A quick rundown of the latest stuff …

  • Setting aside Matt Garza’s cramp, interest in him was ticking up. Bruce Levine reported that the Dodgers were shifting their focus from Ryan Dempster to Matt Garza (about which, more in a bit), and Nick Cafardo talks about the Red Sox’s interest, including a discussion of Daniel Bard. To the former, I don’t see the Dodgers as a good fit for the Cubs on Garza (not enough high-end talent for my taste), and I’m not particularly interested in 27-year-old tweener Bard, who succeeds out of the pen, but not the rotation. He’s also due to start arbitration next year. An inclusion? Sure. A centerpiece? No way.
  • Speaking of the Dodgers and Dempster, as I told you yesterday, you can’t always trust reports that say a team is “highly unlikely” to trade for a guy after two weeks of dickering about that guy. The Sun-Times suggests I was right, reporting that the Dodgers are still as in on Dempster as any other team. The Cardinals’ interest, according to the ST, is overstated, and the Nationals’ interest might fall off after John Lannan’s strong season debut on Saturday. Jon Heyman says, however, that the Cardinals, Braves, and Nationals are the favorites on Dempster. How has no one yet said the words “mystery team”?
  • Phil Rogers notes that the Cubs are, for now, keeping their prices on players quite high. He also wonders if the Nationals might be the best fit for one of the Cubs’ pitchers, because that pitcher could be packaged with someone like Geovany Soto.
  • Cubs GM Jed Hoyer offers his thoughts on Ryan Dempster (not ruling out keeping him/bringing him back), and Matt Garza (same old line about we need more guys “like” Matt Garza). As for trade timing: “It’s July 21 and we just had our first couple of real trades in the last 24 hours with the big trade between Houston and Toronto and the trade with Brett Myers [to the White Sox]. We were saying that sometimes it takes a trade or two to break the ice and those were the first real trades in this deadline period. Maybe that will break things loose, who knows? But usually things don’t happen early. People talk about doing deals early but for the most part, things seem to find their way to creep into late July.”
  • The right-handed power bat market might be shrinking even further (it’s already tiny – Alfonso Soriano, and … Justin Upton, I suppose, if he’s actually to be traded), with the Padres and Carlos Quentin reportedly close to an extension. Will a team decide it’s Soriano or bust if they want to pick up some cheap power? We’re still not hearing so much as a whiff of it.
  • A great thread on the Message Board, wondering about the possibilities with surprise potential buyer, the Oakland A’s.
  • Obligatory reminders: “like” BN on Facebook and follow it on Twitter to get the latest.
  • Dougy D

    Would Pittsburgh be a possible place for Dempster to land? I am not real familiar with up and comers in their minor league system, but they likely have some nice players coming up. The Pirates are .5 game back in the division and currently sit in a wild card spot. Plus, Dempster might like the challenge of winning with a ‘losing’ team. Also, maybe he doesn’t want to play for the Buccos next year and thinks about Chicago.

    Any thoughts on whom the Pirates would possibly include in a deal with the Cubs for Dempster if a deal were to go down?

  • Fred

    As much as I like the idea of getting top pitching prospects back for Garza, I can’t help but love the idea of possibly adding Cole Hamels to the rotation to go along with Garza, Shark, and Wood. That’s the type of rotation that wins in the playoffs, and the best part is that each one of them would be under 30 yrs of age. Am I crazy for not wanting the Phillies and Hamels to reach a contract extension? Adding Hamels obviously wouldn’t be enough as Hoyer would need to contsruct a bullpen to go along with the starting 5.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      You aren’t crazy, because I think there’s a lot of appeal there, too. But I also think it’s really, really unlikely things play out that way.

      • Bric

        Brett, totally off topic but I’ve been meaning to ask you this along with Luke and evrybody else: Assuming Castro’s going to be a starting shortstop for years to come, why hasn’t Baez been moved to 2nd before he get’s moved up to double A? Luke seems to think he’ll probably finish the season in A ball so I would think this is the perfect time to get him acclimated to a position he’s probably going to play. Thoughts?

        • JNasty

          I’ve always heard you don’t change a players position until he is being blocked. I guess you could say Alcantara is blocking him, but i think Alcantara would changed positions before Baez.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

          He’ll probably move to third rather than second.

          That said, shortstop is the toughest of the infield positions to play, and the move from short to either third or second generally does not take players very long to make.

