Updated: Stubbs-Soriano deal can potentially offer value for both Cubs, Indians

Updated: Stubbs-Soriano deal can potentially offer value for both Cubs, Indians
A Soriano for Stubbs deal would work out well -- for one team.

Updated 4:35 PM

The Indians appear to be all in for 2013. They started the off-season contemplating a rebuild, dangling talented young players like SS Asdrubal Cabrera, RHP Justin Masterson, and C Carlos Santana. Instead, they ended up trading veteran Shin-Soo Choo, who had one year left on his deal and was probably gone after the season anyway.

Since then, they have paid big in terms of both money and draft picks, to sign two big free agents, Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn, to long term contracts. Both players figure to provide the most value in the next 2, maybe 3 years.

So it appears from this outside observer that the Indians have every intention of winning in the short term.

The Indians have completely transformed their lineup with the Bourn signing. He immediately becomes their everyday CF while Drew Stubbs moves to RF, Nick Swisher moves to 1B, and Mark Reynolds moves to DH. With Michael Brantley in LF, that makes for a very good defensive OF.

But as reader Marcel rightly points out, every one of those players loses positional value from the shift. Michael Brantley was always going to be in LF, but he has a CF bat --though not necessarily a good glove there. Drew Stubbs whiff-tastic bat plays much better in CF than in RF. Unlike Brantley, he does have the skills to be a plus defender in CF. Swisher's numbers become a bit more ordinary at 1B and you reduce all of Mark Reynolds value to the offensive side of the ball. Let's look at it in terms of what the shift means in terms of WAR.  Just for a change and a chance to introduce some of you to a new projection system, we'll go with the Oliver projections this time.  Oliver puts more emphasis on base running than most systems, so you'll notice a higher than the norm projection for Bourn and Stubbs.

Keeping everything else constant and using the Simple WAR calculator, here is an approximation on the affect the change in position has on each of those player's respective WAR.

  • Michael Brantley, LF: 2.1 WAR (no change).
  • Michael Bourn, CF: 4.1 WAR
  • Drew Stubbs: 3.0 WAR in CF, 2.0 WAR in RF (-1 net change)
  • Nick Swisher: 2.3 WAR in RF, 1.9 WAR at 1B (-0.4 net change)
  • Mark Reynolds: 0.5 WAR at 1B, 0 WAR at DH (-0.5 net change)

So while Bourn brings in about 4 wins above replacement, the team loses approximately 2 of those "wins" because of the positional changes.  It's a net gain of 2 wins.

So, it seems to me that if they want to maximize the added value Bourn brings, they'll want to avoid this shift.

Which led me to think, what if they added a bigger bat, say... Alfonso Soriano as a LF/DH?

Unfortunately, Soriano doesn't project all that well in 2013, likely due to the regression expected at his age and his poor 2011 season.  Oliver has his as a 1.6 WAR player in LF.  At DH, those numbers sink to 0.2 WAR, just above replacement level.  It's not much of an upgrade over Reynolds as a DH and an overall downgrade if you have to displace Drew Stubbs and the defensive value he brings in RF.

Statistically, this would be a step backward for the Indians.  The only way they would consider this deal is if they believe the unexpected improvement with the 2012 Soriano is a better reflection of the value he would bring to the team.  That Soriano was a 4 WAR player -- but that's factoring in his defense, which is good but it's value is likely inflated by a 12.3 UZR/150 rating.  Take away that defensive value and make him a full-time DH and that WAR sinks to just 1.5.  That would still be a net loss for the Indians whether the move displaces Michael Brantley or Drew Stubbs.  Even if you figure Soriano gets some of that defensive value back by playing LF part time, that is still mostly offset by the positional value Mark Reynolds loses as the guy who probably moves to DH part time.

Here's how the same calculations shake out for the Cubs caused by the positional shifts by the addition of Stubbs and the subtraction of Soriano.  I'm using the same 70/30 weighted combined slash line as a base, much as I did in a previous piece on how the Cubs can maximize value through platoon shifts.

However, there are some slight changes.  I think that removing Soriano from the equation combined with the  presence of a true, everyday CF would make the platoons more clear cut.  You can do a straight platoon of David DeJesus/Dave Sappelt in LF and Nate Schierholtz/Scott Hairston in RF.  The change in positional and defensive value changes the equation a bit.  I gave the LF platoon a slightly above average grade on defense and, because Schierholtz would get the bulk of the time in RF, I did the same for the RF platoon.  I also assumed average base running skills for both platoons.

With Drew Stubbs in OF

LF: DeJesus/Sappelt: 3.1 WAR

CF: Stubbs: 3.0 WAR

RF: Schierholtz/Hairston: 2.6 WAR

Total OF WAR = 8.7

With Alfonso Soriano in OF

Let's compare that to where the Cubs stand now. In the aforementioned article on platoon splits, I calculated a combined WAR for CF and RF as 5.3 WAR.  Of course, that analysis left Soriano out of the equation.  Remember that we used Oliver projections earlier, which projects Soriano to have a WAR of 1.6.

Total OF WAR = 6.9

The exchange would be about a 2 win upgrade for the Cubs.

So, obviously, I really, really wanted this to work somehow where the Cubs unload Soriano and somehow get Drew Stubbs to play CF, upgrading the defense significantly there and in the OF in general. It just doesn't -- at least not for the Indians.  Sometimes you go into an analysis with one expectation and end up emerging with a completely different result.

(Edit 1:51 PM)

So the conclusion from this analysis is that subbing Drew Stubbs for Alfonso Soriano would potentially upgrade the Cubs OF, perhaps significantly,  But for the Indians it's a wash at best and probably a slight downgrade overall.  A deal is not impossible but the Cubs will have to make up the difference in value -- and I haven't even factored in cost-control to the equation.

I want to quickly point out that the purpose of this article is to analyze the exchange from as objective a point of view as possible.  As we know, in the real world, subjective analysis, including scouting reports, are also a big part of the equation.  The contributors here, as usual, have come up with some great points that may help tilt the scales a bit.  Those are things, however, that I cannot quantify objectively under the parameters of this particular analysis.

I'll leave that part of the equation up to you.

(Edit #2 4:34 PM)

I re-did the calculations (post-position switch only) using Steamer projections.  While I have some concerns about some of the defensive and base-running ratings, particularly how low Stubbs is rated on defense, it does offer a good contrast to the Oliver projections.  It also seems to have more optimistic offensive ratings, particularly for Nick Swisher, but what made the biggest difference here is how Stubbs was rated.  His projected WAR in RF fell almost to replacement level -- 0.3, which makes a trade much more desirable for the Indians.  From the Cubs side, his projected WAR of 1.3 in CF makes this deal a minor straight up loss when compared to Soriano's 1.7 WAR, but the ripple effect caused by the positions shifts evens things out for the Cubs.

Pre-Trade WAR break down this way for the Indians

LF: Michael Brantley 1.3

CF: Michael Bourn 3.3

RF: Drew Stubbs 0.3*

1B: Nick Swisher 2.9**

DH: Mark Reynolds 1.2

Indians Total Pre-Trade WAR: 9.0

Post-trade WAR breaks down this way for the Indians

LF: Alfonso Soriano: 1.7

CF: Michael Bourn 3.3

RF: Michael Brantley 1.3*

1B: Nick Swisher 2.9**

DH: Mark Reynolds 1.2

*Kept defense constant.  No track record of playing RF.

**Assumes average defense, as career UZR/150 is -0.2

Indians Total Post-Trade WAR: 10.4

Indians Total Net Gain: 1.4 WAR

For the Cubs, I'm going to keep it simpler. I'll keep the WAR values for the platoon outfielders as calculated in original article, but changed the Soriano and Stubbs WAR values to reflect the Steamer projections.  I'm really interested in the net difference more than total WAR in this case.

Cubs Pre-Trade WAR with Steamer WAR projection for Soriano

Combined CF/RF Platoons: 5.3

LF Soriano: 1.7

Cubs Pre-Trade Total WAR: 7.0

Cubs Post-Trade WAR with Steamer WAR projection for Stubbs

LF: DeJesus/Sappelt: 3.1 WAR

CF: Stubbs: 1.3 WAR

RF: Schierholtz/Hairston: 2.6 WAR

Cubs Post-Trade Total WAR: 7.0

Net Gain: Even

With the Steamer projections, the deal is a win for Cleveland for 2013 while the Cubs break even.  However, the Cubs recoup some of that value by gaining cost control.  The deal isn't as one-sided this way, but I think I'd still have to make the trade if I'm the Cubs.  As for the Indians, they'd have to strongly consider it if, as the recent FA signings imply, the goal is to win in 2013 and 2014.

If you were to average the net gain taken from both projection systems, then it is once again a win for the Cubs (by 1 win), though not as large a win as when you use just the Oliver projection.  The Indians, meanwhile, basically break even.  They lose 1.1 wins under the Oliver projections and gain 1.4 wins using Steamer.

