First up in the Regular Season Preview series is the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs were obviously very upset about their finish to ’08. After getting swept by the Dodgers in the first round of the playoffs, the Cubs realized that they had to get some left handed hitting for the lineup. They did just that when they signed Milton Bradley to a 3 year, 30 million dollar contract. The Cubbies also kept their starting pitching strong by resigning Ryan Dempster. Unfortunately, the payroll got too tight to afford players such as Kerry Wood, Mark DeRosa, and Jason Marquis. Right after the Cubs set their mind to acquiring a left handed hitting right fielder for the lineup, it became obvious that Woody would not return. The Cubs also had to trade away Marquis and DeRosa in order to clear the money needed to sign Bradley. Meanwhile, Kevin Gregg was acquired in a trade to replace Wood, and Aaron Miles was signed to help out at second base. Some other acquisitions were Aaron Heilman and Luis Vizcaino. Some other losses were Bob Howry and Jim Edmonds.
The Cubs once again have very high expectations heading into the season. I know that I’m slightly biased, but it is a lock that the Cubs will win the NL Central in my eyes. I think that last year’s team was a little bit better, but they will be in the playoffs no matter what, and probably as the first seed. The big question will be what they can do in the playoffs. If they are out in the first round again, it is pretty much a lost season. I really don’t know what’s going to happen. They have a great team talent wise, but they just cannot do a thing once they get into the playoffs.
The goal for the Cubs is to make it to the World Series, something tha
t they have the talent to do. It’s just a matter of getting it done in October.
I decided to take the holidays off. Sorry I didn’t let you know before hand.
In an attempt to clear salary, the Cubs have traded Mark DeRosa to the Indians for minor league pitchers Jeff Stevens, Chris Archer, and John Gaub. Another trade is in place that would send Jason Marquis to the Rockies for pitcher Luis Vizcaino.
I really like the Marquis trade for both teams. The Cubs will throw in 1 million and take on the entire 3.5 million owed to Vizcaino. So, it is a net dump of about 5 million. Dropping that 5 million will bring the Cubs’ payroll down to about 132 million. The final payroll will be in the 140-145 million dollar range. That leaves 8 to 13 million to spend; enough to sign a big bat for right field. Guys like Adam Dunn, Milton Bradley, and Bobby Abreu can be squeezed into the payroll now. Vizcaino provides depth. If he bounces back to form, it will give the Cubs another solid arm for the late innings. If not, then the Cubs can just release him. This is a solid trade for them.
The Rockies got a good deal, too. They receive a quality starting pitcher to slot into their rotation. He comes cheaply, too; only 5 million in net gain. They could’ve signed a guy like Tim Redding instead and gotten similar production, but Redding will probably require a 2 year deal at around the 5 million Marquis gets. So they get similar production and cut off a year. Good job by the Rox.
I’ll be honest by saying that I completely hate the DeRosa trade for the Cubs. This is a fantastic move by the Indians. The 3 prospects the Cubs have coming their way aren’t much at all. Jeff Stevens has some nice potential as a relief pitcher, but he isn’t any better than Jose Ceda, the player they sent to the Marlins in the Kevin Gregg trade. Yes, Gregg will be an important piece to the team by setting up for Carlos Marmol, but he is no where near as valuable as Mark DeRosa. Still, Stevens is a solid piece that could develop and give the Cubs some help in the pen. He has fantastic stuff. John Gaub also has good stuff; he struck out 100 batters in only 64 innings. He is a relief prospect at best, though. Good middle relievers are necessary to any team hoping to compete; Stevens and Gaub at least have the stuff to become very good ones. Plus, they are under control for 6 years as opposed to DeRosa’s 1 year under contract. The other prospect, Chris Archer, is more of a throw-in than a solid piece.
To help offset the move, the Cubs signed Aaron Miles for 2 years, 4.9 million. He is a solid middle infielder, and should keep the second base position respectable. He and Mike Fontenot could form a nice platoon at the bottom of the Cubs lineup.
