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The rumor mill keeps on churning, and we’ll have more on it later today, including some thoughts from Theo Epstein. Until then, Bullets …

  • Can the Cubs be competitive … next year? Dale Sveum offered his thoughts: “It’s the starting pitching that’s going to dictate anything. You get quality starting pitching, I think our offense is going to gradually get better and better. But I think when you go into the season, you’ll still put a competitive team together. You have to have all the pieces, though. You can’t have one offense, no bullpen, one starting pitcher. You have to have three or four quality starting pitchers. You have to have a back end of a bullpen when you do get those wins. So it’s a whole combination of things you have to put together during the winter that when you go into Opening Day next year, you’ve got those pieces hopefully put together.” It’s kind of a sobering conversation to be having in July of the preceding year, but, hey, that’s where we are.
  • Gordon Wittenmyer notes that Samardzija will take on increased importance if and when Ryan Dempster (and Matt Garza) is traded, and Samardzija says he’s ready. ‘‘I understand what my role is with this team and what it’s going to be in the future, and I’m really ­trying to do everything I can today so down the road when you are relied upon, you’re ready to take the reins and do what you’ve got to do,” Samardzija said. “Is that the situation you want? Obviously, I want to be the guy, but it also would be nice to have Dempster or Garza throwing in front of you or behind you.’’
  • Darwin Barney continues to draw rave reviews for his defense at second base, the latest coming from Ozzie Guillen. A Gold Glove is really becoming a possibility.
  • Randy Wells went on the Iowa Cubs’ DL yesterday with an elbow strain. Apparently it’s been bothering him for some time, and it reached the point where he couldn’t pitch through it. Maybe that explains some of his struggles this year. Hopefully it’s not serious.
  • As noted in the Minor League Daily, a couple of Cubs’ minor leaguers – Dominican Summer Leaguers whom you’ve never heard of – were suspended for 50 games after testing positive for PEDs. Juancito De La Cruz, 19, and Antonio Encarnacion, 20, are both right-handed pitchers. The former was pitching poorly this year, and the latter hadn’t pitched at all this year.
  • The Chicago Cubs are the 36th most valuable sports franchise in the world, behind a few soccer clubs and a whole bunch of football teams. They were behind the Yankees, Red Sox, and Dodgers, in MLB. The team is valued at $879 million (and Forbes notes the $580 million in debt that was used to finance the original purchase – who took on the debt? The Ricketts children, not Joe Ricketts).
  • Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis threw out the first pitch and announced the Cubs’ lineup yesterday. It was kind of funny, or, at least, the tiny bit of the replay I saw was kind of funny.
  • Take a few deep breaths before you read this one. Tony Campana and Anthony Rizzo, each a childhood cancer survivor, visited patients at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital for a couple hours yesterday. “Sometimes, we’d go into a room and just say hi, cheer them up,” Rizzo said. “Other times, we’d talk to them a little more and tell them Tony and I are both survivors and what we went through, and we know it’s not fun. Kids were sitting there getting chemotherapy as we’re talking to them. We just tell them to have fun.”
  • ColoCubFan

    Brett, your thoughts on Barney. IMO, I don’t think we’d get back anybody nearly as valuable at this point, unless he’s part of a major deal.

    • UrbanTed

      I totally agree – I really hope we keep him. One thing I found curious about that latest article was that it said he lead the league in fielding percentage, but was still not very likely to win a gold glove. Why?

      • Other JP

        Because he isn’t hitting .300 with 15 HRs. If he was, he’d be a gold glover. Unfortunately, the gold glove award has become some sort of a hybrid offensive award “find the position players who hit well, and of that group, pick the player who plays the best defense”……which is wrong.

        • hansman1982

          and he doesn’t play for a contender – remember, playoff contention is a factor in these awards.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      You pretty much just shared my thoughts, Colo. It’s possible the Cubs could pick up a decent pitcher for him (and, all things equal, they’d prefer to pick up pitching), but it’s hard to see.

  • Steve

    Two words… DON’T TRADE DARWIN BARNEY!!!!

    • SirCub

      *counts of fingers on hands*

      Hey wait a minute…

  • Other JP

    Brett or Luke, with the Cubs prepping to trade our ML talent for prospects (which I totally agree with), think you can provide the deadline deals over the last 5 years or so and who ended up winning the deal? I think BN would be intrested specifically to see how the prospects fared.

