by Justin Jabs and Josh Patterson
The calendar just turned to July, which means we’re a few short weeks from the 2013 trade deadline. The Chicago Cubs (and maybe even the Milwaukee Brewers) are set to be big sellers this month once again. Trade deadline coverage at Baseblog won’t be that grand or excessive – if you want to know what’s going on for those 36 hours leading up to the deadline, you need to check out Bleacher Nation. Shameless plug time. Brett at BN is running a charity blogathon for Make A Wish Foundation. If we can raise $12,000 for charity, Brett will blog for 36 hours straight. It’s going to be awesome. We both highly recommend you read, share, and donate.
Back to Baseblog. While we won’t be doing much deadline coverage, what we can provide are some fun guesses and predictions. In the first of what is hopefully a recurring segment, we present (Almost) Twenty Questions with Justin and Josh. Our first topic is none other than the 2013 trade deadline. We crowd-sourced a few questions on Twitter and Facebook and you responded with the following. A big thanks to Danny for most of these questions, as well as Patrick, Ryan, Dylan, Keith, and Jacob for their suggestions.
Let’s get to it! Here are the questions as well as our responses. These were answered blindly without each other’s knowledge, so it should be fun to see how similar or different we are.
1) Which NL Central team makes the most total trades this month?
JUSTIN: That has to be the Cubs, easily. Most of the division is contending (the Cincinnati Reds, the St. Louis Cardinals, and surprisingly the Pittsburgh Pirates) and I don’t see them making a TON of moves, just adding a few big league pieces, perhaps. That leaves the Brewers and the Cubs – and the Cubs have more pieces in their garage sale.
JOSH: Cubs (8). Honestly, I’d rank the five NL Central teams (most to fewest) as Cubs (8), Reds (5), Brewers (4), Pirates (3), Cards (1). I just made up those numbers. If STL makes more than one move, I’d be a little surprised with the depth of their farm. Pirates lead all of baseball and are really freakin’ good, and I don’t know that they need much. Brewers are obviously sellers, but I think it’s the Reds that make a bit of unexpected noise. If the Cubs pull off a half-dozen trades or more, I wouldn’t be surprised.
2) Which two teams partner to make the biggest deadline deal?
JUSTIN: This is a tough one. The dealing team was easy to predict for me, but the acquiring team was not. I think the Philadelphia Phillies are going to team up to make one of the biggest deals of the deadline. The Phils have said they aren’t selling off, but that team is a shell of what it once was. Cliff Lee is performing well and has a few years (expensive years) of control left. It sounds like the Phillies need to be overwhelmed to move him, which could make for a huge deal. I don’t have the slightest clue who the acquiring team would be. Since I’m not going to punk out and not guess, I’ll say the Arizona Diamondbacks.
JOSH: Hoo boy. This is an interesting call. I think it’s a Rangers-Cubs blockbuster, with multiple pieces going both ways. Headliner is Garza for me headed to Texas.
3) Who is the most surprising Cubs player traded? What about the most surprising Cubs player NOT traded?
JUSTIN: James Russell will be the most surprising player traded. He’s still a relatively young, relatively cost-controlled, effective bullpen piece but it’s not out of the realm of possibility that someone will overpay to have him involved in a deal. For NOT traded surprises, I’d say Alfonso Soriano. I’ve said before and I’ll say again that I would rather the Cubs pay $27M and keep Soriano than pay $24M and get a completely garbage prospect for their system. He’s not a Milton Bradley, Ian Stewart -esque cancer and although many look for him to be dealt this July, I’m not sold that he will be.
JOSH: I’m going out on a limb here and say Javier Baez goes in the Garza deal to possibly pull Profar? (Complete conjecture, I have no inside knowledge). Most surprising not traded, since it’s everyone not a part of the core available, I say Soriano stays, if only for that $26MM or so left on his deal. If I can go 1A here, David DeJesus (Kim’s husband) stays, if only because he doesn’t return in enough time to show he’s healthy.
4) Who is the most surprising Brewers player traded? What about the most surprising Brewers player NOT traded?
JUSTIN: I’ll stick with the relief pitcher theme for most surprising player traded and say John Axford. Almost three months ago, I wrote that I would rather have John Axford over Carlos Marmol. That was back when the two were struggling incredibly. Axford has turned things around a bit and hasn’t given up a run in his last ten outings. In that piece I wrote that Axford’s arbitration years and ability to non-tender him makes him a more attractive player, and I believe that helps his trade value. Those same Brewers fans who cried for Axford’s head will be very surprised if the Brewers get anything for him in a trade. As for not traded, I’m going with Yovani Gallardo. I’m not sold the Brewers will pull the trigger or be presented with a deal great enough to make them pull the trigger.
