For the last few weeks, the “Hot Stove” had cooled off but it looks like it has heated up again with alleged trade talks between the Chicago Cubs and Baltimore Orioles over All-Star second baseman Brian Roberts.

On Wednesday, the website [http:// Orioles Hangout reported that a deal between the Cubs and Orioles that would have sent Roberts to the Cubs in exchange for infielder Ronny Cedeno and pitchers Sean Gallagher and Sean Marshall was finalized.]

However, an Orioles executive contacted Orioles Hangout to debunk that rumored deal even though the Chicago Tribune’s Phil Rogers [http:// made it seem as if a deal was imminent, saying that a deal was going to happen.]

Later, reports came out that the Cedeno, Gallagher and Marshall package wasn’t going to be enough for Orioles executive Andy MacPhail, who is rumored to be wanting one of the three following prospects/players involved in a deal:  Felix Pie, Rich Hill, or Tyler Colvin.

Sources told WGN Radio’s Dave Kaplan that Cubs general manager Jim Hendry insists that he will not trade Pie or Hill.  As for Colvin, the Cubs 2006 first-round draft pick, he is rapidly ascending the minor league ranks and projects to be a solid left-handed hitting outfielder.

Personally, I wouldn’t mind if Felix Pie was involved in a Roberts trade.  He struggled with a .215 batting average in his rookie season, and has only batted .244 in Winter League ball.  It might be a good time to sell high on the former top prospect before he loses his trade value.

Still, it would leave the Cubs with a gaping hole in center field.

I have few drawbacks about acquiring Brian Roberts.  First, acquiring Roberts would not solve any of the Cubs current problems in their everyday line-up.  They still don’t have a Major League caliber shortstop or center fielder.

Acquiring Roberts would move DeRosa off second base, but that would leave the Cubs without an everyday position for the super-sub, DeRosa.  Coming into the season DeRosa had played more games at shortstop than at second base, but I’m not convinced that he can play shortstop on an everyday basis.

Then, acquiring Roberts will open up an issue with how manager Lou Piniella will draw up his everyday line-up.  Roberts is a proven product and a prototypical lead-off man, evidenced by his .377 on-base percentage and 50 stolen bases in 2007.  But moving Alfonso Soriano out of the lead-off spot could be detrimental to his production.

Then there’s the Mitchell Report where Roberts was named by former teammate Larry Bigbie.  According to the Mitchell Report, Roberts admitted to Bigbie to using HGH once in 2003.  Roberts himself later admitted that he used steroids, but only that one time.

I’d hate for the steroid cloud to linger over Wrigley Field, and have the first potential championship in 100 years to be struck with an asterisk because the Cubs had an admitted steroid user on the squad, even if he only used it once in 2003.  How believable is that, when he denied every accusation before the Mitchell Report came out.

With all that said, there hasn’t been much more out of Baltimore recently so it looks like trade talks might have finally cooled.  But there’s 79 days until Opening Day 2008, so there’s plenty of time to make a deal.

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