On the Farm: What did Cubs get back for Lee?

On the Farm: What did Cubs get back for Lee?

Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2010
8:53 PM

By Kevin Czerwinski
CSNChicago.com

While the Cubs continued to trade away Major Leaguers on Wednesday afternoon, sending popular veteran Derrek Lee to the Braves, they are also continuing to stockpile minor leaguers and load up a system that already boasts several top-notch prospects.

The trio of pitchers Chicago received-right-handers Robinson Lopez and Tyrelle Harris and lefty Jeffrey Lorickarent household names, that much is true. But each, particularly Lopez, have an upside, one that could be felt at the Major League level within the next year or two.

Lopez is the biggest name of the bunch. The hard-throwing native of the Dominican Republic turned 19 this season and has shown flashes of being dominant this season while pitching for Rome in the South Atlantic League-though he seems to have run out of steam in the second half of the season. Coincidentally, he moved into the starting rotation in mid-May and thats when his numbers started to dip.

Overall, hes 3-8 with a 4.37 ERA in 92 23 innings but hes 0-5 with a 7.02 ERA in his last nine starts. Lopez didnt make it out of the fourth inning in five of those starts. He has a nice fastball that can reach the mid-90s though not with regularity and it has a tendency to flatten out. His curveball is a bit slurvy, however; while his changeup is effective when he uses it.

Lopez projects as more of a reliever than a starter at this point but hes still young and experience will prove to be his best teacher. Hell likely head to Peoria of the Midwest League.

Harris seems to get around quite a bit. He pitched at three different colleges before the Braves finally grabbed him in the 19th-round in 2009 out of the University of Tennessee. He pitched in Danville Rookie and Rome A last year and has spent time at Rome, Myrtle Beach High-A and most recently Double-A Mississippi, where he has a 1.46 ERA in 12 13 innings.

Hes already been assigned to Tennessee after Jeremy Papelbon was placed on the disabled list Wednesday afternoon. Harris hasnt allowed a homer in 49 23 innings this season and didnt allow one in 17 23 innings last season. He also combined with Julio Tehran to no-hit Mobile on Aug. 2. Harris pitched 3 13 innings in his Double-A debut that day, earning the save.

While he has some occasional life on his fastball, dont be fooled by the no-hitter or his numbers. Harris, 23, is not destined for big things in the big leagues. Rather, hes a back end of the bullpen type of pitcher who may have little or no impact on the organizations future.

The Braves also grabbed Lorick in last years draft, taking him in the 20th round out of Virginia. He was recently bumped up to Myrtle Beach of the Carolina League so figure on him sliding over to Daytona. He pitched two shutout innings in his lone appearances for Myrtle after pitching to a 2.32 ERA in 26 appearances in the South Atlantic League. He was pretty hard on lefties in the Sally League, holding them to a .128 average in 47 at-bats.

Lorick was recently moved into the rotation at Rome, where he was 0-2 with a 3.24 ERA in four starts. While he may develop as a starter think more lefty specialist.
Kevin Czerwinski can be reached at ktczerwinski@gmail.com.

Breaking down how Cubs look at the Justin Verlander situation

Breaking down how Cubs look at the Justin Verlander situation

Theo Epstein’s embrace-debate management style means the Cubs are constantly running through different scenarios, trying to balance their win-now urges against what should be a very bright future in Wrigleyville.

The financials, the human intelligence and the analytics are all factored into the equation, which leads to this question for Epstein’s cabinet: Is there a point where the Detroit Tigers kick in enough money and the prospect cost becomes so low that Justin Verlander makes sense for the Cubs?

The Cubs haven’t definitively answered that question yet or completely ruled out the idea, a team source said Tuesday, cautioning that the defending World Series champs are still more likely to add a reliever before the July 31 trade deadline than acquire a frontline starting pitcher.

“Always looking to make the team better,” manager Joe Maddon said before a 7-2 win over the White Sox kept the Cubs in a virtual first-place tie with the Milwaukee Brewers. “Always. That’s what a GM and a president does. But I like our guys.”  

Verlander would obviously benefit from a move to the National League and feel energized in a pennant race. The Cubs could rationalize this as an immediate boost and a long-range solution while preparing for a 2018 rotation without Jake Arrieta and John Lackey.

Imagine the buzz from Kate Upton’s fiancée walking into the clubhouse and making his first start at Wrigley Field in a Cubs uniform. Verlander and Upton have been spotted enough times at Chicago Cut Steakhouse that his no-trade power might be the easiest hurdle to clear in a deal of this magnitude.

Verlander’s overall numbers are ordinary this season (5-7, 4.50 ERA, 1.444 WHIP), but trending in the right direction. The Cubs would go into it knowing that they wouldn’t get the same guy who won 24 games and American League MVP and Cy Young awards in 2011.

The Tigers also can’t just give away a franchise icon who finished second in last year’s AL Cy Young voting and has a 3.39 ERA in 16 career playoff starts

The Cubs are trying to see around corners and anticipate what the team will look like in 2018 and 2019 – when Verlander will make $28 million guaranteed each season – and what might be available in trades and on the free-agent market during those transaction cycles. Verlander is also owed the balance of his $28 million salary this season and has a $22 million vesting option for 2020.

Even if the Tigers pay down some of that commitment, that’s still a ton of exposure with a guy who has roughly 2,500 innings on his odometer and will be 35 years old around the time pitchers and catchers report to spring training next season. That’s also when the Cubs will begin the second half of Jon Lester’s $155 million megadeal – for his age-34, -35 and -36 seasons.

After stunning the baseball world with that blockbuster White Sox trade during the All-Star break, Epstein talked about how Jose Quintana’s reasonable contract – $8.85 million next season plus team options for 2019 and 2020 worth $22 million combined – creates room for another star player.

As great as Verlander has been throughout his career, are the Cubs really ready to pour that money back into a player who was born in 1983? And meet Detroit’s asking price in terms of prospects?

And go against the buy-low philosophy that attracted the Cubs to Arrieta, as well as the ageism that makes them reluctant to reinvest in their own Cy Young Award winner? And potentially close off opportunities to sign free agents from the monster class coming after the 2018 season?

Probably not, but the Cubs haven’t shut down the Verlander discussion yet.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Cubs even up Crosstown Series with White Sox

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Cubs even up Crosstown Series with White Sox

Danny Parkins (670 The Score), Jordan Bernfield (ESPN) and Mark Potash (Chicago Sun-Times) join Kap to talk Game 2 of the Crosstown Series.

Later, the group previews Bears camp and what's going on with the Cavaliers.

Check out the SportsTalk Live Podcast below: