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The Cubs add to their stable of pitchers today, by signing RHP Scott Feldman to a one year deal for $6M, plus $1M in incentives according to various sources. Feldman seemed to be a popular target among Cubs armchair GM's this offseason for reasons unbenknownst to me, but TheJedi seemed to concur. He's certainly cheap enough and getting away from that Texas park and the AL should theoretically help, although his career road vs. home ERA defies conventional wisdom (4.40 at home vs. 5.24 on the road).

Career-wise he's 39-44 with a 4.81 ERA (95 ERA+) and 5.4 K/9, 3.1 BB/9, 1.0 HR/9 peripherals. Last year, apparently after recovering from micro-fracture surgery on his knee, his ERA was a robust 5.09 in 132.2 IP. His career high in innings was in 2009 with 189.2 IP. That happened in 2008 when he went 17-8 with a 4.08 ERA (114 ERA+). In the 4 seasons that he's been able to muster at least 20 starts, his ERA+ are 84, 114, 82 and 89 (2008, 2009, 2010 and 2012).

Regardless of those less than spectacular numbers, it's a cheap enough deal that it's hard to get too worked up about it. It's certainly not going to get anyone excited about the season, but should provide some decent depth and the possibility of some upside much like Paul Maholm last year.

BRIEF UPDATE: A most excellent article from Fangraphs comparing Feldman vs. B. McCarthy with bonus tweets from McCarthy about how he changed his style to emulate Feldman and calling him the best bargain this offseason.

Today was the deadline to add players to the 40-man so they wouldn't be eligible to be selected in the Rule 5 draft. The winners were: RHP Trey McNutt, RHP Robert Whitenack, 3B Christian Villanueva and INF Logan Watkins. Nick Struck seems to be the only surprise name left off the 40-man additions...enjoy the Astros! To make room for the additions, Bryan LaHair was desginated for assignment and RHP Carlos Gutierrez was waived and assigned to Iowa after clearing waivers (I swear I don't even know who that is). LaHair is apparently going to sign to play in Japan.

The Cubs also traded RHP Jake Brigham (acquired in the trade for Geovany Soto) right back to the Texas Rangers for RHP Barret Loux and a player to be named later. Brigham allegedly has an elbow injury according to Bruce Miles, so that would explain why the Cubs are getting such high upside with Loux as it must be a reworking of the Soto deal (mighty nice of the Rangers). Loux was a former first round pick of the Diamondbacks (6th overall in 2010) out of Texas A&M. After agreeing on a $2M deal with the D'Backs, the club backed out citing an issue with his elbow and shoulder and the Rangers signed him for $312K later that year as a free agent. 2 years later, he put up a 14-1 mark in AA for the Rangers on a 3.47 ERA (7.1 K/9, 2.9 BB/9, 0.7 HR/9) and Texas League pitcher of the year honors.

Some quick takes on recent baseball news...

Tags: 

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.

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