Archive - Dec 2009

UPDATE #2: Rob Neyer linked up to us and didn't cut my article to shreds. Neat.

UPDATE: Wittenmyer tweets that it's $3M for 2010, then $5.5 in 2011 and $6.5M in 2012...not terribly unreasonable and similar to DeRosa's deal from the Cubs (2.75, 4.75, 5.5M). Now only if Byrd could play as well as DeRosa did his two years with the Cubs.


The Cubs signed outfielder Marlon Byrd to a three year, $15M deal today. As one would expect with a Jim Hendry contract, it's backloaded to give the Cubs more flexibility this season. Specific terms have yet to be released.

Byrd will be penciled in to play center field and if or when he proves he can't handle that on a regular basis, he'll be a perfectly adequate 4th outfielder and the Cubs will continue their center field quest. $5M a year is actually a decent price for Byrd, but depending on the structure of the deal, the final year will probably be impossible to unload when the Cubs realize they're paying a back-up outfielder $6-$8M or whatever it ends up to be.

I gave my thoughts on Byrd earlier, but the cliff notes version is: decent offensive production for center fielder,  terrifying home/road splits over the last 3 years including a major drop in power, walks way too little and at best an average center fielder.

Feel the excitement.

Assuming no more than some bullpen and bench roles to be added, I expect the Opening Day lineup will be:

Theriot, Fukudome, Lee, Ramirez, Byrd, Soriano, Soto, Baker or Fontenot

I also expect Lou to start bitching about needing a left handed bat in the lineup by March 1st. He may flip the 7 and 8 spots and if Soto has a good spring and Byrd doesn't, they could flip as well. Here's hoping Soriano and Soto get their groove back.

Happy New Years Cubs fans!!!

(Give credit to QuietMan for the brilliant headline)

December 30th

Here's the latest Cubs prospects list from John Sickels.

  1. Starlin Castro (B+)
  2. Josh Vitters (B+)
  3. Brett Jackson (B)
  4. Jay Jackson (B)
  5. Andrew Cashner(B)
  6. Hak-Ju Lee (B)
  7. Chris Carpenter (B-)
  8. Kyler Burke (B-)
  9. Ryan Flaherty (B-)
  10. D.J. LeMahieu (C+)
  11. Brooks Raley (C+)
  12. Logan Watkins (C+)
  13. Esmailin Caridad (C+)
  14. Blake Parker (C+)
  15. John Gaub (C+)
  16. Matt Spencer (C+)
  17. Dae-Eun Rhee (C+)
  18. Casey Coleman (C+)
  19. Tyler Colvin (C)
  20. Jeff Beliveau (C)

You can view past lists by Sickels at Wiklifield. 

He has 9 of the same 10 names that Baseball America had in their top 10, although he's higher on Kyler Burke and dropped Logan Watkins to make the room. Arizona Phil's Top 15 shares most of the same names as well. There's still the Baseball Prospectus and Scout.com lists before another edition of Prospect Listmania.

December 26th

Who do you turn to?

BRUCE LEVINE

It's been really slow in the Cub universe of news. The baseball winter meetings were a horror show as far as this Cub fan could tell.

I'm incredibly news starved when you consider that I took running notes on BL's "Talking Baseball" show on ESPN-1000 radio. This week, his 2 hour baseball gab session with sidekick Jonathan Hood covered three main Cub topics: CF, 2B and the bullpen.

So here's an IV dose of baseball, Bruce Levine "Talking Baseball" style. What follows are my notes and occasional commentary from the Saturday post-Christmas program. After the jump...

Andre Dawson was born the same year I was - 1954. His birthday is the same as my eldest child’s - July 10. But neither of those trivial bits have anything at all to do with his candidacy for election to baseball’s hall of fame.

There’s a strong numerical case to be made on behalf of The Hawk. I’ll leave it to others to keep making it. But once it’s been laid out I’d add a couple of intangible, immeasurable flourishes as finishing touches.

I remember a game that I want to say, but can’t prove, happened during Dawson’s MVP season of 1987 when everything he did seemed spectacular. Whoever was the starting pitcher for the Cubs on this particular day didn’t have it and was getting cuffed around in the top of the 1st. The first two outs of the game were accomplished by Dawson throwing runners out at the plate, prompting an admiring Harry Caray to remark, “Dawson’s pitching a better game than [fill in the blank]!”

