I'm sure that some of you probably believe I'm a paid schill for the Epstein Administration. Allow me to quash that right now. I'm not paid. The reason I enjoy having Theo around is that he believes in bringing in the kinds of baseball players I enjoy watching. If he had made three clunker deals, I think I could say that. These were not clunkers.
Josh has had his assessments, and I largely agree with them. That said, I have a few things to say. They are below.We'll start with the big trade. Paul Maholm (and his non-expiring contract) and Reed Johnson were sent to Atlanta for Arodys Vizcaino and Jaye Chapman.
Reed Johnson is a prototype of your contemporary fifth outfielder. He's solid in the clubhouse, plays all 3 spots well, and pounds lefties. I'd be good with the Cubs overpaying a bit to bring him back. Theo knows Reed has some deadline trade bait respect, and Johnson would serve as a good mentor (and platoon, as needed) for Brett Jackson, when needed. He'd probably be a good managerial candidate, should he want to go that direction. He did his job, helping to bring in more than I thought possible.
I'm moderately surprised Maholm was dealt, but Maholm provides a delicate problem for anyone opposing Theo's strategies. He was picked up on the cheap, and was dealt on a historic streak by a Cubs lefty. Either Theo did his homework, sold at a relative peak, or both. While losing Maholm stings, that he was brought in at all indicates that Team Theo might be able to locate a suitable replacement in coming off-seasons.
Chapman is 6-0 and just under 200 pounds, and has been in the Braves system since 2006. He has given up less hits than innings pitched this season, but has walked 29 in under 54 innings. Plug him in at Iowa, and see what he has. I'm not sure, but he may be able to be a free agent if not added to the 40 Man this off-season. Either way, I'm good with him. At least, as a throw-in.
Vizcaino is a nice gamble. He is recovering from Tommy John Surgery, and that has an 85-90 percent recovery rate now. (Takes a drink to Dr. James Andrews.) He was very highly rated coming into the season before his surgery. He will be back at some point next season. He will be inconsistent at first. In about a year, he will start representing what he should be in the future. I see him as a reliever, though I defer to Theo's scouts on it. Epstein has said he wants to add waves and waves of talent. Vizcaino is what Theo is talking about.
Geovany Soto was hitting under .200. It is doubtful Soto would be back in 2011. What did Theo get for him? Jacob Brigham will be added to the 40 Man Roster. A 6-3 RHSP, he has a 4 pitch repertoire. His slider is probably his out pitch. His fastball sits in the low 90's but can touch 94 or 95. He added his slider after TJS. In a stocked Ranger system, he would be a reliever candidate. With the Cubs, he will be in the Top Ten of starting pitcher candidates. Probably closer to 5 than 10.
Not a bad return for a guy we would let go of in November. That, and we get cash or a PTBNL. I love the return on investment on this one.
As for Ryan Dempster's long-anticipated trade, it is nice that we have a GM that trades well with Texas' Jon Daniels without getting fleeced. Texas is stocked in their system. If we can break even with Texas, I'm happy, as the talent there is worth the get. I haven't located any proper video on pitcher Kyle Hendricks or 3B Christian Villanueva.
Villanueva is the get here, as he ranked at 100 in Baseball America's Pre-season list. His numbers aren't going to blow you away (OPS .777), but appears to be the best hitter on a team that won it's first half. It looks like he has two more Decembers that he won't need to be Rule 5'd. I'd look for him to hit fifth or sixth for Daytona, and play third base. He ought to be in Tennessee in 2013.
Kyle Hendricks is in his first full season in the pros, so the Cubs can keep him without Rule 5ing him for two more seasons. He walks two or three guys a month as a starter. From Dartmouth, he was an 8th Round Pick in 2011. I look forward to hearing him pitch for Daytona or Tennessee. His season WHIP is under 1.1.
Not a bad haul for a guy many Cubs fans were set to boo. Well, done, Theo. Well done.
Has Soriano cleared waivers yet? And who is Atlanta Designating For Assignment?