Cubs Prospects looking better as Team Theo accumulates long term assets

Cubs Prospects looking better as Team Theo accumulates long term assets

When Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer first took over the Cubs, the plan was to accumulate long term assets.   A big part of the strategy was to continue to invest heavily in amateur talent both here and abroad.  Unfortunately the new CBA put the kibosh on that plan.  Undeterred, the Cubs front office made a new plan -- to turn short term assets into long term ones.  The results have been great as the Cubs have acquired young, cost-controlled talent for the immediate future while also giving the farm system a boost for 2-4 years down the road.

The Cubs have accumulated the following assets since the arrival of Epstein and Hoyer

Ian Stewart, 27, starting 3B

Casey Weathers, 26, RP prospect

Lendy Castillo, 22, RP prospect

Jeff Bianchi, 25, IF prospect

Travis Wood, 25, LH Starting Pitcher

Dave Sappelt, 25, OF prospect

Ronald Torreyes, 19, 2B prospect

Chris Volstad, 25, RH Starting Pitcher

Anthony Rizzo, 22, 1B prospect

Zach Cates, 22, SP prospect

2 supplemental 1st round picks in the 2012 draft

All players are 27 or younger.  All are cost-controlled.  All are either current or former top 20 prospects with the exception of Lendy Castillo, who was a Rule 5 draft pick.

Here's the crazy part, though: the Cubs have given up one player who figured to play an important role beyond 2012: Andrew Cashner.  Many of the others (Aramis Ramirez, Carlos Pena, Sean Marshall, Carlos Zambrano) figured to leave as free agents after either 2011 or 2012.  Tyler Colvin and DJ LeMahieu were projected as reserves at best by the new regime.

And it's not over yet.  The front office figures to cash in on Alfonso Soriano, Marlon Byrd, and possibly Matt Garza before the season starts, while Ryan Dempster, Carlos Marmol, and Geovanny Soto are possible candidates to be traded before the deadline.

As it is, the Cubs have already filled some gaps in the organization and have legitimate young prospects or players at just about every position on the field, although they still need to accumulate pitching depth.

C: Welington Castillo, 24

1B: Anthony Rizzo, 22

2B: Ronald Torreyes, 19

SS: Starlin Castro, 21

3B: Javier Baez, 19

LF: Brett Jackson, 23

CF: Matt Szczur, 22

RF: I think Jorge Soler, 19, would fit in nicely here, don't you?

At some point I want to re-write my Cubs prospect list because a lot of things have changed.  Junior Lake's AZ Fall League performance was a pleasant surprise after he struggled with a AA call-up and  the Cubs have  acquired 4-5 more prospects since the new front office took over.  The thing is, there may well be more changes before spring training starts and any prospects acquired in a potential Garza trade have the potential to top this list.  In the meantime, check out this prospect list by John Sickels, as it's a pretty good one, in my opinion.

While I don't want to write off 2012 for he Cubs yet because we should see a team that plays better defense, gets on base more often, runs the bases better, and pitches more efficiently.  When you do that you can stay in a lot more ballgames and anything can happen.  But the real excitement begins beyond 2012 when we will start to see more of the young talent start to emerge.  It's possible 5 of the players listed above could be in the Cubs lineup by 2013.  The Cubs once bleak future continues to look better all the time.


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  • And with that pleasant thought: Bedtime.
    Enjoy your dreams of Rizzo bombs blasted onto Sheffield, everyone.

  • This does not include the 2 players from Cuba and the 1 from the
    Mexican league they just signed. Don't know if they are any good, but it adds more players to the system. If we could trade 1-3 players
    for prospects and sign 1 Cuban prospect ,the farm system should
    supply us players for many years to come.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    I don't consider them advanced enough to put them on any prospect list yet. I also suspect that was probably more the work of Fleita and his people more than Theo and Jed. I always feel a bit like I'm jumping the gun even when I put Candelario on prospect lists.

  • dont forget we have 4 picks in the top 75 in this years upcoming draft and we have several candidates who could be involved in deadline deals; soto, dempster, byrd, wells. things are lookin pretty bright, lets just get through 2012 playing respectable baseball.

