There’s still eight games left in the season, but there are some good bits rolling around the Lukewarm Stove this week …
- A source “familiar with the team’s thinking” tells MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez that the Angels’ preference, as things stand, is to try to lock up Zack Greinke, and let Dan Haren and Ervin Santana walk, each of whom has a pricey team option. Each has been pitching well of late, but is struggling through a disappointing year (Santana – 76 ERA+, 5.43 FIP; Haren – 86 ERA+, 4.29 FIP). Of course, Haren has, before this season, been consistently good, and Santana has, on and off, had some nice seasons in his career. If you were betting on whom the Cubs are more likely to target this Winter, you’d have to go with Santana. Haren is the better bet to succeed, but he’s also 32, and will likely get a three or four year deal for decent money – not necessarily the kind of guy the Cubs would try and sign with the thought they could spin him off. Santana, on the other hand, turns 30 in December, and might be forced to settle for a shorter-term deal – and obviously one for considerably less cash than Haren. Given his age, the Cubs could hold onto him for a few years and see what’s what, or they could hope for a significant first-half bounce-back in 2013, and spin him off at the deadline. In any event, Haren and Santana coming onto the market would be good news for the Cubs: the more free agent pitching on the market the better for teams like the Cubs who are obviously going to pursue pitching.
- You may or may not recall that (1) the Cubs traded Jeff Baker to the Tigers in August for a couple PTBNLs, and (2) the Tigers subsequently traded Baker to the Braves for a PTBNL. Well, the PTBNLs coming to the Cubs haven’t yet been settled (might not be until the end of October), but the Tigers just got their PTBNL, and the good news is that it isn’t a total, complete non-prospect. It’s just a really, really fringe-y guy – Greg Ross, a recently-turned-23-year-old righty who just finished his first full pro season in A-ball. Decent peripherals (2.7 BB/9, 7.3 K/9), so-so core numbers (4.60 ERA, 1.420 WHIP). The point here is not that the return on Baker is going to be terribly exciting for the Cubs, but that it might not be nothing. That’s what Ross is: better than nothing. Heck, the Cubs might wind up with Ross.
- There’s still a PTBNL outstanding for Geovany Soto, too, you’ll recall. That one could also just wind up being cash.
- Bruce Levine chatted yesterday, and among his thoughts … (1) Kevin Youkilis doesn’t make sense for the Cubs on a short-term deal, mostly because Youk wouldn’t want to do it – he’s going to want to be on a contender at his age; (2) Travis Wood and Luis Valbuena are more likely to be back next year than Shawn Camp, Manny Corpas, or Joe Mather (yup); (3) Junior Lake could get a look at third soon (maybe mid-season next year? Seems like he’s still got a long way to go before that would happen at the big league level); (4) the Cubs would consider dealing Darwin Barney this offseason if the right deal came along, but they really like his defense and “intangibles”; (5) Bruce expects the Cubs to sign two veteran starting pitchers in the offseason (“flexible” types who aren’t going to break the Cubs’ bank – I wouldn’t be surprised to see another Travis Wood type come in trade, too); (6) Josh Vitters could be trade bait, despite his awful experience in the bigs this year; (7) Tim Lincecum could be a target for the Cubs next offseason, if he pitches well in 2013; (8) Matt Garza is untradable until at least Spring Training, when he can show teams he’s healthy; and (9) Bruce reiterates his belief that he doesn’t see the Cubs bringing Ian Stewart back at any price next year, due to not only his poor performance, but what Bruce suggests was poor effort.
- Bryan LaHair still expects to be a part of the Cubs in 2013, per CSNChicago: “I look at it as I’m a Chicago Cub. I plan on being back here next year. I’ve said before: Until I hear from Theo and Jed and those guys that I’m not a part of this, then I plan on being back. I don’t see why I wouldn’t be at this point. I’m obviously a pretty good asset to have, still. Once the bell rings again at the start of [next] season, we’re going to be fighting for a playoff spot and I’m a pretty good option to have in the lineup. So we’ll just see how it plays out, see what happens this offseason. And then once I come to Spring Training, I plan on being part of the team …. First of all, I couldn’t even consider Japan unless Theo allowed me to consider Japan, you know what I mean? I’m not quite sure he’s going to do that. He could have done that last year. He didn’t want to do it. I’m in the same situation, except for now I think I’m a more proven hitter than I was last year.” Love the attitude (and the work ethic: LaHair says he plans on studying every single at bat he had this year in the offseason), but I just don’t see it.
- Jon Heyman ranks the top deals of the deadline, in terms of how well they turned out for the acquiring team. Dempster to the Rangers came in at number 7, and Maholm to the Braves at number 14.