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The Cubs have signed RHP Scott Baker for $5.5M, plus $1.5M in incentives. He became a free agent after the Twins declined his $9.5M option for 2013.

The Good: Baker will be playing his age 31 season and has a career 63-48 record and 3.44 K/BB ratio. His career rates are: 7.2 K/9, 2.1 BB/9, 1.2 HR/9. He only costs $5.5M in guaranteed money which is pretty cheap for a starter that threw 170-200 innings in 2008, 2009 and 2010.

The Bad: Baker is coming off "surprise" Tommy John surgery last April. He also missed time in 2011. His ERA+ for his career is just 102.

The Judgement: While most pitchers are back on the mound a year later or less after Tommy John surgery, it's my personal and casual observation that it takes a good 2-3 months after that for the pitcher to regain their full control and consistency. We may see some flashes of his old self, but I don't know if we'll see it start after start at the beginning of the season. And if they are attempting another Paul Maholm signing to try and flip him at the deadline, a good first half is a key part of that successful equation. Also, he's pretty damn mediocre before the injury (ERA+ starting from 2007: 101, 122, 100, 91, 129). It's not a lot of money, but this seems more like pitching depth than any type of solid foundation. Regardless of the Cubs likelihood to not be very competitive in 2013, I don't think it's wise to make unwise decisions. Sure the risk is moderate, but it's hard to see where the upside is any greater in this case. And while the Cubs new regime may have their moments of brilliance, they've also misfired on their evaluations as well (points and laughs at picture of Chris Volstad).  So ultimately it's a big old shrug of the shoulders on this one for me.

 

 

UPDATE #2: Just kidding. November Fools!!! Anyway, Marmol apparently was asked to waive his no-trade clause, that leaked before the Cubs and Angels officially had a deal. Then allegedly the Cubs nixed the deal...some say it was over the medicals but who knows. At the end, Haren's option was bought out and he's a free agent now. Twitter Rumors 2, Cubs 0.

UPDATE: Sacre Bleu! Angels beat writer for MLB.com says situation is still fluid and Angels still talking with other teams. Haren's option decision is due by midnight EST. Curse you Twitter!!!


The Twitterverse has exploded with rumors that Carlos Marmol is headed to the Angels for Dan Haren. Money details and confirmation from the Cubs has yet to come.

I should mention that I did call this as the most likely trade for the Cubs in the comments the other day. It might come off as bragging, but I'm really just reminding myself to go buy a lottery ticket.

Rumors are some money will swap hands, maybe the Angels sending a little to offset the 15.5M owed Haren vs. the 9.8M owed Marmol. Regardless, a good deal for the Cubs. Presuming some sort of bounceback for Haren, starting pitcher>relief pitcher and if things aren't going the Cubs way this season, he should be relatively easy to pawn off in June or July.

The Cubs hired Derek Johnson as their minor league pitching coordinator. Apparently this is a bit of a coup, but it might as well have been Bugs Bunny for all I know about amateur pitching coaches. But I'm supposed to pretend that I'm some sort of authority on these subjects, so here's what I uncovered on the man, the myth, the legend.

First off, Darwin Barney is a "finalist" for a Gold Glove at second base...as if they dont' already know the winner. But they've decided to drum up interest by naming the top 3 or 4 at each position and then announcing the winner in a televised event on ESPN2 tomorrow. Holy overkill Batman!

As for the rumor, it's that the Angels are trying to ditch Dan Haren and Ervin Santana before picking up their options this week. Haren is owed $15.5M and Santana $13M. The Cubs aren't going to be giving too much in prospects for either, but they certainly could take on the salary. It's not much of a committment in my opinion and I'd certainly take flyers on either guy in hopes they could rebound in a walk year and a switch to the National League (or in Haren's case a switch back to the NL). And they'd certainly be worth something in a deadline trade if 2013 isn't working out.  Either one makes all kinds of sense for the Cubs in my opinion, as long as the Angels asking price is reasonable considering the salaries in question. For those not paying too close attention, Haren will be in his age 32 season after a 12-13, 4.33 ERA over 176.2 IP last year and Santana will be 30 after a 9-13, 5.16 ERA in 178 IP.  Haren sports a 116 ERA+ though for his career, while Santana rests at a meager 97 ERA+ with quite a few peaks and valleys to get that number.

The Cubs were obviously going to non-tender Chris Volstad, so they wisely outrighted him to give them some 40-man flexibility. He still may have resigned with the team, but at a much lower price, but it's pretty clear the Cubs were rather bearish on Volstad after the disastrous 2012 season. The Royals, for whatever reason, decided to clog up their 40-man by picking Volstad off waivers. While it does give them first rights to negotiate with him until the non-tender deadline, I can't possibly imagine why the rush. In about a month, he would have been very likely available and if not, there's gonna be a dozen or so other prospects that never fulfilled their potential floating around the free market. But you don't have 9 straight below .500 seasons (and 18 of 19) by doing things the smart way.

In other Cubs minutiae, Jason Berken, Adrian Cardens, Miguel Socolovich and Marcos Mateo all cleared waivers and were outrighted to Triple A. And Phil Rogers tweets some stuff about Manny Corpas becoming a free agent and Justin Germano, Blake Parker and Joe Mather being removed from the roster and being sent to Triple A as well. Rogers claims the Cubs have cleared 9 spaces (the 10 above names minus 1 for adding Carlos Gutierrez) from the 40-man roster. A Bruce Miles tweet quoting the Cubs says the 40-man stands at 33 at the moment.

Today the Cubs claimed former Twins first round pick (27th pick in 2008 draft) Carlos Gutierrez off waivers after he was outrighted.The 6-3" righty will be 26 next year and was in the midst of his third year at Triple A Rochester. Then his shoulder gave out, which led to arthriscopic surgery for a cleanup by Dr. Yocum in June. Claims are he will be ready for spring training and I'm sure our own Dr. Hecht can elaborate on the surgery details.

