Originally posted on The Sports Bank  |  Last updated 7/21/13
As the Chicago Cubs embark on their second consecutive midseason selloff, now is the appropriate time to assess some of the trades made by Cubs’ Vice President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein and General Manager Jed Hoyer since they joined the Cubs’ organization in the Fall of 2011. Our retrospective will focus on all of the trades made by the Cubs new management team from the time they assumed control of the baseball operations until the beginning of the 2013 campaign.  We will evaluate trades made during this season in a subsequent article.  While the evaluation of all of the trades covered in this post, except one, remain incomplete, the majority of the them look very promising for the Cubs’ future and reflect well on Epstein and Hoyer entering this trade season.  Instead of focusing on the post-trade production of the players dealt by the Cubs, we will focus entirely on the performance of the players they acquired. 1) The first trade Epstein and Hoyer made after assuming control of the Cubs was clearly their worst.  On December 8, 2011, they dealt outfielder Tyler Colvin and infielder DJ LeMahieu to the Colorado Rockies for minor league relief pitcher RH Casey Weathers and 3B Ian Stewart.  Stewart scuffled through an injury-plagued season in 2012, averaging .201 with five home runs and seventeen RBI for the Cubs before landing on the disabled list after just 55 games with a season-ending wrist injury.  The Cubs compounded this poor trade by re-signing Stewart to a one-year, $2 million deal prior to this season.  After suffering an injury in Spring Training, Stewart was sent to AAA Iowa for a rehabilitation stint before being designated for assignment.  When he cleared waivers, he returned to Iowa.  After producing a meager .168 average with 5 home runs and 20 RBI in 40 games covering 133 plate appearances and writing divisive messages on his Twitter account about Cubs management, the team suspended him without pay for ten games before releasing him. Weathers, while much less expensive, was no more effective.  In his one season in the Cubs organization, pitching for AA Tennessee, he made 31 relief appearances covering 34 innings, allowed a whopping 54 walks and struck out 29.  This lead to an astronomical WHIP of 2.294.  He was not re-signed by the Cubs following last season and is not pitching in affiliated baseball this year.   2)  On December 23, 2011, new Cubs management made perhaps it best trade to date.  It dealt LH relief pitcher Sean Marshall to the Cincinnati Reds for LH starter Travis Wood, minor league infielder Ronald Torreyes and minor league outfielder Dave Sappelt.  After an uneven first season with the Cubs in 2012, the 26-year-old Wood has likely established himself as a core member of the Cubs’ rebuilding plans.  This season, in addition to representing the Cubs in the All-Star game, Wood has a 6-6 record in 19 starts.  In 122 2/3 innings, he has yielded just 89 hits.  His WHIP of 1.035 is eight best in the National League and his ERA of 2.79 is tied for eighth.  Perhaps most significantly, Wood is under club control for three more seasons before he is eligible to become a free agent.     Meanwhile Dave Sappelt has spent the majority of the past two seasons with AAA Iowa but is currently with the Cubs, and in stints over the last two seasons with the big club, the versatile outfielder has batted .261 with 2 home runs and 12 RBI in 55 games and 154 plate appearances.   After Torreyes spent last season in the Cubs’ minor league system, they traded him on July 2 to the Houston Astros for additional International pool money.  The additional resources helped the Cubs agree to terms with a pair of sixteen-year old prospects:  the consensus top-rated International prospect, Dominican outfielder Eloy Jimenez, and the second- or third-rated International prospect, Venezuelan shortstop Gleyber Torres.         3)  On April 11, 2012, the Cubs traded outfielder Marlon Byrd to the Boston Red Sox for relief pitchers RH Michael Bowden and LH Hunter Cervenka.  Bowden has had a tumultuous two seasons with the Cubs. He split last season with the Cubs and AAA Iowa.  With the Cubs, he was relatively effective, pitching in 30 games, all in relief, over 36 2/3 innings and producing an ERA of 2.95 and WHIP of 1.255.  He struck out 29 and walked 16.  He broke with the Cubs in Spring Training this season but was designated for assignment on May 21 despite having an ERA of 3.78.  After clearing waivers, Bowden, 26, elected to return to Iowa, where he put together a dominant 13-game stretch.  In 18 2/3 innings, he yielded only 14 hits and 3 walks and posted an ERA of 2.41 and WHIP of 0.911.  He fanned 18.  He was selected from Iowa by the Cubs on July 12, and thus far has appeared in three games covering 2 2/3 innings without allowing a run. Cervenka had a disappointing 2012 for Advanced A Daytona, the Cubs’ Florida State League Affiliate.  Though he posted an ERA of 3.86 in 11 games, his WHIP was a dismal 1.714.  