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lukewarm stoveA rare early May Lukewarm Stove appearance …

  • But there won’t be much to it, as Cubs GM Jed Hoyer reiterates the reality of May when it comes to trade rumors: it’s just not that time of year. “I certainly talk to a lot of GMs on a daily or weekly basis,” Hoyer told the media on Friday (CSN). “But having a GM call about a specific player? I’m not even sure I fielded one of those yet. Really, that trade talk always dies right at the end of Spring Training. Usually, it’s late May or early June until people sort of reconvene and start talking that way. Right now, the calls are mostly catching up and seeing how people are doing and keeping a dialogue but not specific at all.”
  • At this time of year, very few teams know whether they’ll be buying or selling, let alone which pieces they’re willing to trade/wanting to acquire, let alone how to value those assets just yet. And even if you’re in the small contingent of teams that does know those things, it’s hard to make the best possible deal in such a limited market. It’s easy to talk about “jumping” the market, or selling an asset while he could provide more value in a given season, but it’s much harder to actually put that kind of May deal together.
  • … but there’s still a little bit to discuss.
  • The Cubs have reportedly had Dave Littlefield scouting top Blue Jays pitching prospect Marcus Stroman. You probably remember him as one of the arms the Cubs reportedly sought over the winter in a possible Jeff Samardzija deal (the Cubs reportedly asked for Stroman and Aaron Sanchez (another top 100 prospect) and a third piece for Samardzija – that’s steep). Stroman started out the year on fire at AAA, and he was recently promoted to the big club to help stabilize some bullpen woes. That the Cubs were still scouting Stroman doesn’t necessarily mean trade talks are still ongoing, mind you. The Cubs could simply be doing their regular scouting work on theoretical potential mid-season targets.
  • Speaking of possible pitcher deals, Susan Slusser reports that the A’s are likely to be in the market for another starting pitcher. The Cubs figure to have some options available, so the A’s will be a team to watch as we head toward rumor season.
  • And speaking of things to watch, those Blue Jays could probably use an upgrade at second base to go along with a pitcher like Samardzija. The Cubs do have some pieces to potentially offer in that area (Bonifacio, Valbuena, Barney), but it remains to be seen how enticing they’ll be. Also: I’ve become irrationally attached to Luis Valbuena. Don’t trade him.
  • Remember Cuban pitcher Odrisamer Despaigne, whose value was very hard to peg early in his defection process, and whose stock seemed to fall each time scouts got another look at him? Well, his value fell all the way to a mere $1 million deal, which he signed with the Padres, according to Jon Heyman.
  • Spoda17

    Every time I think of Valbuena lately and the platoon thing… I think of the movie Money Ball…

    BB – Art…
    AH – yeah…
    BB – You can’t start Pena at first tonight
    AH – Billy, you can’t tell me how to develop the lineup
    BB – You’re right Art, I can’t, but you still can’t start Pena at first
    AH – why not…
    BB – because I traded him; you need to start Hatteburg…

    TE – Ricky, you can’t start Valbuena tonight…
    RR – but Theo, have you seen the bat and helmet flip? can ‘t sit a guy with those skills…

    • Jon

      That doesn’t make any sense. Actually it’s quite the opposite If anything, Valubena would be akin to Hatteberg(older guy, undervalued, high OBP guy) and Pena=Olt, the hotshot young prospect that the manager wants to play.

      • Spoda17

        Dude, it’s a joke… un-wad your panties. The point is Billy altered the lineup by trading the guy he didn’t want to start…

  • bnile1

    Sorry Brett, but I think there’s a pretty good change Valbuena gets traded. The reality is that’s he’s a pretty good option at 3b wihich is very weak all around the league, and for the Cubs 3b is going to get very crowded very quickly. Sorry.

    • Fishin Phil

      Maybe he could give some of the youngsters bat flip lessons before he leaves. Just to ease Brett’s loss.

    • another JP

      Valbuena isn’t going anywhere. .. he’s still arby eligible, cheap, and has a high OBP. And even though Bono is a FA, I think RR likes his versatility at the top of the order that they might consider holding on to him if the price is right. Until Watkins, Andreoli, or another option emerges there are no other good choices at the top of the lineup right now.

      • LEO L

        not saying he IS going to be traded but those are the reasons he would be traded. cant trade barney for anything meaningful so gonna have to be Valbuena. If the cubs get the right offer he is very touchable.

