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Offseason Moves Series, Part 1: Addressing the Starting rotation

Offseason Moves Series, Part 1: Addressing the Starting rotation
Who will follow Samardzija in the Cubs rotation?

Co-written with John Arguello

This is the first in a five part series that Tom and I will do together on the Cubs offseason.  We’ll start with an obvious place they need to address: the starting pitching.  Last year the Cubs actually had some pretty strong pitching through July, but then Matt Garza got hurt while Ryan Dempster and Paul Maholm both got traded.  Later, the Cubs shut down Jeff Samardzija.  Only one of those guy, Samardzija, is certain to return next year and the only other Cub close to being assured of a rotation spot is LHP Travis Wood.

So how should the Cubs address that need next offseason?

Tom:  If I were the GM I’d doing pretty much what Jed Hoyer will do this offseason. That is  looking at every possible pitcher that won’t cost you more than a 3 year deal.

Edwin Jackson, Brandon McCarthy, and Ervin Santana (possible non-tender) would be at the top of my wish list. However, I think Jackson will get too much interest from some big market clubs this offseason.

Other names that would interest me are Anibal Sanchez, Kyle Loshe and Philp Hughes (always have had a thing for Hughes).

I would also be eagerly listening to any offers for useful pieces like Darwin Barney or James Russell if it meant getting controllable starting pitching in return.

If you were to add 2 legit starters you could actually have a competitive club entering next season and arm yourself with potential trade ammunition.

A rotation of Garza, Samardzija, Jackson/McCarthy and Santana would give the Cubs the kind of starting depth Hoyer seeks. It would also put guys like Travis Wood, Chris Volstad and some younger candidates a shot to be the fifth starter where they are more likely to thrive.

John: I think a great deal has to do with whether the Cubs decide to trade or keep Matt Garza.  If Garza were a free agent, he'd probably be exactly the kind of pitcher the Cubs would want to acquire.  He may even have topped their list.  If they can trade him and parlay him into a couple of good prospects, however, then I think the Cubs would need to pursue one of the better young free agents such as Edwin Jackson or Anibal Sanchez.  For this installment, I'm going to assume the Cubs keep Garza through opening day.

The trick is for the Cubs to acquire a good starting pitcher without vastly overpaying and that's what gives me pause about pursuing some of the top names.  Why should they go to the Cubs rather than a contender if the money is equal? That will eventually happen when the Cubs compete, but that isn't going to be in 2013.

I like the idea of pursuing a guy like Francisco Liriano because he's still young (29) and he has regained his old stuff (93 mph that reaches the mid 90s and a nasty slider that is his most effective out pitch), which some felt was top of the rotation quality.  He would also help balance out the lefty/righty rotation and give the Cubs a 3rd power pitcher.  If not, I like Brandon McCarthy, who I get the feeling will be pursued by several teams, and Ervin Santana.

The second guy is going to be more of an under-the-radar guy and three really stand out to me.  In fact, if the Cubs didn't get one of the bigger names, but keep Matt Garza, I'd still be pretty happy if they got 2 of the following 3 guys...

Scott Baker has been hurt all year except for one appearance in the minor leagues, but until last season he has been a steadily improving pitcher.  The problem is he blew out his UCL and, while he's expected to be healthy, we don't know how good he's going to be in 2013.  When he was healthy in 2011, Baker had a an excellent fastball (90-94 with good movement) and very good command.  His xFIP of 3.61 was better than any of the pitchers we've talked about so far.  There's some risk, but also some intriguing reward.  The injury means he'll probably come cheaper than this talent and past results would otherwise command on the open market.  If the Cubs acquire Baker, it would also be with the mindset of flipping him if he's healthy and effective, as he's already 31.

A lower risk option that I like is Scott Feldman.  It's not a sexy name and the results (6-11, 5.16 ERA) are not any prettier.  However, that's what makes him a cheap, under-the-radar guy.   You may get a a young arm (29) with relatively low mileage as compared to the others -- and who may wind up being every bit as effective as guys like Santana and McCarthy.    Feldman may have actually pitched better than he did in his 17-8 season in 2009. He was one of the unluckiest pitchers in baseball in 2012.  His xFIP of 3.87 is lower than any of the names I've mentioned except for Anibal Sanchez.

