Scouts take on available Cubs

In continuation of my last post we further the conversation I had with a trusted scout. We talked about the Cubs players that may be of interest coming up at the trade deadline and in general his opinion on the roster.

Here are some of this thoughts on the Cubs roster;

Bryan LaHair

When I asked if the league had caught up to the Cubs first baseman he said his main concern was that he couldn’t hit left handed pitching. He also was in agreement the Cubs could be protecting his value by not having him face any lefties of late.

Overall he says LaHair should garner some value for a team looking for some LH pop whether it be for a DH or 1B.

Carlos Marmol

He believes someone would take a flyer on Marmol just because of the power arm he could supply at the end of a bullpen. However, he says he could never recommend Marmol to his club due to his control issues.

“My GM would kill me,” he said.

Alfonso Soriano

He thought that there is still enough pop left in his bat (proven of late) that a team would take him on as a DH, especially against LHP.

He says Sori’s legs have been an issue over the last 2 seasons and he just can’t play the outfield anymore, though he was surprised no one ever tried him at first base. Of course he says Cubs would have to eat virtually everything left on his deal to have any chance to move him.

Matt Garza

He agrees with what John and I have been hearing all along. The Cubs have been seeking a #1 package in return for what most clubs view as a “strong 2” in his opinion. He says he would advise the Cubs front office that they keep him.

“He is young enough to build around” he says.

Jeff Samardzija

Now here was the most surprising opinion, though he stressed it was just his take. He thinks Shark is a #3 at best, and probably would still be better off as a closer with his stuff.

“He still makes too many mistakes and doesn’t trust his fastball”.

He then added that Samardzija could capitalize on his harder stuff in a closer role.

“He relies too much on his secondary stuff; I’d like to see more of the 96-97”.

Ultimately he just would like to see the Cubs not bounce him back and forth and compared Shark to Daniel Bard of Boston.

As far as the rest of the team he says if the Cubs wanted to they could get something for Darwin Barney and Tony Campana. He thinks they both could be useful to a lot of clubs.

This speaks to what John has been saying about Barney. Other teams around the league seem to appreciate him more than Cubs fans do.

Lastly he did say he was not a fan of Steve Clevenger, though he didn’t say if that was just as a starting catcher.

So if the Cubs want to eat a ton of money they could probably find takers for Soriano and Marmol and they may or may not find enough to deal Garza.

All in all, the Cubs are motivated sellers and everyone except Starlin Castro and Samardzija have been made clear to clubs that they are available.



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  • My question is does Garza extra year of control (because most #1s arent deal until their finial yr of control) warrant a #1 package?

  • I think someone is going to cave, there are too many teams in the race. Someone is going to blink!

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    In reply to Tom Loxas:

    The question here isn't as much about which shop has the best merchandise as it is about who is the most likely to overpay to get what we have to trade.

  • I think that long time Cub fans will agree that trading Garza, and
    others, would be best for the long term plans of the team.
    Theo/Jed realize that it is going to longer for the Cubs to
    have a winning team. Between now and Aug. 1 is going to
    shape the team for its long term goals.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    To a point, Garza has more use to the Cubs than a so-so package of prospects.

  • I'm intrigued about the idea of making a package deal that includes a young(ish) cost controlled player such as Bryan LaHair. Tony Campana, or Darwin Barney in addition to the one of the pitchers. In both cases, it gives the other team a guaranteed player beyond the end of Demp or Garza contract

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I agree, Dempster also must go. Take time and just pick the best deals, but only if it make the team better in the long run. Then bring up Rizzo and Jackson.

  • Great stuff guys. What about Dempster? My opinion, if I was a gm, short term for this year in a tight pennant race, I think I might really want him over Garza. I know Garza has the extra year, but in terms of results for this year, Dempster is just locked in. He would help a team like the Yankees, Tigers, or the Blue Jays big time.
    What is hilarious is the team that really needs a Dempster or a Garza, is the Cardinals. The Card message boards are all abuzz about how they should trade the Cubs for one of them.
    I say Theo and Hoyer make a list of the top five St. Louis prospects, and say here is the list. Which one do you want? We want all of them. End of discussion.

  • Good question Cubbie, he hadn't seen Dempster yet this year, though he said he would get moved for sure.

  • Oh man...I agree. If you're going to trade with the Cards, they have to pay a huge premium!

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Cardinals actually have a good farm system, especially with high end up SP prospects. Unfortunately they are also too smart to give any of them up for Dempster. And trading them Garza would come back to bite the Cubs for a long time.

  • In reply to North Side Irish:

    They do. One of the most improved systems in the game. I'd only give them Dempster and only at a premium

  • I think it's important to put the trade-able players into two groups -- Can Go and Must Go.

