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A few Lukewarm Stove bits to tide you over as the season winds down …

  • Ken Rosenthal offers his offseason thoughts on Alfonso Soriano, little of which should come as a surprise to you: “Chicago Cubs left fielder Alfonso Soriano is one home run and one RBI shy of his first 30-homer, 100-RBI season since 2005. Not bad for a guy who turns 37 on Jan. 7, a guy the Cubs again will try to move this offseason. The market for Soriano should be better than it was at the non-waiver deadline; the Cubs can involve more teams. Soriano, though, has a full no-trade clause, and still is owed $36 million over the next two seasons. If the Cubs fail to receive a sufficient offer, they could always bring back Soriano next season and try to move him at the deadline again. The closer an overpriced player gets to the end of his contract, the easier he is to deal.” That the Cubs will try to move Soriano this Winter, and that he’ll be tough to move given his no-trade rights and his contract, are not surprises. But what matters is the continued national drumbeat about Soriano’s great season. Ken’s (or Jon Heyman’s) thoughts that Soriano is playing well will not convince a team that didn’t want Soriano to believe that they *should* want Soriano, but it’s possible that the longer he stays in the national narrative, the more teams that might start their offseason by checking in with the Cubs on Soriano – just to see what’s up. And once a team checks in, you never know what might happen. The key is to keep the possibility in folks’ minds.
  • Bruce Levine chatted earlier today, and shared some thoughts … (1) Bruce isn’t certain Matt Garza is going to be healthy next year (on what basis?), and the Cubs are going to need to see him completely healthy in the Spring before they decide whether to try and trade him or keep him long term (I’d add a third option: wait, and roll the dice that you can get a good return at the Trade Deadline); (2) the Cubs and Dodgers are probably “over” their Ryan Dempster-related Trade Deadline tiff (to the extent it really existed); (3) there’s no reason the Cubs wouldn’t listen on trade offers for their young players – they’ll listen on anything; (4) the Cubs would be better off keeping Soriano, rather than trading him, because he offers protection for Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro (shrug); (5) Melky Cabrera is not a likely target for the Cubs (I agree that he’s probably not a good clubhouse fit, but if he becomes dramatically undervalued … ); (6) Bruce reiterates the likely starting pitching targets for the Cubs (non-top-tier types, who could be shopped if they’re healthy and effective – he mentions Shaun Marcum by name); (7) I’ll quote you Bruce’s thoughts on Ian Stewart coming back in 2013: “My perception is that they’ll move on from Stewart. The coaching staff wasn’t thrilled with some of his work habits. Some trades work out, some don’t.” Ouch; and (8) Bruce believes the Cubs like Dave Sappelt as a 4th or 5th outfielder on the big league roster next year.
  • This was noted in the Bullets this morning, but it’s also Stove-y, so it merits a spot here, as well. When asked about Bryan LaHair’s playing time this and next year, Dale Sveum essentially said LaHair should try and play winter ball to get some at bats, before conceding that the playing time problems would persist in 2013 if LaHair was on the roster. In other words, there’s just no chance that LaHair opens 2013 on the Cubs’ roster short of a catastrophe of some kind elsewhere on the roster. Instead, LaHair will be shopped in the offseason – including to Japanese teams, if one wants to write the Cubs a check and LaHair wants to go make some money – and the Cubs would be lucky to get a fringey prospect. Remember when it was really hard to gauge LaHair’s trade value? It is no longer hard.
  • Cerambam

    So if we trade soriano away or he regresses as he is surely set to and because dempster is gone and Mahlolm is gone we lose 100 rbis and 30 hrs and arguably a top 10 NL pitcher and another pretty good pitcher and none of our top prospects are set to be up next year, should we expect to be worse than this year?

    • willis

      Yes to being worse next year. And if there was any doubt, all you have to do is read the article(s) on Epstein from yesterday.

      Expect a 100 loss season, at least.

      • Dustin S

        Agree, to the point you might even see some odd promotions to push ticket sales like you see in some of the smaller markets. But, I really see next year being the bottom of the curve. There should be some help coming from the younger prospects in 2014, to the point that they might be able to start filling in gaps with FA in the 2013->2014 offseason to get respectable.