The last is Brian Matusz.  The Cubs showed some interest in Matusz, and a different Orioles pitcher, Chris Tillman, last season.   Tillman would have been a shrewd acquisition had they been able to acquire him.  He's been a big key for the Orioles down the stretch and will no longer be obtainable.  Matusz has played a lesser role and has been less effective, though he has rebounded somewhat from his disastrous 2011 campaign.  Like every other pitcher I've mentioned, his peripherals are better than his results, though in Matusz's case it's not by much (4.90 ERA, 4.58 FIP).  In this case, it's all about picking up a talented left-handed pitcher who will be just 26 next season and has seen an uptick in his stuff this year.  Maybe he breaks out the way Tillman did this season.  The Orioles are a win now team and they could be enticed to give him up for a steadier player with a lower ceiling, but who is more likely to help them win next year.  Last offseason, the Cubs made a similar trade with Sean Marshall and Travis Wood as the headliners, what about a deal centering around James Russell and Brian Matusz this offseason?  He's a risk, but Matusz would have a chance of being in the Cubs rotation for the long term if he takes another step next season.

Maybe a best case scenario for 2013 is this: Samardzija, Garza, Liriano, a healthy Baker, and Wood.  That would make the Cubs a tough team to face for NL hitters and possibly give them as many as three good trade chips at the all-star break.

If the Cubs find themselves on the outside looking in when it comes to free agent pitchers, it may look more like: Samardzija, Garza, Wood, Feldman, and Matusz.  Which to me is still a rotation you can compete with and perhaps pick up a long term piece in Matusz.

 

Filed under: 2013 Offseason Series

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    Good article guys! Lots of stuff to digest. Are there any other Volstad type projects out there, aside from Matusz, we should keep in mind who could be acquired cheaply in trade?

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Thanks Michael. I think I got carried away with my sleepers there -- but I think that's my favorite part, trying to find some diamonds in the rough. There are some reclamation projects out there, but Matusz stood out to me because the Cubs seem to have a good rapport with the Orioles, though they have yet to complete a deal for various reasons.

    The D'Backs are going to have a surplus of young pitching soon,so maybe you look there, but they won't be cheap. There is a guy like Jurrjens, who I'm not fond of but once was a top prospect and had a history of success. Maybe the Yanks give up on Joba and you start trying to make him as a starter, that is, if you think he's finally grown up. Maybe Wade Davis, who is too expensive for the role he plays but could use a change in scenery. Still has good stuff but I think he'd be a lot cheaper than what Tampa had asked for a couple of years ago.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I've mentioned Wade Davis as a guy who fits the mold to a tee of guys we should be trying to acquire at a bargain.

    I am intrigued at the possibility of getting Joba Chamberlain and making him a starter again Alexi Ogando-style. When he was starter he was really good but freak injuries won him the injury prone tag. The yanks have given up on him in the rotation so we could get him cheap.

  • It seems the assumption here is that Vizcaino will not be a candidate for the rotation.

  • In reply to JayPea:

    I'm really glad you asked that question. I wanted to write about it but it was getting long as it was, so here's my thought...

    If you get someone like Baker, Liriano, Santana, McCarthy, etc., you can flip those guys at the deadline. You could also conceivably still trade Garza. By that time you hope Vizcaino is fully healthy and ready to take starters innings.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Yeah, I don't think the FO will be in any hurry to rush Vizcaino, and to be honest, there is no real reason to.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Too much risk in comparison to the potential reward.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    If memory serves with Vizcaino, the Cubs are going to seriously limit his innings.

    To quote Sveum: “Definitely we’ll be babying him through everything. I’m sure his innings will be whatever next year – 100 innings – I don’t know the exact number we’re going to end up with. It’s not going to be a full, blow-out scale with him next year. He’s so young and everything you’re going to baby that situation as much as you can, and have him really, really ready for the next season.”

