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We aren’t quite in the throes of the rumor season, so when it comes to “Chicago Cubs rumors,” we’ve got to settle for speculative/evaluative types, rather than actual, sourced rumors. I think you’ll find that things start to pick up after the Draft in early June.

Until then, to whet your rumor appetite, there are a couple of interesting pieces from MLB Trade Rumors on the trade values of Geovany Soto and Bryan LaHair, as well as a chat earlier today from Bruce Levine.

  • On the MLBTR pieces, I found them interesting, if not particularly illuminating. The Soto piece, which is less about trade value than about Soto’s future with the Cubs, correctly notes that his value – either to the Cubs or another team – is closely tied to his offensive ability, but really lights into him for a down 2011 (a season in which, I’d like to point out, he still put up a 97 OPS+ and a 2.4 WAR, making him the 13th most valuable catcher in baseball (again, that was a “down” year)). Given those parentheticals, I can’t agree with the ultimate conclusion that Soto might be worth a low-level prospect as a back-up catcher on a playoff-bound team. I do agree, however, that Soto needs to start hitting, and fast, if the Cubs are to reap some serious value from him.
  • The LaHair piece pretty much sums up what I’ve been saying about his trade value for week: because of his unique situation, it’s really hard to peg his value. From the piece: “Suitors wouldn’t pay a king’s ransom for LaHair since they would also have an eye on his middling career history, but power is an increasingly rare commodity, so teams would definitely give the Cubs some value if LaHair continues to smash right-handed pitching. LaHair would also be under team control through 2018 though since he’s already 29, controllability is not a major factor in this case.” MLBTR concludes that the Cubs would still be lucky/happy to get two of a team’s top 15 prospects for LaHair. Depending on the system, I think that’s probably right. The question going forward, of course: should the Cubs make that trade?
  • Bruce Levine’s chat offered a few bits to chew on: (1) Every scout Bruce hears from says Jeff Samardzija is legit, and the Cubs might consider an extension after the season (he’s under control for another three years after this one, though); (2) the Cubs are starting to believe that Bryan LaHair can be a consistent performer all year (maybe not at this level, though); (3) Bruce thinks we’re going to see a fair bit of Adrian Cardenas as Darwin Barney’s offense continues to slip; (4) Bruce sees Carlos Marmol eventually getting his closer job back; (5) the Cubs might not be looking to move David DeJesus any time soon; (6) Geovany Soto has a fair bit of trade value and will probably be shopped at the trade deadline; (7) nothing new on Matt Garza extension talks – the belief is he wants between $15 and $20 million per year, and the Cubs may not “be ready” for that level of expense on a pitcher (I’m not sure I agree there, Bruce – you can only get players when they’re available, so sometimes you have to leap a year or two early); (8) it’s possible Brett Jackson could stay at AAA all season long; and (9) a Yankees/Larry Rothschild/Carlos Marmol pairing is unlikely.
  • Don’t forget to “like” Bleacher Nation on Facebook and “follow” it on Twitter as the rumor season picks up steam. There are a number of things discussed there that don’t necessarily show up here on the blog.
  • King Jeff

    “4) Bruce sees Carlos Marmol eventually getting his closer job back”

    Is Bruce blind? Did he see this in his imagination?

    • npnovak

      Nope, it’s very possible if Marmol improves and starts locating his fastball. Did you see him blow away McCann and Uggla last night? If another Cubs reliever succeeds in the closer role, it might not go back to Marmol, but I don’t see any of those scrubs performing well either.

      • rcleven

        Please don’t call them scrubs because they are my scrubs.
        Dolis is very capable of taking over the closer roll. It will be a little painful for awhile but you have to remember he was pitching in AA ball last year.
        Russell a closer? I think not but very good lefty set-up man.
        Camp? Can’t ask for more than what he has accomplished this season(so far).
        K Wood? Probably time to retire. After a kick of the tires still might have a few miles left in him.
        Marmol? Hero when hes on dog if hes not.
        Castillo? 30 days and counting & will be DLed. Opening a spot for another LH reliever.

