Minor Leaguers: To Trade Or Not To Trade, That Is The Question

As I have been watching the action during this off-season I have been reading a lot of discussions concerning the use of minor league players in our overall plans. There seems to be two opinions on the use of minor league players, one is that we use them to trade for players that are a proven commodity that will help the team immediately. The other opinion is that we should try and keep as many of our players in our system so we can eventually have them help the big club. I don’t think we can do one or the other and I believe Jim Hendry has tried to keep a balance of using some minor league players in trades while also using free agency to fill many needs. Now for some Cubs fans they are all about the trades and think that is the best way to go. They might be interested in a trade of Felix Pie, Rich Hill and Carlos Marmol for a Vernon Wells or an Andruw Jones. I think that is too much to give up even for a top talent like Wells or Jones. Others think if we put together a big enough package of minor leaguers, whether they are top prospects or not, we can get anyone we want.

If you look back at the same time last year we were finalizing a trade that brought us Juan Pierre from the Florida Marlins for pitchers Sergio Mitre, Ricky Nolasco and Renyel Pinto. Juan Pierre showed some promise and did have a good second half but now he is gone and so are the three pitchers. Ricky Nolasco had the best season of the three going 11-11 with a 4.82 ERA. That wasn’t a stellar season but he did have moments of excellence and he was after all a rookie.

The trade seems unfair now but if Pierre had started quicker, and the injuries not happened, our season could have been better to the point of the playoffs, and then we might think the trade was worth it. At least for now we get a yearly reminder when we face the Marlins that we traded them two good prospects in Nolasco and Dontrelle Willis but that is part of the trade game.

The Cubs are a big market team and as such can afford to pay more for their players. Other small market teams can’t match that budget and hope to trade away top talent for a chance to get two or three in return. I am all for trading away guys like Willis and Nolasco because for every one of those you have a Ruben Quevedo, who was another decent talent we traded to the Milwaukee Brewers back in 2001.

This year Jim Hendry has spent the money we have to field a very good team. It cost us money but the talent lost was minimal when you consider we only lost David Aardsma, Carlos Vazquez and Freddie Bynum this off-season. That means we still have Rich Hill, Carlos Marmol, Felix Pie, Donald Veal and Mark Pawelek, all very good talented players and hopefully players that will have long successful careers with the Cubs. If not, there is always free agency so we will never have a problem finding talented players. That is the nice part about being a Cubs fan, our team has the money to do whatever it wants to in order to make the team better,

Cubs’ Top Prospects from John Sickels at Minorleagueball.com:

1. Felix Pie, OF
2. Donald Veal, LHP
3. Eric Patterson, 2B
4. Sean Gallagher, RHP
5. Mark Pawelek, LHP
6. Jeff Samardzija, RHP
7. Tyler Colvin, OF
8. Jae Kuk Ryu, RHP
9. Scott Moore, 3B
10. Ryan Theriot, INF
11. Juan Mateo, RHP
12. Adam Harben, RHP
13. Mitch Atkins, RHP
14. Jake Fox, C
15. Chris Huesby, RHP
16. Jose Ceda, RHP
17. Ryan Harvey, OF
18. Clay Rapada, LHP
19. Rocky Cherry, RHP
20. Chris Shaver, LHP

Notables:

Matt Avery, RHP
Steve Clevenger, 2B
Buck Coats, OF
Mark Holliman, RHP
Josh Lanford, 3B
Tim Layden, LHP
Bill Muldowney, RHP
Jeremy Papelbon, LHP
Carmen Pignatiello, LHP
Geovany Soto, C
Scott Taylor, RHP

For more of Thomas’ views on the Cubs, visit www.cubsfanhell.com