The grass needs to be mowed more often. I need a jacket less often. MiLB teams are all trumpeting fireworks displays on one of two days. Jason Hammel is seeking future references. The draft is in the rear-view mirror. These can mean but one thing. It's about to be trade season. I'm getting ready for it.
A good sport never roots for injuries. That said, with Hammel likely leaving soon, that two Cardinal starting pitchers recently hit the disabled list (Jaime Garcia and Michael Wacha) won't hurt his trade value. Not that I expect St. Louis to add Hammel, but the more options, the better options usually.
Of course, some Cubs fans don't want to trade with the Cardinals. Or the Brewers. "I don't want them to win." Someone will win the NL Central. Regardless who ends up popping the champagne corks, Cubs fans won't likely be happy. Since the goal in trades should be "getting the best return" and not "king making", any trade should maximize return, not minimize unhappiness.
Some will have another reason for not wanting to trade with the Brewers. "Their system has no talent. We don't want any of their players." While it's valid that the Brewers might lack systemic top-side to snag Jeff Samardzija or the aforementioned Hammel, MLB systems aren't that much different outside of the top 250 or so players. Teams will have some guys that will have decent big league careers, some guys that will if they finish polishing off an asset, some guys that are organizational depth, and some guys that simply haven't been released yet. They're all like that.
I'm rather confident in saying that at least one trade-eligible Brewers minor league player will have at least one 3 WAR season in the majors. Familiarity, knowledge, and scouting are the key to unearthing which one(s) they will be. Knowledge of the Brewers system shouldn't be a problem. The Cubs play the Brewers regularly in each full-season league, as they both occupy the same leagues. Whether it's Wisconsin (Midwest League), Brevard County (Florida State League), or elsewhere, the Cubs should be well aware of the options. And some of them will be decent major-league options.
However, some systems are more of a mystery. For instance, the teams that inhabit the California League (High-A). It's highly possible that the Cubs assessments of the Dodgers, Athletics, Angels, and Giants might be a bit under-served. Not so much the major prospects, but the down-the-ticket types.
Which is why I propose the Cubs hire recently fired GM Josh Byrnes, recently of the Padres. Give him a reasonable salary ($100 K? 250 K?) to write four lists, and help with those four lists until August 1. Or until something better comes along. Each list will be of ten names, one from each of the noted teams. The players included will be guys the Cubs might not have full and proper intel on. Don't (necessarily) violate any rules. Just update the data banks on which guys the Cubs might not be fully aware. Not so much Joc Pederson. But perhaps some guy in A-Ball that the Dodgers might not mind flipping for some relief help, as they need quite a bit of it. Or maybe a third piece from the Giants for Samardzija.
After all, information is power. And San Diego scouts may have more information on Angels prospects than the Cubs do. Or, it may be old news, just re-emphasized. Since the team is limited in amateur bonuses, spend it on former scouting executives instead. As a recent GM, he likely knows more about the California teams' prospects than most experts.
Hit on that 3 WAR season, and it was money very well spent.
Three Up/Three Down
Zeke DeVoss, outfielder, Daytona Cubs. In his 33 games since being demoted from Tennessee to work on hitting only from the right side, Devoss has struggled. His OPS is .590 since the demotion.
Eliot Soto, shortstop, Tennessee Smokies. Since returning from a league imposed suspension, Soto's OPS is .412 in 20 games.
Jesse Hodges, third baseman, Boise Hawks. In 35 at-bats for the Hawks, Hodges has three singles, and an OPS of .265.
Casper Wells, outfielder, Iowa Cubs. In 25 games for Iowa, Wells has an OPS of .479.
Jordan Hankins, third baseman, Daytona Cubs. Recently called up for Jeimer Candelario, Hankins is still hitting the ball. A Midwest League All-Star for Kane County, Hankins has an OPS of .930 with no strikeouts in his three games in the Florida State League.
Wilson Contreras, catcher, Daytona Cubs. While his .688 OPS looks modest, he was hitting in the mid-.100s in mid-June. With the catching in the system getting upgraded, Contreras had to step it up, and he has.
Charles Cutler, catcher/first baseman/outfielder, Tennessee Smokies. While I haven't watched many Smokies games yet, Cutler continues to hit. There are certainly more attributes to being a Triple-A catcher than mashing the ball, but this looks to be a decent Rule 5 pick-up. Selected to give depth at catcher in the upper minors at catcher, Cutler has justified his modest waiver signing fee.
Jen-Ho Tseng, righthanded pitcher, Kane County Cougars. In about the least surprising inclusion of the week, Tseng has a WHIP of 1.09 this season. In late April, he walked four in a five inning one-hit performance. Other than that, he has walked three over 41 innings. I saw two of those in Beloit earlier this month, and they had nothing to do with being wild. In short, in six of his nine starts this season, he has walked nobody. And he fans over a hitter an inning.
Jake Hannemann, outfielder, Kane County. In another "shocker," Hannemann makes "Three Up" (which this week is "Ten Up"). In his last six games, he has eight hits, three walks, and a pair of homers.
Hunter Cervenka, lefthanded pitcher, Tennessee Smokies. We know that with trade come default promotions. Cervenka hasn't had his best two weeks, but he might be looking at not only a promotion, but an inclusion on somebody's 40-man roster this winter. He has a 3:1 K/W ratio for the year, his ERA is under 3.00, and he is a southpaw. Might as well bump him to Iowa, and see if the Marlon Byrd trade survivor might have a future in the Cubs pen.
Justin Marra, catcher, Boise Hawks. Marra continues with the trend of catchers getting it done. His OPS is 1.028 for the young season, and has had success throwing out base runners. He has three homers and four doubles through eight games.
Kyle Hendricks, pitcher, Iowa Cubs. In his last three starts, Hendricks has gone at least seven innings, allowing six total runs. He fanned six each time, walking only two between the starts. He should be ready for a call-up after teammate Tsuyoshi Wada.
Roberto Caro, outfielder, Dominican Summer League. The everyday leadoff man for the DominiCubs, Caro has an OPS of .973, keyed by five triples in 18 games. He also has 17 walks.
Luis Hidalgo, catcher, Venezuelan Summer League. Hidalgo has a .923 OPS, and has three homers, six walks, and only seven strikeouts in 99 at bats. He is one of the team's younger players, to boot.