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Today, the Chicago Cubs dealt outfielder Kosuke Fukudome and around $4 million (all but about $700k of Fukudome’s remaining salary) to the Cleveland Indians for right fielder prospect Abner Abreu and relief pitcher Carlton Smith.

Abreu is the clear centerpiece of the deal, and, as a 21 year old in High A ball, there are reasons to be excited. He was ranked by Baseball America as the Indians 23rd best prospect before the 2010 season (and it’s a fairly good system), and is described as having impressive tools. Baseball America also said he had the best outfield arm in the Indians’ entire system. He has good speed and athleticism, and he’s started stealing bases at a solid clip over the last two years. His power is continuing to develop.

Now for the cold water.

Abreu is repeating High A, and his numbers have only slightly improved the second time around. His line is a modest .244/.294/.429, and he strikes out *a ton.* I have a hard time believing that, if the Indians’ system were re-ranked today, Abreu would still be in the top 30. Obviously Indians prospects aren’t exactly my forte, so I could be wrong. Some are suggesting the Cubs did quite well to bring in Abreu, but, for now, he strikes me as the kind of prospect who hasn’t worked out well for the Cubs in recent memory – an athletic, toolsy outfielder with latent power who loves to swing at everything.

As for Smith, well, shrug. To be completely honest, I have a hard time figuring out why the Cubs wanted to take him on at all. At 25, he’s never acquitted  himself better than average in a long minor league career (career 4.21 ERA with “meh” peripherals). He’s bullpen depth and little more – but is that something the Cubs really need when they’ve got a half dozen Carlton Smiths of their own toiling away in AAA and AA? I assume they saw something they thought they could work with, but my expectations are low.

In the end, given that the Cubs are saving a measly $7ook in the deal, it’s hard to feel like they got much of a return for Fukudome. To be clear, I didn’t expect the moon – or even a great prospect. But, given the amount of salary the Cubs are eating, it’s hard not to feel like the Indians are getting Fukudome for nothing.

Now watch Abreu and Smith blow up over the next few years so obsessive Internet types can find this post and subsequently throw it in my face.

Actually, I’d be just fine with that.

  • die hard

    $700K saved….make up for low sale of hot dogs due to poor attendance

  • Michigan Goat

    Yeah I’m a little disappointed. It be better if Abreu was a corner infielder or a pitcher with potential. We have ton of outfielder like him, at least we now have a open spot for a prospect to play. Shrug, shrug.

  • pfk

    I hoped for a little better but the good news is that it opens a spot in the outfield for a kid and for me, THAT was most important.

  • CubsFanatic

    I can’t help but feel that Hendry’s leash just got shorter….And I love it. >:)

  • dreese

    I feel like we really got stiffed on this one.

  • hcs

    It seems Abreu was signed as a 3B/SS prospect, but never acclimated to learning to field, necessitating a move to OF. Also doesn’t bode well.

  • http://calebshreves.blogspot.com Caleb

    I’m glad we moved the Fuk. As for prospects, who knows what our scouts see and we don’t know?

    Another thing to remember is that we are (we are, right?) building a super farm system. That presumably means not only an awesome draft-signing spree, but an increased investment in the coaches and facilities that these youngsters will need to improve.

    Great, but what’s the point? The Cubs will not be keeping or using every prospect we have. Many of them will end up being traded to help us acquire “pieces” in the next few years when we are a contending team. Keep what we need, trade good prospects to other teams for players we need, and keep a steady influx of new talent to refill our prospect pool.

    So the more we can land good- or even average-but-useful- players to our system, the better. And if this frees up a little draft bonus cash and a position in RF for Colvin to come up in the last 2 months? Great!

  • EQ

    well it’s not like Fuke is a great piece to trade for either.. but I’m always under the impression that when you trade a guy at the deadline and pay most his salary, you should get something decent in return.

  • Toosh

    Keep backing up the truck, Jimbo. Any contenders want burritos with their Cubs?

  • Jeff

    The Cubs had to pay 4 million dollars to trade Fukudome, they are going to have to pay 50 million to trade Soriano, and they are going to have to pay 10-15 million to trade Zambrano. What is the ultra genius plan they have going on here? Is Ricketts going to declare bankruptcy and wipe out all debt besides the actual payroll this offseason? I am not understanding this, Fukudome and Zambrano actually produce from time to time, and more consistently than most on the Cubs, now Hendry and Ricketts are paying other teams to take their players, unbelievable.

    I had high expectations going into this week. I thought the Cubs were going to take the first steps in rebuilding, and the Bears were going to add the final pieces for a Super Bowl run. Looks like I was wrong on both. I guess that’s what I get for being a Chicago sports fan.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Fukudome is a separate case, though – he was gone after this season no matter what.

