TCR Digs Up The Best Of: This Week in Cub Baseball, AZ Phil Style
Here at TCR we're always trying to add value to our readers. One of the ideas discussed recently was that many fantastic posts in the comment section get overlooked when time is limited. Also some of our readers get their dose of TCR via RSS feeds and never see the comments section. In an attempt to feature "the best of TCR", I'll dig up some of the comments that aren't to be missed and make this a semi-regular feature. It will be a regular feature once Rob G. hires us a full time executive secretary (so everyone please click on all those advertisement links).
The maiden voyage of this feature starts with the spotlight on the amazing Arizona Phil. We all know him as the guru of all things Cubs, including roster machinations, their farm system, mlb/milb rules and regs and of course Cubs history A to Z, George Altman to Carlos Zambrano... or is it H to H, John Holland to Jim Hendry?
(Also this demonstrates how well I can cut and paste, just like being in the operating room ala Dr. Nick!)
Post #31: Cubs Decline Blanco's Option, TCR 10/31/08.
Submitted by Charlie on Sat, 11/01/2008 - 10:55am.
"The Cubs lucked-out with Type 'B' FA Juan Pierre that way a couple of years ago" Happened with Kendall last year, too, no?
I don't see any time signing Howry until after the Arb. deadline, given that they could lose a first round draft pick. But those top 15 draft picks are protected, right? So if a team in that first 15 were to sign him they wouldn't actually lose any draft picks, the Cubs would just gain a 1st round pick and a sandwich pick?
CHARLIE: Yes, Jason Kendall also signed with a new club before 12/1, so the Cubs got a supplemental (sandwich) 1st round pick (who turned out to be Ryan Flaherty, one of the Cubs Top 10 prospects IMO) without having to offer arbitration to Kendall. A club is more likely to sign a Type "B" FA than a Type "A" FA prior to 12/1, though,because while the player's former club does get a compensation draft pick for losing a Type "B," it's just one draft pick, and it's a supplemental pick between the 1st and 2nd round and doesn't cost the player's new club a draft pick. Signing a Type "A" FA prior to 12/1 would cost the new club one of it'own draft picks (either 1st or 2nd round). Of course, that didn't stop the Cubs from signing free-agents like Alfonso Soriano, Jacque Jones, Scott Eyre, and Bob Howry (and losing draft picks as a result) prior to 12/1!
If a club picking in the Top 15 of the 1st Round of next June's Rule 4 Draft signs Howry (or any other Type "A" Article XX FA) prior to 12/1 (or after 12/1 if the player's former club offers salary arbitration), that team would lose their 2nd Round pick to the player's former team and the former team would also get a pick in the Supplememntal 1st Round (between the 1st and 2nd round).
One other thing to remember is that if a team signs more than one Type "A" FA where compensation is required, that team would lose multiple draft picks, but not all of the teams receiving the compensation draft picks would be able to get the signing team's 1st (or even 2nd) round pick.
For instance, if the Yankees were to sign three Type "A" free-agents this off-season, and all three players require compensation, and one of them is Howry, if the other two Type "A" free-agents they sign have higher statistical ratings than Howry, the Cubs would end up getting the Yankees' 2009 3rd round pick instead of the Yankees' 1st or 2nd round pick.
Again, I would expect the Cubs to offer arbitration to Dempster and Wood (and the Cubs would be thrilled if Demp and Woody would accept the offer), but they will not offer arbitration to Howry. And I would be shocked if Howry signs with a new club prior to 12/1.
Post #25: Cubs Decline Blanco's Option, TCR 10/31/08.
Submitted by big_lowitzki on Fri, 10/31/2008 - 4:47pm.
I don't know that it matters. Will the Cubs really offer arbitration to Home Run Howry?
Submitted by Charlie on Fri, 10/31/2008 - 3:56pm.
I think that would depend largely on what Howry would get in arbitration. Any thoughts from people who know the process?