However, when he returned to Daytona this season, Cervenka, 23, put together a 2.91 ERA and a significantly improved 1.292 WHIP in eleven games, earning a promotion to AA Tennessee of the Southern League.  There, he got off to a miserable start but has since shown marked improvement.  While his overall ERA is 5.31 and WHIP 1.475 in fifteen games, his ERA through his first 11 innings was 7.36 but a markedly better 2.89 in his last 9 1/3. 4)  On July 30, 2012, the Cubs dealt outfielder Reed Johnson and LH starting pitcher Paul Maholm to the Atlanta Braves for RH pitchers Arodys Vizcaino and Jaye Chapman.  When the Cubs acquired Vizcaino, blessed with a fastball clocked in excess of 100 MPH, he was recovering from Tommy John elbow surgery that he had undergone in March of 2012 and knew that the earliest he would be available to pitch for them was this season.  Those plans were foiled when he underwent a second and unrelated surgery this summer to remove a calcium buildup from his throwing arm.  The Cubs are hopeful that Vizcaino, ranked as the 83rd best prospect by Baseball America entering this season and 36th best prospect by MLB.com entering the 2012 campaign, will be ready to pitch by Spring Training.  In a brief stint with the Braves in 2011, at age 20, he appeared in 17 games covering 17 1/3 innings and produced an ERA of 4.67.  He fanned 17 batters.  In four minor league seasons, Vizcaino has appeared in 65 games, all but 15 in relief, and put together an impressive ERA of 2.79 and WHIP of 1.120 while striking out 279 in 268 2/3 innings. Chapman, 26, pitched briefly for the Cubs late last season, making 14 relief appearances covering 12 innings and producing a 3.75 ERA.  While he struck out 12, he walked 10, leading to a WHIP of 1.500.  The Cubs designated Chapman for assignment following the season, but he remained with the organization on a minor league contract.  Unfortunately, multiple hip injuries ended Chapman’s 2013 season after just four appearances for AAA Iowa.  Assuming Champan makes a full recovery, it remains to be seen whether the Cubs and Chapman agree to terms on another minor league contract for next season. 5) Only July 31, 2012, the Cubs dealt starting pitcher RH Ryan Dempster to the Texas Rangers for minor leaguers 3B Christian Villanueva and RH starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks.  Villanueva, considered a well above-average defensive third baseman, is putting together a solid season offensively for AA Tennessee of the Southern League.  Hitting .256, Villanueva, 22, is seventh in the league in home runs with 12, second in doubles with 24 and sixth in RBI with 48. Hendricks, also playing with Tennessee, is having a sensational season, his third in the minors.  Having started 18 games, Hendricks, 23, has a record of 9-3 with an ERA of 2.08 and WHIP of 1.072. In 106 1/3 innings, he has allowed 90 hits, only 3 home runs and 24 walks and struck out 85.  In his first two minor league seasons combined, covering approximately 160 innings pitched, Hendricks walked only 24. 6) Also on July 31, 2012, the Cubs dealt catcher Geovany Soto for minor league RH starting pitcher Barret Loux.  After a dominant 2012 for the Rangers AA club in which he went 14-1 with a 3.47 ERA in 25 starts, the Cubs promoted Loux to AAA Iowa for the 2013 season.  Loux got off to a dreadful start before beginning to rebound.  Overall Loux, 24, has appeared in 16 games, including 13 starts, covering 62 2/3 innings.  He has allowed 64 hits and 36 walks for a WHIP of 1.571.  He has struck out 65.  However, over his last ten games, Loux has an ERA of just 2.43, having allowed only 27 hits in 40 2/3 innings while walking 20 and striking out 43.  During this stretch, opposing hitters are averaging just .189 against him. 7)  On August 7, 2012, the Cubs dealt utility infielder Jeff Baker to the Detroit Tigers for minor league starting pitcher RH Marcelo Carreno.  While Carreno, 22, has yet to pitch this season due to injury, he is coming off an exceptional 2012 campaign with the Tigers’ Class A Midwest League affiliate.  There, in 27 starts, Carreno posted a 9-8 record, a 3.23 ERA and an impressive 1.127 WHIP.  He pitched 139 1/3 innings, yielding 129 hits and only 28 walks, and struck out 128. 8)  On February 18, 2013, the Cubs traded outfielder Tony Campana to the Arizona Diamondbacks for minor league pitchers RH’s Erik Leal and Jesus Castillo.  Leal, just 18, has pitched the last two seasons for the Diamondbacks’ and Cubs’ Arizona Rookie League affiliates.  He has combined to pitch 19 games covering 88 2/3 innings while walking only 14 and striking out 90.  His ERA is 2.74 and WHIP 1.060.  Castillo, just 17, is pitching for the Cubs’ affiliate in the Arizona Venezuelan League this season, where he has compiled a 4.26 ERA in 19 innings. A preliminary though incomplete evaluation of these Epstein and Hoyer trades, with the exception of the Ian Stewart debacle, is very positive.  Tell us what you think     The post Retrospective on Epstein and Hoyer year one trades appeared first on The Sports Bank.Net.
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