Q. Can you wrap up last week's trade-deadline deals in terms of what the Cubs gave up and what they received in return?
A. The simple answer is that the Cubs got a lot but could have gotten more. Of the four players they dealt, only Paul Maholm was a guy you could have realistically projected as being a part of this thing over the next few years.
But after the first Ryan Dempster deal fell through and after Matt Garza's value was hurt by the triceps cramping, Maholm jumped to the front of the line with the best 6-start stretch of his career.
If the Cubs could have pulled off the Dempster deal with Atlanta, they would have had more of a sure thing in Randall Delgado.
As it turned out, they received a pitcher with more potential upside in Arodys Vizcaino, but also a guy who carries more risk in that he has a higher ceiling than Delgado but also could fall short if he can't develop a third pitch to go along with his fastball and breaking ball. (Plus, he is coming off Tommy John surgery, although that is not a big concern at the moment).
Overall, the Cubs received five players for the four they dealt, with four being pitchers and three of the five being 22 or younger.
They were able to deal Dempster to Texas in a last-minute trade, netting Christian Villanueva, a third baseman who might project long term as a second baseman because his power numbers may not be good enough (although, he did homer in his first 2 at-bats in the Cubs' organization last week), and pitcher Kyle Hendricks, who is a strike-throwing machine.
Both are at least a couple of years away, but they help stock the system with prospects the organization was lacking.
The inability to trade Garza made the haul less than ideal, but that situation still is developing. As we've said all along, with Garza under the Cubs' control through next season, there isn't as much urgency to trade him.
Q. What do you say to fans who simply didn't want to see the Cubs trade away some of their better players, regardless of the long-term vision?
A. I have heard from a lot of Cubs fans who still don't care as much about the future as they do the present. It's interesting, there is still a blind spot among some fans who, while realizing this team had been out of the playoff race for a long time, just simply don't like seeing a club that had played really well for a month be dismantled.
These are the emotionless decisions Theo Epstein and his front office were brought here to make. And if you've been paying attention the past 10 months, what happened last week should have come as no surprise.
Converting short-term assets into long-term ones is the No. 1 goal from here on out in 2012.
Q. Ryan Dempster's 10/5 rights became a big point of controversy leading up to the deadline. Is it safe to say Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer aren't enamored of no-trade rights?
A. I think that's probably accurate. They inherited some guys with no-trade clauses and 10/5 rights, which were well-known upfront, but those things created obstacles in their quest to clear the decks of high-priced veterans and bring in young, high-impact players.
Once the Alfonso Soriano situation is resolved, either via a trade or his contract expiring in a couple of years, I don't think you'll see any guys on this roster for a while who are immovable. Flexibility of assets is at a premium for an organization focused on stockpiling a deep cache of big-league talent.
•Len Kasper is the TV play-by-play broadcaster for the Chicago Cubs. Follow him on Twitter @lenandbob and check out his blog entries at www.wgntv.com/lenandbob. Subscriber Total Access members can email him questions each week via our online link.