Greetings, Cubs fans. I’m in a marginally better mood today. Well, sorta. I still find myself looking ahead to each new Cubs game with a cornucopia of mixed emotions. Kind of like when you seen an ex-girlfriend who you’re not really sorry you broke up with but you still kind of miss her and you want to be nice because you still want to be friends but you’re also bitter and disappointed and can’t believe things turned out this horribly after having such high hopes and yet she’s still cute and sometimes funny and you share all these memories and you know you’re never going to be able to completely cut off contact with her so you better not say what you really want to, which is…aw, geez, this metaphor has gotten completely out of control. Let’s get on with the news:
Derrek Lee was traded! (← Click on that link for a really cool narrative of the deal by Fox Sports’ Ken “Robothal” Rosenthal.) Once again, Mark was in the right place at the right time with his game recap yesterday. He got to break the story that, indeed, the Chicago Cubs have traded first baseman Derrek Leon Lee to the Atlanta Braves for pitchers Robinson Lopez (the good one!), Jeffrey Lorick (the LOOGY) and Tyrelle Harris (the other guy). One minor point of clarification: The Cubs did not get to dump all of DLee’s $3.4 million salary — they agreed to pick up $1.7 of it.
That could turn out to be a wise choice as I’ve read generally positive reviews of the trade from all of the pundits I’ve managed to engage on the topic. Our own benevolent benefactor Rob Neyer says:
I can’t really fault the Braves for doing this deal. But unless Lee helps get them into the playoffs, the trade might look really, really silly in a few years.
And, when I posed the simple question of “How excited should Cubs fans be about Robinson Lopez?” to prospect expert Kevin Goldstein on Twitter. He replied back with:
“[I’m] shocked [the] Braves gave him up for [a] late rental.”
Basically, the deal here is that Lopez is a 19-year-old kid with great stuff and a ton of upside – we’re talking starting rotation upside. As intimated above, the other two dudes are more than likely bullpen candidates – Lorick probably winding up a lefty specialist and Harris due to become a middle reliever (at best), if not part of a future trade package. But Lopez could turn out to be a real steal from a Braves system known for its pitching, and he’s definitely worth keeping an eye on going forward.
All in all, it appears Trader Jim has done a good job getting prospects back for DLee as well as Ted Lilly and the Cajun Connection (great garage band from the 60s). I don’t think any of these trades are spectacular, but teams 21 games under .500 (sweet merciful pete) rarely make spectacular trades. Nonetheless, any of them could turn out to be quite fruitful if the Cubs get a solid, cheap, cost-controlled starting pitcher or if the Joey Gathright guy we got from the Giants turns out to be the second coming of Lou Brock. He’s on Twitter, y’know.
And should we mourn the loss of Derrek Lee? Well, yeah, of course. He was, overall, a great player for the Cubs – and one of the best first baseman in their long history. Derrek also appears to be a fine human being and one of the “nicer guys to ever play the game” as the cliche goes.
But, as I’ve probably written here before, it was time. His contract was just about up and the Cubs need to start plugging new and preferably young pieces into this team where spots are available. I thank Derrek for all the times I’ve screamed/typed/tweeted “DEEEEEEEEEEEEELEEEEEEEEEEEEE” after he jacked one into the bleachers or dug out one of Ryan Theriot’s dying goose throws. And I wish him all the best in the future — yeah, even with the Braves.
So what else is going on? Well …
Tyler Colvin is taking ground balls at first base. So I guess we should have this debate. Good idea? Bad idea? I’m still not crazy about it for a couple reasons: 1) We still don’t know whether Colvin’s remarkable slugging this season is for real or whether it would hold up for a full season, and 2) It’s still a big detraction from Tyler’s value to turn a guy who can play all three outfield spots with pretty solid defense (at the corners at least) into a first baseman.
Then again, I think much depends on whether the Cubs can deal away Fukudome during (presumably) the off-season. If Kosuke must finish out his contract, maybe you give him back his starting job in right field and put Colvin at first base next season. They could presumably still move Tyler back to the outfield once Dome’s deal is up. Crazy? Kinda. But it would maximize payroll flexibility. Remember, when it comes to first basemen, The Big Three (Pujols-Gonzalez-Fielder) head to free agency in 2012.
Here comes Slammin’ Sammy. No, not Sosa, though he does give a lengthy interview in the September issue of Chicago Magazine. (Details here.) I’m talkin’ about the Sammy who slams into walls. Fuld, that is. Short guy. Really smart. He’s been called up instead of Hoffpauir, because, as you might recall, Micah can’t be recalled until Monday due to an MLB rule calling for a restriction on recalling a player recently called up. Call me about it. We’ll talk.
They’re playing musical statues at Wrigley. The Cubs have announced they’ll be unveiling a Sweet Swingin’ Billy Williams statue at the corner of Addison and Sheffield. Sweet. Problem is, that means they’ll have to move the Harry Caray statue to the bleacher entrance, which has upset the Caray family.
Much like the Toyota sign brouhaha, this statue snafu does not inspire much passion in me. What’s the big deal? Didn’t Harry pretty much pass himself off as a “drink a Bud in the bleachers” kinda guy anyway? Wouldn’t he want to be heading up to bleachers to knock back a few cold ones and get a little crazy? And, y’know, let’s not forget Billy Williams actually played the game — and played it rather well, I might add. Check his stats: Billy freakin’ raked. He’s in the Hall of Fame. Move it or lose it, I say.
OK, that’s the news for today. D’oh — I guess I should turn on the game. It’s just starting as I finish this. Oh, and by the way, I’ll be at the game vs. the Braves on Saturday, so keep an eye on my Twitter page for some Twitpics and such. It’ll be awfully weird seeing DLee on the other side.