View From The Bleachers

July 14, 2011

My Plan for Jim Hendry for the Trade Deadline

Filed under: Featured,General — Brandon @ 3:00 am

The success of the Chicago Cubs in 2012 and 2013 depends on how Jim Hendry handles the next three and a half weeks.  The trade deadline is right around the corner and the Cubs have yet to make any noise.  If Hendry elects to do nothing, this will be a total failure.  If he works on many deals and gets several of them done, then he deserves some credit.  Trading older players when a team is out of the race accomplishes three things:

  • creates room for prospects and younger players to receive playing time down the stretch
  • saves money
  • nets the seller minor league players that could end up panning out

Here is what I believe should be Jim Hendry’s priority list at the trading deadline.

1.   Trade Kosuke Fukudome

The Kosuke signing was the first in a series of bad ones by GM Jim Hendry.  Fukudome has not been very productive in any of his four seasons since coming from Japan.  Kosuke has partial no-trade protection, but he can probably be convinced to waive that in order to go to a contender in what could be his last MLB season.  He is strong defensively and provides enough offense that he could be a serviceable fourth outfielder and pinch hitter for a contending club.  Since Kouske is not returning to the team anyway, there is no reason to hang on to him if the Cubs can save any money whatsoever by dumping him.

2.   Ask Aramis Ramirez to Waive His No-Trade

Hendry should be doing everything possible to convince Aramis Ramirez to waive his no-trade clause.  In the scenario that Rami agrees to leave, he’s gone.  The Cubs plan to buy him out of the 2012 option anyway, so they might as well ship him to a contender who would love to rent him for the rest of the year.

3.   Trade Marlon Byrd

Since Marlon Byrd is the one guy on the team that does not have a no-trade clause, he should be easiest to deal.  Hendry should be on the phone trying to find a team that needs outfield assistance.  The Cubs will most likely have to pay a chunk of his salary, but if they save some money and receive a few mid level prospects in return it is worth it.

4.   Trade Reed Johnson

The Cubs should actually be able to get a solid return for Johnson, who is hitting a robust .328.  A team will not be concerned about paying what is left of his $900,000 deal.  He will probably garner some interest and net the Cubs a strong prospect or two.

5.   Search for a Taker for Z

Most likely, no team will give the Cubs much for an under-performing pitcher that is signed for another year, with an option that vests if he is healthy at the end of 2012.  Carlos Zambrano has already said that he will waive his no-trade clause if the team asks him to do so.  I really doubt that there is that much interest in Z, but starting pitching is usually at a premium so there is a chance that someone would be willing to take him off the Cubs hands.

6.   Trade Carlos Pena

Signing Carlos Pena, who hit under .200 in 2010, to a one year contract worth $10 million when the Cubs knew they would probably not compete was a huge mistake.  Dumping Pena could easily have been higher on the priority list.  The Cubs will have to send some cash because no team will want to pay the $5 million in deferred money owed to Carlos in January.  There is always a need for left handed thump off the bench, so I bet there will be a taker out there.

7.   Search for a Team that Wants Grabow or Samardzija

Both relievers are in the final year of their contracts, so there is really no need to have them stick around for the duration of this lost season.  I doubt there is much interest in Grabow, but I’m sure there are several clubs after Samardzija since he has been having a solid year.

 8.   Listen to Offers for Dempster and Garza

If teams are willing to take on the full contracts of Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza, I do not have a problem letting either one go.  The Garza trade was a huge mistake, and Demp’s performance continues to decline.  My asking price would not be too high for either one of these guys.  If the Cubs can get back half of the talent they lost in acquiring Garza, I will be satisfied.  Dempster could invoke his ten-and-five rights to block a trade, but I have a feeling he would be willing to go to help the Cubs.

Obviously, if someone wants Alfonso Soriano and he is willing to go, he’s gone.  The same goes for Jeff Baker, Blake DeWitt, Randy Wells (depending on the offer) and Koyie Hill.  Here is the list of players that I would not be willing to part ways with.

1.   Geovany Soto

Despite his offensive struggles, I still have hope that Soto could help the Cubs when they become a contender again.  The only way I would pull a trigger on a deal is if a club was willing to give up a top tier prospect.

