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December 31, 2008

Cubs trade sure to raise antennae in Baltimore

The Chicago Cubs just traded second baseman Mark DeRosa to the Cleveland Indians, and you all know what that means.

Well, you don't really, but some of you are asking if this means that the on-again, off-again trade talks involving Brian Roberts and the Cubs might be on again. The Cubs just signed versatile infielder Aaron Miles to a two-year deal, and he can play second base, but it's fair to wonder if the big-payroll Cubs will try to recover more of the offensive production they just sent to Cleveland.

Keep in mind, however, that the Cubs are on the verge of dealing pitcher Jason Marquis to the Rockies to get some payroll relief and are thought to be close to signing outfielder Milton Bradley to a three-year, $30 million contract. That could mean they are trying to revive the Jake Peavy deal rather than the Brian Roberts trade that fell through a year ago.

Posted by Peter Schmuck at 5:00 PM | | Comments (38)
Categories: Just baseball


Peter, you call them the "big-payroll Cubs," but are they still? Last I checked, they were reluctant to spend much money until their ownership issues were resolved.

Pete's reply: They are talking about cutting costs at the same time they're about to sign Milton Bradley for $30 million. I'm not sure which way they are going.

I was thinking the same thing. I have to admit though I was not interested at all in the players mentioned last year that may have been coming back to us. All of them were super utility players, fourth outfielders...mediocare pitchers. I do not think they have an Adam Jones type prospect in their farm system. I would trade Roberts one for one just to get someone w/Adam Jones' potential as opposed to a 5 for 1 deal where we would get the players mentioned last year (although I know McPhail is a big fan of quantity).

I disagree, Pete. I think they traded him knowing they could plug Miles in there as a stopgap measure, and if they can get Roberts, fine. If not, fine also. I don't think they are that hot on Roberts. I could be wrong.

But if they really wanted Roberts, they'd have already started this way before they traded DeRosa.

We should have tried to get Miles first! He is versatile and can put up much better numbers than Freel. I am just sick to my stomach being a long time O's fan and seeing everyone getting better, even the Indians are doing a heck of a lot better than us. Trade Roberts, give him a chance to be with a franchise that wants to at least try to be successful. Get Guthrie, Huff, Mora, Markakis, Jones, Scott and Wieters to teams that take wining seriously. Sorry had to vent but as a fan and someone that has been in the game, you can no longer sell me on the future is so bright that I have to wear shades in Baltimore. My plans after the college season ends is to take the kids, head up to New York see the Yankees, keep going to Boston see the Sox and back down to Philly and catch a game there. That will be it for me. This is disgusting is Orioles management this far out of touch with what the reality is? You want to have hope but the O's cannot even sign bargain players like Miles, everyone beats us to the punch.
Pete: Happy New Year and go Ravens!

Pete's reply: I know how you feel. Let's hope for a happier New Year.

Obviously the Roberts to the Cubs talk is about to heat up again, but do the Cubs really have the players it would take to get Roberts?

Since July, they've traded Jose Ceda, Eric Patterson and Josh Donaldson. And they just lost Don Veal to Pittsburgh in the Rule 5 Draft. All four of those guys were in their 2008 Top 10 Prospect list according to Baseball America. Plus, they have a Jason Marquis for Jose Vizciano deal in the works with Colorado, which makes Sean Marshall less expendable.

If Roberts does get traded to Chicago, the Cubs will have to give up a "quantity" package headlined by their top prospect, third baseman Josh Vitters, and filled out with a couple of pitchers (Jeff Samardzija, Jay Jackson, Andrew Cashner?) and/or middle infielders (Ryan Flaherty, Hak-Ju Lee?).

Lets not forget that their Marquis trade PLUS this DeRosa trade means there is some serious cash off the books. Peavy talks could be back on which means @ the very least Baltimore could be looking at more Felix Pie possibilities.

Pete's reply: You're right. I updated my entry to reflect some of that recently. Had to rush out just as the DeRosa trade was announced and couldn't do it justice.

Lets hope you're right about this. BRob is the best player we have and I would love to see him extend but I'm afraid he would never do that unless the O's overpay him a lot. The best thing for the team to do is not to hang on to him any longer. Get the best offer and move on with A M's rebuilding plan. Everyday we don't make a trade his value goes down. Most teams would look at him as a rental.

Cleveland clearly got the best of that deal. You have to really wonder what the Cubs were thinking geting rid of a guy who played with enthusiam and put up good numbers, in exchange for prospects. The Cubs aren't that far off so this looks like a step backward.
I thought the same thing re: Roberts but my gut feeling is that he's not going anywhere. MacPhail has to keep him and Markakis around or the attendance will fall of the map.

