Cubs Prove Best Trade Could Be the One That Got Away

Jerry Burnes@@JerryBurnesAnalyst IJune 28, 2008

During winter meetings it was almost a given that Brian Roberts would be in the Windy City. Then the Orioles traded for Adam Jones in February.

Baltimore no longer wanted to trade centerpiece Felix Pie. The Cubs were then offering Sean Gallagher and Ronny Cedeno.

Baltimore wasn't biting.

By the time Spring Training was closing out, Jim Hendry acknowledged that the Roberts deal was dead. This meant the Cubs would have to do with the combination of Mark DeRosa, Mike Fontenot, and Cedeno at second base.

The no-trade has worked out for the Cubs.

Roberts is hitting .298 this season, along with five home runs, 21 stolen bases, 30 driven in, and 49 scored. He is also a switch hitter, and a natural lead-off hitter, which could be argued that the Cubs are lacking. He is also a Gold Glove caliber fielder.

But look at the current second baseman in Chicago.

DeRosa is hitting .287, with eight homers, 38 RBI, and 43 runs scored. Fielding-wise, DeRosa has seven errors divided between the five different positions he plays. Roberts has three at second.

DeRosa has been valuable for the Cubs. He's found a home starting at second base and has filled in at third, first, left, and right this season, playing all spots with ease.

Fontenot and Cedeno have been good fillers for the Cubs. Both are hitting over .250, with a combined five home runs and 34 RBI in limited roles.

As far as the lead-off spot goes, Alfonso Soriano is the right man there. Soriano, before his hand injury, was looking healthy in the legs for the first time in two seasons. He is a career leader in lead-off home runs and is former 40-40-40 man. Not to mention that he's only guaranteed to lead off the game once.

In Soriano's absence, Kosuke Fukudome has filled in with ease. Fukudome has the speed and patience to get on and set up the rest of the offense. He also gets on base with regular ease.

As for Gallagher, he is 3-3 this season in place of the struggling Rich Hill. Despite a rough outing on Saturday against the White Sox, Gallagher still held his own, went six innings, and left with the game tied 5-5.

His numbers aren't mind blowing, but Gallagher has proven himself worthy of a rotation spot on the north side—if not now, in the near future. He still needs some work, but Gallagher is close to making himself a young mainstay in the rotation.

With the trade deadline now quickly approaching, we have seen the Cubs are not bulletproof.

With Carlos Zambrano down momentarily, and the rest of the rotation not established as proven winning pitchers, C.C. Sabathia trade rumors have been whipping around in the winds of Chicago.

The question: Would Sabathia be a good move for the Cubs?

Sabathia is coming off a career year with a 19-7 record, his best record since his rookie season in 2001 when he went 17-5. Despite three complete games already this season, Sabathia is only 6-8 on the season with a 3.78 ERA.

He's a lefty, which is a big plus for any team looking to deal for him. He also has a rubber arm of late, pitching 241 innings last season.

Sabathia has never had a losing record, which is impressive considering the fact that he has played on some really bad Cleveland teams.

His postseason record is a little less than impressive. Sabathia stands 2-2 with a 7.17 ERA. Still, to his credit, he went 0-2 with a 10.45 ERA against the Red Sox in last year's ALCS. They won the World Series for those who might have forgotten.

There's really no question Sabathia would help the Cubs, but picking him up would not really benefit them.

Like the Roberts deal, the Cubs would have to give up prospects, and the Cubs have one of the best farm systems in the league.

Giving up too many top prospects right now for Sabathia would be a mistake for Jim Hendry, who has spent years building their fine minor league squad.

The Cubs will get Zambrano back next weekend. Ted Lilly is a career .500 pitcher and will achieve that, or maybe better, this season. Ryan Dempster's last outing against the White Sox is not a sign of things to come for him, and Gallagher is too young, valuable, and upcoming for the Cubs to deal him.

A good trade for the Cubs would be to send one top prospect such as a Matt Murton, Sean Marshall, or Kevin Hart, along with a couple lower to mid-level prospects. This option allows the Cubs to not unload the best of their farm system and still give Cleveland a fair trade.

If rumors pan out to be true though, Cleveland will be asking too much for the Cubs to make a good trade. It's unlikely that they will take any type of veteran for Sabathia, which makes top prospects their next asking price.

In that case, once again the Cubs may be making the best trade by not making one at all.


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