When thin and non-specific rumors pop up in the offseason or in June/July, it’s fairly easy to connect enough dots to speculate on players of interest, trades of fit, and/or smokescreens being deployed. But when they pop up in April, I’m going to be honest with you: it’s virtually impossible to intelligently offer you much of anything in the way of analysis or context.
So it is with a report out of Tampa Bay, wherein Marc Topkin catalogues the awfulness of Devil Rays teams of the past, and the current iteration of the Rays. At the end, he notes this: “Don’t know who they were looking at (Alex Colome?) but the Cardinals had senior special assistant Mike Jorgensen at the Trop last week. Cubs scouts also were around.”
To be sure, teams scout other teams all the time. Sometimes they’re doing advance scouting for future games, sometimes they’ve just got some guys in town and figure they’ll go take a look, and sometimes they’re just filling out their database on a few players they’ve not yet had many looks at. A direct relationship to a prospective trade – especially when it’s *April* – is far from certain.
That said, it is also often the case that writers like Topkin have a good sense for when scouts are in on routine assignments, and when they’re in to see certain players for reasons a little less routine.
It is also worth noting that the Cubs (and Cardinals) do not play the Rays this year, as their interleague match-ups have them facing the AL Central.
The best sense I can make of this at this stage? It’s either completely nothing at all, or it’s a matter of the Cubs being proactive, knowing that the Rays – currently 5 games under .500 and awful – will likely be sellers this year, and the Cubs, if anything, will likely be buyers. So get your scouting in while you can, because you don’t know when the needs and offerings will align.
For now, though, where would you even start in trying to improve the Cubs? There isn’t an obvious need on the positional side, or even in the bullpen right now. It’s possible there will soon be a need for another lefty, but right now, the bullpen’s been very effective, and you want to still give more time to someone like Justin Wilson before pulling the plug. The rotation has scuffled, but there isn’t anyone in the starting five that you’d be out there trying to trade to replace. Maybe there’s a version of a Chris Archer trade that makes sense if you’re moving big league pieces, but I don’t see that coming into plausible focus any time soon.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering: the Rays hosted the Phillies, Rangers, and Twins last week. So there are your other possibilities.