The 8/31 Exemption (and How to Use It)

August 31st is an important date for contending MLB teams, because that’s the date that determines eligibility for post-season rosters.

To be eligible to play in the MLB post-season, a player must be on the club’s 25-man roster or 15-day or 60-day DL as of 8/31. However, any player (regardless of position) who is a member of the organization on 8/31 is eligible to replace an injured player on the post-season roster as long as the injured player is placed on the DL prior to the start of the post-season series. (If the “replacement player” is not already on his club’s 40-man roster, he must be added to the 40 before he can be added to the post-season roster). NOTE: If a player suffers a disabling injury DURING a post-season series, the club can (with approval of the MLB Commissioner) replace the player with any player who was a member of the organization on August 31st, although in this case (replacing an injured player DURING a post-season series), the replacement player must play the same position as the injured player, and the injured player is ineligible to return to the active list at any later point in the post-season.

Essentially, the more players a club can stash on its 15-day or 60-day DL on August 31st, the more post-season roster exemptions for the club. And more post-season roster exemptions gives a club greater flexibility to tweak its post-season roster from series-to-series.

Using post-season roster exemptions, a club can alter its LDS, LCS, and World Series rosters at the start of each series, adding players who were not on the 25-man roster or DL on 8/31. And since projected match-ups are one of the prime influences in determining how a post-season roster is to be constructed, the ability to add an extra lefty reliever in a series where the opposition has a left-handed heavy batting order, or an extra lefty bat off the bench when the opposition has a right-handed heavy bullpen, could give a club an edge. And in a short series involving two quality MLB teams, any little bit of an edge could make the difference between moving on to the next level and going home.

But to add a player or players to a post-season roster, a club needs post-season roster exemptions, and the only way to ensure having the exemptions when they are needed is to have a couple or three players riding the 15-day or 60-day DL on August 31st.

So how did the Cubs go about creating their post-season roster last season?

2007 CUBS 25-MAN ROSTER AS OF 8-31-07:

PITCHERS (11): Ryan Dempster, Scott Eyre, Rich Hill, Bob Howry, Ted Lilly, Carlos Marmol, Jason Marquis, Sean Marshall, Kerry Wood, Michael Wuertz, and Carlos Zambrano

CATCHERS (2): Henry Blanco and Jason Kendall

INFIELDERS (6): Mark DeRosa, Mike Fontenot, Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez, Ryan Theriot, and Daryle Ward

OUTFIELDERS (6): Cliff Floyd, Jacque Jones, Craig Monroe, Matt Murton, Felix Pie, and Alfonso Soriano

DISABLED LIST (4): Pitchers Angel Guzman (sprained elbow ligament), Roberto Novoa (fractured shoulder) and Mark Prior (shoulder surgery) on the 60-day DL, and outfielder Angel Pagan (colitis) on the 15-day DL

 

Because Guzman, Novoa, Prior, and Pagan were on the DL on 8/31, all four were eligible to be included on the Cubs 2007 post-season roster.

Note that the Cubs went with 11 pitchers for four days (8/28 through 8/31), as LHP Carmen Pignatiello was optioned to Iowa on August 28th when OF Alfonso Soriano (strained quad) was activated from the DL. But then RHP Sean Gallagher and LHP Will Ohman were recalled from Iowa on September 1st, and RHP Steve Trachsel (acquired from the Baltimore Orioles on 8/31) was also added to the Cubs active roster on 9/1, giving the Cubs 14 pitchers right at the beginning of September (increased to 16 pitchers when Pignatiello and Kevin Hart were brought up on 9/4).

Trachsel was acquired from the Orioles on 8/31 but was not added to the Cubs active roster until the next day, so he was not automatically eligible for the post-season roster. However, he was eligible to be a post-season “replacement player” because he was a member of the Cubs organization on 8/31.

During September 2007, the Cubs recalled pitchers Sean Gallagher, Will Ohman, and Carmen Pignatiello, catcher Geovany Soto, infielder Ronny Cedeno, and IF-OF Eric Patterson from AAA Iowa (Patterson was subsequently optioned to AA Tennessee for disciplinary reasons), and selected RHP Kevin Hart and OF Sam Fuld from AA Tennessee, as Hendry & Piniella opted to go with a 34-man roster over the last month of the season. (Neal Cotts, Jake Fox, Juan Mateo, Billy Petrick, and Jeff Samardzija were not recalled from their minor league optional assignments).