Chicago picked up Miles to replace Derosa so why do they need Roberts? Cleveland looks like the winners in this deal and could be a real darkhorse in '09. They finished strong and now have a bonafide closer and a pretty solid lineup.
The Cubs are getting worse but maybe they are planning some trades etc. Who knows-as O's fans, we can only hope that we are as good as either Cleveland or the Cubs at this time next year.

Pete - Happy New Year! When I read about this trade the first thing I thought was they must be making room for Roberts. At second glance I don't think this trade would bode well right now PR wise for the O's, especially since I don't think the Cubs have enough in trade bait to make it happen. Maybe they are planning to move Soriano back to 2b.

ps--whats the over/under or the # of blogs you'll do in 2009???

Pete's reply: I'll say 1500.


Your right on, I guess we may still get to eat Pie in 2009! I just really hope we get some pieces that fit maybe we get the guy the Cubs just got because I understand he can play short too! Throw in some Pie and maybe an end of the rotation hurler and we could have a deal! Otherwise, I'm not all that keen on dealing with the Cubs, I'm hoping AM is trying to get us to the top, not put the Cubs over the top!

Trade him for Vitters and others he will be better than roberts in the long run and will push Billy Rowell, Brandon Warning, and Brandon Snyder. Plus Vitters would probally be better than a draft pic

Might as well trade BRob to Cubs and get 4 - 5 young players in return. He's in his early thirties and if the O's are gonna do this rebuilding "plan" right it seems like the most logical course of action. Sure it will bring about more of the insufferable whining on this blog, but who cares. If it ultimately gets the Birds back to a winning tradion they will all come back in the fold and hop on the band wagon.

The Cubs really are stockpiling up on guys the O's are interested in. Young pitching and it had already been reported that the O's were interested in Miles.

Now, since I've been in Chicago on my winter break, I have not heard Brian Roberts' name, unless I'm talk to my buddies back in Maryland. Right now, the left-handed bat they are seeking is in the outfield and they have shown interest in Milton Bradley.

The Cubs are definitely strapped financially with them selling the team and the record being played here is that they could not make a big deal unless they got rid of a big contract. Well, that very well could be Jason Marquis, as the deal appears to be set to move him to Colorado, but he Cubs would be eating some of his contract and taking on Luis Vizcaino, so the Cubs would only shave about $5 million, almost all of that taken up by 4.5 to Miles (unless of course Miles is traded).

The Cubs may be in the market for a guy like Roberts this year, but the emphasis, from what I've been hearing since getting back to Chicago, has been putting a bat in the outfield (they already are planning on platooning Fukudome and Johnson in center and Joey Gathright isn't exactly a power or on-base guy the want like a Milton Bradley or Brian Roberts).

Yes, the Cubs have been stockpiling arms, especially getting 3 for DeRosa, but they couldn't even make a deal for Peavy on their own and the prospects are 2 relievers and a starter, not in the upper levels.

Pete, keep an eye out for the Southsiders to potentially jump in on Roberts. They have been stockpiling some prospects and want to get back to speed. Orland Cabrera is off the books and Alexei Ramirez is expected to take over SS... leaving second base open.

Why would the Cubs need Roberts?

Let's look at some numbers.

2009 Projections (BA/OBP/SLG)

Mark De Rosa
Bill James: .273/.354/.430
Marcel: .280/.359/.439
Chone: .263/.346/.398
ZIPS: .283/.362/.440

How will the Cubs replace him?

How about this guy?
Bill James: .288/.363/.447
Marcel: .285/.361/.455
Chone: .270/.351/.422
ZIPS: .268/.340/.418

And who is this wonderful near-minimum salaried soul who bats left-handed and has similar defensive skills as well... who is projected by 3 of 4 systems to out-hit De Rosa in 2009?

You guessed it: Mike Fontenot.

The info we have in Chicago is that our Cubs are not as "big-payroll" as some may think.

The completed DeRosa trade and imminent Marquis trade are being portrayed here as cash saving moves to put them in a position to sign Milton Bradley.

Based on that rhetoric, it's hard to see how we might fit Roberts and his ~$9M salary or Jake Peavy and his $11M.

Having said all that, the switch hitting Roberts (and health) would instantly make the Cubs World Series favorites in the NL.