I guess that this return isn’t terrible, but I expected more if the team were to trade DeRo. The trade may work out in the long run, but I don’t understand why the Cubs are going to hurt their team this year. It doesn’t make any sense at all unless…
Jake Peavy is the next move. Dumping the 5.5 million owed to DeRosa and the 9.9 million owed to Marquis opens up a lot of money. However, the Cubs will pay 1 million of Marquis’ contract and they take on the 3.5 million owed to Vizcaino as well as signing Miles for 2.2 million in the first year. So, these two trades dump a net total of about 9 million. Payroll is reduced all the way down to 128 million. This leaves the Cubs with 12 to 17 million to spend. I know that it’s unlikely that they can fit both a right fielder like Milton Bradley and Jake Peavy into the payroll, but it sure is possible. Hopefully, the Tribune company would be willing to extend payroll to about 150 million to accommodate these moves, if it allows Peavy to come to town. All they have to do is sign Bradley for 2 years, 20 million. Then, take on Jake Peavy’s contract of 11 million per year. It could fit. If not, then just backload Bradley’s contract. They’ll have to let Rich Harden leave after ’09, but that’s OK if Peavy is brought in. Of course, even if all of these finances are possible, the Cubs need to work out a trade. I think that they have the pieces after the DeRosa move. It could be a 3 team trade that looks like this…
- Padres get: Josh Vitters, Sean Marshall, Ronny Cedeno, Garret Olson, Jeff Stevens, Chris Archer, and John Gaub.
- Cubs get: Jake Peavy
- Orioles get: Felix Pie
A trade similar to this one was accepted by Kevin Towers, but Jim Hendry declined because he couldn’t get ownership approval. Who knows, maybe now that Marquis and DeRosa are gone the trade could come back to life. It’s doubtful, but that is the only reason I can see for trading Mark DeRosa. Maybe they just needed to clear all of his salary. I don’t know.
By the way, DeRosa deleted everything he wrote on his MLBlog, The Pulse. It will now focus solely on the Indians.
The framework of a trade that would send Jake Peavy to the Cubs is in place. It would be a complicated 4-team trade, but apparently it makes sense to the GMs. The Cubs, Padres, Phillies, and Orioles would be the 4 teams. The Phillies and Orioles are satisfied by their part of the deal. The only part left of the trade would be whom the Cubs send to the Padres. I’m not sure on this, but guessing a trade would look like this.
- Cubs get: Jake Peavy
- Padres get: Josh Vitters, Garret Olson, Jason Donald, Ronny Cedeno, Sean Marshall
- Orioles get: Felix Pie
- Phillies get: Mark DeRosa
- Cubs lose: Mark DeRosa, Josh Vitters, Felix Pie, Ronny Cedeno, Sean Marshall
- Padres lose: Jake Peavy
- Orioles lose: Garret Olson
- Phillies lose: Jason Donald
It looks like a trade like this could be completed, but first the Cubs will need to clear salary by trading Jason Marquis. It looks like all they have to do is pull the trigger on a Marquis trade and they’ll be able to make this huge, blockbuster trade. Overcourse, this deal needs to make sense for all teams.
The Cubs would be aquiring Jake Peavy. Adding him to setup a rotation of Peavy – Carlos Zambrano – Rich Harden – Ryan Dempster – and Ted Lilly would make the Cubs the unquestioned best team in the MLB. Yes, their whole entire farm system is getting traded away, but I think it’s definately worth it. Vitters, Pie, Cedeno, and Marshall all are blocked, anyway. It hurts losing DeRosa, but you have to give something to get something.
This looks like a pretty solid deal for the Padres, too. The get a great
prospect in Josh Vitters to take over at third base in the future. They can shop Kevin Kouzmanoff until Vitters hits the big leagues. The Pads can take their time, because he is at least 2 years away from prime-time ball. Jason Donald is a solid shortstop prospect; he adequately replaces Khalil Greene. Cedeno provides depth. Garret Olson and Sean Marshall are by no means top notch pitching prospects, but they add depth to the back of the Padres’ rotation. Because of PETCO Park, it will be easy to find pitching. This is arguably just as good as the Braves’ offer of Yunel Escobar, Goyrks Hernandez, Jo-Jo Reyes, and Charlie Morton. It is just a more crafty way of doing it. I like this trade for the Padres, even though I admit they could do better if they wait until the trade deadline.
It’s a no-brainer for the Orioles to make the trade. Garret Olson doesn’t have the same upside as Felix Pie. They have both been awful in the MLB, but Pie has been given less of a chance. I know that they both look like busts right now, but Pie has a much better chance at becoming a quality player than Olson does. Maybe it’s just because I’ve seen Pie play so many times while watching the Cubs. It appears that the Orioles also like the idea of swaping Olson out for Pie, and I agree with them.
