Roster Crunching, 40-Man Style

Almost every year, one or two Non-Roster Invitees (NRI) contend for a spot on the Cubs Opening Day 25-man roster. This year, it appears that veteran utility INF Tomas Perez has the best shot among the NRI to make the Opening Day 25, since Manager Lou Piniella says he believes the Cubs will need two utility middle-infielders. Ryan Theriot is definitely one, and unless the Cubs go outside the organization and make a trade for somebody like Marlins supersub (SS-2B-CF) Alfredo Amezaga, Perez would seem to be the logical front-runner to become the Cubs second utility infielder. But who are the other candidates, and if Perez does get the job, who gets dropped from the Cubs 40-man roster? Certainly, Ronny Cedeno IS a middle-infielder, but with one minor league option left and with a decision to be made after this season regarding Cesar Izturis (the Cubs hold a $5.85M player option on Izturis for 2008, with a $300K buy-out if they choose not to exercise the option), the Cubs probably would prefer to see Cedeno play everyday at AAA Iowa so that they can get a better reading on whether Cedeno has a future as an MLB (and Cubs) everyday SS. Also, Cedeno can easily be recalled and go back-and-forth between Chicago and Des Moines (as needed) if one of the middle-infielders goes down temporarily with an injury. Beyond that, Cedeno needs to get his confidence back, and he would have a better chance of doing that playing everyday at AAA than he would playing only occasionally in Chicago. And although he has had a (quite unexpectedly) outstanding ST, and even though he has four years of experience as a SS in the Cubs organization, Buck Coats is just not a good defensive shortstop. He would be strictly a VERY short-term ("in a pinch") type fall-back, somebody you'd want to play there only in an emergency. And I doubt that somebody who can play middle-infield only in a pinch is what Uncle Lou has in mind for his second middle-infield utility guy, although it's possible. So let's say Tomas Perez does (in fact) claim the last spot on the Cubs Opening Day 25-man roster. If so, the Cubs would need to drop a player from their 40-man roster (which is presently full). And all things being equal, who would that player most-likely be? A couple or three candidates: If Wade Miller fails to win the #5 starter job, he almost certainly will get traded before the start of the season. He's not a candidate for the bullpen, and it's VERY unlikely that he would accept an optional assignment to the minors. While he has one minor league option left, he also has at least five years of MLB service time, so he cannot be optioned to the minors without his permission. However, he MIGHT possibly reconsider going to the minors--at least for a pre-specified short period of time--if the Cubs were to guarantee some of his $3.75M in performance bonuses, but I doubt that the Cubs would do that even if Miller is receptive to the idea. So if Angel Guzman (quite possible) or Mark Prior (probably less likely) takes the #5 job, Miller will almost certainly get traded at the end of Spring Training (probably to an A. L. team, probably for a mid-level pitching prospect with a little bit--though not too much--upside), and that opens up a spot on the 40 for T. Perez. But what if Miller takes the #5 job? Then what? Normally, when spots on the 40-man roster are needed at the end of ST, the first method a club will consider using is to place an injured player on the 60-day DL (which can be used only from March 1st until November 20th). Players on the 60-day DL do NOT count against a club's 40-man roster. And although Sean Marshall and Michael Wuertz have suffered with sore shoulders this Spring, unless one or both have surgery, it's unlikely either would be a candidate for the 60-day DL. A second type of player frequently moved at the end of Spring Training to create space on the 