  • Cubs Dude

    Basically, Bruce thinks anyone that is over 25 is too old for the Cubs. It’s like he thinks Theo and company aren’t trying to win until 2017 or something (the last year of Theo’s contract). They are going to have to pay people sooner or later Bruce. Come on now…

  • OlderStyle

    “nothing new on Matt Garza extension talks – the belief is he wants between $15 and $20 million per year, and the Cubs may not “be ready” for that level of expense on a pitcher (I’m not sure I agree there, Bruce – you can only get players when they’re available, so sometimes you have to leap a year or two early)”

    Could it be the Cubs are not financially “ready” to spend that kind of money on a starter? (I still think the no-trade clause will nix a deal)

    • Cubs Dude

      Yeah the whole no trade thing very well could be the hang up. I wish MLB would get rid of that all together. It gives the players too much power. A 5 yr deal worth 90 million isn’t enough, they have too have a no-trade too. It’s bullshit. There’s a good chance Soriano could be an Oriole now if it weren’t for that No-trade crap.

      • Drew

        I partially agree. I could do without them being built into contracts, but I see the 10 & 5 rule as fair.

      • Joker

        I agree with Drew about the fairness of the 10/5 statutes but I agree the No-trades clause phenomena is out of hand. I do like how the NBA puts qualifiers on the NTC – (something like 4 years of service with a team and 8 in the league, if my addled brain recalls correctly) which is essentially the 10/5 in disguise.

  • Andrew

    I hope Garza gets locked up and maybe we can bring back dempster on a one year very team friendly contract Kerry Wood style. Unless the Cubs get a sure thing quality corner OF and/or 3B, I dont want to see LaHair or Garza in another uniform anytime soon. Maholm might have some decent value as well as Dejesus if his BA goes up a little. Rumor mill will be interesting come trade deadline I believe.

    • Brian

      Which K Wood contract would that be, last year or this year?

  • MIchael Montgomery

    We are in the heady air of a 9/15 winning ‘streak’ against what was expected to be some of the better teams of the NL. So a question: if (‘if’) this continues so that at the end of June we are contending for the lead in the NL Central, should the Cubs still be shopping the players they can get a high return for? Or do our thoughts turn to this year, with the Cubs being ‘buyers’ rather than sellers of talent?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Cubs should sell off players who do not fit the long term plans, and try to acquire players who do.  That should be the plan regardless of what their record is or what year it is.

      • Matt

        Agreed. I’d much rather the Cubs build an organization that can compete for a title year in and year out than to be “buyers” at the deadline and sacrifice long-term success for the chance to merely contend in the NL Central this year.

      • hansman1982

        I think being in strong contention (within 3 of the NL Central lead and a few games over .500) will make for a tough decision come late July. On one hand if you were receiving a king’s ransom for your top performers you don’t want to pass it up, but on the other hand you don’t want to trade away the guys who got you to that position if you can make the playoffs.

        Looking at the Cubs you have Garza, Soto, DeJesus, LaHair, Dolis, Russell, SlappySamazdiggity, Dempster, Maholm. Only one of those guys is not under control for 2013, so theoretically, you could trade them after the season. Then again, there are few pieces you really want to trade away (that you can get something good for) to be “buyers” unless you are talking about someone like Cole Hamels and you can get him to “agree” to an extension prior to the trade. Even then, why trade BJax, Baez, Szczur for what amounts to 3 months of a player?

      • Ogyu

        That is true only if you know that your long term plan is correct–which, of course, nobody can ever know for sure. If the long term plan was based on a flawed assessment of existing talent, then watching that talent perform above expectations may provide a sound basis for revising the long-term plan. I’m not suggesting that the current Cubs have yet performed to that level, but I wouldn’t rule it out down the line.

      • David

        That’s not always the case, though. If you’re in contention and you have a left-handed hittting, 38 year old OF, he may be a great piece for your stretch run, but not a long-term piece.

        • Ogyu

          Agreed. Note, I said performance MAY provide a basis for revising long-term plans, not that it would always do so. Obviously, anything that a 38-year-old player does should rarely have any impact at all on long-term plans. But if I have a 28-year-old who is significantly exceeding expectations, at some point I’m going to consider whether the revised expectations call for a revised plan. All I’m saying is that, while long term plans are wonderful, they can’t be written in stone.

    • rcleven

      The Cubs in no uncertain terms will be in contention at the trade deadline. They have a very good chance to contend for third in the NL Central. That said the Cubs will be sellers at the trade deadline. This team is pretty thin in many areas. Who gets traded will depend on the needs of potential trade partners and Cub strengths. Starting pitching is a strength right now. Dempster and Garza may be the first to go. Dempster because he becomes a free agent at year end. Garza because of contract demands(Asking for full no trade).