2.   Kerry Wood

Kerry Wood probably has a lot of value among teams that need a cheap setup man.  However, he wants to stay in Chicago.  He recently started a foundation with his wife and would like to be in town to help run it.  Baseball is a business, but given the hometown discount that he gave the Cubs I wouldn’t want to ship him out against his wishes.

 3.   Sean Marshall

In the scenario that the Cubs return to contention in 2012 or even 2013, I think the veteran left hander could be a key piece to the squad.  He is one of the few guys on the team that could be valuable to hold on to.

4.   Carlos Marmol

Carlos Marmol has been in a funk as of late.  Trading him now would be similar to selling your stocks when the market hits rock bottom.  Patience will allow Marmol’s stock to increase once he returns to his usually filthy self.  Next season, the Cubs can revisit this and possibly work out a trade or hang on to him.

Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney are the two untouchables.

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  • Kris

    There’s no reason Barney should be untouchable. He is a replacement level player who is performing a bit better this year than previously. If the Cubs get an offer for him based on his good first half, they should definitely listen on it.

  • Timo

    Moving Garza AND Dempster shoudl not be on that list. If there is a good offer including pitching prospects one might consider cutting one of the two, but both would just create hugh problems for any starting rotation in the next years and I doubt that one gets more talent know than we would have to give up in any trades next off season to fill the starting rotation again if both leave.

    Also I am not sure about trading Reed Johnson. He is not really expensive so we won’t gain much in a trade.

    When it comes to Pena and Ramirez we should make sure that we get more than some save money out of the deals. Most importantly we need plan for the corner infield positions, if we trade one of the guys. Maybe we need one or both of them back next season. (Sad but true!)

  • lizzie

    Great stuff again Brandon. If Jim Hendry does even ONE of the things on your list I will be shocked and elated. My fearless prediction is that he’ll manage to do precisely nothing. Or at the very most, something that defies all logic and good sense. Prove me wrong Jimmy! Please!

  • Joe Aiello

    I was going to combine my thoughts with Brandon’s but he said it pretty well already.

    In my opinion, Fukudome has to be moved before the deadline. He’s an upgrade at the leadoff spot for a few teams in contention like the Angels, Rays and Giants, even if it means a shift back to CF.

    Pena is also a must trade. While there is no way to predict if the Cubs will sign Prince Fielder or Pujols, we know they don’t need Pena for the rest of this year. Move him to a contender and then, if you feel good about it, bring him back in FA.

    If Hendry can manage to only move those two guys, I’d feel like it was a success. If he can move someone like Zambrano or Ramirez, both who have no-trade clauses, It would go a long way toward saving his job.

    As for Barney being untouchable….WHY?!?!?! He has an OBP+ of 93. That’s 7% BELOW league average. His batting average is a bit hollow due to the lack of walks. He’s a glorified Ryan Theriot. Definitely, NOT untouchable. I like him, but you can have him.

  • Norm Bothwell

    Not picking up Aram’s option is no sure thing. He is the only 3B option for next season and he’s more likely to waive his no trade clause a year from now if he doesn’t do it now.
    And Kris is right on…Barney an untouchable?!? NO player is untouchable, even Castro, if some ridiculous offer were made, but it doesn’t need to be ridiculous to move a player like Barney. I believe this is what was said a year ago in regards to Tyler Colvin. Let’s not let a small sample of at bats trick us into thinking Barney is anything more than a #8 hitter on a bad team.

  • Doug S.

    If I put my GM’s hat on and look forward, I keep Castro and Barney and am OK with Pena and Ramirez returning next year. I’d also take Byrd and Fukudome in the OF, but sadly can’t move Soriano.
    Wait a minute…….I just returned 7 of our starting 7 fielders/key hitters.
    I think I have to fire myself.
    Brandon, you’re hired.

  • Rich Beckman

    A true fire sale! Wouldn’t that be the bee’s knees!

    Brandon for GM!!

    Where do we vote?

  • Buddy

    The problem with trying to trade Pena is that contending teams (other than maybe the Pirates and D-backs) are pretty well set at 1B and DH (in the A.L. of course). And once again, Norm is right on the money. Barney would be pretty easy to replace. If a team wants to overpay for a “scrappy” #8 hitter, pull the trigger!

