Baseball Toaster was unplugged on February 4, 2009.
The much-rumored trade between the Cubs and the Pirates finally went through today. The Cubs get third baseman Aramis Ramirez and center fielder Kenny Lofton for shortstop-cum-third baseman Jose Hernandez and a couple of minor-leaguers.
The two moves fill the holes that were created when center fielder Corey Patterson went down with a season-ending injury and third baseman Mark Bellhorn had a 200-point slugging and 225-point OPS dropoff earlier this year. Hernandez replaced Bellhorn and then decided to channel him, batting .188 with a .570 OPS (both had two home runs for the Cubs in their short stints).
Ramirez is 9 years younger than Hernandez. He is having a good year (.786 OPS) but has been succeptable to power outages as well (especially in 2002). His three years as a starter have ranged from awful to very good, so who knows what the Cub can expect? The good news is that he is just 25; the bad news is that he will make $3 M this year and will make $6M in 2004 (there's no mention if the Pirates will take on any of that salary--I think not though).
Chicago also rents two months and change of 36-year-old Kenny Lofton's career. He has been a consistently above-average player at the end of his career. He carries a respectable .773 OPS and his home run total projects to 15 on the year, which would match his career high. Unfortunately, his .334 OPS represents a career-low and even though he has 18 stolen bases, those numbers don't speak well of a leadoff hitter, but that's is probably where the Cubbies will insert him in the lineup (except against lefties probably). Ramirez pushes Alex Gonzalez down to seventh in the order (again probably), giving the Cubs three right-handed bats at the bottom of their order--seven when Karros spells Choi (preceded by Alou, Sosa, and Grudzielanek, in reverse order).
Chicago finally got the deal it wanted. Now we'll just have to see if it was the right deal.
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