Would Josh Vitters, Nate Spears, Mitch Atkins, Jordan Latham or Brian Schlitter or Dae-Eun Rhee get it done or is that too much for Roberts

Mike Fontenot will be the Cubs starting 2B in 09. Hendry said Miles was prized for his versatility. He was signed as the a great utility player, and was much cheaper than DeRosa.
Miles will not be the primary 2B.


Do you think it is possible that the Cubs might sign Milton Bradley, trade for Peavy, AND trade for Roberts? Wouldn't that be interesting...

Pete's reply: Sounds like a longshot to me, but the Cubs are very active right now so I wouldn't entirely rule it out.

What is the deal with Felix Pie? Why are people so high on this guy?

Peter, who out there besides the Cubs, in your opinion, needs a 2B like Brian Roberts? I think we could have gotten a better package last year and will do better to sign him (if possible).

Happy New Year everybody! Peter, best to you and your family!


Pete's reply: I think they should sign him now, too, but he has to want to sign, and that's a big question mark. I don't know if there is a decent market for him now. There certainly was a year ago.

Nice post Sour Bob! Listen, I love DeRosa as much as anyone else but the DeRosa trade is the right move for the Cubs. The dropoff in production from DeRosa to Fontenot is minimal at worst. He bats left handed and has better speed as well. He's also much cheaper. And can we please stop the Aaron Miles comments - the Cubs signed him to be a backup utility type player (especially if Cedeno is traded in a Padres deal). All the signs point towards the Cubs trading for Peavy. They trimmed their payroll by just the amount they've been stating - just enough to pick up the next year of Jake Peavy's salary. And the DeRosa trade brought back three young pitchers - just the thing the Padres said the Cubs were lacking in a potential trade. Watch soon for a Peavy trade for Vitters, Cedeno, and multiple prospect pitchers. The whole Roberts rumors are a non issue here.

The Cubs are not looking at Roberts right now. They are trying to free up money for Bradley, and god forbid, Peavy, too. They have Little Babe Ruth Mikey Fontenot ready to fill in for Derosa at second. A nice lefty bat with some pop. Roberts deal isn't going to happen soon, if at all.

Hey Pete...What about this concerning a trade for Roberts?

Roberts,Scott and Penn to Cubs for:

2nd Base Fontenot (always like his game)

P-Jason Marquis

OF- Joey Gathright

P-Sean Marshall

It would seem a win/win for both clubs...

The Cubs would gain a potential perennial All Star in Roberts....A power bat in Scott (better clubhouse presence than Bradley and a potential rotation guy in Penn, who may need a change, plus out of options here)

The O's, in return would gain two decent SP with potential, a replacement for Roberts and a lightning bolt in Gathright.

The O's would essentially be trading two MLB caliber players and a "potential MLeaguer for four (no#'s-quantity as well as quality in return seems right for AM)

Also, it would seem to fit within the parameters of each club's financial plans. What do ya think?

Also, anyone else who'd like to reply, please do...

Pete's reply: I think Marquis is already headed for Colorado.

Roberts trade continued:

Proposed lineup:


*Would love to have Dunn...and have him DH...Huff to 1B so the kids can all play together for the infusion of 2010...and sign Mulder


What do ya think?

Pete's reply: I'm not sure Mulder can even scratch his head with that arm, but I give you credit for being more decisive than the O's.

Honestly I think this whole crap about trading Roberts is going to happen. He is far from being the Orioles best player in fact Markakis and Aubrey Huff seem to be better than him now. The Roberts era has come and gone and it would be good to trade him now. As for the Orioles future I think it looks good. Look at the future roster.

Starting Rotation
Jeremy Guthrie
Chris Waters
Garret Olson
Chris Tillman
Jim Johnson or he could close
Troy Patton
Matt Albers

Relief Pitchers
Mark Hendrickson
Jamie Walker
Danys Baez
George Sherill
Chris Ray

Matt Wieters-C
Aubrey Huff/Bradon Synder-1st
Brian Roberts/Oscar Salazar-2nd
Ceasar Izturis-SS
Billy Rowell/Scott Moore-3B
Luke Scott-LF
Adam Jones-CF
Nick Markakis-RF

Oscar Salazar is going to be top notch as he is right now impressing scout with his.400 plus average in the winter leauges. Honestly if the Orioles can just get their startes going and go out and spend some money on a good starter and power first baseman they could probably become a powerful team. You may say these are new guys and unknown but they are proving themselves and they have to make a name for themselves sometime. This could be the year.

Happy New Year to you and your family Pete.

