Is there any coal in the Cubs hot stove?

This is a guest post by SVB.

Both Myles and dmick have noted some constraints in their ability to write recently, so I’m writing in an attempt to give Myles and dmick a break, as well as to prevent another unloadable 200+ comment thread from developing. Don’t worry, I won’t become the Jay Leno (or even the David Brenner) of OV- guest writers. So some random thoughts…

There is a lot of angst in the Cublogville about a lack of activity this winter. One thing that Theo has changed about the culture of the Cubs front office and biz-ops is that there is a much tighter reign on leaks. Having lived through the endless Ryan Dempster sagas, we should be thankful for that, even as we beg and plead like poor little Oliver for just a little more. Bruce Miles has also noted that the front office is much more tight-lipped than before. I think it’s usually a good strategy not to show your hand to the others around the table. My Grandma used to say “Breast your cards,” and boy-o, Theo is good at that. I fully expect that by February some of the Cubs’ rejected offers will trickle out. Theo probably improves their bargaining power by controlling leaks, but it costs Theo some in public opinion because the lack of news makes it seem like the Cubs aren’t trying.

The Cubs have been linked to the Blue Jays in Jeff Samardzija rumors. Remember the Blue Jays made a big splash last year and picked up the better half of the Marlins, then finished the season with about 74 wins. Ick. Seems they need a starter and they need to win.

The Jays are rumored to be willing to trade Colby Rasmus. Rasmus had some decent numbers last year and plays a position the Cubs need—Outfield. (Note how I controlled myself and didn’t say “Major Leaguer” there.) Imagine a trade that brings back Rasmus, one of Toronto’s top pitching prospects (Aaron Sanchez or Marcus Stroman) and maybe some A-ball pitcher or OF. That might look good for the Cubs, but it doesn’t make sense to me. I assume Toronto will hang on to Stroman because he seems ready to be in the bigs this year. Why trade a guy that would contribute by June 1? Sanchez could be ready by September, which doesn’t help Toronto this year, but would fit in the Cubs timeline. Samardzija would fit Toronto’s desire to have some control over a player instead of being a rental. But the kicker is Rasmus doesn’t seem to make sense for the Cubs. Yes, he fills a need, but he’s a free agent after this year. He could be flipped if he produces, but at this point it seems the Cubs should be looking for multi-year contributors in return instead of just pretending to be the Royals. Only Aaron Sanchez seems to fill the multi-year presence description. Is that enough? Toronto is also rumored to be willing to trade Adam Lind. He has no role on the Cubs. However, Toronto’s farm is stacked with pitchers, so maybe there is a deal to be made.

The Dodgers might trade Matt Kemp. They’ll eat salary to get a good player. I don’t really see the trade match for the Cubs there, since the Dodgers have pitching. But maybe if the Cubs take on most of the salary, the Dodgers expectation of quality in return would drop some. Not to Darwin Barney levels though. Still, it’s fun to imagine Kemp in Wrigley, if he’s healthy. The Dodgers could put Shark in a rotation of Kershaw, Ryu, Greinke, and Beckett, with Haren and Billingsley on the mend. Too bad we can’t do a Samardzija for Grudzielanek trade.

Continuing to dream, an OF with Kemp and Choo in it would look pretty productive. I like Choo’s ability to take a walk. He’s still out there, let’s hope the Cubs are in on him as a building block.

Thursday is the Rule 5 draft. The Cubs don’t have a pick. Why? Because of Lendy Castillo: The gift that keeps on giving. Like herpes. The Phillies grieved his mystery illness and won, so they get the Cubs’ pick. No big deal in the scheme of things, but I’m pretty sure that Castillo had more runs in his stat line in the Arizona Fall League than Baez and Almora together. Wonder who the Cubs will lose. The farm has some depth for a change, so I bet we lose at least 2 players. Maybe this was noted at OV before, but I was too busy reading every word for references to BBQ to notice.

In fact, I’m hungry now, so I’ll stop. Feel free to ignore the above and comment about other relevant Cubs stuff below, like why it makes no sense that a two-loss college football team that has one of its losses to Utah is ranked higher than the Buckeyes.