February 20, 2008 | Comments (0) | by Rich Funk

Welcome to the first edition of THUNDERWATCH: 2008, where the Saloon will keep you updated on the status of our favorite redhead and our very namesake. Sure, Thunder Matt's name has been thrown around in trade rumors since December, but he's not gone yet. And yes, we do have a contingency plan just in case he is shipped somewhere else, but that doesn't mean that we've given up all hope and accepted the fact that he's gone.

So what's new on the Thunder Matt Murton front? There seems to have been a false alarm this morning. News broke out that Brian Roberts, the player Murton is most likely going to be traded for, was not in camp today. Moreover, he was at the doctor's office. Pre-trade physical? Nope, he's just sick.

Rumor has it that the more time that goes by, the less of a chance there seems to be that Mr. Murton will be traded. Personally, if I were the Orioles, I would hang on to Roberts until mid-season and trade him at the deadline. Sure, they could get a few young players from the Cubs right now, but how much more could they get if July rolls around and the Cubs are crapping out on offense and have the Brewers breathing down their necks? What if another contending team loses their 2B and needs a quick fix trade? If the Santana Circlejerk taught us anything, it's that you'll never get as much as you want in a trade if there's only a few willing trade partners.

I just hope that the Cubs don't overpay if they do end up with Roberts. Sure, it may seem like we have 8 people vying for the 5 rotation spots, but we don't want to deplete that depth too much. I'm almost 100% certain that the rotation won't repeat their health of last year, and we're going to need some replacements. What if Lieber doesn't pan out? What if Marquis is as bad as the second half of 2007 for the whole year? The Cubs have already said they won't part with Felix Pie, so that's a good start. The only current Cub I have no problem shipping out is Ronny Cedeno. Nothing against the kid, but he seems like one of those guys that is stuck between being able to murder AAA pitching and not being able to handle big league stuff. He's the new Corey Patterson.

Speaking of Corey Patterson, what happens if Pie goes the same route and just downright stinks. When he goes back to AAA and Fukudome moves to center, who's gonna play right field? Cliff Floyd? Gone. Jock Jones? Gone.

That leaves one man. The one man that, at least for now, is still a Cub.