CHARLIE: To get draft pick compensation, Hendry will have to decide by December 1st whether to offer arbitration to the three Cubs who are rated Type "A" or Type "B" Article XX free-agents (Dempster, Howry, and Wood).
If they aren't already signed by 12/1, the Cubs will certainly offer arbitration to Dempster and Wood (Demp and/or Woody agreeing to a one-year contract would be great for the Cubs), and ideally, another GM (Ed Wade, maybe?) will sign Bob Howry before December 1st and the Cubs won't have to offer him arbitation. They'll just get the draft picks.
But if Howry doesn't sign elsewhere by December 1st, the Cubs could offer salary arbitration, hoping that because Howry thinks he can get a multi-year deal with another club, he will will reject the offer (and this happens fairly often).
But even if the Cubs offer Howry arbitration and even if he accepts, the Cubs could still release him in Spring Training, and if that happens, they would only have to pay 1/6 or 1/4 of his 2009 salary (1/6 if they place him on Release Waivers at least 18 days prior to Opening day, or 1/4 of his salary if they place him on Release Waivers anytime between 17 and four days prior to Opening Day), but to avoid losing a near-certain grievance that will be filed if he were to get released prior to Opening Day, the Cubs would have to make sure that other pitchers have outperforned Howry statistically in Spring Training and that the pitchers who outperformed Howry make the Cubs 2009 Opening Day roster.
You might remember that happened with Todd Walker a couple of years ago. Walker was an Article XX FA post-2006, and was offered arbitration by the Padres. Walk accepted, and won his case, getting $3.95M from the arbitration panel (the Padres offered $2.75M). But then Walker was released during Spring Training (March 2007) because the Padres claimed he had been outplayed by other infield candidates (and that was actually fairly obvious, at least statistically), and the Padres in fact did win the subsequent grievance and had to pay "only" 1/4 of Walker's 2007 salary (about $970K). So it cost the Padres almost a million dollars to offer Walker arbitration, and they didn't even get a draft pick out of it because Walker accepted the arbitration offer!
Usually about two or maybe three Article XX free-agents accept arbitration offers every year. Hopefully Howry has delusions of grandeur and will consider an offer of salary arbitration to be an insult.
If I had to guess, I would say the Cubs will NOT offer Howry arbitration. The cost of paying him if he were to accept the offer just isn't worth the financial risk, even if the Cubs could get a couple of draft picks if they offer arbitration and Howry declines.
The "best case scenario" for the the Cubs is that Howry will sign with a new club by 12/1 and the Cubs will get the draft picks without having to risk offering Howry salary arbitration. The Cubs lucked-out with Type "B" FA Juan Pierre that way a couple of years ago, when Dodgers GM Ned Colletti signed Pierre prior to December 1st and the Cubs never had to offer Pierre arbitration in order to get a compensation draft pick (who turned out to be Josh Donaldson).
Post #3, Brewers Claim Casey McGehee off Waivers, 10/30/08
Submitted by Chifan on Thu, 10/30/2008 - 10:53am.
Why do you think that the Front Office decided to take McGehee off the 40-man roster? If they wanted to create space they could have easily DFA'd Fox, Fuld, Harben, or K. Hill? It seemed during his playing time they clinched, he was looking like someone who could be a valuable RH bench bat next year at some point.
Are there alot of valuable players in the farm system that we need to protect from the Rule V draft and Minor League Free Agency or do they just feel that Fox is a better as a RH corner IF/OF and emergency catcher option?
CHIFAN: Good question.
There was really no obvious need to remove Casey McGehee from the 40-man roster right now, because there will be six more slots available on the 40 once the Cubs Article XX free-agents file for free-agency over the next couple of weeks, and I can't see the Cubs adding more than five minor league prospects (Mitch Atkins, Donald Veal, and Nate Spears for sure, plus possibly Justin Berg, and maybe J. R. Mathes) to the 40-man roster by the 11/20 cut-off date.
And even if they do add five minor leaguers, and even if they re-sign Dempster, Wood, and Blanco, that still leaves one slot open even if McGehee had remained on the 40.