  • Eddie Von White

    I think Brandon might be on to something here. If we can finish second to last with these guys on our team, I think we can finish second to last without them.

  • jswanson

    I honestly keep forgetting about Colvin. Poor guy. Impaled and forgotten.

  • Brandon

    Joe & Kris-
    Maybe putting Darwin Barney in the untouchable category is a bit much. However, I do not see the Cubs getting any offer for him that I would pull the trigger on. I see no scenario where the Cubs trade Barney at this time.

    Trading both Demp and Garza was not on my list, listening to offers for both was. Probably departing with one or the other would be the best way to go, although I’m sure JH will end up keeping both. I do not see Garza and Dempster helping the Cubs contend for a division title.

    Picking up A-Ram’s option would be a mistake. There has to be a cheaper option for a veteran third baseman that they can go with since the Cubs lack much 3B depth in the system.

  • cap’n obvious

    I actually agree with a lot of this…with the exception of Barney being untouchable. I assume you mean because no one else would want him. Also, why move a solid veteran who is hitting .324 and making LESS than a million bucks this year? Reed Johnson is one of the very few reasons we have left to watch and love the Cubs. Dude is a stud in a pen full o’ bitches.

  • Jedi

    I’m fine with trades that save us money – but a lot of these trades won’t really go a long way towards that. And most of those guys are not going to warrant MLB prospects in a trade.

    I’m intrigued that the “Garza trade was a huge mistake”…with all of the starting pitching trouble we’ve had this year, I can’t see how it was a bad idea to trade guys who Hendry refused to promote for a position that he willingly plucked dry of MLB talent.

    When he traded Lilly and Gorzelanny, it was obviously we had a void in the rotation. So he traded Guyer (25 year old outfielder who had yet to crack the MLB roster, insert Matt Murton, Corey Patterson, Felix Pie, Jason DuBois, etc. joke here), Hak-Ju Lee (you can argue about his worth, but with Barney’s performance, I would say that middle infield has been the least of our issues), Sam Fuld (see the previous list of Cubs “homegrown” outfielders), and the third catcher in our system Chirinos. Yeah, Chris Archer looks to be real talent, and Fuld has contributed for the Rays. But what exactly did we give up that any of us would expect to crack the Cubs roster this year or next? And Garza is under our control.

    I would argue that in fact the trade for Garza is exactly the kind of trade that Hendry should be exploring now. Trying to move any pieces in the minors for quality, proven MLB talent that will be under our control for a few more years. He’s proven time and again that he can’t promote from within and allow the young guys to have a legit chance at success.

    Wouldn’t it be better that we let the contracts on our vets run out, and instead of trying to get BACK prospects, we trade anything of worth in our minor league system to get solid, young MLB talent in return? I don’t see a single person on the current MLB roster that we could trade and expect MLB talent back for – the contracts are mostly too bloated, any trade partner would be doing us a favor by taking those horrible deals off our hands.

  • jswanson

    Two options_
    1) Sell the farm; gamble on some highly valued (yet expendable) prospects from other teams’ farm clubs.
    2) Go down swinging; realize our best chances to compete in 2012 involve A Ram, and quite possibly Pena. I seriously doubt we are going to bamboozle anybody out of a future ace with Kosuke or Byrd (or Barney.) The rest of the world was watching what San Fran did with pitching alone last year…we are not alone in wanting some arms.

  • Norm Bothwell

    Agree with Jedi. The Garza trade was a good one. Sold high on Archer, who might only be a reliever, and no one else outside of Lee were considered anything more than bench players. Guyer might be more, but you have to give something to get something. Garza is a legit #2 and, IMO, the best pitcher on the team, under team control for a few more years.

    Brandon, re-signing Aram…I wouldn’t call it a mistake since it really has no effect on the team except money. Aram could be traded next season as well. Ricketts will give the GM a payroll number and I think there will be PLENTY of room for Aram.
    Fans will NOT appreciate the payroll dropping from $135 this year to $100-110 next year. $16M for Aram keeps the payroll in the $120 range, keeping the fans somewhat happy, and still comes off the books after 2012.
    (I’m guessing at the payroll numbers, but I think it will be lower than this season, but not enough for fans to say the Cubs aren’t trying to win).

