Lukewarm Stove: Densely-Packed Chats from Bruce Levine and MLBTR

stoveIt’s been a chatty post-Christmas period with a couple of interesting sessions to discuss.

Bruce Levine did his weekly chat over at ESPN a couple hours ago, and it was loaded with his thoughts on various possible deals, and rumor-y tidbits …

  • Bruce thinks the pursuit of Anibal Sanchez and signing of Edwin Jackson may have something to do with incentivizing the fans not to jump ship after some crappy  years. Shrug. Jackson isn’t exactly a glamor signing, and it’s pretty easy to evaluate why the move makes sense within the context of a near-term rebuild. On the other hand, it’s not like the fans are irrelevant to the rebuild, itself: if enough jump ship, revenues drop, and the funds available to spend when the spending seems right will be depressed. It’s a bit of a tight rope walk, but I suppose if a move like Jackson energizes the fans, that’s fine with me, because I like the move regardless.
  • All is quiet on the Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Marmol trade rumor fronts, and the Cubs might decide it’s best to break camp with them, and see just how competitive the team can be in the first half. If the offers aren’t there right now, then fine. But, if I’m the Cubs, I’m still working to find takers – particularly for Soriano, whose value will almost certainly never be higher.
  • Bruce thinks the Cubs actually should be in on Justin Upton, given the possibility that Soriano is gone, and Brett Jackson might not come around. He makes some sense for the Cubs, but I’m just not sure about the asking price. In no universe should the Cubs consider a deal for Upton that involves Starlin Castro, unless there’s a whoooole lot more involved than Upton (and that ain’t happenin’). Garza/Baez/Jackson would be overpaying for Upton in Bruce’s view. I’d say it’s in the ballpark, but, yeah, probably a touch too much. (Bruce also entertained a Szczur/Vogelbach/Lake for Upton and Parra, which he said might be fair if it had a catcher (Castillo?) in it. I’m thinking that’s not even remotely close to enough for Upton, let alone Upton AND Parra. He also mentioned a Baez/Jackson/Marmol/cash for Upton, which seems like a go if you’re the Cubs. Not sure about D-Backs. The trade offers went on from there – Bruce solicited them at the outset. But you’re getting the picture.)
  • A Spring Training trade of Matt Garza is very possible. And if it’s the Rangers, you can bet that the Cubs will insist on third baseman Mike Olt being included.
  • Bruce suggests the Cubs have been in on some bigger name 30-something free agents, but were shut down because they’re in a rebuild. I can think of some relievers and a couple third basemen, but no big timers.
  • Scott Boras’s initial asking price to teams on Michael Bourn was five years and $90 million.
  • When the Cubs started talking to the Angels about a Carlos Marmol deal, they asked for Peter Bourjos and an infielder. That was rejected.
  • David DeJesus probably doesn’t finish the 2013 season with the Cubs.

MLBTR also chatted (who, exactly, did the chatting is a touch unclear, but I think it was Mike Axisa) yesterday, and offered some interesting thoughts …

  • The Red Sox/Pirates deal involving Joel Hanrahan could be construed in favor of the Pirates, since they got a reliever – Mark Melancon – who could end up being better than Hanrahan in 2013, plus other pieces. The arrow for a Carlos Marmol trade points slightly northward.
  • The Mariners could be in on a Diamondbacks outfielder, Michael Morse if he’s made available, and Michael Bourn “if he’ll take their money.” Obviously the implication there is that the Mariners may have to outbid other suitors to land Bourn – and they might just do it, given their declining attendance and difficulty in luring top free agents.
  • The odds Alfonso Soriano is dealt remain small, even if the Cubs make him a $5 million player over the next two years, given his age and his 2011 season. If the Cubs do move him, the Yankees, Rays, Braves, Phillies, and Rangers could all be fits, which is pretty much what we’ve discussed here as well. I still think he’s mighty attractive to the right team at $5 million per year.
  • David Price is probably traded within the next 14 months (i.e., this year or next offseason), and the return is going to be massive.
  • The Phillies need to add an outfielder unless they’re crazy about Darin Ruf.
  • Matt Garza will be traded at some point. More smoke on the Garza-will-not-be-extended fire.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