Now, if the Cubs definitely felt they wanted to outright McGehee during the off-season, instead of non-tendering him on 12/12 and then trying to re-sign him to a minor league contract, they needed to outright him prior to next Monday. That's because a player who is brought up to the big leagues after August 15th can't be outrighted between the 4th day after the conclusion of the World Series and 25 days prior to the start of the following year's regular season.
But why outright McGehee and not Brad Snyder (for example)?
The Cubs claimed Brad Snyder off Outright Waivers from Cleveland last month, but the Cubs were the last MLB club in line to make a claim on that player at that time. That's because the Cubs had the best record in the N. L. at the time, and all of the clubs in the A. L. and all of the clubs below the Cubs in the N. L. standings (and that's everybody) would have been awarded the claim if they had made one. So if there was no interest in Snyder then, why would there suddenly be any interest now?
And I would think McGehee would have more value than Jake Fox among the right-handed hitters at the top levels of the Cubs farm system, too. Fox has only one minor league option remaining and has yet to show he can hit at AAA, while McGehee is an accomplished AAA player with three minor league options left.
But the bottom line is, the Cubs didn't need McGehee's roster slot right away, and even if the slot would have been needed eventually, Snyder or Fox would seem to be better choices to cut.
BTW, Adam Harben was outrighted last month after the Cubs claimed Brad Snyder off waivers, and Harben is eligible to be a six-year minor league FA.
MLB should be releasing the list of minor league free-agents sometime in the next couple of days (or next Monday at the latest), and then we'll find out how many Cubs minor league free-agents signed 2009 minor league contracts with the Cubs after the conclusion of the MLB regular season.
Article XX-B minor league free-agents (those are the players who were outrighted during the 2008 season who had at least three years of MLB service time or who had been previously outrighted in their career, where the player deferred his right to be a FA until after the season) are allowed to file for free-agency anytime between the end of the MLB regular season and October 15th, and then they can sign with a new club immediately (see Jayson Nix), but all other minor league FAs have to wait until the end of the MLB Free-Agency Filing Period to sign with a new organization.
Until the conclusion of the World Series, MLB clubs have an exclusive club option to add their own minor league free-agents to their 40-man roster. After that, the minor league FA can still opt to re-sign with his old club, but then it becomes a mutual agreement rather than an absolute club option. Usually if a minor league FA doesn't re-up with his old organization prior to the end of the World Series, it means he has decided to try his luck elsewhere.
Post #4, Brewers Claim Casey McGehee off Waivers, 10/30/08
Submitted by Arizona Phil on Thu, 10/30/2008 - 1:52pm.
September-October is the busiest time of the year for waiver claims, even moreso than the end of Spring Training.
Just in the last two months, 13 players have been claimed off Outright Waivers, Casey McGehee getting claimed by the Brewers being the most recent one.
Here is the complete list:
CLAIMED BY BOSTON:
RHP Dewon Day from CHW
RHP Virgil Vasquez from DET
CLAIMED BY CUBS:
OF Brad Snyder from CLE
CLAIMED BY KC:
RHP Jairo Cuevas from ATL
CLAIMED BY MIL:
RHP Todd Coffey from CIN
3B Casey McGehee from CUBS
CLAIMED BY STL:
LHP Charlie Manning from WAS
CLAIMED BY SD:
RHP Charlie Haeger from CHW
RHP Scott Patterson from NYY
2B Travis Denker from SF
CLAIMED BY TOR:
LHP Reid Santos from CLE
RHP Dirk Hayhurst from SD
RHP Bryan Bullington from CLE
Post #68, Barry Rozner Plays With the Hearts of Cubs Fans, 10/28/08
Submitted by Pat Kane on Tue, 10/28/2008 - 12:19pm (post #55).
Very interesting article on the idea of stretching out Marmol to be a starter. Similiar approach to what the Yanks did with Chamberlain. Point being that his cheap years of being under club control are being burned while he is a set up guy, better bang for your buck if he is a front end starter. Most relievers became releivers because they could not cut it as a starter....Marmol has never been given a fair chance. Look at his numbers.
