The Chicago Cubs may have interest in trading a number of players on the roster, but it’s not going to be easy. Many have no-trade rights; others have expensive contracts; and others still might figure into the Cubs’ future plans.

For those reasons, among others, ESPN’s Jayson Stark concludes that the Cubs might not be able to trade anyone this week except Kosuke Fukudome.

For only the fourth time in the past 40 not-so-glorious years, the Cubs piled up 60 losses in their first 100 games. So you don’t need to be a descendant of Ernie Banks to know they’re sellers this week. But it now appears possible they might not be able to sell off anybody but Kosuke Fukudome — not this week, anyway.

Aramis Ramirez? Won’t approve a deal. Ryan Dempster? Same scenario. Carlos Zambrano? Ditto. Kerry Wood? One exec says he was told Wood is only getting traded if he goes to GM Jim Hendry and asks out, and that’s almost certainly not happening. Alfonso Soriano? Still has $60 million coming through 2014, so good luck on that.

Bullpen arms? They’d prefer to keep them all, with the possible exception of John Grabow. Reed Johnson? They’re listening, but this guy makes $900,000 and wouldn’t figure to bring them much back. So what’s the point of moving him?

Carlos Pena? One exec who spoke with the Cubs says the level of interest in him has been exaggerated — and he’s a guy they believe they can get through waivers and trade in August, when there’s a lot less money left on his $10 million contract.

So who’s left? Fukudome. That’s who. It’s the last year of his contract, and he isn’t expected back. The Cubs would like to deal at least one outfielder, to clear roster space for Brett Jackson and/or the return of Tyler Colvin. And they’ve had several hits on Fukudome (who does have a limited no-trade clause) as a bat off the bench who at least has good at-bats (.374 OBP). So he’s likely to move this week. As for the rest of this crew? Uh, not so much.

Stark is undoubtedly right that dealing Kerry Wood, Carlos Zambrano and/or Ryan Dempster is not going to happen. But, to be fair, we’ve known that for weeks. We’ve also known that trading Soriano would be the longest of long shots.

As for Reed Johnson, Stark is right that the value received in trading him could be quite low given his productivity and contract, but I have to ask: what good, exactly, does it do the Cubs to keep him? Ticket sales in the Reed Johnson fanclub section? With Byrd and Soriano around, even if Fukudome is traded, Johnson still isn’t going to get a ton of starts (presumably one of Tyler Colvin or Brett Jackson would come up to play in the outfield regularly (that is to say, they freaking better)).

On Ramirez, it’s been a back-and-forth affair with respect to his no-trade rights, but everyone now seems fairly confident he’s not going anywhere by July 31. Which, of course, is a sizable bummer given what the Cubs could get in return. But, it’s his right, and he’s earned it.

As for Carlos Pena, while Stark might be right that there isn’t as much interest in him as we would hope, he’s wrong about Pena’s contract. Five million bucks – a full 50% of his salary for 2011 – isn’t to be paid until January 2012. In other words, if a team wanted to claim him on waivers in August, they’d be paying him a shade over $6 million for two months of work. Pena will clear waivers if he’s still around in August.

  • Serio

    That sounds about right

  • Toosh

    You’re right. Also, obviously there will be less money left on Pena’s contract if he’s traded after the 31st, but not a LOT less.

  • Blinda

    All year they have been talking about trading marlon Byrd. What happened?

    • Brett

      No idea. He’s at the peak of his value right now, too.

    • hardtop

      didnt he go 4 for 5 the other day and 2 for 3 the day before that? there has to be a bunch of teams who need a hustle guy who can hit .300. im sure they are getting calls. question is, can hendry put somethign together thats worth while. he’s relatively cheap so it wouldnt hurt the cubs to keep him… so im sure it would have to be a decent player involved in the exchange. any teams out there with more pitching than they can handle that want harvey byrdman attourney at law?

  • Pingback: Daily Notes | Bullet Time | Fantasy Baseball Hot Stove()

  • Toosh

    The White Sox, 2 games under .500 and 4 and a half games out of 1st place, are selling already. Hendry and the Cubs?

  • EQ

    It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Start, or Stark isn’t totally correct in the contract issues with Pena… All ESPN pays attention to is the NFL, Lebron & Kobe, and the Yanks & Red Sox..

    • Brett

      The typo has been edited, wise guy.

  • Fishin Phil

    This is the time of year that I try very hard not to believe anything. All the sport writers do is speculate. Every front office in baseball tells lies this time of year. Hell, I don’t believe half of what Brett says. 😉

    • Brett

      A source indicates Fishin Phil eats drain hair.

      • Dan0mite

        Can someone explain to me why women shed like wookies in the shower? Every time I hop in I have to clean the hair plug from the drain.

        • Jamesjones

          This. I agree with DanOmite. Its terrible.

        • TWC

          If one has thick, luxurious, flowing long hair (and as I mentioned last week, all awesome dudes do), the mass of hair that one sheds on a daily basis is much more noticeable due to its size, and as such, is more likely to remain on the drain trap than the sheddings of the pussified non-long-hair types. Of course, any awesome long-hair dude (or chick) does indeed have a responsibility to clean the drain after their ablutions, but I digress.