40-man roster is one who is out of minor league options, as Todd Wellemeyer was last ST (Wellemeyer was traded to FLA for RHP Lincoln Holdzkom and LHP Zach McCormack, although McCormack was subsequently returned to FLA as "damaged goods" and was replaced by 1B-OF James Adduci), and as David Kelton was the year before that (Kelton was outrighted to AAA at the end of ST '05, before becoming a 6YMLFA after that season and signing with ATL). Unless the player is an established member of the team, it's not particularly useful to have to keep somebody on the 25-man roster if that player cannot be shuttled back-and-forth (depending on the needs of the moment) from the big league club to AAA. It's like having a Rule 5 albatross around the player's (and the club's!) neck. But the Cubs don't have any players who are out of options this season. The next type of player to consider moving at the end of ST would be a player who has no real future in the organization. An example of a Cubs player in this class would be 2002 2nd round draft pick Brian Dopirak. Although he was recently optioned out for only the second time (and thus will have another minor league option available in 2008), the fact is, Dopirak will be out of minor league options two years before Derrek Lee's contract expires. While it's also true that Scott Moore will be out of minor league options three years before Aramis Ramirez's contract expires, the difference between Dopirak and Moore (as far as their futures with the Cubs is concerned) is that Moore has the athleticism to play multiple positions and could well develop into a Geoff Blum/Rob Mackowiak-type IF-OF-LHPH, while Dopirak is strictly a one-dimensional power-hitting 1B, whose best position is probably DH. So unless D-Lee gets struck by a train, B-Dope has no future with the Cubs, even if he hits 50 HR and slugs .600+ at AA. Dopirak's only value would (ultimately) be as a trading chip, and for that value to be realized, Dopirak is going to have to put up a monster year at AA in 2007, since he had a disappointing offensive year at Daytona in 2005, and missed almost all of 2006 with a broken foot. But still, the Cubs may want to defer moving him until a later time. So then what? The next type of player to consider is one who will be out of minor league options NEXT Spring Training. At present, the Cubs have seven such players: Ronny Cedeno Angel Guzman Rich Hill Roberto Novoa Will Ohman Geovany Soto Michael Wuertz Of this group, it's unlikely that Hill, Ohman, and Wuertz will use up their last option year this season, as all three are likely to remain in the big leagues for the entire season (although Wuertz may start the year on the DL). Guzman has too much talent to be dumped, and Soto is the only other catcher on the 40-man roster besides Michael Barrett and Henry Blanco, and thus would be needed in case Barrett or Blanco go on the 15-day DL a time or two during the season. Same goes for Cedeno, in the event Izturis goes down for a while. Which leaves Roberto Novoa. Unlike Hill, Ohman, and Wuertz, Novoa WILL likely use his last minor league option this season. Unlike Guzman, Novoa is not a top prospect. And unlike Soto and Cedeno, Novoa is not the only option in case of an injury at his position. If a RHRP goes down, Rocky Cherry, Carlos Marmol, and Juan Mateo are also available, rendering Novoa expendale. And this would be true even if Novoa was pitching OK. So I believe IF it develops that the Cubs need to create a spot on their 40-man roster for Tomas Perez, and IF Wade Miller wins the #5 starter job and remains a Cub, the most-likely candidate to get dropped is Roberto Novoa (as happened with Todd Wellemeyer this time last year), or POSSIBLY Brian Dopirak (but ONLY if the Cubs can get a decent prospect back for him in a trade, which is not too likely at this time).
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Comments