    Every deal I’ve randomly thought of has not fared too well for the team receiving the prospects :-(

    Talk me off the ledge…….find a deal of 2 where the prospects made it to the bigs.

    At worst, it would help us reset expectations.

    • http://www.worldseriesdreaming.com dabynsky

      Mark Teixiera trade from the Braves to the Rangers five years ago gave the Rangers Elvis Andrus, Nefatli Feliz, Matt Harrison, and another minor leaguer. That deadline deal worked out pretty well for the Rangers.

      • http://www.worldseriesdreaming.com dabynsky

        Man I hate not having the edit button. Should read trade from Rangers to the Braves.

    • TonyP

      The prospects don’t turn into much in most cases. There are exceptions however.

      • TonyP

        Go look at teams top 10 prospect lists from 5 years ago and see how many are studs now.

      • Pat

        True, but in most cases the veteran getting traded doesn’t get the team who traded for them to the playoffs either, or they have little effect on reaching the playoffs.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          That’s what I was going to say. Or, even if they get to playoffs, they almost certainly (math) lose. It’s a lot easier to call the prospects a bust, and say the other team “won” the trade, but how far do they have to go in the playoffs for it to have been better for them than merely standing pat?

          • SirCub

            What do you think the best way to even evaluate winners and losers on those deals would be?

            Accumulated WAR (at the ML level) for each player in the deal, for the number of years of control they have?

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              One problem there is what if the prospect is subsequently traded for something awesome (but himself flamed out with that third team).

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

              I did a study of that nature when I was with CubbiesCrib. The idea was to evaluate Hendry’s trades by comparing total WAR accumulated by each player in the trade during the time that player was with the team he was traded to.

              I don’t know that I could have limited it to just deadline deals, though, for exactly the reason Brett brought up.

            • hansman1982

              thats not a great way to do it either otherwise buyers would almost always get the shaft (2 months of WAR is AT MOST 3-4)

              • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                But, arguably, that’s what they’re buying, no? At least on a rental.

                (But then we get into draft pick compensation considerations, extension considerations, the money involved in the deal, and more. It’s not as easy of a thing to do as folks think – you’ve got to go trade by trade, and you’ve really got to know what was motivating each deal.)

                • hansman1982

                  agree, moving Demp and Garza are two different beasts. If you move Demp and he puts up 4 WAR but the pieces we get back don’t make it to the majors, did we really lose the trade? In this case it’s either lose Demp for 1 draft pick that probably nets nothing or try for 2 minor leaguers.

            • Other JP

              Actually, forget analyzing who “won” the deadline deals. Given the Cubs are the ones trying to get prospects, I think BN’ers would love to see a focus on the propects traded for the big leaguer.

              One way to evaluate these dedline deals for prospects is the crude but simple “eye test”.

              Did any of the prospects make it to the bigs and produce to an adequate level?

              —The Texeira deal was definitely successful for the Rangers.
              —The Aramis Ramirez deal was NOT successful for the Pirates.
              —Etc.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I can give you the easy, short rundown: the Cubs have lost them all.

      But there’s a new sheriff in town. (And, as dabynsky notes, other teams have won plenty of deadline deals.)

      • TonyP

        Boston probably didn’t have a lot of veteran for prospects trades during Theo’s tenure. Hopefully he fairs better than Hendry did.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Fair point. And, yes. Very.

        • kubphan82

          David Wells was traded to the Padres in 2006(?) for a PTBNL in Kottaras
          Mentkiealphabetwicz was traded for Ian Bladergroen
          Byung Hyun Kim was traded for vet Charles Johnson and Chris Narveson
          Piniero (when he stunk) and cash for Sean Danielson
          Traded Coco Crisp for young unproven Ramon Ramirez (not quite a prospect)

          My take on Theo trading vets for prospects was really only to point out that they traded vets when they were underperforming for the best option available. So he has not really experienced what he is doing now with the exception of being on the buying end of sellers:

          To get Victor Martinez they gave up 3 including Justin Masterson
          They gave up 3 to get Saltalamacchia
          They gave up 4 including Rizzo to get AGone
          They gave up 3 and including David Murphy/cash to get Gagne
          They gave up an impressive 4 haul for Schilling…

      • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

        I think the Cubs “won” the DeRosa deal getting Archer.
        I think they “won” the Gorzellany deal to Washington getting Michael Burgess. He still might not amount to anything, but he was a lottery ticket known for power and high K’s. His K’s have come down from (I think) 30% in 2008 all they to below 15% this year. If, IF, he can put it together….he’s something.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

          A.J. Morris was part of the Gorzellay deal. He’s pitched pretty well since his surgery.