In the combined scenario, you make the deal if you're the Cubs but again, it depends on how much the Indians truly believe they can win over the next couple years.  In this particular case the Cubs may have to sweeten the deal a little with a second younger player, perhaps an extra bullpen arm.

Filed under: Analysis

Tags: Alfonso Soriano, Drew Stubbs

Comments

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  • Teams will have to follow him closely in ST to see what he can and
    can't still do. Will need to play as may games as possible.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    I think that a good spring will help. Teams will want to see that he's still healthy and producing, even if it's just a small sample. Some of this will be somewhat subjective. The Indians may decide that they want a power guys for LF/DH, which is what teams usually want. That could shift the scales a bit.

  • Sori may be gone by mid-season, however I don't think it will be for another outfielder. The Cubs will give Jackson every chance to fix his flaws and eventually take over CF. They also have Solger on the radar and a good number of internal OF prospects that will get every chance to step up and earn a spot. Plus, a log jam of talent at SS, that may play out with those players filtering to the OF.

    Most likely, Sori will finish the season right where he began - in a Cubs uniform. Unless, he is hitting a ton and the Cubs pick up the majority of his salary, I don't see him moving. If he does it will be for young pitching/draft picks.

  • In reply to jaxx51:

    I think Jackson is really the only guy they're counting on in the short term. All the other stuff is too much down the road to count on right now.

    I do agree that a mid-season trade is more likely. It's taking on less of a risk because the only way Sori gets traded is if he's still producing. It also works the other way around because Sori is more likely to approve a deal if he knows he's going to a contender. That becomes much more clear at the end of July.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Agree completely. Yet, to me I just see the Cubs focusing on the long term right now and any asset they have left to trade of flip, it will be for long term gain. Yes, they have to field a decent team but Theo & Jed are probably still looking at another two years before the organization really starts to show results so, whomever they acquire will probably fit into said window.

  • In reply to jaxx51:

    No argument there. That is their preference. But I also think they plan to improve incrementally, at the margins so to speak. Stubbs would help with that. And he may have some re-sale value as well.

    I think it's going to be tough to get a top prospect for anyone but Garza right now, so the Cubs may have to look at other options when it comes to trade return. We kind of saw that with the near deal of Marmol for Haren, whom I understand was not their preference from the get-go. Both were one year players, but Haren at least had the potential to bring back more with a good season.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Very true..as much as they need to build for the future, the Cubs still need to put a good product out and keep the fans interested now. Plus, how the team plays in the short term can & will have positives and/or negatives in the long run.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    At the mention of a deal for Stubbs, I just pulled a Christopher Walken, I threw up in my mouth. I'd rather see Sori stay and get his offense even if he does regress from last season. Stubbs would likely give us better defense in CF especially with the platoons in LF & RF,but those K's offset any offense he'd offer. The reassuring thing in all that is TheHoyer would never do it especially with the cases with B.Jax and Vitters and having to farm them out initially to fix what ails them. All the same it was an interesting read. Thanks John.

  • John, your missing two things on the Indians. First, the starting pitching there is highy questionable, especially if Jiminez stays stinky and Masterson cant get out lefties any better. Bullpen is good, but right now the Indians are probably a 500 team. Other thing is with Reynolds, Stubbs and Santana, that lineup has ks galore written all over it. Reynolds and Stubbs both are the essence of the all-or-nothing hitter.

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    I agree. All those concerns about the Indians are valid, but to me it doesn't change the fact that they at least plan to make a run at the playoffs. When you pick up guys like Bourn and Swisher, you're looking hard at the next couple of years.

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    In reply to mutant beast:

    Just because a team goes all in and PLANS to make the playoffs doesn't mean they actually have enough to actually do it. I think John is just reciprocating the Indians mindset, not how he actually feels. All of those points are very much valid and why I believe this "run" by the Indians is ill-timed and not very smart.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    well said Marcel. Guess the Indians need to get back to there long sellout streak they had in the mid 90s, when they actually had title contending teams. Indians would be better using the Cubs current model.

  • fb_avatar

    Another solid analysis John. At face-value the average Cubs fan might look at a Soriano-Stubbs swap and blow a fuse but the numbers don't lie and they say it makes us a better team. They don't always tell the whole story but it's not something to ignore either.

    Something interesting is what if you did the same projections and position placement but instead of a Soriano-Stubbs swap, you simply drop Soriano and add Brett Jackson?(assuming Soriano was traded for something else, maybe pitching). Do we still see an upgrade for OF WAR?

