Is the Car Jumper a Cub?

Update (11AM, CST): Cubs.com site makes it sound official. Per ESPN, Gathright will get a one year deal at $800K. Gordon Wittenmyer at the Sun-Times also weighs in with this confirming article, as does Paul Sullivan from the Tribune.


This is far from being confirmed, but I have found several links saying the recently non-tendered KC Royal, Joey Gathright will be finding his way to the Cubs roster. Apparently a report by Jesse Rogers on WSCR-AM mentioned that he's been signed (around 6pm Monday evening). Carrie Muskat then posted this odd mention of Gathright at Cubs.com. Noting that the 27 year old speedy, no power, lefty hitting OF could be added to the roster soon. She also reminds us that Gathright played for Lou Piniella and stole 20 bases for Tampa in 2005. Finally, in an interview with Joe Castellano on XM radio monday night, Cubs superscout Gary Hughes (special assistant to GM Jim Hendry) mentioned that "we're going to add a speed guy". He didn't name names but it sure seems odd to have this confluence of soft information match up all at once.

Maybe Jim Hendry wants Gathright for his jumping skills. You can see his famous car jumping video here. The Cubs can use anyone who can top Dodger pitcher Hiroki Kuroda and  Gathright garnered attention when he jumped over Kuroda avoiding a tag in a spring training game last year. It certainly isn't based on his hitting prowess, 263  .324  .308  are his career splits vs righty pitching.

If the Pitcher Jumping, Car Jumping, 5th OF is signed to a contract, does that hasten, ala Snagglepuss, an exit - stage door left for Felix Pie?  I'd like to see Pie get one more chance but it seems like he may literally as well as figuratively be running out of options. In any event, it's hard to get too worked up over the 25th roster spot in December, particularly when the starting right fielder has yet to be sorted out.

I've put my notes from the Gary Hughes interview after the jump...

Gary Hughes (special asst to the GM) interview on XM (interviewed by Joe Castellano, Monday evening 12-15):

Disappointed over the Peavy non-deal. Can't get into names on the table but overwhelming as to what they were being asked to give up.

LH bat, Milton Bradley... tremendous talent. Hughes has seen two of Bradley's most famous games including when he tore his ACL and threw a plastic bottle.

LH bat, hopes we'll get the Fukudome he scouted back next year.  He doesn't know what it was that went wrong, he just didn't finish well.

Bullpen, How ready is Marmol? He will be an outstanding closer but Kevin Gregg will be a factor. Also we resigned Chad Gaudin, expect him to be a big factor for us. Loves Sean Marshall. Neal Cotts also a factor.

Reed Johnson, GH grandson dove for a ball reminding him of the Reed Johnson play. He was a great pickup for us.

Micah Hoffpauir, he'll take DWard's role. Some time at 1B backing up DLee plus OF on occasion. UnGodly year at Iowa. Another LH bat.

We're going to add a speed guy too (Joey Gathright reference?)

Discussed scouting players with declining skills (ie. Garrett Anderson, Omar Vizquel) Is there a lineup he can fit in? What happens if he can't hit, Vizquel certainly can still field.

Felix Pie, often youngest guy on any team he's been on. 23 yrs now. Felix needs to separate himself on the positive side.

Playoffs. Bang we hit a wall. Block that out of your mind for next year.

Shark. Starter role? He could be a starter or reliever based on our need. He could even start at Iowa until the team needs a starter.

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Comments

I guess Pie should pack his bags! A shame would rather have a young guy like Pie learning who could amount to something instead of a washed up vagabond.

Does this mean the Peavy trade or some other trade is in the works? Speaking about options....what happens to Hill (he's getting killed in the fall league)..outright release?

Abreu is crazy if he wants that kind of money nobody is going to give him that in this market. Bradley is probably holding out for that kind of money too...if Furcal can get 4/40 after having missing half the year people are crazy...so maybe Abreu can find some idiots like Washington to bite...or bid up his asking price.

I'm doubting that Felix ever develops into the force many thought he would. He simply cannot control the strike zone.

I'd rather see Hendry trade him while he still has value. Trade him in a deal for a Jeremy Hermidia.

It's better to get .75 cents on the Felix Pie than to get nothing if he continues to flop. For once I'd like to see Hendry trade a guy a year early than a year late.

Unfortunately, I think we're already a year (or two) late on Pie.

CHICAGO (AP) - The Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox will play two split-squad games in Las Vegas in March.

The Cubs said Monday the teams will play March 4-5 at Cashman Field, home of the Triple-A Las Vegas 51s - a Toronto Blue Jays affiliate.

