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The Trade

I get up at 3:30 am for work every day and so had already shut down the computer for the night; just as I did, the Cubs announced that they had consummated the long-rumored deal with Pittsburgh, so I thought I'd come back with a few initial remarks, with more to come tomorow.

If you have not yet heard -- and this is early enough so that I cannot even give you a web link to click on! -- the Cubs sent Jose Hernandez, triple-A pitcher Matt Bruback (6-8, 3.96 ERA at Iowa), and a PTBNL to the Pirates for Kenny Lofton and Aramis Ramirez.

Well, I like this. I like it a lot, in fact.

First of all, Jose Hernandez and his strikeouts are off the team.

Second, Lofton isn't what he used to be but he still can play CF, run a bit, hit some, he'll draw a walk from time to time, and he helped the Giants make the playoffs last year under similar circumstances. He has been in the postseason seven times and (I know this sounds like a cliche, but I think it's true) knows how to win.

The key to the deal is, of course, Ramirez, who has great potential at age 25. He's not a great defensive third baseman, but if he can begin in the future to replicate the fine offensive season he had in 2001, I think we can live with that. He's expensive -- signed for $6 million for next year -- but could be worth it. His offensive numbers are comparable to Sammy Sosa's at that age -- a free-swinger who could hit really long home runs when he does make contact.

Matt Bruback is 24, a mid-level prospect who could pan out, but I don't think he was on the Cubs' front burner. They made this deal without giving up Juan Cruz, Bobby Hill, or (so far) any one of their really good pitching prospects, such as Bobby Brownlie, Chadd Blasko, Andrew Sisco, Justin Jones, or Jae-Kuk Ryu.

On tonight's telecast Jim Hendry said he hoped they'd both be in uniform at Wrigley Field tomorrow. I hope so too.

Lofton wore #7 for the Pirates; I'd guess unless Ramon Martinez cedes the number, Lofton will wear #1.

Ramirez wore #16 for the Pirates and as that number is available, I'm sure it'll be issued to him.

More on this plus the report on tonight's sad performance, tomorrow morning.