Monday, February 11, 2008

Forced To Choose

Barry Rozner chat's up an intriguing idea:

If the Twins are still willing to deal closer Joe Nathan, as has been the talk since last July, the Cubs ought to be just as aggressive in pursuing the established short man as they are in their chase for Brian Roberts.

It'd be nice to have both, and the way the Cubs throw around money, why not?

Agreed. Having both would probably make the Cubs the favorite in the National League and have close to, if not the best bullpen in all of baseball. Bob Howry, Carlos Marmol and Nathan would be sick. And if Scott Eyre and Kerry Wood show up? Disgusting.

But having Brian Roberts would be a huge plus as well. As our cohort Andy Dolan wrote just yesterday, Roberts would be an improvement over Mark DeRosa and DeRosa would still have plenty of opportunities to play.

With Sam "FU" Zell having the potential to throw a few billion around, anything is possible. Right?

Not really.

Frankly, the Cubs probably just don't have enough stock in young talent to acquire both Nathan and Roberts. Roberts can likely be had for some combination of Matt Murton, Eric Patterson (if the Orioles are stupid enough to try another Patterson), Ronny Cedeno, Sean Marshall and Sean Gallagher. That's probably a fair price.

But to get Nathan? A king's ransom is more likely. Nathan is one of the top closers in all of baseball and a prime commodity. That's going to require the inclusion of Rich Hill. And, while this page carries no brief for Professor Poopy Pants, the Cubs cannot afford to lose Hill and one of the Seans this year. They just don't have enough depth in potential starters, Jon Lieber included, to make that deal.

Now, you want to try to expand the trade and get back a Carlos Silva another starter in addition to Nathan, now you're talking. But unless you want a Boof Bonser, the Twins probably don't have anyone to take back. The current Cubs just can't afford to give up a quality starter for a guy like Nathan no matter how good he is.

But do the Cubs have enough to trade for those two guys? If there's been areaa where Jim Hendry has failed consistently, it's been bullpen and leadoff. Roberts and Nathan solve both those problems. Unfortunately, Jim has also done a poor job at developing their minor leagues. And that means it's only possible to get one of them.

Nathan is the better get, but both are needed and either would be welcome.

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