This is a weird move if it's true. Even if Pie's hitting sucks, he would still likely be better than Gathright.

And at least there's a chance Pie might be able to hit better than Gathright's career line.

Gathright:
Minors: 1508 ABs; 315/398/365 (763 OPS)
Majors: 1145 ABs; 263/328/304 (632 OPS)

Pie:
Minors: 2528 ABs; 299/355/470 (825 OPS)
Majors: 260 ABs; 223/284/331 (615 OPS)

There must be other reasons why the Cubs don't believe in Pie.

i'd like someone to clear up whether this is a major or minor league contract...

either way, though...it looks like vitters/marshall are 2 nearly untouchable cubs in all the trade talk this winter while pie's name is thrown around a lot. i wouldn't be surprised to see joey g. with the club as a 4th OF come april, though.

Hanging out after hours with Sori and the ladies can make it hard for one to get to the ball park earlier and take in some needed BP. Also, emulating Fonzie at the place doesn't help much either. Sayonara, Pie.

furcal to ATL according to rosenthall

That could mean, eventually, Peavy to ATL too.

Or Ankiel or Ludwick.

I was referring to the fact that the Braves don't need Furcal and Escobar. The Cards, on the other hand, have Greene so wouldn't seem to be a team that immediately comes to mind as interested in Escobar.

The report I saw said that he'd play SS or 2nd, which could cause the Cardinals to revisit Johnson trade talks.

Or Johnson goes to left and Furcal plays second.

Or one of the three plays 3rd when Chipper gets hurt.

Is Escobar or Furcal the better choice to play SS from a sabermetric perspective. It seems to me unless this leads to Peavy in a Braves uniford, they would have been better off signing Grudyz for 2b, signing another SP, and trading Johnson for Anikel or Ludwick. I really cant see Furcal being a better choice to play SS than Escobar.

The Johnson to left field thing doesn't make a lot of sense. Johnson's supposed to be a pretty good defender at second, and if you want to sign a player for $10 million to play left field, there are certainly better options than Furcal. Not saying it's not true, just that it's not smart.

Not so fast on the Furcal deal according to his agent, he's going to decide sometime today.

Seems like Atlanta has money burning holes in their pockets.

Joey F. Gathright. Are you kidding me? What a freaking waste of time. Seriously.

This is a guy who washed with the Royals and the pre-WS run D-Rays. Wow...
He can't hit for power, or average, but boy he doesn't walk much either.
.263/.3328/.304...great?? In 2 of his "full" seasons in the bigs, he slugged under .300. Let me repeat, this is just unbelievably bad.

This would be just a great signing. Great...if the Cardinals did it.

Whoa - you are reading too much into this (if it is true). PErhaps you have not read this, but the prospective new owners for the Cubs are wishing to have a Cubbie MAscot, who will also perform during innings - ala a minor-league game. Including, you know, jumping off those mini-tramps you see at sidelines at college football games and for the Bulls games.

Joey Gathright has really been hired for this gig, and will be performing his uncanny jumps during these breaks.

And, of course when the team hits the field coming out of the dugout to the Van Halen song "JUMP".

BWAHAAAA-HAAAAA!!!

Furcal to Atlanta sounds done. Props to Ruz - I can't believe anyone picked that one in the FAF. Unless Abreu goes back to the Yanks I'm toast.

Got the link for the contest handy? I think I'm about 2 for 6 myself.

I updated it last week, no Furcal yet though, but as you said, just Ruz

http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=psPXpWPP3yF...

Thanks. 2nd place and falling - the Furcal matter did me in.

Damn. I really wanted Furcal to be hitting in front of Holliday. Stupid Furcal, you screwed me again.

Here's an idea I came up with all on my own for handling Milton Bradley. It's my understanding that the trainers keep things like cortisone shots handy for when players need them. Why not just keep some Ativan handy for MB? If he starts to freak out, a trainer can just shoot him full of Ativan and calm him the f%*k down before he hurts himself.

Mister Whipple, I miss the good ole days where a few shots of good scotch would do the trick.

As much as I enjoy a good single malt, it's better comedy to imagine him with a syringe in his ass.

I could totally picture Milton being an "Angry Drunk"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3IET9wqG59o

Rotoworld is saying the Cubs have signed Gathright, but no source is listed. They're also saying the Cubs will probably send Pie to Iowa, but isn't he out of options? I think I've heard that. A lot.

Cubs.com has it sounding official

http://chicago.cubs.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=2...

4-14 (.286) as a pinch hitter...woo!

WSCR was actually right on a rumor. This is indeed the season of miracles.

Rotoworld also has Ibanez signing a 3 year $31.5 million contract with the Phillies.