It also makes sense for the Phillies. Mark DeRosa was a great player last year. He was a
huge reason why the Cubs won 97 games, and it would hurt them lose DeRo, but it seems the Cubs are open to this trade. The Phillies are reportedly really high on Donald, but it just seems like they would trade him for DeRosa in a heartbeat. Donald is blocked, and DeRo makes more sense than anyone else on the free agent market. He can play second base until Chase Utley returns from his injury, and then he can move to left field, replacing Pat Burrell. Eric Bruntlett, Greg Dobbs, and Geoff Jenkins would play left field or second base until Utley returns. This would be a great idea for Philly. The only problem is that they’re making it a lot harder to get back to the World Series by assisting the Cubs in aquiring Peavy.
So I think this huge, blockbuster, 4-team trade would make a lot of sense for all the clubs involved, but one little snag in negotiations could ruin the whole thing. I hope it happens!
Rafael Furcal has been a hot topic among baseball writers, but not among baseball teams. They have been disappearing from the Furcal sweepstakes after the A’s dropped out. The Indians could be interested, however.
I’m surprised that the A’s dropped out. They seemed like the perfect fit for Furcal, especially after the Giants signed Edgar Renteria. They offered him 4 years 35-40 million. Furcal declined, and the A’s ended their pursuit. I’m sure talks will start up again, partly because teams are dropping out of the Furcal sweepstakes.
There no longer seems to be a great fit for Rafael. The Dodgers don’t want to pay the amount of money he wants, and even if he came back with a smaller demand it’s possible the Dodgers could decide to fill different holes with their money. The Giants are out, and the A’s won’t up their offer. Just like that, the top three bidders are all out.
Some wild cards could enter the mix, however. Like mentioned above, the Indians have shown interest. Furcal would make so much sense for their team. A signing would allow them to move Grady Sizemore down to the #3 hole in the lineup, greatly improving the overall team. Jhonny Peralta could move to third base in order to accommodate such a move. The Indians seem like the team that could jump in and steal Furcal right off the market.
The Twins could also make sense. They have 15 million to spend, and don’t have much speed in their lineup. They pulled out of the Casey Blake sweepstakes (more on that later) almost right after the A’s dropped out on Furcal. This could just be a coincidence, but you never know. It seems to make a lot of sense to me.
The Cubs want to add a leadoff man and almost had Furcal signed when he last entered free agency 3 years ago. He still fits great on their team. Ryan Theriot would move to second base, and Mark DeRosa would move to right field. Adding Furcal to their already impressive lineup would make them a much better team, which is hard to do when you win 97 games. The only issue is payroll. The Cubs only have about 3 million left to spend after arbitration raises if my calculations are correct. Jason Marquis could be traded, but it would still be a stretch to fit Furcal in. This is possible nontheless.
So we have learned that Furcal won’t sign with the A’s unless he takes less than what he wants, his market is not exactly booming, and the Indians, Twins, and Cubs could be possible dark horses.
The Cubs, Padres, and Orioles are discussing a trade that would send Jake Peavy to Chicago. The Orioles would recieve outfielder Felix Pie while dealing Garret Olsen to the Padres. The Cubs would add other prospects to try to finish off a trade. I don’t understand how this puts the Cubs in a better position to satisfy the Padres needs. I think the Pads would rather have Pie than Olsen. Felix has always been the better prospect, and both have been awful in the MLB. On top of this, the Padres probably don’t want Josh Vitters. He is the only big time prospect that the Cubs have. I don’t think an eventual trade like this will ever end up happening; it just makes too little sense.
Padres’ GM Kevin Towers thinks he has identified the third team for a possible Jake Peavy to the Cubs trade. He failed to reveal it, but I will name two teams who could make sense: the A’s and the Giants.