whew, please everyone, no carryover from the last thread. Everybody got a good nights sleep, new day, fresh start, yadda yadda.

As usual, excellent work Phil. Your meticulous tracking and relating of the roster intrigues are actually making ST much more interesting for me this year, up to the point of wanting to make my own moveable depth chart to put on my office wall.

Oops, didnt mean to imply that I was reading this on company time....

Good call again Phil, Novoa and Dope are in trouble. I had high hopes for Dopirak, but 2004 was a long time ago and the Midwest League is a long ways from the majors. I'd dump him were I to cut someone loose.

Let's hope the Cubs make a nice little trade for a utility infielder instead of settling for the awful Tomas Perez. Dare I say Neifi would be better than Tomas?

Or maybe we should just swear off infielders named Perez, that sounds like the best plan.

AZ Phil:
"This year, it appears that veteran utility INF Tomas Perez has the best shot among the NRI to make the Opening Day 25, since Manager Lou Piniella says he believes the Cubs will need two utility middle-infielders."

Tomas Perez career line: .240/.291/.343 (hasn't had a year with an OBP higher than .319 in 6 years)

I thought Baker was the reason why the Cubs had players like this on the roster? Now LouPa is leaning toward having Tomas Perez? Hmmm.....

What is the possiblity that Moore could be used as a middle infielder? Wasn't he a SS at one point? In a pinch could he be used as a SS/2B? That would allow Cedeno to play a full season at AAA and not require a 40 man roster move, plus give Lou a better bat off of the bench than Perez.

The difference, Manny, is that Baker thought players like this were the saviors of the ball club. Lou has not shown anything close to that attitude. Every ballclub has players that make the fans wonder why. And there were a lot of people here who didn't mind having Macias, Neifi and the rest of Bakers hitless wonders on the roster IF THEY HAD BEEN USED CORRECTLY, but Baker did not use them correctly. A good glove man can help win if he is brought in to play the field in the 8 or 9th inning, but to start them consistently and to bat them at the top of the order lacks any defendable reason.

I'd take Buck Coats over Perez....we need another weak-hitting, slick fielding Perez like we need Dusty back.

He made be unproven, but at least Coats looks like he can hit a little, and he'd be ok in a pinch in the IF, just not regularly.

BTW, with 'Gold Glove" Izturis, and the solid DeRosa, they aren't looking for the late inning defensive replacement type....more like a guy for double switches, the occasional day off type.

Tomas Perez. 240/.291/.343......ugh.

The Braves are an interesting team to study, how they do things, how they think. They've had one bad year in the last fifteen, whereas the Cubs, well, this is our year, right? We're going all the way! The Braves could learn a lot from the Cubs.

Last year they had a first baseman, Adam LaRoche, now 27, who put up these numbers:

285/354/561 with 32 home runs and 90 rbi

But they had a slightly younger guy that they liked, Scott Thorman, who had these combined numbers at Richmond and Atlanta:

279/334/487 with 20 home runs and 62 rbi

They traded LaRoche in January for a closer. In Atlanta, a guy at AA or AAA is a Brave, and if they like him, he pushes the older guy out. The numbers aren't decisive. Numbers are what you use to sell your guy to another GM.

How can anybody possibly get worked up over the 25th man on the roster?!? Tomas Perez has a good glove and plays multiple positions. If he grabs two at bats per week it will be noteworthy.

You wont need to replace Izturis for defense, but I am not sold on DeRosa yet. I don't know how much range he has at 2nd. You MAY find that you want a little more "D" in close games late. IMO

Silent Towel:
"If he grabs two at bats per week it will be noteworthy."

Well get the notes out then, becuase 25th man these days, especially in the NL, get around 250 AB's. That's like 42 AB's a month. LouPa has already been quoted that he is not afraid to pull his pitchers early if it gives them a chance to geta PH in there to have a better chance to score some runs. So, like Dusty, I think we can expect to see the bench used a lot this year.

Neifi would have been fine as a 25th man, double-switch guy, backup infielder. He was not fine as a virtual regular at the plate with the game on the line in the 9th inning.

Dave in Pittsburgh:

whew, please everyone, no carryover from the last thread. Everybody got a good nights sleep, new day, fresh start, yadda yadda.

Yes, I for one am hoping for a more ambiguous exchange... perhaps about politics or the merits or lack thereof of Dusty Baker.

The presence of a second utility infielder will actually afford more playing time for Ryan Theriot. Knowing he still has insurance on the bench in the form of Tomas Perez, Sweet Lou will have the flexibility to bring Theriot into games midstream. The presence of Perez will also mean less hesitancy to shift DeRosa to right field and have Theriot play 2nd base.

If he grabs two at bats per week it will be noteworthy.
-----
That's the problem. Given how many AB's per week the other Perez saw (not to mention Macia$), we're gunshy about the 25th spot getting overexposed. (no silly grins, please)

While we're thinking about 25th man issues... and on a predictable followup note, Dave Veres is not going to make the rockies out of spring training because of a strained right forearm (his hip is doing fine). Such is the way things go for 40 yr old marginal bullpen filler.

http://www.denverpost.com/sports/ci_5438501

By the way, excellent post, VA Phil. Not sure if this is what you were actually driving at, but numbers can never tell you how a guy will help a team on a day-to-day basis.

