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.
listening on ESPN 1000, caller says Bill Welke will be the home plate ump today. Supposedly his reputation is for having an even bigger strike zone than last night's Phil Cuzzi. Some of the issues with bad umpiring come from an inconsistent strike zone. Hoping at least for consistency. Last night's called strike on David Ross was outright embarrassing for Cuzzi.
That might work out in favor of Kyle Hendricks, who benefits much from a large strike zone.
it's kind of mesmerizing to watch
should Theo add some Ted Abernathy videos for minor league pitching coordinator's use?
sadly, Ted passed away in 2004 from complications of Alzheimers. I always loved the Cub bullpen trio of Phil Regan, Ted Abernathy and Hank Aguirre. As a kid, I even worked on both Phil Regan (very quirky delivery) and Ted Abernathy (extreme submarine) imitations when throwing a rubber ball against a wall. It wasn't a good imitation unless I could scrape my knuckles off the ground. I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for submariners.
HAGSAG: Chris Pieters was sent to instructs to develop his hitting, bunting, and outfield play (he is already a decent first-baseman).
Pieters is tall and rangy , a "long-strider" in the same mold as Trey Martin and Rashad Crawford. He is a very patient hitter (unusual for a hitter with his lack of experience) and has an outstanding (almost uncanny) eye at the plate, and he is a fast runner with unusually good baserunning instincts, and he is a good basestealer, too.
I doubt we will see Pedro in any more "high leverage" situations this series. With Hendricks and the pen today, we need Bryant-Rizzo-Castro to get going ASAP.
One funny thing to see before the game was the two submariner pitchers (David Berg and Corbin Hoffner) playing catch with each other. Both pitchers throw "submarine" even when they play catch, and it's kind of mesmerizing to watch, even for the other players.
CUBSTER: One of the points of emphasis at "basic" Instructs this year was teaching the position players the art of baserunning and base-stealing, like getting a good primary and seconday lead, reading the pitcher, cutting bases sharply, and different ways to slide to maximize the baserunner's chance to arrive safely.
Brooksbaseball.net has some interesting stats/graphs on pitch and strike zones and you can dial up individual games/pitchers. I'd love to see some comments from readers who can interpret this better than I can. I thought the Ump was really inconsistent with a very wide zone. Does this info seem to match up with my eyeball perception? Also, looking at the graphs, Lackey was not throwing as many pitches below the K-zone (certainly more above) while Lester was clearly getting his pitches down and not many above.
As I was fearing in my post yesterday, Maddon keeps trotting Strop out against the Redbirds and he constantly fails. I understand the psychology behind this, but in a series where there is a finite lock on who moves on, why does he keep riding the wrong horse?
AZ Phil: Agree, this must have been a really fun game to watch. There was a lot of base stealing going on. Are the pitchers not holding runners or is the catching still a work in progress?
Cuzzi has long been known as having the biggest strike zone among all umpires.
AZ Phil, give me a scouting report on Chris Pieters since he has become a 1B/OF.
I think it's probably hard to adjust to an ump's zone mid-game, as least for hitters. Pitchers can locate to an ump's zone, but hitters have minimal time to react.
But, whatever. Umps are going to miss calls. Let's beat up on the non-Lackey starters.
Watched a little of Mets-Dodgers.
Jason deGrom -- oh, my.
Cubs 3-4-5 hitters are 0-21 so far in the post-season.
Let's change that in a big effin' way tomorrow, boys.
Considering how players reacted it seemed pretty accurate high and wide (to righties), but not so accurate low and in. I thought the strike zone by the ump was awful, but it was consistent and the Cubs never adjusted.
Rizzo and Bryant need to have good at bats. They are really looking outclassed in these two games.
that game sounds fun as hell.