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The Cubs claimed infielder Adrian Cardenas off waivers today from the Oakland A's, where he was outrighted to make room for Johnny Gomes. To make room on the 40-man, the Cubs DFA'd Blake DeWitt. Before we get to Cardenas, if I'm reading this correctly, the Cubs most likely cost themselves up to $1.1M? I believe they're on the hook for DeWitt's salary, when they could have just non-tendered him back in December, but of course they didn't know Cardenas was available back then. If DeWitt signs with another team, I believe the Cubs are just on the hook for the dfference in salary, which will likely be the mininum, so a little over $600K. Now a team may also put a claim in or work out a trade and the Cubs will be completely off the hook, but those scenarios seem less likely. Not a big deal overall, as the Cubs have plenty of wiggle room to their payroll, but an odd move nonetheless. Now was it worth it for Cardenas?

The infielder was a supplemental first round pick of the Philies in 2006 (37th overall) out of high school in Florida. He was on the Philles top 10 list in 2008, ranked 2nd behind Carlos Carrasco and ahead of guys like Kyle Drabek and Domonic Brown and #76 among the top 100 overall prospects. In July of that year he was traded along with now-a-Cub Matt Spencer and Josh Outman for Joe Blanton. He was ranked #5 in the A's top 10 list for 2009 and #74 overall. He dropped to #9 in 2010 and out of the top 10 by 2011. I don't have the BA 2012 handbook, but apparently he was ranked #12 although that was before the Gio Gonzalez trade.

The Cubs did sign an acclaimed player out of Cuba, but it's not Yoenis Cespedes or Jorge Soler. Rather 18-year old LHP Gerardo Concepcion. A player Kevin Goldstein called polished for his age, but with the ceiling of a #4/#5 starter and whom Goldstein would put at #6 on his Top 11 Cubs prospect list.  Standing at 6'2", he throws in the upper 80's to 90mph with a curve and a change-up (what's up Ted Lilly?). Considering his age and alleged polish, he should start in Peoria rather than hang back in Arizona and then join Boise or the Arizona Rookie League in June. Enrique Rojas says the deal is for a total of $7M and a major league deal, which means a 40-man roster move would be necessary. ESPN Chicago adds that incentives can take the deal up to around the $8M mark. All this makes the Jeff Samardzija draft deal look good.

The Cubs have also signed Ryan-Rowland Smith to a minor league deal. The 29-year old Aussie pitched in the Astros minor leagues after spending parts of 4 seasons in the majors with the Mariners, but I'll always remember him from this commercial. I presume he'll be added to the non-roster invite list for spring training.

Also, with Edwin Jackson signing with the Nationals, the Cubs at the moment own the #6, #43, #55 and #65 picks in the 2012 draft. Derek Lee and Raul Ibanez are the last two Type B free agents out there and there's no guarantee they'll sign, but if they do, they both rank higher than Carlos Pena in the Elias Rankings, so those last two picks I mentioned could drop to as low as #57 and #67 if I did my math correctly. BA put out an early top 100 prospect list for the 2012 draft for some early obsessing.

So John Lannan lost his arbitration case to the Nationals and wil be paid $5M for next season (as opposed to $5.7M he was asking). Now that the money is settled, the Nats are trying to move Lannan for a position player, preferably a center fielder, so that they can sign Edwin Jackson instead. I'm not quite sure why they want to make that swap, but that seems to be the goal for them. If the Cubs cared to add another mediocre pitcher with 2 years of club control while moving Marlon Byrd and the one year left on his contract, while saving about $1.5M, it appears a match could be made.

I certainly don't see the Cubs doing it, not much difference between Paul Maholm and Lannan and it seems that the pitching depth problem has been more than solved. And if you're a fan of FIP, Lannan's numbers are worse than what he's actually put up. But on some level it could make some sense, especially if the Cubs are afraid they won't have a taker in 2 months for Byrd. And they do have Reed Johnson, Tony Campana, Brett Jackson, David DeJesus and possibly Yoenis Cespedes that can step up in center field if Byrd is moved.

