Lukewarm Stove: The Giants Need Pitching, Theo Epstein on Making Trades, and Chats

stoveThe rumor mill is turning slowly …

  • In a rumor headline you thought you wouldn’t see for decades, Danny Knobler reports that the San Francisco Giants are in the market – hard – for a starting pitcher. They’ve got a 4.75 ERA as a starting staff, so it’s understandable that they’d be looking. Among the pitchers they’ve been discussing are Bud Norris and Ricky Nolasco, decent arms that are eminently available. Knobler mentions Matt Garza, but notes that Giants GM Brian Sabean generally has a reticence to pursue players that he views as injury risks. The Cubs will obviously be shopping arms this year – not just Garza, but also Scott Feldman, Carlos Villanueva, and possibly even Travis Wood – so there are likely to be some conversations. Speaking of which …
  • Theo Epstein on the nature of the next month and a half, per Patrick Mooney: “[We’ll] assess where we are and then the needs of the other 29 teams. It’s sort of a long process to put it together. You don’t just wake up on July 31 and decide you’re going to make a trade one way or another. There’s a lot of information gathering and strategizing. We’re starting those internal discussions of what good fits might be and things like that, even as we watch our club play and hope that we get real hot and change our current position.” I’d expect that the Cubs are hitting the pavement hard these days, ascertaining which teams are likely to be buying in July, what they might need, what they might be willing to trade, and what the Cubs want to land. No sense in getting behind the 8-ball hoping for a hot streak that isn’t coming, and, frankly, wouldn’t change things even if it did come.
  • Bruce Levine did the chat thing yesterday, and … (1) Starlin Castro doesn’t need to be looking over his shoulder any time soon; (2) Alfonso Soriano is easier to trade than Carlos Marmol at this point because the former is still viewed as a quality bat, while the latter would need a very hot stretch from now until the Trade Deadline to garner any interest at all; (3) Matt Garza is not likely to sign the kind of three-year, $36 million deal the Cubs would probably want to off him on an extension (in part because that’s less than Edwin Jackson got, and Garza is inarguably in a higher tier of pitcher … when healthy); (4) Bruce and I are in complete agreement on what should happen with Garza: extension by July 31, or otherwise he’s traded – the risk in taking him all the way to the offseason is too high, and the compensation if he walks (a compensatory draft pick) is too small; (5) on why the Cubs didn’t sign Yasiel Puig, Bruce says it was mostly money, but adds this: “Besides, Puig has allegedly had some personal issues in dealing with people that the Cubs may not have liked.” – wonder what that’s about; and (6) Darwin Barney would be a better fit on a team where his flaws at the plate don’t stand out so much (i.e., a good team that needs a great glove).
  • MLBTR’s Steve Adams filled in for Tim Dierkes on the chat this week, and among his thoughts … (1) Unsurprisingly, Steve expects the Cubs to do a whole lot of selling this Summer; (2) the Blue Jays likely won’t strip down, but could sell off pieces like Josh Johnson or Adam Lind; and (3) there’s no sense in the Marlins dealing Giancarlo Stanton at the deadline, even if he’s healthy – the Marlins can almost certainly get more for him in the offseason.

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

111 responses to “Lukewarm Stove: The Giants Need Pitching, Theo Epstein on Making Trades, and Chats”

  1. macpete22

    I would love to deal Garza to the Giants for Andrew Susac and maybe some pitchers in their farm system. Susac could become our catcher of the future.

  2. Kyle

    The only way you shop Travis Wood or Carlos Villanueva is if you are getting a near-MLB ready pitcher in return, and if the team in question had that, they wouldn’t need to trade for Wood or Villanueva.

    With Fujikawa’s injury and the No. 2 pick being spent on a position player, we are down to five pitchers under control for 2014 who are expected to be ready for Opening Day and could reasonably be projected as above replacement:

    Samardzija, Jackson, Wood, Villanueva, Russell.