  • Javier Bryant

    Just briefly looking at the A’s top prospects and it seems they have quite a few pitchers in the top 20. Could be a fit for Hammel there.

  • Jon

    I realized it’s probably nothing since it’s a completely different, lesser role, but I’m still terrified at the thought of Dave Littlefield scouting on behalf of the Cubs.

    • itzscott

      Agree!

      Littlefield is ranked as the 6th worst GM in all of sports:

      Dave Littlefield Pittsburgh Pirates (890-1324, .402): No GM had more of a knack for trading great talent and getting so little in return than Littlefield. From getting next to nothing for established stars such as Jason Schmidt and Aramis Ramirez, to selling low on players who blossomed elsewhere such as Chris Young and Oliver Perez, to a parting shot in which he traded for Matt Morris with $9.5 million left on his contract, Littlefield’s six-year track record will go down as one of the most extraordinary in MLB history.

      • Drew7

        I’m sure Jonah Keri would appreciate it if you would at least give him credit for that.

      • V23

        GM and Scout , 2 completely different jobs.

        Really shocked people wouldn’t know the difference.

        • itzscott

          Enlighten us.

    • Medicos

      Forget about Dave Littlefield. HOYSTEIN needs to raid the scouting staffs of the Giants and Cards. Their scouts amazingly seem to discover future MLB pitching talent on a fairly regular basis.

  • another JP

    BJax 2 for 5 with a homer and 0 Ks. … signs of life perhaps??

  • Darth Ivy

    Speaking of the A’s, the thought did cross my mind that it would be fun to bring a cowbell to the the bleachers one day. I won’t do it for obvious reasons, but I bring it up just to point out the the A’s home games look fun.

    • Coop

      I went to see Cubs at Oakland last year. Their home games are fun – the crowd is really into it – a bit of a soccer crowd vibe.

      • Karl Groucho

        Agreed re: being like a soccer crowd! I was out in the “bleachers” and they had a different song for each player, cowbells and all.

  • Jon

    So was Baez just given a day off to clear his thoughts? Man I hope it turns around soon.

  • MightyBear

    I’d trade Bonifacio and Valbuena in a heartbeat.

    • lnfihDeL

      Especially with Baez and Alcantara.

  • http://www.survivingthalia.com Mike Taylor

    Concerning the A’s… it would be nice to have RP Ryan Cook, SP Raul Alcantara (he’s young and dominating), and maybe Addison Russell if we plan to trade Starlin Castro for a young, #2ish starting pitcher.

    • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

      Addison Russell isn’t going anywhere for Shark or Hammel

    • Jon

      Why would the Cubs trade Starlin Castro for a #2 starting pitcher?

      • jammin502

        Why would we trade Starlin for anybody? He is only 24, signed long term, and a the type of player you could only dream of getting in any deal.

    • Rebuilding

      They won’t give up Russell for anyone (ok, maybe a few guys, but no one we have). He’s likely to be playing SS for them down the stretch with Lowrie moving to 2b. He’s a superstar in the making

  • V23

    Sorry, Barney is an upgrade to NO ONE as a starting second baseman.

    I agree with Brett a little on Valbuena. His AB’s have been a little excellent.

    Ricky R blew the game yesterday with that awful Baker-Barney combo. Isn’t it pretty settled, Valbuena starts at 2b and Olt at 3b, Bonafacio in CF? Ricky even got beyond the bad lineup, but blew it with overusing Rondon. Awful decision.

    Why is John Baker on this team? If I hear “framing” I may scream.

    • Jon

      Baker is on the team because they fumbled the football with George Kotteras. What better backup catcher are you going to find in March?

      • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

        What extra value would Kottaras have added? And no, his only MLB game this year is not a reasonable answer.

        • Karl Groucho

          But: dat ∞ BB/K rate

        • Jon

          I’m not bemoaning the loss of Kotteras just stating the fact that they targeted Kotteras early on in the off season, traded for him(passing up other backup catcher opportunities) then had to subsequently release him at the end of spring training and settle on Baker indicates that’s not how they drew that one up on the white board.

          • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

            Agreed, and I like Kottaras, but to say there is much a measurable difference between the two as backup catchers is just making noise for the sake of making noise

          • Rebuilding

            Yep. Unless Kotteras really pissed the FO somehow that we don’t know about – it seems like they had a change of heart about offense/defense at backup catcher. And while Baker is fine defensively (throwing out runners, blocks, etc…) he has given interviews about pitch framing and how it was taught in SD under Jed. Seems pretty clear to me

            • bnile1

              Make no mistake Baker did not win the Back up Job, Kotteras lost it. They thought Kotteras would provide a little offense as a back up, yet in the spring he didn’t hit. Worse yet his defense was much worse than expected. I heard one guy say he was michael Barret without the offense. OUCH!! Baker is a servicable back up catcher, a guy who will catch, throw and occasionally hit. In his time with the Cubs Kotteras did not show any ability to do any of the above. That’s why Baker is here.

              • Rebuilding

                I don’t disagree with you. My point was really that Baker has one plus skill that he has been recognized for – pitch framing. I know the anti-framing people hate to hear that because umpires shouldn’t fall for it (like flopping in basketball, drawing penalties in hockey, getting pass interference called in football), yet they do

          • Jon

            Kurt Suzuki was sitting around twiddling his thumbs at Christmas, and he signed in Minny knowing he’d have to compete and possibly sit behind Pinto. Who wouldn’t like Suzuki(a damn find defense catcher) on the roster now?

            • BT

              He was 3 million dollars. The Cubs are not going to give a backup catcher 3 million dollars.

              You are seriously going to bitch about the backup catcher situation now? How do you get up in the morning?

              • Jon

                They gave 5 million to a reliever that can’t even pitch now.

                • waittilthisyear

                  he didnt ignore it. he refuted your bullshit statement. then you changed your argument. because that is what you do

                  • Jon

                    The Cubs are not going to give a backup catcher 3 million dollars!!!

                    Except they gave a backup catcher 1.75 million just the year before.

                    Again, facts.

                    • BT

                      1.75 equals 3.00. I guess you got me there.

                      #Jonfacts

                    • Jon

                      Except it’s not 3 million it’s 2.75 million.

                      So no, they would never EVER give a catcher 2.75 million, but 1.75 million + incentives. that’s something they would do, but that 750K-1M totally draws the line of something acceptable to them.

                    • Rebuilding

                      No dog in this fight – but Navarro had $250k in performance incentives last year, which he easily earned, so he made $2 million

              • Jon

                And I hate to break it to you, but you must be stuck in the fucking 1960s. That’s not a lot of(or outrageous) money to give a backup catcher. He got 1 year 2.75 actually. The year before the Cubs gave Navarro 1 year 1.75 + incentives.

                So you really have no fucking idea what you are talking about.

                • Greenroom

                  Hate to break it to you,the majority of back up catcher salaries are around $500,000. Of course there are several teams with backups making more, but in general, its around $500,000. So, about your last comment.

                  http://www.spotrac.com/rankings/mlb/total/catcher/limit-100/

                  • Jon

                    Except you ignore where the Cubs actually signed a backup with some upside the year before, at nearly the same cost and it worked out quite well. Esp when your starter in cost controlled like Castillo.

                    • BT

                      So, mister potty mouth, the Cubs didn’t give their backup catcher 3 million (sorry, 2.75 million)? One of us doesn’t know what the fuck they are talking about (hint hint, it’s ALWAYS you).

                      XOXOXOXO

                    • Greenroom

                      My comment does address your comment.

                      “And I hate to break it to you, but you must be stuck in the fucking 1960s. That’s not a lot of(or outrageous) money to give a backup catcher. He got 1 year 2.75 actually. The year before the Cubs gave Navarro 1 year 1.75 + incentives.

                      So you really have no fucking idea what you are talking about.”

                      But I see what you attempted to do there.

                    • DarthHater

                      “So, mister potty mouth, the Cubs didn’t give their backup catcher 3 million (sorry, 2.75 million)?”

                      Pretty sure this is the first reported usage of the phrase “mister potty mouth” on this blog.

                    • Karl Groucho
                    • DarthHater

                      Boom! Pwned by the man with way too much time on his hands. ;-)

                    • Karl Groucho

                      Way too much time *spent lurking on BN rather than doing the work he should be doing, because finals don’t matter second semester 3L year but he thinks he should at least feign preparation by sitting at his laptop all day.

                      FTFY

                • lnfihDeL

                  Lol @ youre 20/20 hindsighting.