    • notcubbiewubbie

      which one of those guys is a top ten pitcher?????

  • Cerambam

    I suppose Castro and Rizzo can have breakout (keep Doing great) and a Mahlolm esq add this offseason can help but it’s just like last year when we lost Pena and ramirez

    • JR

      Personally, I think Castro is going to blow up next year. I don’t have anything mathematical to back it up, just a gut feeling. The issues with the law couldn’t have helped his offseason program last year either, just saying…

      • JR

        To clarify. By blow up I mean, be really really awesome!!

        • phoenix0401 (Flashfire)

          I agree. He looks like he’s turned a corner this year.

  • fortyonenorth

    I like this comment from the Levine chat: “If you take away Dunn’s batting average and the strikeouts, you have an MVP-type season.”

    Not Cubs-related, but funny nonetheless.

    • LEO L

      That is hilaroius. it is like saying if we take away soriano one error and ignore his range in the outfield and if he had better knees he would be a gold glover. oh wait i think we did say that.

  • Cheryl

    You all know I’ve followed LaHair. I’m still convinced that there will be some turnaround for him provided he gets with another team and gets playing time. There are a couple of IFs in my thoughts though. He has to get in a situation, maybe hire a batting coach if possible to work on his approach to left-handed pitching on a constant basis. He also needs to work on his fielding. He needs to go on a strength and conditioning routine. I think he’s had fairly good plate discipline but when he was in and out of the lineup so much he lost some of that. I’m not so sure winter ball will help him unless he addresses the problems he faced with left-handers. A player can change, but he has to address these areas to change.

    • TWC

      I’m still convinced that there will be some turnaround for him… There are a couple of IFs in my thoughts though.

      Yeah, like, IF Lahair was good at any aspect of baseball other than slugging against righties.

    • Drew7

      “A player can change, but he has to address these areas to change”

      There are some baseball skills that can be changed, but far more that are traits you either have or you don’t. These traits (batting-eye, bat-speed, contact-skills, getting good “reads” on a flyball, and so on) can be honed/sharpened, but to think they can be changed completely is just setting yourself up for disapointment.

  • DocPeterWimsey

    I’m not so sure winter ball will help him unless he addresses the problems he faced with left-handers. A player can change, but he has to address these areas to change.

    This assumes that LaHair was oblivious to his struggle against lefties for all of those years and/or that he was unwilling to do anything about them. I would be stunned to learn that either is true. Again, just because we only recently learned about LaHair’s issues, it does not follow that they are news to him: after all, they kept him in AAA for several years!

    Ultimately, the only thing that could possibly help is lots of swings against MLB quality left-handed pitchers: and as 30 GMs will quickly tell you, those things don’t grow on trees.

  • Fastball

    I think LaHair will go to the Cubs management and ask to be released from his contract. I doubt seriously that they would give him any trouble with that. If I was him I would want out as quickly as possible. He will go to Japan and make 3 times the $$ he made with the Cubs. At this point in his career it’s all about the $$ he can make. If he is smart he will be banking a ton of money into his IRA’s and other investments for the future. If I’m LaHair it’s all about ME and the money going forward. He has nothing to look forward too but to try to extend his career as long as possible and make as much money as he possibly can before his career is over. I don’t see the Cubs getting anything for him and I don’t see him being willing to sign any kind of contract in the states given the way things worked out for him this season.

  • Fastball

    I doubt the Cubs will get any takers on Soriano this off season. It won’t break my heart in the least if he is still on this team next year. He is the most productive hitter we have and he will be again next year. Soriano is actually becoming more mobile and better as he gets older. He plays an adequate LF and he is still hitting HR’s and his RBI’s are at career bests. His value to the Cubs is greater than anywhere else except for maybe with the Yankee’s as a DH. I would not be surprised if he get’s a trade to the Yankee’s if any trade happens at all. His list of teams will be a short one and he likes NY.

    Stewart is done with the Cubs. If they wanted him around next year he would be traveling with the team and be working on his rehab with the team. Big difference between him and a player like Garza who stays with the team after his season ended. Stewart has disappeared and is no longer in the picture. His last check is probably already in the mail. I can’t see how we would waste our time on him. There is absolutlely no gaurantee this surgery is going to make any difference and Theo isn’t going to pay another dime to find out if he can swing a bat. Stewart’s career in baseball is over. Only the Cubs were stupid enough to trade to players for him.