JOSH: Axford. Some team gets super desperate to see if he can close for them, since he has “closer experience” (I hate that phrase). Gallardo stays as Roenicke does the Baghdad Ron routine – “We are still in the playoff race. We have no chemical weapons.”
5) Which Cubs deals are most likely to pay off or be a bust?
JUSTIN: I was in the #ExtendGarza camp earlier this year. I love the guy. But I have since come down on that hard-nosed stance. I’ve read reports that Garza’s not into an extension. I’ve read even more reports that the Cubs are getting tons of calls on Garza. And for some stupid reason, his small part in the Ian Stewart Twitter fiasco left a bad taste in my mouth. If he can’t be extended, ship him out. Since the Cubs are reportedly getting so many hits on Garza this early, I trust the front office to make this deal pay off. I see a lot of comparisons on Twitter to the Zack Grienke deal last year which netted the Brewers Jean Segura. If they can find a player like that, that would be awesome.
Most likely deal to be a bust: one involving Alfonso Soriano. I said my thoughts on a Soriano deal above, but I’m not sure the front office shares my thoughts. The likelihood that Soriano can get any return worth mentioning is low, in my opinion.
JOSH: Can I say the Garza deal is both? Yes. I’m writing this article, so I can.
6) What is the Cubs starting outfield after the trade deadline?
JUSTIN: Assuming everyone is healthy? Soriano, David DeJesus, Nate Schierholtz. I don’t think the Cubs need to trade many of their outfielders.
JOSH: LF – Soriano. CF – Sweeney/Kim’s husband. RF – Schierholtz/whoever’s remaining (I think Scotty H goes).
7) What can the Seattle Mariners get for Raul Ibanez?
JUSTIN: Four very rough 17 year old pitching prospects with a bit of potential. i.e., double Tony Campana‘s return.
JOSH: A 41-year-old DH that’s already tied last year’s HR total in early July? Maybe a C+ prospect (think 20-30 in a system, maybe a tick over organizational filler, if someone’s desperate to make a move).
8) Where will Carlos Marmol be traded to and what kind of return will the Cubs get?
JUSTIN: The reports that say Marmol is headed to the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for salary relief seem pretty believable to me.
JOSH: Everyone likes the Dodgers here, I’m going Mystery Team. Those guys always get everyone. Don’t know how they do it. The Cubs get either the fringiest of fringe prospects or a few hundred K worth of salary relief. Either way, the return’s not much.
9) Where will Carlos Marmol play for the rest of his career? How will his departure impact the rest of the Cubs bullpen?
JUSTIN: This one is very tough to predict. I don’t think his future is with the Cubs, or with the Dodgers for that matter. I think Marmol is going to bounce around for the rest of his career. Sign a series of one year deals to set up for different teams willing to take a chance. He’ll probably be traded a few times at the deadline in the future. He’ll yo-yo between being off and being on, and maybe one of those times he’s on it will be with a team that’s contending. His departure gives Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer one more roster spot to throw crap onto the wall until something sticks like Kevin Gregg.
JOSH: I’m assuming on the mound, in set-up/middle relief? *ba dum, ching* He’s a free agent after the year’s out, and he’s one of those guys that’ll probably bounce to a few teams (I’ll put the over/under at 3 for his post-Cubs career as far as other teams that try him out) thinking they can fix him, but the inconsistency is too much to overcome, which is sad because he had a few years that were absolutely amazeballs. Seriously, go back to 2007-2010 and remember that guy fondly, because his peak was freakin’ spectacular and unfortunately set him up to fail when he inked the big money deal.
The effect on the rest of the pen? Think to the Project Mayhem portion of Fight Club. “You are not special. You’re not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You’re the same decaying organic matter as everything else.” Not saying that the Cubs’ pen is a heaping mound of crap, but rather that no one is above being replaced.
10) Will we hear more rumors about Jeff Samardzija? Will he be traded or is the cost too high?
JUSTIN: I would be very surprised – and upset – if Jeff Samardzija was traded. I think his price is too high for a team to bite on. If the Cubs do trade him, they better get some near ready arms in return. I’m not talking low minors, high upside arms. I’m not talking recovering Tommy John arms. I want an arm that can step in this September and fill out the rotation in 2014 at very least. Samardzija is going to pitch out the rest of this year and discuss a contract extension in the offseason.
JOSH: Yes, especially after a couple of the big name guys go off the table. He’s staying in Chicago, because the FO wants two Spellchecks in return.
11) What do the Milwaukee Brewers do with Corey Hart?
JUSTIN: Corey Hart is one of those Brewers I like and can root for, except when playing against the Cubs. The news really sucks for him – after getting surgery on his right knee earlier this year, it was just reported he needs surgery on his left knee now and will be out for the season. The Brewers should discuss an incentive-laden one year deal with Hart before he reaches free agency. Take a chance on him, and flip him at the 2014 deadline if things don’t go the Brewers’ way again.