      • Rebuilding

        I think they picked Baker over Kottaras because they want Baker to teach Castillo how to frame pitches – and Jed was very familiar with him from the Padres days

        • Karl Groucho

          V23 may scream in 3, 2, 1…

        • notcubbiewubbie

          the real reason is he is a friend of richard avina renteria from their padre days.i don’t think bench, munson, berra, or rodriguez can teach castillo to frame pitches.

          • DarthHater

            Well, Munson certainly can’t…

            • TonyP

              lol

      • Blackhawks1963

        Kottaras sucks. Baker is superior defensively and can actually throw. And he is a respected voice with the pitching staff. Teams don’t carry a backup catcher because of his bat over other considerations. And Kottaras isn’t exactly Buster Posey with the bat to begin with.

        • ssckelley

          Right, we do not want our backup catchers to be able to hit home runs or talk walks. We would rather they can throw the ball to 2nd base and lord knows our pitchers are a head case.

          Baker > Kottaras

          • 70′s Cub

            Fuck the back up’s like Baker it’s about starting Barney’s bat in the same game!

    • CubsFaninMS

      Barney is most certainly an upgrade in certain situations. First, as people have mentioned before, a team with a powerful, high-OBP lineup can use a light-hitting Gold Glove second baseman. Second, a team that is looking for a late inning defensive specialist to preserve a lead may be interested in Barney. He’s certainly not very valuable at this point under either circumstance but if we can receive a good lottery ticket for Tony Campano, we can certainly receive one for Barney. Don’t expect that lottery ticket to be in our Top 20 Prospects List, though. Besides, most of the GMs have been in the MLB long enough to know that a player will blossom once they leave the Cubs. The goat pats them on the butt as they are leaving the clubhouse on the last day.

    • Rebuilding

      I said framing…because there is really no other reason. What do you have against framing?

    • Brocktoon

      How is it settled that Olt and his 214 OBP should play every day?

      • Diehardthefirst

        Won’t know til plays every day at AAA which will happen soon

  • Blackhawks1963

    Sobering reality is Valbuena > Olt.

    • ssckelley

      You need to lay off the booze.

  • CubChymyst

    It will take a real gut check for the Blue Jays to do a trade that includes Bonifacio for as bad as he was for them the first half of last season. Valbuena I could see them wanting.

    • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

      Funny thing is the Blue Jays are actually the team that waived Valbuena before the Cubs claimed him haha

  • notcubbiewubbie

    luis valbuena is reaching ryan dempster status.

  • Diehardthefirst

    Barney would increase value by thinking in this order- walk, bunt, hit to right, hit down on the ball every time up as his D is superb

  • Diehardthefirst

    Other sites indicate Yanks itching to deal for pitching now as CC is DD

    • another JP

      That entire AL East is going to be hard-up for pitching by the ASB…. Hammels will be the main target as teams will want to have his 10-12 starts w/o paying the price for Shark and not have to worry about resigning him

      • Rebuilding

        Yeah, and Hammel has that “AL East experience” which GMs seem to love

        • YourResidentJag

          Exactly. I’d rather we get something from the Braves for him.

          • another JP

            Depends on what the Braves are offering, but there always seems to be a catch with a prospect they send back. I think no matter who gets Hammel will result in a nice return back to the Cubs… if it’s anything like what Feldman brought I’d be fine with that.

  • Diehardthefirst

    Hammel Shark and Bonifacio to Yanks for 10 of Yanks minor leaguers gives Yanks pennant and Cubs missing pieces-

    • ssckelley

      Holy Crap, the Cubs better start cutting some people.

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    I was looking at the standings in the AL east and the Jays are in last place, but only two and a half games back. I still think they are the most likely FO to over pay for Samardzija’s services. They may decide that they have to make the move to prevent falling too far out of contention.

  • Dustin S

    The more I looked into Toronto, at least in local papers there they are talking about being sellers and dumping Buerhle + 1 more SP to make room for Stroman and Sanchez and save payroll. Still early though and things will start to the buying/selling path will clear for teams in about a month. Any of the AL East teams really are a possibility. The Angels or Giants I would think would also be good options (big market money, contenders, big money spent already, could use an upgrade at SP). The Angels don’t have much at all of the pitching prospect chips we’re looking for, but the Giants actually do with Blackburn and others. Vogelsong hasn’t been great so far and might be a spot for them to upgrade. Will be fun to do some roster browsing and hypotheticals later this year.

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