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MLB Trade Rumors: Chicago Cubs Trade Carlos Marmol for Dan Haren

**Follow-up**  The deal is dead. Haren is a free agent, Marmol is back on the team. Cubs fans, put our heads back in the sand, nothing to see here.




In the grand scheme of things trading a reliever, even an elite one, for a quality starting pitcher would strike most as a move worth making.

Starters are so infinitely more valuable than relievers, even more so in the payroll department.

Yet Carlos Marmol is no elite reliever, and hasn’t been for a handful of seasons now. While Dan Haren was far from stellar last season, the 32-year-old is a near-Ace caliber pitcher when he’s on. Now, he’s headed back to the National League and to the north side.

The Angels made this move for salary-relief, and without that in mind the deal is quite lop-sided. The Cubs were far from comfortable with Marmol as the full-time closer, yet they have now solved their top of the rotation pitcher vacancy.

Yet the Angels can be far from safe with Marmol as a reliever in high-stress situations. His 1.54 WHIP last year speaks to his rapidly-rising rates of putting on-base via the walk.

Haren’s 4.33 ERA and 1.29 WHIP in 2011 are outliers more than something to be expected. His touchy back injury plagued him all last season, and now the Cubs front office have made another savvy buy-low move.

Haren’s career 3.66 ERA and 1.18 WHIP are the trend to be expected, especially returning to the National League. As recently as 2011 he was pitching like an Ace in the American league, imagine what he’ll do in the National league central.

The team will be paying him roughly 10 million in 2013, and while he could be worth it simply to the Cubs in the present, he could also bring back way more value in an eventual deadline deal.




If Haren is back to normal in 2013, he would be ultimate trade bait for the Cubs in much need of adding more elite prospect talent. If Matt Garza is also on his A-game the Cubs would be in position to add a unbelievable amount of young players to the farm system. 

Right now, the front office are putting the franchise into the exact position they want to be in. Adding a potential star for a reliever most fans would rather see on the curb. I’d be absolutely shocked to hear a single complaint from Cub-dom about this transaction. 

Hell, if the team adds another mid-level starter like Shaun Marcum or Anibal Sanchez this offseason they would have a surprisingly good rotation. Yet even if the team doesn’t contend like most expect, they are going to be the biggest sellers at the trade deadline, and would add more talent via trade than any other team in the Majors.

Right now, that’s exactly what the team is building towards.

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Bryan LaHair’s Time as a Starter Has Come to a Close

While it tends to be quite difficult to root against the long shot, the underdog and the Cinderella story, sometimes the plug gets pulled on the dream and there’s nothing left to be said.

Twenty-nine-year-old rookie Bryan LaHair’s tale did not end like he had planned, but it follows the tale of virtually all players in his position. Cubs fans know this version of it all too well, having already played through non-factors like Micah Hoffpauir, Jake Fox and a host of other heavy-hitting corner infielders who just can’t make it when the at-bats pile up.

These other guys along with LaHair have the burden of a very late start on a Major League career. Some may try to pinpoint the late career start on being “blocked” at the higher levels by better talent, but LaHair never really had that concern.

While no one will doubt Bryan LaHair’s ability to absolutely annihilate AAA-pitching, his longevity as an everyday player seems to have run its course. An absolutely stellar month literally earned him a spot on the All-Star team. While no one can ever take that away from him, the job at first base and in the outfield has been slipped right from underneath him.

Truth be told, he was never going to be an everyday player to begin with, as the Cubs never let him get starts against lefties.

While his sum total numbers do not look dreadful, they stay near-acceptably afloat due to an unbelievably unsustainable first month.

Every month except April has been problematic for him at best, and downright frightening at his worst. Three straight months of decline across the board. This did not coincide with the loss of his starting gig at first base due to the promotion of Rizzo, and anyone telling you that is blowing smoke, and a lot of it.

LaHair’s looked like his insurmountable offensive problems that plagued him his entire career had stuck (He’s never seen a curveball he didn’t like, and whiff at). The most telling of all of these stats would be his .138 batting average with men in scoring position, paired with his modest 31 RBI on the entire year.

Theo Epstein came out during this past offseason and claimed that he “didn’t believe in AAA/A players.” Many took the statement less word-for-word of his feelings and more in the regard of him defending any and all players in the Cubs’ minor league system. Because if challenged on the claim, not many players fit that label more than Bryan LaHair.

If someone is wondering why the Cubs have the worst offense in the entire game, look no further than their No. 4 or No. 5 hitter right here, who failed to do what his job entails.

Maybe LaHair can turn into a valuable bench bat, or maybe he worms his way back into a corner outfield role if and when DeJesus and Soriano get shipped out of town. LaHair is back to hearing a lot of these “maybes,” just like he did as he rotted away in the minors until age 30.

