Cubs Sign Three Minor League Free-Agents
Besides re-signing free-agent RHP Chad Fox to a minor league contract, the Cubs have signed three minor league free-agents in recent days, including one player who (as things stand now) actually has a legitimate chance to make the Cubs 2009 Opening Day Roster.
The 33-year old left-handed hitting Johnson was a #1 draft pick of the White Sox way back in 1994, and was one of the players the Sox sent to OAK in the Keith Foulke for Billy Koch and Neal Cotts trade in December 2002. Since then, Johnson has bounced around like a billiard ball, moving from OAK to MIL to the Cubs (he played at AAA Iowa in 2005) back to MIL, then to ATL, and onward to STL.
Johnson is the epitome of a "4-A" player, a guy who gets a Non-Roster Invitation (NRI) to Spring Training with an MLB club every year and can always find a job at AAA, but has difficulty taking advantage of opportunities at the big league level (254/383/356 lifetime minor league hitter, with 218/314/318 lifetime MLB numbers). .
Over his 15-year pro career, Johnson has spent all or parts of eight different seasons in the major leagues, including three full seasons with the White Sox (1999, 2000 and 2002) where he was used as a platoon catcher, alternating with the likes of Brook Fordyce, Josh Paul, and Sandy Alomar, Jr. Johnson's most recent MLB action came last September with the Cardinals, where hit .294 in ten games. and while he isn't much of a hitter and while he is virtually devoid of power (he's a poor man's Paul Bako), Johnson does take a lot of walks.
Why this matters is because 2008 Cubs back-up catcher Henry Blanco is a free-agent, and he may not return to Chicago in 2009. With reigning N. L. Rookie of the Year Geovany Soto the #1 guy, the Cubs are unlikely to spend much on a back-up catcher, and since top catching prospect Welington Castillo probably still at least a year away, the Spring Training battle for the Cubs #2 catcher job in 2009 would appear (at this point anyway) to be between hold-over Koyie Hill and Mark Johnson, with the loser likely to be the #1 catcher at AAA Iowa.
27-year old LHP Jason Waddell was the Giants' 8th round pick out of Riverside CC in June 2001, and he has spent his entire career in the SF organization, never pitching above AA. He spent the last five seasons bouncing back-and-forth between San Jose and Connecticut, and will likely battle for a lefty reliever job at AAA Iowa in 2009. Whether he will get an NRI to Spring Training with the Cubs has not been announced, but I would bet he will.
26-year old RHP Angel Castro is from the Dominican Republic, but he played college ball in the U. S. at Western Oklahoma State JC. He was drafted by the Tigers in the 13th round of the 2006 Rule 4 Draft, and spent the last three seasons pitching in the Tigers minor league system before getting released last month. He was not a six-year minor league FA, so it is not clear why the Tigers chose to release him at this time. It looks like he had a really nice season in 2008, though. He is presently pitching for Azucareros in the DWL.
A scouting report from 2006 projected Castro as a reliever, with a 90-93 fastball that ccasionally touched 95 and a "darting" knuckle-curve, but if he had that kind of stuff in 2008 at AA one would think the Tigers probably wouldn't have released him.
While it's unknown if Castro will get an NRI to Spring Training with the Cubs in 2009, he will probably be given an opportunity to compete for a bullpen job at AAA Iowa.
rizzo #32...ties career high.
The team, farm and scouting system were barren when they arrive.
They punted two seasons, third season 73 wins which is what happened about 75% of the time in last 50 years
there was more than one way to get there
supposedly jed "who?" hoyer, too
same...i just happen to not like sitting through shit sandwich meals for multiple years. baseball is kinda boring when you're punting on 1st down for a slew of years in a row.
i fully understand why it was done, but i didn't enjoy it. there was more than one way to get competitive and this was the chosen way.
fwiw, apparently McLeod signed extension as well after he didn't get Twins gig.
I am once again reminded why I am happy that Theo is running the organization.
if not they can just intentionally tank the team for 3-4 years and rebuild.
Hopefully after the Cubs complete their sevenpeat :)
They're the best in the business and have been for 12 years running now. The only question is when they'll get bored of it.
I was right here. I don't require my GM's to be perfect, but I would like them to understand what wins baseball games (IMO controlling the strike zone and creating/avoiding outs), and knowing where the organization is in the success cycle.
Theo and company have made and will make plenty of mistakes, but they seem to understand those two items pretty well.
Now we're all Theo-believers, where were you when he signed Edwin Jackson? Or how about trading away DJ Lemehaiu? And not signing Samardzija to an extension? Or not pursuing Prince Fielder or Albert Pujols? Or signing Lester? Or trading away Cashner, Dempster, Feldman, etc?...I think I'm losing the narrative here.
So his deal runs through 2021? Which pretty much coincides when all these guys are due to hit free agency.
"Terms of the deal were not disclosed."
Theo inks five year extension
PC tonite at PNC
Not as a major factor, but could be a tie-breaker. But, yeah, on performance and experience, it's Coghlan.