See, The Winter Meetings Were Productive for the Cubs
The Cubs finalized some deals that certainly were discussed over Winter Meetings and made a number of roster moves today.
First, they claimed 25-year old RHP Liam Hendriks off of waivers from the Minnesota Twins. He was a roster casualty with the Phil Hughes signing. While he has done nothing remotely good in 156 innings at the major league level, he's put up at the very least an outstanding 2.99 ERA in the minors over 580.1 IP. Those numbers were good enough to get him on the BA's Twins Top 10 list for 2011(#6) and 2012(#7).His strikeout rates are trending the wrong way and I don't know if that's an arm issue or just more of the Twins pitch-to-contact approach, but certainly seems worth the risk as a possible back-end starter/in-season depth.
The Cubs also signed non-tendered OF Ryan Kalish, formerly of the Boston Red Sox. A 9th round pick in the 2006 draft, Kalish was the 98th rated prospect in baseball before the 2008 season and usually in the middle of the pack of the top 10 Boston prospects lists back then. Injuries though have curtailed his career and he got a minor league deal with a spring training invite from the Cubs. Again, he'll be playing his age 25 season next year so certainly worth a flyer.
And of course yesterday, they traded left-handed hitting OF Brian Bogusevic for right-handed hitting OF Justin Ruggiano. Ruggiano has some decent splits versus lefties (.834 career OPS/.506 SLG), so he'll certainly come in as an occasional short-side platoon-mate for Schierholtz or Sweeney and bench bat and if he plays like he did in 2012 or in the minors, maybe he'll get some more at-bats.
On the minus side, the Braves ended up signing INF Mat Gamel to a minor league deal with a spring training invite, which is a shame as I was hoping the Cubs would give him a chance this spring.
As I hypothesized yesterday and anyone can tell by reading the stories from the last few days, the Cubs will likely sign some type of starting pitcher, maybe Scott Baker, maybe Jason Hammell, maybe someone else in that price range and then probably 1-2 right-handed relievers and there are plenty of those names still out there. Otherwise, the only headling grabbing move anyone should expect is if they end up dealing Jeff Samardzija or sign Masahiro Tanaka. They can always surprise I suppose, but they seem pretty committed to Rizzo, Castro, Baez, Bryant, Soler and Almora and whomever else pushes their way into the conversation.
Certainly not the type of offseason manuevering that will get the casual fan to even remotely acknowledge the Cubs existence and certainly not the type of moves that anyone can hope for more than 70 wins next year, but certainly the type of moves that will allow them to start bringing up the next class and let some of the current guys figure things out at the major league level. I can't say I like all these moves, frankly, they're flat out boring, but I understand the process and understand what they're trying to do.
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