The Cubs Sign Their X-Factor
Tim Brown of Yahoo breaks the story that the Cubs have signed outfielder Xavier Nady on a one year deal...dollar amount yet to be determined (likely in the 3-4.5M range according to Levine). Out of the names mentioned so far - Jermaine Dye, Rocco Baldelli, and Johnny Gomes, Nady was probably my preference on the assumption that he's recovered fully from his second Tommy John Surgery. According to Tim Brown, the physical is later this week but Nady's been throwing regularly and without problems. Before we get into the player, let's talk about the injury. Dr. Hecht in the comments dropped this note about having multiple TJ surgeries yesterday.
The basic operation takes a tendon graft from the forearm from a small tendon called the palmaris longus.
On a second surgery they have to take a graft from somewhere else. Other sites are available (the other arm or a tendon from the calf (plantaris) but that means he's gonna have two limbs involved to recovery. I'm not sure why his graft failed but it's pretty unusual for this to happen (expecially when it's not a pitcher). This would make me a bit leary too (Chad Fox alert!) but my guess is he'll be OK.
As for the player, Nady is best in right and left field, but has played 82 games at first base, 45 in center field and even 3 games at third base. Chances are he'll stick to right, left and occasionaly first base and likely send Micah Hoffpauir to Triple A with Sam Fuld getting the roster spot as 5th outfielder and back-up center fielder although a poor showing in spring training or extremely strong one by Hoffpauir could change that.
Nady has a lifetime 108 OPS+ (.792), .342 woBA and is 31 years old. His walk rate of 5.8% per plate appearance is pretty poor and a 19.9% K rate isn't too great either. The projection systems on his Fangraphs page all peg him in the high 700 to low 800's in OPS. His main duty will be as platoon partner to Kosuke Fukudome and his 3-year splits are:
vs LHP: 278/358/454 812 in 227 AB's
vs RHP: 297/340/504 844 in 787 AB's
227 AB's isn't much to draw any firm conclusions upon, but it does appear that he's someone who you won't have to waste 2 players on in late-inning lineup juggling as he seems to handle righties just fine. His other main duty will be as pinch hitter where he's had all of 58 PA's for a 255/397/426 slash line. I assume if all goes right, he'd also be one of the candidates to DH in interleague games when that time comes.
Assuming Nady passes his physical and can make the throw from right field still, I think you have to like this signing. The Cubs aren't likely to get the player that tore it up for the Pittsburgh Pirates to start the 2008 season and ended with 25 HR's and 97 RBI's after being traded to the New York Yankess. But he's definitely shown enough with the bat that he should do more good than harm if he can handle not getting regular at-bats. And if something should happen to Soriano, Byrd, Fukudome, Lee or even Ramirez I suppose, the Cubs will have a very solid replacement ready to step in on a regular basis.
AZBOBBOP: Most of 2016 draft picks will get assigned to either Eugene or AZL Cubs, but the Opening Day Eugune roster will probably be almost 100% from the Extended Spring Training squad roster (pending the arrival of draft picks).
I think I can probably tell you which pitchers and players at EXST are in contention for roster slots at Eugene and which are in contention for slots with the AZL Cubs - AS THINGS STAND RIGHT NOW - (listed alphabetically):
* bats or throws left
# bats both
Eloy Jimenez atop the leader board for minor-league home runs in the Cub system, with seven. Tied with Balaguert and Vogelbach, two 24-year-olds. Jimenez won't be 20 until late November. Leads the Midwest League in SLG and OPS. Maybe he'll get promoted to the Myrtle Beach squad that visits Woodbridge, VA, in June or Frederick, MD, in August.
Watched two Pelican games at Frederick the other week. Was most impressed by Stinnett and Happ. Happ may swing harder than Javier Baez, though more compactly. (Also got to see Brockmeyer hit a bomb.)
E-MAN: Jose Paniagua isn't a string-bean, but I wouldn't say he necessarily bulked-up during the 2015-16 off-season either, He led the DSL Cubs in HR and doubles in 2014, and he showed XBH power when he arrived in Mesa last year, leading the AZL Cubs in HR, doubles, and RBI in 2015. It's just that he has taken his HR power to a new level this year.
Paniagua displayed plus-HR power in Cactus League Minor League Spring Training games in March, and that got him a slot on the South Bend Opening Day roster. But he was sent to EXST after only six MWL games.
More on the Cub Way.
Martinez is one of my least favorite pitchers in baseball. I'd love to see a game like yesterday's against him.
Send Soler down!
Awesome thanks AZ
Great report, Phil! This organization has so many hitters to be excited about.
Ben Zobrist is very enjoyable to watch!!!!!!
given that he seems to only be throwing low 90s these days rather than the 93-96mph he used to throw, along with his wildness issues this year, he may end up passing through.
i dunno if something is wrong with him physically or his past shoulder issues has rendered him what he currently is, but he's been throwing a lot of sliders he can't control well and his fastball isn't as sharp. even when his slider wasn't working in a game he was still throwing a lot of them.
Any scuttlebutt on where Neil Ramirez gets traded?
He seems better than some of the relievers on competitive teams. He ought to bring more than the waiver fee.
My guess? Toronto.
PHIL: It seems as if Paniagua has always played 1B with the Cubs. At 6'2 and 180#, what is his frame like? String bean? Have you seen him bulk up? Where do you project him? Thanks.
Phil, what's your thoughts on which position players are going to Eugene and who is staying in AZL?
Ahhh...way to bring me down BB.
Still - a win tomorrow will be an acheivement regardless.
Don't mean to spoil your mood, but with tonight's win the are 3-5 on the trip with one to play.
While I'm bringing the room down -- Richard comes in to pitch the 9th with a 12-1 lead...and can't finish the game. Woof.
For some reason
It is remarkable how my mood has become uplifted with one game against the Cards.
That is sick.
But, I have been an addict for a long time.
A W tomorrow and it will be a .500 road trip.
Also, to keep the losses in perspective, if the Cubs were to lose 10 games a month - a lot at this current pace - they still end up 102-60. Six months of the ride!