Last night was a very exciting night for anyone who follows the Chicago Cubs, as all hell broke loose both on the field and off.
Showing an offensive explosion no one has seen out of this team in a long time, the Cubs beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 14-4. Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro, and Darwin Barney all hit home runs, and the later two where one hit away from the cycle. While the game was exciting, that was only the beginning of the excitement as Cubs President Theo Epstein and General Manager Jed Hoyer finally pushed the plunger and started blowing up the team.
After reaching first base in his first at bat of the fifth inning, Reed Johnson was pinch hit for his second time up that inning by David DeJesus after the Cubs batted around. Nothing unusual about that right? A team will usually take out their starters in the middle of a blowout. However this time felt a little different. Once he reached the Cubs dugout, he hugged all his teammates and talked to the club house. From what just happened, you knew a trade had just taken place, you just did not know where or for what. We would not find out for a few more hours.
An inning later, Geovany Soto went through the same ordeal as Johnson. He was pinch hit for with Steve Clevenger, and a feeling of Déjà Vu swept over the Cub fans. Once Soto entered the Cubs dugout, he received hugs from all his teammates and proceeded to make his way to the locker room. Finding out his destination did not take long. Soto had been traded to the Texas Rangers for Jacob Brigham, a young pitcher with some promise and a player to be named later (or cash considerations).
After learning about Soto‘s destination, we finally learned that Johnson had been traded to the Atlanta Braves, but we still did not know for who, however we learned that he would not be traveling alone. Fellow teammate Paul Maholm would be joining Johnson in Atlana. A short while after the game, we learned that Maholm and Johnson had been traded for Arodys Vizcaino and Jaye Chapman. Both pitchers have a high ceiling, and Vizcaino was the Braves number two prospect heading into the season, but suffered a setback due to Tommy John surgery. Back on track, he looks to be a potential winning lottery ticket which could lead to a steal.
While not everyone is thrilled with these trades, which just proves that you can not make everyone happy, these moves had to be made to help the Cubs in the long run. The Cubs are restocking the system which has been void of young pitchers for years. The pitchers could go along way to improving the ball club for a long time. However, they are all lottery tickets which could end up being worth nothing. These are chances you need to take if you are serious about a rebuild.
Soto was playing poorly all year, and his replacement Welington Castillo is waiting in the wings down at Iowa. He was likely going to be non-tendered at the end of the year if he was not traded. You may not like the Brigham deal, but look at things like this. If they cut Soto, they would have lost him for nothing. At least this way they got a pitcher for him who could be a lot of help. Soto would not have brought back a compensatory draft pick.
Johnson is a free agent at the end of the year, and while he is a Cub fan favorite, he may not have been brought back at years end. However, since he likes Chicago and the Cub fans he could always sign back here in the off season. He is a good guy to have off the bench, and I would not be against him coming back. But, if he was not re-signed, you would have lost him for nothing, not even getting a draft pick for him.
Maholm had the best month of his career in July, and will likely win the National League pitcher of the Month award. Having a cheap team option for 2013, the Cubs were likely to bring him back to help fill out their pitching rotation. However, packaging him with Johnson brought back two good pitchers, one of which has potential number one talent. Like with Mark DeRosa, you should always trade an average player when they are at their best to maximize the return.
Yesterday was exciting for the future of the Cubs, and I can only wait to see what happens today as the trade deadline is now only hours away. Replacing these three on the roster will likely be Castillo, Casey Coleman and possibly Brett Jackson who was pulled from his Iowa Cubs game last night.
The future is coming, are you ready?