  • In reply to jshmoran:

    Yes! I'm really looking forward to this draft because it's been awhile since we had multiple top picks like that -- and also because we have McLeod heading things as well as still having Wilken there.

  • If Ian Stewart turns out, he could become a part of our long term plans. Most solid 2nd base prospects are in the lower parts of the system, so it wouldn't be a bad idea to move him over there. Especially if Vitters, Lake, or even Marquez Smith becomes MLB ready this coming year.

  • In reply to elusivekarp:

    That's true. Stewart was once a pretty highly regarded prospect himself. If he puts it together, there's no reason he can't be the answer for the next 5-6 years. I'm not sure he can still play 2nd, though. He was never really that good there to begin with and he's had more time removed from regular play there.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    In a way you just contradicted yourself. If Stewart can't play 2nd, then there is no room for him on the team after this year. At least that's the case if all of our 3rd base prospects develop at the rate we expect them to. Stewart's value to the team then becomes what we are able to get for him at the deadline. No reason in keeping him if he can't slide over to 2nd.

  • In reply to elusivekarp:

    I'm not so sure Lake or Vitters will the Cubs 3rd baseman of the future. I think that's going to be Javier Baez, and he's at least 4 years away -- but there's no guarantee that happens either.

    If Stewart plays up to his potential, it's going to be tough for Vitters or Lake to take his job even if they do play well. Whatever the case, the Cubs have some talent and depth at 3B. That increases the likelihood that one of them will pan out as a long term answer.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I seem to be talking a little more short term. If Vitters or Lake are playing well, and so is Stewart, then Stewart will be the one to go. I don't doubt that Baez is talented, but I tend to wait until players reach Daytona to consider them for anything. Right now it's a bit premature to call him the future. If he makes it to the big leagues, Baez will have to learn on the job. The Cubs will most likely be in contention by the time any of the 2011 draft picks make it to the show. It would be nice to have some sort of experience in Vitters or Lake before then in case he doesn't turn out.

    Sorry about this. I tend to agree with most of the things you say. I just enjoy being the devil's advocate.

  • In reply to elusivekarp:

    I don't mind that at all. No need to apologize. And I do agree that if Vitters or Lake perform to their potential they'll make Stewart expendable. I'm not as confident right now with those two guys as you are at this point. I'm encouraged by Lake's progress, but both need to show a better approach at the plate if they're going to hit MLB pitching consistently.

  • I hope the Cubs get a top arm with the 6th pick in the draft this year. I think the position players are becoming a strength, but we can really use a high end, top of the rotation type of pitcher coming up through our system.

  • In reply to Alex:

    I agree. The Cubs strength is position players, which maybe not so coincidentally was Theo's strength in Boston as well. I'm interested to see how they draft and develop pitchers over the next couple of years.

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    I got a feeling Stewarts gonna rake with the Cubs...I liked him a few years ago the guy needs to get healthy and play regularly....I almost crashed my truck when I heard the Cubs got Rizzo...Awesome pickup and I hate to see Cashner go but durability issues scared the shit out of me with him..

  • In reply to Luigi Ziccarelli:

    When I first heard it, I cringed at trading Cashner who was the only guy with a chance to be a front line starter along with Garza...albeit that was a small chance and because of the inning factor, probably couldn't have happened until about 2014. A lot of divided opinion among scouts. Some think he's a reliever because of his durability issues and if that's the case, then I'm okay with the deal. And yeah, we don't have to worry every time he takes the mound!

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    It was a mistake to put Cashner in the bullpen in the first place. His changeup was too good to waste.

  • In reply to elusivekarp:

    He certainly has the pitches to be a starter, the question with him is so-so command and durability issues. Those two issues may be enough to keep him as a reliever, and a very good one.

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    John, does the Rizzo deal pretty much seal the deal that when the Cubs deal Garza they'll just want arms back instead of position plaers??

  • In reply to Luigi Ziccarelli:

    I was wondering the same thing, but since McNutt is the only potential top of the rotation starter in the upper levels of the Cubs system, especailly now that Cashner has been dealt, you would have to think that the rotation, and with that upper level rotation prospects, is going to become the area of biggest focus.