Using Perez as the 25th man is not the end of the world, or even of the season. He would fill a need, just not an everyday need. Let's not forget we've got from now until the end of July to plug any gaps that develop by making a good trade. Right now, this looks like a very solid, well-rounded team. If we're short of anything at the moment, it might be fielding, and that's Tomas Perez's strong point. Of course needs will occur; who knows what injuries, slumps, or baffling falloffs in performance there will be? But what, specifically, will these needs be? We don't know right now. Perez, if used properly, is a place holder, water carrier, extra pair of hands, whatever. He's no more savior than Neifi, I agree, but when is the 25th man ever a savior?

I'll shall vigorously defend Dusty on one point, and one point only. The reason Neifi Perez played so bloody much was because of the otherwise awful middle infield options afforded Dusty. Ronny Cedeno was terrible and Todd Walker was a butcher in the field and an apparent clubhouse cancer. Neifi played because Hendry failed.

ST -

While it is almost impossible to argue about how bad Cedeno was last season, Neifi wasn't much better and lacked the upside. I can't speak for the clubhouse because I wasn't there, but it would seem a little unfair to call Walker a butcher in the field. I didn't see where his defense was so bad that it hurt the team. He was far from the best 2b, but he was not as bad in the field as some would like everyone to believe.

Someguy — March 15, 2007 @ 7:23 am
What is the possiblity that Moore could be used as a middle infielder? Wasn’t he a SS at one point? In a pinch could he be used as a SS/2B? That would allow Cedeno to play a full season at AAA and not require a 40 man roster move, plus give Lou a better bat off of the bench than Perez.

=====================================

SOMEGUY: I believe the Cubs will try and develop Scott Moore into a Geoff Blum/Rob Mackowiak-type supersub IF-OF-LHPH at Iowa this year, but I don't exprect him to contend for a bench spot with the Cubs until later this year, or more-likely, next season. Coats has a full year of AAA, but Moore has spent very little time in AAA (one day) and the Majors ("cup of coffee" in September).

He needs to play a lot of OF at Iowa, as well as move around the infield to where he can play various positions (at least passably) He has developed into a VERY patient hitter with plus-power, but he needs more experience at AAA.

And if Mooe has a REALLY good year at Iowa, he could be used as a trading chip in a stretch-drive deal later this season.

Scott Moore reminds me that for a lot of players the Cubs no longer needed/wanted, Hendry has actually extracted some decent value in recent years--the Sosa and Patterson dumps being the exceptions.

Scott Moore, Jose Ceda, Lincoln Holdzkom, Adam Harben, Neal Cotts (via David Aardsma), Roberto Novoa, I'm probably forgetting a couple others. Useful players with upside if nothing else.

I do wish the Cubs had kept Phil Nevin for the bench, but maybe he was insistent on leaving in search of more PT.

As usual a nice write up AZ Phil. I just wanted to add aaron b's .02$ in to the fray. If the cubs indeed did want to add Tomas Perez to the 25 man roster at the end of ST. They SHOULD be able to slip Dopirak through waivers to drop him off the 40 man. ST and the day before the rule 5 are usually the safest days to sneak someone through waivers. This is because most other teams have similar roster crunches going on as well. Novoa would most certainly get scooped up. However Dopirak would presumably not be able to help a MLB team in 07. So I doubt someone is going to complicate their own 40 man to accommodate him. File that under FWIW.

Losing Brian Dopirak will hurt about as much as losing Jason Dubois. In other words, it won't. The guy has zero major league future.

Silent Towel says:

March 15th, 2007 at 8:25 am

I’ll shall vigorously defend Dusty on one point, and one point only. The reason Neifi Perez played so bloody much was because of the otherwise awful middle infield options afforded Dusty. Ronny Cedeno was terrible and Todd Walker was a butcher in the field and an apparent clubhouse cancer. Neifi played because Hendry failed.

...................................................................................

