It was hola to one old friend and sayonara to another today, as the Cubs signed minor league FA INF Scott Moore to a minor league contract with an NRI to Spring Training 2011, and placed Micah Hoffpauir on Outright Release Waivers so that he can sign a contract with the Nippon Ham Fighters (NPB Pacific League) of Sapporo, Japan, where he will be playing on the same team as Japan's #1 pitcher, RHP Yu Darvish.
With Hoffpauir being released, the Cubs now have 35 players on their MLB Reserve List (five slots open) as they continue to consider which players they will add to the 40-man roster by the 11/20 pre-Rule 5 Draft roster-filing deadline.
Since Hoffpauir is not a free-agent and is still under contract to the Cubs, a cash payment (exact amount TBD, but it could be several hundred thousand dollars) will be made to the Cubs from the Ham Fighters once Hoffpauir clears waivers on Friday and can officially sign with his new club.
I guess it's pretty obvious that Hoff will have to learn the ancient art of fighting hams, but just speaking from personal experience, I think he will find that if he approaches the ham from a 45 degree angle with a knife and fork in hand, that he will usually be able to make the cut, bite, and swallow necessary to successfully pound it down in one sitting. (At least we probably know what Hoff's family and friends should expect for Christmas this year).
Hoff-Pauir! signed with the Cubs after being selected in the 13th round of the 2002 draft out of Lamar U. in Texas. He spent six rather uneventful seasons in the Cubs farm systyem (including four seasons at AAA Iowa), before finally having a break-out year in 2008 when he hit 362/393/752 with 25 HR and 100 RBI in just 71 games (less than half a AAA season). He got occasional opportunities for MLB playing time with the Cubs 2008-10, hitting 251/312/421 with 12 HR & 48 RBI and 23 doubles in 162 big league games (exactly equivalent to one full MLB season), including a memorable five-hit game (including two HR) in September 2008 at Shea Stadium in New York. But the 30-year old Texan was unable to hit the ground running and grab the 1B job the last two months of the 2010 season after Derrek Lee was traded to Atlanta, hitting just 173/246/231 with no HR in 57 PA (24 games). Besides hitting 133 HR in 874 pro games, Hoffpauir is a very good defensive 1st baseman, winning a Rawlings AAA Gold Glove while at Iowa in 2007.
A left-handed hitter with HR power who can play 1B-2B-3B-LF plus SS in a pinch, Scott Moore comes back to the Cubs after spending the past three-plus seasons in the Baltimore Orioles organization, where he bounced back-and-forth between AAA and MLB. In 80 MLB games (202 PA) over the course of four seasons, Moore has hit a combined 223/270/370 with seven HR. Although he has certainly not had the same degree of success at the big league level, Moore would appear to profile at least as a similar type of player as Jeff Baker.
A 1st round draft pick (8th overall) of the Detroit Tigers in 2002 out of Cypress HS in California (the same HS that produced current Cubs 3B prospect Josh Vitters), Moore was originally acquired by the Cubs from the Tigers along with RHP Roberto Novoa and OF Bo Flowers for RHP Kyle Farnsworth in February 2005, and he would spend the next three seasons in the Cubs system, hitting 61 HR (combined) in 363 minor league games. Rated one of the Cubs "Top 10 Prospects" in 2007, Moore was sent to Baltimore along with RHPs Rocky Cherry and Jake Renshaw in a trade for veteran RHP Steve Trachsel in August of that season. While he has mostly struggled in his previous big league opportunities, keep in mind he is still only 27 years old (in fact today is his 27th birthday), and with a solid Spring Training, Moore has a chance to win a spot on the Cubs 2011 Opening Day 25-man roster. And if he doesn't make the cut, his versatility should come in handy at AAA Iowa, and his MLB experience could make him the natural replacement call-up if anything bad happens to a Cubs infielder next season.
Good thing the Cubs have five left-handed batters in the lineup. Velasquez is just tearing thru the righties [edit - doesn't seem to faze Bryant!]
ben zobrist gets to ride up front tonight cause he's a good guy at sports.
cubs with a 5 run lead and a lackey shutout through 3ip \m/
HAGSAG: I have not seen Joe Nathan out on the field, but he is supposedly at the UAPC.
ERIC S: Best outing I've ever seen from Manny Rondon, and I've seen most of his outings since the Cubs got him from the Angels.
M. Rondon is competing with six others (Dylan Cease, Bryan Hudson, Jose Paulino, Pedro Silverio, Jesus Castillo, and Erling Moreno) for a starting slot at Eugene, and (as you can probably tell from the EXST box scores) the competition has gotten fierce over the last couple of weeks, With the exception of Moreno, the Eugene SP candidates have upped their game lately, and M. Rondon's outing yesterday was especially impressive/dominating.
E-MAN: Pierce Johnsion was mixing a 92-94 MPH fastball with a plus-change-up AND curve, and he threw strike-after-strike-after-strike with all three of his pitches. I believe that was the best command and pitch-efficiency I've ever seen from Johnson, who often pitches from behind in the count and issues too many walks.
Of course now he has to avoid a recurrence of the lat strain (whch he has had previously in his career) as well as all of the other miscellaneous physical problems he's had over the last three years (hamstring, quad, back, etc).
PHIL: Any movement on P. Johnsons pitches? What was his "out" pitch? I know he was working on a 4th pitch, so wondering what he is looking like these days. Thanks.
AZ Phil, has Nathan showed up in Mesa yet? Thanks.
Eickhoff looks like a good young pitcher. Lets steal him!
Manny Rondon faced 13 batters ... and got 10 to K. Not a bad day's work.
With several other Cubs hitters bailing out on curves today I think overall it wasn't being seen well. It for sure looked silly but a good breaking pitch coming at you and then breaking down isn't the easiest thing to see and has made many hitters look silly. Also Soler should have more walks this year but for quite a few called strikes that were actual balls and even the called strike he bailed on was borderline.
it's not like we're talking about a guy who's never had issues with pitch selection and seeing the ball over here. we're talking about a guy who has some rather legendary swing-and-misses at breaking stuff who's been exploited low. going forward it's worth paying attention to seeing if he can be exploited inside, too. he seriously bailed out of the box on a called strike. sure it was a good curve, but he obviously didn't see that well at all.
It would seem like he is figuring it out now and it's really coming together. Really happy for him. Joe was really protecting him from the 3rd time through the order, but as you allude to, he is earning trust to go deeper.
Wondering if has potential to become a #3 pitcher? His current stats certainly support it.
That doesn't count b/c CRUNCH didn't see it on his 60" HDTV 5 times in replay.
I have seen many players "bail out" when the ball looked like it was gonna hit them.
Especially with the advent of the splitter and pitchers that can really get the ball to dance. Marmol, Sutter, Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, Derek Lowe, Smoltz, Arrietta...
These guys have made the best bail out only for the ball to come over the plate and be called a strike.
No shame in that. The same way players whiff hard enough to cause them to drill a hole in the ground from spinning.
a 60" TV with slow-motion replay and multiple looks on that replay helps...a lot...
it's one thing to shy away like he did the 2nd time, it's another to bail out of the box on a called strike. that happened in the 1st one he pulled away from. he misjudged that one by a foot or so...
Good Hendricks sure is fun to watch. He was hitting all his corners today and the Phillies couldn't do anything with his changeup.