The second half of the baseball season couldn't have started any better for the Chicago Cubs. On Sunday, the Cubs completed a four game sweep against the woeful Washington National in the nation’s capital.
Despite being just two games behind St Louis, it is unlikely the Cubs will make any significant moves before the July 31 trade deadline.
Next week appears to be a critical one for the Cubs. First, they visit the World Champion Phillies for three before returning home to host the Reds for three. Regardless of what happens, the Cubs don't appear to have the payroll flexibility to make any substantial moves.
Could the Cubs go into selling mode if they struggle the next 10 days? While it would be extremely unpopular, Cubs GM Jim Hendry could take offers for All-Star pitcher Ted Lilly.
Lilly has been one of the most consistent starters in the game the past three years. The left handed starter has 16 million dollars remaining on his contract. Trading him would give the Cubs some payroll flexibility in the offseason.
The Cubs could also look to move Soriano. Unlike Lilly, Soriano would have to waive his no trade clause and the Cubs would have to take on another huge contract.
Enter Barry Zito. Zito has been a huge disappointment for the Giants, but a change of scenery could help the left handed starter. Like Soriano, Zito would have to approve a trade. Zito is guaranteed 90-million dollars over the next five years.
Soriano is guaranteed $83-million over the next five years. The Giants are in desperate need of a big bat and Soriano can certainly provide that.
The other big names the Cubs could look to move are Rich Harden and Kevin Gregg. Gregg has done a better than average job closing for the Cubs but the former Marlin is a free agent at season’s end. Harden will also be a free agent at season's end, and it's unlikely the Cubs will re-sign him.
In a perfect world, the Cubs would put a nice package together and try to acquire Roy Holladay. Putting together the package isn't the difficult part for the Cubs. They have Randy Wells, Jeff Samardzija, and Josh Vitters. The problem is coming up with the money to take on Holladay's contract.
The Cubs have an outstanding rotation but they don't have a real number one starter which is a must to win a World Championship. Zambrano is good but is not an ace.
The Cubs need someone who can take the ball and return it after the 27th out. There's no doubt Roy Halladay will do that, and he would waive his no trade clause and be an instant ace. Problem is money, and it's unlikely anything could happen until new ownership takes over.
For now, we wait and see. The Cubs will likely be in the playoff mix come July 31, but do they have what it take to play deep into October? If the answer is no, should the Cubs sell?