Archive - 2011

January 15th

January 13th

We've had a bit of a discussion lately about back-up catchers with the trading away of Robinson Chirinos, the signing of Max Ramirez and the head-scratching re-upping of Koyie Hill via the arbitraton process. Reader WISCGRAD put together a spreadsheet of catchers by Baseball Reference's WAR values which does include a defensive component.

January 12th

ESPN's Bruce Levine reports that the Cubs have signed 34-year old free-agent OF Reed Johnson to a minor league contact with an invitation to Spring Training.


The right-handed hitting Johnson played college ball at Cal State - Fullerton, and was a 17th round draft pick of the Toronto Blue Jays in 1999. He made his big league debut in 2003, and is a career 281/340/408 hitter in MLB. He was released by Toronto at the end of Spring Training 2008 (the Jays wanted to avoid paying him the $3.2M salary he won in arbitration), and he was immediately signed by the Cubs. Johnson played for the Cubs in 2008 and 2009 and did a nice job, hitting 303/358/420 with six HR and 20 doubles in 109 games in 2008 while platooning with Jim Edmonds in CF. and 255/330/412 with four HR and ten doubles in just 65 games in 2009. 


Johnson signed with the Dodgers after leaving the Cubs, and hit 262/291366 with two HR and 11 RBI in 45 games last season.


Johnson has a chronic back problem that his landed him on the DL for extended periods over the past two seasons, but when healthy he is a decent 4th OF. Ryan Dempster had lobbied to bring the popular Johnson back to the Cubs when he was a free-agent post-2009, but the Cubs chose to let him look elsewhere.  


Johnson will battle Fernando Perez, Brad Snyder and James Adduci for a back-up OF job in Spring Training. and while he is signed to a minor league contract, Johnson probably has an opt-out clause in his contract allowing him to demand his release if he does not make the Cubs 2011 Opening Day 25-man roster.


The Cubs have also agreed to an $850K 2011 contract with 31-year old back-up catcher Koyie Hill, avoiding arbitration. The switch-hitting Hill has been with the Cubs since 2007, and has been the team's primary back-up catcher for the past two seasons.  


Hill is a career 215/276/302 hitter in the big leagues, and has hit 211/271/299 in 206 games (642 PA) as a Cub. He has thrown out 28% of opposing base-stealers in his career (but only 18% last season). The veteran backstop has good receiving skills and is a smart and savvy game-caller and handler of pitchers, and that has kept him in a Cub uniform despite a weak bat,


Hill played college ball at Wichita State, and was a member of Team USA in 1999. He played 3B at Wichita State and 2B with Team USA, and then was converted to catcher after getting drafted and signed by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2000. Once a Dodgers Top 10 Prospect, Hill suffered a broken ankle in a home plate collision after being acquired by the Arizona Diamondbacks in a trade for Steve Finley in 2004, and then he sustained a near career-ending hand injury when he cut off his thumb and two of his fingers of his right hand (throwing hand) with a table saw after the 2007 season. Doctors were able to surgically reattach the thumb and fingers in a way that allowed him to continue his baseball career.  


The Cubs originally signed Hill as a Rule 55 minor league FA after the 2006 season.

January 10th

The Cubs have claimed 26-year old C-1B Max Ramirez off waivers from the Boston Red Sox.

January 8th

With yesterday's trade for Matt Garza, the by-product that caught my eye is the fact that the Cubs seem to have cornered the recent market on Ivy Leaguers. Fernando Perez studied creative writing and received a degree in American Studies at Columbia and now joins the exclusive Cub club of four.

Perez has published in Poetry Magazine.

Perez says he turns to poetry when he's "after displacement, contrast" from the game of baseball. "The thick wilderness," he continues, "of, say, late Ashbery can wrangle with the narrowness of competition."

From his Poetry Magazine article, titled: Para Rumbiar

Like poetry, baseball is a kind of counter culture. The (optional) isolation from the outside world (which I often opt for); the idleness about which—and out of which—so many poems are written or sung: I see this state of mind as a blessing.

...and if you haven't seen the Fernando Perez You Tube video on "The Working Poor" here's the link.

"nobody talks about the Fernando Perez(s), Jason Nix(s), Emilio Bonafacio(s), all these great players, playing for the minimum, that keep these guys (the stars like ARod) afloat."

Growing more Ivy, after the break...

January 7th

UPDATE #2: Make it Archer, Guyer, Lee, Chirinos, Sam Fuld for Garza, Fernando Perez and and a minor league pitcher. Nothing is official yet according to Morosi.

 

UPDATE: Levine says it's Archer, Guyer, Lee, Chirinos, Sam Fuld for Garza, and a minor league outfielder and pitcher. I can't really evaluate the trade till we know the names the Cubs are getting.


