I’ll be heading down to Wrigley in a bit for the game between Peoria and Kane County. Let’s hope the rain holds off so the kids from both teams get to enjoy the experience. Until then, we’ll throw the forum open for trade talk.
The one thing I love about covering Lou Piniella is that he gets right to it on most subjects. While other members of the Cubs danced around the whole “buyer/seller” discussion, Lou told the writers covering the team in Phoenix that the Cubs “probably” would be sellers as the July 31 nonwaiver trade deadline approaches.
I did see that our old buddy Todd Hollandsworth refused to concede the playoffs last night on the Comcast SportsNet postgame show. In theory, Holly is right, especially since the Cardinals were busy giving up 9 runs to the Rockies last night and the Reds still haven’t convinced everybody they’re for real.
Before we get to some tradable commodities, here’s a snippet of a conversation I had with a baseball guy last week at Wrigley, where I last left the Cubs. I was talking about trades, and he said: “There are going to be all kinds of scouts here today. What are they going to see that will convince them to want a Cubs player or players?”
In other words, while people want to trade this guy and trade that guy, other teams have to want Cubs players, and we haven’t even mentioned the 10-and-5 stumbling blocks, the bad contracts and the no-trade clauses. That and the Ricketts family’s ability or inability, willingness or unwillingness, to eat money presents more questions.
Here are some players who could go, in no particular order:
2B Ryan Theriot. The Riot has had a bad year. His line currently is .277/.315/.309 and his WAR is –0.1. The walk rate is 4.8 percent, and the ISO is a microscopic .032. If the Cubs don’t trade him, they’re likely to non-tender him this fall. Theriot could be serviceable to somebody, but the rate of return isn’t going to be high _ maybe a middling A-ball player.
C Geovany Soto. I’m not saying the Cubs are shopping Soto. In fact, I think they’d be crazy to do so, as he’s been one of their most productive, and underutilized, assets. His line is .281/.406/.473. The wOBA is .390. The walk rate is 17.5 percent. The ISO is .193. The WAR is 2.1. Soto will be arb-eligible for the first time this winter. To me, he’s the kind of guy you build around. On the other hand, the Cubs could get decent prospects for him. The Cubs turned their catching duties over to Soto when he was a rookie. Would they do it again with Welington Castillo or Robinson Chirinos, with Koyie Hill as the backup? One of the few times GM Jim Hendry “sold high” in a trade was with Mark DeRosa. You could get a similar return for Soto.
LHP Ted Lilly. Teddy Ballgame isn’t Cliff Lee, but he’d certainly be attractive to a contender out there. There are some red flags, as pointed out by David Golebiewski, who writes on fangraphs.com: “…There are concerns about his waning ability to fool hitters.”
Lilly has pitched better than his 3-7 record. The ERA is 3.76, and the WHIP is a solid 1.10. The K/9 is down to 6.17. The BB/9 is 2.12. The HR/9 is 1.45, a little on the uptick. Lilly’s BABIP is .249, but because he’s a flyball pitcher, the BABIP might not creep as close to .300 as it might for other pitchers, but it still figures to rise in the final two and a half months. Lilly’s FIP is 4.62. He has 10 quality starts and a WAR of 0.9.
I’m sure the Cubs could move him; other teams have to love the guy’s competitiveness.
1B Derrek Lee. I don’t think he’s going anywhere. He’s got 10-5 rights and the no-trade. But he gets us back to the question of whom he could help. Lee’s line is .230/.327/.370. He’s got a .312 wOBA. The ISO is .273, and the BABIP is .327.
RF Kosuke Fukudome. He could be helping his value while getting some productive playing time of late. From what I’ve been told, it might be easier for Hendry to mix and match in the off-season, much as he did with Milton Bradley. Fukudome’s line is .266/.362/.440. The wOBA is .351, and the WAR is 0.9. Even though Fukudome has been one of the biggest disappointments of the Hendry regime, somebody might bite.
Closer Carlos Marmol. I’m sure there will be a rumor or two, but I don’t trade him. He became arb-eligible for the first time this year, and he’s one of your young assets. Marmol’s K/9 of 17.04 is ridiculous. The 5.98 BB/9 is down from last year. The WHIP is 1.18, which is way down from last year. I don’t trade him.
LF Alfonso Soriano. Four years to go on an egregious contract. Anything can happen, but he seems virtually untradable.
RHP Carlos Zambrano. The bad contract, not the no-trade, is the biggest obstacle. We’ll see what happens when Big Z comes back from the anger-management sessions.
Kind of forgot about Xavier Nady and Mike Fontenot, as a reader or two pointed out.
Nady is at .238/.311/.369. He could help a contender as a pinch hitter and fetch a little something. On a non-contender, having a player like this is like having a hood ornament on a jalopy.
Fontenot is an interesting case. "Little Babe Ruth" he ain't been lately, but his numbers are respectable: .302/.350/.423 with just 1 homer. The walk rate is 5.5 percent, down sharply from the 12 percent it was in his previous good days in '08. The K rate is down to 12.1 percent, when it was hovering around 20 percent in years past. Fontenot's line-drive rate is up to 27.3 percent from last year's 17.5. The flyballs have fallen from 38.4 percent to 29.5. His left-handed bat might make him attractive. It's also one reason the Cubs might want to keep him if they don't get many offers.