Speaking of arbitration, Matt Garza's case is heard tomorrow. Once that's settled, I wouldn't be surprised for the rumor mongering to start up again, once teams are certain of his cost.

The Cubs inked soon-to-be 39 year old Trever Miler to a minor league deal. He'll earn 800K if he makes the team. He'll get a non-roster invite to spring training and I'm sure we'll get the full list of those invitees by the end of the week. It being a minor league deal, hard to get to worked up over it, but Miller has done absolutely nothing other than see his K rate get cut in half over the last two seasons, while still maintaining the ability to walk the stadium.

Year Age Tm W L W-L% ERA G GF SV IP H R ER HR BB IBB SO HBP WP ERA+ WHIP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
2009 36 STL 4 1 .800 2.06 70 9 0 43.2 31 11 10 5 11 1 46 2 1 199 0.962 6.4 1.0 2.3 9.5 4.18
2010 37 STL 0 1 .000 4.00 57 3 0 36.0 30 17 16 2 16 0 22 2 4 98 1.278 7.5 0.5 4.0 5.5 1.38
2011 38 BOS-min 0 0   2.70 3 1 0 3.1 2 1 1 0 0 0 2 0 0   0.600 5.4 0.0 0.0 5.4   PAW · IL
2011 38 TOT 0 1 .000 3.80 48 5 1 21.1 25 9 9 2 12 2 12 2 2 106 1.734 10.5 0.8 5.1 5.1 1.00
13 Seasons 18 17 .514 4.18 694 133 11 523.1 521 264 243 54 237 28 434 43 22 106 1.448 9.0 0.9 4.1 7.5 1.83
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/30/2012.

Spring training roster filler at its finest.

I'm using the MLB depth charts, the Bill James projections for wOBA on Fangraphs and their 2012 playing age along with a few assumptions like Dusty isn't going to play Devin Mesoraco or Chris Heisey over veterans. Let's see how the NL Central offenses stack up. Obviously the actual order of lineups and players may vary, and there's no accounting for expected playing time due to injuries or sucktitude.

...a whole lot of nothing.

- An article in a Dominican paper says the Cubs (so far) have been the most aggressive at pursuing Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes.

- No real news out of the Cubs convention beyond the Kerry Wood signing ($3M with a $3M option for 2013) and the new patio deck in right field with the LED scoreboard.

- "One change the Cubs have already made was tweaking Tim Wilken's assignments, so that he's now director of amateur scouting and not carrying the additional workload of pro scouting." Word was Randy Bush occasionally had to rinse out the toilets at Wrigley Field to save a few bucks.

- McLeod allegedly said that he was rather surprised by the lack of player preparation amenities at Wrigley and there are plans in place to remedy it.

- Today is the day that teams and players file their arbitration number, the Cubs have yet to agree with any of their players: Jeff Baker($1.4M), Blake DeWitt($1.2M), Geovany Soto($4M), Matt Garza ($8.7M), Randy Wells ($2.2M), Ian Stewart($2M) or Chris Volstad($2.6M). The estimated figures come from Matt Swartz. Add that to the current player committments, auto-renewals (about $5-7M) and $5M owed Pena and the Cubs current payroll for 2012 is around $110M.

- Craig Counsell has decided to retire, but he will stay with the Brewers organization rather than joining Dale Sveum's staff.

- David Schoenfield ran a nice piece examining the best players in any 5-year year period starting from 1969. Ryne Sandberg and Sammy Sosa show up twice each.

After Kaplan claimed Kerry Wood was close to moving on, he then took credit that his story spurred the Cubs to up their offer for Kerry and that he should be signing with the Cubs soon. Jon Morosi of Fox Sports broke the news saying it's likely to be a one-year deal with some sort of 2013 option.

- Theo downplayed talks regarding Matt Garza, claiming more has been reported in the media than has actually happened.  The Tigers (as they should) seem more than content with keeping Jacob Turner as their 5th starter this year (he won't last long there).

