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Cubs Dump Miles, Give Away Fox

By Garrett Monaghan

Well, Jim Hendry's first questionable trade of the off-season has arrived. The Cubs dumped useless backup Aaron Miles and $1.7 million of his contract off on the Oakland A's, but gave up Jake Fox to make the deal happen.

In return, the Cubs received right-handed reliever Jeff Gray, minor league right-hander Ronny Morla, and left-handed outfielder Matt Spencer. Gray, 28, has posted largely mediocre numbers in the minors; and had a mediocre August and September in Oakland. Morla, 21, has had two straight unimpressive seasons with Short Season Vancouver; although he posted a solid KK/9 ratio both years. Spencer, 23, posted a respectable .289/.345/.488 line with 19 home runs and 91 RBI between High A and AA last year. He was a bit old for the league and his walk to strikeout ratio wasn't very good, but he's probably the only halfway respectable prospect the Cubs got.

The only real beneficiary of this deal, as far as I can tell, is Fox; who stands to get significantly more playing time in the American League. It's not surprising that the Cubs couldn't get didn't get anything worthwhile for Miles, and I'm not surprised that they had to give something up to dump his salary, but coughing up Fox seems unnecessary.

Hendry gave up a major league player in Fox, and didn't get anyone who is close to major league ready in return. Gray could theoretically help out in the bullpen, but there doesn't seem to be any reason to assume he's better than any of the other young arms the Cubs already have. Morla is too erratic to have much promise, but he could theoretically be useful down the line.

Spencer is left-handed and has decent pop in his bat, which makes him intriguing, but he's pretty inept in the field and his strike zone judgment leaves a lot to be desired. He's the best guy the Cubs got, but that's not saying much.

I think the Cubs are going to miss Fox's bat, especially if Aramis Ramirez and/or Alfonso Soriano are injured again. Jeff Baker could theoretically take his place as third base backup, but I like Fox's bat better than Baker's.

Hendry needed to get rid of Aaron Miles for salary reasons, but I'm a little disturbed to see some comments that Miles and Pinella were "on the outs" going back to Spring Training. I wasn't a fan of signing Miles to begin with, but this is the same thing we heard when DeRosa was traded last year; and I have to wonder how many other guys in the dugout Pinella has alienated that haven't been traded yet.

This is another classic Hendry-Pinella tag team screw-up to me. In order to dump a guy we never should have signed in the first place, we cough up one of the organization's few power bats under 30. Let's see what else Big Jim has in his bag of tricks.


  1. If you ask me this deal makes a lot of sense. They get a power arm for the bullpen mix, and a young potential power bat for a corner outfield spot. Fox already 28 was shaky at best in the field and numbers weren't impressive enough to unseat any of the underperformers on the roster last season. Is he a good bat? YES. Young? not really and potential could be peaked at this point. Look how long it took him to get to where he is as a hitter. We have Lee and Ramirez locked up for now at the corners and young talent every Cub fan wants to see get PT in the outfield. Also we have Vitters in the wings at the hot corner and another minor leauge stud, much like Fox, in Hoffpauir, sorry forgot how to spell his name, to play first. If Fox were anything but a decent bat we would still have him and would find a place for him. If he was that tantalizing of a prospect we would play him at second. But he isnt. So we lost a bench bat/potential sufficient DH type player in Fox, and dumped the salary of utility infielder with no bat who was getting paid starters money. GOOD trade to dump contract and get something for a 28 year old unproven defensive liability in fox. hendry has made some questionable signings and trades but this isnt one.

  2. The same arguments you're making about Fox apply to Gray as well. He's 28, a year older than Fox, and still has less than 40 innings pitched at the major league level. He may throw in the mid-90s, but his strikeout ratio is extremely unimpressive and always has been. He's as unproven as Fox, if not more so.

    Yeah, Fox is probably better off in the American League, no argument there. The problem is that now we don't have a power right-handed bat off the bench.

    My main problem with this trade is that it wouldn't have been necessary at all if Hendry hadn't gone out and spent a lot of money on a guy like Miles who we turned out not to need anyway. THAT was a bad signing, and it turned into a trade that doesn't fill any holes or add anything we really needed. Yes, bullpen depth is great, but I think there is plenty in the organization already.

    Overall, that's my problem with Hendry. He makes bad free agent signings, and then has to give up potentially useful players to make up for them. Gray could turn out to be useful, as could Spencer somewhere down the road. The odds don't seem much in their favor, though.