  • Jedi

    Am I the only one that thinks the 2012 ship has already sailed and that instead we should be gearing up for 2013? I don’t see the roster flexibility or available free agents that make me think a significant upgrade can happen in a single off-season. We’re 18 months from contending within the NL Central.

  • lizzie

    You’re not alone HERE in thinking that, jedi. The problem is, Hendry and Ricketts aren’t smart enough to figure that out. So they’ll likely stick with their typical game plan of not really rebuilding + not really shooting for the moon either = more years of misery. But low priced beers to fill the bleachers on Mondays!

  • Norm Bothwell

    I’m with you Jedi and I think Ricketts is too…if anyone expects him to openly say so, I think that’s being unrealistic.

  • Jedi

    Norm, I don’t expect him to say so, I expect him to fire Hendry and Quade – that’s indication enough for me.

  • jswanson

    Lizzie! How is that bucket list coming along?

  • Randy

    It is very hard in this league to accept mediocrity with a 100+ million dollar budget. I think Aramis would accept a trade this year because it would automatically vest his 2012 option. Next year it might be tough unless it was to a contender. I haven’t given up on next year and I think a firesale would be horrid. I would say move Fukudome, Pena, and Grabow. Fish for interest in Ramirez and Soriano, even to the point of picking up some salary in exchange for top tier corner outfielder or third baseman prospects. I wouldn’t tinker with our starting pitching at this point, and would leave most of the role players alone, especially good hustlers like Johnson and Byrd, the kids need role models.

  • lizzie

    Fabuloso jswanson thanks loads for asking! I miss my buddies here! Hey maybe I’ll swing on by Minnesota way on my travels, we can double date. We’ll show Mrs. Jswanson a heckuva good time which should net you a couple two three nights of uninterrupted baseball watching after we leave!!! :-)

  • jswanson

    Wrong M state, amiga. Keep heading west to the big skies of Montana…we’ll take you in for certain. North of Yellowstone by an hour or so, if buffalo and bears are on the list. Good luck…don’t be a stranger.

  • Ludlum

    I don’t understand several of your points.

    1. Why would the Cubs need to pay some of Marlon Byrd’s contract when he has a below market salary for his contributions, can play all three OFs and has a deal that expires in a couple months?

    2. Carlos Pena has been an above average 1B on a team with a desperate need there. The money might have been reallocated to international signings, but as it is, he’s not taking ABs from any viable youngster, he will be either a type A or B FA after the year, netting the cubs picks if he walks, or he will be a valuable trade chip because his salary is not exorbitant for a power hitting 1B.

    3, Barney at 2B represents the biggest hole in the Cubs offense.

    4, Jeff Baker is SIGNIFICANTLY more valuable than Reed Johnson.

    5. Moving Soriano should be priority #1. Just because it is hard doesn’t mean you expend less energy because it will help the team more than any other move you could possibly make.

  • Buddy

    I liked the Garza trade when it happened, and I still like it today.

  • Brandon

    1. Byrd is signed through next season. I have no problem sending some cash if the Cubs get a good return for him. The Pirates could be a taker.
    2. Bryan LaHair is putting up pretty good numbers, why not give him a shot?
    3. I completely disagree. Soriano, Kouske & Geo are all bigger holes, Pena & Byrd may be as well.
    4. Baker is not high on my list because I would actually like to so the Cubs keep him. He could be a good role player when the Cubs return to contention. I would say Johnson’s value is close to that of Jeff’s though.
    5. Moving Soriano is nearly impossible unless the Cubs take on another big contract (i.e. the Silva for Bradley swap).

  • Brandon

    Like I said in the article I have no problem getting rid of Baker, but he’s more of a keeper than Johnson, DeWitt or Hill.

  • Dr van Nostrand

    Everything Brandon said, plus bring back Lee Elia.