  • In reply to Luigi Ziccarelli:

    I think so. He's going to want at least 2 arms because they do want to increase that asset and they'll obviously be losing one when they deal Garza. I'm guessing the Cubs get 3 players if it's just Garza alone and 4 if they add in a 2nd player. I'm guessing they'll get 2-3 pitchers in return.

  • Did any of you guys read Olney's piece today? It contained some anonymous scout's quotes that exhibited concern over Rizzo's bat speed during his big-league call-up. Hopefully, it's nothing to worry about.

    On an unrelated note, do you guys assume that Shark is penciled in for pen today, possibly a grooming for closer.

  • In reply to Carl9730:

    I may be wrong, but with the lack of quality rotation arms the Cubs currently have, I would think that Shark gets his shot at the rotation first. The Cubs have Carpenter and Dolis who can, potentially, both be shut down closers, while Shark tries his hand as a starter.

  • In reply to Carl9730:

    I think some were saying it only happened when he got to Petco because of the distance in RF. He was there to provide power and Petco sucks it out of LH hitters. He tried to do too much. That's ultimately why the Padres traded him and went with the more gap-power oriented Alonso, even though most scouts seem to think Rizzo is the better player. The thought is that he'll go back to his all-fields approach once he doesn't feel the need to provide power at Petco.

  • In reply to Carl9730:

    As for Shark, I think the plan today is to put him in the pen. Not to say that can't change depending on whether the Cubs are able to obtain another starter or two, but I think the preference right now is to keep him in the pen.

  • In reply to Carl9730:

    The Padres brought up Rizzo last year before he was ready. Hoyer has admitted as much.

    Rizzo opened up his swing and overcompensated for the cavernous Petco Park (especially for LH hitters).

    I'm amazed at how some people are turning off to Rizzo because of a poor showing in a small sample size last season.

    If that were the logic, then Jacob Turner will sink like a stone in the Top 100 Prospects List for 2012.

    In 3 starts, Turner had:
    - an 0-1 record - 17 hits in 12.2 innings
    - an 8.53 ERA
    - an ERA+ of 49
    - a WHIP of 1.658

    There's more, but I think I've made my point. No one is going to look at Turner as a bust, just because of a small sample size. They should also give Rizzo that same benefit.

  • In reply to Alex:

    Those 3 starts were when Detroit called Turner up last season. Sorry for not making that clear in my previous post.

  • Capo, I hope you're right. I'd love to give Shark a shot in the rotation. as he think he has a dell enough repertoire if not the command. IMO, it's worth a shot, given the lack of high-ceiling SP options.

    Another scenario is that he's moved as part of another deal. Jedstein seems to be showing no sentimentality towards the prized pupils of the last regime. They've also showed a fondness for moving pen arms for SP prospects. Who knows? Thats half the fun of watching these guys operate. Unlike Hendry , you never know what's next.

  • In reply to Carl9730:

    I could see him moved a a part of another deal. He really made a lot of progress last year, so he might net a nice piece or two towards the rebuild.
    One arm I wouldn't be surprised to see moved would be Randy Wells. With how much he struggled last year, I don't think that Theo/Jed would be hesitant to move him if they thought they could get a useable piece in return.

  • In reply to supercapo:

    Don't forget that this is his 1st yr arb eligible. What he gets in arbitration may weigh heavily in the decision to keep or move him.

  • From what I've read/heard, coachability is the least of Rizzo's problems. That surely bodes well for making the requisite adjustments. Do you guys get the sense he'll be platooned , at least early in his career?

  • In reply to Carl9730:

    The Cubs indicated they are willing to endure some growing pains so I don't think he'll be in a straight platoon. They'll want him to progress toward being an everyday player. What I can see is sitting him down against some of the tougher lefties early in his career.

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    john, i seen something about kerry wood talking to multiple teams and that a deal with the cubs is a long way from done what the scoop on that

  • In reply to Bryan Bell:

    My feeling, Bryan, is that he's coming back to the Cubs. It's just a matter of managing the roster space right now. Cubs have a full roster and need to make more moves. Agent may be looking to gauge market value, but I don't think he's going anywhere.

