Easy to Be Harden
Rich Harden just hit five years of MLB service time this past Sunday.
Why is that important?
Because Harden signed his current contract in April 2005 under the old CBA, he retains the arcane right to demand a trade after this season. That's because under the rules of the previous CBA, if a player is signed to a multi-year contract and has accrued at least five years of MLB service time when he is traded to another club, the player has the right to demand a trade during the post-World Series Free-Agency Filing Period that follows the season during which he is traded.
If Harden does choose to exercise his option to demand a trade after the 2008 season, and the Cubs don't trade him by March 15, 2009, he can become a totally unrestricted FA at that time (player option), although by exercising the option to be a FA under the aforementioned circumstances, Harden would be giving up his $7M salary for 2009 and the Cubs wouldn't owe him anything past this season.
However, Harden will likely take this track only if he feels he can get more than $7M on the open market post-2008 (which he almost certainly would) and/or if he feels the Cubs are unlikely to offer him a contract extension post-2009 (still TBD).
So if the Cubs had acquired Harden this past Saturday instead of waiting until yesterday, they would absolutely control the rights to Rich Harden through the 2009 season ($7M salary in 2009), with a nice convenient club option (with no buy-out) following the 2008 season in case Harden blows out his shoulder or elbow before the end of the season.
But by waiting to acquire Harden until after he had accrued five seasons of MLB Service Time, the Cubs gave Harden the leverage to either force the Cubs to trade him post-2008, or else give him the option to be a FA one year earlier than he otherwise would have been eligible (but with no compensation draft picks).
Of course the Cubs could always decline their $7M club option for 2009 before Harden has a chance to demand a trade, making Harden eligible for arbitration post-2008. But the Cubs are unlikely to do that unless they are fairly sure that Harden intends to exercise his right to demand a trade, because there is no way he gets less than $7M in arbitration. But if Harden were to sustain a significant shoulder or elbow injury sometime before the conclusion of the 2008 season, the Cubs probably would opt to decline their 2009 club option and non-tender him on 12/12 (as they did with Mark Prior last year).
As a further ado and a point to begin thinking about roster moves into the All-Star Break and beyond, here is the updated projected post-2008 and Spring Training 2009 roster, contract, and option status for the 39 Cubs players presently on the 40-man roster and the one on the 60-day DL, and the updated lists of Cubs minor leaguers who are eligible for the Rule 5 Draft in December and those who will be eligible to be minor league free-agents after the conclusion of the World Series:
ELIGIBLE TO BE FREE-AGENT AFTER 2008 SEASON:
Henry Blanco (club option with buy-out)
SIGNED FOR 2009:
Henry Blanco - $3M club option or $300K buy-out
Mark DeRosa - $5.5M
Kosuke Fukudome - $11.5M
Rich Harden - $7M club option or else eligible for arbitration, and player option to demand a trade
Derrek Lee - $13M
Ted Lilly - $12M
Jason Marquis - $9.875M
Aramis Ramirez - $15.65M
Jeff Samardzija - $1.3M (no minor league split)
Alfonso Soriano - $16M
Carlos Zambrano - $17.75M
ELIGIBLE FOR SALARY-ARBITRATION POST-2008:
AUTO-RENEWAL (PRE-ARBITRATION) PLAYERS FOR 2009:
NOTE: 2009 MLB minimum salary will be $400K with a $65K minimum minor league split salary ($32.5K minimum minor league split for players with no MLB ST who are on the 40-man roster for the first time)
PROJECTED MINOR LEAGUE OPTION STATUS - SPRING TRAINING 2009:
NOTE: Only players with less than five years of MLB Service Time projected post-2008 are listed, since players with five or more years of MLB Service Time post-2008 can refuse an optional assignment to the minors
* Player must first clear Optional Assignment Waivers
NO MINOR LEAGUE OPTIONS LEFT:
ONE MINOR LEAGUE OPTION LEFT:
Jose Ascanio (see NOTE)
* Mike Fontenot
* Michael Wuertz
NOTE: Jose Ascanio will have used three minor league options through the 2008 season, but because he will have spent only four “full seasons” on an active minor league or major league roster through the 2008 season, he will be eligible for a 4th minor league option in 2009.
TWO MINOR LEAGUE OPTIONS LEFT:
Billy Petrick (see NOTE)
Jeff Samardzija (see NOTE)
* Ryan Theriot
NOTE: Billy Petrick will have used two minor league options through the 2008 season, but because he will have spent only three “full seasons” on an active minor league or major league roster through the 2008 season, he will be eligible for a 4th minor league option as long as it is used prior to completing five full seasons.
Jeff Samardzija will have used two minor league options through the 2008 season, but because he will have spent only two “full seasons” on an active minor league or major league roster through the 2008 season, he will be eligible for a 4th minor league option as long as it is used prior to completing five full seasons.