    As for free agency, the one guy that I think could be a solid fit who has really flown under the radar is Jeremy Guthrie. Sure, he's a bit more of a fly ball pitcher (which is why I knew in the winter his trade to Colorado was a recipe for disaster), but he's really found his stride since getting traded to the Royals. Sure, he's already going to be 34, but some guys just take that long to finally hit their stride. Sign and flip him at the deadline. There's always going to be Rusins and Raleys in the minors to fill out the rotation.

    For a long-term piece, Ervin Santana and Anibal Sanchez stand out to me the most. I like Brandon McCarthy a lot, but he's had a lot of injury concerns in the past, and you just don't know how he'll perform after having brain surgery. Odds are he resigns on a one-year deal on team-friendly terms with Oakland, at least that'd be how I see things.

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    In reply to Jim Weihofen:

    Exactly...which is why we can't really count Vizcaino in next year. He needs to get stretched out, and even so will be limited to 100 innings. So, next year is a building year for him. That slot needs to be filled with someone else.

  • In reply to Jim Weihofen:

    I think that quote by Sveum pretty much sums it up on VIzcaino.

    I agree that McCarthy has a good chance to re-up with the A's. But a lot of teams like him, so maybe his agent gets convinced to test the market. But even if that's the case, it probably means he'll cost more than the Cubs want to spend at this point

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I also think that makes it tough to go hard after someone like Baker unless it's a 2 year, incentive laden deal.

  • In reply to JayPea:

    I would like to not count on him at all other than maybe a half season or out of the pen. Maybe he is a lock for the 14 rotation?

  • Here are a few pitchers I like to see the Cubs go after in free agency....

    Carlos Villanueva
    Dan Haren
    Joe Saunders
    Kevin Correia

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    I like Villanueva and Haren. One thing about Haren too, is that while he's not the same kind of pitcher he once was, has the kind of name value that teams seem to seek at the trade deadline.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    Haren too old, Saunders too old , Correia too old and Villanueva is going to cost.

  • Is Brett Myers capable of starting again? If so, he could be a cheap alternative and he could go to the bullpen as well, if necessary

  • In reply to Cuyler:

    I'm sure he's capable and he'd probably like to do that. It's one way of enticing a free agent in ways outside of salary and years.

    One drawback I see is Myers checkered past and questions about his makeup. He doesn't seem like the kind of guy Theo and Jed have pursued in the past in that regard.

  • as far as buy low guys, i like mateuz and jurjens. both young and if they turn it around could be future pieces. in mateuz' case as long as we dont trade away something significant to get him id be okay with it. i like villanueva a lot, and i think marcum would be a good idea as long he isnt offered arb (although i think he'd accept so it probably wont happen). i feel both could be tradeable pieces at the deadline.

  • In reply to jshmoran:

    I like Matusz better but yeah, Jurrjens will be easier to get.

    Good point on Marcum. I guess if I were Marcum and was offered arb, I think I'd take it too. He's not going into FA with as high a value as he'd like. If he stays healthy it could mean a lot more money for him in 2014.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I think Jusin Germano has better stuff than Jair Jurrjens....I'd stay far away from him.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Wow that is saying something.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Ha! I wouldn't go that far,though I do like Germano's ultra slow curve. No doubt Jurrjens is more of a smoke and mirrors guy though. The upside is that he was pretty good at it for a while, the downside is that may end up being the best we ever see from him. I'd take him on a cheap flyer, can't hurt, but I wouldn't give up any value for him.

  • I like John's ideas of Matusz and Baker as well. Those are the kind of moves I could see this FO making to find a cheap answer.

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    Me personally for possible long term pieces i'm looking for young guys with power arms and potentially good command who had down years or were injured last year. Guys who fit that mold:
    Liriano
    McCarthy
    Matusz
    Davis
    Chamberlain
    Sanchez
    etc

    For short term, tradeable assets, like John mentioned, I'm looking for name value. Paul Maholm was a guy people knew could pitch and didn't think his good season was a fluke, hence what we got. Guys who fit:

    Dan Haren
    Edwin Jackson
    Sanchez
    Santana
    Baker

    I'd get one of the young possible long term pieces, and two of the trade assets. pop them at the deadline for more Vizcaino types and so forth. We desperately need more power arms at the upper levels that could start. Even to the point where i'd try a guy like Cabrera as a starter one last time.