133 responses to “Lukewarm Stove: Densely-Packed Chats from Bruce Levine and MLBTR”

  1. Popeye

    I’m not overvaluing Soriano at all. I’m just saying that he is ours (weather we like it or not). If we trade him, we are talking about paying about 4.5 a year (if I am correct), for him to leave. Then we are going to pay another player 2.5 a year, that can’t hit 30 home runs. So, we are looking at paying 7 mil for a player who gives us less production. I’m just saying, the contract sucks, but I think we should ride it out, unless we get an offer that is good for us. Not just to get him off of the books. As far as Garza goes, if you want to impress, win. Zambrano won with the Cubs, and he was a nut case. It can be done.

    1. cRAaZYHORSE

      brother , your preaching to the choir .

    2. Pat

      Actually we would be paying 13 mil a year of his salary, in all the scenarios I’ve seen.

  2. Popeye

    He had a slow start, and then came on strong. Maybe an injury, maybe he was out of shape, but you could usually count on him being competitive. I’m not saying that Garza isn’t a decent pitcher, I’m saying that I don’t see why everyone in baseball is so Ga-Ga over him. It seems like when pitchers are mentioned, his name comes up. I think that he is a strong 3, who sometimes pitches like a 2. Good leaders inspire their teammates. The pitcher is the quarterback, when they are on the field.

  3. jt

    gs = games started in 2012
    runs = earned runs
    Games in which the SP’ers allow
    2 runs or fewer: games the team has a very good chance to win
    3 runs: games the team has a good chance to win
    Since this is not a good offenseive team
    4 runs: are games the team has a poor chance to win
    5 runs or more: games the team has a very poor chance to win.
    below is games with ER’s allowed
    <3 is less than or equal to 2
    4 is 5 or more runs allowed
    Baker did not pitch
    Allow Baker 23 starts with the avg’s
    of the other 6 pitchers.
    totals then become
    48% of games classed as SP’er very well pitched
    22% of games classed as SP’er well pitched
    9% of games classed as SP’er poorly pitched
    20% of games classed as SP’er very poorly pitched
    1% lost in the fractions
    say they win 3 of the 33 games in which the SP’ers are very bad
    ………………..5 of the 15…………………………………………………bad
    That would give a record of 8W and 48L in poorly pitched games
    Under that circumstance they would need to win 73 of 114 games in which the SP’ers pitched well for 81 wins.
    Bottom line is that they would have to win about 2/3 of the well pitched games to a 0.500 team.
    Pitchers will not perform as they did in 2012 so the above is just a way to look at areas in which the team could improve.
    They could try to increase the number of well pitched games… Get Price or Verlander.
    They could try to increase the number of well pitched games won.. improve the hitting or efficiency of run production or improve the BP.
    They could try to increase the number of poorly pitched games won.. improve the hitting vastly
    Personally, I don’t believe they are going to vastly improve the hitting.
    I do think they can improve OBP and baserunning so that they can score some runs in most every game. Perhaps they could then win a larger % of the well pitched games.

  4. AD

    There has been a lot of talk about Justin Upton, but what about Carlos Gonzalez? He is twenty-seven, left-handed, has speed and plenty of pop. Perhaps Upton is more attractive because of his age, but Gonzalez has shown a ton of consistency over the past several years. Castro, Gonzalez, and Rizzo would be a formidable bunch. However, the Rockies would probably be looking for young starting pitching in return. Therefore, a deal may be tricky. Just a thought.

    1. JR

      Cargo is a stud, but his home/road splits are ridiculous. He mashes in Colorado. I would imagine it would take every decent prospect the Cubs have to get him. I still have no idea why the Dbacks are so eager to move Upton either, I think that’s why his name is talked about so much.