THREE MINOR LEAGUE OPTIONS LEFT:
FOUR MINOR LEAGUE OPTIONS LEFT:
ELIGIBLE TO BE MINOR LEAGUE FA POST-2008:
Andres Blanco, SS
Jim Brower, RHP
Mike Burns, RHP
Hector Carrasco, RHP
Robinson Chirinos, C-IF
Matt Craig, 1B-3B
Jason Dubois, 1B-OF
Doug Deeds, OF-1B
Danny Fatheree, C
Luis Figueroa, INF
Dumas Garcia, RHP
Koyie Hill, C
Josh Kroeger, OF
Leonel Perez, C
Bobby Scales, IF-OF
Andres Torres, OF
Randy Wells, RHP
NOTE: A player eligible to be a Minor League free-agent cannot be a FA if he is added to an MLB 40-man roster by the end of the World Series.
ELIGIBLE FOR DECEMBER 2008 RULE 5 DRAFT:
James Adduci, OF
Alberto Alburquerque, RHP
Mitch Atkins, RHP
Matt Avery, RHP
Justin Berg, RHP
Todd Blackford, RHP
Edward Campusano, LHP
Russ Canzler, 1B
Yusuf Carter, OF
Jeff Culpepper, OF
Rafael Dolis, RHP
Darin Downs, LHP
Jesse Estrada, RHP
Ryan Harvey, OF
Jim Henderson, RHP
Mark Holliman, RHP
Grant Johnson, RHP
Marcos Mateo, RHP
J. R. Mathes, LHP
Casey McGehee, 3B-C
Mario Mercedes, C
Jonathan Mota, INF
Jake Muyco, RHP
Mike Phelps, RHP
Jose Pina, RHP
Mark Reed, C
Greg Reinhard, RHP
Kyle Reynolds, 3B-1B
Tony Richie, C
Chris Robinson, C
Jayson Ruhlman, LHP
Alvaro Sosa, C
Nate Spears, 2B
Donald Veal, LHP
NOTE: Any minor league free-agent who signs a minor league contract prior to the Rule 5 Draft is eligible for selection in the Rule 5 Draft.
For sure! Russell and Baez are the first infielders in a while to make me think of star defensive players in football or basketball--it's almost like they force turnovers, and they definitely play the field with a degree of athletic aggression I'd expect from a linebacker.
[Edit: Was meant to be a response to JB above.]
tebow hit a HR in the 1st pitch he sees in instructs..lulz.
I don't think his issue(s) will have anything to do with it. He hasn't hit since he's been back. Coghlan has the hot hand.
I'm not a denier but definitely a skeptic on Strop and Grimm, who struggle with fastball control. Strop doesn't go near the ninth inning, and note how Grimm couldn't close the deal even with a 5-run lead. So Felix Pena comes in and gets the 3-pitch game-ending strikeout like it was nothing.
And how about Almora missing that very catchable ball? That was unexpected after all the hype about his glove.
When Trea Turner misses balls like that--which he does--I draw conclusions from it. It seems to be the one chink in his armor. But I'll give Almora another chance.
Assuming Soler is good to go, I think it comes down to 3 of the following 4: Coghlan, TLS, Sczcur, Almora. Of the 4, TLS seems to be the hardest to justify, particularly given his behavioral issues.
I'm wondering if both Coghlan and LaStella make it. With Javy being able to play all the infield spots and Joe maybe wanting late-inning D when Soler plays (assuming he plays), hence either Szczur or Almora, I think LaStella might be the odd guy out.
Hendricks needs the win, anyway, plus a couple more.
My hunch is that Hendricks wins the Cy Young . . . for Lester. That is, without Hendricks tipping the scale toward the Cubs, Scherzer tops Lester.
Old Cub fans remember when Ken Hubbs died at 22 in the crash of a small plane he was piloting in a storm in Utah in 1964. But Hubbs was not an elite power pitcher like Score and Fernandez. Score lived a long time after the accident but it was (effectively) career-ending.
HAGSAG: Since I've only seen them throw in one game and in one "live" BP session, all I can do is provide initial first impressions.
Brailyn Marquez is listed at 6'4 but is probably more like 6'5 or 6'6. I would describe him as a younger version of Bryan Hudson, throwing a ton of ground balls but not getting a lot of swings & misses (yet). Because of his size he could eventually grow into more velocity, but right now he's mostly a pitch-to-contact guy. He generally throws strikes.
Phil, do Marquez and Ocampo look like prospects?
It helps when your defense has declared war against the H in WHIP.
Lackey finishes with a 3.35 ERA. Currently good for 13th in the NL. Not bad for a guy signed to be a #3 starter in a 15-team league.
He is also 6th in WHIP. Pretty amazing: Cubs have the #2, #3, #5 and #6 starters in WHIP.
Completely meaningless game, but Pena striking out Sean the Turd to with the bases loaded was very fun.
Other than one bad game in SD, Pena has been very good. Even with that game, 9.0 IP, 13 K, 0.89 WHIP.
101 wins...most since 1910 (104).
neat. ...or sad. pick one. pick both. 'murica.
Just looked up Grimm's stats -- after a great run, he gave up 2 runs vs. MIL then didn't pitch for 10 days. Don't remember why?
Sean Rodriguez's helmet looks like it's taking a dump