Chicago Cubs fans are celebrating the sweep of the White Sox. After winning the finale against the Cincinnati Reds, this brought the team to their first four-game winning streak of the season. The starting pitching has been very good as a whole, and the offense has begun to emerge from its’ early season slumber.
In lieu of some troubling comments made by Cubs fans last season, remember that this “success” is to be short-lived. If President Theo Epstein and General Manager Jed Hoyer perform their jobs correctly, the Cubs will still lose 100 games this season.
After this winning streak, the Cubs sit at a still poor 22-30 record. Extrapolating that out would put them at 66-90 with six games left to play. Even on their current pace, and supposed improvements, the Cubs are easily in reach of the triple-digit loss mark.
Now comes the important part to remember: anyone performing well that is not named Castro, Rizzo or Samardzija should be traded by the deadline at the end of July, and hopefully sooner. Cubs fans who protested the trades of Ryan Dempster, Geovany Soto and Paul Maholm last year are simply misguided, and possibly senile.
The idea is to rebuild. Last year’s team had no real chance of success. This year’s team has no real chance of success. Next year’s team has a tiny, sliver of a chance for success, if this year is properly managed. The true success would be to trade away any player with value that will not be a core part of a potential future, contending Cubs team.
This will mean parting ways with players that some out-of-touch fans may not understand. Starting pitchers Scott Feldman, Travis Wood, Carlos Villanueva and Matt Garza (assuming he can stay healthy and perform adequately) must all be traded. Feldman and Wood have ERAs under three, and Villanueva’s is at 3.65. The current they hold to a contending team is sky high. If the Cubs had a team interested this early, there is no reason not to pull the trigger on that trade.
More likely, however, the Cubs will have to wait for the season to develop a bit further. This may hurt the trade value of these players, if they cannot continue to perform at such high levels. However, this may help the value of Garza, who would likely not be moved much before the deadline anyways. To bring anything substantial in return, Garza still has much to prove, being post-injury with only nine innings pitched thus far in the season.
Starting pitching is always at a premium in MLB, and the Cubs are lucky to have four potential pieces to offer the league. The good news is that the Cubs have a few other pieces as well.
In the bullpen, Kevin Gregg and James Russell have performed well enough to earn some interest from other teams, although if there was one piece to keep from the Cubs’ pen, it would be Russell. Obviously the team will be attempting once more to part ways with Carlos Marmol as well.
The Cubs have eight pitchers to trade away right now. Management either needs to act fast, and move some of them before their value on the trade market declines, or needs to find a way to still cash-in on them as the deadline approaches. Available pitching is like gold in June and July for baseball teams. The Cubs are lucky to have plenty to offer, and if the right moves are made, the team may have new young talent that could have an impact as soon as next year.
With the two Twitter blunders of last year, the Cubs did not receive as much young talent for what they traded away as they could have. Capitalizing on this year’s situation is now that much more important. This wealth of pitching can garner some immediate returns for the Cubs, by allowing them to package players in order to receive more MLB-ready young talent in return.
If fans want 2014 to be any different than this- or last- year, they had better start rooting for the players that have impressed so far this season to be moved elsewhere. Next year will still likely be about stockpiling more young talent through trades yet again either way, but with the unique opportunities in front of them, Theo and Jed have a true opportunity to give this rebuilding process a jump start.
Trade them all, and let’s celebrate the players remaining on this team losing 100 games for two consecutive years… it may just be worth it.