          Say Baez beats the cover off the ball all next season and the Cubs decide to make him their Opening Day third baseman in 2014. They could probably send him to the Winter Leagues to play third for a few weeks, and he’d be able to start at third in April.

          In the meantime, by keeping him at short, they are both challenging him and showcasing his entire skill set. That helps from a valuation standpoint. It is not likely the Cubs will trade Baez (although Epstein has a history of trading away first round picks), but if they do he’ll be valued more highly as a SS than a 3B or a 2B.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          He’s more likely to move to third, if wand when he moves. But, for now, there’s no reason to move him – the longer he can handle short, the better. You don’t worry about Castro until Baez is knocking on the door. For now, you leave him at the best possible defensive position he can handle – right now, that’s short. He can learn 3B in an offseason or a season if need be. No need to rush it.

        • Scotti

          To add to what Luke and Brett have said here, a SS has roughly 2-3 more chances to field a ball per game than a 3B. Thus he learns more about fielding, and by extention fielding 3B, as a SS. Remember, fielding is about developing neural pathways by doing the same hand/eye/body coordinated things over and over (with intensity). Those 300, or so, more chances per year add up big time in terms of development.

    • Quintz

      He has already turned down 6/$144M from the Phils. We could debate all day if he’s worth that, but I don’t see the Cubs getting in a bidding war with the rest of the league after the season.

      That would be a nice enough rotation (not great) and a rotation that could win in the playoffs, problem being, that rotation coupled with the rest of this team as is picks up 4-5 extra wins and finishes with 95 losses as compared to 100. I’m guessing that the FO would rather put that money elsewhere for the time being and make a splash when they are closer to contending. It’s not a bad idea, it’s bad timing for that idea.

  • Mysterious4th

    I see the nationals taking maholm/soto. The need a reliable pitcher since lannan is a wild card and they still need a solid everyday catcher. And I would actually like to see us get a couple high risk prospects from them!

  • art

    do you really think Soto is a solid everyday catcher? just asking.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      If you look around the league, yes.

      • http://casualcubsfan.blogger.com hansman1982

        I am thoroughly baffled by the Soto hatred…

        • Bric

          Well, Hansman, since I have respect for your comments and have been one of the purveyors of much of the Soto bad blood I’ll take a swing at your question. I don’t like Soto because I think he has a questionable work ethic and desire due to his showing up to ST out of shape, covered up drug charge, up and down stats, and numerous trips to the DL. IMO.

          He’s a poster child of how amatuer stats anylists can cherry pick numbers to prove almost anything (you notice we don’t hear much about his up year-down year stuff anymore).

          But most of all he’s just a remnant of the latter half of the Hendry years that went 0 and 6 in playoff chances while the other teams out of the NL central have faired much better in the same time span. The Cubs would be better off with Clevenger and Castillo just for the simple fact that if and when the Cubs get back to the playoffs (the only stat that really counts to us fans) we can see what they can do. I’ve already seen what Soto can do, and it was ugly. IMHO.

  • Mike S

    Dempster and Soto for Alex Meyer and a low-level prospect??

  • Patrick G

    If Boston wants Garza, Barnes has to be apart of that deal. Barnes, Lavarnway and Ownens? Assuming Garza is healthy and whatnot, is that asking too much?

  • Mysterious4th

    He is better then what they’ve delt with all year. I think we have our catchers in castillo/clevenger. I just want soto out like a bad in-law!

    • http://casualcubsfan.blogger.com hansman1982

      Why do you want Soto gone?

      • Drew7

        I don’t get it either. Clevenger & Castillo haven’t shown anything that tells me they will be better than Geo.

        • Jeff

          They might not be better but they are cheaper and will be for the next three years, unlike Soto who is Jekyll and Hyde!

          • Drew7

            True, they would be cheaper, but it’s not as though Soto would break the bank (not sure what he made this year, but don’t think it was all that much). Plus, while outfielders like Dejesus are fairly common, catchers that can be an offensive threat along with being solid behind the plate arent.

            • Jeff

              I’d rather spend $480,500 each on a platoon of Clevenger and Castillo and take the 4.3M wasted on Soto and spend that on a starting pitcher. The platoon will produce as much as Soto would on his own.

          • http://bleachernation.com someday…2015?

            Yeah Jeff’s right + I don’t know if anyone else sees this but I see a little Aramis Ramirez in Castillo. His swing at least. My favorite player was A-Ram from about 04-till he left for FA. I might be the only one to see the comparisons, but I do believe if Castillo polishes his game up in the minors he has potential to be a very good catcher defensively and offensively in the majors.