  5. AD

    Oh wow, I just looked at those splits. Those numbers are bad. I would love to get Upton, but some doesn’t feel right with the whole situation. Why would you trade a twenty-four year old power hitter that still has room to grow?

    1. JR

      I think the management in Arizona take things way to personal, and put way to much in to attitude/good clubhouse guy/taking direction. With a talent like Upton he could be a dbag all day and I could care less. I wish the Cubs could some how take advantage of the Arizona stupid thought process.

      1. Lou

        Yep, I think you’re right on the money and I discussed this with Bauer. Cubs have to find some way to be players especially if the D’Backs need a third team like Texas to complete a trade, and even if the Cubs don’t get Upton. Both farm systems are loaded.

  6. AD

    I’d love to some how get Upton and Skaggs in a package centered around Javier Baez.

    1. JR

      Sounds good to me. Baez, Garza (if he proves healthy), BJax, and Vitters for Skaggs and J. Upton. I would make that trade every day!

    2. jdblades7

      He has never been close to a 100 RBI year. I don’t see the fuss over this kid or his brother BJ. I would hate to trade Baez that strike out machine.

      1. jdblades7

        For that strike out machine (Upton)

        1. jdblades7

          280ba 17hr 67rbi last year. You want to give up the whole farm for that

  7. Serious Cubs Fan

    Upton for Lake, Szczur, Garza, Castillo, Jackson or Barney and cash? Give Quantity that is made up of good prospects over top notch quality

    1. JR

      If I were Arizona I would prefer quality over quantity. I would think Baez would have to be in any deal involving Upton. But their front office seems stupid, so who knows.

      1. AD

        You are right on point. Quality always better than quality. I’d rather get a teams number one prospect that three of their top ten to twenty prospects. Based on the system of course.

  8. AD

    I think that might be a touch too much. Given the depth of pitching that Arizona has and their singing of Cody Ross, I would say that the D-backs want to win in the short term and long term. I think that Lake and Marmol would be a decent starting point, but I feel that it may ultimately take Baez.

    1. nkniacc13

      Baez or Soler would have to in deal

      1. AD

        Yes I would unfortunately agree. I would rather trade Baez for pitching than Upton, but I wouldn’t complain either way. Sometimes prospects are important to develop, while other times they play an important role as trade chips.

      2. JR

        Doesn’t Soler make like $3-4 million a yr with his crazy contract? If so I am not sure how much trade value he has even as good of a prospect as he is, since he’s a very expensive prospect.

        1. AD

          I am not sure about that. That would be a question for Brett.

        2. Spencer

          He got 9 yrs/ 30 million…and he can opt out during his arb years.

        3. hansman1982

          I really hope people don’t get amnesia with Soler’s contract. He did sign days before new limits went into place which means his contract is hyper inflated by that deadline.

          Crazy contract but PLEASE, let’s not let this one become Josh Hamilton 2.0

          1. King Jeff

            It was a pretty fair contract compared to what the Dodgers paid for Yasiel Puig.

            1. Spriggs

              Most contracts are pretty fair when compared to Dodger contracts these days.

              1. King Jeff

                We can just expand that to the city of Los Angeles, right? The Angels are the team that thought it was a good idea to pick up all of Vernon Wells’ salary, so the money is flowing out there.

          2. JR

            Oh, I don’t disagree with the Soler contract at all. I understand that he signed with big money because of the new CBA. I was simply saying that he probably doesn’t have as much trade value as other prospects because he makes a ton of coin. And part of the allure of prospects is they are cheap. I love Soler!

            1. King Jeff

              Eh, it might limit his market a little, but I don’t think his contract is cost prohibitive to more than a handful of teams. He’s still pretty raw, but he has some outstanding tools.

