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Decision Day

By Garrett Monaghan

Having taken three of four games from the visiting Brewers, the Cubs are starting to show signs of making a serious move in the NL Central, and are about to get a huge lift with the return of Aramis Ramirez and Reed Johnson from the DL. While that's great news for the Cubs, it's not such great news for a few of their younger players, who are about to find themselves headed back to the minors.

The Cubs further complicated their roster logjam by inexplicably acquiring the weak-hitting Jeff Baker from the Rockies during the week, which has left me wondering for the 300th time this year what Jim Hendry thinks he's doing. Baker is a bit more flexible from a defensive standpoint than Jake Fox, his most obvious competitor, but Fox has done nothing but mash since the Cubs called him up; and I find it very unlikely that he'll be returning to Iowa anytime soon. Andres Blanco is out of options, and he's given the Cubs a great glove up the middle, so I doubt he's going anywhere either. Unlike some have speculated, Micah Hoffpauir isn't going anywhere, either. Pinella likes have a left-handed power hitter off the bench, particularly one who can sub for Bradley every few days.

The most likely guy on the bubble right now is Sam Fuld, which is a damn shame. Fuld's a smart, scrappy player who can run and play plus defense anywhere in the outfield, and could probably turn into a left-handed Reed Johnson given enough playing time. That said, the Cubs have four other guys (Fox, Johnson, Baker, Hoffpauir) who can at least theoretically play the outfield without injuring themselves in the process, so Fuld seems unlikely to stick around. We'll see him again in September, if the Cubs don't put him in a package later in the month.

After Fuld, things get really interesting. The Cubs have talked a bit about going with eleven pitchers for a while, and in the short term, I could see that working. If that's the route they're planning on, Kevin Hart or Jeff Samardzija are the logical guys to send down. I haven't been real impressed with Samardzija (who desperately needs a shorter nickname) and I like the fact that Kevin Hart is a big time ground ball pitcher, but either one could really go. If they don't want to go with eleven pitchers, the Cubs will most likely pull a deal, which their recent roster moves would seem to indicate is likely, anyway. Ascanio was doing well when the Cubs sent him down, and I get the distinct impression that Hart and Samardzija are up for the specific purpose of being auditioned for other teams.

The most obvious position for the Cubs to try and upgrade at is second base, given Mike Fontenot's struggles at the plate. Jim Hendry has always had a mild obsession with Brian Roberts, and I could see the Cubs offering up a package of younger players for him. That said, Roberts isn't having a terribly good year, and I'd hate to see the Cubs give up too much for him. If I were Hendry, I'd be looking at other options. In particular, I'd give Toronto a call and see what it might take to get Aaron Hill. Hill's having a career year, and he's clearly the best position player the Blue Jays have, so the price would be really steep. That said, Toronto isn't going anywhere in baseball's best division, and if the Cubs offered up an attractive enough package (Samardzija, Hart, Fox, and maybe Josh Vitters) he might be available.

Whatever Hendry decides to do, it's going to involve at least one more trade before the deadline, either to bolster the bullpen or provide another option at second base. Let's just hope he doesn't deal the whole farm system for Luis Castillo.

1 comment:

  1. I think Fox is destined to be a DH. For some reason Hendry holds onto that Vitters kid who granted, can flat out hit, but c'mon, there's no guarantee that he'll be any good, or even on the next good Cubs team.

    The Cubs have been all about ditching the future for winning now, they need to make a move.

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