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Thanks Marcel, you and a couple of others -- I believe it was Dale who first suggested making a deal for Stubbs -- helped give me the idea for the article.

    We can sub Jackson in pretty easily because everything else remains constant. If we use the same Oliver Projection system, they have him pegged at 2.3 WAR. Keeping the same LF/RF platoons, that adds up to an even 8 wins -- or a one win upgrade over Soriano in LF.

    So really, if we are to believe these projections, the Cubs will gain by trading Soriano regardless of what they get back. Of course, if we're talking about Jackson, we're probably talking about a mid-season trade of Soriano, since the Cubs plan to start Jackson in AAA. That might lower the overall total a little, but it should still be a gain for the Cubs.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I would LOVE to get Drew Stubbs at a reasonable price. I think he is a most undervalued young player, and with proper coaching, he could be extremely good.

  • In reply to DaveP:

    I think he's definitely a better fit for this team and this roster. He's very athletic/gifted so you always have that hope that a little tweak here or there makes the difference for him.

  • It seems the advantage for the Indians would be more than what you project:
    CF increases WAR by 1.1
    RF loses .3
    1B gains 1.4
    total increase: 2.2 WAR

    Therefore, the increase for both teams, given your analysis showing an increase in WAR at 1.8,
    would seem to make the trade more possible. The only question left is Soriano's value as a DH at his age and ability.

    Am I wrong?

  • In reply to cubster:

    You're not wrong, but that you seem to be doing is stepping back looking at the Indians overall picture that includes their internal improvement as a whole.

    Yikes. I just read what I wrote and it looks clumsy, so let me give you an example of what I mean.

    Trading for Soriano isn't going to bump the CF value up because Bourn is already there. It's going to stay at 4.1 regardless of whether the Indians trade for Soriano.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Got it. What they really need is someone who is going to replace Reynolds at 1B (due to a low WAR) once Swisher goes back to RF if Stubbs is lost in a trade.

  • In reply to cubster:

    Exactly..

    ...so here is what you're looking at overall if the Indians trade for Soriano...

    Swisher's value goes up 0.4 by moving back to RF
    Johnson's value goes up by 0.5 by moving back to 1B
    Soriano at DH increases value over Reynolds by about 0.2

    That's about a 1 win increase but....

    You have to subtract Stubbs who would have given you 2 wins in RF. It's a one win net loss for the Indians.

  • Who would the Tribe part with for Soriano, Marmol, and healthy Graza? We pay some freight on first two?

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Looks like some one-stop shopping there. Or one-stop selling would be more accurate, I guess.

    Mega-trade. I'm not one to speculate on specific packages but I'd want to try and pry Bauer loose if Garza is involved. Marmol doesn't add a whole lot, though.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Well, all those Cubs would help them in 2013 to a shot at the post season. Chances are we will not need them for that.

  • Plus Stubbs is controlled an extra year so Cubs would have to make up that value too. I'm not all that crazy about Stubbs with his contact problems and him struggling last year. I enjoy the positional analysis though. Wish we had a solid list of teams Soriano would go to so we could evaluate them the same way. I'll catch myself grumbling about him not getting enough love after last season, but then I remember he'll only go to a handful of teams.

  • In reply to Carne Harris:

    Thanks, the analysis is the part I wanted to focus on. I tried to make it as objective as possible but opinions on whether it's a good trade for either team will vary from person to person.

    In the real world, you cannot exclude subjective analysis. It's possible the Indians would highly value Soriano's HR power and run production in LF/DH -- and that could outweigh some of the other factors. It's also possible the Cubs scouting people don't think much of Stubbs and value him differently than what I have here.

    Those are the things we don't know and so we have to leave the subjective opinion portion of the equation to the individual.

    And it's true, by the way, that the extra years of cost-control makes the value gap even larger. I actually intended to throw in a last minute statement to that effect (sans analysis) so thanks for pointing that out.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    No problem. Love the scientific approach. Gives an objective baseline to work from.

    I did it myself as far as subjective analysis. I looked at Stubbs numbers last year and thought, eh, I worry he's trending downward even though he projects higher. Hope some team will do the reverse with Soriano.

  • Mark Reynolds has no defensive value. He's an absolute butcher in the field and belongs at DH, if he's in any lineup at all.

  • In reply to Eddie:

    He is, but positional value loss still knocked his overall value down. I do think those are the kinds of things you can factor in, though. The analysis is strictly based on projection and positional value but there are certainly more things you can throw in to the equation.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    IMO he is so bad on defense that he'd be as valuable or more if he never wears a glove again.

