Browsing posts from July, 2012
The Baltimore Orioles have made preliminary trade calls on Bryan LaHair according to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun.
The Cubs would seem inclined to trade LaHair given he’s looked the furthest thing from an All Star hitter since early June.
Although LaHair quickly squashed the notion he wouldn’t hit at the major league level the way he did in the Pacific Coast League, he’s just as quickly failed to prove he can produce consistently over the course of a marathon 162-game schedule.
Consider the following: since June 1 LaHair’s average has dipped 35-points, his OBP is down 44-points, and he hasn’t homered over his last 38 at-bats (July 4).
Furthermore, LaHair has but 10 RBI vs. 47 strikeouts during his last 40 games while continuing to struggle against LHP (.070)–3-for-33, 1 HR, 1 RBI & 26 Ks.
Matt Garza, for heaven’s sake, has two hits against southpaws for a .125 average, and Anthony Rizzo is 7-for-33 against lefties.
MAKING THE ADJUSTMENTS
It’s obvious opposing pitchers have made the necessary adjustments against LaHair since his blazing hot start to the season.
But it begs the question if LaHair is able to make his own adjustments to get back on track?
LaHair, as we know him, has been a late bloomer, which his tenuous minor league career suggest. So it’s not inconceivable to think he could bounce back and finish the year strong given the opportunity.
“Most scouts believe Bryan LaHair has legitimate late-blooming power like Nelson Cruz and Jose Bautista, according to Jim Bowden of ESPN.”
This, however, poses two problems.
The conceivable fallout of the Ryan Dempster trade is a reminder why Theo Epstein prefers to play Cubs business close to the vest.
Since joining the Cubs, Epstein has instilled an identical bunker-mentality he used to combat the obsessive and baseball crazed market that is Boston.
He says very little, if anything, and let’s his actions do the talking for him. Jed Hoyer, same thing, and so on for the rest of the Cubs front office.
The Cubs firewall has become a sore spot with some local beat writers and reporters who rely on communication with the front office to report stories of substance, and most importantly, credibility, to their readers.
What Epstein’s approach hasn’t done, however, is jeopardized a potential trade the likes of Dempster who’s smarting over the fact ‘sources’ in Atlanta (not Chicago) leaked the framework of a potential trade for the 35-year-old yesterday morning.
The Cubs, of course, are not to be at fault for Dempster’s uneasiness with approving the trade. Team Theo, as I see it, are only guilty of working a deal–and a darn good one at that–to trade Dempster to a team Ryan agreed to be traded to, no less.
But the damage has been done, whether Dempster accepts the deal to Atlanta or not. What little information the Cubs front office has provided the media this season is likely to become a dead-end street, at least until the trade speculation passes in favor of September call-ups. There’s simply too much at risk between now and the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline to let either speculative or pending information slip outside the walls of the Cubs front office.
The Dempster drama is an unfortunate spot for all parties: Atlanta, Chicago & Dempster. No side is truly at fault, Atlanta certainly didn’t want the deal to fall through and Dempster has fairly earned the right to nix any deal. But as Len Kasper notably pointed out during Monday’s broadcast “It’s the world we live in.”
What’s transpired around the Dempster trade speculation should serve as an embarrassing reminder to both the media and baseball’s organizations that communication is best when it’s a two-way street.
When it’s not, inaccurate stories leak, players get angry and trades collapse. None of which is good for baseball, the media or the fans.
The Cubs & Braves await the approval of Ryan Dempster to complete a trade that sends top-pitching prospect Randall Delgado to Chicago in exchange for the 35-yr-old right-hander, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
It’s no lock Dempster will approve the deal, as we found out Monday, and is listed as a 50-50 chance by Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.
I’m fully aware I’m putting the cart before the horse, but let’s take a look at how Dempster could greatly improve Atlanta’s rotation, assuming he approves the trade.
Now this…Dempster Tweets trade to Braves not a done deal, yet. What a headache.
Finally, yes, FINALLY…we have a real Cubs trade to talk about!
WAITING GAME – IF DEAL GOES THROUGH CONTINUE BELOW
Ryan Dempster to the Braves for 22-yr-old RHP Randall Delgado. Nice!
Good deal for Dempster. He rejoins the pennant race on a team hungry to reach October.
Atlanta is playing with urgency. It’s Chipper’s last year and these guys won’t want to repeat the disappointment of last season’s historical September collapse.
The Braves (52-43) trail NL East leading Washington by 3.5 games, but currently hold one of the two NL Wild Card spots.
I couldn’t be happier for Dempster. He’s a winning player who deserves a winning team. This might be his last shot at a ring, not to mention, the city of Atlanta will love Dempster’s southern gentlemanly qualities.
I’ll take a look at how Dempster fits into the Braves rotation a bit later.
GARZA A DODGER BY DAY’S END?
Meanwhile, the Dodgers remain interested in acquiring Matt Garza. The Cubs reportedly want the highly-regarded pitching prospect Zach Lee in return.
It appears any deal will include a package of players being swapped both ways.
Pitchers are headlining the trade reports, but make no mistake, Los Angeles is starved for run producers. My guess says the hold-up is position players being squabbled over.
