There, I said it.
photo via i.a.cnn.net
You don't need me to recap the story about why Peavy, one of the best pitchers in the NL and a former Cy Young Award winner, is on the trading block. You also don't need me to recap the endless trade rumors posted here and elsewhere over the last three months. One reason I didn't post much about those rumors is that I got tired of hearing updates seemingly every time Kevin Towers went to the bathroom. Farting out new trade rumors is pretty unseemly from a general manager and we can, I think, all be happy that Jim Hendry doesn't conduct business that way. For example, we all knew Felix Pie was on the trading block. But before yesterday's trade announcement, had you heard any specific rumors of Felix-to-Baltimore? Or that Garrett Olson was on Hendry's radar? There were some brief mentions at MLBTR last November, but nothing came of it till yesterday, and you didn't hear breathless updates every day. That is, I think, a much better way to do business.
Some of you think that because I've scoffed at some of the more ridiculous rumors, that I don't want Jake Peavy as a Cub. That's silly -- who wouldn't want such a pitcher? I do have some concerns: he's had some arm trouble in the last year (been there, done that), doesn't pitch quite as well outside of the pitcher's paradise that is Petco Park (2.77 ERA at home, 3.80 on the road, and 34 more HR allowed on the road than at home in almost 100 fewer innings), and has a contract that could turn into an albatross even for a deep-pocketed new owner.
Nevertheless, there is no doubt that Peavy, who will turn 28 in May, would be a fine addition to the Cubs' already excellent starting rotation. So why am I bringing this up now?
Because it seems pretty clear that yesterday's trade of Pie to the Orioles for Garrett Olson and Henry Williamson could be part of an overall off-season strategy by Jim Hendry to eventually land Peavy, whether it be now or during spring training or at the trading deadline.
As noted above, Olson was a player that Kevin Towers had expressed some interest in. Hendry is now dealing from a position of a little more strength. He has a pitcher Towers could want; he's got a shortstop (Ronny Cedeno) Towers can use, and perhaps one or more of the pitchers acquired in the Mark DeRosa deal from Cleveland could be put into this deal.
Many of you have suggested Josh Vitters could or should be part of a Peavy trade, but I wouldn't do that -- for this simple reason: you don't have to. If the Padres really do have to get rid of Peavy's contract -- this article implies they do -- Hendry is, again, in a position of strength. If there's no Peavy deal, he has an extra lefthanded body to compete for the fifth spot in the rotation in Olson.
The link above suggests that Vitters is a necessary part of a Peavy trade, but it might be able to get done for Cedeno, Olson, Kevin Hart and another prospect or two, perhaps Jeff Stevens, the "major-league-ready" pitcher obtained from Cleveland. This would give San Diego three players with major league experience, and one (Stevens) who could step in to San Diego's 2009 bullpen. Heck, send 'em Rich Hill, too.
Again, Jake Peavy is a very good pitcher. Would his acquisition guarantee the Cubs a World Series? No, it would not. Last year's Cubs had the best 1-to-5 rotation in the National League. That got them exactly zero wins in the postseason. What it would do is push Rich Harden into the #5 spot where he could skip a start now and then, and Sean Marshall back to the bullpen where he'd be a swingman. Jim Hendry doesn't have to make this deal -- the Cubs ought to be NL Central favorites without it, and this would simply be a bonus. And, since the Padres are the ones saying they "have" to make this deal, Hendry can deal from a position of strength, and if necessary, wait the Padres out till July. Hendry appears to be approaching this offseason methodically, with a plan that might take till the end of spring training to be fulfilled.
So, as always, I counsel patience, and we, as always, await developments.