    Speaking of Cabrera....What ever happened to Daniel Cabrera? super young, tall, easy high 90's fastball, #1 starter material but kept flaming out with the Orioles. I'd give him a flyer.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    I'm all for that sort of plan. Wouldn't mind a big arm or two to go with Shark and possibly Garza. I think Liriano is our best chance out of all of them, but despite the bad year, it wouldn't surprise me if other teams thinking along the same lines.

    As for Cabrera, he hasn't been in majors since 2009 and strikeout rate less than 6 in AAA last year. Haven't seen him pitch but his numbers indicate his stuff isn't what it used to be. Maybe an ST invite but I'd be surprised if he makes it at this point. He's 31, not a kid with upside anymore.

  • John and Tom,

    What do you think happens if the Cubs sign a few short-term guys and are, say, .500 at the trade deadline? .550? What's the point of no return between "sell", "stay put", and "buy"?

    Maybe this answer would be better as its own article, but I know there were a few thoughts (hopes? delusions?) on the Cubs being moderately competitive this past year, and I suppose the possibility exists again for next year. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the "turning point".

  • In reply to mosconml:

    At .550, I'd put them in a cautious buy mode, that is, I think they'd pursue players who have potential beyond 2013 and where they won't need to part with any significant long term assets.

    At .500, I think they'd play it by ear. If someone offers a big package for Garza with an MLB ready prospect or two, I think they'd do it. The key at this point is they won't want A ball guys. If they're getting closer, then I suspect they'd want guys who are ready to contribute -- even that season...sort of like the botched Randall Delgado deal.

    I think it's unlikely they reach either plateau but if they sign a pair of the guys Tom and I are talking about and keep Garza, they'll have good pitching and anything can happen -- especially if you pair it with good defense, which I think will also be a focus this offseason.

    Every year it seems there is a team that rebounds from a 90-100 loss season to be competitive the next year. Nothing says it can't be the Cubs, but I'm not going to bet on that being the case.

  • What about Justin Masterson from the Indians?

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    agree on Masterson. will he be made available?

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    Good name if they're willing to trade him. He is arb-eligible, so maybe he gets priced out. I had him on my periphery, especially since the Cubs FO has a history with him. He has some bounce back potential after a tough year.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    isnt masterson a little bit out of our price range in terms of prospects. i know we need pitching and masterson would be a good guy to grab, but isnt his upside a #2, the indians wont just give him away. he had a bad year, but i dont think anyone considers him a bad pitcher. and i dont think he'll come cheap.

  • One thing that concerns me about Garza is inability to throw the ball to first base after fielding it. It looked to me like he developed a bad case of the yips, which could be a serious problem if he's not able to get past it.

    In the games right before he got injured, was he able to make any throws on fielded balls? I didn't see many of his last games so I don't know if he ever was able to make even one play without resorting to a desperate underhand toss. I worry that speedy batters will bunt on him like crazy next season to exploit this.

  • In reply to baseballet:

    His fielding is a huge concern for a team that wants to build a good defense. I'd say that's one of the main things that could prevent him from being considered a long term assets.

    Maybe Dave McKay can make him his pet project this year.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Maybe Dave McKay has that coaching magic and will transform players every year, like Dave Duncan used to do for the Cardinals.
    Of course, well run organizations always seem to 'get lucky' with their player development. The Cubs are now in that category, and I think we'll see more players transition from marginal to good, and from good to great.
    On the pitching side, I'm hopeful about Travis Wood. I think he might take a big step forward year. His streaks of good pitching gave me optimism.
    I also like Sappelt and (gulp) I think he'll become more than just a reserve. He hasn't played much, but so far he has the best OBP and OPS on the team. Maybe there's something there?

  • In reply to baseballet:

    I think Wood is a break-through candidate. I think he understands now how he needs to pitch, he just has to be more consistent in executing it. The coaching and experience he got this year may well pay off next season.