  • In reply to Eddie:

    When I did the second calculations using Steamer it came out that way. He didn't really lose any value at all when he switched from 1B to DH. Now I'm wondering if I should re-do the first one.

  • In reply to Eddie:

    I'm also bound somewhat by the limitations of the WAR calculator. The price of convenience, I suppose. If I fudge with it a bit then it really makes no difference when he switches to DH. In the first case, though his value is so low that it doesn't make much difference. He's pretty much replacement level either way.

  • Shouldn't Sori's switch to a lighter bat and subsequent mashing of the ball post Apr/May last season bear some weight in somewhat negate the lower 2011 WAR in the equation? Or was the explanation of his production based on the switch exaggerated and moreso based on other factors? I think with his work ethic and taking care of his body his May-Sep numbers are a distinct possibility this season. Of course a little regression with age is likely but I don't see it as being drastic, as stated in the aforementioned factors. Personally it scares the hell out of me knowing what this offense looks like without him in the lineup, as I don't see the FO being able to replace his production via trade or internally. I understand the rebuild and "5 or so" year plan but it pains me to see Rizzo as the lone, legitimate everyday power threat on the 25 man.

  • In reply to C L Dubya:

    You could definitely make an argument for that. But for analysis sake, I kept it as objective as I could. If I fudged with Soriano's numbers but nobody else's it would give the appearance of bias.

    That's the kind of thing you factor into the subjective side of an analysis. You make a very valid point but it's not one that I can quantify given the parameters of this particular analysis. That doesn't mean it may not play a significant role in the real world -- where the overall analysis would include both objective and subjective elements. But like I told Carne, I'm leaving the subjective portion to you guys and there's been some very good points made by multiple readers already.

  • John, two WAR questions:

    1) Why such a WAR fluctuation in terms of position? If it's largely due to defense, I can understand and appreciate it -- Soriano in center, say, would cost a team a lot of runs. I guess I'm still skeptical of the offensive portion related to positional WAR, or rather, looking at it individually.

    If I ran a team, I'd almost split the two ideas -- focus on defense individually, and say for the offense, the outfield should hit a combined X homers and Y RBIs, and the infield should hit Z homers, etc. In other words, if I have two mashers in the outfield, I don't really care which outfield positions they play, and I don't quite understand why WAR does, either.

    2) Simpler question -- do most WAR calculations factor in a player's home ballpark? I.e. would a Padres pitcher's WAR shift because he'll pitch roughly half his games at Petco?

  • In reply to mosconml:

    mossconml,

    To answer the first question it's just a matter of what those numbers mean at every position. The offensive production of a league average offensive catcher is much different than that of a league average first baseman. If a catcher moves to first base, the bar to be a league average offensive player becomes much higher.

    As you point out, however, that can be offset by a significant loss -- or gain -- of value on defense. I did factor that in, for example, when both DeJesus and Hairston move off of CF. That is a plus for each player defensively. However, their offensive numbers value went down because their offensive production looks better in CF than LF or RF.

    As for the second question -- yes, ballpark factors do affect WAR calculation.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Makes sense. Thanks!

  • I think the projections might be a lot better with steamer or bill james. It seems like Olivers projections are the most pessimistic on the hitting side for the players which is why Soriano and Swisher War looks real low. Swisher is going to get hit better than .766 ops. Also Steamer has Stubbs as 15 runs saved on defense. That seems like a stretch.

  • In reply to Mitchener:

    It's a valid point. It ties into how you value players and that's the part we don't really know. For example, is Cubs and/or Indians system more like Oliver's or Steamer's?....hard to say, and that's why this is just really a baseline. In some ways, you're using projection system angle to point out differences that others have pointed out with subjective analysis. It depends on how much value you think a particular skill has and how you value players in general.

    Getting back to your specific point...

    That could change the outcome a bit because Oliver may favor a player with Stubbs skill set over Soriano's. The projections for Soriano are pretty consistent. There's some difference but I don't think it makes a significant impact.

    Now, we can say that the value of Stubbs may be inflated because Oliver tends to favor things like baserunning, which I do mention in the beginning. I'd have to recalculate, perhaps using Steamer which seems on other other end of the spectrum for Stubbs to see what kind of impact that makes.

    That may not happen right away, but I'll do it some time today, hopefully this afternoon. I'm curious myself :)

  • In reply to Mitchener:

    One thing there forgetting about Stubbs, hes always been a CF, with the Indians hes moving to RF. One thing I do remember about Swisher from his Oakland days, he was a fairly solid defender at 1B, maybe even better than he was as an OF. Indians defense should actually be pretty good.