I don't dislike the Gathright idea--but then, I didn't dislike Juan Pierre.

I think every team should have someone more or less like Gathright, and bat him leadoff. KC used him mostly at leadoff and also hitting ninth, which is like leadoff. (If it's early in the inning, you're getting on base for the #3 hitter--which was LaRussa's thought when he batted the pitcher eighth.)

He's coming off his best base-stealing year, 21 out of 24. And he only had half a year's worth of at-bats.

They may actually be planning to use the guy. Maybe they have an exit strategy for Fukudome, after all.

The question is not what you think of Gathright's OBP, but what Lou thinks of this type of hitter at the top of the order.

Dusty, is that you?

"I think every team should have someone more or less like Gathright, and bat him leadoff."

Oh. My. God.

"The question is not what you think of Gathright's OBP, but what Lou thinks of this type of hitter at the top of the order."

You mean what Lou thinks of having a guy with absolutely no power AND a ridiculously low OBP who also strikes out too much at the top of the order? I can think of a number of guys I'd rather have batting leadoff rather than Gathright: Soriano, Theriot, Fontenot, Johnson, DeRosa, Lee, Aramis, Pie, Fukudome, Cedeno, Soto, Blanco, Hill, Zambrano, Fuld, Josh Kroeger, Andres Torres, Tyler Colvin, Tony Thomas, and others.

Rich Harden is fast, too. Maybe Lou will bat him leadoff on days that he pitches.

We better get value back for Pie, cause either he is on his way out or Hendry just spent $800,000 to motivate Pie (he could've just threatened to give Fuld the spot, or signed some AAAA minor league free agent).

I just read Muskat Love's blurb on the official release. It still does not say if its a minor or major league deal. If the latter, I guess Pie and Gath will fight it out in spring training? Pie is out of options. So, he stays or gets traded, right?

It is a shame, unless he is part of a really worthwhile deal.

He STILL is only 24 and defensively is really incredible. I would really like him to stick one more year.

there's a press release on the site as well and it says nothing about a minor league deal and he's on the cubs.com 40-man roster. It's a major league deal, which just means the $$ is guaranteed.

it's $800,000, Hendry blew that much on the buffets in Las Vegas most likely.

Gathright has been criticized for taking bad routes in the OF, can't get on base, and has zero power.

Tyoical fucking Cub signing. Great...

Yes, some dude on MTR made those criticisms...in the comment section. Carrie Mustache says he'll be fighting for the 4th OF'er slot, let's not go crazy about this signing. He's basically the same guy as Pie, except we pick him up for next to nothing. Pie is still valuable, though, and is out of options...so he can and should be traded.

They are not basically the same guy. Pie is better defensively and has a significantly better arm. Pie also has power potential. Gathright is strictly a slap and tickle hitter.

If it was a 100% typical Cub signing he'd also be slow.

Gathright got a major league deal. 1 yr, 800K.

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=3773325

dumb question I'm sure, but whats the difference between a minor league and a major league deal?

Does one provide more flexibility? Is it strictly a difference of how much money the contract must be for? I mean even though Gathrights contract is a major league deal, if he doesn't make a spot on the opening day squad, he can be cut regardless of it being a minor or major league deal?

Depending on the wording of the contract. The player can get cut anytime. And, the balance of the contract would be owed. Unless there is a breach. Which we rarely do not know what it is, but there are logical ones we could all assume - such as committing a felony would probably void it! Think Michael Vick on that point.

Good work, BEASLEY!

Gathright is the same guy as Pie, except he is

1) 4 years older
2) Considered average at best defensively
3)Has shown absolutely no power...not even doubles power
4)Costs twice as much
5)Been let go by two teams, the D-Rays who were bad at the time, and the Royals, who are still bad.

Pie should be platooning in CF with Reed Johnson. I know this will never, ever happen. I'm sure the Cubs could acquire some AA catcher or a pitcher in A ball who used to be a 3B but couldn't hit for Pie.

You are making us feel even worse. Please stop. I am feeling sick.

True, Pie has more potential than Gathright. But for next year, neither one of them can start. Fukudome and Reed in CF with a new RF'er in Right. So we've got two bench players. Neither one has power (now) and if they did it wouldn't matter because neither one can really hit.

They're both fast. I've heard contradictory reports about Gathright's defense. I read somewhere that Pie is slightly better...and also that Gathright sucks altogether. Gathright is approaching the age when guys tend to break out so he might have a good season in the next year or so.

Gathright costs twice as much? I guess that's true, but it's a bit misleading. $800,000 isn't that much money.