    That’s it. We probably need 10 more quality pitchers in our organization between now and next spring if we want to have a good pitching staff and reasonable depth. You might get a couple from general development of scrubs and maybe Vizcaino is healthy and doesn’t need any AAA time, but trading away pitchers under contract for 2014 is moving in the exact opposite direction of where we need to go.

  3. Ramy16

    Brett any news of Kris Bryant signing?? I see other 1st rd picks being signed including Tim Anderson of the White Sox

    1. gocatsgo2003

      Bet none of those guys have Boras, though I’m admittedly too lazy to check.

    2. Cedlandrum

      It isn’t uncommon for guys outside the top 5 to sign pretty early.

  4. Colocubfan

    If they trade Travis Wood for “prospects”, I’m going to start getting a little peeved. I don’t mind borderline guys, and I know that you get the most by trading your best, but I think this guy could be the real deal. Left handed starters are too few and far between to be traded for somebody who “might” be “really good down the road”, “sometime”.

  5. Jon

    Good news on the Stanton front as I believe the Cubs could easily put a package together this offseason to win that sweepstakes.

  6. Joshua Shapiro

    who they go target has to be dictated in no small degree to their confidence in Bryant sticking at 3B. If he sticks at 3B, then the questions have to start popping up about what to do with the Castro/Baez situation. If Baez goes to AA soon, we’re looking at max year and a half out. That should line up nicely with the rest of the prospects hitting their strides (Soler, Bryant, possibly Amaya). We should want a pipeline of talent, but it’s got to start with a core and I see 2015 as the “drop the flag” moment when this rebuild should kick in to full competitive gear. To me, that means homegrown talent filling many of the 25 roster spots spiced in with veteran leaders.

    1. pete

      Kind of a follow up question on Joshua’s post. Presuming the FO believes Bryant can be a MLB 3rd baseman, does that mean any possible trade (presuming it was something that was investigated) for Olt or Chisenhall is a thing of the past?

      1. cubchymyst

        Olt has fallen on some hard times this year. Olt’s K% is 36% in 116 at bat is AAA this year and slugging 0.295. Chisenhall is performing better, his 100 at bats in AAA look really good but has not been able to duplicate that success at the MLB level.

  7. Kenster

    What prospects on the 40 man roster do you expect to be a September call up (if they aren’t included in a package deal)?
    I figured both Jackson and Vitters will be up if not right after the deadline for Jackson. I assume Junior Lake will get a shot and possibly Szczur and Watkins? Along with Rusin and Raley possibly Vizcaino on the pitching side?
    I just want to see what these guys can do already

    1. BluBlud

      Of the names you mention, the only ones you are likely or have a chance to see would be Lake, Watkins and Jackson. Maybe Vitters, but I don’t think he makes it past the deadline. Vizcaino is injured again and will not pitch in Chicago at all this year. Szczur is mid next season projection at the earliest(by the way, he is performing pretty well in AA)

      1. gocatsgo2003

        “Don’t think he makes it past the deadline” meaning that you think he will get called up before then or traded away?

        1. BluBlud

          I think Vitters will be packaged with one of Garza, Feldman or Soriano to increase the return for one of those players.

          1. gocatsgo2003

            Interesting thought… because you think they’re putting all their eggs in the Bryant/Baez basket for 3B of the future or another reason(s)?

            I ask mostly because Vitters had been swinging a pretty decent bat of late — .368/.455/.579 over the last 28 days according to Baseball Reference to go with .270/.343/.444 on the season. Though (hopefully) not serious, his recent injury also wouldn’t help his trade value at all.

            1. BluBlud

              No, I’m saying the Cubs have Valbeuna, a guy who I used to dislike, but is now one of my favorite players on the roster right now. He is not a star, but he can hold down the fort until someone else is ready. The Cubs have several 3B options, they wouldn’t be putting all their Eggs in the Baez/Bryant basket.