  • In reply to Mitchener:

    Just did a quick analysis shows that both teams could profit from such a trade using Steamer projections, though there are some flaws with those numbers.

    Anyway, I just updated the piece at 4:35 for those interested.

  • I see people using Sori's 2011 WAR numbers, but what are his 2012 WAR numbers? I'm guessing they are better than his 2011 numbers, which means he may still have something left in the tank to help the Cubs this year (and possibly next).

    Also, not sure if Stubbs is "trending downward" or not and where he would fit long-term once guys like Jackson, Soler and Almora start showing up in the Cub outfield?

    Soriano is a sunk cost for the Cubs, but still represents a decent placeholder in LF until the new wave of stud OFs show up in a couple of years.

  • In reply to DetroitCubFan:

    Was actually using the Oliver 2013 projection for Sori's WAR which likely includes his 2011 season as part of their formula. Projection systems don't take into account that perhaps Sori has turned a corner and his 2012 season may at least be partially due to, say the change in the weight of his bat, and not normal year to year variation.

    Stubbs would essentially be a placeholder too. He likely wouldn't be a pickup for the long term other than what he may bring back if the Cubs flip him. The only difference is that he may be a better fit defensively based on the current construction of the Cubs roster.

  • In reply to DetroitCubFan:

    Stubbs might actually be a fairly decent hitter if hed cut down on the Ks. He has legit 20hr power, will steal 25-30 bases even in a down year, and has a above average throwing arm. Just has no plate discipline at all. Maybe a change of scenery is what he needs.

  • Couldn't one argue that Drew Stubbs in Brett Jackson, just a few years older?

    I know Stubbs avg is higher, albeit it slightly, but BJax his a higher OBP and a slightly higher Slugging.

    Strikeout rate favors Stubbs but walk rate is significantly higher for BJax.

    On top of that, JAckson is 4 years younger and might still be able to make some adjustments to his swing.

    All in all, I think I would rather have Jackson than Stubbs.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    That's my argument as well.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    Maybe, but Drew Stubbs is already Drew Stubbs. We don't know who Brett Jackson is. The reason to do the deal is to improve the team incrementally for 2013 and as a plan B in case Jackson doesn't make it.

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    Little off topic but John, remember at one point last season we were talking about Travis Wood and his occasional outings(including his last start) where he'd consistently sit at 92-93, even touching 94 a few times, up from his usual 88-90mph?

    What kind of pitcher could we be looking at if he learns how to maintain that 92-94mph velocity with more consistency this year? Only asking because Sveum has said he looks like a different guy this spring and that the ball was coming out of his hand very well.

    Also Garza, Shark, and Jackson all through bullpen sessions with Dale citing Shark as the most impressive. All of them were hitting 95mph+ on the radar gun.

    My excitement is boiling.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    I think the most important thing is that it gives him more margin for error and that alone will make him more consistent. Not many hitters are going to miss an 89 mph fastball if you don' locate it, but you might be able to get away with it at 93 -- especially if you're keeping them off balance with secondary pitches.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    I agree. He locates his FB pretty well and it already compliments his secondaries so if he could bump that 88mph FB up to 93-94 I think we could be a true core guy. Right now he's in the Barney-zone for me. Kind of down the middle if he's a core piece or not.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Our top 3 pitchers are listed in the top 10 fastball speeds. If Wood is throwing 92-93 now then we have one hardest throwing staffs.

  • fb_avatar

    So, what if the Indians waited on trading an OF and Garza became available to them. Would they consider a package centered around Stubbs and prospects or younger players for Garza?

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Lou Sofianos:

    If the Cubs trade Garza to the Indians, they HAVE to get Bauer in return. That is the only way that a trade with them will go down.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Demarrer:

    What about if it's Masterson, Brantley, and maybe Carlos Carrasco(if he still has a chance to be a TOR starter)

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    I could be wrong here, which is very possible, but I just don't think that is enough. It is so hard to find good pitching, and it is even harder to acquire them. Unless the Cubs can get multiple top prospects or a can't miss prospect, they shouldn't trade Garza.

    To me, this isn't like the Soriano or Marmol scenario. Garza is still a really good pitcher, and he isn't someone we NEED to trade. You can win a championship with Garza in your rotation.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Demarrer:

    But Theo and Jed do seem to be inclined to trade him. I would like Carrasco, Stubbs, and Hagadone.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Demarrer:

    If were talkin' spring training deal then no it's probably not enough for a full year of Garza + comp pick. If were talkin Midseason then I think it's a coup. Depends on the timeable.