Anyway, my point is that Pie wasn't very usefull on the roster last year. Sucked as a starter and a pinch hitter (didn't check that), but was a good defensive replacement, and pinch runner. Gathright can do those things. If someone values him and wants to give him a shot, it'd be nice to turn him into someone useful for the Cubs rather than keeping him as an instant out in pinch hit situations.

I'm not seeing the comparison to Pie either. Gathright's ceiling is Tike Redman. Pie's ceiling is Curtis Granderson. Not that I ever see him coming close to that.

Not sure if this was directed at me, but my point wasn't ceiling. Pie is out of options, so he needs to be good now.

Right now, he has the ability of a bench player, who, if I remember correctly, hasn't been any good at pinch hitting. They both have the speed of a replacement guy. Sure, Pie is an excellent defensive replacement, but his real value is in his ceiling...which is only useful to the Cubs in terms of trade value.

I haven't seen Gathright in the OF, so I don't know how good he is. Prior the comment on MTR, I had read that he was a good defender.

Dusty,

Do you think it was a good signing if it leads to say:

Pie/Rich Hill/Tyler Colvin/Mitch Adkins

For

Jeremy Hermidia

?

Seems like a lot to give up for Hermida, even with Hill having Steve Blass disease.

Huh?

There is absolutely no way that the Cubs would give up Pie/Rich Hill/Tyler Colvin/Mitch Adkins for Hermida.

Right?

That would be awful.

As a 5th OF whose primary job will be pinch running, Gathright will be fine. For a guy not even likely to get 150 ABs before we clinch the division there sure seems to be too much aganst about this move. Also for all of those who still think Pie can play, I have Ben Madoff on line 1 for you, he has a great investment plan he wants to sell you on.

Assuming there's a new RF coming, we should already have our 5 OFs, unless Pie is as good as gone, which I think is what most peoples' problem is with this deal.

Personally, I'd way rather have Pie than Gathright on the bench, and I can only assume this is because Pie is getting traded.

You'd rather have Pie than Gathright on the bench because Pie is being traded? So if we kept Pie you'd rather have Gathright?

I'd rather than Pie than Gathright. I assume the signing is because we won't have Pie for one reason or another.

I like how Jim isn't backing himself into a corner this year. Sign Dempster so that he doesn't HAVE to trade for Peavy. Sign Gathright on the cheap so that they've got flexibility in case a Pie deal comes up. If it doesn't, well then they can fight it out in ST.

What I'm reading here is that this Gathright signing is all about replacing Pie.

Couldn't it be just a little bit about replacing Fukudome? He's already been kicked out of right field. Maybe he's not the perfect centerfielder, either?

Have you guys ever looked at Fukudome's monthly splits in 2008? His .253 slugging percentage in 83 at bats in August?

If your argument is that Gathright is better than Fukudome, I don't think slugging percentage is the way to go.

Not what I meant. Gathright could have an everyday role batting leadoff or possibly #2, just based on speed and scratchiness (sort of like scrappiness). Where does Pie fit into the batting order? Nowhere. Fukudome? Same place.

Edmonds held down the centerfield job just based on fairly regular long balls to left. Fukudome can't do that, according to his SLG in the second half.

I quite agree with you that Fukudome could straighten himself out and hit like a major leaguer. So could Pie, maybe. But Pie won't get that chance, and Fukudome may not, either. Piniella is famously impatient.

Not what I meant. Gathright could have an everyday role batting leadoff or possibly #2, just based on speed and scratchiness (sort of like scrappiness).

Come on dude, give it up. Your argument makes no sense. What does Gathright have that Pie doesn't? There's not a person on this board other than you that would dream of batting either of them 2nd.

Edmonds held down the centerfield job just based on fairly regular long balls to left. Fukudome can't do that, according to his SLG in the second half.

Fine, but what's your point? Gathright can do the same? Come on.

The point is, even if you don't like Pie or Fukudome, neither of them are in any worse than Gathright, and are much better than him in some ways.

"What does Gathright have that Pie doesn't?"

Gathright had fifteen bunt singles last season. I doubt Pie had one at Iowa or in Chicago. You would like a leadoff hitter to be able to bunt for a single once in a while, for a variety of reasons including the fact that if you can bunt against a righty, you can bunt against a lefty.

Pie could probably jump over a car but he can't bat leadoff. So where would he bat? Is he going bat sixth or seventh and hit long balls and drive in runs like Edmonds did? Piniella was talking about the number 8 hitter the other day, saying that you'd like a guy who can draw an intentional walk once in a while, to get the pitcher's at-bat out of the way this inning. So even the 8 hole is not a good fit for Pie.

