With the non-waiver trading deadline quickly approaching (Friday, July 31 at 3:00pm C.T.) the Cubs continue to be linked to pitchers more than position players … or help for the offense.
The injury to Ted Lilly may have changed Jim Hendry’s course of action, as well as the unknown of how Ryan Dempster will pitch when he returns from the DL on Tuesday. The Cubs’ offense has performed much better since the break and will face two big challenges in the first two games against the Astros.
The Cubs have fought through a very tough first half and find themselves all alone atop the Central Division, now the challenge is to stay there … Is there any help coming? Who’s on the Cubs radar? Many executives across the league feel that more deals will be done after Friday’s deadline, than before, due to the economy. Most experts, as well as execs, feel teams will do less blocking this year because they cannot risk being stuck with a contract they cannot afford. Jim Hendry is among those that feel deals will be completed after Friday.
The Cubs continue to be linked to mostly left-handed relievers … and their dealings by Friday could hinge on how B.J. Ryan performs once he begins pitching for the I-Cubs on Tuesday.
Bruce Levine indicated the Cubs have discussed John Grabow with the Pirates and Joe Beimel with the Nationals … as well as George Sherrill with the Orioles. The feeling is Sherrill will cost more, in terms of prospects, than both Grabow and Beimel. One report on what it will cost to land George Sherrill indicated a ‘King’s Ransom‘. Levine has mentioned the Cubs interest in Tom Gorzelanny to fill in while Ted Lilly is sidelined for the next three to four weeks … and also indicated the Cubs are looking at Doug Davis and Jon Garland of the Diamondbacks.
The interesting name, as far as a position player that could help, that has been tossed out in recent days is that of Mark Teahen. The Cubs were rumored to be very interested in Teahen last winter but could not work a deal with the Kansas City Royals. Bruce Levine said it might take a “top prospect” to land Teahen who is hitting .295 with a .395 OBP and a .447 slugging percentage (23 doubles, a triple and nine home runs in 93 games).
Mark Teahen has played a majority of his games at third this year (83) but has logged three games at first, three games at second and eight games in right. The utility player has been just as successful against righties (.292/.352/.462/7/13) as against southpaws (.300/.345/.423/2.10) and was labeled as a ‘Poor Man’s Mark DeRosa‘ during the off-season.
Another name the Cubs were linked to over the weekend was Scott Downs of the Toronto Blue Jays. His name was thrown out during Saturday’s post-game on WGN Radio. Bruce Levine reported scouts from the Blue Jays (along with the A’s, Brewers, Tigers, White Sox and Orioles) were in attendance during the weekend series against the Reds.
Scott Downs was picked in the third round of the 1997 draft by the Cubs (traded to the Twins for Mike Morgan in 1998, traded back to the Cubs from the Twins along with Rick Aguilera in 1999 for Kyle Lohse and Jay Ryan, dealt to the Expos for Rondell White at the deadline in 2000) and has put together a solid year for the Blue Jays. The southpaw is 1-2 in 32 games with a 3.06 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP. He has converted nine of 12 save opportunities and is on the final year of the three-year contract he signed with the Jays in January of 2008.
Bruce Levine tossed out the name of Mark Kotsay during his show last Saturday. The Red Sox designated Kotsay for assignment on July 24. Many question how much Kotsay may have left but he is a player that could help the Cubs if healthy.
The Cubs are playing good ball right now and might choose not to do anything before Friday. But with only four off days remaining on the schedule this season, a little pitching help could go a long way.
Stay Tuned … It could be a wild week for the first place Chicago Cubs.