stoveAs of this writing, the three best teams in all of baseball by record are the St. Louis Cardinals, the Cincinnati Reds, and the Pittsburgh Pirates (who are tied with the Rangers for the third-best record). Think maybe the Cubs should sell?

  • Cubs closer Kevin Gregg (I typed that without blinking this time, finally) isn’t thrilled about the trade rumors that swirl this time of year, which he considers somewhat disrespectful to the team, he told ESPN Chicago. Gregg wasn’t hostile in his comments, mind you, and was essentially just saying that he and his teammates don’t want to think about being traded when they’re still trying to win for the Cubs. I totally get that and respect it. That said, this does not appear to be a competitive team, and the process of making July trades necessarily has to start much earlier in the season. So the rumors are going to swirl.
  • As for Gregg, himself, it will be very interesting to see how the market develops. It’s shaping up like a very weak relief market (obviously that can change quickly as teams fall out of it), and Gregg will be eminently available. He’s got a mixed track record, especially in recent years, but he seems to have reinvented himself this year. He started working with a sinker in 2011, and no one could really do much with it. He has apparently decided to use it much more this year, and he’s having great success with it.¬†As you watch him, the performance seems to generally match the results, which include zero earned runs given up. He’s pitched just 13.1 innings so far, and some regression is to be expected. But the K rate is up, the BB rate is down, and his stuff looks good. What’s a rental reliever like that worth? Could the Cubs wind up getting a B prospect for Gregg? Maybe. They might do even better if he’s packaged with another player or two.
  • In a completely unscientific, but nonetheless interesting, survey conducted by MLBTR, voters pegged Matt Garza as the single most likely player to be traded this year (he was named on nearly 40% of the ballots). Alfonso Soriano got the second most votes, and appeared on 35.2% of the ballots.
  • Similarly, Jesse Rodgers takes a stab at estimating which Cubs will be dealt, and puts Garza at the top of the list, followed by Scott Feldman, David DeJesus, and Alfonso Soriano. Gregg is going to be up there, too, and then there’s a variety of guys the Cubs will consider moving if teams are interested. As I’ve done in the past, I’ll run down the entire list of tradable pieces as we get a little closer to trade season.
  • MLBTR with a very interesting look at the value of competitive balance draft picks – the ones that come after the first round, and which are the only tradable draft picks. The piece concludes that it’s conceivable that a team could land one of those draft picks in trade for a mere role player, largely because of the high whiff rate on picks in that range (upwards of 60%). It’s worth pointing out that the competitive balance lottery is July 19, and that is the first day on which those picks can be traded. (My understanding is that the picks can be traded only in the year in which they are awarded (i.e., last year’s picks, which are a part of this year’s Draft, can no longer be traded), but I am open to being corrected on this point.) So look for draft pick trades to occur, if at all, late in July.
  • Tim Dierkes chatted at MLBTR, and noted that Kendrys Morales is emerging as a very good trade chip for teams looking for a DH, which could impact the Cubs’ market for Alfonso Soriano, for example (although he wants to continue playing in the outfield, and he has been playing well there again this year). Dierkes also guesses that the Cubs could land a prospect in the 100 to 150 range in baseball for Scott Feldman, which would be a very solid return.
  • Die hard

    Soriano is going to retire as a Cub- cant give him away

    • Jay

      Even when we could, he won’t go. He cries about losing, yet isn’t hitting for shit this year which isn’t helping us move him.

    • notcubbiewubbie

      totally agree we will suffer for the eighth and final year of the worst contract in the history of baseball.paid like albert pujols hits like luis pujols.

  • Kyle

    I hadn’t heard that they had to be traded in the season they are awarded. I had only heard that they couldn’t be traded during an offseason.

    I have no idea if it’s true or not, because MLB does a terrible job of making their rules available.

    • Luke

      I’ve heard both.

      Brett, if you need more info you might try hitting up Jim Callis on Twitter. He knows this stuff about as well as anyone, and he’s pretty good about clarifying the weird rules when asked.

