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.

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Comments

whoever the hell Jeff Antigua is...he struck out 11 last night in Boise.

in 4.2 IP.

He's obviously too good for the NW league that's what he is.

We're in first place. What's the urgency of a trade now? As Carrie Muskat wrote yesterday, when FatSoto returns from the DL it will be just like getting a player in a trade :^ ) Same goes for Lilly. Same goes for Bradley's bat. Same goes for Fontenot's bat. Same goes for Aaron Miles' bat. Same goes for.....

and Dempster's back! Woo Hoo!!

Rob,

I know this is looking at next season, but I am right there with you on Chone Figgins at 2B next year. Whenever you can find a real leadoff hitter, get him and for whatever the price. He's perfect, switch hitter, patient, contact guy with enough pop, and speed. It's the only position we don't have a ready starter at or large contract invested in. The lineup with him for next year: Figgins, Dome, Lee, ARam, "Hittin' Badly" Bradley, Fonso, Soto, Theriot. We could always switch Theriot and Dome.

Also, I am glad Antigua is doing something of note. He killed the DSL in '07 at 17 and has a good size for a lefty.

I like the youth movement we are having in Boise and really throughout the system. This is caused by the weakness of the '02-'06 drafts we had, but the last two or three drafts have been okay. I understand Fox, Hoffy, Theriot, Marshall and Soto came from bad years, but they were still pretty weak overall. Wilkens is going in better direction though. Athletic players (SS and CF) and lots of lefties. And I think everyone likes the new trend of bringing in young Pacific Rim guys. Lee, Ha and Min have been fun to read about.

It's kind of ironic that Beimel is one of our potential trade targets when anyone, including us, could have signed him for 1 yr 2 mil once he finally realized he wasn't going to get the deal he wanted. Bowden with the Nats was smart in one of his final moves to add a cheap free agent they can deal for prospects.

Beimel or Grabow is fine in my book. I do hope that if they deal for a lefty reliever and they perform well for us that Hendry re-signs them so we're not in this situation again next year.

Turns out Beimel actually got a 3 year $9 million deal, Bowden just transferred most of it to his Swiss bank account.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09208/986646-63.stm

from the Pittsburgh side of what's available and who is interested...including the cubs

I've been harping a lot about Aaron Hill, but Scutaro is having a good year and a FA after the season. Might be a nice rental...can play SS, 3B and 2B, even a little outfield if desperate.

(Also via mlbtraderumors)...Scutaro will probably be a type A AND the Jays will probably try to sign him next year even if they trade him. That probably makes him more expensive, but also adds to his value.

Not tying to threadjack, but a question for AZ Phil or anyone else who might know the answer:

As Brett Jackson did, I would assume DJ LaMahieu will spend a week or so playing in Mesa before he moves to Boise.

My question is what happens to Hak Ju Lee (SS, 18 yrs. old, 341/399/432) or Logan Watkins (2B, 19 yrs. old, 328/395/403)? Do you think either one of them will move up to Peoria, or will LaMahieu (even though that's a big jump for a guy in week two of his pro career)? Or will they split time in Boise, with a rotation of three filling two field positions and the DH (might just be the right option given Lee's struggling with his throws to first)? I suppose it's a good problem to have--too many prospects for the positions (and one that would be made even more complicated if Flaherty was doing anything in Peoria)--but it will be interesting how the organization manages it.

It would make the most sense to move LaMahieu up to low A, he's older and has faced some pretty good competition in the SEC and CWS, unless the Cubs are trying to re-work his swing as has been mentioned a couple of times by the LSU coach.

Musket says "Meanwhile, infielder DJ LeMahieu, the Cubs' second-round pick out of LSU, was to join Class A Peoria on Tuesday."

Good call on predicting where he'd end up!

"if Flaherty was doing anything at Peoria"

I'm inclined to defend Flaherty (I've done it before), who, while only hitting .245 at Peoria, is doing something: he has 13 homers and 49 RBI. This is a middle infielder in July of his first full season.