I will agree with that ST. I will also add that the orgaization's failure to give their prospects a shot is a severe failure. Why was a team on pace to lose 100 games last year playing guys like Neifi,Blanco and the like. Why did Theriot rot on the bench until Walker and Neifi were traded. Why havent we given any sort of shot to Mike Fontenot. Why didnt Mike Restovich get a shot to at least platoon with Jack Jones last year. Hendry deserves blame, but so does Dusty. If the manager wont play someone. It makes no sense for the GM to put them on the roster.

The other team starts a lefty, so Murton, DeRosa (right field) and Theriot (2nd) are in the starting lineup. It's the eighth inning and the Cubs are down a run. Pitcher due up, lefty reliever on the mound.

So who pinch hits, Tomas Perez? I don't think he'll be the 25th man. AZ Phil was talking up Kinkade and McGehee earlier in the year. I don't know what became of McGehee, but if he hasn't panned out, they'll deal for someone.

Hey now...Restovich got 20 or 30 AB's.....

Todd Walker:
.277/.352/.390, 6HR 40 RBI
4 errors in 46 games at 2B
76 putouts, 93 assists, 24 double plays

Neifi Perez:
.254/.266/.343, 2 HR, 24 RBI
5 errors in 53 games at 2B
72 putout, 107 assists, 24 double plays

Yeah, that's defensible....

Not to keep the Dusty argument going, but I am sure that many of the decisions made by Hendry were to get the players that Dusty wanted. It would make sense to me that every manager in MLB goes to the GM and says I could really use player x or someone like player x. In Dusty's case it was no hit, no walk, marginally good defensive players who could play more than one position.

Someguy says:

March 15th, 2007 at 9:29 am

Not to keep the Dusty argument going, but I am sure that many of the decisions made by Hendry were to get the players that Dusty wanted. It would make sense to me that every manager in MLB goes to the GM and says I could really use player x or someone like player x. In Dusty’s case it was no hit, no walk, marginally good defensive players who could play more than one position.
...................................................................................

All you need to do is look at the players brought in after Dusty was hired before the 03 season. Several had played for Dusty in SF in the years before.

Shawn Estes
Ramon Martinez
Tom Goodwin
Kenny Lofton at the deadline
Trenidad Hubbard

All saw time that year in Chicago for the 1st time. I would think it wasnt just a coincidence.

Indeed, this is not unique in Chicago.

Ozzie and Kenny Williams work pretty closely concerning personnel decisions.

Virginia Phil says:

March 15th, 2007 at 9:17 am

The other team starts a lefty, so Murton, DeRosa (right field) and Theriot (2nd) are in the starting lineup. It’s the eighth inning and the Cubs are down a run. Pitcher due up, lefty reliever on the mound.

So who pinch hits, Tomas Perez?
-----------------------------------------------------------

I say you pinch hit with Z. :)

In all seriousness Archie, would anyone have a problem seeing Z or Marquis pinchhitting late in a game?

I would...

Unless of course all other position players have been used.

why?

I say let him rip. Z hits better than Neifi ever did or Cedeno ever would. Be fun to watch him break the bat over his leg if he struck out too.

It depends on what you need. If you've got two outs and are tied or down by a run, I wouldn't mind seeing Zambrano over a hitter like Thomas Perez.

I don't think Thomas Perez makes the team. I think it is either Cedeno or a trade for someone else, or possibly a waiver pick up in conjunction with booting Dopirak from the 40 man. Perez is Neifi light, there's no point to him being on the team. Is there a NRI floating around that Lou Piniella liked with the D-Rays? Maybe Sandberg's nephew (though he is a corner guy, I guess).

Between Z's less than graceful base running and his violent swing, there's no way I'd want to see him batting more than he has to. The benefit is nowhere near worth the risk that he gets hurt doing his Bambino impression.

http://www.suntimes.com/sports/deluca/298213,...

Deluca writes Prior's eulogy....

looks like AAA or extended spring training has pretty much been confirmed.

Remember last year Neifi was first off the bench then John Mabry?

Anyone this year will be a vast improvement.

Prior gets ripped not once but twice in today's Bright One-

http://www.suntimes.com/sports/deluca/298213,...

http://www.suntimes.com/sports/mariotti/29821...