  • Webb

    I read Fangraphs’ profile on Austin Wilson and would love to seem him fall to the Cubs in round 2. BA ranked him at 29 in mid-May, so it could be a pipe dream, but so is the Cubs winning a pennant. Can teams leverage negotiations for college players to drop to them with signing dollars?

    • SenorGato

      Watching Stanford this year I’ve been wondering if it is possible he falls to 41. Appel and Wilson to start the draft would be sick.

      That said, Wilson is a pretty solid first rounder and would have cemented a top 10 slot if he was healthy all year. Hard to imagine falling to 41 actually happening.

      • X the Cubs Fan

        maybe if the Cubs trade for pick #34 from the Royals they can get him or some other falling player… Gray, Manea and Wilson would be a draft for the ages

  • Nick Pipitone

    I wish writers would come up with a different term for “not competitive” — it just seems completely off. Why do the Cubs go out on the field? To be competitive. To try and win ballgames. They are not the best team in baseball. But they are certainly competitive. Why play if not to be comeptitive? It’s a lazy way of saying the team isn’t good, when there are a lot of good things about this team. With the starting pitching the Cubs have, they could certainly roll off 5 or 6 wins in a row. Maybe more. The Cubs are a competitive team.

  • Stu

    The Cubs probably have this year and MAYBE next year to do the “we are not competitve so we have to sell” routine. It is going to be a harder sell for season ticket holders.

    They WILL have to go into either 2014 or 2015 as having a legitimate team that has a realistic shot at making the post season. And that will mean overpaying for a couple of free agents to plug holes on the lineup.

    Does anyone doubt that at some point you have to APPEAR to be trying to win right now?

  • ruby2626

    Hard for me to get excited about a mid season selloff. Last year the one acquired player I was excited about was Vizcaino and he seems to be permanently on the DL. The pitcher Hendricks at AA is doing well but really what is his upside with his mediocre fastball. Villanueva also in AA has only recently begun to hit. All in all not really any future impact players.

    • Kyle

      Garza should fetch more than anything we dealt last year, but yeah, mostly it’s going to be a lot of excitement followed by the realization next spring that we didn’t really get much.

      I’m really surprised that a year later, I like Hendricks more than Villanueva. I don’t trust soft-tossers at all, but there’s got to be something to him with his peripherals this year.

      Villanueva? Meh. His glove should get him to the big leagues, but I just don’t see there being enough bat to make him even an average starter.

      • WGNstatic

        You are more optimistic about Garza’s return than I am.

        Yes, he has more upside than either Maholm or Dempster, but both of those guys were pitching very well leading up to the trade deadline. Maholm had the added benefit of a cheap contract and a full additional year of control. As a rental coming off an injury, I just have a hard time seeing the Cubs getting too much for him.

    • willis

      And don’t expect anything much this year. Not with what the team has to offer. So there may be a sell off, but it won’t make the organization much better.

  • Bilbo161

    I know nothing, really, but considering the blogosphere has been talking about trades with teams for those picks coming up in a week or so for a while now I do believe tbt would have been corrected by some know-it-all before now. Wouldn’t it?

  • SenorGato

    Speaking of trades to make:

    Personal favorite buy low candidate Rick Porcello has his K rate up over 7 through 51 innings so far. BBs are down too but he’s giving up more HRs. Average fastball velocity back to 92 MPH though he’s yet to hit 95-96 like he did last year.

    He came to the NL Central this week to play the Pirates and posted what Bless the Boys calls “the best start of his career.” He pitched 8 shutout innings with 11 Ks.

    Make it happen, Hoyer! I am a major believer that Porcello is working towards a very strong prime.

    • SenorGato

      J/k they were in Detroit.

    • Brett

      I’m with you on Porcello, but the buy low opportunity is going to fade quickly. Maybe after the season the Tigers won’t be keen on paying him another arbitration raise.

      • SenorGato

        I’m fine with the price. To me there is a different kind of buy low and the one I have in mind is the one the Cubs should be more worried about that. The buy low should be on talent. I like Porcello in that regard.

        Sorry, I just failed to make that clear.

        Other young to young-ish arms that might be a little buy low in that regard:

        LHP Andrew Miller – Reliver to starter

        Trevor Cahill – It would be convenient if he was the odd man out in Arizona. Not sure why he would be since he’s really good, but just in case.

        Phil Hughes – FA that I think might improve some moving to the NL. Not as big a fan of him as Porcello, but he’s got a good arm. Since he’s a FA it is hard to imagine he would be more appealing than a trade.

        Drew Pomeranz – Not really sure if the Rockies would actually move him either. I have also always like Tyler Chatwood.

        Brian Matusz – Another reliever to starter candidate.

        Joba Chamberlaind – Another reliever to starter candidate.

  • Fastball

    I think we dhould keep our starting pitchers for next year. The Maholm teade has been flop. Trade DJ and positional guys we can easily replace. Starting pitchers are hard to come by.

    • BT

      Other than the fact that Garza and Feldman are free agents, and we have no right to “keep” them, that would be a great idea. But they are, and we don’t.

  • Mike Taylor (no relation)

    I’ve been advocating for a trade involving LF Corey Dickerson (#16), from the Rockies AAA affiliate. He’s being blocked by all of their Outfield. Guy has similar numbers to Rizzo in his Iowa campaign last year:

    Rizzo 2012
    70 G, 284 PA, .351 ISO, 23 HR, .357 BABIP, 18.3/8.1 BB/K%, .342/.405/.693 .438wOBA
    Dickerson 2013
    44 G, 202 PA, .236 ISO, 06 HR, .409 BABIP, 15.8/5.0 BB/K%, .361/.391/.597 .408wOBA

    • BluBlud

      Not to be an ass, but these aren’t exactly similar numbers.

      • Mike Taylor (no relation)

        That’s better than any outfielder prospect currently in Iowa.

        • AB

          Colorado Springs (Rockies AAA affiliate) is the PCL of the PCL; Playing at 6500 feet with dry thin air results in crazy offensive numbers.

          I once watched a cub AAA team with Pie, E.Patterson, Cedeno, Soto score 19 runs there sometime in 2007

    • hansman1982

      That’s comparing a potential ASG season stat line with a no-doubt MVP season stat line.

  • OlderStyle

    sigh, I am thoroughly unexcited by any offseason signings, can barely have my pulse rasied a few bpm’s by a few prospects’ development on the farm and the chances of our tradeable pieces netting anything to hoot about at the deadline is looking bleak.
    This is a rough time to be a Cubs fan.
    The optimist would say remember Andy Dufresne crawling through the waste pipe to freedom. The pessimist would say remember Brooks who couldn’t adjust to uninstitutional life.

  • Die hard

    If we add up pluses and minuses so far Theo balance sheet has a net equity. When does Cubs change CEO with this latest TJ surgery fiasco? Or does Theo have Ricketts so cowed by Boston success that Ricketts is afraid?

  • Die hard

    Typo- no net equity

  • Mick

    Hey Brett or anyone in the know, do you have a post that thoroughly explains the competitive balance lottery or can you break it down to simpler terms? Also, is there an amount of draft budget that comes with a competitive balance lottery? And finally, if the Cubs were to trade, say, Kevin Gregg for a competitive balance draft pick, would they also receive the draft budget allocated to that pick?

    • Brett

      Yes to your final question. To the rest, I probably wrote it up last year, but will do so again as it approaches. The Cubs will never get to participate, so it’s kind of tangential.

  • #1lahairfan

    A B prospect for Gregg?

  • nkniacc13

    when is bowdens 10 days up? Friday?

  • Michael Caldwell

    According to Baseball America’s Jim Callis, and I got it directly from him via email, the CBL picks that were awarded last year can be traded right up to the start of the draft on June 6th. The only stipulations involving those picks, according to Callis, are that they must be traded during the regular season, and they may not be traded more than once. So Detroit’s and Miami’s CBL picks are no longer eligible to be traded.

    • Brett

      Excellent. Thanks for helping clear that up, Michael.