Chicago lost OF Buck Coats and LHP Clay Rapada to Cincinnati and Detroit, respectively, on Thursday, and on Friday they traded RHP Rocky Cherry and INF/OF Scott Moore to Baltimore for pitcher Steve Trachsel.
In Coats, the Cubs traded an outfielder that can hit for average and play all three outfield positions. Coats received an audition with the big league club last September and was one of the last players returned to minor league camp this past spring after batting .333 in 20 Cactus League games.
Coats made his big league debut with the Cubs last September and after struggling early on at Triple-A Iowa this season (batting just .193 in his first 25 games), he caught fire and would hit over .430 in June.
He batted .303 with 11 home runs, 21 doubles and 59 RBIs in 123 games overall with Iowa this season.
Coats joined Triple-A Louisville in Indianapolis on Friday.
"For me, one door closes and another one opens. I'm excited to go and show them what I can do," Coats said of being traded to the Reds.
Coats said that his struggles out of the gate this season had to do with his staying back on the ball (or lack thereof).
"I was working on something where I wouldn't have a big stride and could control my stride to keep my head back and my body from jumping on the ball," Coats said. "It worked out and I started getting the hang of it. Things started looking up compared to the first month I had."
The Cubs drafted Coats from Valdosta (Ga.) High School with their 18th-round selection in the 2000 draft. He began playing shortstop primarily in 2003 with Class-A Lansing of the Midwest League and would primarily remain in the infield through the 2005 season – a year in which he was an All-Star at his position in the Southern League with Double-A West Tennessee.
A year ago in his first season at Triple-A, Coats began seeing the bulk of his playing time in the outfield – a position he played in his first three years following the draft and throughout high school.
"It's hard saying goodbye because I've been with this organization for seven and a half, eight years and have gotten to know everybody," said Coats. "But I also know there's a business side of this game. I understand what they had to do and they did what they thought was necessary."
Coats was removed from the Cubs 40-man roster last week and had to be placed on waivers before the club could re-active him at Triple-A.
He was traded to the Reds on Thursday for a player to be named later.
"I'm really excited," Coats said.
The same day Coats was traded to Cincinnati, the Cubs parted ways with left-hander Clay Rapada, who joined the Detroit Tigers' organization.
Rapada is a sidearm southpaw that should give the Tigers a solid option against left-handed batters. The 25-year-old was 7-2 with a 3.58 ERA and 17 saves with Iowa this season, and he held left-handed hitters to a miniscule .159 average against, logging 55 1/3 innings with Iowa.
Rapada was scheduled to join Triple-A Toledo in Columbus, Ohio, Friday.
"They (Tigers) told me they wanted me to go to Toledo to get a few outings," Rapada said. "Hopefully I can help out the big league club."
Rapada was signed as a non-drafted free agent from Virginia State University in 2002. He said he was not altogether surprised when he learned he'd been traded.
"We heard through the papers up in Chicago that it was either going to be me or Cottsy (Neal Cotts)," said Rapada. "Any time that a trade is made, it makes you feel good knowing that other teams want you."
Rapada struggled in the month of August with a plus-five ERA. He said that being rumored as potential trade bait did not have an effect on his numbers.
"I never take any of that into perspective," he said, "because that shouldn't affect my job. I'm out there to throw strikes and get people out. I can't let fans or trade rumors or any other outside distractions get to me. When it comes down to it, I'm still (the one) on the mound."
Like Coats, Rapada will miss many of the friends he made with the Cubs.
"I'll miss quite a few of the coaches and definitely a lot of the players," he said. "Even though I'm not going to be playing with them, I am going to be keeping tabs on a lot of my friends. I've got nothing but respect for the Cubs and am glad I'm going from one contender to another.
"I was doing what I (could) to get called up by the Cubs in September, and now hopefully I can do the same with Detroit," Rapada added.
Rapada was claimed off waivers by Detroit. That "satisfied" the trade that sent OF Craig Monroe to the Cubs for a player to be named last week.
On Friday, the Cubs acquired a familiar face in Trachsel from the Orioles.
Trachsel won 60 games as a member of the Cubs from 1993-1999 and was 6-8 with a 4.48 ERA in 25 starts with Baltimore this season.
In Moore and Cherry, the Orioles are getting two prospects with much higher upside than any of the ex-Cub prospect signings (Brandon Sing, Chadd Blasko, etc.) that former Chicago Scouting Director John Stockstill and his front office staff in Baltimore have made over the past several months.
Moore has a power swing and could reasonably hit 25-30 home runs a year in the American League, provided the Orioles are willing to put up with a few strikeouts and sacrifice a strong batting average for power.
The left-handed hitting Moore also gives the Orioles an option in the outfield, where he made several starts this season with the Cubs' Triple-A team.