Hendry said yesterday that the Cubs have been looking for a guy like Gathright for a long time; and that Lou loves this type of player. If you don't understand what I'm saying, you don't understand Hendry and Piniella either.

It's this simple: Lou is very tuned into whether a guy has the skills to handle a specific slot in the order.

"Lou is very tuned into whether a guy has the skills to handle a specific slot in the order."

If you're argument didn't hinge on the idea that Gathright is a leadoff hitter, it wouldn't seem so ridiculous. But claiming that Gathright is a leadoff hitter because he can bunt, and Pie is not a leadoff hitter because he can't bunt just doesn't make sense.

What about batting average? What about OBP? What about working the count, seeing a lot of pitches? What about making a lot of contact? What about getting into scoring position? Gathright does none of these things significantly better than Pie, and Pie at 24 looks to improve, while Gathright looks to have peaked in 2007. The fact that Gathright is an extreme slap hitter doesn't make him a leadoff hitter--if he were an extreme slap hitter that could post a high OBP and get into scoring position/score a lot of runs, then he'd be a leadoff hitter. There is not one position player on the Cubs 25 man roster that I would have take a seat so Gathright could get an AB, nor would I substitute Gathright for Any of our Fukudome, Reed, or Pie as a defender.

I just don't understand why you think Gathright has value as an offensive player, or why he is better suited for the top of the order than Pie (when right now neither one of them really has any business hitting at the top of the order).

Hendry:

"We've been looking for a guy like this for quite some time."

"It's no secret Lou likes to have people like this in the organization."

People like what? Lou likes to have people like Felix Pie in the organization? Obviously, Hendry is talking about the things Gathright does that Pie doesn't, like beating out a bunt and then stealing second.

There are games when you're not going to drive too many balls against a tough pitcher. I refer you to Cub games of last October. Hendry and Piniella probably believe that a smart hitter who can steal first might be useful in such games.

You asked, "What about getting into scoring position?" Stealing a base usually accomplishes that.

You say Gathright is not a leadoff hitter. Well, he's not a great hitter. He was just released. But he seems to have better credentials at leadoff than anyone on the Cubs except Soriano, who has his own issues in that role. In his career Gathright has started 59 games at leadoff; 15 games hitting second; 60 hitting eighth; and 185 hitting ninth. It's debatable whether the #9 hole is more like 8 or more like 1.

Gathright clearly is a #9 hitter, which means he's a god-awful leadoff hitter, a player with a lot of speed, but no power, no patience, who strikes out too much, doesn't make all that much contact, and really is only a decent base stealer--not good enough to make up for all his other weaknesses. If Lou or Hendry believe taht he is a better leadoff hitter than Soriano, Theriot, Fontenot, Lee, Cedeno, Fuld, and just about anyone else, they greatly overestimate the importance of speed when it is not combined with strong baserunning or on-base skills. This is a poor use of roster space and resources. Why not just give the job to Fuld, if you want a guy who can bunt and steal a base? I guess that's a rhetorical question, since I don't plan on returning to this post.

I, for one, love this logic!

Let's take the guy who one of the Major's shittiest offenses only gave 300 PA's to, and when they did give him PA's batted him in the slot where he'd get the fewest possible in any given day - move him to the NL's best offense, and put him in the slot where he can get as many PA's in a given day as possible.

Just because Lou says he wants it - doesn't make it right. Just like when Baker said he wanted Neifi. Part of your job as a GM is to indetify which players the manager likes, but also which ones will help him win games.

The logic is sound only if Gathright is the starting center fielder, but that's not going to be the case (at least the way the roster is right now). He's the 4th or 5th OF.

it's $800,000, probably had to guarantee him the money to get him to sign here. He can still be cut w/o much worries. It's a decent fallback option and cheap gamble if they do trade Pie or another OF'r gets hurt between now and spring training.

I don't think this is the writing on the wall for anyone quite yet...just some extra competition come spring training.

This is all about winning in 2009 vs. Pie's potential.

Lou knows Gathright and has confidence in his ability to be a late-inning pinch runner and defensive replacement. He simply lacks confidence in Pie's ability to perform the same role in 2009.

Pie is out of options and out of time. But his potential has trade value, which will be leveraged to obtain something else we need to win now.

Why would anyone give a 5th OF an $800,000 major league contract? There are always guys floating around AA/AAA who can do what Gaithright does and for the league minimum. At least Pie has a little power and is probably better on defense. Gaithright looks like an out-making machine at the plate.

Does Pie have any options left? (Is that what "auto-renewal means on AZ Phil's Payroll list?) If Pie can't rebuild some of his value now in AAA, I can't believe he would bring much back in a trade at this point.