    I really like Sappelt but his biggest downfall is he doesn't hit for enough power for what teams like from everyday corner OF'ers. That said, I think you can give him a bigger role, perhaps as a platoon outfielder with DeJesus.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Sappelt would be alot more valuable if he could play an above-average CF

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    Garza really is key, and the Cubs will think very long and hard on what to do with him. The new CBA rules figure into the equation.

    Under the new rules, a player must be on a team opening day in order for that team to receive draft-pick compensation if the player signs elsewhere as a FA. This means that Garza, if proven healthy, has more trade value before opening day, because the other team will get a first-round pick if they acquire Garza, and Garza walks. (PS: All this assumes Garza pitches well enough to get a qualifying offer, which he did last year) So, trading a healthy Garza before opening day would net us at least a 1st round pick equivalent prospect, PLUS more on top of that.

    If the Cubs wait for the deadline, we will still get good value, but nobody will collect a 1st round pick for him, so his value is lessened.

    Garza does profile as someone you would like under long-term contract. He'll be 29, which means he has 3-5 effective years left at least. It could be though he would rather test free agency, and doesn't seem inclined to sign a below-market contract with the Cubs. In order to not test FA, we probably would have to sign him to a market or above market contract, probably more $ and years than we want to. Garza's agent likely asked for 6+ years and over $100 mil to re-up early; maybe that's changed with this arm injury.

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    In reply to Zonk:

    PS: I do get the sense that Garza would have been gone at the deadline, were it not for the arm injury. We would have received good value, no question.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    That's the decision on Garza. Do you trade him before the opener where teams get compensated or do you wait? My feeling is if they get a good offer for Garza before the season, they'll take it. On the other hand, I think the likelihood that they get that suitable offer is pretty low.

  • Have a feeling Garza and Barney get packaged this winter, for some arms. DBacks had some interest during trade deadline (I think?), so maybe we can re-engage talks and see about landing Skaggs, Corbin, etc. Also Logan Watkins seems to have more potential offensively, and could be a serviceable replacement in terms of defense. All while adding more .obp and possibly more .slg.

    As for signings I'd love to get Liriano and/or Ervin Santana(especially if Garza winds up getting traded). Also probably see about landing 1-2 of the shrewd signings type. In which case Scott Baker is a guy that intrigues me.

    Also one name that hasn't been mentioned here at all is Rich Harden. He went down before the season, but he was looking to sign a contract. I think if he's healthy he could get a similar deal to Maholm (1 yr 3-4mil contract + option yr + Innings Pitched incentives). Also fits the mold of the Corpas signing in that your getting a guy who had some success early on but recently derailed by injury.

  • In reply to Furiousjeff:

    It wouldn't surprise me to see the Cubs revisit those talks with the D'Backs -- especially if the D'Backs think Barney can play SS, where they have a need. If that's the case, then it seems they would be a good fit as a team on the cusp of the playoffs.

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    In reply to Furiousjeff:

    Ah.....Rich Harden. One of the few pitchers we've had in the last 7 years who offered Prior/Wood level teases. He's almost assured to get injured every year

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    In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    The Harden trade was still a good one, at least. The guys we gave up, Sean Gallagher and Jeff Donaldson, haven't amounted to anything. Harden, meanwhile, gave us an awesome 3 months.

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    In reply to Zonk:

    It was a very good trade at the time. I loved Harden, just wished he stayed healthy. If it means anything Donaldson is the A's starting 3rd baseman after converting from catcher and has had a solid year. We could use one of those right now.

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    How could we forget Daniel Bard of the Red Sox. He's another perfect example of guys who fit this project we're looking for to find good young rotation pieces on the low. He needs a change of scenery and chance to start in a low pressure situation. Has top line stuff, just needs to put it together...

    Another guy I think could be had is Alexi Ogando. Texas is stacked rotation wise and I think they would deal him. Or if your imagination is running wild, maybe Pedro Feliz is next years Arodys Vizcaino and could be had for one of our Paul Maholm types. I know it's a long shot but nobody could have guessed when we signed Maholm we'd end up with a guy like Vizcaino. If I remember he was rated higher than Feliz.

