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A Busy Night

The votes are trickling in and so far, they're pretty much unanimous in approval of last night's big Cubs-Pirates trade. Here are a few samples of opinion on the deal... The Cub Reporter says: "Depending on who the PTBNL is, this trade could be very good for the Cubs, or only sort of good. At first glance, though, I like it. It fills the two largest holes on the team..."; The Northside Lounge says: "When I analyzed Lofton and Ramirez a couple weeks ago, I said they would both be substantial upgrades and worth getting if we could get them at a reasonable price. Unless the PTBNL is someone substantially better than Bruback, I think this looks like a very reasonable price."

I'd agree completely with both these analyses. Lofton is a Band-Aid; I don't think Hendry would have felt the urgency to finish the deal right now if Goodwin hadn't been injured last night. Goodwin was playing pretty well and maybe Hendry would have done the deal for Ramirez only. Essentially, then, the Cubs have turned Mark Bellhorn, who was picked up for minor leaguer Adam Morrissey (still in the minors), into Ramirez. Lofton's still a useful player, and as I mentioned last night, there is considerable upside potential for Ramirez. Consider this: the Cubs' former third-base prospect, David Kelton, now moved to the outfield, is only six months younger than Ramirez, and Ramirez is already an established major league regular who's had a 30 HR, 100 RBI season. Finally, Dusty Baker is quite familiar with Lofton, having managed him for half of last season as well in San Francisco. I'd imagine both of them will be charged up to play before full houses and in a pennant race.

They'll be in uniform tonight at Wrigley Field; a reminder that the game is on ESPN for those of you outside Chicago, game time has been moved to 6:05 CDT. Hope someone's reminded Lofton and Ramirez of the game time change! If the game is speedy enough, I may be able to post a report tonight, otherwise tomorrow morning.

In today's Chicago Sun-Times, Hendry is quoted as saying: "It's a strong possibility that Mark [Prior] won't pitch this weekend. We're not going to take any chances. This deal does not stop us from pursuing some other people.'' Other sources say that Todd Wellemeyer will be called up today to take Sergio Mitre's one-day spot on the roster, to help out in the bullpen, and then Juan Cruz will replace Wellemeyer and start in Prior's place either Saturday or Sunday at Houston. I imagine the other roster move will be to put the injured Tom Goodwin on the 15-day DL. The club surely needs 11 pitchers right now, what with only one day off (next Monday) till after the Arizona series.

I'm glad to hear that Hendry may not be done. Clearly the club needs bench help, now that Lenny F. Harris is back on it, and another arm wouldn't hurt either.

Last night's 8-4 loss to the Braves and Greg Maddux could have actually been a closer game; Sergio Mitre didn't throw all that badly, I thought, and actually showed a pretty decent breaking ball. Unfortunately, he hung a couple of them and you just can't do that with a team as experienced as Atlanta is. Before Tom Goodwin got hurt on the bases, he misjudged Chipper Jones' flyball that wound up being an RBI double. If not for that, Mitre might have gotten out of the first inning scoreless and who knows what that would have done for his confidence. In front of family members that WGN (once again, TBS was blacked out in Chicago) insisted on showing over and over again (OK, OK, we get it, his parents are there!), he did single in his first major league at-bat. Despite the poor showing, I do think Mitre has major-league talent and at age 22, I think he'll be back.