After nearly trading starting pitcher Ryan Dempster last week, the Chicago Cubs had plenty of action as the non-waiver trade deadline got closer and closer. On July 30, the Cubs traded away starting catcher Geovany Soto to the Texas Rangers. This trade became evident when Soto left the 14-4 rout of the Pittsburgh Pirates to hugs, handshakes, and high-fives. Soto said his good-byes just a short time after Reed Johnson did the same when he and Paul Maholm found themselves headed to the Atlanta Braves.
Soto to Rangers
I fully agree with the Geovany Soto trade. He seemed to have worn out his welcome in Wrigley Field. He hit only .199 with six home runs and 14 RBI. After winning the National League Rookie of the Year award in 2008 (.285, 23 HR, 86 RBI), he had only one season (2010) in which he came close to that type of production. He never regained that form, and the Cubs and their fans were losing patience. The Rangers will likely use Soto as a backup behind Mike Napoli. They lead the A.L. West by 3.5 games at the start of play on July 31.
The Cubs can now give Steve Clevenger a chance to play every day. Clevenger does not have the same power that Soto has, but he makes more contact. He has looked decent in his first full season as a backup, and if gets four at bats each day, he should improve on his .246 average.
In return, the Cubs get 24-year-old Minor League right-hander Jacob Brigham, who was 5-5 with a 4.28 for the Double-A Frisco Roughriders, but he made the Texas League All-Star team.
Johnson and Maholm to Braves
I do not like to see Reed Johnson and Paul Maholm leave the Cubs, but to make the team better in the future, it needed to happen. The Braves wanted a fourth outfielder, and they are getting the best in the league. Johnson can play all three positions equally well; he runs down balls in the gap that many outfielders would not reach. He is not afraid of running into the wall to make a catch either. Offensively, Johnson hits well, and he is great off the bench. He is hitting .302 at the time of the trade, and he seems to hit best when it counts the most. It is tough to replace a guy like that.
Maholm had a rough start to the season, but he has had a fantastic stretch. He is 9-6 with a 3.74 ERA and has won his last five decisions. He gives the Braves the starter that they need. The Braves are 3.5 games behind the Washington Nationals in the N.L. East and lead in the Wild Card race as play begins on July 31. I had really hoped that the Cubs would keep Maholm as their main lefty for next year, but that now will not happen.
In return, the Cubs get two Minor League pitchers including hard-throwing right-hander Arodys Vizcaino. He is 21 and the Braves' #3 prospect according to MLB.com. The trouble is that he had Tommy John surgery in March and is out for the season. I do not understand giving up Johnson and Maholm for him if he cannot pitch this year. Perhaps he will recover enough to become the type of pitcher that earned him that #3 ranking. I hate to say that we will just have to wait and see, but in this case, we will.
Team President Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer are doing as they promised. The rebuilding has begun. Let us hope that these deals and the others that will follow help bring a winning team to Wrigley Field.
Mark Bowman, Braves Acquire Johnson, Maholm from Cubs, mlb.mlb.com, July 31, 2012.
T.R. Sullivan and Christian Corona, Rangers Acquire Soto, According to Sources, mlb.mlb.con, July 31, 2012.
Yahoo! Sports, 2012 Regular Season Standings, sports.yahoo.com/mlb as of July 31, 2012.
Yahoo! Sports, Individual Player Pages (Linked Above), sports.yahoo.com/mlb as of July 31, 2012.
Raymond grew up in Florida and began watching the Cubs on WGN in 1982. He became a fan in 1984 when Ryne Sandberg hit the two famous game-tying home runs off Cardinals closer and former Cub Bruce Sutter. Raymond then solidified his team loyalty when the Cubs won the division later that season and has been a fan ever since. He played baseball through high school and soon after became a varsity coach. Raymond previously produced radio sports talk shows and hosted a weekly MLB radio call-in show. Follow Raymond on Twitter @RayBureau.
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