Because Guzman, Novoa, Prior, and Pagan remained on the DL through the balance of the 2007 season, their roster slots became available as post-season roster exemptions, allowing the Cubs to add Kevin Hart, Geovany Soto, and Ronny Cedeno to their NLDS roster. (Hart, Soto, and Cedeno were brought up from the minors in September, so they would not have been eligible to be included on a post-season roster if not for the roster exemptions).

But adding Hart, Soto, and Cedeno to their NLDS roster meant the Cubs had to "deactivate" three players who had been on their 25-man roster on 8/31, and so they dropped pitcher Sean Marshall, catcher Henry Blanco, and outfielder Craig Monroe. (Marshall stayed "stretched-out" as a starter during the NLDS, throwing 70+ pitches for the Cubs AZ Instructional League team in a “Camp Day" intrasquad game at Fitch Park while the Cubs were in Phoenix to play the Diamondbacks at Chase Field, and Monroe kept active by taking early-morning BP every day that week at Fitch).

Marshall, Blanco, and Monroe, plus Will Ohman (who also threw an inning in the Camp Day intrasquad game at Fitch while the Cubs were in Phoenix) and Sam Fuld, remained with the Cubs throughout the NLDS (Trachsel, Pignatiello, and Gallagher did not), serving as potential “replacement players” in case of a season-ending injury to somebody during the NLDS, and as potential Plan “B” options in the NLCS and World Series (if the Cubs had gotten that far). For instance, Marshall could have been an alternative to Marquis as the #4 starter in an NLCS, or Hart could have been exchanged for Ohman, or Fuld could have replaced Pie or Murrton, or Murton or Pie could have been switched with Monroe. 

So knowing what the Cubs did with their September call-ups and post-season roster last year, what are Hendry & Piniella likely to do this year?

If Hendry & Piniella once again go with a 34-man September roster, I would think pitchers Angel Guzman and Jon Lieber will be reactivated from the DL, catcher Koyie Hill will be brought up from Iowa to be the 3rd catcher (the Cubs always add a 3rd catcher in September) and post-season fall-back in case Soto or Blanco were to suffer a disabling injury, and pitchers Michael Wuertz and Kevin Hart, 1B-OF Micah Hoffpauir, and outfielder Felix Pie will be recalled from Iowa. That leaves two spots for a right-handed power bat off the bench (probably either 1B-OF Jason Dubois or OF Jake Fox) and another bullpen arm (probably either Jose Ascanio or Randy Wells). K. Hill, Dubois, and Wells would have to be added to the 40-man roster. (At present there are 38 players on the Cubs 40-man roster, but if Angel Guzman is reactivated from the 60-day DL in September, he would take on of the two open slots).

At present, the Cubs have three players on the DL, with pitchers Chad Fox (sore elbow) and Jon Lieber (sore foot) on the 15-day DL, and pitcher Angel Guzman (TJS surgery rehab) on the 60. Guzman and Lieber will likely be activated from the DL in September, so probably only Chad Fox will provide the Cubs with a ready-made roster exemption for the post-season. (Fox could be transferred to the 60-day DL if an additional spot on the 40-man roster is needed in September).

Of course Lieber has the type of chronic foot problem that probably would allow the Cubs to place him on the DL any old time, so if the Cubs wish to replace a struggling and ineffective Bob Howry with Michael Wuertz and 5th starter Jason Marquis with Micah Hoffpauir, they should be able to do it just by leaving Chad Fox on the DL for the rest of the season and by placing Jon Lieber back on the DL before the start of the NLDS (since Lieber is unlikely to be on the Cubs post-season roster).

Also, LHP Rich Hill (on the Iowa DL with a back problem) and RHP Adam Harben (on the Daytona DL while on extended rehab from 2006 TJS) are both on the Cubs 40-man roster, so either (or both) could be recalled from his optional assignment on August 31st and then be immediately placed on the 60-day DL, giving the Cubs another post-season roster exemption (or two), as well as opening up one (or two) more slots on the 40 in September. (While Harben could get outrighted to the minors at any time, he would have greater value spending the rest of the season on the 60-day DL as a post-season roster exemption than he would by getting outrighted right away).