Cubs have a lot of money invested in this team, so they could be at the all or nothing stage, so I don't know if this means they still go after Roberts or not, but clearly it's nice to see other teams besides are O's, make some odd signings and trades. Jason Marquis getting traded (close to a done deal) isn't big news because the Cubs wanted us to take him, but to trade Mark DeRosa to clear money for Bradley? Pete, I know he had a great year last season, but would you give this guy a 3 yr. deal? He is either hurt or loses it with his team or both.

Pete, if something goes down with Roberts, do you suspect that it will happen in January or February compared to another down to the wire "will he or wont he be traded" spring training like last year? Do you have any idea the length and monetary value that Roberts is seeking? I never hear those two things mentioned, just whether or not he wants to stay.

Pete's reply: I haven't heard a specific demand from Roberts.

Actually Peter, didn't you report about a week ago that the Orioles were talking to the agent for Aaron Miles?

I thought he would be the guy the Orioles brought in to replace Brian Roberts should Roberts be traded...and well, if the Cubs still want Roberts, he still could be.

I don't see Freel as a 2b. He is a terrible infielder. Maybe as a spot starter here and there, but definitely not a season long starter.

Pete's reply: I believe we reported that right after the winter meetings. Don't' know what the O's would do at 2b if they traded Roberts. Maybe get somebody back who can play there for awhile.

Every time I think the Brian Roberts to the Cubs deal is finally history, someone else brings it up. The Cubs do not need Roberts, and they certainly do not need to give up all of their prospects for an overpriced and overrated player who might not even sign an extension with them. The Cubs need help in the outfield and bullpen. Brian Roberts does not fit that need.

Good bye B-rob , it will be good for you to move on to a new organization.........
the O's don't care if this bodes well or not , just look at the declining attendance figures , look in the stands in August and September. Peter the Great has his guaranteed sale price to MLB , end of discussion..........

i think that micheal j is all over this one. cubs already have their 2B in fontenot.

the money that they are saving up is not enough for a peavy or roberts type pick up. BUT, this money saved will go a long way in picking up a milton bradley, bobby abreu, adam dunn... or a ken griffey jr.

one or more of these guys are going to be a bargain and i think that the cubs are just laying in wait to pounce on one of them OR just let griffey fall to them as he is probably going to be the least expensive option.

if joey gathright comes through and can play CF and lead off every day,.... a reed johnson/ ken griffey platoon in RF has the potential to be a good one without sacrificing OF Defense.

IMO, this move sets up the next one or two for the cubs.

If the Cubs don't have the players or the interest, how about the Cardinals? I haven't heard any talk about a trade with the Redbirds, but it seems like the O's might have what the Cards are looking for (although I'm not sure if that goes both ways or if the Cards would be willing to part with what the O's might want).
St. Louis needs a closer (insert George Sherrill here) and would love to dump 2b Adam Kennedy for somebody else (Brian Roberts for the right price?)
The Cards aren't loaded with minor league talent, but they have a couple of top prospects and a few other interesting pieces. I doubt they would trade Colby Rasmus, but they do have an extra quality outfielder, so who knows? Brett Wallace would seem to be a nice future fit on a corner for the O's. And then there are other pieces who may or may not be available or work, such as Chris Perez (RHP/reliever), Jaime Garcia (LHP), David Freese (3b coming off a solid year, but maybe with limited upside), and Jess Todd (RHP).
The O's could use Adam Kennedy as a stop-gap for a year. He's inconsistent offensively, but has great defensive stats.
Anyway, I would expect the Cards to be very eager to get Sherrill, Roberts, or both. Too bad the Cards won't throw in Ryan Ludwick or Rick Ankiel for fun. And if they only had a stud shortstop prospect ....

Mark Lesly -

to answer your question on why scouts are so high on Pie's potential, is the guy generate tremendous bat speed. I've seen some scouts refer to his bat speed as electric. That's something that can't be taught. In addition, he's a plus defender with the wheels to shut down the alleys. I think the Cub's may have rushed the guy, and like a lot of young prospects, he's stubborn in accepting criticism and advice. But the guy has some serious tools. Just a question of whether the mental aspect of the game catches up to his physical tools. If so, look out! But that's why he's a hit or miss prospect at this point.

The Cubs would love Brian Roberts to add a left handed hitting leadoff man and move Alfonso Sorianno out of lthe leadoff spot (esp in the playoffs). Roberts would also help the Cub defense which isnt the best.

When you build a playoff team with a large salary do you really want its success to rest on Mark Fontenot or Aaron Miles?

Marshall, Pie and Fontenot would probably get Brian esp if he has told Andy to please move him.

