CSS Button No Image Css3Menu.com

Baseball Prospectus home
  
  
Click here to log in Click here for forgotten password Click here to subscribe

Happy Holidays! Regularly Scheduled Articles Will Resume Monday, December 29

<< Previous Article
Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Pat... (06/26)
<< Previous Column
Painting the Black: Bi... (06/24)
Next Column >>
Premium Article Painting the Black: Th... (07/01)
Next Article >>
The Lineup Card: 10 Ho... (06/26)

June 26, 2013

Painting the Black

Trade Deadline Closeup: Chicago Cubs

by R.J. Anderson

the archives are now free.

All Baseball Prospectus Premium and Fantasy articles more than a year old are now free as a thank you to the entire Internet for making our work possible.

Not a subscriber? Get exclusive content like this delivered hot to your inbox every weekday. Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get instant access to the best baseball content on the web.

Subscribe for $4.95 per month
Recurring subscription - cancel anytime.


a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Purchase a $39.95 gift subscription
a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Already a subscriber? Click here and use the blue login bar to log in.

The trade deadline is five weeks away, and that means it's time to begin analyzing the sellers and their products. Over the next month we'll take a look at each of the likely sellers and which players will pop up in trade talks and rumors. The Cubs, reportedly open for business, are up first.

The Assets

(Listed in descending order of expected impact)

Matt Garza

Position: SP

Age as of Deadline: 29

Bats/Throws: R/R

Half of Salary: $5.125 million

Contract Status: Free agent at season's end

Stats: 7 GS, 42.1 IP, 4.25 ERA, 2.64 SO/BB

PECOTA Projection: 16 GS, 96 IP, 3.60 ERA, 2.73 SO/BB

Ideal Role: No. 2 starter

Perhaps the most prominent pitcher available on the trade market, Garza is unlikely to net as much in return as he did in 2011. Still, the Cubs should receive enough to forgo potential draft-pick compensation. The one plausible snafu is Garza's health: He's missed more than four months of action over the past year due to shoulder and elbow woes.

When Garza makes it to the mound he does a lot of work with his fastball. He throws a four-seam and two-seam variation, and the pitch sits in the low-to-mid-90s and features arm-side run. When Garza is going for the knockout he breaks out his mid-80s slider, even against left-handed batters. In addition to the slider Garza throws a mid-70s curveball to change sightlines. There's a changeup in his arsenal, too, though he seldom uses it. Garza's big-game experience may appeal to interested parties, and he could be the truest thing to an impact starter on the market—even if he spits too much.

Nate Schierholtz

Position: OF

Age as of Deadline: 29

Bats/Throws: L/R

Half of Salary: $1.125 million

Contract Status: One more year of team control remaining

Stats: 217 PA, .296/.347/.558

PECOTA Projection: 199 PA, .266/.318/.442

Ideal Role: Fat-side platoon corner outfielder

Although Schierholtz has another year of team control remaining, he could find himself on the move for the second trade deadline in a row, having gone from the Giants to the Phillies in last July's Hunter Pence deal. Schierholtz's season is better at first glance than it appears up close: his at-bats have been micromanaged to the point where he's faced nearly 90 percent right-handed pitchers. There's nothing wrong with that strategy—he's always struggled versus same-handed pitching—yet it skews his raw numbers to look better than they would under normal conditions. Schierholtz isn't a great fielder, despite a strong arm, and he doesn't offer a lot on the basepaths, either. At the same time, any contender looking for affordable left-handed thump for this season, and perhaps next, could acquire Schierholtz and plug him into their lineup four or five times a week.

Scott Feldman

Position: SP

Age as of Deadline: 30

Bats/Throws: L/R

Half of Salary: $3 million

Contract Status: Free agent at season's end

Stats: 14 GS, 85 IP, 3.39 ERA, 2.56 SO/BB

PECOTA Projection: 15 GS, 90 IP, 4.23 ERA, 2.23 SO/BB

Ideal Role: No. 4 starter

Jed Hoyer did well during the offseason by signing Feldman to a one-year deal. The big right-hander made progress as a starter with the Rangers last season, and that progress has continued. He operates by mixing three pitches: a low-90s sinker, upper-80s cutter, and curveball—he leaves his splitter sitting on the sidelines. Feldman loves using the breaking ball to start at-bats against left-handed batters, and from there does his best to mix and match his offerings. There's no dominant pitch in his arsenal, which further necessitates he keep the ball down. As long as Feldman is generating groundballs and avoiding walks he fits in as a middle-to-back-of-the-rotation starter.

James Russell

Position: RP

Age as of Deadline: 27

Bats/Throws: L/L

Half of Salary: $0.504 million

Contract Status: Two more seasons of team control

Stats: 35 G, 28.1 IP, 2.22 ERA, 3.25 SO/BB

PECOTA Projection: 33.1 IP, 4.79 ERA, 2.56 SO/BB

Ideal Role: Set-up man

Russell's career numbers are skewed upward because of his abysmal efforts as a starter. He's pitched much better out of the bullpen, where he's able to pitch off his slider from dawn til dusk. Despite Russell's big frame he's not much of a hard thrower, as he'll top out in the low-90s. But Russell makes up for his lack of elite velocity with a deep arsenal, a deceptive delivery in which he hides the ball well, and a high release point. Capable left-handed relievers are always in demand at the deadline, and ones with multiple years of team control even more so. The Cubs could keep Russell if nobody knocks their stirrups off.