LHP Carmen Pignatiello and RHP Billy Petrick could also get outrighted if additional slots are needed on the 40-man roster in September, but it’s more likely that they will be removed from the 40 after the season.

 

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Comments

Phil: any insight into Billy Petrick?

Scout.com has a short article on him, somewhat mysterious about why he's not pitching.
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http://cubs.scout.com/2/778585.html

After making his big league debut a year ago, the Morris, Ill., native has totaled only 11 innings – all in the minor leagues – and has not pitched in over two months.

Petrick has not pitched in a live game since May 25 officially, and recently BaseballAmerica.com reported that the 24-year-old had been placed on the suspended list. But that much is neither here nor there, the Cubs say.

“He’s (just) on the DL,” one Cubs official said.

Carrie Muskat said he was hurt and not suspended in a recent mailbag of hers.

Thanks AZ Phil for shedding light on the post-season roster process. Barring injury, I could see us wanting Micah Hoffpauir in particular during the playoffs, as a LHPH.

Like many Cub Fans, Angel Guzman had left my mind. If he can finally get healthy, what kind of pitcher does he project to, and can he figure in our plans for next year? How is his stuff these days?

Is Jake Fox a real prospect? He had a nice year at AA, but is 25 and defensively challenged.

I also forgot about Jason DuBois. He proved again he can blow up AAA pitching, but that's about the limit. Maybe he should go to Japan.

Great stuff as usual Phil.

I found this interesting:

"To be eligible to play in the MLB post-season, a player must be on the club’s 25-man roster or 15-day or 60-day DL as of 8/31. However, any player (regardless of position) who is a member of the organization on 8/31 is eligible to replace an injured player on the post-season roster as long as the injured player is placed on the DL prior to the start of the post-season series."

So, a question for you. Using 2007 as an example, if the Cubs had (stupidly) wanted to get Trachsel on the playoff roster, could they have done so by (1) naming Prior to the playoff roster, then (2) sliding Trachsel into his slot as a replacement because Prior was on the DL?

If the answer is No, could they have accomplished the same thing by naming an "injured" random player to the playoff roster and then simply DL-ing him to make room for Trachsel?

Thanks Az -

I'm guessing Hoffpauir may be a viable option in the event we get to the World Series (as a DH in away games). The kid is TEARING up AAA ball right now. I'm sure he'll be the replacement for D.Ward next year but I'm interested in your thoughts as to what numbers you think he'd produce if he played every day (at 1B). I know Lee isn't going anywhere, but do you think he could step in and bat .275 with 25-30 homers given his maturity or is that too optimistic?

Also, any reports on Jay Jackson and Cerda for us.....they seem very intriguing as prospects.

AZ Phil......I'm sorry this is totally off the subject,but I thought you would have the answer to this........Are fall instructionals and the Arizona Fall League two separate events with instructionals happening from Sept 15 to Oct 15 followed by the AFL ? When do they announce who will be on those rosters ? Is there any media coverage of the games ? Thanks for your insights. Do you have any assesments of the AZL Cubs with only 9 remaining games ?

Thanks for all the great work, AZ Phil. One clear and encouraging observation jumps out at me: Our Roster is WAY better this year than last.

rock on,

ROMERO

Dero second base
Edmonds- CF
Fuku-RF

Submitted by falcon on Tue, 08/19/2008 - 11:42am.

AZ Phil......I'm sorry this is totally off the subject,but I thought you would have the answer to this........Are fall instructionals and the Arizona Fall League two separate events with instructionals happening from Sept 15 to Oct 15 followed by the AFL ? When do they announce who will be on those rosters ?

==================================

FALCON: The AZ Instructional League and the Arizona Fall League (AFL) are two separate entities.

The AZ Instructional League runs for a month, from about mid-September to mid-October. The rosters are released to the media in September.

The Cubs AZ Instructs team is based at Fitch Park, and the other MLB clubs also run Instructs camps at their minor league facilities. The AZ Instructs teams play each other in games, just like during Minor League Camp in March and at Extended Spring Training (EXST) April-June.

