Baseball Toaster Cub Town
Sosa's Going To Birdland
2005-01-29 06:33
by Derek Smart

This was a solid looking rumor when I went to bed, and while the deal appears to have some hurdles remaining (passing physicals, approval from the league, etc), the story of Sammy Sosa being traded to the Baltimore Orioles is all over the place this morning. Here's a rundown of what we *ahem* know.

  • Sosa appears to be the only Cub player involved, although the Daily Southtown reports that Kyle Farnsworth might be included.
  • The Cubs would receive Jerry Hairston Jr. and at least two minor leaguers. The names bandied about in most reports are AAA second baseman, Mike Fontenot, and AA right-hander, David Crouthers.
  • Jorge Julio may or may not be a part of the deal.
  • The Cubs would be paying approximately $10M of the $17M Sosa is owed next year.
  • It's unclear whether Sosa would simply be allowed to waive his option year or if he will need to negotiate an extension with Baltimore.
  • In turn, it's unclear if Sosa's buyout would need to be paid and who would be responsible, or who would pay the $3.5M severance which kicks in as a lump payment upon his being traded. I have no idea if these things could be negotiated away by adding appropriate value to a contract extension or if they are iron-clad.

Here are my impressions. I doubt Farnsworth is in the deal, and the only way I can see him being a part of it is if Julio is, indeed, involved. If given my choice, I'd rather have Farnsworth. Both of these gents are head-cases, both walk a ton of men, both gave up double-digits in homers last year despite pitching under 70 innings. If Julio has an advantage, it's that he's three years younger, but dealing these two men for each other seems like nothing more than a challenge trade of very similar guys.

It seems obvious to me in looking at the minor leaguers involved that another trade is in the works that will ship them out of the Cubs' system before they even get a uniform number. The Cubs don't need pitchers, so Crouthers has no purpose for them, and Fontenot looks like the left-handed version of Richard Lewis. They will be going elsewhere, and soon, it's just a question of where and for whom.

In order for this deal to make sense, there has to be another part to it. The wishcaster in me says that those prospects plus another one or two from the Cubs' current crop of youngsters to the Devil Rays for Aubrey Huff would be fine thing to do, but we've been over and over that particular predeliction before, and I have no idea if it's realistic.

As for Hairston, I have to admit I like the idea of him in the leadoff spot. Whether he could keep his OBP in the .370-.390 range for a full season is an open question though, as is his ability to refrain from breaking any bones from now until November. His lack of power in a corner outfield spot is also troubling, but is offset somewhat by the pop brought by the likes of Patterson, Garciaparra, and Walker from traditionally less powerful defensive positions. In any case, here's a lineup I could be very happy with if this deal results in it:

LF Jerry Hairston Jr. (R)
2B Todd Walker (L)
3B Aramis Ramirez (R)
RF Aubrey Huff (L)
1B Derrek Lee (R)
SS Nomar Garciaparra (R)
CF Corey Patterson (L)
C Michael Barrett (R)

I like the balance, I like the OBP in the first six spots, and there's some very nice power 2-7. However, if that RF spot becomes Preston Wilson or *gack* Jeromy Burnitz, I'm suddenly less enthusiastic. We haven't seen the endgame with this transaction, and that's what will decide whether Jim Hendry pulled off something unspeakable or something wonderful.

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