Mark DeRosa Traded: The New Year Isn't So Happy...

Damen JacksonCorrespondent IDecember 31, 2008

Take back everything good that I've said about Jim Hendry.

In moves that make me wonder if Dusty Baker has returned from the managerial graveyard to haunt the front office, Mark DeRosa has been traded to the Cleveland Indians for a trio of minor-league pitchers.

You guys know me by now. I've no problem with shipping DeRosa out of town. I sell high on principle, so with one year left on his deal, and coming up on 35 years old, this was probably the best time to thank him for his services and ship him on his way.

And while I do realize that with the sagging free-agent market, it was probably more appropriate for many would-be DeRosa suitor to go that route, rather than deal prospects.

I mean, Brian Fuentes couldn't even clear $20 million on the market in signing with the Angels, so I think we can all agree 'tis better this year to bargain shop. But there are still a half-dozen teams that would love to have Mark DeRosa specifically—if the Peavy debacle was any indication—so you'd expect that Hendry would get a nice return.

And by nice, I mean someone able to help make significant improvements to the 2009 club.

Instead, he gets two A-prospects in Chris Archer and John Gaub, and Triple-A reliever Jeff Stevens. None of which are among the Indians' top 20 prospects, by the way.

Archer and Gaub look to be high upside candidates who may be of some use a few years down the road—assuming that they stay. Steven is at least interesting, sporting late-inning quality stuff, and high career strikeout totals that put him much in the mold of the prototypical Cubs pitching prospect.

Chances are you can expect to see him on the major league roster by summer, if not to start the season.

In short, I hate it. And I really can't see why the Cubs effectively swapped a likely Type-A free agent for a middle reliever and some filler. Maybe between obtaining Patton and Stevens, it pushes Michael Wuertz far away from the the Cubs roster, but past that, I can't quite see the point.

Part of another deal? Not likely, as Stevens looks like a few seasons away from a legitimate closer candidate. And most teams have at least one guy like him in the system anyway.

Taking the place of someone about to be traded? There are a few rumors, but you'd expect that for a quality talent like DeRosa, you still could have gotten more sure things.

Freeing up cash to make a bigger move, such as the rumored Milton Bradley signing? Maybe, but I would hope that Hendry on his worst day isn't dumb enough to move DeRosa just to overpay Bradley.

I'm left with two thoughts then. Either he just really wanted a left-handed bat there, or the Cubs are waffling a bit on the salary increases for 2009 that were suggested earlier in the offseason. I'm going to think on this for awhile and see if there's another alternative. If you've got a take, please share.

Oh, and to complete the day, the Cubs signed Aaron Mile to a two-year deal. No pop. Doesn't get on base. Doesn't play great defense. Maybe he's enough to finally have Cedeno traded or cut, but you could have made a better argument for grabbing Felipe Lopez.