Chicago Cubs Trade Felix Pie and Ronny Cedeno...but Not for Jake Peavy

Jacob NitzbergAnalyst IJanuary 29, 2009

On Wednesday, the Chicago Cubs traded shortstop Ronny Cedeno and newly-acquired pitcher Garrett Olson to the Seattle Mariners for pitcher Aaron Heilman.  My question is why?

There are reports that Heilman will compete for the Cubs' fifth spot in the starting rotation with the likes of Sean Marshall and the best wide receiver in the city of Chicago, Jeff Samardzija. 

Others speculate that he will come out of the bullpen to pitch in a long-reliever role, helping to set up the eighth and ninth-inning combination of Kevin Gregg and Carlos Marmol.

Heilman prefers to start, but has only done so 25 times in his career, and not since 2005.  He is already 30 years old, and his career ERA is 4.24. Prior to last year's abysmal 5.25 showing, he had three straight seasons with a sub-3.70 ERA.  His career K/BB ratio is only 2.18, and he strikes out only 7.9 batters per 9 innings.

Looking at the stats, Heilman is a decent pitcher, and you could do far worse for a long man or a fifth starter.  But he is definitely NOT worth what the Cubs paid to get him.

In a deal that was eerily similar to the one involving former can't-miss prospect Corey Patterson a few years earlier, the Cubs dealt center fielder Felix Pie to the Baltimore Orioles.  In return, they received lefty Olson and Class-A right-hander Henry Williamson.  This trade by itself is not horrible, as Pie just hasn't proven he can hit on the big league level.

When you combine the fact that the Cubs dealt Olson along with Cedeno for Pie, the deal just becomes outright awful.  Cedeno, Pie, and Olson were key chips in the potential trade for Padres starter Jake Peavy.  While I'm not sure if a deal was ever close to occurring, it seemed that most of the moves the Cubs had made this offseason were gearing towards a deal. 

Negotiations stalled at the winter meetings because the Cubs didn't have the prospects that the Padres needed.  For this reason, the clubs unsuccessfully tried to involve a third team in the trade to meet the Padres' requirements.  Once that failed, the Cubs traded Mark DeRosa for three minor league pitchers and Pie for two more.  It seemed everything was falling into place.  Then the Heilman deal.

So while trading Garrett Olson and Ronny Cedeno for Aaron Heilman is a pretty balanced deal on its own, when you swap out Olson for Pie and then factor in that the Cubs essentially gave up on Peavy by doing this, it doesn't seem worth it at all.