          ‘Course, DanO, you might want to stop showering with wookies, but I’m not here to tell you what to do.

        • hardtop

          word. my wife, whom i love dearly, always complains about our old house and the plumbing issues, when its her beast like hair shedding that is really at the root of the problems.

          • Jamesjones

            “‘Course, DanO, you might want to stop showering with wookies, but I’m not here to tell you what to do.”

            This wins the comment thread award.

          • Fishin Phil

            Sorry, hardtop. First time I read that I thought your wife had hairy breasts that were shedding. My mistake.

        • greg b

          That’s too funny just a couple of weeks ago my tub wasn’t draining properly and I pulled out what appreared to be a dead animal out of the drain,lol

  • Caleb

    I’m going to start chiming this in every now and then, but I might as well start now. Get used to seeing this.

    Pena goes now in a trade or at the end of the season.

    I like his defense, power (June —-> power, anyway), and influence on the team, but really: he’s not that good.

    For serious. I’ve had a suspicion that he was an average player being payed 10 million a year for a long time now, but I just spent 20 minutes not-working and looking up his stats. All of the usual stats point to him being average (check CBS stats and sort by NL first basemen) and it gets worse when you go to baseball

    And, for all the talk about “upside” (I still have no idea what any of you are talking about) that I see in the comment sections here, where is this upside for Pena? He’ll be 34! Is he a decent first baseman? Sure- for quite a few reasons. Will the Cubs essentially get what they paid for and expected? Pretty much. Should this be the guy we want going forward? Nope.

    No upside. Where’s the upside? I want more upside.

    And someone PLEASE tell Pena that he is in the top-ten for 1B salaries- in all of baseball. Oh, and that he makes 2.5 million more than Joey Votto. kthanks.

    • Kyle N

      I completely agree with Caleb here. I had a similar post at the ready, but he pretty much touched on everything I was going to say. In fact, I’ll go a step further and ask if Pena was really worth the $10 million.

      He has a .774 OPS and ranks 10th out of 14 qualifying first baseman. The players above him include the superstars (Pujols, Votto, Fielder) and a bunch of younger low-price talents. (Morse, Murphy, Sanchez) Again, $10 million seriously gets you a .774 OPS?

      And for all of the talk about his good defense, a couple of sources beg to differ. Baseball-Reference has him at a -0.5 dWAR and there are others who consider him overrated with the glove. Does anyone have any other advanced metrics sources that defend his glove?

      It was clear we weren’t getting the Carlos Pena of 2008 (someone should file a missing persons report on THAT guy), as his numbers have come way down since then. Instead, we got a guy trying to do his best Dave Kingman impersonation, with maybe a bit more patience.

      Yet here comes the articles about how Carlos Pena is such a great guy, cracking jokes with his infield mates and the guys on the pitching staff. Seriously. . . with all of the talk around the boards about the “scrappy” hustle and good clubhouse presence not meaning anything (despite the unknown hypotheticals I argued earlier), can we PLEASE apply the same criticism to Pena? He seems like a great guy, but the truth is he flat out stinks this year and is making $10 million.

      If he is traded, his .774 OPS would serve only as a backup first baseman/part-time DH in the American League. And with the deferred money he is owed, which teams would commit to taking on most of that salary on a two-month rental?


      • Kyle N

        Carlos Pena’s best year was 2007. Sorry about the typo.

      • Brett

        As usual, I’m taking issue with a small sliver of what you said (because I am inclined to agree with yours and Caleb’s overall points – I think the Cubs should take whatever they can get for Pena, and move on) – “scrappy hustle” and “good clubhouse guy” aren’t really the same thing. Both, I believe, are overrated traits. But, that said, Pena is roundly considered not just a good clubhouse guy – he’s been called the best clubhouse guy in all of baseball. That’s got to have some value (how much is debatable).

        • Kyle N

          I definitely agree with you that “scrappy” and “good clubhouse presence” monikers are very different and that they both have value (despite being overrated), with the good presence being the harder one to judge. You’ve seen my posts on those. . . :)

          That being said. . .

          It’s all good and great to know that Pena is loved by all, but at some point after he goes 0 for 5 with 3 strikeouts, a funny “Who Farted?” joke during a pitching change or a noogie in the clubhouse isn’t going to quell the boos and “Cubs Suck!” screams emanating from the crowd.

          Example. I’m sure everyone works/has worked with a person who is an absolute blast, but when they regularly drop the ball on a number of work assignments that lead to criticism of your entire department, despite your best efforts, it would kind of get on my nerves. (Especially if they got paid a LOT more than I did.)

          You could say the same thing on the opposite side of the spectrum about Sosa during his heyday. Players claimed he was an ego-manic, blaring his music in the clubhouse and making crazy demands, but since he was an absolute monster for a number of years, made the fans more passionate, and helped make the Cubs very relevant and competitive, people kind of gave him a pass. It wasn’t until his decline (combined with horrible ending of the 2004 season and his noted imminent departure) that his teammates turned on him. Remember how Kerry Wood and Mark Prior supposedly took a baseball bat to his boombox at the end of that season?