July 19: Los Angeles ranks 14/16 in runs scored in the National League. They’ve played the most one-runs games in the majors this season (36) and are certain to fall out of the race unless they find offensive help, particularly at first base where James Loney is batting a paltry .245 with 2 HR, 25 RBI.
Bryan LaHair and Darwin Barney could be potential fits in LA, which desperately needs offensive upgrades at first base and shortstop.
Dempster was long expected to be the first Cubs trade domino to fall. A Garza deal could come to fruition by the end of the day. More trades are sure to follow.
At last, the best part of rebuilding is underway. Staying tuned…
All things considered, the Cubs have played pretty well since I delivered a Cubs tongue lashing one month ago.
I wrote that post after the Cubs rolled over and played dead during a three-game sweep at Arizona.
For me, it was the absolute low point of the season. The Cubs didn’t do much of anything right against the Diamondbacks, and what little they did do correctly was largely done with the games out of hand.
Was it the team’s woeful record that finally caved-in crushing their spirit? Maybe it was the looming trade rumors, or the ‘Anthony Rizzo Wait’ that caused a lack of focus in the desert?
Whatever the case, it wasn’t pretty, or acceptable play.
Naturally, I was curious how the Cubs would respond after such a lackluster series. Would Sveum give the team a piece of his mind, and if he did, were his troops even listening?
THE CUBS REKINDLED SPIRIT
Surprisingly, the Cubs roared back to life after the Arizona series defeating Johan Santana and the Mets at Wrigley Field the following day. It was the start of a (14-5) run marking the major’s best record since that very evening, June 25.
Then, seemingly out of nowhere, this weekend happened. A new low point during a dreadful and pathetic three-game sweep at the hands of the rival Cardinals. It was a brutal performance. It was hardly watchable.
What excuse was there this time? No trades have been made and Anthony Rizzo has been well entrenched at first base for weeks.
It feels like the Dodgers called the Cubs bluff on Friday.
Seemingly unwilling to come off the pitching prospects Team Theo wanted in return for Ryan Dempster, Los Angeles stood firm and didn’t budge.
By most reports it’s evident Dempster’s first choice is to join LA, and with the two clubs swapping offer sheets, it’s clear the Dodgers have what the Cubs want–young, talented pitching prospects.
Apparently, neither side wanted it enough to make a deal happen, and the Dodgers are now reportedly out of the hunt for Dempster.
What I don’t understand, however, is why the Cubs let Dempster toe the rubber in St. Louis last night?
If a trade for Ryan Dempster is not imminent, as one reports suggests as of Thursday afternoon, then I wonder why the Cubs would have Casey Coleman and the newly acquired Justin Germano on hand in St. Louis for a spot-start in Dempster’s place?
Let’s just say my money’s on Dempster being dealt (Dodgers, Braves, Nationals) before he takes the mound against the Cardinals Friday night.
It only makes sense for Team Theo to capitalize on Dempster’s high trade value of five straight victories, 33.0 consecutive scoreless innings and his major league leading 1.86 ERA.
The risk is simply too great for the Cubs to let Dempster toe the rubber and not to pull the trigger on a deal tomorrow afternoon.
THE STING OF TRADING DEMPSTER ALREADY HURTS
Meanwhile, as if trading a fan favorite like Dempster won’t be tough enough, how fitting this team has spoiled us with the major’s best record since June 25 (14-5) right before the trade deadline. A Cubbie occurrence, I tell ya!
And not long after Dempster is wearing Dodger blue (or some other shade of blue), we can expect more trade dominoes to fall off the Cubs roster: Matt Garza, Paul Maholm, Reed Johnson, Jeff Baker and perhaps a block-buster involving the likes of Bryan LaHair or Darwin Barney, among other possible candidates.
It’s all in the name of rebuilding, of course, but it’s hard not to imagine where this hot streak could lead with the Cubs current roster intact.
Trading for Ryan Dempster today would be fortuitous for the Dodgers.
Dempster could realistically join his new team (playing on the road in New York) by Saturday and replace the Dodgers’ weakest link in its rotation, Nathan Eovaldi (1-6) 4.33 ERA, who’s scheduled to start the series finale against the Mets on Sunday.
Dempster, of course, shut the Mets down two starts ago going five shutout innings on a limited pitch-count in his return from the 15-day DL recovering from a sore lat muscle.
Chad Billingsley, recovering from an inflamed right elbow, is scheduled to make his return from the 15-day DL against the Cardinals in St. Louis on Monday. This sets up a formidable threesome in the Dodgers rotation of Dempster, Billingsley & Clayton Kershaw (followed by Harang & Capuano).
The Sunday rotation spot also gives Dempster a favorable pitching schedule. He’d quickly be baptized into the always heated Dodgers vs. Giants rivalry in his next start at San Francisco before making his Dodgers home debut vs. Arizona, who Demps made quick work of over 6.0 shutout innings last Saturday at Wrigley Field.
The most appealing start, however, would be Dempster’s third outing with L.A.–a possible home game against none other than his former mates, the Cubs.
WHAT’S TAKING SO LONG?