The AZ Instructional League is designed mainly for an organization's best first and second year players, although more experienced players will often attend, too, like if the player is returning from an injury, or if he's trying to learn a new position, or if the player is working on some specific element of his game.

The AZ Instructional League is most like Extended Spring Training (they even have one "Camp Day" each week, just like at EXST), except all of the roving minor league instructors are there. In the case of the Cubs AZ Instructional League team, the roster consists of about 40-45 of the Cubs best prospects (mostly from from the AZL Cubs, Boise, and Peoria, and a few from Daytona), usually about 20 pitchers, 5-6 catchers, 8-10 infielders, and 6-8 outfielders, all together at the same time and the same place. Sometimes a pitcher won't attend because he has reached his innings limit for the year, but otherwise most all of the best first and second-year prospects are there (barring injury of course).

Occasionally a player from AA or AAA will be there. For instance, last year AA LHP Donald Veal was at Instructs to work on his mechanics, and the year before AAA OF Felix Pie was there to work with Bob Dernier on his base-stealing (Pie was used as a "designated pinch-runner" several times each game).

Korean RHP Dae-Eun Rhee also made his U. S. debut at Instructs last year (his parents were there with him). And last year (for the first time) two young pitchers from the Mexican League (LHP Marco Tovar and RHP Alan Guerrero) also particioated at the Cubs Instructs. (The Cubs have an informal relationship with Los Potros de Tijuana, where the Cubs occasionally will loan a player to Los Potros, and then the Cubs get first crack at any player on the Tijuana roster... that's how the Cubs ended up acquuiring veteran LHP Jason Stanford for Iowa last month).

The Arizona Fall League (AFL), on the other hand, is operated by MLB, and plays a six-week long 30+ game schedule from around October 10th to about November 20th. AFL rosters are usually released to the media the last week of August.

The six AFL teams are based in the Spring Training parks at Mesa HoHoKam Park (the "Mesa Solar Sox," where the Cubs are the "host" team), Scottsdale Stadium (the "Scottsdale Scorpions," where Giants are the "host" team), Phoenix Municipal Stadium (the "Phoenix Desert Dogs," where the A's are the "host" team), Surprise Stadium (the "Surprise Rafters," where the Royals & Rangers are the "co-hosts"), and Peoria Stadium (two teams--the "Peoria Saguaros" and the "Peoria Javelina"--are based in Peoria, one team "hosted" by the Padres and the other "hosted" by the Mariners). Next year one of the two Peoria AFL teams might be moved to the new stadium in Glendale where the Dodgers and (eventually) the White Sox will be moving for Spring Training.

Each of the six AFL teams is a consortium of five MLB clubs. The "host" teams stay the same from year to year, but the other four MLB clubs associated with a given AFL team switch from year to year. This year, the Mesa Solar Sox will be associated with the Cubs, Atlanta Braves, Florida Marlins, Philadelphia Phillies, and Detrot Tigers. (Last year the Cubs, Cardinals, Astros, Brewers, and Red Sox were the Solar Sox consortium, with then-Cardinals and future Cubs minor league pitching coordinator Mark Riggins the Solar Sox pitching coach).

Each AFL team has a roster of 35 players (seven players provided by each organization), including 20 pitchers (four from each MLB team) and 15 position players (three from each MLB team). Each MLB club associated with a given AFL team also contributes either the manager, the bench coach, the pitching coach, or one of the two athletic trainers (it rotates every year). This year, Ryne Sandberg will be the Solar Sox bench coach.

Last year the Cubs assigned pitchers Matt Avery, Justin Berg, Sean Gallagher, and Rocky Roquet, infielders Josh Lansford and Joe Simokaitis, and outfielder Sam Fuld to the Solar Sox. Fuld hit .400+ and was named the AFL MVP.

During the 2007 AFL season, Roquet left the team after sustaining a sports hernia, and was replaced by catcher Steve Clevenger (who also replaced Astros catcher J. R. Towles, who went down with a broken hand). Because the Solar Sox needed another catcher to replace Towles and another Cubs player to replace Roquet, Clevenger (who had just finished attending the Cubs AZ Instructional League camp 1/2-mile down the road at Fitch Park) was a convenient choice.