While Cubs fans were all wishing LaHair was more than the pretender many thought him to be, reality has set in. Midnight has struck on this Cinderella tale, and no amount of magic seems to be coming to turn it around.

It’s a tough break for a nice story, but there’s a reason ones like this appear so good they can’t be true.

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Cubs Let Go of Hitting Coach Rudy Jaramillo

In a move that was predicted by many, the Chicago Cubs have let go of their hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo. While they remain arguably the worst offense and worst team in baseball, moves like these will tend to happen. Stepping into the interim role will be 35-year-old James Rowson, the Cubs minor league hitting coordinator, according to Doug Padilla of

The tenure of Jaramillo shed a bit of light onto the whole concept of a “high profile” hitting coach. When it comes down to it, there was absolutely zero evidence of any impact over his time on the north side. It’s not a personal problem with Rudy; it’s more so a statement about the place of hitting coaches in the Major Leagues. These “gurus” offer advice and corrections to swinging mechanics, but to the majority of those in the pros, there is little effect to be had. 

Showing hard evidence of the positives or negatives of a hitting coach is even more difficult to prove. Fans of the sport know that when hard times come to a franchise, the secondary coaching staff is always the first to go. It’s a symbolic gesture more than anything, and that’s something more people need to acknowledge.

Jaramillo’s success in Texas with a stacked offense cannot be given to him; The same can be said of the complete failure in Chicago. There was a ridiculously high level of talent in Texas, with the polar opposite being true for the Cubs. The players played as most expected, and whether or not Rudy offered advice and pointers in all likelihood didn’t change the game in any tangible way.

In 2008, the Cubs had the best offense in the Majors, receiving career years from numerous players on the roster. Gerald Perry headed the offensive bench staff, and apparently it was all going well. They were near the top of the league in power and patience, while everyone seemed to hit with runners on base. By 2009, Perry was fired due to lack of offensive production. Funny how fast the pendulum swings, but does it simply mean the job itself relies entirely on things out of the given coach’s hands?

Their role can be blown out of proportion, and while it’s not a meaningless one, it’s one that cannot be assigned noticeable value to creating a winning atmosphere.

Many attributed the success of Marlon Byrd in Texas to Jaramillo, but things like that can be much more symbolic than reality would dictate. Giving any real weight to such things is impossible, and paying for these types of tales can be detrimental to a team.

If there is a lesson to be learned, it is that giving a hitting coach more money than any other in the game is a poor decision. It’s a problem that the new staff in charge of this team saw fit to change this quickly. 

How long the newly appointed leaders will be fixing the mistakes of the prior ones will be the tale of how long this rebuilding process takes. Overall, this is yet another step in the right direction.

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MLB Trade Rumors: Chicago Cubs Interested in Ian Stewart

The Cubs offseason mentality is coming together with rumors like this: According to The Denver Post, it appears the front office is in talks with the Rockies to trade for third baseman Ian Stewart, and the proposed package would be quite a steal.

What exactly is this “package” that Colorado is asking for to acquire the 26-year-old infielder? It starts and ends with Blake DeWitt, someone Cubs fans wouldn’t bat an eye at releasing outright.

If the Rockies only ask for DeWitt in a trade that would send Stewart to Chicago, Theo Epstein has made another savvy, buy-low move in acquiring him.

To make a long, poor story of a season short, Stewart was bad last year, albeit in extremely limited time that was filled with injuries and trips back and forth from the Minors to the Majors.

But as recently as 2010 he had just under 400 at-bats, hit 18 home runs and posed a pretty respectable .786 OPS.

The best part is that the Rockie actually hit better away from home in 2010, as opposed to the horrors that fall upon most hitters who leave Coors field.

Over his career playing outside of Colorado slightly pulls his numbers down, but his split is so subtle that it resembles the average player’s decline when they aren’t playing at home. It is a negligible shift, in other words.

Stewart hit 25 home runs in 425 at-bats in 2009 as well, so his home run projection as a starter nestles nicely at 20.

That is the type of power the Cubs could desperately use in the middle-to-lower half of the line up.

It would begin to create a team of useful offensive players all around the lineup, a strategy employed by the 2008 Cubs team that led the MLB in wins.

Stewart plays slightly below average defense, which is a step-up from Aramis Ramirez’s performance last year. So in that area he’s either a small upgrade or a wash at worst.

Sure, much like David DeJesus, Stewart is not a “sexy” acquisition. But these are the types of moves that allow the franchise to add useful talent at the lowest risk.