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    I like the article. A lot of good information on the current squad.
    I really have a hard time understanding what metrics they are using in their assessments. I am a typical Cub fan which is use to smoke and mirrors and a huge free agent signing that sparks false enthusiasm. This is different. I am behind the curve in my judgement of the deals. But I must remember this Theo has developed Kevin Yokulius, Manny Delcarmen, Jonathon Papelbon, Hanley Rameriz, Anibal Sanchez, Dustin Pedoria, Jon Lester, David Murphy, Clay Bucholz, Jacoby Ellsbury, Justin Masterson, Jed Lowrie, Daniel Bard, and Josh Reddick. Forgive me when I doubt. From a former Catholic.

  • In reply to John from Denmark:

    Thanks John. I talked a little bit about the metrics the Cubs probably liked on three of the pitchers here if you haven't read it...

    Doubt is always a good thing. I try to reserve some skepticism in my analysis, but you can't argue too much with the reasoning behind what Theo/Jed is doing. Whether it pans out is a different story, but I do like the thought process.

  • I hope the plan isto receive pitchers in trades and use the some of
    our top picks in the draft on pitching. Also sign a international Cuban player

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    I think the Cubs preference right now is to acquire SPs for both the short and long term.

  • Love the Rizzo kid. Talking about Petco and left handed power hitters, did you know that Adrian Gonzalez in his last year with the Padres, did not hit one homerun after 7 oclock in that stadium. Rizzo will be hitting bombs to all fields for years to come at Wrigley.

  • Interesting stat, Cubbie Ron. I didn't know that.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Actually John - I vaguely remember hearing that from BB ... well known that Petco is a tomb ... but it's much worse at night (much like old Candlestick).

    Good luck to Alonso ...

  • In reply to MoneyBoy:

    I must have missed that one. As for Alonso, he's not really a HR hitter so he'll be okay. Could see him at best being a Mark Grace type doubles hitter but without the superior defense.

  • kind of random but something to think about in terms of the trade deadline this year: usually there are 4 playoff teams in each league, equalling a total of 8 teams that eventually end up contenders. then u add in the 3 or 4 other teams that are in the race until the final weeks/days of the season, so by the trade deadline you presumably have about 12 teams in a normal year trying to make trades to sure up their lineups and improve their chances at winning it all. this year (and in 2013 for sure) they might expand the playoffs to include 2 wild cards in each league totalling for 10 playoff teams. this means that more teams will become involved at the trade deadline, because there will be an additional 5-6 teams who think they have at least a shot at that second wildcard spot. these 15 teams represent HALF of major league baseball, meaning that for a team like the cubs who doesnt plan on contending there could be a lot of suitors for certain players at the deadline. a player like soto or dempster (maybe even garza) could really shake things up for a team in contention and several teams are likely to be in on them therefore raising the price on them significantly. i know that the whole draft pick compensation issue has changed if your traded mid season, but that wouldnt matter for a guys like soto, wells, garza, etc. basically the point im trying to get across here is that if the mlb changes the playoff format (which selig very much wants to do) then it could greatly benefit the cubs and trading a guy like marlon byrd now just to get something for him could come back to haunt us at the deadline when 5 possible suitors could be in need of a low salary, good defensive cf, with great clubhouse presence.

  • In reply to jshmoran:

    Excellent point. I hadn't really thought of that but it makes a lot of sense. More teams in the mix come playoff time is bound to help the Cubs come deadline time.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Another thought along those lines - teams may be less likely to take rent a players as they won't (in nearly all cases) get compensation due to the new CBA. May take a couple of years to see how that change, and the new WC team, impact the July 31 date.

  • In reply to MoneyBoy:

    True. The only player that becomes a FA for the Cubs that could be on the block is Ryan Dempster, though, and nobody is going to offer him the 125% raise required to keep him there anyway, so it's a moot point with him. The other possible trades: Marmol and Soto won't be FAs next year so they'll be eligible for comp if teams are willing to offer them that kind of raise.

  • In reply to MoneyBoy:

    i completely agree with you about rent-a-players, most wont be as heavily coveted due to the compensation issue, but there also will be more teams involved in these players so i think that should even out what the eventual return is. plus if a team that is going for it now has a "need" they will probably give up more than necessary to insure they get the guy that they want.

    also in terms of players like garza, soto, or anyone else with multiple arb years left, teams might want to extend and trade for players like that. for example lets say soto starts the year off with 15 homers and 40-50 rbi's in mid-late july several teams with catching needs (and those always exist) will be in on him and might possibly want to extend and trade for him upping his value even more.

