It's National Rumor Week
It's everyone's favorite time of the year, so gather the kids around the fire and let's speculate away to our heart's content.
Cardinals - Like those annoying folks that get their Christmas shopping done early, the Cards are probably done wheeling and dealing picking up Matt Holliday and Mark DeRosa. They missed out on the Christmas sales and paid a steep price in prospects, but they should help a team that has basically been riding a 16-7 April to justify the spending spree.
Brewers - They found an early deal getting Felipe Lopez to play second base for them and you know they're searching far and wide for a starting pitcher. They seemed to scoff at adding Doug Davis into that Lopez deal, but looks like they have their sites set on Wisconsin native, Jarrod Washburn. Considering they have the third worst ERA in the league, and second worst among starters, I'm not sure adding Washburn and his Safeco-aided ERA is really gonna be much of a boost.
Astros - Quietly the best team in the Central since June, they've been pretty quiet in the rumor mill. Despite some reported financial struggles, Drayton McClane has a never quit mentality, so I wouldn't be surprised if they skip this deadline and look to make an August waiver trade if necessary.
Reds - Rumors abound that they were still looking for hitting, and they are in desperate need of some, but the current 6-game losing streak, has put them a lot closer to last than first. We'll see if they switch to sellers and start pawning off some of their bullpen or be bold and look to move Aaron Harang or Bronson Arroyo, although that's doubtful. Arthur Rhodes has received the most buzz so far as a player that could be moved.
Pirates - The Pittsburgh Perpetual Sellers still have a few chips they could move, namely Zach Duke, John Grabow, Freddy Sanchez and Jack Wilson. And Grabow and Sanchez sure wouldn't be poor additions to the Cubs. Sanchez though has that $8M vesting option based on plate appearances(600 since he made the All-Star team) which it looks like he'll hit, so that complicates matter significantly. If the Cubs could fit that $8M into the budget, my guess is they're going to try and keep second base flexible for a run at Chone Figgins this offseason.
Cubs - There's no doubt that Hendry is working the phone lines and trying to find something. Lou recently pined for that left-handed middle of the order bat again as Bradley isn't cutting it there with the walks and the singles. Chances are they'll just have to hope he figures it out in the last two-plus months.
A left-handed reliever seems to be the main focus. With the potential additions of B.J. Ryan and a trade, they could move Sean Marshall back to the rotation and try and weather the starting pitching injuries that have recently hit the team. Some names mentioned are Grabow, Rhodes, Joe Beimel and George Sherrill.
Knowing Hendry, he is looking to go big and I wouldn't be surprised if he's at least kicked the tires on Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee and then realized the sticker price is too high. I guess if there's one pitcher that may justify the load in prospects it could be Dan Haren. He's having another fantastic season in Arizona, with an obscene 7.42 K/BB ratio to follow up his 5.15 from last year. He's also signed through 2012 with a 2013 club option. The problem with Haren though is that he seems to tail off in the second half with a 3.08 career ERA before the break and 4.10 after the break, although the win percentage has stayed about the same if you're into that kind of thing. Plus he's an ex-Cardinal, so the Cubs can get back at the Cards for acquiring Mark DeRosa.
Bruce Levine also mentioned Mark Teahen and Orlando Cabrera in his article yesterday. I guess you can't have enough utility players in the NL. Cabrera has warmed up a bit since his awful start and brings solid defensive work with him and could move Ryan Theriot to second base at times.
We get a sideshow to go along with the actual show this week, as those super-hot Astros show up for a four-game set to take on our FIRST PLACE Cubs.
Theo inks five year extension
PC tonite at PNC
Not as a major factor, but could be a tie-breaker. But, yeah, on performance and experience, it's Coghlan.
Arrieta’s 2.85 ERA would be good enough to lead 26 other teams. He's 3rd on #Cubs behind Hendricks (1.99) and Lester (2.28)
Meanwhile on the SouthSide
For sure! Russell and Baez are the first infielders in a while to make me think of star defensive players in football or basketball--it's almost like they force turnovers, and they definitely play the field with a degree of athletic aggression I'd expect from a linebacker.
[Edit: Was meant to be a response to JB above.]
tebow hit a HR in the 1st pitch he sees in instructs..lulz.
I don't think his issue(s) will have anything to do with it. He hasn't hit since he's been back. Coghlan has the hot hand.
I'm not a denier but definitely a skeptic on Strop and Grimm, who struggle with fastball control. Strop doesn't go near the ninth inning, and note how Grimm couldn't close the deal even with a 5-run lead. So Felix Pena comes in and gets the 3-pitch game-ending strikeout like it was nothing.
And how about Almora missing that very catchable ball? That was unexpected after all the hype about his glove.
When Trea Turner misses balls like that--which he does--I draw conclusions from it. It seems to be the one chink in his armor. But I'll give Almora another chance.
Assuming Soler is good to go, I think it comes down to 3 of the following 4: Coghlan, TLS, Sczcur, Almora. Of the 4, TLS seems to be the hardest to justify, particularly given his behavioral issues.
I'm wondering if both Coghlan and LaStella make it. With Javy being able to play all the infield spots and Joe maybe wanting late-inning D when Soler plays (assuming he plays), hence either Szczur or Almora, I think LaStella might be the odd guy out.
Hendricks needs the win, anyway, plus a couple more.
My hunch is that Hendricks wins the Cy Young . . . for Lester. That is, without Hendricks tipping the scale toward the Cubs, Scherzer tops Lester.
Old Cub fans remember when Ken Hubbs died at 22 in the crash of a small plane he was piloting in a storm in Utah in 1964. But Hubbs was not an elite power pitcher like Score and Fernandez. Score lived a long time after the accident but it was (effectively) career-ending.
HAGSAG: Since I've only seen them throw in one game and in one "live" BP session, all I can do is provide initial first impressions.
Brailyn Marquez is listed at 6'4 but is probably more like 6'5 or 6'6. I would describe him as a younger version of Bryan Hudson, throwing a ton of ground balls but not getting a lot of swings & misses (yet). Because of his size he could eventually grow into more velocity, but right now he's mostly a pitch-to-contact guy. He generally throws strikes.
Phil, do Marquez and Ocampo look like prospects?
It helps when your defense has declared war against the H in WHIP.
Lackey finishes with a 3.35 ERA. Currently good for 13th in the NL. Not bad for a guy signed to be a #3 starter in a 15-team league.
He is also 6th in WHIP. Pretty amazing: Cubs have the #2, #3, #5 and #6 starters in WHIP.