Pie may also be the inducement needed for someone to take on Marquis' salary, which is critical to landing the RF bat they need.

Submitted by Summer of Zimmer on Tue, 12/16/2008 - 2:02pm.

 Does Pie have any options left? (Is that what "auto-renewal means on AZ Phil's Payroll list?) If Pie can't rebuild some of his value now in AAA, I can't believe he would bring much back in a trade at this point.

===============================

SUM of ZIM: "Auto-Renewal" means the player is not yet eligible for salary arbitration and so he can have his contract unilaterally and automatically renewed by the club if the player and club cannot come to agreement on a contract by the first week of March.

Both Felix Pie and Joey Gathright are out of minor league options, so both players would have to clear Outright Assignment Waivers (which are irrevocable) before they could be sent to the minors. However, because he has 3+ years of MLB service time, Gathright can refuse an outright assignment to the minors, either becoming a FA immediately when outrighted, or by deferring the right to be a FA until the end of the season. There are exceptions, but most players who are eligible to be free-agents if they get outrighted accept the assignment if it happens during Spring Training or during the regular season because otherwise the player loses his "major league contract."

Pie does not have the right to be a free-agent if he gets outrighted (he has less than three years of MLB service time and he has not been outrighted previously in his career), but he would certainly get claimed if the Cubs try to outright him. But Gathright might get through waivers without being claimed because he has less upside.

One problem with trying to outright Gathright is that if he is placed on Outrright Waivers and gets claimed, the claiming club is only responsible for the prorated portion of the MLB minimum salary, and the Cubs would have to pay the balance. Same thing if the Cubs release Gathright after the start of the season and another club signs him, the signing club only has to pay the prorated portion of the MLB mimumum salary (as happened with JIm Edmonds last year when the Cubs signed Edmonds after he got released by the Padres) .

Depending on whether Gathright's contract is guaranteed or not, the Cubs may be able to release him prior to Opening Day and save most of his 2009 salary. If Gathright does not have a guaranteed contract and gets released at least 16 days prior to Opening Day, the Cubs would only have to pay him 1/6 of his 2009 salary (or about $135K), and if he is released 15 or fewer days prior to Opening Day the Cubs would have to pay him 1/4 of his salary (or $200K). Of course, that's only if his contract is not guaranteed, and generally only "auto-renewal" and "arbitration eligible" guys have non-guaranteed contracts.

Thanks, AZ Phil! Clear and informative as always.

If this deal happened a month from now, there'd be a lot fewer people freaking out. The problem is we still don't have our new RFer. Despite reports that the Cubs have focused solely on Bradley, and that they're his #1 choice, we've had no hint that a deal is close. One would assume, after the Peavy debacle, that could be because of salary woes. Nonetheless, we're blowing money on worthless players like Gathright.

If we didn't have Pie, and if he weren't out of options, then I could maybe understand this deal. However, since he's still on this team, and since he can't be sent down to get better, why do we need Gathright? Even as sucky as he is, Pie is a better hitter and far better defender.

Submitted by Rob G. on Tue, 12/16/2008 - 1:56pm.

there's a press release on the site as well and it says nothing about a minor league deal and he's on the cubs.com 40-man roster. It's a major league deal, which just means the $$ is guaranteed.

===========================

ROB G: Gathright's contract is not necessarily guaranteed, but it probably is. Most free-agents are able to get their contract guaranteed, the exception being if the player has no interested suitors willing to give him one.

Submitted by CPH2133 on Tue, 12/16/2008 - 12:14pm.

dumb question I'm sure, but whats the difference between a minor league and a major league deal? Does one provide more flexibility? Is it strictly a difference of how much money the contract must be for? I mean even though Gathrights contract is a major league deal, if he doesn't make a spot on the opening day squad, he can be cut regardless of it being a minor or major league deal?

======================================

CPH2133: If a FA (like Joey Gathright) signs a minor league contract, the club can pay him less than the $65K minimum minor league split (at least until he gets added to the 40-man roster), can send him to the minors out of Spring Training without having to place him on waivers, can keep him at AAA for the entire season (if necessary) as a fallback in case of an injury to one of the MLB guys, and the club would only be responsible for two weeks severance if the player gets released, and that's even if the player gets released during the season. So clubs much prefer signing a FA to a minor league contract, if possible.

Conversely, a FA (like Gathright) would want a major league contract because he can usually get his money guaranteed and without a minor league split if he does end up at AAA, it is more difficult for the club to send the player to the minors because the player would first have to clear Outright Assignment Waivers, and there is always the chance that if his club does try to outright him, he'll get claimed by another MLB club.

