Friday, July 29, 2005

To trade or not to trade...

Well, As Camden mentioned earlier, Bill and I were at the Diamondbacks game yesterday. It was a beautiful(!) day, and it's always a treat to be at Wrigley, which is about all I can say positively about yesterday's game. Oh yeah, we enjoyed an excellent dinner at Portillo's on our way back to Peoria - I ordered the big beef with HOT peppers, a hot tamale, and a vanilla malt (Portillo's is one of the few places where you can actually taste the MALT in their malt shakes).

In any event, the Cubs stunk it up offensively, never managing more than one hit in any inning, but that's become somewhat commonplace for a team that has been wildly inconsistent this season. In fact, it seems that as AmRam and Lee go, so goes the fate of the Cubs. Yesterday those two posted an 0-6 line, which was also (interestingly enough) the final score of the game.

Well enough of that.

The question before us is whether the Cubs should be active before the fast approaching trade deadline. The most exciting rumors involve Manny Ramirez or Alfonso Soriano. In fact, this speculative reasoning from Desipio (far and away the finest Cubs related blog/media enterprise there is) is very interesting:

But Hendry’s thinking bigger than Soriano…he’s thinking Manny Ramirez. The problem isn’t that the Cubs and Red Sox need a third team to make the deal happen, the problem is that they need the Reds to be that third team. The deal being discussed would send Rich Hill and Corey Patterson from the Cubs to the Reds, Adam Dunn and Kent Mercker to the Red Sox and Manny Ramirez to the Cubs and minor league pitcher Jon Papelbon to the Reds.

The problem is going to be getting the Reds to do anything.

The Red Sox are sick and tired of Manny, and last week when he hid in the Fenway scoreboard and nearly missed a pitch, and then SI reported Manny wanted a trade…again. But the Sox are not in a position to get rid of Manny without replacing his bat. There is also not a fit on another team where they could just trade Manny for that stick. The Cubs don’t have anything to deal for Manny, but they have plenty to deal to the Reds for Dunn.

The Reds don’t want to trade Dunn to the Cubs, and they want a Major League caliber player and two top pitching prospects .

So this deal fits everybody’s needs. The Red Sox replace Manny with a younger player and a guy who can approximate his offensive value, and they get a lefty reliever (even if it is Mercker).

The Reds get the value they identified they needed for Dunn, and they don’t have to send him within the division to the Cubs.

The Cubs get a great left fielder and we can read stories for a week full of [expletive] about how Dusty will be able to “communicate” with Manny.

Are there drawbacks? Of course there are. Manny’s effort makes E-ramis look like Pete Rose. His defense makes Jason Dubois look like Ichiro. But he can hit. No, not hit, he can rake.

If the Reds back out, then Hendry will turn to a lesser deal for Soriano, and the headaches that having an outfield made up of two second basemen and Jeromy Burnitz will cause.

Well that's all good and well - and I would love to have Manny Ramirez on the Cubs, especially since he is one of the finest hitters currently in the game and it would make the remaining games certainly more exciting to watch.

But the real question is whether the Cubs should do anything before the trade deadline if they don't get exactly the deal they want. The rational for making a less than ideal deal (work with me here) BEFORE the deadline hinges on a number of factors, of course, not the least of them being the assistance the trade would give to the team THIS year.

Now, since this team has so little margin for error (they will have to play 40-20 over the next 60 games to get to 92 wins which will probably be cutting it close in terms of getting in via the wildcard) , the question has to be asked what the liklihood is of the Cubs putting up that kind of record EVEN WITH the acquisition of Ramirez or Soriano.

Don't forget that of the 60 remaining games, 11 of those are against the Cardinals, 10 of them are against the Astros, and they have 3 left with the red hot Braves. So they have 24 games left against pretty darn good teams. In other words, the Cubs will have to play really really well and really consistently over the next 60 games to get in.

Would acquiring Manny Ramirez or Soriano help them get there? Probably (and Ramirez would be more of a help than Soriano), but I still don't think it would be enough in light of the miniscule room for error the Cubs currently have AND the other problems that still need to be addressed (the bullpen).

So, if that's true (and I think it is), then the Cubs should only make a trade if it helps them beyond this season. A short-term fix for this season (like the Astros did last year with Beltran) will probably prove futile, since it will take nothing short of a herculean effort by this club to get into the postseason and I just don't think it's happening - even with the names currently being mentioned.

So memo to Jim (since we know you're a regular reader of the pablum found at this blog), take Ramirez if you can get him, but forget about Soriano.

If you can't get Ramirez, be more aggressive in the coming offseason than you were last year and go get some impact bats either through trade or free agency (and the former will probably be easier than the latter).