-P- The Marlins have traded reliever Kevin Gregg to the Cubs for pitcher Jose Ceda, ESPN reports. Gregg has control issues, but he's reliably pitched plenty of innings in the past few years and, with 61 saves the last two seasons, he's now a Proven Closer (TM). Ceda, traded from the Padres in 2006 for Todd Walker, is an exciting young hurler with a blistering fastball who shut down Class AA last year as a 21-year-old after being moved from the rotation to the bullpen. He could be a dominant reliever. Good trade for the Marlins, but okay for the Cubs, too, even though their farm system just went from bad to worse. Ceda could be ready for the majors relatively soon, but you can't fault the Cubs for wanting someone more reliable in the meantime.
UPDATE: A Number of bloggers dislike this deal quite a bit from the Cubs' perspective. I understand that, and I suppose my reason for not hating it for them is that I'm increasingly skeptical of relief prospects. Maybe it's because of what seems like dozens of relief prospects (none anywhere near as good as Ceda, true) coming to Pittsburgh and failing the past couple years, or because of the whole Daniel Moskos debacle. Maybe that's not fair of me, but the fact is that most relief prospects have a pretty small margin of error; if they had a broad base of pitching skills, they'd probably be starters.
The blogger linked above suggests that it would have been better for the Cubs to grab a reliever better suited to their ballpark (Gregg has had seasons where he's had extreme fly ball rates, which could cause problems at Wrigley) out of free agency. But in today's market, signing a half-decent reliever has long-term implications, just as dealing Ceda does, in the form of a multiyear contract. If I were the Cubs' GM, I would have kept Ceda. But I can understand their reasons for not wanting to do so.
-P- Pat previews the Pirates' offseason.
-P- Kyle Bloom reminds us why we should keep his performance in Hawaii in perspective:
"Honestly, it's just fastball command," Bloom said. "A lot of these (the hitters) are from Class A ball, so they're pretty aggressive on fastball. So what I usually try to do is initiate the inside part of the plate and then use my off-speed if I fall behind, kind of keep them honest. Mainly, it's just moving my fastball in and out."