As the 2012 Major League Baseball season heads into the July trading frenzy, we fans of the Chicago Cubs know that team president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer will trade more veterans and possibly some younger players. We will very likely see Ryan Dempster traded, and the Cubs may try to shop Alfonso Soriano and Geovany Soto as well all in attempt to replenish the farm system and build a winning team within a few years. Here are five current Cubs that I would definitely keep, and I hope that management will not trade them. All 2012 stats are as of the start of play on July 1.
Matt Garza is in his prime right now. I agree that he would bring in some better prospects, but the team needs a solid starter around whom to build, and Garza is the best pitcher the Cubs have considering the high likelihood of a Dempster trade. He is not having his best season ever this year (4-6, 4.01 ERA), but he can definitely pitch. I would not trade him, but the Cubs might. If they do, I hope they get the best prospects available.
Steve Clevenger has earned a starting spot behind the plate in my opinion. He has hit .271 so far in his rookie season, and for a stretch, he was unstoppable. He may not have as much power as Soto, but he hits more consistently and does not strike out as often. He needs to improve at throwing out base stealers, but I think he will over time.
So what if he is a 29-year-old rookie? He is one of three legitimate power threats that the Cubs have - one of two if the Cubs do trade Soriano. LaHair can hit many home runs in a short amount of time. He hits right-handers exceptionally well (.329), and if he gets enough chances, he should learn to handle the lefties, too (only 3 for 38). Keep LaHiar for now while developing more power hitters in the Minors.
Give this kid a year or two to learn how to hit Major-League pitching, and he will flourish. It has already started to happen. He is 4 for 15 but with three extra base hits. I see him finishing 2012 strong. He already looks comfortable at first base. With the Cubs in last place, he has no pressure other than to give his best every day, and so far, he has. At age 22, he is beginning a hopefully long tenure with the Cubs.
Yes, I understand the defensive and the mental lapses. However, Castro is only 22 and has worlds of talent. He will overcome those lapses as he matures in the game. Castro has already led the National League in hits in 2011 and has an outside chance to do so again. He leads the team in hits and is sixth in the league with 94. Power will come. I see Castro hitting 20-25 home runs within a few years, but he needs more patience at the plate to accomplish that.
I would also like to see the Cubs hold onto Tony Campana (league co-leader in steals - 25 -- as a part-time player) and James Russell, their best reliever. However, I would definitely keep Garza, Clevenger, LaHair, Rizzo, and Castro. They could become cornerstones in the rebuilding process.
Chicago Cubs, Individual Player Pages (linked above), cubs.mlb.com as of July 1, 2012.
Major League Baseball, Sortable Player Statistics, mlb.mlb.com as of July 1, 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. Follow Raymond on Twitter @RayBureau.
More from this contributor:
- Sports & Recreation
- Chicago Cubs
- Major League Baseball