Peavy and Prospects on the Brain

Another day and more rumors…. The Cubs are focused on acquiring Jake Peavy according to multiple reports and some are beginning to think if Jim Hendry fails to land Peavy, not only would he have lost out on one of his targets of the off-season but his pursuit of Peavy could end up costing the Cubs two of their own free agents….Ryan Dempster and Kerry Wood. Both Dempster and Wood appear headed for the open market while according to a report from Buster Olney, Hendry is trying to swing a three-team deal that would give the Padres the package they need for last year’s Cy Young Award winner.

Bob Nightengale from USA Today mentioned Tuesday on the Baseball Beat that he feels Jake Peavy will end up with the Cubs but it will take a third team to get the deal done….a statement consistent with Buster Olney’s report. But is Jake Peavy worth dealing a package of players that could include Josh Vitters and Welington Castillo, along with Sean Marshall, among others?

The National League and American League Managers of the Year will be announced on Wednesday afternoon, 1:00 CT (2:00pm Eastern) with Joe Maddon of the Rays expected to take the AL honors. Lou Piniella is in the running for the NL honor, and some consider him the favorite, after leading the Cubs to their second straight division championship and a league best 97 wins.

Here is the rest from the mill along with a truly future shock from Baseball Prospectus and a little food for thought….

How much is enough for Jake Peavy? Is Jim Hendry risking loosing both Ryan Dempster and Kerry Wood? Only time….and patience (there is that word again) will answer those questions but one thing is for sure the Cubs are in ‘win now mode’. But if Hendry swings and eventually misses out on Jake Peavy and cannot resign Ryan Dempster and Kerry Wood are they risking a chance to make it to the playoffs next year? The best team during the regular season a year ago first must get through 162 games next season before having a chance to erase the memory of the last two Octobers.

While depending on Dempster to perform any where close to what he did last year is a risk all in its own, trying to build a pitching staff without Dempster and Wood as well as finding a veteran to replace the innings that Bobby Howry provided last year could put the Cubs in a difficult situation next season. While Howry was less than consistent, and at times the worst option Lou Piniella could have chosen, he still pitched in 72 games and finished with a 7-5 record (with a save), a 5.35 ERA and a 1.46 WHIP. His 70 2/3 innings (lowest total for Howry since the 2004 season) is a lot to replace.

Ryan Dempster, on the other hand, won 17 games, finished sixth in the Cy Young voting Tuesday….and did not miss a start. His 2.96 ERA was lowest on the team in 33 starts. Was Dempster’s performance in Game One a preview of what is to come or was it just a bad game? That apparently is the 4-year and $50 million dollar question.

Then there is sentimental fan favorite Kerry Wood who put together a solid season in his first as a closer. While ‘Wild Woody‘ had a tendency to hit batters from time to time and not to mention the ‘meltdown in Cincinnati‘, Wood did not miss any time due to arm or shoulder issues, it was a blister on his finger that landed him on the DL. Wood pitched in 65 games, saved 34 and posted a 3.26 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP….just 18 walks with 84 strikeouts in 66 1/3 innings.

Rumored names such as Felix Pie and Ronny Cedeno are not that appealing to the Padres according to Jim Memolo (WGN Radio) and Bruce Miles mentioned on Tuesday night it could take a package centered around Josh Vitters and Welington Castillo, along with Sean Marshall and others to get the Peavy deal done. While many would not like to see Hendry trade away the Cubs’ top prospect for Peavy, the Cubs would receive compensation if they offer arbitration to Dempster and Wood and lose them to free agency. Both are Type A free agents and they could receive as much as two first round picks and two sandwich picks from Wood and Dempster’s new teams (compensation for a Type A free agent is a first round draft pick and a sandwich pick, in between rounds one and two of the draft…the Cubs drafted Josh Donaldson with the sandwich pick they received from the Dodgers signing Juan Pierre before the 2007 season)

Baseball Prospectus released their list of the Cubs Top 11 prospects on Tuesday…and the future does not look too bright on the North Side. Most of the information is by subscription only but here is the not too flattering list:

