Cubs’ rebuilding plan takes a hit as Lee refuses to accept trade

Chicago Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee walks out ont the field at the beginning of the eighth inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Wrigley Field in Chicago on July 1, 2010. The Reds won 3-2 in 10 innings.   UPI/Brian Kersey Photo via Newscom

Things can’t get much worse for the Cubs right now. They’re currently nine games below .500, 9.5 games out of first place in a weak NL Central and I hear Lou Piniella also forgot to reorganize his Netflix queue and is now stuck with “Dear John” again after he just rented it from Blockbuster.

But much to the elation of the Cubs’ front office, Derrek Lee is hitting .292 this month after batting a crisp .237 in June. That’s good news for the soon-to-be-rebuilding Cubs because that makes Lee a little more attractive to potential trade suitors. He might still be hitting like Neifi Perez, but he isn’t Todd Hundley at the moment either.

I’m not around Cubs’ GM Jim Hendry enough (or at all for that matter) to know what his plans are at the trade deadline, but one can only assume that he’d like to unload Lee seeing as how the first baseman won’t be a part of the club’s future plans. His contract runs up at the end of the year, so if Hendry can acquire a couple of prospects in exchange for Lee, I’d have to imagine he’d pull the trigger.

That is, of course, unless Lee refuses to accept a trade, which according to appears to be the case.

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Lee willing to waive his no-trade clause?

April 23, 2010- Milwaukee, WI. Miller Park..Chicago Cubs Derrek Lee runs to third base, Lee had 1 hits in his 3 at bats tonight. .Milwaukee Brewers lost to the Chicago Cubs 1-8. .Mike McGinnis / CSM.

According to Jon Paul Morosi and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, Cubs’ first baseman Derrek Lee may be willing to waive his no-trade clause in the right deal.

Derrek Lee has remained noncommittal on the issue of his no-trade clause. But some friends of the Cubs first baseman said this week that they believe he would accept a deal to the right team.

And if the Cubs formally decide to sell, it’s hard to imagine a better fit than the Angels.

The Angels, 4.5 games back in the American League West, are still looking for an upgrade at first base because of Kendry Morales’ season-ending injury. And they prefer someone who isn’t under contract for next season.

Why? They plan to pursue Carl Crawford as a free agent and would like to have the flexibility of sliding Bobby Abreu into a DH role once Morales returns to first.

The article notes that Lee lives in California during the off-season and would “probably be comfortable” playing in Anaheim. He’d also have the opportunity to play for a contender, which the Cubs are definitely, positively not.

Assuming he’s willing to waive his no-trade clause, then a trade to the Angels makes a lot of sense for all parties involved. The Halos need a replacement for Morales in order to try and keep up with the Rangers in the AL West, while the Cubs could take the opportunity to restock their farm system.

That said, it’s unknown if the two teams have even had trade discussions involving Lee yet, so we’ll have to see if this story develops.

Angels talking trade with Cubs for Lee?

The Angels may have targeted their replacement for first baseman Kendry Morales, who broke his leg last weekend while celebrating a walk off home run.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the Halos may be in trade talks with the Cubs involving Derrek Lee.

Excellent baseball sources are telling us the Angels and the Cubs may be involved in trade talks that could send Derrek Lee to L.A. The Angels lost their starting first baseman, Kendry Morales, last weekend when he broke his leg in a celebration after he hit a walk-off grand slam. Lee was a late scratch from Wednesday’s lineup because of tightness in his right hamstring.

If the report is true, it’ll be interesting to see if the Angels pick up most of Lee’s current contract. He’s owed roughly $9 million over the remainder of the season and then becomes a free agent this winter. Considering he’s hitting just .232 this season and has never faced American League pitching on a consistent basis, L.A. may not be willing to fork over that much money, along with whatever compensation Chicago asks for.

That said, they have to do something. The defending AL West champs are currently one game under .500 and resting in third place in the division. They’re only 2.5 games behind the first-place Rangers, but they can’t continue to lose ground. Lee isn’t hitting now, but the last time he finished with an average less than .270 was his third year in the league when he hit .206 with the Marlins. He’s a career .280-hitter, so history shows that his numbers should rise at some point.

For the Cubs, moving Lee would force them to address the dark cloud currently hovering over the 3-4 spots in the lineup. Of course, the bigger picture is that a trade could help them cut salary and move into rebuilding mode. They’re nothing but a .500 club overpaying for way too many players and it may be time for them to start purging their roster.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Piniella on his way out? Not according to GM Hendry.

For those Cubs fans that have been clamoring for Ryne Sandberg to replace Lou Piniella as the club’s skipper, you’re going to have to wait much longer, I’m afraid.

General manager Jim Hendry told the media on Monday that Piniella isn’t to blame for the team’s lackluster start (17-22 heading into Tuesday’s action, good for third place in the NL Central) and that the manager’s job is safe for the 2010 season.

“We’re certainly not here to play the blame game,” Hendry said Monday. “We’re not here to put all the blame on the players that haven’t done as well as we’d like either. It’s been a good, collective rough start, but there has not been one thought in my mind of Lou Piniella not managing the team this year.”

While many of the adjustments he has made with personnel certainly haven’t panned out this season, it’s hardly fair to blame all of the Cubs’ failures this season on Piniella. Two of his best hitters (Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez) have crapped the bed all season in RBI situations (and all situations for that matter) and he can’t find a reliable setup man to get to Carlos Marmol in the ninth. (He tried Carlos Zambrano there but much like his effort in 2010, Big Z was brutal in the role.) The bottom line is that the Cubs haven’t produced and a change in manager won’t magically remedy the situation.

The good news is that Lee has started showing signs that he’s ready to break out of his funk, Alfonso Soriano has actually thrived batting sixth in the lineup and young phenom Starlin Castro (who struggled defensively when he was first called up last week but appears to be settling down) is spanking the ball. If A-Ram (who hit a walk off homer to beat the Rockies Monday night) can shake out of his slump and start producing, then the Cubs can easily turn things around.

Things haven’t been pretty for the Cubs so far, but it’s early yet and the club’s issues aren’t un-fixable. Making a switch in managers would be premature and Hendry knows that. He just has to trust that Piniella can right the ship, just as Lou has to trust his players will snap out of it and start producing.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Derrek Lee injured during Cubs’ celebration

If this doesn’t sum up the Cubs’ 2009 season, I don’t know what will.


While celebrating a come-from-behind, ninth-inning win over the San Francisco Giants on Thursday, the Chicago Cubs couldn’t avoid yet another “Cubby Occurrence.”

First baseman Derrek Lee scored the game-tying run ahead of Jeff Baker, whose two-out, two-strike home run off San Francisco closer Brian Wilson put the team in line for the win.

As Lee and Baker were mobbed by teammates in the dugout, relief pitcher Angel Guzman slapped the side of Lee’s helmet, causing Lee to experience neck spasms that forced him to come out of the game for defense in the bottom of the ninth.
Manager Lou Piniella coined the term “Cubby Occurrence” to explain strange happenings that may have factored into the organization going more than 100 years without winning a World Series.

Even when the Cubs win, they still find a way to lose.

While we’re somewhat on the subject, stick a fork in the Giants. They surprised a lot of people this year with the way they’ve played and their pitching staff is going to make them competitive every season.

But they had a golden opportunity last night to get within three games of the Rockies for the NL Wild Card lead and they couldn’t even muster more than two runs at home to the Cubs. Playoff-caliber teams take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves and the Giants couldn’t do that last night.

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