      • Jeff

        I understand that, but eating 4 million to trade him seems kind of crazy. Hopefully Abreu ends up as the Chris Archer of this deal.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Oh, I’m with you. It feels like the Cubs ate a huge chunk AND didn’t get a great return. I’m probably just being reactionary.

          • Toosh

            I prefer to look at it this way. The Cubs aren’t paying his entire salary, so that’s money saved, albeit a small amount. Fukudome wasn’t going to be in RF next season, so the open OF spot allows players to audition over the final 2 months. And the 2 players they got might amount to something.

        • CubFan Paul

          chris archer isnt so great

          5-6 4.53era, 2.79batting avg him, 116hits in 107innings while only striking out 94
          he’s averaging 5.35innings a start & given up 61 walks in those 107 innings

          not so great ..Matt Garza will be our ace & probably signed long term this offseason

          • CubFan Paul

            *typo – i meant a .279 batting average against him And that’s all in DOUBLE A ..yikes

  • Sam

    History:  Abreu was signed as an undrafted free agent in October 2006 out of the Dominican Republic.  When the Indians worked him out they loved his power potential and quickly signed him for $75,000.  As a 17-year old in the Dominican Summer League in 2007 he opened some eyes after he piled up 24 extra base hits in 228 at bats, and he did not disappoint in an encore this past season in the Gulf Coast League (GCL) where he finished with 31 extra base hits and lead the league in doubles (16), home runs (11), total bases (107) and slugging percentage (.538), and was second in RBI (37). 
    Strengths & Opportunities:  Abreu probably has some of the best raw power in the entire organization, and as he grows into his big frame has the potential to add much more strength with the chance to have well above average power at the major league level.  His build and look is a lot like Alfonso Soriano in that he is tall and skinny with very long arms and legs, but even with his wiry frame he has some awesome raw power and the ball just explodes off his bat.  He has strong hands and a natural whip in his swing that is hard to teach, and showcases a very quick bat on inside pitches that allows him to drive the ball pull side.  He generates excellent bat speed and has the ability to hit the ball out to any part of the ballpark.  A lot of the Gulf Coast teams play in the big league spring training parks, so it is something when you see an 18-year old hitting the ball out of a major league ballpark to the opposite field. 

    While he is tall and very skinny, he has a body that will allow him to gain weight and grow into it more the next few seasons.  He is an average runner, but as he fills out he could see a spike in his speed to a fringe above average.  He is a very aggressive hitter at the plate so he will likely always be prone to high strikeout totals as demonstrated by his 52 strikeouts and just 9 walks in 199 at bats in the Gulf Coast League last year.  The key going forward is not to significantly reduce the strikeouts, but to better improve his plate discipline where he can work counts a little more by being a little more patient to wait for his pitch and draw more walks. 

    While he is very young and strong, Abreu is also relatively versatile.  He came in as a shortstop, but was moved to third base last year and displayed some real soft hands and good range at the position.  The Indians are not sure whether he is going to be an infielder or an outfielder, and he profiles as an average defender really anywhere, but they plan to exhaust every opportunity to keep him at a premium position in the infield at this point.  It still looks like at some point down the road because of his athleticism, cannon for an arm and of course his bat that he could be destined for a move to the outfield. 

    Outlook:  The Indians are very high on Abreu and were very impressed with his power showing in the GCL where over a 500 at bat season he was on pace to hit almost 30 home runs as an 18-year old.  He definitely has a lot of room for growth physically and as a player, but he already looks like he could be a star in the making.  He should open the 2009 season at Single-A Lake County. (from Indians prospect insider http://www.indiansprospectinsider.com/2009/03/indians-top-100-prospects-15-abner.html?m=1)

  • philoe beddoe

    Ramirez is the trade they need to make….that could get a bidding war with the Angels, D-Backs, among others….and net a REAL prospect…I know..I know…no trade clause…but if I were Hendry(you guys would all hate me) I would call up Aram’s agent and say “Listen, we have treated your client, very, very well…he has made a ton of money with us, and has not been there for us in each of the last two Aprils and Mays…we may look at signing your client after the season…but if he doesn’t waive his no trade clause we will be done with him”…fat chance of this happening, but I am tired of hearing Ramirez saying he earned the 10-5 veto rights…..yes, and the Cubs also gave him a cushy deal…with a player option
    last year…I don’t begat players what they are able to get…but this is one case where if he was a decent guy he would say…yeah, this is the right thing to do….and, if he cared, he might actually win!

  • Ron

    Didn’t the cubs employ an interpretor for Fukadome, there is 100k in savings.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I like the cut of your gib, Ron.

      • miggy80

        and maybe just maybe that $800k that they saved they used to sign some of their draft picks? Hope this is a part of Rickets master plan to spend more money on the farm.

      • Ron

        Trimming the fat.