  • Cheryl

    At this point he will probably ask for his release, I agree. As for his being aware of the issues, he probably was. But being aware of them and knowing how to address them are two different issues. He may even be better off retiring. I doubt another team will be interested in him unless there is a change, But I think there can be. However, as you all point out he has to deal with a lot of issues. Doc may me right, maybe he can’t, but I guess I’ve tried to see the positive about him rather than the negative. For one-and-a-half months he carried the team, then it went down hill from there.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      I guess that I do not see this as “positive” vs. “negative” so much as seeing players for what they are. I still think that LaHair can be an asset as a platoon player. Lots of guys have had successful careers platooning, after all. Indeed, I would wait until I know that Sori will be back with the Cubs before rushing LaHair out the door: if LF is open, then I’d be fine seeing LaHair out there 2 out of ever 3 games. He’d probably hit 20 HR, draw 80 walks and whiff 110 times.

      If the NL gets a DH soon (which I know hope comes true!), then I could see using him as the DH against lefties and letting the manager give the 1Bman, LFer or RFer DH games against lefties in order to keep their legs fresh over the season.

  • Fastball

    I would not be stunned if the Cubs traded Shark this off season. He would bring back more value than an off season Garza deal. If Theo is willing to lose 100 games again next year it will be no problem for him to trade Shark in the off season and then trade Garza at the deadline next season. Keeping Shark won’t benefit the Cubs as he will be on the downside of his career by the time this organization is competitive again. Sooner or later Theo has to make some trades for players who are going to be or are already ready for the Majors. Continuing to trade for players in A+ ball are going to keep this rebuild at the 2015 time frame. I am not convinced that we are going to be all that competitive by then because we do not have any pitching in the organization. Another thing that scares me is that the Cubs have not developed any big time players other than Castro in many many years. I don’t know that Theo and Co. are going to change that. Many have tried and all have failed. History is an indicator of what the future will be like. Our history is long and fruitless. To think that all these players pan out is foolish thinking. Also, all the other teams in this division are way ahead of the Cubs and they have some pretty sharp leadership as well. It’s the Cubs. It will always be the Cubs. History repeats itself over and over.

    • Drew7

      “Keeping Shark won’t benefit the Cubs as he will be on the downside of his career by the time this organization is competitive again.”

      Even if you think it will be 2015 when the Cubs are competitive again, I still think you’re wrong. Shark is definitely not your typical 27 year old pitcher; his arm has much less mileage on it than most pitchers his age.

      • Cyranojoe

        Oof, Fastball is such a troll. Who’s the fool going to trade away multiple pieces for a guy who could easily be a one-year flash in the pan? I think Shark is great, but any GM who goes to great lengths to obtain him is off his rocker.

        • Drew7

          He was on here the other day saying Shark was a decent #3 starter IF he repeated his performance from this year. I don’t know about him being a “Troll”, but I’m not sure he’s talking about the same Shark.

        • Crazyhorse

          Wonder what is troll poop?. Kinda like what im doing now and what you are doing to fastball. well im done with the tissue paper. As for shark wouldnt trade anything of immediate value for him at this moment. (done )

  • Fastball

    LaHair is on his way to Japan. he won’t be retiring. He will play 3 or 4 more years in Japan and make a lot of money doing it. For him it will be all about the Benjamins.

    • JMack4568

      Or the Yen-jamins.

  • Stevie B

    If we trade Shark in the off season…and it isn’t for an @$$load of top prospects(which it won’t be), then I’ll stop being a Cub fan.
    In other words, it wont happen.

  • MichCubFan

    I want to trade for some of the Padres’ prospects. Jedd Gyorko would fit in well at 3rd…

  • BluBlud

    I think the Cubs will surprise a lot of people next year. Rizzo, Castro (Both whom I think will breakout in a big way next year), Soriano and Barney will all be top 3 or 4 at their position(offensive or defensive value) in the NL. Castillo has the potential to get there with his offense, also. Shark, a healthy Garza, a decent FA and T.Wood gives us some decent starters. If the Cubs can get an Upton in the off-season, don’t be surprised if they flirt with .500, and put themselves in position to compete in 2014.