  • WiscoCubbie

    Trading LaHair? Am I the only one that thinks that is ridiculous?

    • hansman1982

      try LaDiculous…

      Probably not, then again you have to wonder if he is Jose Bautista or Micah Hoffpauier.

      • Ogyu

        What we need is a new Linsanity. Something like “LaHairsteria” or “DeLaHairium”

        • MaxM1908

          I’m not sure we want to have the same media hype as Linsanity had. Look how well that worked out for him? After all, we don’t want Bryan going down like LaHindenburg.

        • cublubber

          I hate to split LaHairs with you, but I’m having a bad LaHair day. I went to the LaHair salon, and they made me so angry it made me want to pull my LaHair out. The beautician thought I was going to flip out on her, but I told her I wouldn’t harm a LaHair on her head. I decided to go to the local bar and let my LaHair down. I took a double shot of Wild Turkey; boy will that stuff put LaHair on your chest. Then I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was my ex. I hadn’t seen hide nor LaHair of him in years. He startled me so badly it made my LaHair stand on end. It was a real LaHair raising experience.

          • MaxM1908

            Maybe you should have gotten rid of all that trouble with LaNair.

          • Ogyu

            Just don’t let ‘em get you by the short LaHairs.

    • cjdubbya

      Or would that be LaDiculous, as Brett so aptly opined?

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        I love you guys.

        • hansman1982

          I used to love you too Bert, but then I met you and now….

          I LIKE LIKE you now…

          • http://calebshreves.blogspot.com Caleb

            Gettin’ weird. I like it.

            Also, Lahair = LaGit.

            I’m taking bets now on who will be “that guy” in 2015, after Lahair has had three full seasons of 40+ homers, 100+RBIs, and 1.000+ OPS, who will still be saying “he’s too old, pretty much a career minor leaguer, he’s going to come down to reality any time now.”

            I’m guessing Diehard, or maybe TWC. He always likes to play Devil’s advocate.

            • Blitzenjohn

              I like him, also. But, LaHair still can’t hit LaLefties very well… playing nearly every day now, we’re going to see his AVG. drop. I still can envision an All-Star caliber year, though. P.S. Anyone else think TCamp should be our lead-off?

              • Drew

                No. I want to see a longer example of him getting on-base consistantly. Even then, I have my doubts he can would be a better option than Dejesus.

              • Cubs Dude

                The main reason I would like to see Campana bat leadoff is so he could get more pitches to steal on. Castro is so aggressive he doesn’t have much of a chance to run. I would go Camapana, Da Jesus, then Castro..

                • Drew

                  I understand what you’re saying, but we just have different views on the value of the SB.

                  Even the speedy Campana isn’t immune to the CS, as we have seen twice in the last week. With the way Castro and LaHair are hitting, even one CS is too many.

                  With that being said, if you want him to run, he should do it further down in the order. As pointed out by someone here before – His SB’s are much more valuable in front of singles hitters, and less valuable in front of Castro and LaHair; an XBH scores Tony C whether hes on 1st or 2nd.

    • Jfedwards333

      I dunno why the Cubs would trade LaHair–he’s everything we hope left-handed hitters become, and he is under team control for six years. The fact that he’s not 22 doesn’t matter as long as he hits and doesn’t cost much–something I expect to continue. And I can’t imagine his value being so high for another team they give the Cubs what he’s worth to us.

      Even if it’s just been a good five weeks for LaHair, I think he’s proved what he can do with an AB. I even think the Cubs want Rizzo and Jackson taking a look at his success, because he exemplifies how to be aggressive in the strike zone.

      Some argue he strikes out too much and that his BABIP is unreasonably high. I actually think the two go together–his aggression leads to the strikeouts but it also means when he puts a ball in play it’s a rocket, leading to the consistently high BABIP.

      Last thing I’ll say–his MiLB stats are ridiculous. Take a look at his OBP, his walk rate and power increase over the last five years and tell me this kid’s going to stop hitting. He took more time to develop but he’s the real deal at the plate.

      Never trade him. Never never.

      LaHair is LaShit.

      • rcleven

        Well said.

        • Cheryl

          Agreed. I’ve been right about him so far. Now lets see if he can get nominated for rookie of the year and make the All Star team. If he continues at this pace he may.