Bruce Miles is reporting that the Cubs will send Chris Archer, Brandon Guyer, Hak-Ju Lee and Robinson Chirinos for Matt Garza, with possible other pieces still being involved. I realize as a fan of the Cubs I'm probably a little bias towards their own prospects, but that sounds like as good or better package than what the Royals just got for Zack Greinke.

Now I realize Greinke costs more than Garza at the moment, but in terms of talents, it's not even close. I suppose there's the worries over Greinke's social anxiety issues and whether he would approve a trade to the Cubs, but he seemed to just be interested in trying to win.

On the other hand, they're just prospects and only Archer and maybe Lee have much of a chance of being better than league average players. Folks and myself have freaked out before on trade packages including prospects to eventually discover those prospects end doing nothing. But man, it's quite the stomach punch if they do end up being good.

January 5th


MLB.com's Carrie Muskat reports that the Yankees have claimed RHP Brian Schlitter off waivers. The 25-year old Schlitter was dropped from the Cubs 40-man roster to make room for recently-signed free-agent Kerry Wood.


Schlitter will be reunited with former Cub (and current Yankee) Pitching Coach Larry Rothschild in New York. It's very possible that Rothschild recommended Schlitter to the Yankees, or at least was consulted before the Yankees made the claim.


A Chicagoland native, Schlitter was born in Oak Park, and attended Maine South HS in Park Ridge. He was selected by the Phillies in the 16th round of the 2007 Rule 4 Draft out of the College of Charleston, and was acquired by the Cubs from the Phillies for LHP Scott Eyre in August 2008.


Schlitter was the Iowa Cubs closer the first half of the 2010 season, and went a combined 2-1 with 13 Saves and a 3.15 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, and 21/42 BB/K in 45.2 IP (37 Games) over two AAA tours in 2010. He made his MLB debut this past June, going 0-1 with a 12.38 ERA and 2.88 WHIP with 5/7 BB/K in 8.0 IP (7 Games) with the Cubs. He was placed on the 15-day DL for three weeks in July with a "right shoulder impingement," and was optioned to Iowa on August 5th. He was placed on the Iowa Cubs Disabled List with recurring shoulder soreness on August 25th, and was not recalled when MLB Active Lists expanded in September. He was healthy enough to pitch in winter ball for Los Senadores de San Juan in the Puerto Rico Baseball League last month, however, putting up a 4.15 ERA and 1.38 WHIP in four PRBL games.


The MLB office was closed from December 24th through January 2nd because of the NYC snowstorm (the office ordinarily would have been open Monday through Thursday between the recent Christmas and New Year's holidays), so clubs who would normally have had to make roster moves involving waivers last week were given an extension that ended today. That's why Joe Martinez (Designated for Assignment by the Pirates on 12-22-2010) and Wil Ledezma (DFA'd by the Pirates on 12-23-2010) did not need to be traded or outrighted until today's deadline, and that's why the Cubs were able to wait until this week to make a move to open up a roster slot for Kerry Wood.

January 4th

BA put out it's top 10 Cubs' prospects today. I usually put together the compilation of all the major lists, but don't quite have the time today. I'll try put together something later this week. To the rankings...

  1. Chris Archer
  2. Brett Jackson
  3. Trey McNutt
  4. Hak-Ju Lee
  5. Josh Vitters
  6. Chris Carpenter
  7. Matt Szczur
  8. Hayden Simpson
  9. Rafael Dolis
  10. Brandon Guyer

I am amused that they don't think Alfonso Soriano will be with the team in 2014, but Carlos Zambrano will.

I'm more curious where guys like Archer, Jackson and McNutt will end up in the top 100 overall list, because you know, every team has to have a #1 prospect no matter how good or bad the system is.

Past lists can be found at Wiklified.

January 2nd

Alright, we all know Greg Maddux will get in the Hall of Fame on his first attempt in 2014. We all agree on this, right? There's not one person thas ever read this blog - that wasn't looking for porn by accident - that wouldn't cast a ballot in favor of Maddux if they were given a vote, right? So my question, which of the 539 or so voters are going to go down as the biggest assholes of all-time? I'm getting a little ahead of myself here, as the 2011 results are just about to come filing in, but I already know I'm going to be angry about it. The top vote-getters of all time are Seaver (98.84% and all but 5 votes), Ryan (98.79% and all but 6 votes) and Cobb (98.23% and all but 4 votes). So which douchebag is going to self-righteously appoint themself as the guy that won't allow a unanimous Hall of Famer in?

In other news, today's Bears game is going to be about as meaningless* as the one in 2006 when Grossman shit his pants in the finale against the Pack and then they still went to the Super Bowl. I'm fine with that scenario if it happens again, although the Packers do look like the sleeper/surprise playoff team to watch this year.

*Barring some win-one-for-the-gipper upset by Carolina over Atlanta and Tampa upsetting New Orleans (thank you dear readers).

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