  • Tommy

    “My perception is that they’ll move on from Stewart. The coaching staff wasn’t thrilled with some of his work habits.

    That’s the first time I’ve heard that, and that puts a whole new spin on Stewart. Disappointing to say the least if work ethic is his issue. I always thought he was a little bit of a hypochondriac, but poor work ethic is an entirely different problem.

    Fastball also mentioned how Stewart hadn’t been traveling with the team – now that was something I hadn’t even thought about. Great point, and it makes me think that he may be right about him not returning next year.

    I still am looking forward to a full year of Rizzo, Jackson, Castillo, and either Vitters or Valbuena. We’ll have a very young team with some major league experience under their belts. Just hope that can throw together a respectable pitching rotation for next year. Shark, Wood, then who? Could be ugly, but at least it will be interesting. Can’t wait to see how the offseason unfolds.

    • Tommy

      Yes, I forgot to mention Garza in the rotation. My bad.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      What Bruce has mentioned before was a quote from Dale Sveum about Matt Garza traveling with the team while he rehabs. When Sveum was asked, “What about Stewart?” Sveum kind of said he didn’t know what was up, but that some guys prefer to rehab at home. So, this could be Bruce reading more into that one quote, or Bruce knowing that the quote meant a little more that Bruce can’t say explicitly.

      • Tommy

        I hope this is a case of Bruce reading more into it. Something deep inside me still wants to believe that Stewart is going to turn into the stud that he was expected to be, and he’s going to do it for the Cubs.

        I know it’s a long shot, but I’m a dreamer!

  • gutshot5820

    I think there is going to be a lot more interest in Soriano that most expect. The eyes and ears of all the Gm’s are their scouts and while some may have wanted to recommend Soriano, I’m sure they all feared the worst and didn’t want top be the guy that recommended him and got burned. Now, I think a scout has to work the other way and justify to a GM exactly why he cannot help the team and the scouting report has to be in line with a 30+ 100+RBI season. It’s hard to tell a GM a player is washed up or has no value with those stats. It’s just a matter of how much is he worth. Then how much will the Cubs be willing to pay for in exchange for X prospect.

  • Luke D

    I didn’t hear anything about Melky being a clubhouse disturbance in San Francisco … has anyone heard anything on the contrary? Would be nice to know.

    To my understanding he was leading the team in the clubhouse as well as on the field

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I hadn’t heard stories, but Bruce might have been implying that the steroids combined with the attempted cover up show a lack of character. And they do.

  • http://deleted Mr. Gonzo

    I love the amount of quotes being used and commented on in this conversation thread.

    Shark is going nowhere. LaHair is gone. The Cubs will probably have roughly the same W/L output next year. A few good but not sexy FAs will be signed. Trades will happen… so buckle up. That’s all my tea leaves say right now.

  • cubzforlife

    I personally need 80 wins to keep my sanity next year. Damn a man can have a dream can’t he?

  • Kevin

    It’s hard to think 2013 will be another 2012 especially when there’s no guaranty when things will turn around. The new CBA slows down the rebuilding process, too bad Hendry didn’t care about the farm system.

  • ssckelley

    LaHair would be a perfect fit for a small market team needing a lefthanded power hitter as his contract status would be attractive to them. I think the only scenario that the Cubs bring him back is if they trade Soriano and do not pick up a player through free agency to replace him. The Cubs could run a platoon of LaHair and Sappelt in left until one of their prospects are ready.

  • http://www.opportunity.org Seamhead

    MLBTR recently reported that Chase Utley had advised the Phillies that he is willing to move to 3B, if the Phils can find a suitable replacement for him at 2B.

    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2012/09/east-notes-utley-phillies-lowe-.html

    Despite all of the recent Darwin Barney love, I would suggest that his stock will never be higher than it is now. If he could be moved to the Phils for two starting pitching prospects who could be ready to contribute in the second half of next season, I’d help Darwin pack his Gold Glove for shipping.

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