The trading deadline is still 17 days away but there have been two significant trades in the past three days that are worth mentioning. The teams that are in contention are making changes, not only on the field but also in the dugout. So while the Cubs appear to be standing firm with their team and according to a report on Cubs.com they “will not dismantle the team with trades”, other teams in the Central are making changes to improve for now and in the future.
Whenever there is a trade or free agent signing first thing I always do is try to figure out how it might impact the Cubs, well the two most recent trades will have an immediate one and maybe a long-term effect as well. Trades in the Major Leagues usually have a domino effect, once one team looks like they have improved themselves another one will usually try to improve as well and while there are a lot of teams that are still alive in the post season hunt it could be very quiet before the trading deadline, like last season, or we could all be in for a fun couple of weeks. The Astros struck first when they acquired Aubrey Huff along with cash ($1.625 million) from the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for right-handed pitcher Mitch Talbot and infielder Ben Zobrist both from Double A-Corpus Christi. They also optioned Jason Lane to Triple-A Round Rock. Aubrey Huff has already made a difference in an Astros uniform, he hit a 3-run homer on Thursday night against Florida. The Astros also relieved former Cub, Gary Gaetti of his duties as hitting coach and replaced him with Sean Berry on an interim basis. The Astros realized they needed to improve their offense and took steps to do so. Their team payroll now stands at $106 million, most in the National League and third in the Majors behind the Yankees and Red Sox.
The Reds realized their bullpen was costing them too many games and went out and traded two very good players to get some help in the pitching department. The Reds traded Austin Kearns, shortstop Felipe Lopez and pitcher Ryan Wagner to the Nationals for pitchers Gary Majewski, Bill Bray and Daryl Thompson, infielder Brendon Harris and shortstop Royce Clayton. The Reds bullpen was ranked second worst in the National League at the break. The Reds called up Chris Denorfia to take Kearns place and he will split time with Ryan Freel. Does this trade send Alfonso Soriano back to the Yankees or West to the Angels? And unfortunately the Cubs will get to see both Kearns and Lopez in their new uniform when the Cubs play the Nats next weekend (July 21-23) at RFK.
With the Reds 2 1/2 games back, and both the Astros and the Brewers 5 1/2 games back of the Cardinals and all three within 3 games of the Dodgers for the NL Wild Card, the heat has now been put on the other teams to try to improve….shake up their teams and give them the edge over everyone else. The Brewers have been one of the teams rumored to be interested in Greg Maddux, along with the Dodgers. Did Maddux’s value just increase? What other current Cubs are now attractive to other teams that were not a couple of days ago? Did the Astros and Reds just help the Cubs?
Jeff at Cot’s Contracts does an excellent job with his site and is a very accurate and reliable source for all Major League teams. He has recently put up on his site a projected Free Agent list for 2007. Anyone interested should check out the list….there are some very intriguing names on it. While no one wants to see their favorite player leave their favorite team, we must all remember that Baseball is a business and in business you have to make tough decisions. Last off-season most of the Faithful wanted to see Corey Patterson traded….well we got what we asked for. Who the Cubs trade in the next couple of weeks will play a major role in molding this team for the future. Just remember sometimes you get what you ask for and when you do it usually comes with price. Just ask all the Austin Kearns fans in Cincinnati.