The biggest thing to consider is that Blake DeWitt offers the Cubs nearly no value. He is a utility infielder who does virtually nothing well at the dish, and adds only mediocre defensive skills.

Stewart gives the team hope, DeWitt gives the team nausea.

Ian Stewart has a chance to hit 25 home runs, and be a useful and powerful lefty in the Cubs’ lineup. If he works out, the Cubs could use him as a starter for two to four years.

If the trade doesn’t work out, the Cubs would have lost Blake DeWitt—and that’s it.

It’s a move with only benefits, and with all of the positives that come with signing DeJesus, I’m beginning to see the sensibility of Theo Epstein and company.

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Chicago Cubs Demote Blake DeWitt, Promote Darwin Barney

After he struggled to produce at the plate all spring, while unable to play acceptable defense at second base, Blake DeWitt has officially lost his role as the starter.

He was never starting full-time to begin with, as Jeff Baker was the plan when lefties were on the mound. Now though, DeWitt has played at such a lackluster level that it forced manager Quade’s hand in the removal process.

The 25-year-old wound up hitting .186 in 48 at-bats and, paired with his lackluster Major League career thus far, has receded him to the bench role of backing up third and second base.

DeWitt was a first-round pick for LA, yet in close to 1,000 Major League at-bats has shown virtually none of that upside.

Darwin Barney looks to have gained the majority of starts at second base, predominantly because of his strong spring training numbers. Barney is also 25-years-old and has spent most of his minor league career as a shortstop.

Reputably known as a quality defender, Barney has been less-than-impressive with his entire offensive game outside of his contact ability.

The right-handed infielder doesn’t get on base well; he also doesn’t really have the ability to get consistent extra-base hits and is a complete non-factor on the bases.

In two seasons at AAA, Barney owns a paltry .324 on-base percentage and a .685 OPS. The PCL, the team’s AAA league, happens to be a very offensively conducive place, where players like Ronny Cedeno and Micah Hoffpauir hit similar to Joey Votto.

The drop-off from that league should be pretty noticeable and a drop-off of any size from Barney’s AAA numbers would be really ugly.

His defense at second base should be a marked improvement from Baker, especially from DeWitt. If he’s going to be batting eighth, you can tolerate his lack of production with his defensive additions, for a time.

Basically, Barney projects to be a LOT like former Cubs Andres Blanco and Cesar Izturis: A defensive specialist with lacking offensive production.

At least while Darwin is young and being paid the league minimum, he has some real value.

Yet once again, the Cubs have found another temporary stop-gap in the task of finally fixing the second base situation. Jeff Baker will rack up the numbers when he’s facing lefties, but Barney will have quite the task on his hands.

It’s the right move to take DeWitt’s starting job from him, but the team should hardly feel like they’ve solved the crisis at second base for any length of time past this season.

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First Things First: Chicago Cubs’ First-Base Options

It makes me a little uneasy to not be penciling in Derrek Lee at first base for the Cubs next season.

Since I was 14 years old, I’ve only known him manning first. Lee was ever the defensive specialist, and I grew jaded in simply expecting him to make every play, every single difficult pick.

Lee got it all done with ease, and I would mention his Gold Gloves if I felt the award had any merit (which it doesn’t). Yet his defensive prowess is actually very deserved.

That’s not all with the big man. To top things off, he had two MVP-quality offensive seasons, with multiple above-average years interspersed.

Outside of missing the majority of 2006 due to injury, and a lackluster final season with his team, he was a symbol of of how baseball should be played. He was the headliner on this team, through and through.

With his departure, the next North Side first baseman will have some large cleats to fill. Owner Tom Ricketts has implied that this team won’t be spending much cash this off-season, but there are a multitude of cheap first basemen the team could take a flier on.

It goes worth noting that Adrian Gonzalez will be a free agent next off-season. This fact, paired with the multiple other expensive contracts coming off their books makes the Cubs the early front-runners to sign San Diego’s super-star first baseman. This all makes a one-year deal on someone much more prevalent.

So let’s see which Free Agents would fit the Chicago Cubs in this mind-set and pocketbook…

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Adam Dunn: A Cure For the Cubs Offensive Woes

I can safely say that I am a gigantic fan of Adam Dunn. Consistency is one of the main benchmarks for picking my favorite players, and he very simply gets the job done. He is a freak of patience and power, but the consistent production is what draws me to him.


For instance, his production from 2007 to 2009 looks a little something like this:

2007   .264 AVG/.386 OBP (101 walks)/40 home runs

2008   .236 AVG/.386 OBP (122 walks)/40 home runs

2009   .267 AVG/.398 OBP (116 walks)/38 home runs

The common thought is imagining what those numbers would look like if he played 81 games in the quite power-friendly confines of Wrigley Field. It’s a thought that “Ballhawks” on Waveland Avenue can’t help but smile about.