Well, Pete, the payroll limitations are only known by Jim Hendry and co., so I won't guess waht he is able to do other than being unable to spend freely.
Looking at Mark DeRosa individually is real easy for fans to say that he is too good, there's too much production to give away, character, and so on. What some are missing though is that these Cubs have gone through 2 postseasons without a win and their formula for success has not included a load of LH hitters. No team would not like to have Soriano/Lee/Ramirez/Soto/DeRosa in their lineup, but when you boil them all down, they are the same RH predictable hitters. I applaude Jim Hendry for trying to do something about it vs. waiting and hoping it does not happen again.
Look at the big picture when you evaluate whether the Cubs are getting stronger or weaker.

DeRosa was old news with Theriot and Cedeno in the wings. I'm not worried about Roberts.

On the other hand, if Roberts gets traded then so be it, I'm done clinging on to players until MacPhail says he's not clearing house anymore. And honestly, anyone who believe Roberts wants to stay here is in for the same disappointment they got from Tex.

Trading DeRosa and Marquis was not to clear money to sign Bradley / outfield bat. They already had this money available. Crane Kenney has said multiple times that the Cubs payroll would be increased to $140-145M. The Cubs could have signed any bat not named Ramirez or Texiera without dumping salary. These moves were to add someone in addition to their outfield bat. DeRosa and Marquis were both in the last year of their deals so they would have been gone after this year anyhow.

B, I highly doubt the Cubs would be able to convince Jeff Samardzija to waive his no trade clause to come to the Orioles........ would be nice but not gonna happen

All this talk about Salazar is getting out of control with his .400 batting average in Winter Leagues, I mean honestly former O's backstop Raul Chavez is hitting .318 and he couldn't hit a beach ball at the major league level... no offense to Salazar but he is not part of the Orioles future... he is a stop gap... nothing more....

Why in the heck would we want Joey Gathright??? We would get a non-hitting outfielder with speed, he is not a lead off hitter, just ask Tampa Bay and KC they will provide you with plenty of video....... or look him up on youtube and watch him jump over cars, he's athletic but not worth trading for...

jimik, are you serious?? Read you comment,..... two decent SP with potential......... WHO?? Jason Marquis.... did you forget to take your meds?? Thanks but no thanks, let him go waste away in Colorado.... Sean Marshall is decent and still has potential....

Brian Roberts if he is traded to the Cubs, the Cubs would have to get another team involved... they have no more prospects worth trading for.... it's either going to be Peavy or Roberts for the Cubbies....

If I'm the Orioles I offer the following...

Orioles send

2B Brian Roberts
P Hayden Penn (out of options) , I think he is going to have a break out season finally
P Brian Bass or
P Jim Hoey

Cubs send

2B Tony Thomas
SS Ryan Flaherty
P Sean Marshall
P Kevin Hart
1B Michael Hoffpauir
OF Felix Pie

I included two pitchers in their because we have to give up some to get some so we would be getting two pitchers that are ready and have proven to be able to right now pitch in ML, an outfielder that has yet to prove himself at ML level I think Pie becomes expendable after signing Bradley, a potential 1B slugger that could drop bombs at Camden and hit for average, a SS with tons of potential... who would be ready when Izturis contract is up and a 2B who provide more depth at a very weak position organizational wise..

I know pitching is everything but that is the best we could get for Robers from the Cubs...

Oh yeah Andy if you don't get back any middle infielders for Roberts, well you better be prepared to draft some because that is our biggest weakness....... other than our current rotation .....

The Cubs should make the move, get Roberts and give him a chance to win. The O's have been rebuilding for way to long for him to wait around. This could be the piece that gets the Cubs the World Series

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About Peter Schmuck
Peter Schmuck wants you to know that, contrary to popular belief, he is more than just a bon vivant, raconteur and collector of blousy flowered shirts. He is a semi-respected journalist who has covered virtually every sport -- except luge, of course – and tackled issues that transcend the mere games people play. If that isn’t enough to qualify him to provide witty, wide-ranging commentary on the sports world ... and the rest of the world, for that matter ... he is an avid reader of history, biography and the classics, as well as a charming blowhard who pops off on both sports and politics on WBAL Radio. That means you can expect a little of everything in The Schmuck Stops Here, but the major focus will be keeping you up to the minute on Baltimore’s major sports teams and themes, whether it’s throwing up the Orioles lineup the minute it’s announced or updating you on the latest sprained ankle in Owings Mills. Oh, and by the way, that’s Mr. Schmuck to you.

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