    So either Feliz, Bard, or Ogando

    What do you guys think? I love offseason talk as you guys can tell lol

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    I knew we were forgetting somebody!

    If Boston is willing to sell low on Bard I'm all for it. His numbers were frightening last season but can't teach that kind of arm strength.

    Ogando will be tougher to pry lose only because he was a major contributor out of their bullpen. The Cubs may have lost their opportunity last year to get him at a reasonable price.

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    Speaking of Tom/John, I think this is an article that needs to be done. Maybe i'm a bit bias and not as high on Darwin Barney as others but let me explain. This year he was the best second basemen in baseball defensively which gives him his nice looking .war and AT HIS SALARY is a great value. But....

    He is going into arbitration soon and at what point does he become too expensive for what he gives you? At what point does a guy like Logan Watkins offer more overall value than Darwin Barney? Yes you get a tick lower defense but you get so much more that Barney doesn't for what like half the price? People are talking about locking Barney up and I just don't think your maximizing your value by holding on to him when of all our positions his is arguably the easiest to replace (I think we're pretty deep at 2B) I don't know just a suggestion that would get alot of debate. A straight comparison between Watkins and Barney. Thanks guys

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    I think you either have to lock Barney up on a very friendly deal or trade him before he gets to be arb eligible to a win-now team with the resources and surrounding lineup to afford keeping him. I understand the sentiment for keeping him, and as much as i like Barney, I lean toward getting value and going with a guy like Watkins.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I don't disagree with the concept of trading Barney, as the crucial question is how much would the Cubs get in return? But I would say that some players are worth more than their stats would indicate, and I think Barney is in that category. So I think the Cubs would have to get more back than someone with DB's stats would normally be worth. I feel the same about Shark, Rizzo and Starlin. They all seem like they work really hard and have leadership potential because of their attitude and talent. I think defense is underrated in general, and that the Cubs value it more than many teams, so I believe that the Cubs will value DB higher than most teams, which will make him hard to trade.
    I hope the Cubs hold onto DB and worry about getting their slugging from other positions.

  • In reply to baseballet:

    I understand the love of Barney and totally agree his defense makes up for his offensive shortcomings, and that he has the kind of attitude that you like to have on your team.

    At some point, though, his salary becomes a factor. To get a defense only player at less than a million is a bargain. But once you start paying him 4-5M/yr, he's not a bargain anymore.

    The Cubs won't have unlimited payroll, so if you can save yourself a few million and play someone like Watkins, who is also a good defender with plus, plus mental makeup -- but with better OBP skills and speed to help your offense, then that's a pretty good trade-off. You can use those extra few million on another player or two in addition to whatever talent you can pick up by trading Barney.

    I'm not saying it has to be done, but it's something they have to consider when they're looking at the whole picture.

  • So far nobody's mentioned another free agent - Carlos Zambrano. ;=) j/k

  • In reply to SFToby:

    Ha! It's safe to say that's one player who won't be on the Cubs list.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    ...and let's also bring in Michael Barrett as a bullpen coach!

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    Good stuff. Rotation will be interesting...and I think Cubs may have a surprise or two up their sleeve this winter.

    I agree with most of your projections with the exception of Volstad, who I have zero hope for and Liriano, who similarly, has good stuff but doesn't strike me as a good 'pitcher.'

    I know this post is about the rotation only...but the bullpen is a major issue as well, if not more important than the rotation...can't wait to read that post!

  • In reply to Bullpen Brian:

    Thanks. It should be an interesting offseason. A surprise to me would be if they went big on a top name. I don't know if this is the year to do that yet. I think they're more in the mode of trying to collect good arms and perhaps a flyer candidate to see if they can hit it big.

    Bullpen is a big issue, but I don't expect the Cubs to spend or make a big trade there. I expect more of the same as far as guys like Camp, Corpas...maybe a little better than that, but not much.

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    Is Brandon McCarthy going to be ready for next year?

  • In reply to Ken Roucka:

    It seems that way. He's already getting ready to start throwing.

