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A look at Cubs trades in the expansion era: 2007

A few deals were made to try to help the Cubs to the postseason.

Jason Kendall in the Cubs dugout in Cincinnati in September 2007
Photo by: Mark Lyons/Getty Images

Much of what Jim Hendry did in the 2006-07 offseason, after Lou Piniella was hired as manager, was to sign free agents, not make trades. You all remember the story of Ted Lilly signed while Hendry was in the hospital.

But there were a few deals made as the Cubs headed toward contention.

February 13: Acquired Andrew Lopez and Greg Reinhard from the Devil Rays for Jae Kuk Ryu

Ryu had been a decent prospect who had appeared in the 2006 Futures Game. But he got into only 10 games for the Cubs (one start) before this deal. The one start, May 28, 2006 vs. the Braves, was a disaster — Ryu didn’t get out of the second inning and allowed four Braves home runs, throwing only 28 pitches.

He pitched in only 18 games for Tampa Bay in 2007 and 2008, with -0.2 bWAR. Neither Lopez nor Reinhard ever played in the majors. Addition by subtraction?

Ryu eventually went back to his native Korea and pitched six seasons in KBO, and was active as recently as 2019.

June 20: Acquired Rob Bowen and Kyler Burke from the Padres for Michael Barrett

Barrett had hit pretty well for the Cubs but his catching defense left something to be desired, and it got bad enough that Barrett and Carlos Zambrano got into a fight in the dugout on June 1:

Emotions had been building the entire game, as Zambrano became frustrated by sloppy play. Shortstop Ryan Theriot missed a popup on the first play of the game that led to a run and right fielder Matt Murton’s error on a dropped fly accounted for another run in the fourth inning.

Then came the fifth when Zambrano walked the leadoff man and Barrett committed his error. After Barrett’s miscues, Zambrano allowed a single to .189-hitting Pete Orr and a double to pitcher Kyle Davies, a .067 hitter.

When the inning finally ended, Zambrano had given up seven runs on 13 hits as his earned-run average rose to 5.62.

Then he approached Barrett in the dugout and pointed to his head while yelling.

Barrett pointed toward the outfield or scoreboard and said something back. Zambrano then took a swipe at Barrett’s head and the two exchanged brief blows before being separated.

Here’s what it looked like:

After that it was just a matter of time before Barrett was traded, and this was the deal. Bowen, a catcher, didn’t last long with the Cubs and Burke never played in the major leagues.

The Cubs had a Michael Barrett bobblehead giveaway scheduled for July 1. They gave away the bobbleheads anyway.

July 16: Acquired Jason Kendall from the Athletics for Rob Bowen and Jerry Blevins

There’s the catcher the Cubs were looking for after Barrett was sent away. In the 21 games between Barrett being dealt and Kendall acquired, the Cubs started the following catchers:

Koyie Hill: 11 games
Rob Bowen: nine games
Geovany Soto: two games

Yes, the same Soto who would be N.L. Rookie of the Year the following season. Soto was called up just for those games, then sent back down until September.

Bowen had actually hit reasonably well in San Diego but somehow that bat vanished when he came to the Cubs. In 10 games he went 2-for-31 (!) with 13 strikeouts. With the A’s he started to hit again, in a small sample size (.279/.415/.442 with two home runs in 21 games), but he was done in the majors after 2008.

The Cubs really just wanted/needed Kendall, a pending free agent, for the rest of the year, since Soto was likely going to be ready by 2008. Kendall played reasonably well for the Cubs, but the key to this deal was Blevins, who had 3.5 bWAR in seven years in Oakland as a lefty specialist and also pitched well for the Nationals, Mets and Braves in a 13-year MLB career. The Cubs could have used that.

August 23: Acquired Craig Monroe from the Tigers for Clay Rapada

Monroe had some pretty good hitting seasons for the Tigers, including batting .255/.301/.482 with 28 home runs in 2006, but he was not a good defender. His hitting had slumped to a .637 OPS in Detroit in 2007, and he played just 23 games for the Cubs with -0.4 bWAR.