    Can Go: Dempster, Garza, DeJesus, LaHair, Barney

    Must Go: Soriano, Marmol, Soto

    For the can-go players, we have to put a premium on what we'll take back, because they all have potential value for the Cubs going forward. Dempster leaving as a free agent could bring back a draft pick. Garza will still be a good pitcher when the Cubs have built a contender. DeJesus and LaHair are both good players who are young enough to still be good in 2014 and who aren't blocking a talented prospect (assuming LaHair can play LF). If other teams are too much in love with their own prospects to make a deal for any of these four PROVEN major league players, then hell with 'em.

    The must-go players are blocking prospects and everyone in baseball knows it, which is why we can't expect to get anything of value back. Basically, these are the out-of-fashion garments hanging on the clearance rack in the back of the store.

  • In reply to Taft:

    For the right key prospect(s) in a deal, they all should go.

  • In reply to Taft:

    I'd put Dempster in the must go category. Love the guy, but he's only signed through the end of the year and he's not part of long term plans.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    So losing Dempster as a free agent wouldn't qualify us for an extra draft pick?

    Because that's my point. I'd rather get a sandwich pick after Dempster departs than a poo-poo platter like we got for dealing Ted Lilly to the Dodgers.

  • In reply to Taft:

    You'd have to offer him arbitration, which he would surely take based on last year's salary and his great year this season. We won't get a draft pick unless Dempster/Cubs have handshake agreement to turn it down.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Another thing to remember with Dempster and offering arbitration is that the new CBA changed the parameters for who qualifies for compensation picks. Most players won't net picks anymore. Dempster might not even qualify for a pick if you offer him arbitration.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I see your point, but you have to get value for him and not just unload him. I'd be OK with making him the $12.5M arbitration offer and hoping for the compensation pick next year. Worst case is he accepts and you've got an all around solid guy on what is going to be another terrible team. You pay about $7M of his salary and trade him and next year's deadline.

    Obviously you run the risk of injury or a drop off in performance, but he is one of the Cub's only real chances to get extra picks. And if they are serious about building the farm system, you either need to trade him for someone worthwhile or take a shot at the extra pick next year.

  • In reply to North Side Irish:

    Value is at an all time high. They'll trade him and get better than sandwich pick value.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Yeah, I forgot about the need to offer arbitration in order to get a pick back. In that case, Dempster's in the Must Go category, and we should be able to get more than a sandwich pick in value. To avoid a Ted Lilly - lowball situation, though, we'll need multiple bidders. Ideally, there will still be a lot teams in contention come July, and we can play one team against another. For instance, I always like to hear that BOTH the Yankees and Red Sox are interested in a player, because those teams will over-bid just to screw over the other team.

  • In reply to Taft:

    That's what I dread as well. It appears none of the players the Cubs acquired for Lilly will be MLB players (except DeWitt, I suppose).

  • SP injuries will continue to happen. Someone in the hunt but not running away with a playoff spot (Phillies?) will get desparate and pay retail for Garza.

  • In reply to Eddie:

    Haven't thought of the Phillies as players, but it's plausible. That NL East is going to be tough all year.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I would be shocked if the Phillies add anything. They're far more likely to start breaking that team up. It's an old, slow, injury riddled team, and they lost their starting 2b for the year with a back fracture the other day. Utley and Howard haven't played a game all year. Halladay is likely out until around the trade deadline.

  • In reply to Just Win:

    It's been a disastrous year for them. If I were them, I wouldn't try and make a big trade to salvage the season, but maybe they think they can take one more shot.

  • Perhaps instead of extorting teams with money for their top prospects we could get salary help by packaging Soriano or Marmol with Dempster or Garza. The savings could go to draft picks, free agents, Soler, etc.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    That's another option.

  • Great article as usual, Tom.

    I wouldn't give away anyone (other than Soriano and Marmol, obviously). The extra wild card in each league should mean that an extra 5-6 teams will be in contention on August 1st, which should help raise the price for a Garza or Dempster. Hell, the Cubs might not even have to eat all of Soriano's contract if he keeps hitting the long-ball for another month or so.

  • In reply to Don Ellis:

    Thanks Don! Yeah I really think this new WC system is going to be a boon for sellers, and yeah if Sori keeps this up he has to be worth maybe $5 mil to someone??

  • With regard to PHI , I'd love to pick up Dom Brown on the cheap. I know we should focus on arms in any deal but he still retains upside and appears to have fallen out of favor there. Amaro has to go all in, no? Demp for Brown?

  • In reply to Carl9730:

    Interesting. That's definitely worth considering. I'm a little worried on Brown, though, maybe expand the deal and get an arm too.

  • I feel like Brown might be like Cameron Maybin a couple yrs back- talented guy who needs a change of scenery.

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    In reply to Carl9730:

    Agreed I made the same suggestion a couple articles back on future right field options should we not land Soler. Brown seems like a good fit and needs a change.

  • Any reaction to what he says about Shark? It looks pretty on after that last ugly start, and I think it's interesting they like Barney. Maybe the Cubs package him like John suggested, he's not necessarily their kind of player.

