Trade rumor: Crisp for Rich Hill?

The Chicago Cubs have had a moderate interest in Coco Crisp as a centerfielder since the off-season, but they weren’t willing to give up enough in order to get him. Some rumors had mentioned Matt Murton, who was traded from Boston as part of the Nomar Garciaparra trade of 2004. Not really in our best interests.

Since that time, Felix Pie hasn’t really panned out, and the Cubs acquired Jim Edmonds, who has hit .300/.342/.500 in 24 games since. That might work temporarily, but if Chicago really wants to contend, the Cubs need to upgrade their defense in centerfield. In addition, the 38-year old Edmonds is not likely to keep up that pace, having hit .178/.265/.233 for the Padres earlier this year.

Now a trade scenario has surfaced that would not have been possible in the off-season. Last year, LHP Rich Hill went 11-8 with a 3.92 ERA in 195 IP for the Cubs, apparently cementing his slot in the rotation this year with his 89 mph fastball and sweeping, knee-buckling curveball. Fast forward to 2008, when the 28-year old Hill started just 5 games, walking 18 batters in 19 2/3 IP. He was only able to last 6 innings in his first start of the year, and issued at least 3 walks in each start. The Cubs thought about putting him in the bullpen, then demoted him to Triple-A to work on his control. He’s 2-4 with a 5.88 ERA down there, and the walks haven’t gone away.

If this rumor is true, I say we do it. He is a young, prime change-of-scenery candidate with options (1.1 years of service time) and four more years of team control. He could represent a lefty upgrade over Javier Lopez in our bullpen this season, and could possibly start in the future. And if it doesn’t work out after this season, he’s very tradeable.

Crisp is itching to start (and deserves to start somewhere), and Jacoby Ellsbury is ready to start full time. As for the 4th outfielder spot, we have Brandon Moss and Chris Carter raking at Triple-A. Don’t forget Bobby Kielty is trying to get healthy at Pawtucket as well, and Jonathan Van Every is not a terrible bench player.

Of course, losing Crisp’s defense is a minus, but having a bullpen equal to or better than last year’s is not bad, either. What do you think? Is this too risky a move? Remember that we would shave about $3M salary through this move.


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