- Kevin Goldstein tweets that the Cubs are "definitely interested" in Yoenis Cespedes who signed up with a Dominican team today, which should give scouts even a better look at him. Rumor is that Jorge Soler probably won't sign until the season starts.

- The cops will have a little chat with Starlin Castro next week over the sexual assault allegations.

- The Cubs baseball ops department is now working with Bloomberg Sports on a "state-of-the-art player evaluation system". Hopefully they've moved Ari Kaplan's office out of the maintenance closet by now.

- Darwin Barney is not taking for granted that he'll be the starting second baseman. I promise to not take it for granted either and will openly root for an upgrade.

- At some point it seems the Cubs signed C Juan Apodaca out of the Indians organization on a minor league deal. If you haven't heard, "popular" Cubs backstop  Koyie Hill(as coined by Jon Morosi) signed with the Cardinals on a minor league deal.

- A fun graph on which hitters are left on the free agent market, with Fielder and Pena leading the group.

- In Bears news, Mike Tice isn't buying the current pass-happy trend in the NFL. In personel news, I just slammed my head into the wall.

- The Bears have also received permission to interview four candidates: Marc Ross - director of college scouting, New York Giants, Jimmy Raye III, director of player personnel, San Diego Chargers, Jason Licht, director of pro personnel, New England Patriots and Phil Emery, director of college scouting, Kansas City Chiefs. Knowing nothing about them, I vote for the Patriot guy.

The Cubs have signed Paul Maholm to a one year deal for $4.25M with a $500K buyout on a 2013 option worth $6.25M. Pretty cheap for a guy that for his career has been about league average with a career 96 ERA+ (94, 87, 114, 94, 79, 105 counting up from 2006). His walks are a little high for a contact pitcher (3.0 BB/9) and he doesn't strike out too many (5.4 K/9) but keeps the ball in the park (0.8 HR/9 helped surely by PNC's large left field). His good years coincide with his better BABIP seasons. In 2008, he had a .290 BABIP and his best season with 206 IP, a 3.71 ERA (114 ERA+). In 2011, he had a .288 BABIP, that led to a 3.66 ERA (105 ERA+). In his bad years, the BABIP is more in the .320 area, although in all cases he's been in the reasonable BABIP ranges. A good defense will go a long way to help him having a solid season, along with a stiff breeze in my from Lake Michigan.

He did have a shoulder injury that ended his season on August 17th last year, which is presumambly all healed up. It was his only trip to the disabled list in his career.

Overall, nothing more than some pitching depth at a decent price that as a southpaw could have some trade value in July.

In other Cubs news, Kaplan reported that the Tigers and Cubs are "down the road' on trade talks for Matt Garza. It seems the Cubs would have to get Jacob Turner in that deal and at least one other good prospect for it to make sense. Kaplan is also saying that Kerry Wood may depart the Cubs afterall. Kaplan tries to shift the blame on Jedstein for not wanting to pay the going rate for 8th inning set-up men. But the Cubs in 2012 are not really a team that needs to pay a set-up man $4M or so, so it's understandable to not give in to sentimentality. I understand Kerry owes Jedstein nothing and the same goes for Jedstein, but Kerry is the one that proclaimed it's the Cubs or retirement, not it's the Cubs at market value or I'll play for another team. To me, considering his injury history, he shouldn't get more than $2.5M with incentives for games finished and if he can get more from someone else, god speed.

"Small Hall" ballot: Barry Larkin, Rock Raines

"There Are Worse Players in" Ballot: Barry Larkin, Rock Raines, Alan Trammell, Lee Smith, Larry Walker, Fred McGriff, Edgar Martinez.

"Let the Roiders In" Ballot: add Rafael Palmeiro, Mark McGwire, Jeff Bagwell, Juan Gonzalez, subtract Edgar Martinez.

I'm a bit buzzed writing this, so I'm sure I'm missing some names. I've flipped a bit on Martinez, Walker and McGriff from past years.

Have at it...

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