          • Robert

            Can LaHair be nominated for ROTY??

            • Cheryl

              Don’t know exactly how it works on either issue but Brett or Luke said he would qualify for ROY. As for the All Stars, i have hope. But that’s a big bridge to cross,

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

              Unless there is some loophole I am not remembering, no.  LaHair had 195 ABs at the start of the season.  The cut off for rookies is 130.

              • Cheryl

                Oh well, I get enthused about how well he’s doing. Thanksfor clearing that up, Luke. How much of a chance woud there be for him to make the AllStar team now that Pujols and Fielder are elsewhere?

                • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

                  Pretty good, I’d think, particularly if he keeps hitting.  If he isn’t voted onto the roster by fans or selected by the NL manager, I think he’d have a very good shot of being put up for the online balloting for the final roster position.

            • rcleven

              Don’t think so.

          • Patrick

            Unfortunately he does not qualify to be rookie of the year.

          • hardtop

            thats right, cheryl. you were on LaBandwagon before there even was one, ill give you that.  i liked him, and was happy to give him a shot versus over paying prince-porkbelly,  but i was cautiously optimistic.  i just hope the fans treat him with some decency when he falls back to earth (i still think he’ll have a very respectable season)

  • KyleNovak

    I liked LaHair before it was cool, so I guess that makes me a LaHipster.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Ha…

    • hardtop

      dude, really, thats a good one.

    • http://calebshreves.blogspot.com Caleb

      Me Latoo.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        You’re LaScrewing it up. Need to capitalize the letter after the “a.”

        • Eric

          Oh LaShutup. Hair.

        • Bric

          Not to get off topic but I want to throw a question that’s always confounded me. How did Samardjia ever get the nickname shark? Anybody help me out?

          BTW, for those of you that read BN regularly and have a good memory I recant basically everything I’ve ever said about him. I’ve always been negative about his chances of success with the Cubs. I’m very glad to say he’s surpassed my highest expectations.

  • cjdubbya

    Wait…finding older players that finally “get it” or have the switch turn on for them. That’s going to be the new market inefficiency that the Cubs’ FO will exploit!

  • rcleven

    With The front office as tight liped as they are I very much doubt he has any inside info that the front office doesn’t want leaked. We are going on his opinion only. Hell I could tell you Barney going to loose playing time. Marmol will have a opportunity to be the closer(Cubs are paying him 18 million). I will bet my bootys that both Rizzo and Jackson will be called up mid season. Bruce get with it. The Cubs would spend 17 to 20 a year on Garza if they felt he will be productive in four to five years but want a insurance that 20mm will still be productive. Marmol in my crystal ball goes nowhere unless the Cubs pay him to go away.

  • al

    Let Jeff Samardzija be good for year before any extension. And why not keep Garza?

  • cubs1967

    Here’s the problem with Garza; if team Theo could make up their mind are the Cubs contenders in 2 yrs or 4 yrs; after 103 yrs of ZERO championships; might be best to pick the lower number team Theo; Garza could of been signed for 13-15M; using Danks numbers, but they waited too long and now the Cain numbers of 22M have screwed the market up…………..ya snooze………..ya lose.

    Ya found a hitter in Lahair and a pitcher in Smardz……..time to decide….in or out for contenders starting next year…….loosely contend as there 5 teams playoff bound…….

    tick tock team Theo and Tommyboy………..YOUR VERY PATIENT FAN BASE IS WAITING AND FILLING UP YOUR PARK!!!!!!!!!

    • http://calebshreves.blogspot.com Caleb

      Your overuse of periods to separate random thoughts is a Laviolation of diehard’s patent.

  • die hard

    Wonder if Barney and LaHair to Phillies for prospects would make sense?…With Lee coming back but other injuries holding them back, may be worth exploring given Phils not ready to write off season with so much invested in salaries.

  • Steve

    I think I’m going to cyber bully the next person who says we should randomly trade LaHair. Let the kid play and see what we have. If he is still raking when Rizzo’s time is up, then move him to the OF and then we have one less void to fill.
    Yes…we can have 2 power hitting lefties in our line up at one time.

    Crazy talk , I know….

    • CastrotoBarneytoLaHair

      Can’t agree with you more. It is a great problem to have. One that most people (not me) didn’t see coming…

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