Monday, June 9, 2008

Major deal in the NL North

The division that is arguably the best in the Bigs saw a major trade between two of its teams recently.

Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Dragons

Cubs get: RP Willy Mo Owens
Dragons get: SS Juan Rodriguez, RP Kid Johnstone

Analysis: Just in case Cubs fans weren't sure about the team's willingness to go for the championship this season, this should serve as adequate proof. Owens is one of the best closers in the league, having amassed 57 saves in his year and a half in the league. He pushes recently acquired Dave Stewart to a setup role in what should be a very tough back of the bullpen. Chicago is trying to add pieces, as this season in the NL could shape up to be tougher than last season. Their 57-45 record in most leagues would put them fairly comfortably in the wild card lead, but Toronto and Arizona are both looming only 2 games back.
Cincinnati appears to be in a rebuilding process; they are in last place with a $120 million payroll. In return they get Rodriguez, a 25-year-old shortstop who should be a productive player, although maybe not a star. He is a good two-way player, as he's above average both at the plate and in the field. Kid Johnstone is a relief arm who scouts sometimes overlook, as he's not a hard thrower. However, he does have two good pitches and has a funky delivery that really seems to bother right-handed hitters in particular. He's only 22 and should contribute out of the bullpen for years to come. All in all, Cincinnati got a decent return for Owens.

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