              1. gocatsgo2003

                That was first amongst my “other” reasons I had in mind. Valbuena isn’t likely to win any championships for you at 3B, but he certainly seems passable there over the next couple years until a younger player separates himself from the pack.

                1. BluBlud

                  I think if Valbeuna plays like he has this year, he could help you win a championship on the right team.

                  1. ssckelley

                    You can’t be serious?

                    1. Drew7

                      You really don’t think an OPS of .792 and average defense at 3B would help you win a WS?

                    2. King Jeff

                      He is, and it’s not exactly an outrageous statement.

                    3. gocatsgo2003

                      He said “help” not “be a main cog” for a championship geam.

                    4. Blublud

                      Very serious. Valbeuna is probably a top half starting 3B this season.

                    5. davidalanu

                      I’m sure a lot of teams have won championships with a 3b with less than a .792 OPS, especially with a more than adequate glove.

        2. Kenster

          Ya saying that they might be traded

      2. AB

        Yea, I’m looking around and Alcantra is the only guy eligible for Rule V that is an absolutely must protect, maybe Kyler Burke if he impresses the second half of the season, or players the cubs bring in via trades.

      3. Kenster

        I figured Vitters had a strong chance of being traded. Still hope to see him last as I like him more than others.
        Vizcaino I didn’t know he was going to take that long to rehab thought he would be reassigned within the next couple months
        Szczur I thought would get a chance due to the fact I believe 2 if not 3 of our OFs would be traded and also since he’s had a strong year too like you stated

        1. Kenster

          This was meant to reply to BluBuds post

      4. Kenster

        I figured Vitters had a strong chance of being traded. Still hope to see him last as I like him more than others.
        Vizcaino I didn’t know he was going to take that long to rehab thought he would be reassigned within the next couple months
        Szczur I thought would get a chance due to the fact I believe 2 if not 3 of our OFs would be traded and also since he’s had a strong year too like you stated

        1. BluBlud

          Szczur is still in AA, and while I believe AA is the best place to promote talent from the minors to the majors, this FO doesn’t seem to agree with me. So I suspect Szczur will see some time at AAA before being promoted.

  8. Joshua Shapiro

    I think Arodys is out for the year.

    1. BluBlud

      He’s not out for the year, but he will not pitch in Chicago when he comes back. Maybe can win a job out of ST next year.

    2. Jp3

      Sigh….. maybe he’ll ready to go by 2015?

  9. Jp3zz

    I’d like to see him do well but how long before someone doesn’t make it into an organized game does he leave the top 10 prospect list?

  10. Jon

    Arodys, likely will never amount to anything other than a fringe reliever with his injury issues. The Braves knew what they were doing giving him away.

    1. BluBlud

      Look at it like this. Would you trade dereck Rose off of the Bulls because of his injury issues, since it took him longer to come back then most people, and he had minor setback after setback, or would you be willing to wait it out through the year, since A) you are not going to win it this year anyway and B) the raw talent is still there. I think I would wait it out on Vizcaino before making that judgement.

      1. Kyle

        I don’t know much about basketball. Does Rose have repeated injuries and play a position where repeated injuries usually mean lots of future injuries and eventual ineffectiveness?

        1. BluBlud

          Yes. He tore his ACL and has repeatedly had leg and back problems. Another good Basketball Comp would be Zildrunas Ilgauskas, or Big Z as the call him, for the Cavaliers. He missed most of the first 4 years of his career with repeated foot injuries, and then return to go to a couple all-star games and help the Cavs reach the finals. Not to get to much into Basketball, but just saying some talent may be worth waiting for before you just the make the decision to dump them. I learned my lesson with Valbeuna.

          1. Jacob

            And, to BluBlud’s point about Rose, he makes his living with his legs. His ability to drive and be quick with the ball is what makes him so good. So, an ACL tear and leg problems is about as close to a comp as you can get to a pitcher and his arm, in basketball.