Aaron Gleeman had him as the Twins #25 prospect heading into the season.

From the moment they took him 27th overall in the 2008 draft the Twins have talked up Carlos Gutierrez as a future late-inning reliever, touting his "power sinker" and closing experience at the University of Miami. Unfortunately there hasn't been much about his actual performance to match those high hopes, as his impressive ground-ball rate comes attached to terrible control...

He did boost a nifty 60% groundball rate though.

As for the 40-mam carousel, it was catcher Anthony Recker's turn to get off and he was DFA'd to make room for Gutierrez.

The Cubs made it official and removed the interim tag from hitting coach James Rowson, who took over for one of the last remaining Hendry scapegoats, Rudy Jamarillo. A bit surprising to me that they didn't end up hiring Dave Magadan, the Red Sox hitting coach during some of the Theo years, but Magadan must have decided that watching Texas Rangers baseball over the Cubs was a more bearable proposition. Not that the numbers matter at all from last season, but here's a bit of out-of-context theater to make you feel better if you're not a fan of the Theo regime so far:

When the Cubs fired Jaramillo they were hitting .247 with a .689 OPS while averaging 3.7 runs per game. After replacing him with Rowson they hit .235 with a .674 OPS while averaging 3.8 runs per game.

 The Cubs also found a new third base coach, as Reds Triple A manager David Bell will take over those duties (not a very good manager by record at least). David is of course a member of the Ohioan Bell's (Buddy, Mike, Gus and David). Anyway, hopefully David has an Ipod and some good playlists as it can be lonely in the third base box with this Cubs offense.

And Randy Bush received a three year extension on his contract to round out today's really boring Cubs news.

The Twitterverse says the Cubs have finalized plans with Kane County to move their Class A player development contract a little closer to home. With guys like Almora, Vogelbach, Amaya, Candelario, Dunston Jr. and so on possibly playing there next season, there should be some good crowds. The dirty, rotten Cardinals have already taken up the void left by the Cubs in Peoria. I haven't seen where the Royals affiliate (formely Kane County) will end up at yet. Player development contracts in Boise and Daytona were also set to expire, but the Cubs say they've renewed the contracts with those two minor league franchises. The contracts with Boise, Kane County and Daytona run through 2014.

Cubs get another shot tonight at delaying the Reds from clinching the NL Central (magic number is 4). They'll go DeJesus 9, Barney 4, Rizzo 3, Soriano 7, Castro 6, Valbuena 5, Castillo 2, Jackson 8, Rusin 1.

If you haven't been paying attention to the #2 Draft Spot Derby (lower left sidebar), the Cubs have a half game "lead" over the Rockies and 3 games over the Twins and Indians. Rockies are in the midst of a series at San Francisco at the moment. In the race to avoid 100 losses, Cubs need to go 5-11 (or better) the rest of the way.

 

First off, I got a new MacBook Air this weekend. I'm hoping this helps with keeping the blog up-to-date better as my old laptop was on its last legs and seriously annoying me so much that I didn't even want to surf the net much.

As for the site, Disqus has been a bit of a disappointment. Not quite what I thought was advertised. While there are features I like, my biggest disappointments so far are:

  • lack of new comment notifications when re-visiting site
  • lack of real-time updating
  • odd thread structure when putting in new comments

I think the "Latest Comments" sidebar helps with the lack of new comment notifications. I just go there and see what I missed, but it doesn't seem to update too quickly and I feel like I'm missing comments. Granted, things are slow right now and interest is at pathetically low levels this time of year, but when the news starts coming again in the offseason, I think it will get even more annoying.


So, I'm going to try upgrading to what they call Disqus 2012. We'll see if it's any better. This requires nothing on any of your parts, but by tomorrow morning, the comments will look a little different. We'll see how we like that after a few weeks. If I/we are still unhappy with the comments, I'll see about getting the native Drupal comment system working again.

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It's the most exciting thing to happen in Cubdom all month...the 2013 schedule release!!! They actually have the entire thing up at cubs.com already, but here are some of the highlights.

The season begins at Pittsburgh on Monday, April 1st followed by a trip to Atlanta. The home schedule begins the following Monday, April 8th versus the Brewers. We'll get an immediate feel for the new interleague schedule with a 3-game series versus the Rangers during that same homestand (April 16-18). The customary city rivalry versus the White Sox has been reduced to 4 games and will be back-to-back 2-game series at each home park (May 27-May 30) starting at Comiskey. Then in a horrific bit of traveling, the Cubs head to Anaheim against the Angels for a 2-game set on June 3rd and 4th. They have an off day before and after, but it's sandwiched between two homestands and that "away" series at Comiskey.

They're next interleague match-up will be versus the Astros at Wrigley from June 21-June 23. That's sandwiched between 2 road trips of 7 and 10 games culminating at Oakland to start off July. Then they come home for a 9-game homestand versus the Pirates, Angels and Cardinals before the All-Star break. The 2nd half starts with a 10-game roadtrip to Colorado, Arizona and San Francisco. Their Southern California trip through San Diego and then Los Angeles will be from August 23-August 28th. By September, they could be playing the role of spoiler with a 11-game roadtrip versus Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and Milwaukee. They end the season at St. Louis on Septemeber 29th.

As for 2012, Anthony Rizzo is out after a nasty collision with Brett Wallace yesterday and Brett Jackson misses his 5th straight game. That means folks will witness this: Mather CF, Barney 2B, Castro SS, Soriano LF, Castillo C, Vitters 3B, Sappelt RF, Recker 1B, Wood P

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