stoveIt’s possible that the narrative changes by the time this Padres series is over, but it’s looking like May is going to be another rumor-heavy month for the Cubs, even with the Trade Deadline still three long, frustration-filled months away …

  • Tim Dierkes last week took at Carlos Villanueva as a trade candidate for the Cubs. Dierkes compares the signing to that of Paul Maholm last year, insofar as the Cubs can offer the pitcher in trade with a second year of inexpensive control. The question, though, is whether Villanueva’s value as a pitcher can match that of Maholm. Before this season, Villanueva was a successful swing guy with peripherals that suggested he could be a decent 3/4 starter. Before 2012, Paul Maholm was already an established, decent 3/4 starter. Thus, when he dominated in the first half of 2012, there were probably fewer questions than there would be about a dominant first half of 2013 for Villanueva. So would their midseason trade value be comparable? It’ll depend on how the market shakes out and how Villanueva keeps pitching. And if his value doesn’t elevate sufficiently, the Cubs might just be content to hang onto Villanueva for 2014. They’re going to need starters, too.
  • What you may end up seeing is the Cubs trying to package Villanueva (or Scott Feldman or Travis Wood or even Matt Garza – these are just examples) with a positional player like David DeJesus or Nate Schierholtz to try and concentrate their return. In other words, instead of trading a pitcher and a positional player each for a decent prospect, they’d likely prefer to bundle them together for a top prospect. Depends on the market, obviously.
  • Speaking of tradable starting pitchers, Buster Olney discusses some of the trade candidates to look out for this year, and, no surprise, Matt Garza’s name comes up. Olney goes so far to say that, *if* the Rays don’t end up shopping David Price this Summer, and *if* Matt Garza comes back healthy in May, the Cubs might have the best pitching trade chip on the market. For my part, it still seems too early to say that, even if you make those two assumptions. If the Phillies fall out of it, but Roy Halladay starts pitching well again, isn’t he the top rental on the market? That’s just one example. (More on the Cubs and Price here, for those who missed it yesterday.)
  • It’s barely meaningful, and it’s incredibly early, but you may not have noticed just how well a couple of Cubs’ top offseason pitching targets are doing. Anibal Sanchez currently sports a 317 ERA+ (which, hahahaha). Hyun-Jin Ryu has a 2.75 FIP.
  • The Rockies have DFA’d third baseman Chris Nelson, who was Ian Stewart after Ian Stewart was Ian Stewart, and it’s fair to wonder whether the Cubs will kick the tires. A former top 10 pick, Nelson finally broke through in 2012 when Stewart’s departure opened up a spot for the then-26-year-old. Unfortunately, his .810 OPS in 2012 was almost entirely BABIP-driven (.374), and his glove at third apparently isn’t very good. With a high strikeout rate and a low walk rate, I’m not sure there’s a ton of value here, particularly given the presence of fringe types like Stewart, Josh Vitters, and Junior Lake all shortly battling for third base playing time at AAA. Then again, the Cubs have never let a mediocre positional glut (i.e., outfield) stop them from piling on more marginal big league talent.
  • Another Yankees injury, with Kevin Youkilis likely headed to the DL with a bad back. At 15-10, the Yankees have weathered the early storm quite well, and may not have to add a bat to make up for the losses of Youkilis, Alex Rodriguez, Derrek Jeter, Curtis Granderson, and Mark Teixeira. Pretty amazing. The Yankees may actually look to pick up Chris Nelson for a little time at third base.
  • MLBTR looks at the transactions from last May, which gives you an idea of the kinds of things you could see happen (last year, it was mostly minor moves).
  • MightyBear

    Maybe the Cubs could trade Stewart to the Yankees? If he would start hitting at Iowa.

    • willis

      Good God we could only wish.

  • ssckelley

    Nelson > Ransom, do not be blinded by Ransom’s recent success at the plate. He is 37 years old and has no chance of being a long term player in Chicago. I know this would not be a popular move but I would release Ransom and claim Nelson in a heartbeat.

    • Lyle Ernst

      I respectfully disagree with ssckelley. I think Ransom will work okay this year only, as a fill in at different positions.

  • corey costello

    I know this is random, but the cubs, if they already don’t, should buy atleast 20 of these pitching machines.

    They throw random pitches.

  • Noah

    Another issue regarding Villanueva: I’d say a left handed pitcher who has established himself as a solid 3-4 type in a rotation would be viewed as marginally more valuable than a similar right handed pitcher. And, as Brett notes, it’s debatable whether Villanueva has established himself as a solid 3-4 type.

  • forlines

    Not popular for others, but I agree completely

  • ssckelley

    Anybody think Valbuena would be of any value to a team like the Yankees? He can fill in for the injured Youkilis and be a nice utility infielder for a contending team. He is hot at the plate right now, bats lefthanded, and is only 27 years old. Could he get the Cubs a B level type prospect?

  • itzscott

    >> Dierkes compares the signing to that of Paul Maholm last year <<

    Does that mean if the Cubs trade Villanueva all they'll get in return is yet another injured pitcher?

    Might as well change the logo from a cubbie bear to a red cross.

    • John

      That’s our only legitamite pitching prospect your referring to, injured or healthy.

  • BluBlud

    I don’t see the point in trading Villanueva. He has shown some early promise and will more then likely fall off of his early pace, but if he settles in with a mid 3 ERA by the deadline, shouldn’t the Cubs try to hold on to him. I understand why we traded Maholm, but what if we had kept Maholm, and still made all the same offseason moves we made except maybe Jackson. Think of how good our rotation would be right now. Then replace who ever would be starting now(Rusin, Raley, etc.) with Garza and a rotation of Villanueva, Wood, Shark, Feldman and Garza would be pretty good.

    I know I supported the jackson signing, but knowing the money situation now, I think it was a bad signing. The fact that he has completely sucked on adds to that.

    • Kygavin

      “I don’t see the point in trading Villanueva. He has shown some early promise and will more then likely fall off of his early pace, but if he settles in with a mid 3 ERA by the deadline, shouldn’t the Cubs try to hold on to him.”

      You basically answered your own question. If he is likely to fall off the pace that he is on (everyone seems to think he will) then shouldnt they trade him ASAP?

  • Spencer

    Can you imagine if the Cubs picked up Nelson and released Ian Stewart? The irony would be too great to handle.

    • King Jeff

      I would love for this to happen just to see the twitter fit that Stewart would throw. Either that, or he’d just shrug and go back to playing call of duty and watching wrestling.

    • Rcleven

      Still can’t release Stewart for anybody. Is still in injury rehab. Rules prohibit it.
      All the Cubs can do right now bring him up keep him for a while then DFA him.

  • Eli

    Good call on the Yankees getting Nelson. Just got him from the Rockies for cash or PTBNL.

  • John

    Stewart’s not ready now which basically means he’s trying the Derrick rose thing. I think now we can say Stewart’s done and it’s probably his wrist still for all we know but this guy pulled his quad months ago, I pulled mine last week and I’m already back out there.. It’s a good thing there’s a pro gaming league Ian!

  • Jim

    Travis Wood should not even be considered a trade candidate. He is exactly the type of player the Cubs need and trade for > young and controllable. He has been our best pitcher this year, why even consider moving him? The only starting pitcher we have that is under-performing, currently, is Edwin Jackson – which is probably the only one that couldn’t be moved.