        2. DarthHater

          No, to my knowledge Rose has no history of repeated injuries. Returning to full strength in basketball after his type of injury can be tough, but it has been done. I have not heard that the injury tends to be associated with additional future injuries, but I’m not sure about that.

          In any event, Rose/Vizcaino is a poor comparison for other reasons. Rose is a former MVP – a proven superstar at the highest level. Vizcaino is a prospect with a possibly high ceiling, but he has proven nothing at the top level and could be a bust – with or without further injuries. Even if Vizcaino turns out to be a really good ML pitcher, the odds are still small that he will ever be as good at baseball as Rose is at basketball.

          1. BluBlud

            Actually Darth, Rose has missed most of the last 2 season with minor leg, back and Hip injuries. Off the subject, I think his Adidas shoe plays a part in that, considering the other high rofile players who wear Adidas, Tracy McGrady and Dwight Howard have both had Leg, Back and hip injuries in their career. Anyway, the only difference is Rose was hurt after he established himslef and Vizcaino was hurt before. The point is that Rose may never be Rose again, but the upside is still worth waiting for. The same with Vizcaino. He may never be what he could have been, but the upside is still worth waiting for.

            1. DarthHater

              “the only difference is Rose was hurt after he established himslef and Vizcaino was hurt before.”

              That’s a huge difference. After you establish yourself as a star, the probability that you are a star quality player is 100%. Before that, the probability is, shall we say, somewhat less – and the risk of never being a star is greater for a baseball prospect than it would be for a basketball prospect.

          2. Frank

            No offense, but Rose all but announced that he’s a head case. Every team that plays him knows they can get in his head about his knee.

      2. Kygavin

        Id trade him because he didnt take his SAT in high school

  11. steve123

    Does anyone else think that Dioner Navarro could be packaged with someone and possibly bring back a better prospect. He is hitting over .270 currently which is about .070 better than Soto last year when he was traded for a top 20 prospect.

    1. Kyle

      Yes, I think Navarro is a very likely trade target. Teams always want veteran catchers and bench players with some pop for the deadline, and we probably want to get Clevenger some time.

      1. steve123

        I agree, Do you believe that something around 15-20 would be reasonable? Especially if he keeps up his momentum.

        1. Kenster

          Depending on who he’s packaged with. By himself I don’t believe they can get someone that high on a teams prospect list. I too though think he is gaining himself more playing time so he can eventually be traded

    2. another JP

      Since Navarro & Feldman have had a good working relationship through the season and with Texas, I’ve always thought that would be an intriguing package to offer a team at the trade deadline. Both have one year deals and the Cubs might get a pretty nice return for both of them.

      1. Cyranojoe

        Good idea.

  12. Justin

    I know typically when teams sell it is better to sell parts off seperately to maximize value, but I hope they can combine guys like Garza and DeJesus in deals to get higher end prospects. I would rather have one great prospect then 5 middle of the road guys coming back.

  13. Joshua Shapiro

    I still like this scenario the best at this point.
    Move Garza for a catcher/catcher prospect + extra
    by late 2014 into 2015 (assuming development at regular pacing)
    C – TBD
    1B – Rizzo
    2B – Gioskar/Torreyes/alcantara or Junior Lake (assuming they can make the switch)
    SS – Castro (personally not a huge fan, but more than serviceable)
    3B – Baez
    OF – Soler, Bryant (there is already talk of him going to the OF) and either Brett Jackson/Scrabble/Free Agent with Almora waiting in the wings

    Pitching can be bought with past high end draft guys like Underwood or Maples possibly shifting to bullpen roles (not a great return) and a core group in the rotation of Samardzija, Wood, Ed Jackson (thorn in the side of future plans) and what I would anticipate is a major play for a top Free Agent front line starter. If they go after Price, they are going to lose a huge amount of depth in the minors, but there could be other options out there on that level that surface over the next year or two.