  • I'm a bit more bullish in Shark. It sounds like his gripes are more about pitch selection , than anything else. At this point , what does it take to get Garza inked for 4-5 yrs?

  • In reply to Carl9730:

    Pitch selection and approach means a lot though. It turned Garza around last year. Not that he was bad, but he wasn't utilizing his stuff as well as he should have.

  • No offense John and Tom, but everything the scout said is pretty generic 'ho-hum' stuff. I don't really like when scouts talk about players on big-league clubs. "He's a real gamer, gritty, has a lot of hustle and heart, wants it more than the others, is worried about how he'll hit against left-handed pitchers* (if batting left-handed), elevates his fastball too much, etc." Yada yada yada. They all talk in generic scout speak.

    I value what scouts say about minor league prospects because I don't get to watch them except occasionally on video. On a big league ballclub I can watch the players myself and make my own judgements. I disagree about LaHair hitting against left-handed pitchers. I think he can do it just fine, albeit not as well as he hits right-handed pitchers. I also disagree about his judgement on Samardzija. Samardzija has been great this year (except for yesterday) and is pitching like a #2 pitcher, and his value would be greatly diminished if he became a closer IMO.

    Listen, I like scouts, but no offense, what kind of scout is this? Does he understand modern baseball metrics and stats? Or is he a crusty, old-fashioned idiot like G. Hughes and other scouts mentioned in Moneyball? I don't trust most individual scouts because they only see a player a few games a year and have to make judgments based on those few games they saw. I like the J. Sickels, J. Callises and K. Laws of the baseball world who talk to multiple scouts and sources for their reports so they can make the most informed opinions on these players.

    Multiple scouts/sources = good info on players, one scout/source = ehh, I don't know.

    Just my two cents....

  • In reply to I miss Ron Santo:

    I know baseball pretty well, but I am not to dismiss what one of the best scouts in the game sees. All scouts are professionals who are trained to look for certain qualities and processes in a player. The average fan and some evaluators look at results.

    Not to pick on Sickels here. But does he really talk to a lot of scouts? He probably does, but everything I read on the players he likes always, always has to do with their minor league stats. I've never seen him evaluate a player based on his ability, it's always been a reaction to the numbers he puts up. Although many of the numbers he uses are predictive, its still only half the story when you're talking about younger players who are still developing, maybe not even half with the guys below AA ball. I pay more attention to his stuff on the AA and AAA guys, but by then, everyone else already knows about them. I'd certainly trust a good, historically successful scout's opinion over someone like Sickels -- For me, it's not even close -and that's not meant as a slight on Sickels at all. If you knew some of the top quality MLB players this scout has recommended and/or signed, you would be mistaken to judge him on whether or not he uses modern numbers. The bottom line is that this guy has recognized and brought a ton of the talent into the game. I'm not about to quibble about how he does it or what method he uses.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I also kind of disagree on the ho hum stuff a bit. He told us Garza should be kept instead of dealing him for #2 package and he isn't a huge fan of Shark and he thinks Castro should turn out to be a Jeter like SS. Hope it didn't bore everyone.

  • In reply to I miss Ron Santo:

    We get to talk to some pretty knowledgeable people in the game and this guy is one of the best, and is a right handed guy to a well respected GM. Now that being said, we take anything a scout says with a grain of salt and he even said it expectedly his opinion on just seeing this team of late. Are we on the level yet of those guys you mentioned resource wise? Not yet my friend, but for a blog I think we bring you some pretty solid info if I don't say so myself. Your 2 cents are very appreciated either way.

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    I believe Dempster and Garza will both be traded. I also like the potential to sweeten deals for Dempster and Garza by packaging players like Barney, LaHair and DeJesus with them.

    One thing I do predict. If both Dempster and Garza are traded, the haul will massive in terms of both quantity and quality, The result is that the Cubs will suddenly have one of the very best farm systems in all of baseball.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Any trade of Garza would bring a haul. It's either that or he doesn't get traded, in my opinion.

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    I couldn't agree with you more Michael.. I don't think Demps value is ever gonna get any higher than this so how long before he gets moved??

  • Our prospects at the lower levels are pretty good, but if the Cubs are going to be worth following in 2014&15 they will need help now.

  • Jay Jaffe wrote an article on the Tigers the other day and said their 3 biggest weaknesses were DH, 2B & SP. Maybe the Cubs can try to deal Soriano, Barney & Dempster to the Tigers in return for Turner, a low level prospect with some upside and $5M in salary relief on Soriano's contract. Then trade Garza & LaHair to Toronto for Drabek, Syndergaard, Marsinik & Gose. If the Cubs can land Soler they'd have a helluva top 10 prospects list plus they can insert Drabek into the rotation right away.

  • In reply to Zorb:

    I think Detroit would be interested in all 3 of those guys. Would be a major blockbuster if they dealt them all at once.

    Those kind of deals would put the Cubs among the top systems in the game, though I think they'll focus on pitching rather than guys like Marsinik and Gose.

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