Five-Star Prospects
1. Josh Vitters
Four-Star Prospects
2. Jeff Samardzija
3. Jose Ceda
Three-Star Prospects
4. Hak-Ju Lee
5. Andrew Cashner
6. Tyler Colvin
7. Dae-Eun Rhee
8. Ryan Flaherty
Two-Star Prospects
9. Welington Castillo
10. Donald Veal
11. Micah Hoffpauir

Kevin Goldstein stated “the Cubs are a very tough team to rank” and the prospect ranking after the Cubs top three “are a bit of a mess“. He added the other seven could be mixed up and shifted around without much difference. Tyler Colvin had Tommy John surgery and so did Dae-Eun Rhee….both are expected back next season. Goldstein was complimentary about Jose Ceda and of all the players on his list, other than Jeff Samardzija, Ceda could have the biggest impact for the big league team next year.

Goldstein summed up his report on the Cubs system with the following paragraph:

“Yup, that’s about it. The Cubs are not a team based on youth, even Soto turns 26 in January. They are also not a team in need of a youth movement, and that’s a good thing, because this is a weak system in which finding any future Cub stars requires quite a bit of dreaming.”

If Goldstein is accurate, and there is no reason to doubt he is, the statement the ‘Cubs are in win now mode‘ could not be further from the truth. Acquiring Jake Peavy could cost the Cubs Josh Vitters but would allow them to add a legitimate ace to a solid staff that already has Carlos Zambrano, Ted Lilly, Rich Harden and Jason Marquis under contract. Adding Peavy might cost them Ryan Dempster, but they could receive two picks in next year’s draft for a system in need of an overhaul….and in turn improve their rotation from last year, at least on paper.

Jim Hendry has to either make the deal for Peavy happen or turn his attention to ensuring his rotation and bullpen does not resemble those horrible staffs from two and three seasons ago.

Jake Peavy

According to a report on MLB.com, the Braves are “confident in their offer for Jake Peavy” and they think the Padres may be “keeping the Cubs in play to use as leverage to possibly pry at least one more prospect from the Braves.According to multiple reports, Atlanta’s offer is for Yunel Escobar, Gorkys Hernandez or Jordan Schafer plus either Jo-Jo Reyes or Charlie Morton. “Multiple Major League sources have said that this package is more significant than anything the Cubs could offer.

The Braves are frustrated with the negotiations and some think the talks could drag out until Thanksgiving while some have mentioned “sometime before the Winter Meetings“….which start on December 8th.

Bruce Miles joined Jim Memolo on WGN Radio Tuesday night and discussed the Peavy rumors. Miles said that Peavy has not officially signed his no-trade waiver and mentioned players such as Josh Vitters, Welington Castillo and Sean Marshall are possibly are on the table for Peavy. He added the Padres are into sluggers and pitchers and Felix Pie and Ronny Cedeno does not meet either of those descriptions.

Miles added the “ball is in the Padres court” and he thinks the Cubs offer is a good deal. Miles said the Cubs have money to play with the off-season but do have a budget and once the Peavy deal is done they still need to add a left-handed bat and a veteran in the bullpen. Miles thinks it will be hard for the Cubs to trade for Jake Peavy and resign Ryan Dempster. Miles finished with an interesting tidbit, “the Cubs would love to trade Jason Marquis.

Ryan Dempster

The list of teams interested in Ryan Dempster grew on Tuesday. According to a report in the Toronto Globe and Mail, the Blue Jays might be interested in Dempster. The Globe and Mail stated, “there is a school of thought that says the Blue Jays might have a shot at Ryan Dempster, the native of Gibson, B.C., should the Cubs acquire Jake Peavy from the Padres.

The Globe and Mail added Dempster is willing to give the Cubs a discount if they pry Peavy from the Padres in order to “form what would be a beastly starting rotation.” Jeff Blair thinks Chicago is where Dempster’s heart is and that the Cubs and Dempster “will make it work.

Well, that’s the latest and I’m sticking to it!

Quote of the Day

"And if I have my choice between a pennant and a triple crown, I'll take the pennant every time." - Carl Yastrzemski
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