Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Pressure Plussed

Cub fans everywhere, outside of three children in Glenview, cheered wildly as Jim Hendry countered Milwaukee’s acquisition with one of his own. Yes, Rich Hardin is a riskier move than CC Sabathia due to Rich’s Prior-esque medical charts. But Rich cost next to nothing to get.

Matt Murton never lived up to the promise he showed when he first arrived to replace Corey Patterson. The steady approach at the plate disappeared, the power never arrived, and the defensive skills were spelled D-H. Corey’s brother, Eric, had been trade bait since he was drafted. His minor league numbers were always good because he was old for the leagues he was in. He is not a major league player (although he is worth $100 to some as a minor leaguer). Eric was finally able to deliver something of value to the Cubs. Josh Donaldson has a roadblock ahead of him at catcher named Geovany Soto and the Cubs still have Wellington Castillo at AA. Josh was expendable. Sean Gallagher was the only real cost to the trade. But with three spots in the rotation locked in for the next two seasons and Ryan Dempster bidding for a long term deal, there was only one spot open. Either Gallagher or Sean Marshall had higher value in trade than as a player on the team. Hendry did a good job monetizing that value.

An added plus is Chad Gaudin. Chad may be the real find in the deal. He allows Lou Piniella to cut off one head on the Neal Cotts – Scott Eyre – John Lieber hydra and replace it with some quality.

But the biggest upside to the deal is who is not in the deal. And who is not is Felix Pie, Jeff Samardzija, Donald Veal, Jeremy Papelbon, Billy Petrick and Josh Vitters. All those names are still available for another deal.

If there remains a week spot on this team it is center field. Jim Edmonds, despite playing way beyond expectations and finally realizing that Tony LaRussa is a pud, is in a race with the Wrigley Field concrete to see who collapses first. To still have all these guys available for an attempt a trade for a Brian Roberts or a David DeJesus is tremendous.

In past years, Jim Hendry has always left his teams a player short. He needed more relief pitching in 2003 and 2004. He needed another starter in 2007.

Go for broke, Jim. The chance of any of those guys turning out to be a real major league stud is lower than your chance of winning a title if you get one more really good offensive player.

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