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Cubs Fri Jul 20 2012

Hot Streak Helps Lift Cubs Pitchers' Trade Value

Cubs_200.pngIf you would've told me the Cubs would go 14-5 over any stretch this season, I would've found you a nearby stay in a comfy padded room. For a team destined to finish far below .500, a record like that (which is best in the league since June 25th), even over a small sample size, is something to be excited about.

The big thanks goes unquestionably to the starting staff, who have given up three or more runs in just five games during the successful run. And the timing couldn't be more perfect in terms of trade value. The hot performances not only help the current Cubs (if, for nothing else, to please the fans in attendance), but the future teams in the form of prospects.

Ryan Dempster's return from the DL was a continuation of his early season dominance. He's currently rolling with a 33-inning scoreless streak, and decided to celebrate his possible last days at Wrigley Field with a pizza party on the mound with Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis.

Rumors are already floating around that Dempster may not make his scheduled start in St. Louis tomorrow because a trade may be in the works. The Cubs are taking extra precautions by trading for Boston's Justin Germano, and scratching Casey Coleman from his start in Iowa last night so he's ready to go on Friday if needed.

The list of suitors for Dempster (or any starter for that matter, including a couple other names I'll get to a in a minute) is quite long. Teams with a shot at the playoffs that need a starter include Boston, Baltimore, Toronto, Detroit, Cleveland, Atlanta, NY Mets, St. Louis, and the LA Dodgers. And Dempster's price is highly negotiable depending on the amount the Cubs are willing to pay him the rest of the season. Boston is probably the leader in the clubhouse at this point, but I see Baltimore making a surprise bid to snare the Canadian in the end.

In the last six weeks, Matt Garza has given up more than three runs just one time (against the Braves on July 5th). That type of consistency, along with an extra year of control and experience in the AL has high payroll teams like Boston and Detroit talking about moving higher ranking prospects for a longer term solution than a two month rental. I highly doubt he moves anywhere, but if he does, I'd bet on Detroit because of their aggressiveness when it comes to making trades.

Another Cubs starter making a late surge in trade discussions is Paul Maholm. He's given up just three runs total over his last four starts, and comes at a cheap $1.5-ish million for the final couple months, which includes a half-million dollar buyout, or a $6.5 million option if a team is interested in keeping him around. The only teams that would pursue him, however, are NL teams looking for some insurance. Nobody is dumb enough to believe he could mow through an AL lineup consistently, or start an early game in Division Series with a thought of winning. New York and Atlanta are the only logical destinations, with the Braves being the most sensible.

Even though winning games in the present makes for good headlines now, the returns the Cubs get in their potential trades are what will hopefully make this hot streak memorable.

 
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