Friday, June 25, 2004
It Warn't Purty, But...
It was a win. Cubs 7-4 - should have been 7-1, but who's counting....?
Cubs should have had 3 errors (2 on Alou, 1 on Sosa), but friendly home field scoring leaves the "E" column empty on the scoresheet. Mark Prior looks a little wild but puts in a strong performance overall, and the Cubs break out of the St. Louis malaise to start themselves on a new winning streak.
Zambrano tomorrow against Felix Diaz; Maddux vs. Loiaza on Sunday in the series wrap-up.
Thursday, June 24, 2004
Don't get me started on last night's debacle. I was busy sleeping with the enemy (watching, in person, as the ChiSox got pounded by Cleveland), so I didn't see the game. The box score and Baseball Tonight highlights showed me everything I needed to see.... Today's a new day, so we'll leave it at that. Honest Abe Clement, do your thing.
Getting on topic, has anyone noticed what's going on at Iowa and West Tennessee? While newly minted Cubs 2B prospect Richard Lewis is hitting .327 / 6 / 39 and leading the Southern League in numerous hitting categories, former top 2B prospect Brendan Harris has returned to form in a big way at Iowa this season, finding himself at .328 / 5 / 23 after starting the season injured. Harris' resurgence has made him a viable prospect yet again, and gives Jim Hendry another card to play in the upcoming trade sweepstakes. Although Todd Walker may be wearing Cub blue again next year, there is an equally good chance that one of Lewis or Harris will man 2B for the Cubs in 2005, with the loser being packaged in a deadline deal. But who to trade for?
One trade that would help the Cubs in the both the long and short terms would be to go out and get 19 year-old uber prospect B.J. Upton, the immensely talented SS who is on the verge of being brought up by Tampa Bay. Although the Rays are currently in the midst of a hot streak, there is little hope that Tampa will do anything this year or next. Upton was the BA #1 prospect for the Rays this year, and has done nothing this season to shake his standing as the best SS prospect in the minors (.299 / 7 / 19 at AAA; .327 / 2 / 15 at AA). But a trade that included Harris or Lewis, West Tenn SS Ronny Cedeno (finally living up to his position on the 40 man roster), 1B David Kelton, and two or three pitching prospects (Sisco, Mitre, Nolasco, Bay, Brownlie, Marshall, Blasko, etc.) might be too much for Tampa Bay to turn down. All we would ask for is two guys - Upton and Aubrey Huff.
How would this work, and why would the Rays do it? The loss of Huff wouldn't hurt the Devil Rays a bit - with prospects like 2003 first rounder Delmon Young, Johnny Gomes, and Joey Gathright ready to fill the lone available outfield spot (and DH) by 2005 or 2006. Losing Huff would cut salary, a primary concern for a franchise in constant money trouble. Upton would be a major loss for the Rays, but they would get solid (and cheap) 1B and 2B prospects (positions where they are currently weak), a replacement SS prospect, and a passel of much needed pitching in return. For the Cubs, Huff would immediately slot in as a backup outfielder and pinch hitter for the stretch drive, and would be first in line for the LF spot next season at a relatively cheap $4.8 million. Huff's presence would also add balance to the lineup, which desperately needs another left-handed bat. Although Huff is having a slightly down year (.263 / 9 / 41), he is playing out of position (3B), he is still young (27), and has trended significantly upward over the last three seasons (.248 / 8 / 45 in 2001; .313 / 23 / 59 in 2002; .311 / 34 / 107 in 2003)
As for Upton, the Cubs would have the luxury of stashing him at Iowa the rest of the year, furthering his development. With luck, Upton would take over SS next season, with the winner of Harris / Lewis splitting time with Todd Walker and taking over 2B full time in 2006.
Finally, WP kudos to Rodan a.k.a. D-Lee, who continues to absolutely smoke the ball. I personally never got off the Derrek Lee bandwagon, but what happened to the Hee Seop Choi chicken littles out there? Any calls for Derrek Lee's head now?