I also like the season shortstop Junior Lake is enjoying at Peoria, .254 batting average and all. He's 19 and holding his own.

That's definitely a good point. I find myself--who follows the system extensively--sometimes making mistakes like those: expecting results, and when I write results I mean those numbers we'd all associate with a good season, and forgetting about the myriad of other factors at play (such as age, years professional, etc.). As a defender of Flaherty, where do you see him ending up, at short or at second?

I'm bullish on these young shortstops. (Of course, I've never actually seen any of them.) I would expect that sooner than we think it will come down to Castro-Lee-Lake at shortstop, with the two losers and everyone else including Theriot, Barney, LeMahieu, Flaherty, Watkins and Harrison fighting for second base and also maybe third and left.

Just with all this ferment in the organization, I could die a happy Cub fan. It's going to be a lot better than Pie/Patterson/Murton.

Regarding Lee's throws, Black--

I think rangy teenage shortstops get in trouble with their throws. Maybe they have to learn when not to release the ball. Castro has 30 errors, and Lake has 27. I watch the box scores, and they tell you whether an error involved glove or arm. I know most of these errors are throwing.

The solution is not to DH but to keep playing short and get a year or two older.

I just took a quick look and Derek Jeter, at 19, committed 56 errors at Greensboro.

Wow, I knew Jeter made a lot of errors, but 56!

Their release point sends balls sailing (where most of the throwing errors go), but a big part of it is footwork as well. Watch any MLB shortstop and the footwork is perfect. Even Theriot, who doesn't have a cannon for an arm, sets himself properly. Watching minor league and amateur ball, they can be a mess: throwing off their back foot, using all arm no body, lazily slinging it from 3/4 arm slot.

I just took a quick look and Derek Jeter, at 19, committed 56 errors at Greensboro.

You continue to say this, and in turn continue to imply that Jeter somehow became good defensively at some point.

Derek Jeter may be the worst defensive SS in baseball.

There are a lot of "baseball fans" who would be happy to "debate" this point with you.

"You continue to say this . . ."

I don't think I've ever typed Jeter's name before.

All I really know about him is A) he's headed for the hall of fame and B) when the Yankees had two HOF shortstops, the other guy moved over to play third.

You, meanwhile, persist in saying that Soriano is a good outfielder.

The Yankees didn't move A-Rod to third because Jeter played a better shorstop.

I don't think I've ever typed Jeter's name before.

Pretty sure you said the exact same thing (about the number of Jeter errors) a few weeks ago. But maybe it was someone else. UPDATE: Oops... it wasn't you. My bad. But my point is still the same. Using Jeter's error total to justify another bad defensive short stop in the minor leagues doesn't make much sense.

he's headed for the hall of fame

What does that have to do with his defense?

when the Yankees had two HOF shortstops, the other guy moved over to play third.

And you think that is because Jeter is better defensively? That is funny.

If that is all you know, you probably shouldn't try to pretend that he good defensively.

You, meanwhile, persist in saying that Soriano is a good outfielder.

I am not sure, at all, how that is relevant to Jeter. And, FWIW, Soriano has been awful defensively this year. In previous years he has been solid, or even above average, LF.

I think this thread has lost sight of the point: Jeter made a lot of errors, yep he did. But he became a legit SS at the big league level, won some rings, and will end up in the HoF. The Cubs kiddos (Lee in particular) on the farm are making a lot of errors as well, just like Jimmy Rollins and Edgar Renteria (World Series ring holding, gold glovers) did when they were that age. And Lee is putting up better offensive numbers. So, be excited.

It appears Jeter's range is a hot subject among statistically inclined defensive fans. I walked into that one, quite innocently.

Usually the guy who plays shortstop is your best infielder. It's a good rule of thumb (even if for some reason it's not true in the case of Jeter). I use this rule to infer that Junior Lake is better defensively than Ryan Flaherty.

'88 looks like the earliest year for which minor-league error counts are available. Omar Vizquel was 21 (not 19), and made 25 errors.

