With this afternoon's peddling of SS Cesar Izturis to the Pitssburgh Pirates, the Cubs have made two trades that were not hinted at in the mainstream press. Some would argue that neither C Jason Kendall nor Cesar Izturis merit enough excitement to spark a trade rumor, but I still note that a $60MM catcher and a Gold Glove SS changed teams without notice.
With that recognition aside, let's get back to that which does draw our interest. Everyone following the trade rumor circuit has their eyes peeled on the Kansas City Royals. With cheap veterans to deal, teams in need of almost anything can start in Kansas City. This belief seems so pervasive that the Kansas City Star reports that the Cubs were inquiring about reliever Zach Greinke and that the Royals were open to dealing him - at the right price.
With the Cubs recent trade activity, it is clear the team is focused on making a run to the play-offs. Acquiring Greinke would strengthen a bullpen made stronger by Ryan Dempster's DL stint. This placed Bobby Howry in the closer's role where he recaptured the ability that made him an $12MM reliever a couple off-season's ago. 2nd year pitcher Carlos Marmol was elevated to important non-closing innings where he has succesfully transitioned from erractic starter to a flame-throwing reliever (45Ks in 32 IP). When Dempster returns, those pitchers will slot backwards, and the Cubs will be better for it.
While I have doubts about Greinke's ability to pitch in a big sports town like Chicago, the Cubs and Royals do have a natural fit with AAA 2B Eric Patterson filling a hole in Kansas City. To sweeten the deal, OF Matt Murton could be used to expand the deal. 1B/OF veteran Ross Gload seems like the kind of player manager Lou Piniella would use.