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    In reply to jshmoran:

    More teams in the playoff hunt also mean less players available, so for the next few seasons the Cubs could benefit from this (but it will hurt teams in the race who either have to potentially overpay for last minute additions or just not make a deal).

  • It looks like the Angels need some bullpen help. Any chance the Cubs pull off a trade and snag Trumbo in a deal and keep Rizzo in the minors until he's really ready?

  • In reply to lokeey:

    No chance, imo. LaHair is the placeholder for Trumbo. There's no need to give up value for a stopgap when you have a cheap one in house. And I can't emphasize enough how much I believe fans won't like Trumbo as much once they see him everyday. He's every bit the free-swinger that Soriano is, maybe even worse.

  • In reply to lokeey:

    LaHair is the starting 1st baseman. Period. He deserves a chance at this point. And Trumbo is just a bad idea waiting to happen. His on base percentage is terrible. The only thing he can do is hit homers. There's no value in Trumbo in terms of plate discipline, defense, or money that we don't get with LaHair.

  • "The acquisition of Anthony Rizzo changes nothing for the Cubs and their pursuit of Prince Fielder. Olney calls it an "apples and oranges" situation given the price tag of the two players. The Cubs' brass has been acting with zero urgency in talks with Fielder, and they've always been leery about giving him a long-term deal."

  • In reply to lokeey:

    These Prince rumors die hard. I've tried to debunk them a couple of times but they're kind of like Michael Myers from Halloween.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    LOL!!! Yes. They certainly do. I just think it's interesting that they continue to pop up, even after the Rizzo trade. It's ridiculous.

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    Consider the source....Buster Olney is crap!!! Almost as bad a Jon Heyman in my book

  • In reply to Luigi Ziccarelli:

    My guess is that Boras gave him that information. Not a good thing if his client starts to lose suitors -- even if one of them, the Cubs, was never really that serious to begin with.

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    Guys i'm telling one has really speculated anything on Garza since the Z deal..I bet Theo and Co are getting closer to pulling a deal off there..Just a hunch but some young arms could really jump start this thing..I live in Phoenix so i'm going to Fitch Park that first weekend after pitchers and catchers report to check it out..I'm so pumped!!!!

  • In reply to Luigi Ziccarelli:

    Things always do seem to happen when the rumors start to die down, don't they?

  • Boras reminds me of marketing people who try to create a
    market where is not one. I like what Theo/Jed are doing.
    Just pick up a piece here and there until the puzzle is put

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    That's pretty much what he does. He's also very good at it. Glad Theo doesn't buy it.

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    John, your totally right..Look at the Marshall deal, just a few days prior to it, Theo (straegically) called him the "best lefty reliever" in the game...He was talking about Z being welcomed back with Kap and a few hours later he was gone to the Marlins...The Rizzo rumors have beeen going on since the the day of the Latos deal 3 weeks ago and the other day he said the Marmol was the closer...I bet he'll be gone next and now that the Garza rumors have quieted down..expect a move especially before the convention

  • In reply to Luigi Ziccarelli:

    Well John....doesn't your wife have some place to take you...away from the ol'computer

  • In reply to Hubbs16:

    She just sent me off to get some drinks for company tonight...disappointed to find nothing happened when I got back ;)

  • In reply to Luigi Ziccarelli:

    They're sort of sly that way. Much different than Hendry was.

  • Since he seems to be on a roll, I hope Carlos, and or, Garza
    are traded by next week before the Convention

  • Cubs Remaining Agenda, 2012 Offseason:
    -Trade Alfonso Soriano
    -Trade Matt Garza (as long as we get Jacob Turner and more)
    -Trade Marlon Byrd
    -Resign Kerry Wood
    -Get more cheap pitching (We still talking to Paul Maholm?)
    -Decide future role of Jeff Samardjiza
    -Sign at least one Cuban (Cespedes, Soler, Concepcion)
    -Compensation for BoSox, Padres
    -Ask around about Randy Wells
    -Arbitration for 7 players

    Am I missing anything?