Submitted by Arizona Phil on Wed, 10/29/2008 - 10:37am.
The Cubs projected Carlos Marmol as a reliever a year or two before they moved him from the starting rotation to the bullpen.
The Cubs discovered that when Marmol works out of the pen, he adds 3 MPH to his fastball when he doesn't have to pace himself, he can junk his below-average secondary stuff and use his slider more often, and he has much better control of his fastball and slider.
As long as he remains a Cub, Marmol will absolutely, positively NOT be moved to the starting rotation. His eventual future will be as the Cubs closer, although there is no rush unless the Cubs do not re-sign Kerry Wood. Marmol excels as a set-up guy because he's so good at stranding runners when he comes into a game with men on base.
Post #7, Tyler Colvin undergoes Tommy John Surgery, 10/27/08
Submitted by Arizona Phil on Mon, 10/27/2008 - 11:09am.
Tyler Colvin has had shoulder and elbow problems ever since the Cubs moved him from LF to RF after the 2006 season, and it's why he was moved from RF to CF in 2007 and then back to LF in 2008.
Because the Cubs presume Alfonso Soriano will be playing LF through 2014, several players in the organzation who were projected as left-fielders when they signed (most notably Tyler Colvin, Brandon Guyer, Cliff Andersen, Drew Rundle, and Ty Wright) were put on arm strengthening programs with the hope they could eventually play either CF or RF instead, but sometimes when you do that the player develops elbow and/or shoulder problems.
In the case of Colvin, he was moved from 1B to LF when he got to Clemson and was tried in CF by the Cubs to take advantage of his speed and athleticism, but 1B is his "natural" position. So I wouldn't be surprised if Colvin is moved back to 1B once he completes his TJS rehab, with a move back to LF only if he gets traded.
Sometimes a young player relaxes at the plate once he is moved to the position where he feels most-comfortable, and that could be the case with Tyler Colvin.
Post #9, Tyler Colvin undergoes Tommy John Surgery, 10/27/08
Submitted by Charlie on Mon, 10/27/2008 - 10:40am.
"Sometimes a young player relaxes at the plate once he is moved to the position where he feels most-comfortable, and that could be the case with Tyler Colvin."
I hope so. His career isn't looking so promising at this point, and right now he doesn't appear to project to be the sort of offensive performer you want at either LF or 1B.
If he's still got the speed for CF, will his arm really stop him from playing that position? It's not like Juan Pierre could ever throw.
CHARLIE: Tyler Colvin has the speed to play CF, but not even considering his arm, I would still rate him as a below-average defender (at least so far).
If you can hit you can play LF even with below-average "ballhawk" skills, but that becomes more problematic when that same guy plays CF. And if Alfonso Soriano is entrenched in LF through 2014, Colvin might have to get traded to play the one outfield position (LF) where he isn't a defensive liability.
Now, it's possible that over time Colvin will develop into a passable CF (and if he remains with the Cubs and doesn't move to 1B he might just HAVE to play CF), but right now I can't see him as an MLB CF.
Brandon Guyer is another player who has morphed into a Top 15 prospect, but like Colvin, the Cubs would prefer Guyer play CF or RF instead of LF (Guyer played 3B in HS but was moved to LF at UVA because Ryan Zimmerman was there).
To that end, the Cubs played Guyer only in CF and RF in the AZ Instructional League post-2008, but Guyer is basically still a LF, and it's very, very unlikely that he has te arm to play RF or (somewhat less-likely) the defensive skills to play CF.
While he plays with a lot of energy (he's an Eric Byrnes clone), he still looks like a LF to me. That said, Guyer will probably play a lot of CF at Daytona in 2009, with the hope that he can maybe master the position at least to the extent that he won't be a liability out there.
Post #14, Tyler Colvin undergoes Tommy John Surgery, 10/27/08
Submitted by VirginiaPhil on Mon, 10/27/2008 - 4:23pm.