  14. Rich H

    I am beginning to waffle on trading Wood and Russel. Just because those guys would get the most back in return. I know that we need left handed pitching through out our system but we also need almost ready outfielders. Because an outfield of Sweeney, Sappel, Burbon and Hairston the second half of this year is pretty scary.

    Brett Jackson could get a shot but I am thinking the bloom is probably off the rose on that one. Vitters can play a corner but is he still an option? All our possible options that actually move the needle are in the Daytona or lower.

    I am not saying that I would offer them up in trade but I would be willing to listen to legit offers and if I get blown away move them. Because if we are really setting up to be competitive sooner rather than later we need Outfielders badly.

  15. Lou Brock

    If Giants need pitching offer Feldman & CF Szczur for LHP Escobar & RHP Agosto. Both are top 15 prospects and possible future starters in a rotation.

  16. another JP

    When analyzing the players on the team by weighted on base average it’s impossible not to ignore that all the lagging performers were from the former regime. Soriano, Castillo, Castro, & Barney are all ranked no better than 9th. If this FO wants high OBP guys and a better offense the sooner this group is replaced the better we’ll be. I know this’ll disappoint quite a few folks but they represent over 40% of the offense.

  17. Lou Brock

    Escobar & Agosto are the # 10 & 7 prospects in Giant system.

  18. AD

    Its a pipe dream but Id love to snag Archie Bradley from the Dbacks. Possibly for Garza and Russell. Like I said, complete pipe dream.

    1. someday...2015?

      Bradley is tops on my trade wish list. Pipe dream like you said though.

    2. steve123

      I am not against the Archie Bradley trade, but would much prefer to keep Russell who has been our only really solid bullpen arm the past two years. I would rather throw in something else, but its hard to guess exactly what it would take to pry him away from Arizona.

      1. bbmoney

        I mean I don’t think you’d let Russell get in your way. But it’d take a lot more than a rental and a BP arm anyways.

        1. gocatsgo2003

          Could let the DBacks negotiate an extension with Garza before the trade is actually finalized, but you’re right — it would take a very strange situation to get Bradley for just those two.

  19. Timmy

    Trade everyone, tear down the ballpark and put up a walmart, and sign no one.

    The era of Ricketts.

    1. DarthHater

      Trade shittier, more expensive players for better, cost-controlled ones, remodel a crumbling old ballpark and upgrade outdated and inadequate facilities, put up the long-awaited triangle building, and generate new revenue flows with which to sign future free agents. Yea, sounds like a nightmare world.

    2. cjdubbya

      So is building a Wal-Mart the new market inefficiency?

  20. randy jones

    I see you frustration Timmy but the bottom line is the Ricketts, Theo and the rest didnt know how what a stink pile mess this organization was in. It is very frustrating to wait as a life long fan.

  21. Josh

    This is where I am frustrated with people on this site who complain about Epstein, Ricketts and the state of the Cubs. We KNEW before last season that the cubs would suck for a few years. Why does it matter how bad they suck? We talk about the signings and trades that the Cubs have made….we KNEW they would be just using place hold players until the farm system was rebuilt and those players started to come to the major league level. If all of the players that the Cubs are counting on (Baez, Soler, Almora, Bryant, Vogs, Johnson, etc.) are busts, or fail to bring decent MLB talent when traded then yes this whole process has been a failure. But since taking over Ricketts and Co. have put together a Todd plan to renovate and improve a very rundown ballpark. We talk about tradition of the park, but the only tradition that counts is 105 years of losing. No one can logically argue that the farm system is worse than when Epstein/Hoyer/McLeod took over. We were told that this would not happen overnight….

    1. cubs2003

      I think the Cubs need to be willing to deal any of their players one last time. Next year, as a fan, I’m holding the FO accountable for MLB wins. They’ve had 2 years of complete control and it’s time to see some results. I’m not even talking a playoff team, but a respectable one. They have pieces in place, but those same pieces are the ones that would net a good return. Seems like there are less dumb FO’s nowadays to take advantage of.

