With the July 31st trade deadline fast approaching and our two baseball teams in town still to really make a statement whether or not they're serious about contending in their own divisions.....time to play a little buy or sell.
(and yes....I did steal that from ATH)
The 2009 Chicago Cubs came into today's game vs. Cleveland with a 31-31 record (4 games back of Milwaukee) when last year through the first 61....39-23 and 3 1/2 up on Milwaukee. It hasn't been a good year for the offense of the Chicago Cubs and with the key injury to Aramis Ramirez and the struggles of almost every position player on the field, it hasn't made for a high offensive output from the team who scored more runs than anyone in MLB last season. The Cubs are in the bottom five of the NL in batting average, runs scored, on-base percentage, and hits. I don't believe that you can totally blame the absence of Ramirez on their problems. Aramis' bat is much needed on the Cubs for sure but even when #16 returns to the lineup, it's not going to be a quick fix. The Cubs struggles cost Gerald Perry his job which I believe is just an outright disgrace when the guy with the same job on the south side of town hasn't produced exactly stellar numbers either but yet still is employed.
I think that the Cubs have no choice to be buyersbecause of the pressure on the organization to WIN NOW AT ALL COSTS. It's been over a century since a world championship and the fans will NOT settle for a team that with the third highest payroll in baseball to start selling off pieces of a team that last year won 97 games. Plus when you look at the roster....what can you sell. The Cubs locked up Soriano/Lee/Ramirez/Zambrano/Dempster/Lilly/Fukudome all with some sort of a no trade clause whether it be FULL or 10/5. Obviously with the disturbing lack of offense this season you would think the Cubs need to bolster the lineup, but who can the Cubs really trade?
Anyone in the bullpen?
The Cubs aren't going to bench Milton Bradley or Geovanny Soto anytime soon and you have to play Fukudome...so you have to figure the only place they can improve the roster is up the middle in the infield. One rumor floating around is moving Alfonso Soriano to second base and going after another outfielder. To me moving Soriano to second is a sign of utter desperation and frankly is just outright dumb. Outfielders currently on the market include the likes of Matt Holiday (OAK) Jermaine Dye (CWS) Aubrey Huff (BAL) and Magglio Ordonez (DET).
The key to any team that is a serious contender for the World Series is a good bullpen and the Cubs need to bolster that as well. I just don't feel comfortablewith Heilman/Guzman/Marmol/Patton/Ascanio and throw in Sean Marshall as well. Kevin Gregg is not a lights out closer although he has pitched well of late and that may hurt the Cubs down the stretch.
Plus when you talk buy or sell you need to have available funds to do so if you're a buyer. Right now with the ownership of the organization up in the air with the Ricketts family and recently other investors getting back into the fold....could White Sox fan Sam Zell be the one holding the Cubs back from making a move for a pennant push?
The Cubs are and should be BUYERS, but who and can they spend money they may not have?
The White Sox are a completely different story. Currently 31-35 and 4 games back of Detroit when last year through the first 66 games....37-29 and 5 games up on Minnesota. I think we can all agree that the White Sox are in the worst division in MLB and quite possibly we won't know till the last week of the season who will rise from this garbage division. Kenny Williams made no attempt to improve this team this roster wise....he did however improve the organization by saving money trading Nick Swisher and Javier Vazquez. The White Soxcut around 25 million dollars in payroll and moved from fifth in payroll in 2008 to twelfth. The White Sox have stayed in the division by playing a combo of the "kids" with the "vets" which is something that almost never works in baseball. I don't expect it to work this year for Kenny Williams and the White Sox. With injuries (possibly season long) to Carlos Quentin (5th in AL MVP voting 2008) and their top pickup in the off season Bartolo Colon....it's not looking good.
I expect the White Sox to be sellersthis season because the White Sox need to look into the mirror and say this isn't 2005 all over again. Bringing in Scott Podsednik (who has played good after being dropped by the Rockies) and Freddy Garcia while bringing up your #1 pick Gordon Beckham and playing Chris Getz everyday doesn't equal a winner. The AL Central may be garbage but it's almost not worth winning because of the likes in the other divisions who are so much more put together than the White Sox. Talking about the Red Sox, Yankees and Angels.
The Soxwill be saving even more on payroll after the 2009 season with Jermaine Dye (1 million dollar buyout 2010)/Jose Contreras/Octavio Dotel/Jim Thome coming off the payroll. I think you can use Dye as a trade bait since he's having a decent year and start to build up your minors or bullpen. I understand the White Sox can't tell their fans that they need to rebuild because Sox fans do have a tendency to not show for ballgames. Sox fans I think know that it's time to start building something for next season and the years to follow but with the amount the White Sox are saving....could they be saving for some big free agent moves in the upcoming off season?
The White Sox have had an average payroll of 103.5 million dollars over the past 3 seasons and to think that the White Sox will go into the off seasonwith a payroll of under 70 million dollars and not buy just seems not right. Remember this is the same aggressive Kenny Williams that wanted to add Jake Peavy to the rotation and there were rumors of Roy Oswalt as well.
Overall both teams in town may not be playing their best this season but outlooks on both sides of town are completely opposite. I've always believed that what you do in the offseason shows what you'll be around the trade deadline. Normally when you're an aggressive team and buy in the off season....you're a buyer in July and vice-versa. So.....Cubs and Sox fans....are you buying or selling come July 31?
To all my friends and former colleuges at Webio.....much love and respect. I'm praying for you guys.
Don't miss the Joe O and Rock Show on Saturday night following the White Sox game.