Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Cubs Thoughts

I promised this blog a couple of day ago on my twitter account, but haven't gotten around to working on it till now. So, without further ado, some Chicago Cubs thoughts leading up to the trading deadline:
  • With the Cubs 9-3 since the All-Star break, is this the run that everyone has been waiting for? Granted, it hasn't been against the best of competition, wins are wins. These are the teams they have to beat if they plan on getting to the playoffs again and it won't matter who they beat, as long as they start racking up the wins.

  • Even with the signing of BJ Ryan, the Cub are in desperate need of another lefty out of the pen. Bringing in Sean Marshall in the 6th or 7th innings negates them from having any ability to throw him in there against a tough lefty in the 8th. Coming into today's game, he's pitched in 3 straight games. With the lack of another lefty on the roster, Marshall also pitched in 7 straight games in late June. That can't keep happening unless you plan on having zero lefties in the pen eventually.

  • On the lefties front, GM Jim Hendry has reportedly sniffing around John Grabow of the Pittsburgh Pirate and George Sherrill of the Baltimore Orioles. Hendry has good relationships between both teams, stealing Aramis Ramirez and Kenny Lofton from the Pirates in 2003 and gifting Rich Hill to the Orioles this past offseason. But I'm not sure that Hendry has the prospects to get either pitcher from the teams. Grabow is more likely but plenty of teams are calling. Arthur Rhodes from the Cincinnati Reds is another option, but I'm unsure that the Reds want to deal within the division.

  • Has the real Rich Harden finally showed up? In his last 3 starts, Harden has dropped his ERA almost a full run, giving up only 2 runs in his last 19 innings. He's still giving up a lot of flyball outs, which can turn into homers, but his improvements has been his walks. In his first 14 starts, he has allowed at least 1 walk in each and that only happened 3 times. In his last 3 starts, he's only walked 2 and they came in the same start. Not exactly a cause for excitement, but definitely some signs of encouragement.

  • Since moving to the 6th spot in the lineup on July 4th, Alfonso Soriano's been hitting extremely well, to the tune of .356/.413/.575. His overall batting average on the season hasn't been as high as it is now since May 29th and he's hitting the ball out of the park again, with 4 homers in 19 games. Not a lot when you consider that he's capable of hitting 40 a year, but seeing as how he had zero homers from June 9th through Juky 19th, much better. But with his monstrous contract, it would be hard to move him. Unless you can unload him on a team looking for a right-handed bat and a big contract in return. Enter the San Francisco Giants.

  • Now, I'm not saying that this is a deal that should be made, or if it can be made, since both players have full no-trade clauses, something Hendry seems to just include in everyone's contract nowadays. But let's think about something for now. Barry Zito has a terrible contract, one just as bad as Soriano's, if not worse. Zito is owed $83 million over the next 4 years, including a 7 million buyout for 2014. Soriano is owed $90 million over the next 5. So, you save 7 million to begin with and one less year. But I'm not sure if you can use him in the rotation here. And no one knows whether he's willing to pitch out of the pen and if you want to pay a MR $20 million a year. But Zito has pitched ok at Wrigley in his 2 starts and has looked better in 2009 than any other year since he signed that contract. It's not going to happen, but it's probably the only shot to find someone to get Soriano's contract off the Cubs books without the Cubs giving some money in the deal as well.

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