  • In reply to Lou Sofianos:

    Stubbs wouldn't be nearly enough for Garza. It'd have to be part of a larger package in that case.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Oh yeah. Maybe not even Stubbs. To me it could be what Marcel proposed as well with Michael Brantley. I see Garza as a good fit for the Indians though because they seem to be going for a playoff run and they have their other TOR starter in Jimenez with potentially one year left on his deal if the Indians don't pick up his option for 2014.

  • Hey John,

    Way off topic, I know, but for those who might be interested, The Arizona Republic reports that Mark Grace began his four month stay in tent city, courtesy of Maricopa County, AZ as a result of his second DUI in 15 months. Yes, he sleeps in a tent every night with the other inmates and complains about our 40 degree evenings. The difference between him and his other tent mates is that the D-Backs have hired him as a spring training instructor, so he's on work release, meaning he leaves at six a.m and has to be back in tent city twelve hours later. He's also spared the indignity of wearing Sheriff Joe's infamous pink underwear.

    They say he stuffs himself with D-Backs food so he doesn't have to eat the baloney sandwiches from the jail, and chain smokes cigarettes because he can't smoke in tent city. The article ends by saying "Baseball players get three strikes. The rest of us get two chances, and only if we're lucky" How the mighty have fallen.

  • In reply to AZBOB:

    Thanks for that update AZ Bob! Enjoyed reading that. I might have to re-post as a news and notes item for those that don't catch it here.

  • John

    Nice analysis, as always.

    However, I would think the analysis would also need to consider the effect Soriano's trade would have on Rizzo's WAR. Do you really think Rizzo will see the first fastball this year without Soriano batting behind him?

  • In reply to DropThePuck:

    A lot of people think lineup protection is over-stated. From a modern statistical view I'd it probably won't make a difference. However, intuitively and as someone who was once a slap hitting utility infielder, I'm not sure why anybody would want to pitch to the guy in front of me in game situations when they could face me instead :)

  • In reply to DropThePuck:

    And thanks!

  • Why waste your time on a hypothetical trade that has no rumor behind it, unless you just want to practice baseball math? Furthermore, why would Cleveland want to give up a cost controlled youngish player for an aging, over the hill, soon to be retired player. For a team like Cleveland, even if they seem to be 'all in,' I just can't see that trade ever happening.

  • In reply to JeffK:

    Since those things have already been addressed, I'll make up for it by not wasting my time answering this comment.

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    In reply to JeffK:

    Because baseball teams always make trades that make perfect sense and none of them trade young, cost-controlled players for 1-2 year rentals...... it just doesn't happen. Said no one ever.

    It's a blog not ESPN. Just because there's no concrete news on something doesn't mean we can't speculate or write about why certain trades readers might suggest do or don't make sense and explain why. Which is exactly what this article was. Even then it could very much happen. Who saw Arizona trading Trevor Bauer for Didi "no bat" Gregorius AKA "the next Derek Jeter"?

  • In reply to JeffK:

    Because it's fun, Jeff. And because most of the deals the Cubs seem to make come out of nowhere and if something is printed about them, it never seems to happen. And because this is a Cubs blog. For me, that's reason enough for John to do want he enjoys doing.

  • In reply to JeffK:

    I do want to add this, though...

    Wrote about Cubs interest in Volstad, Stewart, Baker, Feldman before they made the news. Also was first to state that Maholm would be most likely to be traded. Wrote about several Cubs being called up. Also was adamant that the Cubs would not sign Fielder or Bourn...even though there were "rumors behind it". Don't believe everything you hear or that you need to have big media report it first. I don't. We try to be original and creative here, sometimes that means reading between the lines and taking chances, and that's what sets this site apart, in my opinion.

  • I side with the camp that says that Stubbs three year, rather steep decline is concerning enough to stay away especially when he's 28. He slugged .333 last year, .364 the year before that. Some guys can swing and miss a lot and still hit with power, like Stubbs teammate Mark Reynolds or Adam Dunn. Stubbs can't. I realize his offensive potential at CF positively affects his value, but Stubbs production has been drastically different from his potential long enough for me to just wait for Brett Jackson.

    That's reason not to do this trade. The reason I can see for doing it is that Stubbs is likely easier to flip than Soriano. For many of the reasons John outlined, some GMs will be more willing to take Stubbs in a trade than Soriano.