The AFL is basically AA+, and is mainly designed for players making the transition from AA to AAA. However, it's not unusual for teams to send their best "A" ball prospect to the AFL, and it's also not that unusual to find a few older AAA or even 4-A guys there, too. There are very few Latin players in the AFL, because most Latin players play winter ball in their home country.

I would say pitchers Mitch Atkins, J. R. Mathes, Gregory Reinhard, and Donald Veal, and three TBD from among catcher Welington Castllo, 2B Nate Spears, 1B Kyle Reynolds, 3B Casey McGehee, and OF Tyler Colvin, are the most-likely candidates to get "Cubs slots" with the Mesa Solar Sox this year (the three postion players assigned to the Solar Sox will depend on the needs of the Solar Sox roster). Also, sometimes a club won't assign a pitcher who is an obvious candidate for the AFL just because they feel he has already thrown "too many innings" that season.

The AFL is a great place for teams to look at guys who are "on the bubble" as far as getting added to the 40-man roster by the deadline on November 20th. A couple of years ago, the Cubs re-signed 1B Brandon Sing (who could have been a six-year minor league FA) to a minor league contract for the following season, enticing him to return for another season in the Cubs organization with the promise of a "Cubs slot" in the AFL and an NRI to big league camp the following Spring Training. If Sing had had a good showing in the AFL, the Cubs still could have added him to their 40-man roster on November 20th, and if he had had a good showing but wasn't added to the Cubs 40-man roster, he might have been selected by another MLB club in the Rule 5 Draft. (As it turned out, Sing had a poor showing in the AFL).

So I wouldn't be too surprised if the Cubs might do the same thing with a potential post-2008 minor league FA like Matt Craig, Doug Deeds, or Josh Kroeger this year, just to keep the player from walking away, but without having to necessarily add the guy to the 40-man roster. But that all depends on how much the Cubs want to retain the player, and whether the player even wants to come back to the Cubs organization next year.

There are usually about 20+ MLB scouts at every AFL game (the scouts sometimes out-number the fans!), so it's a great showcase for the players.  

Thanks for clearing that up for me. I read that Vitters,Cashner,& Brenly will be going to instructionals as well as 7 players from the Mesa Cubs....Lake,Castro,Cerda,Jones,Perez,Watkins,Campana,& Perez (if he is recovered from his hamstring injury).

Submitted by Cubs Win on Tue, 08/19/2008 - 11:36am.

Thanks Az - I'm guessing Hoffpauir may be a viable option in the event we get to the World Series (as a DH in away games). The kid is TEARING up AAA ball right now. I'm sure he'll be the replacement for D.Ward next year but I'm interested in your thoughts as to what numbers you think he'd produce if he played every day (at 1B). I know Lee isn't going anywhere, but do you think he could step in and bat .275 with 25-30 homers given his maturity or is that too optimistic?

Also, any reports on Jay Jackson and Cerda for us.....they seem very intriguing as prospects.

++++++++++++++++++++++++

CUBS WIN: I would compare Micah Hoffpauir to guys like Ross Gload or Ryan Ludwick, in that he was slow to develop, but once he did, he really moved along fast. Hoffpauir is also a decent defensive first-baseman, although he struggles to play outfield. At the very least Hoffpauir should be the Cubs back-up 1B and #1 LHPH next season. It also should mean more days off for Derrek Lee (keeping him fresher), and with Hoffpauir as the DH the Cubs should be able to go toe-to-toe with any A. L. team in interleague play and in the World Seies (if they can get there).

As for Jay Jackson, I saw him at Fitch Park, but he left without pitching in a game. He is also an outstanding hitter, BTW (he played OF at Furman on days he wsasn't pitching), although he won't be able to show-off his batting acumen until he gets to AA. No question Jackson appears to be one of the real steals of the 2008 Rule 4 draft (at least so far).

As I have mentioned before, Matt Cerda (Oceanside HS - Oceanside, CA) reminds me of a young Craig Biggio (although Cerda hits left-handed). The youngster has an outstanding knowledge of the strike zone (better than most of the young AZL umpires down here!) and is not afraid to hit with two strikes. He has some power, too. He has also shown improvement as a catcher (he has been working daily with Danny Fathreee, who was Kerry Wood's catcher in HS), but he also still takes ground balls at 2B. Hopefully he can remain a catcher.