  • brock

    i have a solution to all the cubs problems, first forget fat albert…too much money, too long a contract, too old, and too injury prone the last couple of years. We sign prince fielder for sure..he already said he wants to play for the cubs. We try to move Z to the yankees, that starting rotation is horrible, that saves us 18 million for next year, we sign jose reyes to play short and move castro to third…less balls hit there and castro has proven shortstop is an error prone position for him. call up brett jackson and let him play outfield with byrd and soriano, face it, we are not getting rid of soriano. and finally take what money we can and sign CJ Wilson, a good starting pitcher that is a lefty…we had the top 5 pitching rotation last year so the talent is there, maybe we just need a new pitching coach.

  • Norm Bothwell

    Brandon, define; ‘hole in lineup’?
    For me, it would be a guy that makes a lot of outs.
    Kosuke, Pena, and Byrd all make fewer outs than Barney. Soto is having a TERRIBLE year and still is about equal to Barney and I have no doubt will be better than him by the end of the year.

  • brock

    2012 starting lineup:

    ss jose reyes
    2b darwin barney
    3rd starlin castro
    1st prince fielder
    lf alphonso soriano
    cf marlon byrd
    rf brett jackson
    c geo soto

    sp ryan dempster
    sp matt garza
    sp cj wilson
    sp randy wells
    sp andrew cashner

  • Jedi

    So brock you advocate more big free agent spending? And you want to move Castro to third? I don’t get the “move Castro from SS” crowd. So he makes some errors, big deal – he’s 21 YEARS OLD! Let him play a couple of years before we determine that he’ll never get better, it’s not as if his errors might be the difference in a World Series bid. If we were better, I might feel differently – but right now there is no reason to assume he won’t eliminate some of the mental miscues as he matures.

    And seeing Jose Reyes was almost enough to make me vomit – how many times are the Cubs going to sign a free agent based on a single good/healthy year only to later realize that he is an injury-prone “bound to overachieve in a contract year” player? This is the behavior that we’ve had to endure under Hendry…it gets us nowhere.

  • Buddy

    Signing Reyes would be a HUGE mistake.

  • cap’n obvious

    Barney’s untouchable and you want to trade a solid veteran outfielder making $900k and hitting over .320? Actually, yeah, Hendry probably is that dumb.

  • Doc Raker

    I would think Aram would want to be traded given that his contract would then be locked in for 2012 above his true market value.

  • Lizzie

    @jswanson HA! Well at least I got the M right. Even better though. We’re big on nature. Nod at the buffalo and bears for us and let them know we’ll be along someday!

  • Ghost of Neifi

    If Soriano can’t be dealt, why not cut him?

  • Buddy

    As much as they probably want to get rid of Soriano, the Cubs aren’t going to throw $54 million in the trash.

  • SMWilliams

    First time commenting, long time reader. Here’s my issue with this…

    I tend to put the current Cubs players in four groups:

    1.Please For The Love Of God Take Them

    Players: Soriano (not happening), Z, Pena, Fukudome, Grabow, Shark

    2.We’ll Listen, But Maybe We Shouldn’t Be

    Players: Byrd, Aramis, Garza, Dempster, Marmol, Marshall, Baker, R. Johnson

    3.Guys We Might Need For The Future

    Players: Soto, Barney, Carpenter, Cashner, Mateo, Russell

    4.Eh, Who Cares

    Players: Everybody Else excluding highly thought of prospects.

    I don’t think Group 1 or Group 4 needs any explanation (except to say it’s unlikely anybody takes Soriano or Z unless we eat a lot of cash or take back a massive contract ourselves) so let me break down Groups 2 & 3…

    Marlon Byrd –
    His stats aren’t so great as if he’d qualified he’d finish 10th of 11 in WAR and 8th in wOBA among NL CFs. But his fielding is above average and he’s a bargain at 5.5 mil this year and 6.5 next year. If we don’t want to rush Brett Jackson (or if the org. feels Jackson projects better in LF or RF), why give him up for nothing?

    Aramis Ramirez –
    Yes, he’s expensive. But despite what many are saying is a down year, he leads the NL in WAR and wOBA among qualified players and would only drop to 2nd in WAR if you include anyone with over 200 AB (Big Panda would be 1st). He’s probably the one guy who’s not overpaid.

