While the Sports World spent Monday watching Alex Rodriguez on ESPN admitting he used performance-enhancing drugs while with the Texas Rangers, the rest of baseball prepared for the beginning of Spring Training. Pitchers and catchers cannot report soon enough….
Steve Stone joined Dave Kaplan on Sports Central Monday night….and discussed several topics from the Central Division to Alfonso Soriano to Jake Peavy. Steve Stone might be on the ‘Wrong Side‘ of Chicago but he still knows baseball. After Stone discussed the White Sox with Dave Kaplan Monday night, he turned his attention to the North Side.
Stone thinks the Cubs have a solid team and feels Jim Hendry has done a good job this winter with the roster. Stone alluded to the fact that every team would like to add a 14-15 game winner to their roster…and added the Cubs only have to worry about the Cubs in the coming season. He said if they handle their own business and avoid at least three big injuries they should run away with the division.
Stone questioned the rotation of the Cardinals but said it is hard to under estimate any team with Albert Pujols on it. Stone said the Reds could be good but does not think the Brewers will be able to complete with the Cubs. He admitted the addition of Braden Looper was a good signing by the Brewers but does not think it was a good move to let Mike Maddux go to Texas. Stone called the Brewers rotation “average to below average” and “not enough to battle the Cubs.”
Dave Kaplan shifted the discussion to Jake Peavy. Stone likes Peavy but does not feel the Cubs need Peavy to win the division. He said if he thought the Cubs needed Peavy to win the central then he would make the trade now….but trading for Peavy in February might keep them making improvements or additions to the team in July.
Stone said he has two questions when it comes to Peavy. One, Peavy has benefited from pitching at PETCO. Two, why did he only make 27 starts last year? Stone referred to Peavy as the “85-million dollar man” because he thinks Peavy would require his $22 million option to be picked up before waving his no-trade clause.
Stone explained that if the Cubs had more the one question mark in Rich Harden, he would add Jake Peavy. If the Cubs trade for Peavy, it would likely cost them Sean Marshall so they would lose their insurance for Harden. And by trading Josh Vitters what would be left to make additions later in the season. Stone explained that if they do not trade Vitters he would be a cost-effective option to replace Aramis Ramirez in a couple of years. Stone told Kaplan about a conversation he had with an Assistant GM about Vitters. The Assistant GM loves Vitters’ swing and all of the upside offensively Vitters has.
Stone said that a teams needs in February are rarely the same in July. If the Cubs use four to five players, plus add a back-loaded $85 million contract to the payroll, there would not be a lot left to add players late in the season. He said the Cubs have a good system, but not a deep one.
Stone thinks teams will be selling their high-priced talent during the season for more than a fair price. He questioned what the Cubs would be able to do during the season if something happened to a player like Alfonso Soriano if they traded away most of what they currently have for Jake Peavy.
Stone feels a player like Matt Holliday could be made available during the season. If Soriano’s leg issues continue and he ends up on the DL, Holliday could be a “good right-handed banger” that the Cubs could go after (note: Stone did not say the Cubs are interested in Matt Holliday nor did he allude to the fact the Cubs might be interested in him). Stone further explained that if something were to happen to Geovany Soto, Alfonso Soriano or Aramis Ramirez, the Cubs would not have enough to trade to attempt to replace their production…if they make a deal for Peavy now.
He reiterated if he thought the Cubs did not have enough to win the division now he would make the trade for Jake Peavy.
Kaplan asked Stone about Alfonso Soriano in the leadoff spot. Stone thinks Aaron Miles would be a better option on the days he is playing….he went on and added there are a couple of players that would fit the bill better than Soriano.
Stone emphatically reminded Kaplan that no team has ever won the World Series with Alfonso Soriano on the roster. Soriano leads off a lot of games according to Stone and he is not a leadoff hitter. Stone added Lou Piniella has other options and maybe better ones.