Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Brian Roberts (Non) Trade Revisited

Prior to the 2008 season, Cub fans were subjected to the daily soap opera known as the Brian Roberts Saga. It seemed so close to happening we could taste it. We excitedly drew up lineups that didn't include Alfonso Soriano at the top and we seemed on the cusp of adding that legitimate leadoff hitter we've been missing since...hmmm...Bobby Dernier, maybe?

The trade, as we all know, never happened. The Cubs went with Mark DeRosa at 2b and Alfonso Soriano as their leadoff guy. It looked for awhile that maybe it was a good idea that we took a pass and kept our coveted prospects. They still won 97 games....but, alas, they couldn't carry the success into the postseason. Looking back, should the Cubs have made the trade anyway?

The names rumored at the time included the following in some combination or other: Felix Pie, Sean Gallagher, Jose Ceda, Matt Murton, Ronny Cedeno, Eric Patterson, and Donnie Veal. Notice the pattern here? None of these players are with the Cubs today. Pie wound up going to Baltimore anyway one year later for Greg Olsen. The Cubs then paired Olsen with Ronny Cedeno to obtain the hypertension-inducing Aaron Heilman, whom they teamed team with the ulcer producing Kevin Gregg in our bullpen. Gregg, by the way, was obtained for Jose Ceda. Sean Gallagher, Matt Murton, and Eric Patterson were part of the deal that brought in Rich Harden. That one worked out well as Harden was arguably our best pitcher down the stretch in 2008. Donnie Veal? The Cubs gave him up for nothing when they didn't put him on the 40 man roster. They lost him to the Pirates in the Rule 5 Draft.

So we don't have Brian Roberts, we don't have any of those prospects, and we don't have any of the players we later acquired for those prospects! It's safe to say that the Cubs would have been better off had they made the deal, not just because Roberts would have helped but it also have would avoided the whole Gregg/Heilman heartburn we had to endure in 2009. You could even have had Harden and Roberts. The Cubs probably would have been able to obtain Roberts for Pie (whom McPhail was said to be holding out for), Jose Ceda, Donnie Veal and Ronny Cedeno -- and still have gotten Harden with what would have been left over.

So would Brian Roberts have made a difference? Maybe not. But we will never get a chance to find out. Maybe this is just an example of hindsight being 20/20, but looking back it seems foolish to have spent wildly to take our big shot at the World Series, then suddenly become stingy when it came to picking up what could have been the final piece of the puzzle.

And one more thing...considering the Cubs used three of their best trading chips to obtain two horrific relievers, do you really want them to make a trade for Jason Frasor or some other reliever this year? Do you really?


  1. That non-trade will be part of Jim Hendry's epitaph. Like you said , all the players the Orioles were asking for are no longer with the Cubs.Hendry is too timid of a soul to pull the trigger, too afraid of being burned. While I knock Kenny Williams for giving too much up in trades sometimes, he is not afraid to take the plunge and get a marquee name. The Cubs would be fools to trade for Jason Frasor, never trade for a another teams closer unless he is a established star.

  2. Agreed. I want no part of Jason Frasor. Especially considering Toronto is reportedly looking for a couple of prospects.

  3. Hopefully Hans, Jim Does not panic either and pull off a trade like this either. Remember though Hendry is at the end of this contract this year and might get desperate.

  4. That's what I'm afraid of! He might be desperate enough to think the Cubs are just a reliever away from contending.

    As for the previous comment on Hendry and not pulling the trigger, I can't say I agree 100%. He did trade guys like Hee Seop Choi, Bobby Hill, Ricky Nolasco, Sean Gallagher and Jose Ceda, all top 10 guys. What he doesnt like to do is trade multiple top 10 guys or trade his top-rated guy (as Pie was then and Castro is now) KW, on the other hand, has no qualms trading his best prospects and for the most part hasn't gotten burned. There's no doubt KW is one of the biggest gamblers in baseball.