    2. Kyle

      We didn’t “know” many of those things. You assumed and continue to assume those things.

      Being told something will happen doesn’t automatically make it a good thing.

  22. 70'scub

    Bottom Line next two years for the Cub fan, acquire top five draft pick and sign most all picks, trade for 6 prospect each year that fit the organization cub way, and find young international talent. The key is to have an organization that passes and/or equals the Cardinal/Brave system (average season = 90 wins). So in some future time the success standard becomes 90 + wins.

    1. cubs2003

      Your strategy makes a ton of sense, but I think this organization still needs that one great all around hitter. A Cabrera/Konerko/Fielder/etc type. Of course these guys are hard to come by and will cost a bunch. Stanton or someone like that is probably the best target. We’re missing that one guy that teams have to plan around. Rizzo has shown he can’t carry the load yet. Castro has taken a step back. Soriano is dealt if all goes well and has struggled some. DeJesus is a role player(albeit a good one, but also one who is probably dealt). Schierholtz(sp?) will be dealt. Hairston has struggled. Barney is a great defender but light with the bat. I’m just not seeing this offense materialize. I think one big bat would make this whole offense better, even if you have to overpay in prospects/money. I guess you could always wait for Soler and company though. Probably the more reasoned approach. I’d just like to see a winner before too long.

  23. JulioZuleta

    I heard Yasiel Puig didn’t get along with Jose Contreras and Minnie Minoso back when they were all on the same Little League team in Cuba.

  24. 70'scub

    What about a Shark Trade? I am not certain he wants to sign and/or may not fit “his prime” with the “Cub timeline”. The Cub organization needs more young impact talent in the 21-24 age band. I just saying as a Cub fan I like Shark a lot!

    1. Dynastyin2017

      You may be correct. Shark’s prime is now for the next five or so years, and the Cubs window of competitiveness is probably 3 years out.

    2. Timothy Scarbrough

      My understanding was he just didn’t want to worry about it during the season.

  25. 70'scub

    @ cubs 2003 two/three year complete control works for the NFL time line. Given the Cub organization was a complete bottom feeding expensive mess and the fact that the Cardinal organization is top shelf. I would hold the FO accountable compared to the Cardinal organization at each level of player development at this time the Cub prospects under 20 year old. I also would also measure the amount of impact talent in the Cub organization. I don’t feel they should try and get lucky and win in year three if they do the system is back to 1 good year 4 bad year cycle.

  26. 70'scub

    @ cub 2003 I agree in the need for an impact bat and a young ace, the Cub may have 3 bats in the system, I just saying load it up and plan only for the few to make it. Stanton can have that bat butt, he is expensive in terms of prospects and potential contract, hurt (DL) and has played in a lot of garbage type games/seasons with several hitting coaches and managers. To me he would be more like a Hendry type pick up. When the Cub organization gets close I’d rather they go for an “older” bat with winning experience that only costs the team a lot of money on a short term free agent deal.

  27. nkniacc13

    The other issue that the trade deadline has that may require the Cubs to “add” to the deal is that the new cba. Most teams aren’t giving up a top 10 prospect for a rental because they cant get a draft pick for him if he were to walk. That’s why the Cubs got Vizciano because the Braves knew they had Maholm for another year. That’s why I could see Lake, Jackson and Vitters maybe included in a deal to get a better prospect.

  28. Die hard

    Theo may be overmatched trading with Tidrow… Would advise Theo to measure twice or more before cutting loose any of Cubs

  29. Kygavin

    Eric Young Jr was just DFA’d. Terrible defender but is a switch hitter who has hit lefties fairly well in his career. Make sense for the Cubs to try and work a deal out? I mean id rather have him than Sweeney

  30. Die hard

    Sometimes the best deal is the one not made… Another option is to let contracts expire and don’t exercise options and don’t re- sign anybody on current team… That way avoid making matters worse

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