The Trade Deadline looms, and things remain relatively quiet …
- Last night, the White Sox finally got their pitcher, lefty Francisco Liriano from the Twins. His stock had plummeted over the past couple years, and the Twins were able to net a fringy utility player who was around 10th on the White Sox’s top prospect list coming into the season (and, a reminder, their farm system was largely considered to be the worst in baseball), and a 23-year-old pitcher putting up decent numbers between AA and AAA. How does the trade and the modest return impact the Cubs? Well, it takes the White Sox out of any Ryan Dempster discussions, though, to be fair, I never really thought they were going to have the pieces to get it done, however much Dempster might have liked to stay in Chicago (if he can’t go to LA). As far as the return, eh. Liriano is a rental who is suffering through the worst season of his career (on the heels of a very disappointing season in 2011). I don’t think a crummy return for a guy like that is going to impact the return for a guy like Dempser, or Matt Garza, or even Paul Maholm. In other words, if I’m a team looking for a back-end rotation option, I prefer Maholm to Liriano by a country mile, and I think an prospective trade would reflect that.
- The other trade that happened yesterday, which could have an impact on the Cubs, was the A’s picking up back-up catcher George Kottaras, 29, from the Brewers for an intriguing reliever, Fautino De Los Santos. The latter turned 26 before the season, and is just a reliever, but the guy strikes a ton of people out, and has the upside of a good late-inning reliever. It’s not a bad return for a back-up catcher, though Kottaras is probably a bit better than your average back-up catcher – he’s hitting .209/.409/.360, thanks to a career-best, and probably unsustainable, walk rate. His career line is a pretty good .221/.326/.402, and he’s under team control through 2015. Why might this impact the Cubs? Well, if they look to deal Geovany Soto, whose numbers are similar to Kottaras throughout their careers (with Soto having, perhaps, the lower lows, but having the much higher highs), this could be the kind of deal they point to in order to start discussions. The big difference, though, in addition to the expected future performance of each (Soto still projects as a starter, while Kottaras is a fringe-starter, excellent-back-up type), is that Soto makes a whole lot more money this year, and next year, if you tender him a contract in his final year of arbitration. The Cubs could throw in some money in a Soto deal, but I wouldn’t expect the return to be too much better than De Los Santos, in terms of overall talent.
- Reed Johnson talks about his sniper bunt yesterday, which won the game. “I was kind of waiting for [third baseman Matt Carpenter] to move in a little bit, and you peek out of the corner of your eye and he’s still back there and still back there, and I’m digging in and then you figure, ‘I guess he’s going to stay there,'” Johnson said. “Even if I don’t get that bunt down, I foul it off or it’s a ball, I suck the third baseman in more and I get a chance to hit it by him for an RBI.” Naturally, then folks start writing about Johnson as a trade chip, which has been true for a month. Ideally, the Cubs could include Johnson as a sweetener in a pitcher deal, because his value on his own is not super high – that’s just the nature of a fourth outfielder, even a really good one like Johnson.
- The Cubs haven’t officially named a starter for Monday (the spot that would have been taken by Matt Garza), in part because they don’t know if they might have another starting pitcher by then. I think you’ll see Justin Germano held out today with the expectation that, if a move doesn’t happen that brings in a pitcher, he’ll go on Monday.
- Jeff Samardzija says his sinker just wasn’t working for him yesterday, so he had to adjust and use his four-seam fastball quite a bit more than usual. He walked a ton of guys, but still left with a quality start – that’s what you like to see from a front-half starter, even when he doesn’t have his best stuff.
- More Gold Glove love for Darwin Barney, who is pretty clearly the best glove at second base in the NL right now (with apologies to Brandon Phillips).
- And, a reminder, the Blogathon is coming. I tried to begin my prep last night with a “good night’s sleep.” The problem? I ate too much at The Wife’s birthday celebration, so I woke up with a fierce stomach ache at 4am, didn’t get back to sleep until 6am. Fingers crossed that my sleep tonight is flawless.