A’s. The A’s really need a third baseman of the future. Josh Vitters is the Cubs’ prospect most likely to be dealt in a Peavy trade, but the Pads don’t want him because if their own log jam at the hot corner. The A’s have a ton of pitching depth, and Vitters just makes too much sense for their team. Maybe a pitcher like Brett Anderson could get it done. So the trade would be looking like this…
- Cubs get: Jake Peavy
- Padres get: Brett Anderson, Felix Pie, Sean Marshall, Rich Hill, Tony Thomas
- A’s get: Josh Vitters
Giants. They also have some pitching to spare. There is a big hole at third base, and an aquisition like Vitters should fill that hole in the long run. The Giants could send either Tim Alderson or Madison Bumgarner. The only problem with this is that both the Padres and the Giants are in the same division. I don’t think the Giants would want to be trading one of their best prospects to a team in their division, and I also don’t think the Padres would want to help the Giants get Vitters. If a deal could be worked out, it would look like this…
- Cubs get: Jake Peavy
- Padres get: Tim Alderson or Madison Bumgarner, Felix Pie, Sean Marshall, Rich Hill, Tony Thomas
- Giants get: Josh Vitters
I doubt the Cubs are able to pull off a trade for Peavy, because even in these two instances, the Padres don’t get much. I find a trade with the Braves much more likely. If not to the Braves, he’ll stay put.
I know that the Padres really want to trade Jake Peavy, but there are no good suitors left. The Braves dropped out when free agency started, and the Cubs have many obstacles to overcome. They need to fit him into the payroll as well as get a solid package together. I really don’t see what the Cubs have to offer, to the Padres or to a different team in the event of a three-team trade. Lou Pinella says that they’re not interested, anyway.
The Braves still make the most sense. I know that Tommy Hanson and Jason Heyward are off limits, so the Padres will have to accept an offer centered around Yunel Escobar. Back in October, I thought that Tommy Hanson, Yunel Escobar, and Jordon Schafer would be an accpetable package. The Braves apparently thought that would be way too much. Their offer was Escobar, Gorkys Hernandez, Jo-Jo Reyes, and Charlie Morton. That’s not even close to what the Pads wanted. I don’t blame them for declining.
A lot of people think that Padres’ GM Kevin Towers screwed up the negotiations, but I think he was doing a very good job. This is not like the Johan Santana situation where you have to trade the player, even if you take a bad offer. They have Peavy under contract for 4 more years. If they can’t trade him now, deal him at this year’s trade deadline. If you can’t trade him then, flip him next offseason. Continue until Peavy is gone. Unless the Braves come back with a much better offer than the one before, it looks like Peavy will be staying put.
I have a feeling that the Braves will come back, though. Whether they sign another top-of-the-rotation starter like Derek Lowe or AJ Burnett will make no difference. If they truly want to compete, they’ll need more than just Lowe or Burnett. Peavy plus a Lowe or Burnett would make them serious contenders for the NL East. They will probably pursue Peavy even harder if they miss out on Lowe or Burnett. I think a package of Yunel Escobar, Jordon Schafer, Jo-Jo Reyes, Charlie Morton, and Tyler Flowers would get it done. The Padres still get a very good deal, and the Braves are able to keep Tommy Hanson. This seems like a good compromise for both sides.
If the Braves are truly out of the picture, look for the Angels or Yankees to get involved. Whichever team that misses out on CC Sabathia could put in a huge bid. Could you imagine if the Angels signed Mark Teixera and added Jake Peavy? They would be unstopable. The Yanks could also use him, but the two teams might not be able to find a match with the prospects.
I really don’t know where Jake Peavy will end up. He might stay put, he might get traded to the Braves, and he might even go to a surprise team. I don’t know.
I haven’t done a player market in a while. Bobby Abreu seems like a pretty popular name so far. Let’s take a look at where he might end up.
Cubs (frontrunners) Now that Ryan Dempster is resigned and Kerry Wood won’t be back, the remainder of the Cubs’ money will go toward a left handed bat for right field. The Cubs are in a financial predicament, however. 130 million is already tied up in contracts, and arbitration raises could push them another 5 million or so. If it’s true that payroll won’t go past 140 million, then salary must be moved in order to aquire Abreu. Marquis could be traded. I think they’ll do that to clear at least 7 million, and then with the 12 million made available, they’ll sign Abreu. But that’s just my prediction.
Braves (frontrunners) If they miss out on other outfield possibilities, Abreu could make a lot of sense. It would give them the flexibility of demoting or trading Jeff Francoeur without having to put someone in right field that shouldn’t be there. He had very good stats last year, and would be an all around a great aquisition for any team to make.