Fellow HS draftee 2B Logan Watkins (Goddard HS - Goddard, KS) has looked very good, too. He is a good hitter with power potential and appears to have good defensive instincts. Personally, I'd play him at SS until he proves he can't play there, but I guess the Cubs project him as a second-baseman.  

Submitted by 433 on Tue, 08/19/2008 - 11:21am.

Great stuff as usual Phil.

I found this interesting: "To be eligible to play in the MLB post-season, a player must be on the club’s 25-man roster or 15-day or 60-day DL as of 8/31. However, any player (regardless of position) who is a member of the organization on 8/31 is eligible to replace an injured player on the post-season roster as long as the injured player is placed on the DL prior to the start of the post-season series."

So, a question for you. Using 2007 as an example, if the Cubs had (stupidly) wanted to get Trachsel on the playoff roster, could they have done so by (1) naming Prior to the playoff roster, then (2) sliding Trachsel into his slot as a replacement because Prior was on the DL? If the answer is No, could they have accomplished the same thing by naming an "injured" random player to the playoff roster and then simply DL-ing him to make room for Trachsel?

==================================

433: Steve Trachsel was in the exact same postion as Kevin Hart, Geovany Soto, and Ronny Cedeno were last year, in that while he was not on the Cubs 25-man roster on August 31st, he was a member of the Cubs organization on 8/31 because the trade was made on August 31st. So because they had four roster exemptions they could use (Guzman, Novoa, Prior, and Pagan), the Cubs could have added Trachsel to their NLDS roster along with Hart, Soto, and Cedeno (if they had been so inclined). As it was, they told Trachsel to go home and have a nice off-season.

If the Cubs had needed more than four roster exemptions last year, they could have placed somebody who was on the 25-man roster on 8/31 on the DL prior to the start of the NLDS. But MLB looks at that stuff a lot more carefully once it gets to the post-season. Sprained hang-nails probably won't qualify a player for the DL in the post-season. You almost have to have a bone sticking out through the skin.

Submitted by Q-Ball on Tue, 08/19/2008 - 10:49am.

Thanks AZ Phil for shedding light on the post-season roster process. Barring injury, I could see us wanting Micah Hoffpauir in particular during the playoffs, as a LHPH.

Like many Cub Fans, Angel Guzman had left my mind. If he can finally get healthy, what kind of pitcher does he project to, and can he figure in our plans for next year? How is his stuff these days?

Is Jake Fox a real prospect? He had a nice year at AA, but is 25 and defensively challenged.

==========================

Q-BALL: I saw e quite a bit of Angel Guzman this year at Fitch Park, prior to his leaving on his Summer Tour of the Cubs farm system. He was throwing 94 consistently and his change-up looked pretty good the few times he threw it. He still needs to find his plus curve ball, but it's probably there somewhere.

I think Gooz can help the Cubs in September, but maybe not in the playoffs. See, the Cubs have been working him like a starter, where he'll throw an inning or two to start a game, and then he takes a day or two off, and then he throws on the side, and then maybe he'll throw in another game on the fourth, fifth, or sixth day.

But he hasn't built up his pitch count much past 30-40, so he really isn't in a position to start at the big leagure level. But he also hasn't thrown in games on consecutive days (nowhere close to that yet), and until he does do that (with no ill effects), I just can't see him on the Cubs NLDS roster. However, in September, when the Cubs have 16 or 17 pitchers on the roster, Gooz could pitch out of the bullpen a couple or three times a week, as long as it's not two days in a row.

As for Jake Fox, I could see him making it up to MLB at some point as a back-up LF-RF-1B-RHPH-3rd catcher. He definitely has plus-power, and while he might strike out a lot and struggle to hit .200, he also should be able to hit a fair number of home runs per PA. He is a defensive liability no matter where he plays, but so are a lot of back-up guys.

Jake Fox and Jason Dubois are a lot alike (power-hitting right-handed hitters who strike out a lot), except Dubois is a proven AAA (4-A) hitter, while Fox has yet to prove himself at AAA. However, Fox is a faster runner, has a better arm, and exhibits more defensive versatilty (albeit not much defensive skill)..

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