    Jeff Baker –
    Going into his 3rd Arbitration year, but won’t command anything beyond 1.5 or 2 mil next year. Can play multiple positions and absolutely crushes LH pitching. Not sure why we wouldn’t keep him.

    Reed Johnson –
    You’ll get peanuts back in a trade. Literal peanuts. He costs nothing. He’s a good 4th OF who should be brought in to pinch run and give other guys a rest. If he wants more at the end of the year, let him go. If he doesn’t, bring him back.

    Matt Garza –
    He’ll cost a pretty penny, but he’s been our best pitcher despite the record. 10th in the NL in FIP (including behind the Phillies trip and the Giants trip) and his BABIP has been high. My guess is that he cruises in the 2nd half of the year and we lock him up long-term.

    Ryan Dempster –
    Has identical stats to Zambrano and costs 5 million dollars less next year. Is on pace to pitch 200 innings for the 4th straight year. On a contender, he’d be a solid #3 option. His contract is up at the end of next year.

    Carlos Marmol/Sean Marshall –
    Top 20 relievers with reasonable salaries. Marmol can be a trip sometimes, but when he’s on, he’s unhittable and many teams can tell you, they’d love to have him closing. Marshall is a great set-up man who is equally good against righties and lefties.

    Geovany Soto –
    A down year. More concerning is this is the third year in a row he’ll barely crack 100 games. WAR went from 3.5 in ’08 to 1.2 in ’09 (Sophomore Slump) to 3.0 last year to 1.4 this year. With Wellington Castillo waiting in the minors, it may be time to dangle him and see if we can’t bring back a couple of very good prospects for him.

    Darwin Barney –
    Scrapper. Cheap. Hits for a high average, but doesn’t walk. If this was a contender and he hit 8th every night or if he got on base at a better clip and was that Eckstein-ish lead-off man then I’d be fine. Probably around for another year.

    Chris Carpenter/Andrew Cashner/James Russell/Marcus Mateo –
    Carpenter and Cashner are obviously two guys we’re excited about. Carpenter may simply be a great relief pitcher (as might Cashner) but it’s worth keeping them around to make sure. Russell has been terrible as a starter and great at getting lefties out in the middle innings. Mateo’s advanced stats are pretty good and I’d rather roll with him than make another mistake like John Grabow.

    Anyways, that’s it. Hope this wasn’t too long.

  • Buddy

    Not at all. Much better than watching Marmol melt down in the 9th tonight.

  • brock

    Look at reyes’ career stats, not what i would call a one year wonder like you say jedi. and can you find someone to play third that would put up better stats then reyes? say what you want, but the team i put together would win the nl central easy. and jedi like you said before, noone on this team is going to command mlb ready trade pieces so how are you planning on building this team without getting free agents which you seem to knock me for…check 2012 free agents, not much out there so if your going to dismantle the whole team you better be able to get some good free agents to fill the gap.

  • PackerCubBull

    If we can’t unload Grabow or Samardzidja, I think we should just DFA them. Won’t make a difference. They’re getting paid either way, might as well get rid of them so they aren’t wasting roster spots.

  • http://23ryno Herb Nevels

    Some fans still mention getting Puhols or Fielder.
    Since both are going to get the big contract no matter where they go why would they want to come to the Cubs to play with a bunch of Triple A players and prospects they might get in the mentioned trades. By the time the Cubs get to the place of contention,these two would be over the hill and still holding big contracts.
    As for me I would rather pick up more players with that money.

  • Jedi

    brock, that’s not at all what I said. I openly advocate trades quite similar to the Matt Garza trade. I think that needs to be a big part of our rebuilding. I also mentioned that I don’t think the depth of talent is present in this free agent market (and I’m assuming we won’t be pursuing Pujols or Fielder). I don’t see anything that I love that’s available, I’d like to see us 1) shed payroll, 2) trade for young MLB talent, and 3) sign free agents NEXT year when we have a ridiculous amount of cash to do so.

    You know what I see in Reyes, a guy who is often injured and is going to command a salary far beyond what he’s really worth. On top of that, do we know his real age? Sounds like a certain LF that everyone wants to unload. So thanks, I’ll pass.

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