After the last spate of injuries, combined with the team's 29-game losing streak (at least it seemed that long), the Cubs blogosphere appeared to go into sell mode. "Blow this team up!" "Trade everyone!" "I have feelings too!" "Do you even go to this school?" Etc.
And as is always the case with trade talk, many of the ideas that get thrown out first have a tendency to be ludicrous. When you ask a fan who should be traded, they'll scream the names of players like Soriano (that bum!), Zambrano, Fukudome, maybe Ryan Dempster.
But then, once the collective rage towards the team subsides a few days removed from the injuries/losing, it's easier to sit down and talk about which trades make sense, and which don't. For example, which team wants to acquire Alfonso Soriano right now?
Having said that, there are three trades that I think make sense for the Cubs. They involve players with relatively low salaries, on relatively short-term deals, with marketable skills, and trading them will open up spots for young Cubs that could use the major league experience.
1. Marlon Byrd to the Texas Rangers
This deal is contingent on Byrd's face healing and his continuing to hit once he returns from the DL. But even last year, when the Cubs were losing games left and right, Byrd was mentioned as a likely trade candidate: he's being paid something like $5 million a year in 2011 and 2012, he plays great center field defense, hits .300 with a tiny bit of pop, and isn't slow. I've tabbed the Rangers as his likeliest destination because 1) he's played there before, 2) Texas looks like a playoff team, and 3) Byrd would be an upgrade over Julio Borbon, who really looks more like a fourth outfielder than a starter.
(If teams are stingy with the dollars this summer, perhaps Reed Johnson might draw some interest instead of Byrd. It's really not so far off to think of Reed as a poor man's Marlon Byrd: he's another right-handed outfielder that can play center, hit for average with a bit of pop, and run well enough. But Johnson has had durability issues, and shouldn't be counted on to start every day. I could see the Cubs trading one of these players, but probably not both.)
2. Carlos Pena to the New York Yankees
As is usually the case with their team,the Yankees aren't having any trouble scoring this year, regardless of the handedness of the pitcher they're facing. But their current DH against righties is Jorge Posada, who is not having his best season ever (.215/.319/.373). Pena would undoubtedly be an upgrade, and every run counts.
3. Jeff Baker to the Boston Red Sox
Another injured player that could become a useful piece for a competitor if his rehab goes well. You know the deal with Baker as well as I do: right-handed utility guy that can really play just about anywhere on the field, with a .512/.512/.659 line against lefties this year, along with a .932 career OPS against lefties.
Much like their New York counterparts, no one in Boston is losing sleep over the Red Sox' ability to score runs. But after Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis, the lineup is really really left-handed. So maybe there's something there.
I don't think the Cubs will be trading any pitchers this year: most of the veterans are paid too much to draw interest, except for Kerry Wood, who took a discount to come back to Chicago, and I don't think Hendry would dick him over mid-season.
Having said that... I do see two players that could be moved. One is John Grabow; if anybody decides they need a replacement level left-hander for the middle innings, maybe they'll come ask about Grabow, who, by the way, sucks.
The other is Sean Marshall. Marsh is a great pitcher, but why spend $3 million on a set-up man in 2012 for a team that's nowhere near competing? And let's face it, the Cubs probably won't be ready to compete for a title next year -- although, they should be better than they are now. I think Sean's great, his salary is not that big a deal in the grand scheme of things, and I have no idea how the Cubs would finish games without him, but I could definitely see an argument for why he should be moved.
And here's the last thing I'll say about trades: I could see the Cubs moving Kosuke Fukudome to free up a corner spot for a younger player, but I think the Cubs would have to eat nearly all of his salary to do so, and I doubt they'd get anything good back, so why bother? OK, there, I'm done, if the team trades someone and I haven't mentioned them here I will slap myself as penance for my oversight.
Carlos Pena, Cubs, Marlon Byrd, Trade Talk
Carlos Pena, chicago cubs, Jeff Baker, John Grabow, Kosuke Fukudome, Marlon Byrd, Reed Johnson, Sean Marshall, trade rumors, trades