In 21 seasons in the majors, he made 183 errors. If a season is 145 games, he played 18 seasons, so that's about 10 per year. In other words, the errors start high and go down.

from mlbtraderumors site, former Iowa Cub farmhand pitcher Mike Burns turns back into a pumpkin. It also implies that the tuesday spot might be taken by upcoming trade (Washburn?)

Brewers optioned RHP Mike Burns to Triple-A Nashville.
Burns wasn't all that impressive in five starts with the Brewers, going 2-3 with a 7.20 ERA. As of now, the team hasn't announced a starter for Tuesday, so something will have to give. Stay tuned on that front.

WGN radio said Dempster will start Tuesday. And Cubs.com shows the probables for the next 5 days as Z, Dempster, Wells, Hart, and Harden.

Ummm.. I'm pretty sure he's talking about the Brewers, not the Cubs, PN...

LaTroy Hawkins in in town but he's getting a precautionary MRI on his weak back...that happened oh, about a week back

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/sports/bb/6548...

hopefully he's be availiable to suck in the 8th inning tonight...

Ugh...that was beautiful, Cubster.

Rays and RSox both trying to get in on a Cliff Lee/V. Martinez trade according to a link via mlbtraderumors...

Heyman says Rsox also making a play for Adrian Gonzalez...

 http://twitter.com/SI_JonHeyman/status/2874481627

He got that rumor hot off his Tivo of Baseball Tonight last night.

There's been a lot of wood flying around the infield during the Cubs games over the last couple of weeks. I was thinking that they should implement a rule that if a piece of your bat goes flying you're automatically out... but usually you're out when that happens anyway. So now I am thinking they should eject you from the game. Eventually someone is going to get killed, and the hitters don't really need these dry bats anyway.

That is a good point.

I wonder if bat makers have tried all of the hard-woods to study breakage stats? Does imperfections in the wood (i.e. a "knot"), when impact happens, cause shattering?

OF our renewable resources, aren't oak, ash, and maple supposed to "take a beating"?

The stuff today splinters like particle board.

Everyone I've heard talk about it says the maple bats are the ones that break most often and most dangerously--because the maple bats are basically baked. That is, they are heated so that they are harder and lighter, but also more brittle. The ash bats are a little softer and denser, so they don't break nearly as often, and their grain is different, so they tend to break in smaller pieces.

I can attest to the fact that the ash bats break less often at least. Even the cheap ones.

As far as ejecting the player, I'm not sure that's necessary. But I do think that maybe he should automatically be out if the bat flies into play. I also think he should be out if he throws his bat, into play or otherwise. I don't think these are changes that need to be made right away, though. How many players have been hurt by broken bats so far? I can't think of any. The ball is more dangerous.

Jake Fox got a piece of splintered bat stuck in his calf muscle this season while playing first base in Iowa...

so players should be penalized for using approved equipment?

no.

if it's a hazard to players then have MLB make them illegal. until then players have to deal with it.

How do you suggest they make them illegal?

you have to be kidding me.

real tough to do. real tough

It's not maple bats that are the problem. It's putting them in a kiln for 8 hours. How do you intend to make those illegal?

mariano rivera would have a 0.50 career ERA.

Heyman says Rsox also making a play for...
---
Is he making an impassioned play?

The town vowed that if God were to spare them from the effects of the bubonic plague ravaging the region, they would perform a play every ten years

Hey, we've got 100 years under OUR belts, time for Hendry's Passion Play!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oberammergau_Passion_...

mlbtraderumors on Wuertz

The Angels are one of many teams interested in reliever Michael Wuertz. He's under team control through 2011 and strikes out 11.8 batters per nine innings, so the A's would have to be wowed to move him.

I'm sure if he moves, Beane will get more than this:

On February 2, 2009, Wuertz was traded to the Oakland Athletics for minor leaguers Richie Robnett and Justin Sellers

In order... I'd find:

1. A replacement for Fontenot, someone who can fill in Ramirez, ya know... just in case.

2. A veteran left-handed reliever.

3. A veteran starter.

In Chef Hendry's hands that's a recipe for disaster.