So Gathright apparently had some leverage in this deal, because otherwise the Cubs definitely would have rather signed him to a minor league contract with an NRI to ST instead.

Submitted by Seamhead on Tue, 12/16/2008 - 1:55pm.

This is all about winning in 2009 vs. Pie's potential. Lou knows Gathright and has confidence in his ability to be a late-inning pinch runner and defensive replacement. He simply lacks confidence in Pie's ability to perform the same role in 2009.

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SEAMHEAD: Joey Gathright is to Lou Piniella as Tom Goodwin was to Dusty Baker.

This is all about winning in 2009 vs. Pie's potential.

Because Joey Gathright is the piece that puts the Cubs over the top?
If he's the answer, I don't want to know the question.

I think the Cubs signing Joey Gathright is a clear indication that Felix Pie will be traded prior to Opening Day, probably sooner rather than later, because the closer it gets to Opening Day the more Hendry will be under pressure to trade Pie (or risk losing him off waivers), and the other 29 GMs know that.

I could see the Cubs trading Pie to the Baltimore Orioles for Garrett Olson, partly to have a pitcher on the roster that Hendry knows Padres GM Kevin Towers would take back as part of a Peavy trade later in the season, and partly to give the Cubs a lefty AAA rotation starter with some MLB experience.

And Rich Hill could be going to Baltimore, too, to give the Orioles (and Hill's one-time minor league pitching guru Alan Dunn) a chance to try and fix whatever is wrong with him. Watch and see if the Orioles sign Michael Barrett, because if they do, R. Hill is going to Baltimore. Hill is VERY fussy, and Barrett is one of Rich Hill's buddies.

Gathright is a 25th man, and is not intended to put anyone over the top.

Per Dr. aaron B's comment above (#70) I am beginning to wonder if Bradley's salary demands (or more specifically length of contract) are forcing Hendry to look at the trade market for his RF.

He did indicate today that he has been approached with some new trade inquiries since the winter meetings, and has now positioned himself to offload Pie in a package deal.

I also wonder about Piniella's comfort level with Hoffpauir filling Ward's role on the bench. Despite his AAA numbers and left-handed bat, Hoffpauir is completely unproven as a ML pinch-hitter and backup 1B-OF. He is cost-effective, but makes me wonder if he has greater value as trade bait and can be replaced by a cheap veteran FA.

fwiw, pinhead publicly (and not lip service "talking to the media" crap that some get bent out of shape over as gospel) has been all about some hoffpower on his bench from spring of last year all the way though 08 when his name was brought up.

Hoffpauir hit .364 .417 .409 in 24 PA's off the bench last year - 10 K's and 2 BB's isn't too good, but I doubt Pinhead remembers that.

The Cubs have spent a lot of time with Pie in the minors working on his SB ability, but he just doesn't seem able to translate his raw speed into successful base stealing. I wouldn't be surprised if that played a role in the Cubs deciding to cut bait with Pie and sign Gathright. If you watch Lou's usage pattern of his bench players the last two years, he REALLY wants a guy he can use to essentially be a pinch runner and defensive replacement, not even getting an AB at the plate. That's exactly how he chose to use Pie oftentimes.

I would argue that in this very limited role, Joey Gathright is a better bet than Felix. Spend the $800K, trade Pie, and see what you get for him. The logic is there on Hendry's part.

I wonder if Larry Beinfest regrets trading Josh Willingham and Scott Olsen so early in the offseason?

Surely the Cubs could have pieced together a better package for those two. It would almost be problem solved for the offseason if that deal could have been made.

I guess people forget Pie still can't hit breaking balls to save his life. But whatever Pie is a god in the making, just like Vitters.

Read up on the article, Gathright brings versatilty to cover any OF position, can steal bases, and is a great bunter.

He makes an ideal pinch hitter, pinch runner, and has the ability to bunt people up into scoring position.

What more do you want out of a back-up OFer?

I am sure its fun to watch Ronny Cedeno fail to put down bunts, but this team kinda needs a person that can actually get the job done in that department. We are an NL team aren't we?

pie is a rare talent given how fast he can put his bat through the zone. it's something you can't learn and very little can train for. it's the basis for soriano's career.

it's no sure thing, but it's a hard thing to give up and plenty of GMs would love to have a kid like that around.

You're right. If Pie can get that thing on a few fastballs every once in a while, then he'll be on his way to being a Soriano-lite. But, while neither of them can't hit a buried slider, Soriano tees off on fastballs. Pie doesn't tee off on anything.

And, with Felix running out of options, it's about time to figure out a few other contingency plans. Nothing says Joey is on the roster on April 6. Unfortunately for Felix, nothing says he is either.