Reds (frontrunners) He could solve their left field problems. Great American Ballpark should attract Abreu, and the Reds could use a high OBP player to replace Adam Dunn. If they can get a few big years from various young players, this team could compete for the Wild Card and maybe even the NL Central.
Mets (possible) The Mets have been saying all along that they view pitching as their offseason priorty. They would still be upgrading their pitching by signing Abreu, though. For example: The Mets trade Ryan Church to the Rays for Edwin Jackson, sign Francisco Rodriguez or Brian Fuentes, and sign Bobby Abreu. That all can fit into their payroll, and they improve the bullpen and offense while keeping the rotation the same. Abreu would take over in right field, replacing Ryan Church. I think this idea could work.
Rays (dark horse) I know that they’re running low on money, but if they want to stretch the payroll a tad, Bobby Abreu could make sense. He is a middle of the order bat that plays right field; Abreu would fill all of their holes in just one aquisition. This one is a dark horse only because of the possible salary it would take to lock him up.
The Cubs have resigned starting pitcher Ryan Dempster for 4 years and 52 million. Sorry I didn’t post about it earlier; I was busy yesterday. Solid move for the Cubs. This is about the amount I figured he would get. Demp getting 14, 15, 16, 17 million per year would be kind of stupid since he had only one great year. Still, the 52 million is only 12 million more than what Kyle Lohse got, even though Dempster has much more upside. The Cardinals expect Lohse to be a guy with an ERA around 4.00 every year. Dempster could do what he did last year, or worst case scenerio he is a guy with an ERA in the 3.75 to 4.00 range. This was overall just a good move for the Cubs as they bring back a clubhouse leader, and a big part of their team for a fair if not below market price. Now that his contract is in the books, the Cubs will focus only on a right fielder. Bobby Abreu remains the most likely target, but infielders Rafael Furcal and Brian Roberts remain possibilities. In these cases Mark DeRosa would move to right field and Ryan Theriot might move to second base. Neither aquisition seems likely, though, because the Cubs are running short on money and prospects. If Abreu cannot be signed, Raul Ibanez could become the backup plan. They would have to be willing to sacrifice a lot of defense, though. I think that in the end, Abreu will be with the Cubs and they will be even better than they were in 2008. Hopefully, next year is their year.
The Braves have 45 million to spend in an attempt to fix the team that won only a mere 72 games last year. Their main needs: starting pitching and outfield help. Earlier, I wrote that the Braves are out of the Jake Peavy market. Since that is over, I expect them to look toward free agency to fill their holes. They won’t go after CC Sabathia, but Derek Lowe, Ryan Dempster, and AJ Burnett are good options. Bigger market teams like the Yankees, Mets, Red Sox, and Cubs will be in on these guys, but the Braves can spend more than all of them. (if the Yankees sign Sabathia first) They might even decide to pursue two of the three. The goal here seems to be respectable in ’09, but truly competing for a world series in ’10. Both Burnett and Lowe will probably get deals in the 4 year, 64 million range. Burnett already has an offer; the Blue Jays want him back for 4 years, 54 million. That won’t get it done. Dempster seems likely to stick with the Cubs, but then again I’m not sure if they’ll go all in. If the Braves offered 64 million, they’d probably get him. The Cubs don’t feel they have to overpay because they don’t have as big of a need at starting pitcher. In the end, I think Dempster gets a bigger offer but accepts the Cubs’ cheaper one. The Yankees could go crazy and offer Burnett up to 5 years, 80 million. They would definatly get him for that amount. Lowe is more likely, because the Yanks will be out of the bidding by then. The Red Sox might be tough to compete against because they are Lowe’s prefered destination. Hopefully for the Braves sake, the Red Sox don’t get involved. If the Mets sign Francisco Rodriguez, they won’t be able to offer the amount other teams could. They aren’t that big of a factor. The Braves could just pursue a cheaper free agent if they can’t get two top-of-the-rotation starters. Jon Garland is an option; so is Oliver Perez.
If the Braves don’t add two starters, they could turn to outfield help. Pat Burrell is an option if they can afford him. Raul Ibanez might make more sense. If they really want to spend, Adam Dunn is possible. Bobby Abreu might be looked into. Through trade, Jermane Dye and Magglio Ordonez are options if they are avialable. Overall, it looks like the Braves will be a solid team next year, but 2010 is the time where they will be really good because their prospects will be in the majors, and Tim Hudson would be back from injury.