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.
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