Warming Up the Hot Stove
The entire TCR staff is still in mourning, what can we say, we take this shit personally. A relatively decent rumor though has gone through the wires as we start prepping for the most inconsequential regular season ever for the Cubs - the 2009 season. Because even if the Cubs are fielding an All-Star at every position, win 120 games and outscore their opponents by five runs a game, none of that shit will matter to anyone until they win some playoff games and get to the World Series.
As for the rumor, the Padres are suffering some money problems as one of their owners is in the middle of divorce proceedings that may cause him to sell his 49% stake in the club. The Padres debunked that rumor...sort of, but nonetheless San Diego is a pretty small market and are coming off a 99-loss season with not a whole lot of talent to build upon. They did have quite a few injuries last year, but not enough to warrant that bad a season.
If they do go the rebuild process, they're best trading chip would be their ace pitcher Jake Peavy and he is available for the right price. It doesn't sound like the Padres have to move him like the Twins did with Johan Santana this last offseason. Santana was going to be a pending free agent after 2008 while Peavy signed an extension last offseason that wil pay him, $11 M in 2009, $15 M in 2010, $16 M in 2011, $17 M in 2012 and a $22 M team option with a $4 M buyout in 2013. The tricky part is Peavy has a no-trade clause so he basically gets his say on where he gets to go.
Good news is that if you have dreams of Peavy wearing a Cubs uniform next season, his agent Barry Axelrod said that Peavy has a strong desire to stay in the National League and even went on mention specifically the cities of Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles and St. Louis. I don't doubt that any of those teams could make a legitimate run at Peavy although I'm quite sure the Padres will avoid the Los Angeles Dodgers if at all possible.
But do the Cubs have what it takes to land Peavy? Well, that sure is the million dollar question. The other question is if his elbow problems from last year are a cause for concern and at least one armchair pitching coach believes it will be. That's one for the doctors and trainers to discuss, or if you're the Cubs one for them to completely ignore and carry on like everything will be just fine.
The cost for Johan Santana last year was four pretty decent prospects from the Mets system, but the Twins were backed up against the proverbial rock and a hard place last season so it sounded like they took a lesser deal. I think four prospects is a pretty good barometer although the quality of them might have to be a little higher than the Mets gave up with Peavy already under contract.
If I had to formulate a guess on the type of players it might take to get Peavy in a Cubs uniform I would guess something along the lines of - Rich Hill, Felix Pie, Jose Ceda and one of Jeff Samardzija, Geovany Soto or Carlos Marmol. Now Samardzija has a no-trade clause and I doubt that the Soto or Marmol would be available, but if you're the Padres I think those are the quality of players they would want. Hill could do wonders in that ballpark with his flyball tendencies and the Padres have always had an affection for Felix Pie. But both now are on the "damaged goods" side of the equation and that's going to lower they're value. Ceda would be a gift for that Todd Walker trade that brought him here and then if you're the Padres and trading Jake Peavy, I think you need to at least get one ready for the majors now with 4-5 years of club control player and that's why I mentioned Samardzija, Soto or Marmol. I doubt they'd get moved and maybe there's another Cubs in the system that could get it done, but as I said, I think that's the type of players the Padres would ask for, even if not those individual names.
And if the Cubs do start talking with the Padres, I hope they do a little inquiry on one Adrian Gonzalez. I do doubt that he's getting moved as he's signed to a very affordable deal over the next few years. From Cot's Contracts....
07:$0.5M, 08:$0.75M, 09:$3M, 10:$4.75M, 11:$5.5M club option (no buyout)
Nonetheless, he's the left-handed power stick that the Cubs middle of the order could desperately use. He's also two years younger and been just as good as the uber-free agent of the offseason, Mark Teixeira. You scoff at that I'm sure, but their WARP-3 numbers (Wins Above Replacement Player and factors in defense) courtesy of Baseball Prospectus.
Mark Teixeira since 2005: 9.2, 7.7, 7.8, 10.8
Adrian Gonzalez: .2, 7.5, 8.8, 8.6
Of course, that means the Cubs would have to move Derrek Lee somewhere and with a no-trade clause, a huge salary and declining skills, that's going to be a tough task.
Back to Peavy, if the Cubs could somehow swing a deal you have a possible rotation that could look like this:
Jake Peavy, Carlos Zambrano, Rich Harden, Ted Lilly, Jason Marquis
I would of course assume the acquisition of Peavy would mean that Dempster doesn't get resigned and trust me, I'm fine with that. I suppose it's possible that the Cubs could actually move Rich Harden in a deal with the Padres and resign Dempster, but I doubt that. And with us just at the cusp of the hot stove league and before organizational meetings have even happened, it's a bit foolish to start projecting the 2009 Cubs roster. Nonetheless, a few embers from the hot stove to keep us all warm at night.
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.
Completely meaningless game, but Pena striking out Sean the Turd to with the bases loaded was very fun.
Other than one bad game in SD, Pena has been very good. Even with that game, 9.0 IP, 13 K, 0.89 WHIP.
101 wins...most since 1910 (104).
neat. ...or sad. pick one. pick both. 'murica.
Just looked up Grimm's stats -- after a great run, he gave up 2 runs vs. MIL then didn't pitch for 10 days. Don't remember why?