Guyer had ten assists in 80 games at Peoria last season. That's a pretty good number. He got six assists in left field and four in center. He played about twice as many games in left.
VA PHIL: Brandon Guyer had a fractured elbow in Spring Training so he was used mostly as a DH at EXST, but when I saw him play CF recently in the AZ Instructional League, the SS or 2B had to go halfway out into CF to get the relay throw when Guyer was throwing from the warning track, and his throws were weak from RF, too (Jacque Jones-like).
The best OF arms in the Cubs minor leagues belong to Kyler Burke, Ryan Harvey, Nelson Perez, Felix Pie, and Sam Fuld.
Post #20, Tyler Colvin undergoes Tommy John Surgery, 10/27/08
Submitted by jacos on Mon, 10/27/2008 - 6:47pm.
AZ Phil- Great to see you again.
What can you tell me about Donnie Veal?
Will Cubs start stretching out Smardjza in winter league or wait for ST for starter role?
JACOS: Although Donald Veal has been EXTREMELY wild in the AFL, he still will be added to the 40-man roster.
The more I see of Veal, the more I am convinced that his future is as an "every-day" lefty specialist. He just throws too many pitches-per-inning to be a starter, and because he has a lot of trouble repeating his delivery and finding a consistent release point, throwing no more than one inning per appearance but doing it more often would probably be the best way to keep him from getting out of whack. As I've said before, Veal is like a European sports car.
Jeff Samardzija is taking the winter off, as the Cubs apparently feel he has thrown enough innings in 2008. As for whether The Shark will start or relieve in 2009, it depends on whether the Cubs re-sign Kerry Wood and/or Ryan Dempster, and if they do re-sign Dempster, whether they can unload Jason Marquis and his $9M+ '09 salary.
If the Cubs don't re-sign Wood, but do re-sign Dempster and do not trade Marquis, then I would say Samardzija will almost certainly be in the bullpen in 2009 (with Carlos Marmol taking over the closer's role). If the Cubs do not re-sign Dempster and/or if they trade Marquis, then Samardzija would probably compete with Sean Marshall and Rich Hill for a rotation starter slot.
BTW, RHP Justin Berg and LHP J. R. Mathes are both throwing well in the Venezuelan Winter League and are making bids to get added to the 40-man roster post-2008, along with RHP Mitch Atkins, LHP Donald Veal, and 2B Nate Spears (the latter three being virtual "locks" to get added to te 40).
The Cubs presently have 39 players on their 40-man roster, with eight potential free-agents (although two of the potential FA are still on the 60-day DL), so there should be seven open slots on the 40-man roster by 11/20. Even if two slots are left open for Ryan Dempster and Kerry Wood (should the Cubs re-sign one or both), they still could add as many as five minor leaguers to the 40-man roster (that's if if they want to add Atkins, Veal, Spears, Berg, and Mathes to the 40) without having to remove anybody from the 40-man roster.
And if additional roster slots are needed for a FA or two (or three) during the off-season, the Cubs could always just non-tender guys like Billy Petrick, Koyie Hill, Jake Fox, and/or Brad Snyder on 12/12 and then try and re-sign the non-tendered player to a 2009 minor league contract (probably for the minor league split-contract minimum and with an NRI to Spring Training, so that the player would get exactly what he would have gotten in 2009 if he had remained on the 40).
And the Cubs have until the end of the World Series to add potential minor league free-agents to the 40-man roster, in case they want to be sure of retaining control over guys like OF Josh Kroeger, RHP Dumas Garcia, and/or 1B-3B Matt Craig next season. (The Cubs can re-sign any of their minor league FAs to a 2009 minor league contract if the player is willing, but then the player could get selected in the Rule 5 Draft).
As VA Phil mentioned in an earlier comment above, Kroeger is absolutely hitting the bejeebers out of the ball in Venezuela (Kroeger leads the VWL in BA, OBP, and SLG). Kroeger is basically doing in Venezuela right now what Jody Gerut did there a year ago, and Gerut ended up having a fine season with the Padres in 2008.