Depending on the situation in that game, Z or Marquis (both who are very good hitting pitchers) could be viable off of the bench. Obviously, some would worry about risk of injury, but you can play or manage scared. Using good hitting pitchers as PH gives the manager an extra bat or two late in the game. I would also think it could be an advantage as far as who the opposoing manager brings in. Any move that causes the opposing manager to alter his moves gives your team a slight advantage. Plus, the more swings these guys get, the better they should hit during their starts and that would also help the ball club.

Must be "Throw Prior under the Bus" day at the Sun-Times....

If I needed an XBH I think Z and Marquis would probably be better options than Tomas Perez, but if you just need a single, you'd have to go with Tomas.

I especially don't want Z hitting as he is not as good of a hitter as any regular position player. Look at his stats.

Also, as Vorare stated, the less chance for injury with Z, the better.

Personal opinion...

I can't stand Jay Mariotti, but agree with his assertion completely.

Surfing around the MVN site I found this link to an article about the Phillies by Stark:

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/spring2007/colu...

A couple of interesting things from a Cubs perspective.

'We checked bodog.com, vegas.com, gamblerspalace.com and betus.com. All of those sites listed the Mets as the favorite to represent the NL in the World Series. The Phillies were rated as either the fourth or fifth pick, behind the Dodgers, Cubs and/or Cardinals.'

So despite some people's contention that the Cubs will be lucky to get to .500 this year, the odds makers and the betting public like them. Of course being the most popular team in the NL tends to help.

More intriguing to me, given our current dilema:

'Nevertheless, even Gillick freely admits he's uneasy with a bullpen that has no clear set-up path to Gordon --The Phillies will try to market Jon Lieber for an impact set-up man this spring.'

I am sure Howry or Eyre would be interesting to Gillick. I may let Eyre go for Lieber and $3 million. For Howry I would probably want a real prospect thrown in.

It should have been obvious to everybody that Prior's career was on the ropes after that first start of his.

At this point he won't cut it at Iowa either. Looks like extended ST.

By the way, the Orioles are desperately trying to find a way to justify JASON DUBOIS making the team. He even got a start at 1B where he was said to look like he was lumbering. But, by all accounts his play in the outfield this spring has been "okay." He's got competition for 25th man though. Sam Perlozzo really likes FREDDIE BYNUM's "spark" and "versatility." But then Perlozzo also praised ex-Cub prospects Louis Montanez and Brandon Sing as he shipped them off to minor league camp yesterday.

Dubois' hitting is really standing out on the weak hitting Baltimore. Believe it or not the Orioles have only hit five home runs. Only 1 by a player projected to make the team. Go Dubois! Go!

Silent Towel-

Totally agree.

Remember last year when Neifi and Mabry were the bench options?

Anyone has to be better.

haha, Cubs are always near the top in the pre-season gambling as you said because of their popularity. And yes always......

Vegas has to raise the odds to cover themselves on the off chance this is finally the year.

Is there some study that shows pitchers get hurt a lot while batting or something that I missed? These guys are professional athletes, many of them were pitchers and hitters until they hit the pros. This dumbing down of pitchers and castrating them from being effective with the bat is one of the stupidest decisons ever made. Might as well just have a DH. Baseball would be far better off if teams let pitchers practice their hitting the 3 of 5 days their not doing anything else (at least for starters).

I don't see any point in "giving up" on Prior. He's ours, we aren't getting anything of value if we trade/dump him, so we might as well just let him do his thing and hope for the best. Personally, I view him as just one of our many prospects -- highly talented, young, lots of obstacles to overcome before he can be a successful major league pitcher.

The best thing for Prior right now would probably be for Lou to declare him out of the running for the 5th starter slot. Send him to Iowa to get his shit together, and if he can do that he becomes first in line to fill any gaps in the rotation.

Before anyone gets all self-righteous though, $300 million spending spree will also get on top of the gambling boards as well. It's probably a little bit of both this year...

I don't want Z pinch hitting, swinging to plunk one in the lake, in a clutch situation; thinking about torn obliques or something. But if he can contain himself to situational hitting (can he?) maybe...