The likelihood of Dunn wearing the blue pinstripes next season seems to be multiplying everyday. He made a very vocal campaign for the Cubs to sign him before the 2009 season to no avail, and as Gordon Wittenmyer is reporting, he is seemingly doing the same thing again.

On top of all the praise Dunn is extending towards Cubs management and Wrigley Field itself, the team experiment of placing rookie Tyler Colvin at first base has come to a screeching halt. It is definitely for the best even if the Cubs weren’t getting Dunn, as Colvin is absolutely less valuable at first base. The 24-year-old would almost assuredly struggle defensively in the transition, and Colvin already needs to make some serious adjustments to his offensive game if he’s going to make it as a starter. The combination could be terrible, and is better left unseen.

Interim manager Mike Quade has all but ruled Colvin out at the position. If he keeps making smart moves like that then he may not be a bad option to helm the club in 2011. Food for thought.

Whatever the motivation for the Cubs not locking down the first base position, Dunn is the beneficiary. The 6’6” slugger has already ruled out the American league, and resigning with the Nationals doesn’t seem reasonable. The talk is hot right now, so let’s hope it continues that way until the Cubs reel him in. A four-year deal worth $50 million would be right at market value, if not a little on the cheap side.

Dunn’s athleticism may leave some fans with a bad taste in their mouths, but the man’s effort and attitude towards the game is everything you want in big free agent signing. Any defensive shortcomings are made up for threefold on the offensive side of the game.

He’s also remained virtually injury-free his entire career, and is only turning 31 this November. He would be a savvy-signing for a team in transition, giving the team an offensive threat to be constantly feared throughout the Majors (something the team obviously lacked in 2010).

I won’t accept the high strike-out rate argument for a second. When you walk over 100 times a season and you’re putting up a slugging percentage higher than .525 every single year, the strike-out rate is hardly a liability whatsoever. There is literally no case for it being a problem, but I’m sure if and when the Cubs make their move on him, we will be hearing some brilliant commentary about it on Chicago talk radio. I’m sure I will be calling in to try to nip some of the ignorance in the bud.

The Cubs have to face the fact that their black hole at first base cannot be filled by a Micah Hoffpauir, and really need to pony up the cash. Signing Dunn will not reverse the tides of misfortune on the North-side, but is a definite step in the right direction.

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Chicago Cubs’ Randy Wells in Sophomore Slump

      ( Originally posted on )

There really is no way to sugar-coat it.

Randy Wells has pitched like absolute garbage over his last eight starts and is on his way to a plainly pathetic sophomore season in the majors. The guy is the not-so-proud owner of a 5.15 ERA on the year.

As some fans know, Wells came from out of the blue to have a startling rookie campaign, which saw him post a 3.10 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP. Many were skeptical that he could repeat his success, because he was a 27-year-old who had been a sub-par minor league pitcher virtually his entire career

Looks like the doubters had him pegged.

In these last eight starts, Wells has posted an ugly 6.56 ERA and took the loss in five of the appearances.

As has been mentioned ad nauseum, his greatest struggles are at the beginning of games. In his first 15 pitches of his starts, opponents are crushing him to the tune of a .365 batting average and an .865 OPS.

Yikes, to say the least.

And a mighty fall from grace for sure. Some fans saw Wells as a Mark Buerhle-type who could be counted on to be a No. 2 starter in Chicago’s rotation.

And while Lou and Larry Rothschild have been working hard to help Wells find the  success he had last season, it has apparently been to no avail.

When it comes down to it, Wells looks more and more like a one-year wonder, rather than a guy you can count on to be anything more than a back-end rotation guy.

As much as I personally like him, if he continues to get blasted by major leaguers, he won’t have his rotation spot much longer.

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Things Could Be Worse for the Cubs…

( Originally posted on )

I hate when my friend says “things could be worse” when it comes to the Cubs.

As the Cubs sit at 27-35 on the season; third place feels a long way away from first, and it is.

As much as this 2010 Cubs team is in the hole right now, their future is not insanely bleak. With the tradable contracts of Ted Lilly, Derrek Lee, Xavier Nady, Ryan Dempster, and Carlos Silva, the Cubs can get a gigantic amount of back-loaded cash and older players off the team this deadline.

Players like Fukudome, Zambrano, and Soriano could always find suitors, but the Cubs would have to eat a sizable amount of their contracts. Although that is a hassle, they still free up positions are another pretty large chuck of change.

I say things could be worse because the Cubs could have made a few rumored signings this past off-season that would have further handcuffed them for the future…

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