Perplexing, Isn't It?
So the trade deadline came and went, not with a bang, but a whimper. The only move that Hendry sought fit to make was trade Kosuke Fukudome and about $4M for a couple of non-descript minor leaguers. Ones that must be better than what the Cubs already have per Hendry's reasoning below. It was also a move Hendry indicated had to happen so they could make room for Tyler Colvin, whom promptly sat on Sunday night versus a right-handed starter.
Hendry's reasoning behind the rest of the inaction...
“There’s not somebody waiting to take [Pena's] place for next year
in-house like Tyler is hopeful to do that in the outfield in moving
Fuke,” Hendry said. You have to look at it that way, too.
“The other factor, if you get a second-tier or two prospect back
and you already have people better than that in your own system, then
you really haven’t done anything to help the organization, and then
you’re also put in the spot where if you add minor-league players today,
that means somebody’s going to be sent backwards in our system or
eliminated. That’s just the way I looked at it.”
It's tough to play armchair GM when you don't know what the offers were, but that hasn't stopped the blogosphere and the media before. The problem for me and I suspect many of you is Hendry's tone that essentially most of the team can be part of a winning club in 2013. It's that sort of detached reality that is infuriating. What's also infuriating is the notion that seemed prevalent in a few of the articles yesterday that one of the reasons they didn't move Pena was because they're considering bringing him back next year, presumably if they can't land Prince Fielder or Albert Pujols. I'm not necessarily against bringing Pena back if that ends up the case, but since he's a free agent regardless at the end of the year, his agent is Scott Boras and currently he would not net the Cubs any draft pick compensation even if they offer arbitration, keeping him around does little to increase the Cubs chances of resigning him. And it's certainly not outweighed by whatever marginal prospects they couldn't have gotten back.
The other guy that seemed to have some real interest from other teams was Marlon Byrd, well at least from the Braves. I understand the Cubs would still need to be looking for a center fielder next year if they did trade him, on the other hand he'll be 34 next year and on a good year, he's barely touching an .800 OPS. This doesn't seem like it's that hard to replace even if Brett Jackson isn't ready. But I would have been happy with Jordan Shafer and a minor league arm myself.
As for the Fukudome deal. you fine readers seemed upset over the haul of prospects. For a corner outfielder that doesn't hit home runs and has a .664 OPS since April 29th, they got what they could in my opinion. Abner Abreu seems to have some upside at age 21 and some love from the scouts for his bat speed and potential power (6-3" frame), some of which started to show this year. He also seems to play some decent defense with a real good arm. Unfortunately a career 25.9% K rate and not much willingness to take a walk, means he'll either have to find that power or change his approach radically to become a regular. But a 5th outfielder is a necessity as well and Abreu still has time on his side to reach that lofty goal.
As for Carlton Smith, well you can't have enough pitching. As a converted catcher, he started showing some strikeout ability this season with a K rate over 9 per inning. The walk and home run rates are a little high, but another possible bullpen arm, one that is presumably not too far from the majors isn't a terrible thing to acquire.
While blogging is generally all about over the top reactions with little information, I generally try to see both sides of the issue and understand what Hendry or Cubs management is doing and most importantly, understand we as fans are only privy to part of the process. Guys like Byrd, Baker, Grabow and so forth can just as easily be traded in August or the offseason for likely similar hauls then what can be had now. But the lack of interst and motivation in moving Carlos Pena is one that I just can't wrap my head around. I read what Hendry had to say and that makes some sense, but there's just little reason for me to believe, they're in any better position to resign him if they traded him and that he offers much to the Cubs the next 2 months, other than keeping them farther from the #1 draft pick if he sticks around and plays decently.
Phil, your knowledge of the Cubs Minor League system is unbelievable.
This kid would be a key piece in a trade for a pitcher, imo.
This might be old news but Hammel was on ESPN 1000 and said that he changed his diet and workout routine over the off season and tweaked his delivery so it'd be more repeatable so he'd have a better second half. So...some cause for optimism anyway.
CHILDERS: RHSP Dylan Cease and LHSP Bryan Hudson are probably the top two SP prospects in the organization right now.
LHSP Jose Paulino has electric stuff (91-94 MPH fastball with sinking action and a mid-80's slider), but he also has trouble commanding it.
RHP Jose Albertos (2015 IFA - Mexico - $1.5M bonus) just turned 17 in November, and his fastball already sits at 95-96. He also throws a curve and a change-up, and is fairly advanced for a kid his age.
AZBOBBOP: Most of 2016 draft picks will get assigned to either Eugene or AZL Cubs, but the Opening Day Eugune roster will probably be almost 100% from the Extended Spring Training squad roster (pending the arrival of draft picks).
I think I can probably tell you which pitchers and players at EXST are in contention for roster slots at Eugene and which are in contention for slots with the AZL Cubs - AS THINGS STAND RIGHT NOW - (listed alphabetically):
* bats or throws left
# bats both
Eloy Jimenez atop the leader board for minor-league home runs in the Cub system, with seven. Tied with Balaguert and Vogelbach, two 24-year-olds. Jimenez won't be 20 until late November. Leads the Midwest League in SLG and OPS. Maybe he'll get promoted to the Myrtle Beach squad that visits Woodbridge, VA, in June or Frederick, MD, in August.
Watched two Pelican games at Frederick the other week. Was most impressed by Stinnett and Happ. Happ may swing harder than Javier Baez, though more compactly. (Also got to see Brockmeyer hit a bomb.)
E-MAN: Jose Paniagua isn't a string-bean, but I wouldn't say he necessarily bulked-up during the 2015-16 off-season either, He led the DSL Cubs in HR and doubles in 2014, and he showed XBH power when he arrived in Mesa last year, leading the AZL Cubs in HR, doubles, and RBI in 2015. It's just that he has taken his HR power to a new level this year.
Paniagua displayed plus-HR power in Cactus League Minor League Spring Training games in March, and that got him a slot on the South Bend Opening Day roster. But he was sent to EXST after only six MWL games.
More on the Cub Way.
Martinez is one of my least favorite pitchers in baseball. I'd love to see a game like yesterday's against him.
Send Soler down!
Awesome thanks AZ
Great report, Phil! This organization has so many hitters to be excited about.
Ben Zobrist is very enjoyable to watch!!!!!!
given that he seems to only be throwing low 90s these days rather than the 93-96mph he used to throw, along with his wildness issues this year, he may end up passing through.
i dunno if something is wrong with him physically or his past shoulder issues has rendered him what he currently is, but he's been throwing a lot of sliders he can't control well and his fastball isn't as sharp. even when his slider wasn't working in a game he was still throwing a lot of them.
Any scuttlebutt on where Neil Ramirez gets traded?
He seems better than some of the relievers on competitive teams. He ought to bring more than the waiver fee.
My guess? Toronto.
PHIL: It seems as if Paniagua has always played 1B with the Cubs. At 6'2 and 180#, what is his frame like? String bean? Have you seen him bulk up? Where do you project him? Thanks.
Phil, what's your thoughts on which position players are going to Eugene and who is staying in AZL?