Gooz Gets Outrighted to Iowa
The Cubs reinstated RHP Angel Guzman from the 60-day Diabled List today, and then outrighted the 28-year old righthander to Iowa. Guzman missed the 2010 season after undergoing shoulder surgery at the end of Spring Training, and spent most of the past seven months rehabbing at Fitch Park.
Guzman was signed by the Cubs as a 17-year old Non-Drafted Free-Agent (NDFA) out of Venezuela in November 1999 after a contract he had signed earlier that year with the Kansas City Royals was voided due to a pre-existing medical condition. He was long considered one of the Cubs best pitching prospects, and was rated by Baseball America as the Cubs #2 overall prospect in 2003 and then their #1 overall prospect in 2004. He finally established himself as a solid member of the Cubs bullpen in 2009, going 3-3 with a 2.95 ERA and 1.05 WHIP, with 41 hits allowed and 23/47 BB/K in 61 IP (55 games). However, Guzman's career in the Cubs organization was marked by frequent stints on the disabled list as the result of shoulder and elbow injuries, including surgery for a torn labrum in 2003, an elbow ligament transplant (Tommy John Surgery) in 2007, and then another shoulder surgery in 2010.
Because Guzman has three-plus years of MLB Service Time, he has the right to be a free-agent under Article XX of the CBA if he is outrighted to the minors. Guzman has up to seven days to decide whether to exercise this right, but since he is unsigned for 2011 (he was arbitration-eligible), he will almost certainly exercise this right immediately. The Cubs could then try and re-sign Guzman to a minor league contract for 2011 at a low base salary with a pre-arranged MLB split salary in case he is added back to the Cubs 40-man roster at any point during the 2011 season. Or Guzman could choose to look elsewhere.
Last year the Cubs non-tendered LHP Neal Cotts on 12/12 as the lefty was still rehabbing from July 2009 Tommy John Surgery, and then offered him a minor league deal at a low base salary that would have allowed him to continue his medical rehab uninterrupted at Fitch Park in 2010, but Cotts opted to sign a minor league deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates instead (Cotts spent the entire 2010 season at the Bucs Minor League HQ in Bradenton, FL).
The Cubs choosing to ourtright Guzman now instead of waiting to non-tender him on 12/2 means they probably feel they need his roster spot ASAP, either for an MLB free-agent they plan to sign later this month, or for a minor league player they want to add to their 40-man roster by the November 20th roster filing deadline. The Cubs already had two roster slots on their 40-man roster available (I'm not counting John Grabow being on the 60-day DL, because he will be reinstated soon), so now they have three.
The Cubs would have been a bit hamstrung by having a rehabbing Guzman on the 40-man roster going into the 2011 season, because he is eligible for salary arbitration and he has no minor league options left. So it was just a case of whether he would be non-tendered, released, or outrighted.
The Cubs also saved about $800K in 2011 payroll by dropping Guzman from the 40-man roster prior to tendering him a 2011 contract (by offering him salary arbitration), since players eligible for salary arbitration usually don't get pay cuts while recovering from an injury. (Guzman made $825K in 2010).
This might be old news but Hammel was on ESPN 1000 and said that he changed his diet and workout routine over the off season and tweaked his delivery so it'd be more repeatable so he'd have a better second half. So...some cause for optimism anyway.
CHILDERS: RHSP Dylan Cease and LHSP Bryan Hudson are probably the top two SP prospects in the organization right now.
LHSP Jose Paulino has electric stuff (91-94 MPH fastball with sinking action and a mid-80's slider), but he also has trouble commanding it.
RHP Jose Albertos (2015 IFA - Mexico - $1.5M bonus) just turned 17 in November, and his fastball already sits at 95-96. He also throws a curve and a change-up, and is fairly advanced for a kid his age.
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.