              1. JR

                Soler is an absolute beast and I love his signing. But he has some pretty crazy language in his contract like being able to opt out. And he makes like 10 times a yr what a normal top prospect does. Thats my point in saying that he doesn’t have the trade value of a guy like Baez or Profar because of they will be very cheap early on.

                1. hansman1982

                  He can’t “opt out”, he can only “opt in” to arbitration over his contract.

                  Just making sure we aren’t rewriting the peculiar nature of the timing of his signing.

              2. Kyle

                One year ago, every team in the league had the opportunity to offer Soler a contract, and the Cubs presumably offered the most expensive one.

                One year later, teams aren’t going to suddenly want to give up assets just to get him on roughly the same contract they could have offered him for free last year.

        4. Kevin B

          What crazy contract, it is a great contract, Cubs got him for 9 years! Well into his prime. Now they do not have to rush him and can develop him, that is 9 years of control!

          AND HE CANNOT OPT OUT! That is not true. He can only “opt out” and go to Arbitration for more money, so if he is a stud and deserves more money good for him but he cannot walk as a free agent!

          That contract is terrific and makes him MORE valuable as a prospect not less.

          Soler cannot be traded until July and any talk of trading Baez, Castro, Soler, Almora for Justin Upton is just insane.

          Justin Upton so far is an expensive under achiever. All the talk of his upside is no different the the upside talk of Baez, Soler or Castro. If the D’backs want to dump him fine we can give a nice package of prospects but not top guys, otherwise keep our top guys.

          If D’backs want to be blown away let some other team do it.

  9. Diamond Don

    Don’t trade Baez, Castro, Rizzo, Solar, or Almora . All the rest of the young players are available for the right price.

  10. jt

    2012 O’s
    5 SP’ers, Chen, Hammel, Gonzalez, Tillman and Saunders combined to start 92 games, 215 ER’s and 546.6 IP.
    7 RP’ers, J. Johnson, S. Johnson, Ayala, O’Day, Strop, Patton and Linstrom combined for 111 ER’s and 407 IP.
    The 12 pitchers had a combo 3.07 ERA over 954 IP and a combo 66W and 36L record
    The rest of the staff 529 IP and a combo ERA of 5.38. Their record was 27W 33L.
    For the 2nd group to get to 27 wins some good work had to be done somewhere. But it is obvious that the heavy lifting was done by the first group.
    Indeed, their record in one run games was 29W and 9L.
    That is not luck. That is having good pitchers pitch important innings. 7 RP’ers with a combo ERA of 2.45 over 407 IP. That is getting the job done!

  11. Ken

    I live in Arizona and have followed Uptons career. I would avoid dealing for him. He has attitude issues, lacks hustle and trys to jack everything. The D-Backs have a great coaching staff and if they haven’t been able to light a fire under him I’m concerned no one can. I’m hopeful Jackson has made enough adjustments that he’ll end up in CF by midseason but if they are still not confident in him Parra would be a good CF stopgap if it’s at the right price. Quality fielder, pesky hitter and runs well. Most likely the D-Backs will part with Kubel though which wouldn’t help

    1. Marcel91

      I appreciate this comment and agree completely…..All these “Trade everything for Upton nao!” people(specifically on this site) have yet to open their minds and think that there has to be a good reason a player of Upton’s youth and caliber has been on the trade block for what…3 years in a row now? Even more of a red flag is that no one wants to give up what he’s worth in a league where some teams will gut their farms for mediocre players.

      The D-backs don’t want him, and other teams that clearly need him(texas) dont want him enough to give up substantial pieces for him, so why should the Cubs be the idiots that do give up everything to get him like people here seem to want so bad….

      1. Kevin B


    2. DocPeterWimsey

      That is just nonsensical propaganda from the Arizona sports talk radio community. Only fools believe that they can see hustle or attitude, and only fools think that these are reflected in actual performance.