Yes, Jeff Baker does not count for item #1

2/3rds are already done

1. Jeff Baker

2. BJ Ryan

3. ?????

3. Glendon Rusch or Steve Trachsel

Hendry, git-r-done.

http://mlb.fanhouse.com/2009/07/27/firmly-sellers-...

arroyo, harang and cordero are mentioned..

Hmmm...I'm not trying to be a Real Neal on semantics, but I get that the Reds would "like to get a deal done if one can be made" not they "are 'close' to a deal" - from this quote from the article:

"an indication to a major league source that the team is "close to doing something," most likely involving one of its big-money pitchers..."

I suppose this is "close to a deal"?

Not much detail here... meh

KEEP THOSE RUMORS GOING!@

I guess things could always be worse...we could be Mets fans these days.

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=4359215

There's a good book that could be written about 2009 Mets and new Citifield park.

That's some funny shit.

"This year, Bernazard drew criticism because the Mets' farm system has been unable to supply players to replace injured stars such as center fielder Carlos Beltran, first baseman Carlos Delgado, pitcher John Maine, shortstop Jose Reyes and setup man J.J. Putz."

Funny on multiple levels.

1. Steal underwear

2.??????

3.Success

Wittenmeyer/sun-times has lineups vs Astros:

Reed Johnson (CF), Theriot, DLee, ARam, Bradley, Soriano, Baker (2B), Hill, Z vs Lefty/Wandy Rodriguez

we got two...

Dickerson to DL with bruised rotator cuff

Owings to DL with tightness in right shoulder

nobody say, "kill the ump", cause our voodoo karma seems to be working.

I don't think Riccardi from Toronto is a very good GM, but I think the best "chip" his team could get for the ace is to make the buyer take Wells and 90-100 percent of his outrageous contract as well.

That would do more for Toronto going forward than any realistic number of top-shelf prospects.

If he could trade Halladay and Wells for one Drabek-level pitching prospect, the team would be in a lot better shape.

If you haven't seen this yet, ESPN has a list of the 15 Players with the least trade value.

Alfonso Soriano is #6.

http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=sc...

Yeah - that Mike Fontenot. What a valuable guy.

What a piece of shit.

Tonight's game, the "Fontenot Game", is why I believed Julio Lugo would have been a better solution than this AAA guy. Of course ROB G thinks, "he sucks". Sorry, but he would have been an upgrade at this position and I'd take his offense any day over Fontenot. I hope he punched his AAA ticket tonight.

Of course, then we'd be "too right handed."

I haven't been able to watch the game. I see in the box score that he only has 1 PH AB, though, so I wonder--why are you dubbing this the Fontenot game?

He completely whiffed on a bunt on a suicide squeeze play.

And no only did he wiff, but it was on a fastball right over the plate.

I wasn't following too closely, but I think it was his poor relay throw that kept them from tagging what's his name out at 3rd.

And, yeah, I'm ready for him to go back to the bench.

Oh yea... forgot about that play too.

Remember when he was decent?

In parachat we have decided to call Fonty Esther now.

Read about the movie "Orphan" for explaination.

I actually liked the call there. Not a huge fan of the suicide with a big guy at 3rd, but I think that one would have worked. Lou called it on the right pitch, too. Just didn't execute it.

Lugo has had OPS's of .643 and .685 his last 2 full seasons, Fontenot is at .675. What offense are you talking about and how is that an improvement?

He's 8/14 as a Cardinal now, but it's not an upgrade, it's just chair shuffling.

I'm all for replacing Fontenot, but let's actually upgrade, not just put a new body in there. Otherwise, might as well give Bobby Scales the job.

If we're using what we've got, I'd put Theriot there and put Blanco at short. Otherwise, I'd want Aaron Hill or Freddy Sanchez...or Chase Utley.

Thank you Sori!

WHOOOO!!!

That was a bomb.

Lost in this was another quality start from Z.

That was a bomb.

Lost in this was another quality start from Z.