          I don’t think those were deadline deals, though.

          • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

            oh, yeah…didn’t even think of the timing…

        • AB

          Are we talking about deadline deals??

          I thought both of those trades occured in October/November and were meant to clear payroll, not part of a sell-off.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      It’s a little early to say for sure, but I think the 2010 trade that sent Cliff Lee from Seattle to Texas is working out fairly well for Seattle.

    • cjdubbya

      Here’s BA’s 2007 top prospects list:

      http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/prospects/rankings/top-100-prospects/2007/263445.html

      Interesting – noteworthy in seeing Lincecum and Kershaw on that list. Also interesting – Chris Volstad is thought of more highly than Joey Votto (#40 vs #43). Cubs have three on that list – Felix Pie (#49), Donald Veal (#52), Jeff Samardzija (#80).

      • andrew

        cubs had 4 2007 top 100 prospects on their openingday roster, I’d be surprised if many teams had more.

        21. Garza
        40. Volstad
        46. Stewart
        80. Shark

        Also didnt start the year with the cubs but
        83. Bowden

      • TonyP

        Lots of sexy names on that list, especially top 50!

      • EvenBetterV2.0

        That list should be easy enough to point to when people bring up the argument that prospects are overvalued. Yes, a proven Major Leaguer is great. But, when you are building your team (we are) or cutting payroll (we aren’t) you have a better chance if you have a top 100 prospect of getting a quality player than you don’t. I know how bad we have struck out as a system. But, every player on that list that was with the Red Sox has made it and performed well. That is who from that list we should worry about. That is who is running our team. Yes, there is a chance you can strike out, but there is a chance in hitting the lottery. Our current team isn’t going anywhere. This is a smart move. If we can get back 3 top 100 players between Garza and Dempster (I think that is realistic and what they are hoping to do) we should be in good shape. All of the sudden we would have 7 top 100 players (excluding Rizzo – Jackson, Almora, Soler, Baez and whoever we get). Not too bad of a turnaround in a year. Not every one of those players should be expected to be good, but I like our chances moving forward.

        • Drew7

          You nailed it.

          I’d like to see the WAR accumulated thus far from that list, as many turned out to be very good players.

          You’re point regarding the 7 top-100 prospects is spot on. Sure, prospects aren’t proven commodities, and many will flame out, but look at most top-100 lists and you will see a large number of successful big-leaguers. If you have 2-3 guys on that list, there’s still a good chance none will work out. When you have seven? Chances are you’re looking at at least a couple guys becoming really good players.

  • http://BleacherNation Mugsy

    Great to read that Rizzo and Campana bullet. It’s shows that their grounded and realize how lucky they are to be cancer survivors. I’m sure they inspired the children they met.

  • BD

    Ferrell and Galifianakis weren’t that funny, at least IMO.

    • EQ76

      It’s kinda hard to be over the top funny throwing out a first pitch though..

      • dreese

        Bill Murray

      • BD

        Not the first pitch, when they announced the starting lineup. It wasn’t as good as when Will Ferrell did it for an NBA game (I believe in New Orleans?).

        • hansman1982

          ya, it appears they were going off the cuff and didnt prepare. I know I could have come up with a better lineup introduction

          • SirCub

            I liked, “Straight out of Edinborough, Scottland… Alfonso Soriano!”

            • hansman1982

              Ha, ya – although didn’t he do that in the NBA intro? I thought Samardjiza’s introduction was weak, and Galifikinakis was weak all around.

              I would have tried pronouncing Jeff’s name, had Zach offer up a suggestion, inform him there is an r, j and a z, how on earth can you pronounce an r, a j and a z in the same word, tried another time then just restarted and just said “Batting 9th, Jeff Sama-R-D-J-I-Z-A.”

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      “kind of”

    • Wester

      Those guys are never funny, and showed their true colors…again…last night.

  • WesterisaTool

    You know nothing of comedy, my friend. Nothing.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Not sure to whom that’s directed, but it’s like I didn’t even type “kind of” (twice).

      Also, ‘Between Two Ferns’ is hilarious.

  • tank

    Would trading cashner for rizzo be considered a vet for prospect? Not a deadline deal but still worked out so far.

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