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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

CC Rider

Watching Baseball Tonight last night, the talking heads there were pondering whether or not beleaguered Indians ace C.C. Sabathia should hit the trading block this year or if the Indians should try and retain his services. Should Cleveland fail to lock up the big lefty, they could receive only a draft pick upon his departure.

Supposing that Cleveland did put the big guy on the market, would the Cubs have any interest in trading for him and if so, what do they have to offer the Indians? Let's take a look.

Any deal for Cleveland would have to include some starting pitching coming back to them. The Cubs have lefty Rich Hill, who's struggled a little this year, but has proven major league stuff. Also falling into this category would be fellow southpaw Sean Marshall. Down on the farm we have Sean Gallagher, who's supposed to be pretty good. Also in this category are hurlers Donnie Veal and Jose Ceda. Ceda in particular has some nasty stuff and would probably be a foregone conclusion in any serious offer the Cubs were to make.

As far as position players go, the Cubs really have a lot of enigmas. Micah Hoffpauir punished the ball in spring training this year before suffering an injury in the minors. If he's healthy and raking he could be a vital part of any deadline deals. Felix Pie would undoubtedly be an attractive chip as well. He's still raw, but his name still has enough buzz to generate some interest. With the emergence of Reed Johnson, the Cubs aren't required to keep Felix around, so he could be dealt. There's also the younger Patterson brother, a fairly competent second baseman with speed. The Cubs also possess a young outfielder named Tyler Colvin, who's supposed to be a stud in the making. We all know how that goes, though. Colvin's best use might be as a trading chip, given that we have Soriano in left for the next six seasons and Fukudome in right for the next three. Not to say Johnson and his emo beard can stay this hot all year or next year, but so far I like what I see from the guy. He hits and plays defense, what a concept.

If C.C. does become available, I think the Cubs have to make a play for him. Sabathia would give us a solid No. 2 starter to team with Zambrano. A dynamic 1-2 punch is essential if the Cubs are going to compete in the playoffs, should we reach this year. While I like Lilly, and the Dempster to the rotation move thus far seems to be working, I wouldn't really classify either of those guys as a number 2 starter. Both are solid threes at the moment, provided Lilly's early struggles are at an end. Hill is a four at best and Marquis can range from a three to a five depending on the day and time of year. Sabathia may have had his struggles earlier this year, but he seems resilient and his last couple starts have been promising. I don't think he's suddenly going to fall prey to Barry Zito disease any time soon. I think his biggest concern would be staying in shape, but I think he and Carlos might make good workout buddies. Getting Sabathia would give us the kind of pitching dominance we enjoyed in the 2003 playoffs, before the wheels fell off.

That said, I would offer the Indians a package for Sabathia built around Rich Hill and Sean Gallagher. Doubtless the Indians would insist on Jose Ceda as well and I would include him only if excluding him would be a deal breaker. I would offer Felix Pie, Eric Patterson, and Micah Hoffpauir, offering Tyler Colvin only as a last resort. I'm not sure I'd want to include both Ceda and Colvin in the same deal, but again maybe the Indians would insist on having both. I think Sabathia might be worth the cost. I know you don't want to decimate your farm system, but if the Cubs are truly in Win Now mode, this deal might be the difference maker.

To close this ridiculously long post, let me just say that if C.C. Sabathia does become available, I feel the Cubs need to do everything in their power to get him. If they locked him into a long term deal similar to El Toro Loco's, we'd be looking at Big Z, C.C., Jeff Samardzija, Ted Lilly, and possibly Ryan Dempster in the rotation for the next couple years. That ain't bad folks.

BallHype: hype it up!

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