            • Scotti

              If we trade Soto now, Castillo won’t be polishing his game in the minors and we’ll be selling low on Soto.

              • fromthemitten

                how can you sell low on a non-tender candidate?

                • Scotti

                  Simple, if you sell now you get very, very little. If you believe that his numbers are going up as the year progresses (as they are) then you will get more if you trade at a later date as he proves himself. That risk only costs you money and the loss of whatever you didn’t pick up by trading a non-tender candidate (very, very little). Since the Cubs just spent $30M on, basically, a shot at a high first-round type prospect (Soler) they obviously prize prospects over money right now.

  • Fastball

    Why trade Maholm. He is cheap and still young enough. We cant get a decent replacement for him. We go backwards trading him. Cant make trades just for the sake of making trades.

    • daveyrosello

      $6.5MM ain’t cheap. If Garza and Dempster are dealt, Maholm will be the 2nd highest-paid player on the team after Soriano.

      • Scotti

        Third highest (Marmol) but, yes, $6.5M ain’t cheap. He does, however, have a team option ($0.5M) for next year so, if a team like PIT prefers, he can be a rental. If the Cubs want more in trade they can send cash with him as well. He’s a good trade chip and not a long-term fit.

  • Jeff1969

    I hadn’t looked at Lavarnway’s stats this year but they are really good. He has power, he gets on base, and he’s good defensively & throws out a decent rate of basestealers. Me likey.

  • Cubs

    What about Maholm to pirates for clay Holmes and lottery draft pick? Is that asking too much? I will just be curious to see what the value of the pick will be.

    • Scotti

      To get a pick in return we’d need to pick up a bit of Maholm’s $6.5M next year so the could possibly get a comp in return (instead of just using him as a 2-month rental and buying out next year with half a million).

      The problem with that is Bud might not like us paying for a draft pick like that…

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        I don’t think anyone trading for Maholm will get a comp pick out of him even if they do pick up his option. They would have to offer him a qualifying offer in the neighborhood of $12.5 million, and there is no way Maholm would turn down that kind of money.

  • North Side Irish

    Kevin Goldstein ‏@Kevin_Goldstein
    Exec on Dempster delays: “As a rental, they aren’t going to get tremendous value for him and that’s not an easy realization on their end.”

    I want the Cubs FO to get the best deal possible and not settle for a Ted Lily haul, but this doesn’t sound encouraging. Hopefully it’s just posturing by another FO who is looking to keep the market prices low.

    • Turn Two

      I realize, I’d be in the minority here. But if we are going to get a couple of guys who are long shots to ever make any impact on the major league level, I’d rather keep Dempster. I know we aren’t going to get the 1st pick in the draft then, but that’s a losing mentality. Anyone who says they wish the Cubs get the top pick is A. thinking long term, but B. promoting a losing mentality and culture. Keep him if you aren’t going to get a return. You will help to win some games, which helps chemistry. (I realize the sabermetrics guys will bash me for this, but anyone who has played sports, knows how important winning is, in order to create a strong culture).

      • cls

        I actually agree with this.

  • http://It'searly Mike F

    Kevin Goldstein is a wind bag. He might be right, but he’s a wind bag and not on the know. I like him describing the mind set of the Cubs. The fact remains if they don’t get anything for him they keep him and offer him 12 M or just let him walk they seem to content to hang onto Soriano and eventually eat the contract. Further, I don’t honestly think Goldstein has a clue on this. There are too many really in the know writers insisting their asking price is fairly high and they were close to deal with the Dodgers and are rumored close to a deal with Atlanta. Kevin is running interference for a MLB exec, namely Ned Colletti.

  • Kevin

    If the front office doesn’t get these trades done by the end of the month, the only way to get good prospects is through the draft. The Cubs look terrible right.now. With the weekend sweep in St Louis, the Cubs now have the 3rd worst record in baseball; 2 games in front of the Twins and 5 ahead of the Astros. I’m not saying this as a fact but do you think Theo is starting to get the reputation of playing hardball in these trade negotiations? I would hate to think other GM’s are staying away because he’s tough at the negotiating table similar to Scott Boras.

    • cls

      Interesting perspective, since the Cubs DID have the worst record in baseball not too long ago before their recent good run of 20 games (these last three being the exception). I don’t think we can really judge this team by where their standing in the MLB rankings are on a week to week basis. In fact, that isn’t even the goal of this season. The goal is to try to get pieces in place to be a contender, hopefully by 2014, while playing the best possible baseball with what we have (left).