The Cubs originally got Moore from Detroit back in February, 2005 for right-hander Kyle Farnsworth. Still only 23 years of age, Moore got a fresh start in Chicago's farm system and was named to two All-Star teams for his efforts, plus given an Arizona Fall League nod.
"Crazy," Moore said Friday when asked about being traded for the second time in his career. "You never expect something like this. I think it's a little bit different (than the first trade). I played over here for my third season now and got to know a lot of guys over here. I only played two seasons over with the Tigers. You're leaving a bunch of guys here that you've been here for a while and are going to play with some new people."
In 103 games with Iowa this season, Moore cracked 19 home runs, hitting equally as many doubles, and driving in 69 runs while striking out 100 times and drawing 48 walks. He batted .265 and had an on-base percentage of .373.
"It's been fun," Moore said. "The Cubs are a great organization."
Moore was a first-round pick in the 2002 draft by Detroit. This season, he had worked with Iowa hitting coach Von Joshua on getting a more level swing.
"One thing with Scotty is we're just trying to level his swing off," Joshua said of Moore. "The power is there. The average is down a little bit, but it's come on strong the last month or so. He's quietly having a decent year for Triple-A.
"But the thing we're trying to do with Scotty is just develop more of a level swing," Joshua said. "He has a tendency to have an upper-cut swing. What you try to explain to him is that as you get higher and higher, both here and in the major leagues, they recognize that."
Moore was recalled to Chicago back in late July and appeared in two games.
For his part, Cherry was 2-0 with seven saves and a 4.59 ERA in 51 innings at Triple-A this season. He fought for a spot in the Cubs' big league bullpen out of Spring Training, but was sent to Iowa for the first two weeks of the season before being recalled in late April.
Cherry, who turned 28 this month, appeared in 12 games in Chicago and was 1-1 with a 3.00 ERA. He held opponents to a .224 average against.
Originally a starter through much of his first two-plus seasons in the Cubs' farm system, Cherry underwent Tommy John Surgery in May, 2005 after blowing out his elbow in just his third start at Double-A.
He returned a year later, pitching exclusively in relief and topping out at 97 mph on the radar gun for West Tennessee. He was promoted to Triple-A midway through the year but was shut down due to a bone spur in his middle finger.
As the long season has worn on this year, Cherry's velocity has been noticeably down from the steady mid-90s mark that he was consistently reaching a year ago. He missed time earlier this season with a right lat strain.
"Most guys' velocity when pitching a full year, it takes its toll on the arm," noted Iowa pitching coach Mike Harkey. "As for his velocity being down, it's only down for me from Spring Training. Everybody throws hard in Spring Training, so his velocity is fine for me."
Harkey said that Cherry had struggled with commanding his fastball at times this season, but he nevertheless posted a plus three-to-one strikeout to walk ratio with 56 strikeouts and 18 walks at Iowa.
"He has an above-average slider that at times is unhittable," Harkey said of Cherry. "So if he masters his fastball and is able to spot it, he's going to have a lot of success."
Cherry said that he wasn't sure what to make of the trade at first.
"(Cubs Farm Director) Oneri Fleita called me and when I saw his name on my phone, I figured he was letting me know that I'd gotten a September call-up," Cherry recalled of how he learned of the trade. "My first reaction was [positive].
"Then he said he had some bitter sweet news and when I heard that, I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, what's going on?' He said I'd been traded to the Baltimore Orioles with Scott Moore and that it was a good opportunity for me and a good deal for the Cubs. I was overwhelmed and shocked, and my world just kind of did a 180. But now that I've settled down, I'm excited."
The Cubs drafted Cherry with their 14th-round pick in the 2002 draft from Oklahoma. His strongest season to date was a year ago at West Tenn, when the right-hander was 4-1 with a 2.22 ERA in 48 2/3 innings.
After he and Rapada were both added to the Cubs' 40-man roster last off-season, Cherry impressed Cubs manager Lou Piniella this spring in Big League camp with a 1.46 ERA in 12 appearances. He struck out 19 in 12 1/3 innings.
"I think it's a great opportunity for me to go out there and try to get a big league role instead of being up-and-down with the Cubs," Cherry said of the trade. "I'm excited and I'm going to one of the best divisions in baseball in the AL East. It's competitive and I'll have a lot of opportunities.
"I have to give the Cubs a lot of credit," he added. "They brought me up and got me some experience this year, and I got to play at Wrigley, which is an amazing place to play. I have nothing but good things to say about them and any move that helps them out, I think it helps me out, too."
Baltimore area scout Mike Tullier was in New Orleans last week scouting the Iowa Cubs and took a particular interest in Cherry.
Moore and Cherry are both scheduled to join the Orioles in Boston Saturday, the two players said.
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