With the Cubs and GM Jim Hendry staying eerily quiet after the Kevin Gregg acquisition and Ryan Dempster signing, let’s talk about a trade involving 2 other teams that could impact the Cubs.
The cross-town rival Chicago White Sox traded Javier Vazquez and left-handed reliever Boone Logan to the Atlanta Braves for 4 players. All 4 players are prospects (not MLB-ready players just yet). The 4 players are catcher Tyler Flowers, shortstop Brent Lillibridge, third baseman Jon Gilmore and left-handed pitcher Santos Rodriguez. Lillibridge was one of the Braves top prospects until he hit a mere .220 in 90 games for the Braves Triple-A squad in Richmond this past season. Flowers is the next best prospect after hitting .288 with 17 home runs for the Braves Advanced Class A team in Myrtle Beach.
As for the Braves, Vazquez will serve as a solid, consistent veteran in the #2 or #3 spot. The Braves are in the process of reconstructing their starting rotation and will now take aim at free agent A.J. Burnett, to whom they have just offered a contract. Vazquez was always criticized in Chicago for not having what it takes to win the big game. The 2008 season was his worst as a White Sox – going 12-16 with a 4.67. The Braves hope that Vazquez will return to form when he makes the change of scenery back to the National League. Health has never been an issue for Vazquez – winning at least 10 games and pitching at least 198 innings in each of the last 9 MLB seasons. That should bring a welcome sigh of relief to Braves Manager Bobby Cox and Braves fans who have endured numerous injuries to starting pitchers over the last few years.
The Braves acquisition of Vazquez likely means that the Braves pursuit of San Diego Padres ace Jake Peavy is over. Does that mean Peavy will end up a Cub? One never knows. The Cubs would still need to get a 3rd team involved in order to solve the Padres’ pitching demands, and the increase cost of acquiring a Peavy might scare away potential bidders involved in the Cubs sale. On the other hand, with a starting rotation of Zambrano, Peavy, Dempster, Lilly and Harden, the Cubs would have the best starting rotation in baseball and would be the odds-on favorite to win the 2009 NL Pennant. That doesn’t necessarily translate into a drought-breaking World Series Championship, but you’d have to like your chances with that starting staff.
So if the Cubs do end up getting Peavy, thank the Braves and White Sox GM Kenny Williams for lending a helping hand…