  • In reply to elusivekarp:

    That sounds about right.

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    I was thinking about what the lineup would look like if Soriano and Byrd were traded, and Jackson and Rizzo broke camp with the team. See what you think.

    Cf Jackson L
    Ss Castro R
    Lf LaHair L
    1b Rizzo L
    Ca Soto R
    3b Stewart L
    Rf DeJesus L
    2b Barney R

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    That could well be the lineup by midseason. Never thought I'd see the Cubs more lefties than rightes in the lineup.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    I wouldn't mind seeing that lineup next year. It has a nice mixture of speed and power. It might perform better than any of us expected, when we heard the brain trust start discussing a rebuilding process.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Mike....Gr8 lineup! I would just try to improve on 2B. :)

  • i myself couldnt be happier about aquiring Rizzo . I hate losing Cash but He projected to a late inning guy to me and We need Corner infielders and starting pitching the most . Rizzo will suceed.

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    As I pointed out before the trade, the Cubs had no depth at 1B, but Rizzo is a huge shot in the arm for that. You have LaHair and then Rizzo, then it goes down to the young 1B like Vogelbach, Shoulders, Gretzky. But having a 22 year old top prospect behind LaHair makes a big difference.

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    I kinda think that the Garza situation has been put on the back burner for now and is awaiting suitors to come to the Cubs. By letting everyone know that he's available, it has lessened the return.

    Wait until spring training when suddenly teams have injuries or until the trade deadline.

    IMO, the next move on Garza should be an extension to maximize his value, hence increasing the return in any trade. (if one should happen)

  • In reply to Henry Wilfong:

    I agree with what you say about the timing of a Garza trade, but do you think that would increase his value? That might be best to leave up to the team that would aquire him. Also, i'm not sure he would agree to sign an extension with such uncertainty.

  • In reply to Henry Wilfong:

    My guess is that with Garza, the Cubs have let the price be known and now they're just going to wait for a team to come to them. They're not going to be knocking on any doors to trade him because as you implied, that would lessen his value.

  • John, I saw Sickels has newly aquired Zach Cates as the #4 starter in the organization. That makes this trade a lot more interesting to me. I'd love to see you do a write up on Cates soon.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    I may do something like that. I haven't decided how I want to write up the Cubs new prospects yet.

  • Can't wait for the draft, I know it's early, but here's a good mock:

    And I saw on the Tribune's sight, 93% of readers agree with a full blown youth movement.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Way early on a draft because things can really change from here until June but it is still fun to speculate on who might be available. I think Cubs will strongly consider college players in the first round, though, now that McLeod is here.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Totally agree. Need some prospects that will have the ability to move up quicker than high school prospects.

  • In reply to HankW:

    It's the safer route too. Wilken favored high school, high ceiling, high risk guys in the first round but McLeod has traditionally favored college players. If it's close between a high school guy and a college guy, I think the Cubs will go the college route.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    It's just fun to look at some names. I really can't wait to see what McLeod can bring in.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Agreed. I'll definitely look at some guys as the season moves on.

  • Not to cry over spilt milk but it still irks me that Aram refused to waive his no-trade last yr. I'm guessing we could've received CLOSE to the return NYM netted for Beltran(Wheeler). I realize we'll get the comp pick but we probably would've done better via a trade. Enough with that, onward & upward

  • In reply to Carl9730:

    I feel a lot of disappointment in him including your example.

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    In reply to Hubbs16:

    Well guys have the right to hold on to their no-trades. I can't get angry at ARam over not wanting to relocate mid-season. It's his call. I wish he had, as we would have gotten a decent return, but you can't fault the guy for using something he'd earned.

  • In reply to Kevin Heckman:

    Good point. The NTC was obviously important for A-Ram and it's his right to use it to his advantage.

  • In reply to Carl9730:

    Agreed. Would much rather have gotten a major league ready prospect. On the other hand, considering it would have been Jim Hendry making the deal, are you really that upset? He didn't have a history of acquiring good young talent at the deadline and he basically gave Fukudome away for nothing -- no salary relief and a prospect who's so raw that he's a longshot to make it to AAA, much less the majors.

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