A more generic endorsement of his worthiness, in my book, is the trouble he went to on a daily basis just to take the field. Dawson was known for spending a couple of hours both before and after games icing his fragile knees so he could stay in the lineup and off the DL. He not only insisted on playing, he managed to do it at a consistently high level. People always talk about athletes as role models for kids. The hell with that. What about serving as role models for their peers? I always thought Dawson must have been a tremendous example in the clubhouse of how a true professional should approach his craft.

And then on a related note, of course, there’s the quasi-legendary blank contract that Dawson accepted to play for the Cubs in the first place, confident that his production would be fairly compensated after the fact instead of on the come.

Milton Bradley and, his prodigious power numbers notwithstanding, Sammy Sosa may have been highly paid for their time in right field at Wrigley, but you can combine the two at their respective bests and still have nothing more than a cheap imitation of Andre Dawson.

He was truly menacing both in the field and at the plate in ways that only the very best ever are. If you insist on numbers, Dawson compiled those too. But mostly he stacked up exclamations like, “Holy Cow!”

Here’s hoping he gets in this time around and holds the door open for Santo next year

December 24th

Previous Reviews: 2001, 2000

Although the season ended in disappointment, the Cubs seemed to have something to build on after a mostly successful 2001 and a farm system rated as one of the best in the leagues with up and coming prospects like Corey Patterson, Carlos Zambrano, Juan Cruz, Hee Seop Choi, Mark Prior, Ben Christensen, Dave Kelton and Bobby Hill.

December 23rd

The anticipation has reached a fever pitch as Pirates closer Matt Capps is expected to make his final decision today. Take the main set-up role and back-up closing duties in Chicago for a team that shouldn't completely suck...on the sale floor they like to say they're a team in contention.

Or...

Close for a team that has been the worst in baseball over the last two years and big acquisitions so far have been signing Ivan Rodriguez about seven years too late and signing Jason Marquis (insert own joke here). It would stand that as a closer for the Nationals, he'll probably get even less chances than he did in Pittsburgh.

The money being rumored is in the two year, $7-8M range, basically Grabow money. I wasn't overly thrilled with what they gave Grabow or how quickly they gave it to him. On the other hand, I think Capps is a better pitcher despite the hiccup last season, so it certainly wouldn't be the worst middle relief contract Hendry ever handed out.

If Capps decides he wants to close and signs with the Nationals, the Cubs could move on to rehab projects like Kelvim Escobar or maybe hope they can find enough money in the Ricketts sofa cushions to sign Jose Valverde if his price drops after mistakenly not taking the Astros arbitation offer.

December 21st

Previous Reviews: 2000

Coming off a second straight last place finish, Andy MacPhail had his first full offseason to try and rebuild the club after taking over for Ed Lynch.

- The Yankees called the Cubs about Carlos Zambrano according to NY's finest and most respectable newspaper, the NY Post. The article says the Cubs' asking price was high...too high for the Yankees apparently. Bruce Levine says there's nothing to it and adds that Z has been living in Chicago this offseason and seems to dedicated to getting in shape.

- The Cubs are "exploring" a deal with Cuban lefty Aroldis Chapman says Phil Rogers. So far the Red Sox have offered 5/15.5M and the Marlins 5/13M. At 21 years old and capable of throwing a 100mph, even with sketchy control, I would think the Cubs could offer something in the 6/21.5M range and at worse end up with a really good reliever. Let's see how serious the Ricketts are about shoring up the farm system and boosting the young talent inventory of the team.

- The Cubs seem to be one of the finalists for the services of Matt Capps. Apparently him, Tom Gorzelanny and John Grabow were all pretty good friends or at least their wives were and she could be suggesting that Chicago might be the best fit for him and her shopping habits. Wittenmyer's article suggests that it's between the Nationals and the Cubs with the Nationals offering a closing job and the Cubs possibly offering a multi-year deal.

- Wittenmyer says the Cubs are actually getting $5.5M from the Mariners this season as part of the Silva for Bradley swap, opposed to the $3M per year we read about earlier. The second installment of $3.5M would presumably come next season.

- The center field candidates at his point seem to be Marlon Byrd, Scott Podsednik, Rick Ankiel and possibly Brett Gardner or Melky Cabrera via the trade route.

December 18th

Nothing official yet, but it was just a matter of time that once the Cubs moved Bradley, they'd sign their center fielder and with Mike Cameron off the market, that meant Marlon Byrd.

Looking for confirmation on a deal, but Byrd does appear to be the next
domino to fall once the Cubs finalize the Bradley deal. The Rangers
will get a sandwich pick between the first and second rounds in next
year's amateur draft for Byrd. That will give them two first round
picks (one for not signing Matt Purke and their own) and two sandwich
picks (for Byrd and Ivan Rodriguez).