  • RY

    wow hendry must love getting bent over because that is exactly what he got on this trade, which was horrible! not only did we get two kids who will probably never amount to much let alone see the big league team, we also gave them $4 mil. i also hope this makes hendry one step closer to being fired because we sure as hell didnt improve our team nor our bottom line on this bullshit trade! yet another guy who doesnt walk, strikes out too much and and a 25 yr old pitcher that has probably already peaked with a rank era of +4. Way to go jim!

  • Spencer

    Lots of Indians fans are high on Abreu, and he is only 21 years old and has 38 minor league homeruns in two seasons. Yes he strikes out a lot, but he can cut down on that. As Brett alluded to, Smith is basically just a throw in and probably will bounce around in the minors for a while. Better to get him than no one else, though. I see it as an opportunity to get Colvin more ABs for the rest of the season and start developing another potential star in the minors. Yes, the Cubs are eating a lot of Fukudome’s salary, but realistically they were going to have to do that with anyone they traded. I would be fine with them paying 15M of Soriano’s contract for the next three seasons and get three solid prospects for it than watch him prance around the outfield for three more years as well. I think it’s a good move for the Cubs, but since Jim Hendry made it, it must be the wrong decision. Or so everyone thinks.

  • Jelly

    I wish he was ML-ready, so we could hear Q call him “Abby”

  • TSB

    I think it’s funny that some Cub fans that have bashed Fukudome all year (and last year too) as being a bum, no talent, get rid of him, etc. are now shocked that Cleveland didn’t give away the store for him. Well, like the old saying, “don’t say I’m ugly all week and then expect me to ask you to the prom”.

  • Robbo

    Seems that most MLB teams are sellers right now and few buyers. Given the fact that Cubs have money coming off the books at the end of this season (Fukudome, Silva contract, Grabow, Pena) why aren’t Hendry/Ricketts taking advantage of the sellers market and looking to add someone for less than market value at the deadline. Lots of teams are looking to save money by unloading? So predictible Cubs. Don’t try anything creative…as Q said…now is not the time for bold moves. We are still contenders. Ha!

  • KB

    This is what happens when you let JH dismantle the team.
    Just another is an absurdly long line of witless baseball decisions.

    I defy someone to detail a reasonable explanation on how he’s earned his keep.
    He’s failed beyond comprehension.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      It seems that only “baseball types” are interested in defending Hendry. Which makes sense – they know him on a personal level, and I have no doubt that he’s a swell guy.

      • Toosh

        His record as GM of the Cubs speaks for itself.

  • die hard

    Felix Pie?

    • http://www.weareworkers.com Skooter

      Ouch.

  • http://www.weareworkers.com Skooter

    I think we all need to take a breath, and figure that this could end up a great deal, or not a great deal, but in the end, while we’re not totally thrilled no one really got anymore screwed than the Cubs did when they signed Fuk in the first place. He was an above-average hitter by Japanese pitching standards and that frequently translates into an average or below-average hitter in the US. Hendry made our bed, we’ve been sleeping in it, and at least now we have some new sheets. Right? Am I right?

    P.S.–
    You have to love the way the Cubs spun this trade in the official email…headline: “Cubs acquire two prospects from Indians for Fukudome” We didn’t sell him off. We acquired people.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      The old sheets don’t pass the black light test.

      • Ron

        UV radiation kills bed bugs.

  • This is nice

    Around the Farm: July 23 (Abner Abreu…Again)
    9:59 AM JIM NO COMMENTS

    Abner Abreu
    (photo: Kinston
    Indians)
    Around the Farm takes a quick look at some of yesterday’s performances by Indians prospects throughout the system. The positions listed below are where the player was playing in yesterday’s game.

    Could the Indians’ organization be witnessing the blossoming of one of their biggest talents, right before their eyes? Might the Indians have a power-hitting, five-tool, right-handed hitter residing at High A Kinston? Abreu has tantalized the Tribe brass and faithful before, and was rated the #5 prospect right here at IPI in 2010. Is this the real deal, or just a blip on the radar?

    Abner Abreu: RF, Kinston: 3-4, 2 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 K:

    That’s right, Mr. Abreu remains in the spotlight for his second straight game, after a big 4-4 night on Friday. He followed up with another near perfect game, and has been absolutely raking over the past month. He’s 7-8, with four runs, two homers and seven RBI in the last two games, and has a ten game line of .424/.487/.909. I know the old adage, ‘fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me,” but this is the kind of talent that keeps showing up with Abreu. If he was consistent, he has the tools to be the top prospect in the organization. He still remains a project, however, but his selection seems to be getting better. At 21, he still has plenty of time to become a special baseball player.

    • Fishin Phil

      I keep thinking this kid sounds like a young Soriano. As much as we rag on Old Soriano, a young Soriano (you know, with healthy legs & stuff) would be a big help. Now, if only we had someone in the system who could beat some plate discipline into him.

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