Just call me nervous

Rob:

My fears regarding pitcher's hitting is very much specific to Big Z. The way he approaches every at bat (HULK SMASH BALL) combined with his sometimes questionable conditioning and track record of back problems is a recipe for disaster, in my opinion.

Z aside, I think pitcher's are very much underused as pinch hitters (especially when there's a need for a simple fundamental at bat -- a bunt, a grounder away to move a runner forward, etc.).

well you and everyone else in baseball, dave in pitt.

But it's a lot of worrying over nothing in my opinion. Do pitchers hurt themselves in college when they hit? Was there some epidemic in the 30's, 40's, 50's of pitchers getting hurt while hitting or running the base paths? Sure it would be unfortunate a stray pitch caught a guy in the wrist and knocked him out for 6 weeks, but it's no more likely to happen to a pitcher than an everyday player. And the more practice it, I think the less likely they'd get injured.

The Real Neal:
"So despite some people’s contention that the Cubs will be lucky to get to .500 this year, the odds makers and the betting public like them. Of course being the most popular team in the NL tends to help."

It doesn't just tend to help, it is the reason. The Cubs will always be lower odds than they should to win the WS because of their fan base. FWIW, in Vegas, the over/inder amount of wins is 82.5.

Rob G. — March 15, 2007 @ 10:50 am
Deluca writes Prior’s eulogy….

looks like AAA or extended spring training has pretty much been confirmed.

=============================

FWIW, Mark Prior cannot refuse an optional assignment to the minors until he accrues another 41 days of MLB service time, so if he is healthy enough to pitch, he can be optioned to Iowa out of ST. And then if he were to spend at least 142 days on optional assignment to the minors in 2007 (at least through August 21st), Prior would not have enough MLB service time to be a FA after the 2008 season. He would have to wait until after the 2009 season to be a FA.

Of course, the Cubs probably wouldn't be thrilled having to pay Prior $3.5M+ to pitch an entire season at Iowa, and if he doesn't show enough improvement to warrant getting recalled anytime before late August, the Cubs probably would just non-tender him next December, rather than offer him arbitration again.

But if he were to be optioned to Iowa and then go on the DL, that's minor league DL time, unless the Cubs recall him to place him on the 60-day DL (like if he has shoulder surgery and they need his 40-man roster slot). If he were to be recalled from Iowa and placed on the 60-day DL sometime prior to August 21st, he would accrue enough MLB service time in 2007 to stay on track toward free-agency post-'08.

he'd probably hurt an oblique before he hurt his back on a swing. And it's not like he's picture perfect with his pitching mechanics or anything, might as well worry about him hurting himself on the mound and in both cases, hitting and pitching, he's shown an amazing durability. Just keep him away from the computers...

http://www.suntimes.com/sports/baseball/white...

Kenny chewed out Sisco, he should be use to that...

Sosa has to be added to the 40-man today or he can become a FA, Rangers may ask for an extension though so they're not forced to make a roster move.

'It doesn’t just tend to help, it is the reason. The Cubs will always be lower odds than they should to win the WS because of their fan base.'

Interesting. Can you prove this? That would be really interesting.

well not sure if I can "prove" it (is there a gambling-reference.com where they have historical data on past odds?), nor do I care to waste the time to, but my recollection is that every spring the story of the Cubs odds comes out and it's always near the top 5, maybe top 10.

Believe it if you wish...

The Real Neal:
"Interesting. Can you prove this? That would be really interesting."

Nope, I really can't, but if you are really "interested" call the sports book of any major Vegas casino and i am sure they will tell you.

What about Soriano as an extra middle infielder?

I guess the question is what the purpose of a 4th middle IF is.

If it is an emergency thing (Theriot has already subbed for Derossa and Izturis pulls a hamstring), then it would seem for the rest of that game you could shift Soriano in to play 2B. Likewise, you could probably move Barrett to 3B in a pinch in a similar situation. Obviously these aren't long term positions, but they would work for a few innings.

Obviously though if someone were banged up for a few games and needed a couple of off days having the limited # of IF would hamper the flexibility.