      1. jt

        Huslte is relevant in so far as it reflects work ethic. If a guy doesn’t bring effort to the field what does he bring to the training room or practice field. Does he continue to learn his craft of just rely on natural ability that will erode over time?
        Why does Upton’s OPS yo-yo 100 points yr after yr?

        1. DocPeterWimsey

          Upton’s OPS yo-yo’s 0.1 pts per year based on his HR:FB ratios, not “attitude” or “hustle.” It is most probable that physical factors are involved with that: I’ve never seen attitude make a flyball carry further.

          Effort in baseball is time in the weight room, time spent watching video and time in the batting cage. You don’t see it on the playing field.

          This will sound cruel and harsh, but it is important to understand: “hustle” and “attitude” are to sports what phlogiston is to thermodynamics.

    3. JR

      Arizona’s front office is absolutely stupid. What Upton has done at his age is amazing. Sure he may have an attitude, but who cares. He is exactly the type of impact young talent the Cubs need. The Dbacks front office is way to into good locker room guy and taking direction guy. I want studs on my team and could care less if they have a bit of an attitude. Obviously guys like C. Zambrano and M. Bradley are guys you don’t want, but I don’t think Upton is on that craziness level at all.

      1. Ken

        I don’t think the D-Backs front office would consider trading him without the support of Gibson, who is a no nonsense guy. Attitude is an issue and affects performance and the clubhouse. No doubt Upton is a real talent but hasn’t performed to expectations and I’d rather someone else take the risk.

        1. Spriggs

          What exactly constitutes a “no nonsense” manager? Is there an example of a nonsense one?

          1. Kyle

            I was looking for a picture of Bobby Valentine to post here, but all I could find is some goof with a bad fake mustache.

            1. Spriggs

              With the nose and glasses :-)

            2. DarthHater


  12. Alex

    I wouldn’t trade Brett Jackson for Justin Upton straight up,.. and this is coming from someone already convinced Jackson won’t see the majors again. Where is this hype on Upton coming from??? I have seen absolutely nothing out of him but a terrible attitude and barely average stats. I do not want either Upton on the Cubs. They are garbage. Put together a stellar package surrounding Baez and somehow pry away Giancarlo Stanton! Or CarGo. Or someone not named Upton.

    1. RoughRiider

      I’m not sure that Upton should be called “garbage”. He did score 107 runs last year. He’s a pretty good young ballplayer with a lot of undeveloped talent. After all, he has 5 years of major league experience and is only 25 years old. He apparently has an attitude problem but the right manager or coach might straigten him out. If they do, look out. I would make that trade in a heartbeat and so would anybody in the FO.

      1. DocPeterWimsey

        “He apparently has an attitude problem but the right manager or coach might straigten him out.”

        I suspect that the “attitude” problem is with the DBacks front office (or, more probably, one or two prominent members of that front office). They seem to have too much of a corporate mentality where they want the players to behave in The Corporate Guidebook Way, with any other behavior considered “attitude.”

    2. Norm

      “I wouldn’t trade Brett Jackson for Justin Upton straight up,”
      I…..don’t even know what to say….

      1. hansman1982

        Ya, if you’re convinced that Jackson will never contribute a single tenth of a WAR in the bigs AND you don’t want Upton, there is something wrong there.

  13. Xavier

    Does anyone think it’s possible for the cubs to trade for Stanton without giving up Baez, Castro, Rizzo, Almora and Soler?

    1. Norm

      Pretend you are Florida…what do you say to the Cubs if all those guys are off limits?

      1. EQ76

        “Pretend you are Florida…what do you say to the Cubs if all those guys are off limits?”

        I’d say, “then give me Samardzija, Garza, Brett Jackson and your next 5 best prospects”

        1. Norm

          Really? Florida is going to want Garza at an 8 figure salary and becoming a free agent after the season?

    2. DocPeterWimsey

      Florida already might not want Castro: he’s got a team friendly but still appreciable contract for a few seasons.