Let The Speculation Begin!

June 19, 2008 | Comments (0) | by Rich Funk

We keep hearing from Jim Hendry and Sweet Lou that while they love the current Cubs team, they're never satisfied and will do what they need to do to upgrade the club wherever and whenever they can.

While this is a good thing to hear from your GM under most circumstances, Hendry's constant tinkering and plotting can sometimes be too much. Example 1 is the recent Murton/Patterson swap. If you're going to only give Patterson 8 at bats before sending him back down, why not just call Murton up in the first place? I'm sure Jim knows a hell of a lot more than I do about running a baseball team, but if I can't second guess and complain in this post-9/11 society, then the terrorists have truly won.

Despite the fact the Cubs have the best record in the majors, we are a team that has some holes. Because of this, everyone expects the Cubs to be in on a ton of major trade talks this month. Here are my random thoughts on the subject.

Who can we afford to get rid of?

With Soriano and Fukudome locked in at the corner infield spots for the next few years and a really good chance that we'll have yet another highly touted 5 tool centerfielder prospect in the Corey Patterson/Felix Pie mold crash and burn (I seriously believe this cycle will continue every 3-4 years), the outfield is pretty set, so anyone not named Soriano and Fukudome is fair game. I also consider Rich Hill and the Seans (Gallagher and Marshall) to be available and expendable, especially if another pitcher comes back in return. With Fontenot, Theriot and DeRosa on the roster, Ronny Cedeno could be shipped off for something useful and I wouldn't really care. Same goes for the Bizarro Murton (Eric Patterson).

Am I suggesting that the Cubs trade all of those guys and completely empty the cupboard? Not yet. I'm just saying who I think should be available. The list currently looks like this:

Matt Murton
Tyler Colvin
Felix Pie
Micah Hoffpauir

Eric Patterson
Ronny Cedeno

Rich Hill
Sean Gallagher
Sean Marshall

(NOTE: I'd list Jason Marquis in there as well, but I can't ever imagine anyone wanting that guy unless he somehow learned to vomit $100 bills.)

Who's out there?

This is where things get a little tricky, since there aren't many teams that are out of the race yet, and some teams that were left for dead a few weeks ago (San Diego and Colorado) are showing signs of life in weak-ass divisions. But here are a few people that may be available over the next month or so:

C.C. Sabathia: If this guy gets traded, expect the Cubs to be one of many teams that are in the hunt for him. I'm not familiar with the Indians' minor league system, so I'm not 100% sure what they need, but it seems like some corner outfield help and a decent middle infielder would be on their list, with some starting pitching thrown in to boot. Can we get him? I think so, and he's the kind of guy that you wouldn't feel too bad shipping off a bunch of guys to get, even if he leaves at the end of the season. At least you'd collect the 2 draft picks when he bolts out of town. In fact, I'd feel better about letting him leave and getting the picks than signing him to even a 4 year deal and seeing him eat his way out of being useful a la Miguel Cabrera. Are Murton, Marshall, Patterson and Cedeno enough to land C.C.?

A.J. Burnett: What is it with pitchers going by their initials instead of having a first name and being connected to the Cubs in trade talks? Is J.J. Putz next? Anyway, Burnett has gone so far as to say that he would love to play for the Cubs. Someone needs to tell this guy that he's still under contract with Toronto. Can we get him? At this point, between Burnett's boner for the Cubs and Toronto's surly attitude toward him, I don't think it would take a whole lot to aquire A.J.'s services.

Do we really need anymore outfielders, especially centerfielders?

I understand why we went out and got Reed Johnson. And even tough I hated it at the time, the Jim Edmonds signing is actually working out decently enough. And yet every morning when I hit these here interwebs, I read things about the Cubs looking for more outfield help. Why? The Reed Johnson/Edmonds tandem seems to be working out pretty well for us so far. And if we need some extra help, why on Earth would the Cubs trade for someone like Coco "Thug" Crisp when Kenny Lofton is out there just waiting for a phone call. Same with Reggie Sanders. The point is, I don't think we need any other outfielders. Unless a fantastic offer comes out of nowhere (Matt Holliday becomes available and can play a decent centerfield), I think the outfield is just fine the way it is and I don't see the point in trading for a Coco Crisp or Griffey Jr.

Would it be worth it to bet the farm on 2 big aquisitions?

You mean would I bet the farm and ship everyone listed above off for both Sabathia and Burnett? I'd be tempted. You're mortgaging the future, but if it got a World Series win this year, would it really matter? In a short series, wouldn't a right/left/right/left rotation of Zambrano, Sabathia, Burnett and Lilly scare the crap out of anyone?