Rapada, signed by the Cubs in 2002 as an undrafted free agent, was a one-game Cub earlier in 2007, retiring Raul Ibanez in the eighth inning of this 5-4 win over the Mariners June 14, back when you could bring a guy in to face one batter.

He pitched six more years in the big leagues for the Tigers, Rangers, Orioles, Yankees and Indians and pitched in the postseason in 2010 and 2012.

August 30: Acquired Marcos Mateo from the Reds for Buck Coats

Buck Coats is one of the all-time best baseball names. I’m not sure why they even bothered to make this deal; Coats had played for the Cubs in 2006 (18 games) but had spent the entire 2007 season in the minors. Mateo didn’t pitch for the Cubs until 2010 and his numbers were mediocre.

August 31: Acquired Steve Trachsel from the Orioles for Rocky Cherry and Scott Moore

Trachsel had departed the Cubs as a free agent after 1999 and pitched for the Devil Rays, Blue Jays and Mets, having some decent years in New York. By 2007 he was in Baltimore and not pitching all that well for the O’s (4.48 ERA in 25 starts). The Cubs thought maybe he’d have something left. They were wrong. He made two decent starts for the Cubs and two bad ones and wound up with an 8.31 ERA and -0.5 bWAR, and was left off the playoff roster. The O’s brought him back in 2008 but he was just as bad (8.39 ERA in 10 games) and was released June 13.

Moore had -0.6 bWAR in parts of three seasons (62 games) in Baltimore and had half a season (72 games) of decent play for the Astros in 2012 (.259/.330/.448 with nine home runs).

Rocky Cherry... now that might be an even better baseball name than Buck Coats. Cherry had -0.9 bWAR in 28 games for Baltimore in 2007 and 2008 and this gives me a chance to tell you a story. In a Spring Training game in 2007 — and I am no longer sure which one — Cherry had come in to pitch in the middle innings, and back then pitchers were still in the batting order for some spring contests, and his batting order spot came up in the bottom of the inning.

Lou Piniella sent Felix Pie up to bat for him. Thus I got to write “CHERRY PIE” on my scorecard.

November 12: Acquired Omar Infante from the Tigers for Jacque Jones

Jones hit .285/.335/.453 with 32 home runs in 234 games for the Cubs in 2006 and 2007 and from August 1, 2007 to season’s end batted .346/.377/.489 with 16 doubles in 51 games, one of the reasons the Cubs won the NL Central.

Jones was under contract for $6.33 million in 2008 and Jim Hendry wanted to dump that deal. And this was a good trade! The Cubs got a good player in Infante. The problem was, the Cubs didn’t keep Infante — not even for one game. He was traded away only three weeks later.

December 4: Acquired Jose Ascanio from the Braves for Omar Infante and Will Ohman

This was a terrible trade. Infante played nine more years in the major leagues for the Braves, Marlins, Tigers and Royals and was a solid middle infielder. The Cubs sure could have used that. Those years were worth 13.6 bWAR.

Ascanio, a hard-throwing prospect, posted a 4.71 ERA and 1.857 WHIP in 20 relief appearances for the Cubs in 2008 and 2009. Somehow that was worth a tiny bit of positive bWAR (0.2).

The Cubs should have kept Infante. Further, Ohman gave the Braves 0.4 bWAR in 2008 and pitched for the Dodgers, Orioles, Marlins and White Sox through 2012. The Cubs could have used a lefthander like that.

The only real value acquired in the 2007 deals was from Kendall, and it was known he was leaving as a free agent. And the Cubs gave up significant value in Infante, Ohman and Blevins. This is a D- year for Cubs trades.

Poll

Give the Cubs a grade for their 2007 trades.

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    A
    (3 votes)
  • 2%
    B
    (7 votes)
  • 14%
    C
    (41 votes)
  • 41%
    D
    (116 votes)
  • 40%
    F
    (113 votes)
280 votes total Vote Now