a later post.

Cubs talk has been slow but here are some tidbits-
-The Jays and Yankees are out of the Garza sweepstakes according to sources. I really find that hard to believe and think it is a ploy to have the Cubs drop their asking price which they won’t do.
-The Cubs are asking the Jays for 2 top pitching prospects and 3 position prospects for Garza. -The Cubs did ask for Brett Lawrie but got immediately shut down.
-The Cubs are asking the Yankees two of Jesus Montero, Eduardo Nunez, Hector Noesi, Dellin Betance, and Manny Banuelos in a package for Gaza. The Cubs also want two more pieces that are not included in that list.
-The Nationals are stepping up their pursuit on Fielder according to numerous reports. Fielder, Boras, and the Nats President met yesterday to discuss things. There is a lot of smoke around this front and it should be noted that the Nationals overpaid for Werth and they will likely do the same for Fielder.
-Some reports suggest the Nationals will guarantee 7 years with an option for the 8th to get Fielder to Washington.
-Reed Johnson officially signed with the Cubs on a one-year $1.5M deal. Nice to have Johnson back in Cubbie blue for next season.
-The Cubs lost out on CoCo Crisp than goodness! Crisp got an above market deal from the A’s that equals about half of Beltran’s contract. I have to be honest if the A’s are paying Crisp that much then they should not complain about money issues because they have done it to themselves.
-It seems the Tigers are the biggest player for Garza right now but the Cubs will be patient because they don’t have to trade Garza.
-There has been talk about a possible extension of Matt Garza but numbers have not been leaked.
-Bruce Levine says Detroit’s top OF prospect Avisail Garcia might be a piece the Cubs look for Garza as well as Turner.
-There are some teams that have mild interest in Soriano but are willing to wait because the longer Sori stays on the Cubs the more salary the Cubs are willing to pay.
-Levine still feels Z will be out of Chicago by Opening Day and he will end up with Ozzie in Miami.
-Bruce adds Atlanta to the list of teams that like Marlon Byrd. Other teams interested are Washington and Boston.
-The Rangers do have interest in Garza but only if they can deal Harrison.
-Levine thinks Manny Corpas will have a role with the team next season.
-Levine thinks Wood and the Cubs have a deal in place but are waiting on other moves before announcing it.
-He thinks the Cubs are still in on Fielder.
-Levine thinks the Cubs are not going to trade Marmol before Opening Day.
-He says the Cubs will add more infield depth to help with Barney at 2nd and Castro at SS.
-The Cubs are still very much in on Cespedes and Soler even with the logjam in the outfield right now.
Until Next Time…

Sunday, January 01, 2012

The New Year Cubs Post

Here are the rumor rundowns since the last post. There are some old but some new so lets get started-

- The Cubs were talking to the Blue Jays, Yankees, and Red Sox about Matt Garza earlier in the week but that has changed because the Marlins and Tigers have joined the pursuit.

- Scott Boras is trying sell Prince Fielder hard because rumors came out this week that Boras does not like the offers for Prince so far and Fielder my have to take a 3 year deal. This made Boras pretty angry and said it takes more than 3 to get Prince.

- The Cubs remain interested in Fielder but are also looking at younger, cheaper options for 1st base.

- Like it or not the Cubs may just go with in house option Brian LaHair at 1st next season as a stop gap. LaHair has 15 homers and is batting .271 in Winter league.

- If the Cubs do go with LaHair they would likely sign another 1st baseman to complement (not platoon) LaHair. Some names that have been talked about are Derrek Lee, Jorge Cantu, and Connor Jackson.

- Bleacher Nation says the Cubs have talked to numerous teams about a Matt Garza trade and he puts the chances on him getting dealt at 90%. I think that is a bit high because there is still a thought he could sign an extension.

- The Cubs offered Sean Marshall a contract extension before he was dealtto the Reds but said there was no guarantee he would not be moved in July.

- The three teams most active on the Garza front right now are the Tigers, Marlins, and Blue Jays in that order. MLBTR says the Tigers are willing to trade Turner in a package which would be an amazing get for the Cubs.

- The Blue Jays and Tigers have the best chance to land Garza because they have the prospects the Cubs seek for him. The Red Sox and Marlins are lacking on both.

- Trade talks between the Rangers and Cubs are increasing involving Carlos Marmol. The Rangers were in on Andrew Bailey before the Red Sox traded for him. Right now the sticking point is the Cubs want Matt Harrison and the Rangers are reluctant to give him up in a deal for Marmol.

- Some names of prospects on the Jays the Cubs like are Noah Syndergaard, Justin Nicolino, Daniel Norris, and Deck McGuire.

- A report last week indicated that Cubs want Jacob Turner, Andy Oliver, and 2 position prospects for Garza. If the Cubs could pull that trade off it would be amazing.

- The Blue Jays, Yankees, Red Sox, Marlins, Dbacks, and Mariners all have interest in trading for Ryan Dempster according to sources.

- The Blue Jays and Dbacks are amping up their pursuit more now on Dempster. The Jays like the idea of Dempster because he will cost less in prospects.

- MLB Rumor Central on twitter is reporting that Marlon Byrd is gaining interest from Washington and Boston.

- A source told me that Garza, Byrd, Z, and Dempster are the most likely to be traded by Opening Day. He also tells me that Soriano is more likely to get released than traded because of how bleak the market is for him.

- Jim Bowden says the best possible fits for Garza are Toronto, Boston, Detroit, Texas, and New York in that order. I respectively disagree I think it goes Detroit, Toronto, Miami, Boston, New York, and Texas.

- Cubs signed Cuban prospects Yasiel Balaguert and Carlos Martinez. You can find more on that here. Both are great pick ups for the Cubs.

- The Cubs still remain interested in 1st baseman Anthony Rizzo, Kendry Morales, Mark Trumbo, Gaby Sanchez, and Mitch Moreland via trade.

- Buster Olney said the Cubs have been talking to numerous teams about Garza but nothing is imminent. Rosenthal says the Marlins have serious interest in Matt Garza and the Cubs really like Christian Yelich but the Marlins are dangling Matt Domiguez, Gaby Sanchez, Chris Coghlan, and Jose Ceda. No thanks Miami I will stick with talent like Jacob Turner for Detroit.

- The Cubs have some mild interest in Kyle Blanks according to sources. He is the next trade candidate in San Diego. A DeWitt for Blanks trade makes sense for both teams.

Until Next Time..