      • DocPeterWimsey

        When the Cubs did have the worst record, there was obviously a “luck” factor, in the same way that there was obviously a “luck” factor when the Orioles (actually a sub-0.500 team that has gotten lucky by winning over half of its games) were in first place in the AL East. That is, there were 3-4 other teams actually playing worse baseball than the Cubs, but who had lost fewer games. Cream rises, crap sinks: and the Rox & Astros have sunk beneath the Cubs, and the Twins & Pads are about on par.

        That being written, the standings probably has no bearing on trades. The biggest issue right now is the new CBA. Prospects suddenly became more valuable than they were. However, when currency becomes more valuable, then it takes time for sellers to adjust. Theo & Jed probably are putting prices on Garza, Dempster, etc., that made sense a year ago. This year, teams are worried that they won’t be able to replace those prospects: both because they will not get a compensation pick for a rental player, and also because it is quite possible that a lot of draft picks will go unsigned each year because of the spending limitations.

  • Fastball

    I don’t think he is being unrealistic as a GM. This is all posturing. Theo and Jed have said they would like to trade Dempster soon. Well they aren’t going to trade him until things continue to develop right up to the deadline. Right now it’s a game of chicken and Theo has no reason to swerve. When it gets to be 30 minutes before mid night on the 31st he will fold if he has too. Until then he isn’t going to blink. I personally think he will make smaller trades with LaHair, DeJesus, Soto, Baker and Johnson. He may even include Vitters and Jr. Lake in a deal (or something along those lines). He can get players in trade without hitting the panic button until the last minute. I think everyone wants something to happen a little to badly right now. We are in the drivers seat on this joy ride. I don’t think anything happens for another 5 or 6 days. Then he starts making trades.

    • baldtaxguy

      Agree, I’m enjoying the patience being displayed in getting value. I would assume each day closer to 7/31 generates another level of angst on the buying side.

      • Pat

        I think it cuts both ways. The only players almost guaranteed to clear wavers are Soriano and Marmol. So for someone like Dempster or Camp, if it goes past the deadline they will then only be able to negotiate with one team. So as it gets closer there will be urgency on both sides.

  • http://It'searly Mike F

    I don’t think they are unreasonable or the reputation they have which was formed before any came to the Cubs is changing. They are asking for a lot. But the word lot probably means different things to different people. Clearly Sveum and the Cubs kicked off some of the Dempster mania and I firmly believe they thought they had a deal. We can speculate as to what happened, but I think Colletti got cold feet. I think the FO feeds the media generalities but things like they were asking Detroit for Turner + and LA lLee and all this renal crap is coming from other GM’s. Further, I think any team that agrees to a deal in principle for Dempster will want a extension thus all the emphasis by teams other than Atlanta for the rental stuff all of a sudden being a big deal. It should have been all along if it was that big a thing. And I don’t think Dempster talking about being the Hammer and not the nail is without meaning.

    I have to believe if the Cubs were to get a player from Atlanta 6-10 in their prospects and another guy who can compete, they should be fairly happy. Now if indeed it’s Turner, Tehran, or Miller types or nothing, pull him now because Dempster isn’t worth it. I mean let’s get real, would you trade Baez and say McNitt as fallen as he has for Dempster.

    And I’ll take it a step further, if they could get 6 million in cap relief for Soriano he needs to go, he is never going to have more value and that’s probably just cap relief and I hope against hope they are not trying to use him to buy a prospect if there’s salary relief available.

  • http://bleachernation.com someday…2015?

    I wonder what it would take to get Boegarts, Barnes, and Bard from the Red Sox. Maybe Garza, Camp, and Reed Johnson, or Jeff Baker??… I was saying earlier I like Castillo as a catcher in the future. I still would like to see the Cubs get a Yadier Molina type catcher at the deadline(Christian Bethancourt.) Maybe a Dempster and Castillo for Delgado and Bethancourt deal is possible. I can’t wait for the deadline to pass, really excited to see Theo’s plan continue to unfold.

  • Timmy

    I’m going to make a pessimistic prediction. Epstein and Co. want so bad to win the trade sweepstakes, and not just win but make a point about how they ripped someone off, that they’ll end up scrambling at the last second and not make a very good trade at all. Their imaginary pendulum has swung very far to the side and it’ll come back to center with a not-too-impressive-but-OK-I-guess result in terms of minor league talent.