WOW

Looks like AJ and Cuban Missle got into it in Sox dugout tonight.

How about that Mark Buerhle?

A lot going on in this game tonight, but let's not forget that Zambrano pitched a very nice game and pitched deep.

too soon for a magic number?

Nice night for Dlee also.

Need to bench his ass.

from an earlier Wittenmeyer twitter:

Lilly had scope on knee today, had damaged meniscus removed. Lou says mid-August still targeted return.

http://twitter.com/CST_CUBS

Though my fantasy teams would probably like it. Besides extending our lead this week, my other hope is that Halladay stays out of the NL.

this has been somewhat overlooked but the single past Tejada by Aramis in the 13th inning was the key to that inning, imho. That made it 1st/3rd...no outs. Bradley, Soriano, Fox due up.

ARam, had a nice and unsung night.

I was kind of hoping it would have been Fox's night to win it. He made an excellent stop on a high pitch by Shark in the to of the 13th and Lou mentioned that in his postgame interview.

Also the fact that Heilman and Marmol were able to pitch two innings without surrendering a walk was nice, and a good sign. I wonder if Stevens is going to get a little more pitching time now that he's K'ing a few batters.

With all the cutters and tailing fastballs these days, it was almost strange to see his four-seamer blowing guys away at 92-94. I don't know if he just hides it real well or if guys aren't expecting the lack of sink, but that looks to be an effective pitch.

52-45...7 games over .500 ties the high water mark for the season. Nice to get back up here.

Lou in postgame interview also said he really liked how Stevens was pitching, really going after hitters.

...and he was almost gigly when he said Berg was going to be the next pitcher in.

apparently he said Guzman would not have been used and probably not Gregg either.

Giants get Ryan Garko from Tribe for lefty pitching prospect (Scott Barnes)

http://castrovince.mlblogs.com/

there's a PTBNL as well going the Indians way...

is Grady Sizemore available?

If he is, he's the kind of player worth emptying the bank for. Definitely worth kicking the tires on. The two questions are, would the cubs be willing to trade Soto and Vitters, and would a deal revolving around those two be enough for Cleveland to accept? And would Cleveland want Soto with Shoppach already on the roster in his pre-arb years? (assuming this would free up Martinez for a trade).

I think that was a joke. No, Sizemore is not available.

Sullivan/Tribune had this comment on Lilly's surgery:

Lilly's knee surgery goes well.

Cubs left-hander Ted Lilly underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee on Monday, a 25-minute procedure performed by team physician Stephen Gryzlo.

http://blogs.chicagosports.chicagotribune.com/spor...

http://www.dailyherald.com/story/?id=309777

Beimel and Grabow mentioned again..

Fer gawd's sake, can we end the Mike Fontenot Experience at this point? Wow, he just isn't any good. Period.

Kevin Hart, Fontenot and Micah Hoffpauir for Mark Teahan and former Cub Ron Mahay? Would seem to solve two problems for the Cubs, and Royals would get young, cheap help and save some money*. Teahan has the same versaliity as the Departed-Hall-of-Famer-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named (he hit another HR tonight), Teahan would be a slight offensive upgrade over Fontenot.** Mahay hasn't been nearly as effective this year as he was the last couple of years, but he has pitched better the last month and a half and he has a 1.11 WHIP against LH batters this season. Considering he'd be used strictly as a LOOGY on the Cubs, I can dig that WHIP.

Hart and Hoffpauir are spare parts for us, but could actually start for KC.

* Mahay gets $4MM in 09, Teahan gets $3.6MM. Mahay is a free agent after the 09 season, Teahan is arbitration eligible but under club control for 2010.

** OPS 792 this year, low 700s previous two years. Strikes out too much but carries a 290+ BA this year.

WAIT - you want to actually get a former Cub, BACK?!

If I were to scratch my head an appropriate amount over this one, I wouldn't have any hair left.

Unless the economy magically rebounds, Teahan will be a free agent after this season, fwiw.

Call up Tony Thomas and stick him at 2nd.

Or Trade and get EPatt back.

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