          Kind of like having an jerk co-worker who had unbelievable sales numbers that lead to the whole sales team getting a regular bonus. You wouldn’t be so quick to criticize him/her if you were getting rewarded for their work, even if they were unpleasant to deal with in person. Take away that success (and the extraneous rewards that go with it), and all of a sudden the entire office is complaining about how much of a jerk they are, etc. etc.

          So how much does the “good presence” or “bad presence” relate specifically to winning or losing lots of games?

          Like we have talked about before, trying to put a outcome-based statistical value (which I believe exists, somehow) on these hypotheticals is always interesting and a great topic for debate.

          • Caleb

            Ok, we’ll give it a value. Assuming that his clubhouse awesomeness is a boon to teammates, just take a look at how the rest of the team is faring this year.

            I’ll wait while you ponder it.

            Okay then. So, let’s say… $300? How about a hundred bucks and we give him all the free tote bags and bobble heads he wants? He can pass those out to his family and friends.

            And I’m not willing to call Pena a scrappy hustler. He’s not fast, and he’s not white. He doesn’t make the cut.

            Otherwise, yeah. Kyle and I (and Brett minus the sliver) are right on- he either goes, gets paid what he’s actually worth, or is replaced by a better 1B or a younger “upside” (yes I’m going to use that all the time now) player.

            And the broader point is that “intangibles” (or, Kyle, if you prefer: “yet-to-be-quantifieds”) like scrappiness or clubhouse presence should be applied equally to all players.

            • MichiganGoat

              I think the “clubhouse guy” value increases on a contending team. He’d be a great addition to the Pirates, he would add a playoff-experienced, positive player. I hope the Cubs can make that move.

        • Deez

          Seriously Brett!
          I really hate to question you but what has having “the best clubhouse guy in all of baseball” gotten us?
          a .220 feast or famine hitter who plays above average defense for a team 20 games under .500.
          He adds about as much value as a 1 gallon gas can to a Ford Excursion or Hummer.

          • Brett

            If you hate to question me, then you have to look harder at what I said. :)

            I’m not saying the clubhouse thing has done anything. I think the Cubs should deal Pena asap. I’m simply saying the clubhouse thing could affect his perceived value positively.

            • Deez

              I will black out everything else you said & hightlight “I think the Cubs should deal Pena ASAP.”
              We’re tracking now.

  • Jamesjones

    I was at the Cubs/Sounds game in Nashville on Monday. Met and had my picture taken with Colvin and Jackson. Colvin was very chatty and a nice guy. Jackson was nice but very shy. BUT. I hate cowbells at a baseball game.

    • Hogie

      I went to an I-Cubs game and Colvin didn’t even glance in the direction of the kids waiting with his playing card. He actually walked out of his way to avoid passing them on the way to the dugout!

      Class act

      • Brett

        Ugh. Hopefully he was just having a bad day (I imagine it could happen to any of us if we were on display every single day).

        • miggy80

          I wouldn’t look to much into Colvin walking buy a group of kids wanting an autograph. Especially the on the way to the dugout in the temps that we’ve had the past 12 days. That left feild corner gets pounded with sun @ game time and before; where as the cubs dugout is in the shade, and everybody knows if you want autograhs at Sec Taylor you get them after the game when their walking to the clubhouse and the temp is about 30 degrees coolier with heat index.

          • Hogie

            I’m sure that was the case, but give ’em a wave or something. It’s forgivable, but I wont deny my dissapointment.

            On a side note, I was raised in Des Moines, but live in Wisconsin now. That was my first game since the old ballpark was falling down around us. Principle is MUCH nicer than the old Sec Taylor! I sure do miss being able to go to a game on a wim with allowance money. It’s got to be a vacation now just to go watch a game.

            • miggy80

              Your right Hogie it’s a beautiful park! The whole downtown area has changed so much for the better. You more than welcome to move back!

    • Brett
    • Ron

      Fellow Nashville poster?

      • Jamesjones

        Actually, a bunch of kids called out to Colvin and he walked up to them and signed their baseballs. Real nice guy making conversation and what not. I take it that Hogie’s recollection could be due to him having a bad day.

        Thank for the “more cowbell” Brett. Ironically enough I think it says something about cowbells not being allowed on the Nashville Sounds website. Yet it sounded like someone was hearding a lot of Cows through Greer stadium. Sigh.

        Ron, Im actually from Cookeville. About 80 miles east of Nashville.

  • die hard

    keep team as is because Wells will be ready to step up and work Cashner in as reliever next year…convert Smardja to starter cause he now has two good pitches….with infield then set and outfield set, should at least be .500 with Quade better after having full yr under belt…I am serious and sober….got a hunch thats all….

    • Hi Mom!

      First getting rid of the She-View, now thinking the current team is anything but terrible……Got any more great ideas Jim Hendry…I mean die hard?