By Paul Sullivan, Tribune reporter
Chicago Tribune reporter
12:40 PM PDT, August 6, 2012
With pitching so hard to acquire why do the Cubs insist on trading established pitchers like Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza for unproven players? Is pitching the name of the game? My idea is build around a good pitching staff. -- John Romano, Springfield, Ill.
Dempster was going to leave as a free agent so they had to salvage something for him. Garza is still here, and his latest elbow problem could hinder any trade talks. If they don't think they can re-sign him, they need to get something in return, though they could start the 2013 season with him and deal him at the deadline. Depends on if they want to save some money, which appears likely.
Do you think Dempster was putting his own interests ahead of the Cubs? -- Gary M., Wilmette
Of course he was, but I don't blame him for wanting to go to a place that he wanted to go to and not leave it up to the Cubs. The problem was ever naming Atlanta as a secondary choice and letting the Cubs make an actual offer if he only wanted to wind up there as a last resort.
What I don't understand is the Cubs had a relatively decent starting pitching staff. Most are in their prime. Why trade these guys? What do they have to replace them with? -- Dan, Las Vegas
Dempster is not in his prime, though he was pitching like it at the time. Paul Maholm? I would've hung onto him since his option was relatively inexpensive at $6.5 million. But that's part of the rebuild, and they've said for months they needed to restock the system.
I realize Alfonso Soriano has played better this year than earlier but it is obvious that he does not figure in the Cubs' plans for the future. I think they would trade him for a bag of used balls if given the chance. My question is why do they insist on starting him every day when they could give some of the rookies a chance to play? -- Phil Rich, Central City, Iowa
He's still their best power hitter and he makes $18 million a year. Until they trade him, it makes no sense to leave him on the bench.
As the Cubs head toward being an all-rookie team, who's going to provide the clubhouse leadership that most good teams have? -- Jaime G., Universal City, Texas
My guess is Jeff Samardzija and Brett Jackson, though Anthony Rizzo could be the man if he wants it. Samardzija is probably the most respected pitcher, and Jackson seems like a young version of Mark Grace.
I heard a rumor that a few years back, the Cubs had a lineup that included Aramis Ramirez, Sammy Sosa, Moises Alou, Nomar Garciaparra and Derrek Lee -- all either in their prime or perhaps a year or two removed -- and yet didn't make the playoffs. That isn't true, is it? -- Mike, Virginia Beach
You must be thinking of the 2004 Cubs. That season was officially been deleted from Cubs' history, for obvious reasons. Hopefully some historians will go back one day and find out what really happened in blowing a wild-card spot in the final week of the season.
The leak regarding Ryan Dempster has clearly hurt the Cubs' talent acquisition, so for once fans actually care about this sort of thing. Can you explain, as a media insider, how this sort of thing happens? Why do people risk their careers to feed information to the media? -- Michael B., Chicago
Don't believe anyone from the Braves "risked" their career to leak the trade to the Braves' website. I think they were trying to help someone they trusted to have the correct information and to have it first. As it turned out, it was the correct information, except the part about Dempster approving the deal, which he didn't, causing the uproar that followed. Teams leak information to the media for various reasons, but mostly to curry favor with reporters in exchange for positive coverage. Some teams do it more than others. It's nothing new.
I am not a highly paid baseball executive, like Theo Epstein, so maybe I am wrong when I think that the trade deadline moves made by the Cubs could be best described as a debacle. So help me understand, did the Cubs trade two starting pitchers, a starting catcher and their best bench player for a prospect that just had Tommy John surgery and some Class A scrubs. Is that the truth? -- Jack, Gibsonville, N.C.
Whether you liked the moves or not, it wasn't a debacle. Vizcaino is a valued pitching prospect, despite the Tommy John surgery, and the Class A players they received from Texas can't be described as "scrubs" yet since they were playing well in Myrtle Beach. People may have expected the Cubs to rob other teams blind because of Theo's reputation. But they were looking for young players and to shed payroll. If they had acquired Randall Delgado, as they originally hoped to do, most fans would be very happy. Can't blame them for that one, though the communication with Dempster was lacking.
I am disappointed in how the Dempster trade was handled. I am a longtime Cubs fan, and a longtime Detroit Lions fan, so I have seen quite a few fire sales over the years. I don't think this regime handled it well -- there was no guile. They made it obvious they were selling; all the other teams saw them coming. It does not compare favorably to Martin Mayhew's fleecing of Dallas in the Roy Williams deal. -- Collin L., Portage, Wis.
It would've looked foolish to pretend they were not selling, considering their record and their previous statements about building a foundation of sustained success. Like I said, the Dempster/Atlanta trade was a communications problem between the Cubs and Dempster, who didn't seem to believe the Dodgers weren't going to give anything up for him.
Why was Dempster so cheap to get? He was second in the league with a 2.25 ERA, and he goes for two Class-A players? I know he's a free agent, but seems like either the Rangers got a real bargain or the rest of the GMs didn't think much of his value. Which one is the truth, Paul? -- Nick, Plano, Texas
The Cubs had little leverage after the Atlanta deal fell through, and Dempster's insistence on going to the Dodgers until the last day also hurt. They had to get something, and that was the best deal they could get. They had limited options and even Epstein admitted they couldn't "maximize" the return because of his insistence on trying to get a deal done with L.A.
After winning series against two quality teams, the Pirates and Cards, I am dumbfounded to learn that the Cubs gave away their two best pitchers, Dempster and Maholm. I am not sure of the new regime's wisdom. Trading away 2 starters for lower level prospects? Both the Braves and Texas fleeced the Cubs management. Epstein and Hoyer were not wise. Explain this to me. -- Ed K., Allen, Texas
Ed, see previous answers.
At least we're not the Astros? -- Scott, Midland, Texas
Nope. Not yet.
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