Chicago Cubs trades are stabalizers, not blockbusters
All summer long it was clear the Cubs needed to trade for starting pitching. Up against the deadline and seemingly having explored the potential of adding controllable arms at the expense of some of their prized young hitters, the Cubs added Dan Haren to the rotation and Tommy Hunter to the bullpen. No, those names don't set the world on fire.
The idea here is that Haren and Hunter become stabilizing forces for a roster that's being counted on to find itself.
Joe Maddon has used five different starters in an effort to round out the rotation. At worst, Haren is a guy who can eat innings and shoulder some of the workload the bullpen has had to withstand after subpar starts from guys like Dallas Beeler and Clayton Richard.
Haren is on leader boards in two stats. At the deadline, his 21 starts leave him tied with a host of others, with the second most starts in baseball. The guys takes the baseball and lasts a while; Haren's gone at least six innings in 17 of those 21 starts. Unfortunately, Haren has surrendered 21 home runs this season. Only seven pitchers have allowed more.
The hope is that Haren's luck holds out. His fastball velocity has dipped to the mid-80s and he's giving up fly balls at an alarming rate -- not great for warm, windy Wrigley. If the best effect he has on the club is eating innings to give just a little more rest to a bullpen every fifth day, it's better than what Maddon had to work with before. Sure, the haul could have been bigger.
VP Theo Epstein said he was looking primarily at two players, neither of whom moved, and are both controllable beyond the 2015 season. Pretty easy to piece together widespread reports of Padres' starter Tyson Ross and Indians starter Carlos Carrasco as the two players.
While many wanted those names, or perhaps even bigger, it would have taken big pieces to get them. (Of note, most of the prospects moved in the last few days were pitchers -- not something the Cubs have much of).
There's a move that wasn't made, however, that needs some attention. Starlin Castro remains a Cub. With each assurance made to Castro about his place on the team, another report surfaced about his imminent inclusion in any big deal.
Whether the Cubs overplayed their hand including Castro in trade talks almost irrelevant. The fact is, selling a short stop in a career-worst season at age 25 is near impossible. There was no reason to rush him off the team, either. His value can only go up from rock-bottom. If Epstein and Jed Hoyer are bent on moving him, better to wait until the offseason.
Even a game from a wild card spot and playoff contention tantalizingly close, the most important thing is letting the roster -- the kids -- find themselves at the major league level.
Connor McKnight can be heard regularly on WGN 720-AM. He hosts The Beat, on Saturdays from 3-7 p.m.