Maddux may finish career with trade out of Chicago
Posted: Thursday July 27, 2006 11:24AM; Updated: Thursday July 27, 2006 12:42PM
Greg Maddux is just 8-11 in '06, but his 326 career wins make him attractive in trade.
Comments, questions or obviously unfounded criticism? To e-mail Donovan, use the form below.
Of all the names thrown into baseball's rumor pile during this final week before the trade deadline, Greg Maddux's may be the most intriguing. It's not every year, you know, that a 300-plus game winner becomes trade bait. It's not every season that a surefire Hall of Famer ends up, quite possibly, as the centerpiece of a deal that might fetch nothing more than a high minor league prospect.
Is this how the crafty Maddux, who has started more games in the last 20 years than anyone in baseball, is destined to end the season?
Or, more accurately, is this how Maddux ends his career?
"I played 11 years with the guy," says John Smoltz, his pitching partner in Atlanta from 1993 to 2003, "and the one thing I know is that nobody really knows what he's thinking.
"But he knows."
Nobody outsmarts Maddux on the field, and he's playing these last couple of months of the 2006 season -- yes, they could be the last two of his career, too -- like an ace. He can't get somebody to trade for him, if that's what he's after. But Maddux can say where he doesn't want to play. And the Cubs, out of pure respect, will grant him that. The pitcher has given Cubs general manager Jim Hendry a short list of possible trade partners, including the Padres, the Dodgers and the Brewers. (Maddux's brother, Mike, is the pitching coach in Milwaukee.) The Cubs won't talk to anyone else.
If the Cubs can get something for the 40-year-old Maddux from one of those teams in these last days before the July 31 trade deadline -- something like a high minor league player who would be ready to step up to the big club, perhaps as early as September -- Maddux may well be playing the last two months of the season elsewhere. He'd be the first pitcher with 300 wins to be traded since 1987, when both Phil Niekro and Steve Carlton switched teams.
If not? Well, Hendry isn't actively pushing Maddux on anybody -- again, out of respect to the pitcher -- so it seems clear that the Cubs would be just fine with Maddux finishing the season, and his current contract, in Chicago.
For a team going nowhere. And one that isn't particularly interested in bringing him back in '07.
That, seemingly, is OK with Maddux too.
"Me? I want to win," says his friend Smoltz. "But I believe Greg is different. He wants to win. But he pitches for different reasons. He enjoys the art of pitching, whether it's in the playoffs or right now."