The Chicago Cubs enter play Tuesday night seven games under .500 and seven and half back of the division leading Cincinnati Reds. The Cubs 28-35 record is the same mark Lou Piniella’s crew owned after 63 games in 2007. That version of the Cubs turned the season around and won the NL Central. But this year’s squad has shown little to no signs of being able to play winning baseball … at least on a consistent basis.
While there are 99 games remaining, most feel the next 15 days will seal the fate of the Twenty-Ten Chicago Cubs … and players like Ted Lilly, Derrek Lee, Tom Gorzelanny, Ryan Theriot, Xavier Nady and Kosuke Fukudome have found themselves in the dreaded rumor mill.
It is June 15, the deadline free agents that signed in the off-season can be traded without their permission. Here’s the first of what figures to be many looks at the rumor mill over the next six weeks … Bruce Levine mentioned Monday night that he expects a lot of activity on both sides of town leading up to the trading deadline on July 31. Both teams have not played to expectations and have players that could help contenders.
Several players, both expected and unexpected, entered the rumor mill Monday in the wake of the Cubs losing their fifth straight series.
The Angels were connected to Xavier Nady a few weeks back. After Kendry Morales went down, many felt the Angels would make a deal for a first baseman. The Angels were rumored to be interested in Nady, as well as Derrek Lee and Paul Konerko.
Nady figures to be one of the first players traded. He signed an affordable deal in the off-season ($3.3 million with $2.05 million in performance bonuses based on games played) and despite his limited playing time due to his recovery from Tommy John surgery, he has started hitting the ball (.350/.417/.700 in June, 20 at bats with a double and two home runs). The question with Nady is what he can offer in the field.
With the emergence of Tyler Colvin and the fact that it is no longer April, it appears the Cubs are interested in trying to move Kosuke Fukudome. Fukudome is owed a lot of money, roughly $21 million (the remainder of $13 million this season and $13.5 million in 2011) and has a limited no-trade clause … according to a report from FoxSports, Fukudome can veto a trade to 15 teams. Reportedly, the Cubs have not approached Fukudome about waiving his no-trade clause.
Fukudome brings above-average defense in right field to the table but not much offensively … especially as the season progresses. The Nationals were rumored to be interested in Fukudome before the season. If there was any truth to the rumor then, could Hendry rekindle their interest in the right fielder?
Jon Paul Morosi pointed out that Hendry would be selling-low on Fukudome if he tried to trade him at this point. The Cubs would probably have to eat quite a bit of the $21 million owed to Fukudome but it would open a spot for Colvin to play on a daily basis.
Jon Paul Morosi thinks Jim Hendry should consider moving Ryan Theriot. Morosi has not heard of any teams being interested in Theriot but he pointed out several contenders are looking for an upgrade at shortstop (Padres, Tigers, Twins and A’s). With Starlin Castro already on the big league team and Darwin Barney in Triple-A, Morosi thinks “trading Theriot would not be as risky as it seems.”
Many feel Ted Lilly is the Cubs’ biggest trading chip. He’s on the last year of his contract and showed how good he can be on National Television Sunday night. Lilly is owed the remainder of his $12 million salary for this season, which makes him very expensive … but he is left-handed.
Depending on the report, the Cubs either would like to re-sign Lilly or have no interest in re-signing the veteran southpaw. If Lilly does not figure in the Cubs plan past this season, Jim Hendry must move him and receive something in exchange … instead of just letting another pitcher walk away for nothing.
The Cubs first baseman is not hitting and is owed the balance of his $13 million salary for this season … but Derrek Lee can still pick it at first. Lee is on the final year of this contract and has said he has no interest in leaving Chicago … or waiving his no-trade clause. The Angels were rumored to be interested and there have also been rumblings out of San Francisco.
According to a report from the Tribune, the Cubs have not asked Derrek Lee to waive his no-trade clause … but some feel he would for the right situation.
The soon-to-be 28-year old southpaw has value on the open market. Not only is Gorzelanny left-handed, he is viable fifth starter and has shown improvement since leaving Pittsburgh. But Gorzelanny’s future with the Cubs might have more to do with Randy Wells’ performance than his own.
According to a report from the Tribune, Wells’ start against the Athletics Thursday could be “a make-or-break outing for him.” Randy Wells has been horrible (0-5 in his last eight starts with a 6.47 ERA and a 1.61 WHIP) and Gorzelanny was effective, despite his record, before the demotion to the pen. Gorzelanny is out of options while Wells has one left.
The Tribune reported Jim Hendry has not “spoken to teams about trading anyone” as of Monday … but that could change if the current roster does not start winning ballgames. And more than one a series.
Stay Tuned …