Analyzing the Rumors

Jim Hendry landed his number one off-season target last week in Kosuke Fukudome, but reportedly he would still like to add speed to his lineup and another left-handed bat. According to the rumor mill, one player could fill both holes Hendry has on his roster. The mainstream media in Chicago has mentioned time and time again the Cubs have their eye on both Brian Roberts and Chone Figgins. Both players are switch hitters, both players have speed and both players would come via the trade route which will cost the Cubs not only money, but prospects or Major League ready talent.

If both Roberts and Figgins are, in fact, on Hendry’s radar, what would it take to land one of the two? And which one would be a better fit on Lou’s crew?

Brian Roberts

Brian Roberts has a cloud floating over him right now, known as the Mitchell Report, but some have questioned why he was on the list in the first place. The Orioles are rumored to be shopping Roberts, but he is a favorite of owner Peter Angelos and he has turned down trades in the past that has included Roberts. Andy MacPhail took a big step last week when he traded Miguel Tejada but will Angelos continue to allow MacPhail to trade of his players, trusting MacPhail to rebuild the troubled organization?

The Orioles are not going to contend for many years, in the AL East, unless they start to rebuild the organization. MacPhail knows the Cubs organization and already worked a deal with his former employers last season….getting three prospects for Steve Trachsel.

What would it take to land Roberts? Rumors have suggested Sean Gallagher, a position player and possibly another pitcher. The list of names has included Sean Marshall, Eric Patterson, Matt Murton, Ronny Cedeno and Donnie Veal. Early reports indicated the Orioles would want Rich Hill, but Hendry reiterated several times over the past two weeks that Hill is not available.

Would Roberts be a good fit? Brian Roberts is a 2-time All-Star second baseman. He would be an upgrade at the top of the Cubs lineup and possibly force Lou Piniella to move Alfonso Soriano down in the lineup. Roberts has played 805 games at the big league level and only 53 were at a different position….shortstop. An organization does not trade for a player like Roberts and not play him everyday. If the Cubs trade for Roberts he would take over at second base and Mark DeRosa would be forced into a super utility role.

The Cubs appear committed to getting DeRosa regular playing time, even if it takes playing him all over the field to accomplish their goal. DeRosa gives Piniella a more than capable backup at third base, second base, first base and right field….he could even end up as an option at shortstop.

The positive with adding Roberts would be forcing Piniella to play he and Ryan Theriot on a daily basis which would allow the middle of the infield to gain continuity….something the Cubs have not had since the days of Ryne Sandberg and Shawon Dunston.

  • 2006 Stats: .286/.347/.410/.757/10/55/34 doubles/3 triples/36 stolen bases/55 walks and 66 k’s in 138 games
  • 2007 Stats: .290/.377/.432/.808/12/57/42 doubles/5 triples/50 stolen bases/89 walks and 99 k’s in 156 games
  • Career Stats from Yahoo.com
  • Contract Status: Signed through 2009, Roberts will earn $6.3 million in 2008 and $8 million in 2009. Has a limited no trade clause.

Chone Figgins

Chone Figgins is the type of player Lou Piniella loves and is a faster version of Mark DeRosa. He would give Piniella more flexibility than Roberts….but at a much larger price. The Angels have made positive moves this off-season but have not found the third baseman they have been looking for the past two winters. The Angels targeted Aramis Ramirez last year and were rumored to be interested in Miguel Tejada and Miguel Cabrera this year. The Angels plugged in Figgins at third for 99 games last season and reportedly will not trade him without having another third baseman on the roster.

The Angels probably over value Figgins, but players like him are difficult to find.

Would Figgins be a good fit with the Cubs? The Cubs biggest reason in trading for Figgins could be as an insurance policy. Figgins has played 18 games the past two seasons at second base and played 42 games there in 2005 but he played 96 games in center in 2006 and 50 games there in 2005. Figgins could be a backup plan for Piniella if both Felix Pie and Sam Fuld struggle next spring.

If Figgins were to play center, DeRosa would remain the everyday second baseman, as much as possible. If Figgins were to be Piniella’s everyday second baseman, then DeRosa is back in a role that he appears to thrive in. Again, an organization does not trade for a player like Figgins and not play him everyday.

What would it take to land Figgins? The Angels do not have a lot of needs at the big league level, except for a glaring hole at shortstop, and have a solid farm system. The Angels would want an impact Major Leaguer for Figgins and the Cubs do not have enough to offer without weakening their own club. Rumors during the Winter Meetings indicated the Angels would want Aramis Ramirez for Figgins….and that is not going to happen.

  • 2006 Stats: .267/.336/.376/.712/9/62/23 doubles/8 triples/52 stolen bases/65 walks and 100 k’s in 155 games
  • 2007 Stats: .330/.393/.432/.825/3/58/24 doubles/6 triples/41 stolen bases/51 walks and 81 k’s in 115 games
  • Career Stats from Yahoo.com
  • Contract Status: Signed through 2008, $4.75 million

While Chone Figgins would be a good addition to Lou’s Crew, it is high unlikely the Cubs could put together a package for Figgins, without a third baseman, in order to bring the utility man to the North Side of Chicago, despite the fact he is on the last year of his contract. On the other hand, the Cubs have more to offer the rebuilding Orioles for Brian Roberts….if Baltimore is truly in that mode.

Quote of the Day

"There are only two seasons ... winter and baseball." - Bill Veeck

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