    BUT...all that changes if Soriano has a first half that mirrors his performance last year. For years, I've been wanting Soriano to use a lighter bat. At least try it. The correlation of him switching to a lighter bat and his performance improving is so strong, that I have a lot of confidence going into this season that Soriano will do well. If he does, he will be sought after at the trade deadline.

    The only reason I would look into a deal with Cleveland right now is if I could get a three way deal going where prospects are moving around and Stubbs goes to the other team.

  • What is with Topps erasing Pete Rose from their records?

    Note for all Cubs ballplayers...please unload your gun before cleaning.......

    I believe Keith Moreland lost a bunch of his teeth while cross bow hunting.....

    Why all of this Anti - Soriano talk?

    Why of all this Anti - Matt Garza talk?

    I have nothing against Bowden.....he just seems expendable with all these new pitchers and up and coming pitchers that the Cubs have......Bowden is no Rollie Fingers......he is just at the bottom of the list now...........

    John, who would get rid of first...Bowden or Riley?....Bowden or Vizcaino?.....Bowden or Cabrera?....Bowden or Rusin?......Bowden or McNutt?....Bowden or Dolis?...........Bowden or Coleman?....okay, I give you that one.......

    Notice that both Archer and Lee are falling out of the picture of Rays future players.

    MLB will rank the top active 100 MLB players on Friday.......I believe only Castro will be on that list for the Cubs.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    Bowden was pretty awesome in the second half--his ERA was around 2 flat with good peripherals. That in itself wouldn't be a big deal, but what he did at Iowa in 2012, and what he had been doing at AAA for a few years, suggests that his second half is probably for real.

    I'm sure John would disagree, but I would take Bowden over a guy like Cabrera, who may or may not ever get his act together. Bowden was once a highly touted prospect and he appears to have begun to make good on that promise. Cabrera, for all his stuff, hasn't yet--at least not above AA--and he's had some really ugly seasons in the minors as well.

    Same thing for Dolis, McNutt, etc. Dolis has been overhyped for being in a weak Cubs system without much pitching. He has a great sinking FB, but not a whole lot else. He could yet become a very good pitcher, but I'd rather have Bowden. McNutt hasn't done anything for two years running, and has a lot of red flags at this point, although he could turn it around.

    Bowden was once a first rounder or sandwich rounder, I believe, and was just as highly touted 4 years ago as any of the Cubs guys are now--with the possible exception of Vizcaino.

    I wouldn't be at all surprised if Bowden has a career as a good set up guy. It's more likely than guys like Cabrera, McNutt, Dolis, etc, IMHO.

    And I don't think Rusin compares. He's got a good head on his shoulders, but very middling stuff. He's more in the Casey Coleman category of guys who could maybe put it together, but the odds are against them and it would be a surprise if they did.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    You might be right but the Cubs don't have to choose between Bowden and any of those guys, well, except Coleman. If Bowden is going to lose his spot, it'll be to a non-roster guy. He has solid stuff, cost-controlled for the next few years, and in his peak years. For a non roster guy who will likely be a one or two year solution, he's really going to to have to pitch well and Bowden is going to have to show that he regressed for the Cubs to consider losing him on waivers.

  • Stubbs is brutal. At the prime of his career, his on base last season was .277. Career barely over .300. Playing in one of the best hitters parks in baseball. He couldn't get on the field for the Reds after August 15th. Jackson will be better already this year.

  • Thanks for the support everyone -- even if you don't agree with the idea :)

  • Despite the projections, I'm a little skeptical that Stubbs would have more value to the Cubs than Soriano, speaking strictly of the 2013 season. Despite what the projections say, Soriano is probably good for 25-30 HR and a SLG in the neighborhood of 500 and his LF defense was quite good last year.

    The Cubs have a dearth of legit RH home run power. It helps that they added Hairston, and we can all hope that Castillo can provide some power, too. But the loss of Sori would be felt.

    I'm not arguing that the Cubs shouldn't deal Soriano, but I don't know if Stubbs would really be a good long term piece for the Cubs.

    As far as Stubbs goes, it's likely that Brett Jackson will be a player of similar value and skills if allowed to establish himself. Jackson is not a lock to succeed, but Stubbs has had pretty borderline seasons, as well. It remains to be seen who, between Jackson and Stubbs, will have better long term value.

    If I were the Cubs, I would prefer to get a good pitching prospect back for Sori, even if it was someone at a low level.

  • I think if the Cubs wait it out a bit, they can get a better deal with a team like the Orioles. You would think that would be a better fit, it 's the Orioles that keep trying to low ball people.

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