You can find my thoughts on Byrd from a previous post, but to sum up, frightening home/road splits, disappointing walk rate, probably better suited in a 4th OF role. I'd like to see the contract first though before I go too far off the deep end.

UPDATE: Levine has a post up and says Matt Capps may be the first priority. The Nationals are offering up to $4M on a one year deal and the closer job, the Cubs may have to go to a multi-year deal to get him as a primary set-up man. He also say Byrd is asking for a two year deal, although no amount is mentioned. Scott Podsednik is taking a drink from the delusions of grandeur fountain and is seeking 3/$12M.

This hasn't been confirmed yet, but Larry Stone of the Seattle Times is reporting that Carlos Silva will be traded to the Cubs for Milton Bradley. Earlier in the morning, "Monsters of the Midway" (I believe that's Mike North and Dan Jiggetts) said a trade of Bradley to the Mariners was going to happen as well. I also heard Larry Stone on XM radio on my drive in and he said the same thing and that the deal should be announced today or tomorrow.

Seattle always made sense as a possible destination for Bradley, low key media market, opportunity to DH, need some OBP help and they had a terrible contract they wanted to unload. The question was would they take on the Bradley headache and would Hendry be desperate enough to take on Carlos Silva. And apparently he is...

Silva is owed $11.5M in 2010 and $11.5M in 2011 with a 2012 mutual option of $12M with a $2M buyout...that's $25M total compared to $21M owed Bradley, so I would assume they would split the difference or at least get the Mariners to pay the buyout. According to Cot's, Bradley is owed $9M this year and $12M next season, which means if it's a straight up deal, the Cubs added $2.5M to their 2010 payroll. We don't know the full details yet though, so I'm hoping Hendry worked it somehow that it wouldn't further hamper the Cubs 2010 efforts.

There's nothing good to say about Carlos Silva. He's absolutely terrible. When the Mariners signed him two years ago, all of us stat nerds thought it was one of the dumbest things on the planet and that's exactly what it turned out to be. Silva - playing in the very pitcher friendly Safeco - has had ERA's of 6.46 and 8.60 his two seasons there. He did miss most of 2009 with shoulder issues, and althought he avoided surgery, he missed from early May to late September and then made just two bullpen appearances, giving up runs in both games. His career numbers are 60-64 with a 4.72 ERA, a 1.41 WHIP and a laughable 3.8 K/9 rate. He tops that off with a 11.0 H/9 rate (yes, more than a hit an inning and over 12 H/9 the last 2 years). If you thought Jason Marquis was a problem, wait till you see Carlos Silva.

I really don't see why the Cubs just didn't release Bradley rather than wasting roster space and time on Silva. I think the odds are close to 75% that they just end up releasing Carlos Silva in 2010. For the time being, if he isn't on the DL, I assume Silva will compete for a rotation spot in spring training and eventually be the most expensive bullpen arm of the Cubs.

UPDATE: Well everyone is confirming this is happening now...Muskat, Heyman, Tim Brown, Kapman...Merry Effin Christmas Cubs Fans.

UPDATE #2: The Cubs are getting $9M from the Mariners according to Sullivan, so they have that going from them. I would assume it's coming in installments over the next few years rather than one bulk sum in 2010, but we'll wait and see. If by some minor miracle it's all coming in 2010, then the Cubs would be paying just $2.5M for Silva in 2010 and Hendry just found himself $9M under the sofa cushions to throw at Marlon Byrd and Matt Capps or Kelvim Escobar. I'm not sure that's any better.

UPDATE #3: Cubs and Seattle Mariners trade history has been updated.

UPDATE #4: Hendry speaks and takes responsibility for the signing not working out. Cubs play at Seattle in the middle of June next season during my birthday...just in case you wanted to get something for your favorite Cubs blogger.

UPDATE #5: Bradley was apparently owed $22M, not $21M, so the Cubs are saving $6M as has been reported. $25M they owe Silva-$9M they're getting from Mariners = $16M. $22M - $16M = $6M in savings.

UPDATE #6: Cubs will get $3M each year over the next 3 seasons, net savings in 2010 will be $0.5M.

UPDATE #7: Wittenmyer says the Cubs are getting the $9M over two seasons with $5.5M coming for 2010.

December 17th

We already knew about Ryne Sandberg's assignment to manage the Triple A Iowa Cubs, and today the Cubs filled in the gaps.

