The Cubs lost to the Padres 5-1 on Wednesday, but that result -- their third straight loss to San Diego -- isn't what you want to talk about.
The trade of Derrek Lee to the Braves is topic 1 this afternoon. Three minor league pitchers came to the Cubs in this deal (Robinson Lopez, Tyrelle Harris and Jeffrey Lorick), and I know there are minor league experts on this site who know more about these three than I do. One of them (Lopez) is very young; he won't turn 20 until next March.
Derrek Lee has been among the most popular of Cubs through his nearly seven-year tenure on the North Side. His production has ranged from good to excellent, except for his year lost to a wrist injury in 2006, and this season, where he's hit well in streaks but in general has had a down year leading some to speculate that he might be finished. He's going to a team in playoff contention (moving from last place to first), so perhaps that will energize him for one more run at a respectable year as he enters free agency. Had the Cubs been a better team in 2005, when he won the batting title and hit 50 doubles, he might have won the MVP; instead he finished third behind Albert Pujols and Andruw Jones.
I salute D-Lee for his classy demeanor on and off the field. Some here complain that he wasn't demonstrative enough on the field and though he was seen as a team leader, many wanted him to "show it" more, though I'm not quite sure how you do that. He was a productive hitter as a Cub. He finishes his Cub career with a .298/.378/.524 triple-slash line, 1024 hits, and 179 home runs, which ranks 11th on the all-time team list. The .524 SLG is fourth among all Cubs with at least 1500 PA with the team; only Hack Wilson, Sammy Sosa and Aramis Ramirez ranked ahead of him.
Good luck to you, D-Lee, and the team did well here. We don't know if the pitching prospects the Cubs got in this deal are better than they might have received from the Angels in the trade Lee rejected a month ago, but we do know that had Lee finished the season in a Cubs uniform, they would have received nothing at all, because there's no way they would have offered him arbitration.
It will be strange to see him in an Atlanta uniform in only two days. Micah Hoffpauir has again been recalled to fill Lee's spot on the roster, as Hoff did last week in San Francisco. I don't expect Hoffpauir to be in a Cubs uniform after October 3, 2010.
There's not much to be said about the game today. It wouldn't be a Cubs/Padres series without at least one Adrian Gonzalez home run, and he hit one this afternoon; six rookie Cubs pitchers didn't do very much to keep the Padres down. The best outing of the day belonged to Thomas Diamond, who threw two nice innings of middle relief, striking out a pair and giving up only a single; Everth Cabrera, who singled, tried to stretch it into a double when Alfonso Soriano was slow getting to the ball, but Sori threw him out.
What more is there to say? There was more of the 2010-traditional failure to drive in runners in scoring position and failure to keep the game close. The game did not add to the one-run loss total.
Attendance was lower than Tuesday night at 33,267 despite a gloriously sunny afternoon. Only 1,500 bleacher tickets (out of a capacity of 5,100) were sold, and I wound up spending half the game in Tom Ricketts' suite at his invitation (after he spent the first two innings sitting with us in left field, something he appeared to really enjoy).
Most of the conversation was about things going on this season, and there aren't a lot of details I can share at this time; this was a much more casual conversation than the longer-form interview I did with him and Crane Kenney last spring. Ricketts does share our disappointment at the way this season is going and I know he is committed, as he said earlier this year, to building an organization from the ground up. The Cubs saved $1.7 million in the Lee deal (sending that much, half of Lee's remaining salary, to the Braves). It may not be much, but it's something. I also laid groundwork for another longer talk with him after the season is over, something that I'll post here when I do it. (And thanks for the cookies & brownies, Tom.)