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    I like Darwin Barney, but I think the Cubs should absolutely trade him if they get a good deal obviously. I wouldn't just trade him to trade him like some players, Lahair.... Anyways, I don't get the love that fans give Barney. Yes he is a great defender, which also is helped by him being in a great position to field because of the shifts the defense is in. Barney also is below average on the offensive end. I love that he works hard and gives maximum effort, but when you look past that you essentially have a backup.

  • In reply to Demarrer:

    I'm a big fan of Barney but I agree. His defense may be irreplaceable, but you can replace him overall with a good defender with better offensive skills.

    If Watkins plays anything like he did in AA, he's going to become a fan favorite as quickly as Barney did. He may not be quite as good defensively as Barney, but he's a more athletic defender who will make some great plays -- and he's a more exciting player on offense -- and, like Barney, the guy never takes a play off. It's reasonable to consider replacing him if you can replace Barney overall production, save some payroll for other positions and even get some extra value in a trade -- that's an overall gain for the team. I like Barney as much as anyone, but if they can improve the team by going in a different direction, then they have to do that. And that goes for any player.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Couple things on Barney.

    First, I think he is alot more valuable if he can play everyday SS. I can't remember the scouting report on him, but his defensive stock is certainly higher.

    Second, Watkins may not be ML-ready quite yet. Someone is going to have to man the position in Barney's absence for next year. Who? Valbuena, but he is more of a utility guy. Cardenas? That's a defensive drop-off....

  • In reply to Zonk:

    That's an issue that I think will keep Barney on the team for now. It may just be too difficult to replace him internally, especially since Watkins is still an unknown at the MLB level. Valbuena would probably be the guy on an interim basis if they traded Barney midseason.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    John. Can Villy from the Dempster trade play 2nd base? Wouldn't he project well there?

  • In reply to Demarrer:

    My guess is no, but I don't know one way or the other. TX tried him last year and he didn't make the transition -- and if the Cubs were going to do it, they'd probably have sent him to instructs instead of the Mexican league.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Yep....I think if we trade Barney, another year is more likely. We don't have an in-house option, and I can't see us signing a vet (and pickings in FA are very slim at 2b).....

  • I like to see a more positive "incentives" next spring training from Cubs players on winning 100 games in 2013......I know, it might not happen, but we can push for at least 80 wins.

    99 loses....100 loses...102 loses.....does it really matter at this point? We are at 105 years for not winning a W.S. .......that number sticks out more to Cubs fans.

    Outlook at starting five in April......

    Garza
    Samardzija
    T. Wood
    Vizcano (By May)
    Volstad (will be back for his potential)

    Plus one or two more starters.

    Theo needs to sign pitchers who can throw innings. There is talk about McCarthy name being pushed by certain Cubs fans. The rumor of this is not about baseball but for views that McCarthy supports. We need pitchers who can win games, not pitchers who push personal social views. If McCarthy can win 20 games, yes sign him. But we do not need any distractions on a team that is being build into a winner.

  • Luke Hochever anyone? Arb eligible and could get non-tendered or dealt. Only problem is KC needs starting pitching depth too.

  • In reply to kansasblackhawk:

    I would love to get a guy like Hochevar and that was possible a year or two ago but Kansas city is as starved for pitching as we are and Hochevar has pitched well of late so i'll say no way we get him.

  • No talk of a club friendly Ryan Dempster deal I see. He wouldn't be a 10-5 player anymore. ;)

  • In reply to Carne Harris:

    We should sign Dempster so we can trade him again.

  • And Ervin Santana's a bad choice for Wrigley. Leads the majors with 36 homeruns allowed. Just wouldn't play well there imo. I like the idea of McCarthy though. Also Lohse, because I can see him being great at the trade deadline, but he'll probably be too pricey. The only thing that gives me hope there is his age.

  • if Barney is traded i bet Watkins gets first look.

  • and PS the Cubs locked up #2 pick tonight woo woo

  • Well, I guess it looks like the Cubs "clinched" that 2nd pick. Can't wait until this offseason.

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