Affiliate Manager Pitching Coach Hitting Coach
Iowa  Ryne Sandberg Mike Mason Von Joshua
Tennessee Bill Dancy Dennis Lewallyn Tom Beyers
Daytona Buddy Bailey Tom Pratt Richie Zisk
Peoria Casey Kopitzke David Rosario Barbaro Garbey
Boise Jody Davis Jeff Fassero Ricardo Medina
AZL Cubs Juan Cabreja Rick Tronerud Desi Wilson
DSL Cubs #1 Manuel Callado Leo Hernandez Alberto Garcia
DSL Cubs #2 TBA Anderson Tavares Leo Perez

The minor league coordinators are: Dave Bialas (Minor League Field Coordinator), Mark Riggins (Pitching Coordinator), Dave Keller (Hitting Coordinator), Carmelo Martinez (Latin American Field Coordinator), Franklin Font (Roving Infield & Bunting Instructor), Bob Dernier (Roving Outfield & Baserunning Instructor), and Marty Pevey (Roving Catching Instructor). 

News like this is why December is the most magical time of the year.

December 16th

The New Year is fast approaching which means it's time for everyone's year in review articles. This year we get the added bonus of the end of decade. Due to the baseball schedule and offseason, I'll be looking at each individual season from the end of the previous season to the end of that season. Let's travel through the looking glass together and remember simpler times.

December 15th

Let's see here, Yankees get Curtis Granderson, Mariners add Figgins and Cliff Lee, Phillies swap Roy Halladay for Cliff Lee essentially, Red Sox add Lackey and Cameron so far and the Cubs are looking at Joel "4.4 K/9" Pineiro.

- Buster Olney is the one with the Cubs/Pineiro rumor from yesterday. Supposedly Piniero wants a four year deal worth more than $10M plus a season. Why am I afraid that didn't scare the Cubs off?

- Scratch Mike Cameron off the Cubs center field wish list, he's signing with the Red Sox for 2/15.5M to play left field of all places. I'm sure he'll get some time in center, but seems like a waste of his talent and value, which mostly comes from being an exceptional center fielder. That leaves Marlon Byrd, Scott Podsednik and Rick Ankiel among the supposed center fielders the Cubs are interested in, with Byrd clearly being the front-runner.

- Juan Pierre returns to Chicago....the South Side that is, for 2 minor league arms(appear to be John Ely and Jon Link) and the Dodgers paying around $10M of the $18.5M he has left on his deal.

- According to Rosenthal, the Yankees are quite interested in Ben Sheets, but are in no rush to sign him.

- It seems like half the league is in on Matt Capps, with at least 3 teams willing to offer him a closer role. Considering Capps wants $3-$4M, plus a multi-year deal, I doubt the Cubs will land him, especially since it sounds like he'll be able to close somewhere else.

- I'm still trying to grasp this 3-team blockbuster deal. I believe it's Roy Halladay and $6M to the Phillies who send Kyle Drabek, Michael Taylor and Travis D'Arnaud to the Blue Jays. The Phillies then send Cliff Lee to the Mariners and get Phillipe Aumont, Tyson Gillies and Juan Ramirez from the Mariners and are not sending any of those players to Toronto. The Blue Jays are then sending Michael Taylor to the A's for Brett Wallace. So essentially it's just three separate deals and one in which the Phillies make out like bandits. They basically got from the Mariners what they gave up for Halladay (albeit slightly inferior talent) and the Phils get $6M to pay Halladay.

- The Florida group had a party last night to raise money for their continued efforts to lure the Cubs.

- The Cubs were in attendance along with 14 other teams for Aroldis Chapman's throwing session today in Houston. The 21-year old lefty topped out at 96mph and threw a few sliders and change-ups.

December 14th

While Jim Hendry and the front office continue doing absolutely nothing, I try to come up with blog material. Here's one just for fun, a list of my all-time and current favorite players to watch. This has little to do with my generally numbers obsessed way of analyzing the game, rather just the guys I like to watch play. Now my all-time list was heavily influenced when I was a child and the players that had cool batting stances or pitching motions that we would then try and emulate during recess and after school and of course the Cubs. As I get older, I tend to have a finer appreciation for the more talented players that just make the game look easy.

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December 13th

As expected, the Cubs opted not to tender a 2010 Major League contract to LHP Neal Cotts, making Cotts a free-agenct. Cotts would have been eligible for salary arbitration if he had been tendered a contract, and could not have had his $1.1M 2009 salary cut by more than 20%. So Non-tendering Cotts will save the Cubs about $1M in 2010 payroll, and reduces the Cubs MLB Reserve List (40-man roster) to 37 players.


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