My point is that it's odds. Every year one team's odds were too high, and every other teams' odds were too low. What the odds 'should be' is totally subjective so it is impossible to say that they're always too high, or too low.

The odds makers also know the player's gambling tendencies. If they can get 3:1 for the Cubs, they would set it at 3:1. It's not like every year they say 'wow, there are a lot of Cubs fans!'.

If it were legal I wouldn't mind plunking down a $100 on that over, though.

Soriano hasn't taken a grounder now in 2 years and was possibly the worst defensive 2b in the league when he did play there. It would have to be quite the emergency I'd say, such as Neifi being the 3rd catcher.

I fully agree, I certainly wouldn't want Soriano at 2B for anything more than a couple of innings. What are your thoughts on the "need" for an extra middle infielder?

You're confusing gambling board betting pools with Las Vegas odds.

The actual futures line in Vegas for the Cubs is 15-1 right now. That ranks them in a tie for 8th with Houston.

Vegas has the Mets, Dodgers, Cardinals and Phillies in the playoffs.

'Cubs odds comes out and it’s always near the top 5, maybe top 10. '

Every year the player salaries come out and guess what? The Cubs are always near the top 5, maybe the top 10.

It's been pretty rare in the last decade or so when the Cubs weren't considered contenders going into the season. Before 1999, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 they were for sure. I can't remember the other years but it has been a long time since I said to myself 'man, this team has no chance'.

CWTP where is that from?

I thought the DeLuca and Mariotti pieces on Prior were wrongheaded even considering the source (sportswriters). Prior must have acted in a way to annoy these guys on a personal, day-to-day level and now they're getting even with him.

I've never understood the resentment toward Prior on this board, but maybe it's the beat writers' anger trickling down.

I think when Prior got pushed back from starting today (right?) that was the death knell for the writers. It just took these two guys a few days to figure it out.

I hope he throws 94 on Saturday and strikes out 7 in four innings, aside from the fact that it would help the Cubs, it would be make Mariotti look like an even bigger idiot.

yeah, he had a longer session with Rotshchild on Tuesday than they planned so they pushed him back to Friday.

The sky is falling...

The sky is falling…

Nah, everything is just peachy.......

*cough* Tomas Perez kept as a pinch hitting utility infielder? Uhm, no.

One thing a lot of people tend to forget on here is that Soriano himself said that if Lou asked him to play 2nd base for a game or two that he would do it.

That means that Theriot can be the utility guy, and if he's currently in the game (giving a regular player the day off), then Soriano can move in to play 2nd base, and DeRosa can move over to 3rd or SS if needed. These moves allowing a Cliff Floyd, Daryl Ward, or even an Angel Pagan to pinch hit.

It all works. And if Pinella and Hendry can't figure that out, then I guess RobG should have to eat his Cubs hat!

So Sayeth the God of WAR!

Lets just say that if Mark Prior were a thoroughbred racehorse, he'd be taken out to the pasture and shot. When the subject of Prior comes up, Lou Piniella departs from his usual candor and speaks in measured and ridiculously complimentary tones. I think it's his charitable way of saying that Prior is, for all intents and purposes, dead to him.

IMO, Prior is done. The only thing left to do is take him out to the pasture and getting the shooting done.

"Don't try to coddle me. I'm 24 years old. I've been playing pro ball for six years, and I've heard it all."

oh that is THE perfect sisco quote.

IVE BEEN HERE 6 YEARS!@#!@ IVE HEARD IT ALL!@#!@#

In Sicos's defense. Who has ever heard of a ML GM riding around on a golf cart and yelling at players and umpires before? 'Bush League' is too nice an adjective to apply to that kind of behavior. I don't like the Sox, I don't like Andy Sisco but I have never been embarrased for a GM before like I was for Williams when I read that article. As stupid as Jim Hendry is (and I think he is plenty stupid), he at least can maintain a professional decorum. The only thing worse than a GM in over his head, is a GM in over his head who accidentilly won a World Series. He and Guillen are perfect for eachother. When they nose out the Royals for fourth place this year, I would love to be a fly on the wall for their lack of organizational meetings.

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