JOSH: Let him wear his sunglasses at night? (totes original joke there, I know) Unfortunately for Milwaukee, they’re not going to get anything for him at this year’s trade deadline. I think they re-sign him.
12) Is Yovani Gallardo’s stock falling? What happens to him in this lost season?
JUSTIN: One outing doesn’t make or break a guy’s trade value, but last night was no cakewalk for Gallardo against the Washington Nationals. Like I said above, I don’t think he gets dealt this month because the Brewers won’t be offered anything good enough to move him.
JOSH: If you’re into small sample sizes (8 earned in 3 IP on Monday), then absolutely. He’s a starter, so there’s some value there despite this being his worst season of his career, but unless someone gets desperate (oh wait, it’s the trade deadline and THERE WILL BE DESPERATION)… so he gets traded for a couple dudes, headliner being a 10-15 guy in a decent farm system, maybe a fringe of the top 10 in a weaker system.
JUSTIN: I’ll put it at 60%. The ship hasn’t fully sailed on these two, but things don’t look great. Honestly, I haven’t heard anything about them all season.
JOSH: I’d say the likelihood is more that Jackson goes if picking between the two, as Vitters hasn’t really been healthy at all this year so I don’t know if someone would be interested. I’d hate to see it because I have his autograph on a baseball, but a guy that could sweeten things up that’s under the radar is Ronald Torreyes. He’s consistently young for his level, and I like his bat. Also, dudes I have sign things for me get traded.
14) Will the Cubs acquire a young starting pitcher that starts for them THIS season?
JUSTIN: Maybe. If they trade Jeff Samardzija, they better get one. If they trade Matt Garza, perhaps they could get one. Those are the only two scenarios where I see the Cubs adding a starter who can help them this year.
JOSH: I hope not! If this happens, this means that there were multiple injuries to starters. I think Baker works his way back, Wood/Spellcheck/Jackson make up three other dudes in the rotation and I think a Hendricks/Rusin/Raley from the farm gets the rotating 5th man spot.
15) Will Cubs have enough starting pitchers to avoid the Justin Germano torture of 2012?
JUSTIN: I think so. I only see 2/5th of the rotation getting traded, honestly. There have to be at least two non-Justin Germanos in the farm system. Plus, Carlos Villanueva isn’t a lock to be traded in my book, so he can fill another spot.
JOSH: Again, barring injuries, yes. I’m hoping that pestilence doesn’t strike the North Side, because this would make me sad.
16) Who is Matt Garza playing for on August 1st?
JUSTIN: I have no idea. How about the Baltimore Orioles? With Darwin Barney, and the Cubs could finally get their hands on the elusive BRIAN ROBERTS!
JOSH: I’ll say Texas, though one of the Sans in the NL West (Diego or Francisco) could surprise me here. I just think that there’s enough goodness in the Rangers’ system, though there’s good knowledge of the Padres’ system. And if they somehow make Max Fried available for Garza, which won’t happen unless they get super desperate, I think the Cubs need to do that – he’d become the top-ranked pitcher instantly.
19) Who is the first Cub to be traded, besides Carlos Marmol and Steve Clevenger?
JUSTIN: One of Scott Feldman and Garza so they’re not competing against one another when teams start bidding. Garza’s been getting the most hits lately, so I’ll pick him.
JOSH: I’ve been conducting an internal thought experiment on this all morning. (Yes, I have plenty of time on my hands while waiting on the two Pugs to do their business on our morning walks) What’s going to yield the better overall return for Chicago, dealing Feldman first, then Garza at the deadline? Dealing Garza early, then Feldman at the deadline? Garza’s the better pitcher, he has AL East & playoff experience, but he’s a rental. Feldman’s not as good, though he’s benefitted from the move to the NL and looks better this year, but what’s going to bring the highest overall return, be it the higher-rated prospect or the better package of guys? Also, does Garza have another injury strike him? I’ll say Garza goes first. And to put a date on it, how ‘bout July 5. He goes out and has a good outing on Wednesday against Oakland, someone makes the final pitch on #MericaLightsCrapOnFire Day, and he makes the move on Friday. Sounds legit.
20) Who is the first Brewer to be traded?
JUSTIN: Francisco Rodriguez. Teams put way too much value on “closers” and K-Rod is a luxury this Brewers team doesn’t need.
JOSH: I admittedly know very little about Milwaukee. It’s a city known for beer, hence the team’s nickname. Aramis Ramirez signed there when he left Chicago. The 2008 playoff race was fun. So I’ll say Rickie Weeks goes first, if only because there’s a few weeks left before the Trade Deadline. (Yes, the bad pun was intended.)