David DeJesus

Position: OF

Age as of Deadline: 33

Bats/Throws: L/L

Half of Salary: $2.125 million

Contract Status: One more year at $6.5 million (club option)

Stats: 217 PA, .260/.318/.445

PECOTA Projection: 300 PA, .263/.334/.405

Ideal Role: Fourth outfielder

DeJesus is on the disabled list with a strained right shoulder, and is not expected back until mid-July. By then the versatile outfielder will have about two weeks before the deadline to prove his health. A return to center field this season allows him to boast about having the most defensive flexibility of the outfielders listed here. However, DeJesus' game is about being decent all-around rather than standing out at any one thing. Factor in his struggles against same-side pitching, now going on three seasons, and he makes sense in a fourth outfielder role. In other words: He's the down-market alternative to Schierholtz.

Kevin Gregg

Position: RP

Age as of Deadline: 35

Bats/Throws: R/R

Half of Salary: Unreported

Contract Status: Free agent at season's end

Stats: 25 G, 24.1 IP, 1.11 ERA, 3.71 SO/BB

PECOTA Projection: 30 IP, 4.03 ERA, 2.00 SO/BB

Ideal Role: Middle reliever

The most surprising name on the list, Gregg signed with the Cubs after failing to make the Dodgers. His pristine numbers are due to improvements against left-handed hitters. It's worth noting then that Gregg barely uses his cutter anymore, which over the previous three seasons had become his go-to secondary offering. Instead Gregg creates outs by playing keep-away with a low-90s fastball, curveball, and splitter. He's made some cosmetic changes to his delivery as well, though the core remains intact—including a stiff front leg and weak glove side. Gregg will not continue this improbable run of success, yet he should come cheap and could slot in as a middle-relief option.

Alfonso Soriano

Position: OF

Age as of Deadline: 37

Bats/Throws: R/R

Half of Salary: $9 million

Contract Status: One more year at $18 million

Stats: 288 PA, .248/.278/.398

PECOTA Projection: 298 PA, .239/.293/.440

Ideal Role: Designated hitter

Should the Cubs have traded Soriano during the offseason? It's a reasonable question to ask given the 37-year-old's descent from respectable to replacement-level. The Cubs reportedly value Soriano's intangibles—his work ethic, leadership, and other assorted personality quirks—and those are fine qualities to have on a rebuilding team. But one must wonder: Could the Cubs trade Soriano if they so desired? How much of the remaining $27 million would they need to eat for a team to take him on?

It all comes down to the evaluation of Soriano. He still loves to swing the bat and expand his zone as much as he did during his younger, more productive days. Difference is, nowadays, Soriano doesn't pummel the ball as he used to, back when he was a doubles machine. Compounding matters is a putrid walk rate that ties his career-worst mark. No walks and average power production is a bad combination for a player who strikes out a fair amount of the time and adds little quantifiable value elsewhere. The resulting package is a player without an attribute to hang a hat on. So the chances of Soriano getting moved appear slim-to-none, but it takes just one team to believe a return to the pennant chase could revitalize his bat for that to change.

R.J. Anderson is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see R.J.'s other articles. You can contact R.J. by clicking here

Related Content:  Chicago Cubs,  Trade Deadline

3 comments have been left for this article.

<< Previous Article
Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Pat... (06/26)
<< Previous Column
Painting the Black: Bi... (06/24)
Next Column >>
Premium Article Painting the Black: Th... (07/01)
Next Article >>
The Lineup Card: 10 Ho... (06/26)

RECENTLY AT BASEBALL PROSPECTUS
Premium Article Transaction Analysis: Catching On to the Cub...
Premium Article Baseball Therapy: Do Stars and Scrubs Lineup...
Premium Article Minor League Update: Puerto Rican Winter Lea...
Premium Article Rumor Roundup: Marlins Not Really Interested...
The Lineup Card: Seven Items That Tell the S...
Premium Article Ninety Percent Mental: What's Really Behind ...
Premium Article 2015 Prospects: San Diego Padres Top 10 Pros...

MORE FROM JUNE 26, 2013
Premium Article Minor League Update: Games of Tuesday, June ...
Premium Article What You Need to Know: Meet the Detroit Tige...
The Lineup Card: 10 Hollywood Endings for Ma...
Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Patience is a Virtue
Premium Article Daily Roundup: Around the League: June 26, 2...
Premium Article The Prospectus Hit List: Wednesday, June 26
Fantasy Article Sporer Report: The 2014 First Round: A Look ...

MORE BY R.J. ANDERSON
2013-07-03 - Premium Article Painting the Black: The Astros Who May Be Mo...
2013-07-01 - Premium Article Painting the Black: The Marlins Who May Be M...
2013-06-28 - Premium Article Transaction Analysis: Marmol Gets a Free Pas...
2013-06-26 - Premium Article Painting the Black: Trade Deadline Closeup: ...
2013-06-24 - Painting the Black: Birds Song
2013-06-21 - Premium Article Transaction Analysis: Cheery Os
2013-06-19 - Premium Article Painting the Black: The Improbability of the...
More...

MORE PAINTING THE BLACK
2013-07-08 - Premium Article Painting the Black: The Outside Man
2013-07-03 - Premium Article Painting the Black: The Astros Who May Be Mo...
2013-07-01 - Premium Article Painting the Black: The Marlins Who May Be M...
2013-06-26 - Premium Article Painting the Black: Trade Deadline Closeup: ...
2013-06-24 - Painting the Black: Birds Song
2013-06-19 - Premium Article Painting the Black: The Improbability of the...
2013-06-13 - Premium Article Painting the Black: An A's Minus
More...