December 2011 Archives

Cubs ship Sean Marshall to Cincinnati for Travis Wood

The Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds closed in on a trade Wednesday night that would send left-handed reliever Sean Marshall to the Queen City in return for Travis Wood and two still-unnamed minor leaguers.

The Cubs are looking to bolster a rotation that needed help, and continue to add depth in the farm system lacking much to get excited about. Marshall was one of the few pieces with any value at the major league level, and the Cubs managed to get a decent haul back for them, no matter who the two yet unknowns turn out to be.

During the rush to the trade deadline this summer, Marshall looked to be about the only Cubs that would change uniforms. Somehow Chicago managed to move Kosuke Fukudome, but Marhsall's bags must have been packed for the entire month of July.

Only the trade never happened. Some speculated that the outgoing Hendry administration didn't want to make any moves that could cost the new front office pieces to deal with. That makes sense, if only in retrospect. There was no telling who the new GM would be, nor what value the club would continue to place on a middle relief arm.

Bullpen strength is fungible. One year a team has it, the next it is gone. Relievers rotate between the big club and Triple-A all season long. A player with a 2.5 WAR might quickly turn into one that registers below replacement. Missing an opportunity to trade the lefty at his peak when teams were seeking bullpen help seems like a missed opportunity.

Cubs and Free Agent Pitchers: Joe Saunders

Among the many ills of the 2011 Chicago Cubs was the lack of quality starting pitching. Short outings ate up the bullpen and left the Cubs trying to dig from a hole with an anemic offense. So how does this get better in 2012?

After the Cubs made their singular trade of the winter meetings, swapping Tyler Colvin and DJ LeMahieu for Ian Stewart, the message from the front office was that the next step was to look at non-tendered players and other free agents.

The Japanese star Yu Darvish is supposedly one chance the Cubs have to shore up a rotation that was tied for last in average Game Score, and had less quality starts than every staff but Colorado.

The posting process is a crap shoot though, and while Theo Epstein has some history with it, you get one shot to throw what amounts to $100 million total at the player. That seems more like a move from the old Cubs regime rather than the new Cubs. Chances are that the Cubs are not going to be the team that is chosen by the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters (and the rumors are that Toronto has already sealed this up).

If the season started today, the Cubs would throw out a rotation that looks very similar to last season. Matt Garza, Ryan Dempster and Carlos Zambrano would lead out, with Randy Wells returning in the No. 4 spot. Andrew Cashner should return from his arm troubles, and be in contention for the fifth spot if the Cubs don't make a move, although rumor has it that a return to the bullpen -- probably permanently -- is in order.

With starting pitching depth a concern, the team should be looking at realistic choices on the market. While Tim Wakefield has been rumored to be of interest, you don't need stats breakdown why a 45-year-old knuckleballer shouldn't be (Neither should his favorite catcher Jason Varitek).

Instead, today begins a series of articles looking at the potential choices the Cubs have for the rotation.

To begin, Joe Saunders.

Brewers get a steal with Aramis Ramirez

Aramis Ramirez had worn out his welcome in Chicago. Injury-filled seasons in 2009 and 2010 left fans restless with the aging third baseman.

That 2011 began with Ramirez hitting just two home runs over the first two months of the season didn't help. While his slash line of .288/.351/.396 wasn't terrible, it lacked the power component the Cubs seemed to desperately need over those first cold months.

No matter what Ramirez did over the remainder of the season -- only becoming one of the top third basemen at the plate by the trading deadline -- his time was done. His final .306/.361/.510 was like a mirage to Cubs fans.

Cubs lose out by Cardinals not signing Pujols

There is a lot of rejoicing in the NL Central today now that Albert Pujols has signed with the Los Angeles Angels. The division will be freed of its most feared player, one that had punished them all to the tune of 40-plus home runs and 100-plus RBIs in a little more than 170 games against each team.

It is slightly sad, because one of the greatest players in baseball history will be leaving the only team he played for. It seemed like Pujols could potentially be like Tony Gwynn or Cal Ripken, and stick with the Cardinals. It feels like it could have cemented an even bigger legacy for him. The legacy needs no help, but there is something about being known for wearing just one cap in a career.

It is also slightly sad, because this seems like bad news for the Cubs.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from December 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

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