Yeah, we are an NL team, which means we have a whole bunch of guys who can sacrifice bunt, they're called pitchers. I've never even heard of it proposed before that you add a position player to an NL roster for his sacrifice bunting ability.

Gathright has had 1300 MLB PA's to show that he's a 68 OPS+ hitter and a decent, not great base stealer. He's an inferior fielder to Pie, and inferior power threat, and when all is said and done, probably an inferior BA and OBP guy.

He's not totally worthless, but let's not get too excited about someone who's best skill in the batter's box is to make an out while advancing a runner.

He makes an ideal pinch hitter, pinch runner, and has the ability to bunt people up into scoring position.

Well, two out of three anyway. He's not an ideal pinch hitter, not with an OBP of .328.

Arguing about whether Gathright or Pie is the best player is like arguing over which central African nation has the best investment opportunities.

from the Sun-Times

``We’re thrilled to have him,’’ Hendry said of Gathright, who rates a top scouting score of 80 for speed and has backed it up by stealing 78 of 105 (ed note, that's only 74.3%) bases he’s attempted in his career. He also is an adept bunter and a .263 career hitter (399 games).

Epic Fail, Wittenmyer

I'm not sure why anyone would be upset over this... what I take from the situation is:

Gathright and Pie bring more or less the same skill set to the table. Most Cubs fans should be able to clearly see that Pie is unlikely to ever develop into much beyond the career Gathright has had. Gathright comes very cheap, while to a team with the time and space to take a chance on him, Pie could have quite a bit of value. We essentially replace Pie with Pie while having the ability to turn him into a commodity more valuable than the cost of Gathright.

I'm kind of drunk, but that made sense in my head.

Pie is more valuable to the Cubs as a trade chip, I guess is the point.

"Most Cubs fans should be able to clearly see that Pie is unlikely to ever develop into much beyond the career Gathright has had."

Because (while drunk) you say so?

Anyone with eyesight can see Pie is a lost cause he might as well have David Patterson's eyesight at the plate because he swings at anything anyways.

I presume "David Patterson" means Corey Patterson?

Or David Patterson means David Patterson, the blind governor of New York.

Of course! I was just thinking baseball -- silly me. Of course, Corey's eyesight at the plate was no better. Maybe it's a Patterson thing.

Jon Heyman from Sports Illustrated is saying the Cubs are showing interest in Derek Lowe

My guess is he's gotten into some bad liquor.

------------
"The Cubs could become a landing spot for star free-agent pitcher Derek Lowe...

Lowe could become a suitable rotation replacement in Wrigley Field. Peavy has $63 million over four years remaining on his contract, and that's very likely Lowe's price tag, as well."

http://www.fannation.com/si_blogs/hot_stove/posts/...

I would take Gathright over Pie, but in the end who cares. We have yet to make any serious improvements to our team and one could argue that we have weakened the bullpen by letting Woods go. I am still waiting for Hendry to impress me this spring. And I am sorry signing Bradley is not going to impress me. I want Johnson (1 year), Abreu (2-3 years) and Roberts (yes he would still add value to our team). These three players together would make us better.

I'm not sure that it matters who is the better player, Pie or Gathright. The fact is that Pie needs work and he's not going to get it sitting on the bench at the ML level. He's out of options, so he won't be getting the work he needs at Iowa either. Whether you consider Pie tradebait because a)the Cubs are tired of waiting for him to come around, or b) Hendry wants to give Pie a chance to reach his potential in another uniform, the result is the same. Either way, he's gone.

The roster is a work in progress. Signing Gathright just means that more moves are going to be made. Come opening day, I seriously doubt if signing Gathright will be anything but a footnote on the offseason.

I somehow wished that Pie could be given a real shot at 200+ AB's or more.

Ain't gonna happen now, imo.

One thing I will remember was the throw he made Cir. 2007 from mid-depth center and threw the ball on the fly to nail a runner at home trying to score from 2nd.

It was truly spectacular.

No one on the current Cubs team can do that.

I'll always remember that start he had in Pittsburgh last April. The one where he watched 2 fastballs right down the middle of the plate for strike 1 and 2.

Then the next pitch was a slider in the dirt that Felix missed by a foot.

Lou promptly took Pie out the next inning.

Pie won't succeed in the Cubs organization. It's as simple as that. His swing is shit and no one in the organization seems able or willing to help him swing the bat like a big leaguer.

And I'm sorry if any of you are excited about this signing, but Joey Gathright is a dud move for the Cubs, imo.

Boo.

I hope I'm wrong, and I hope he does really well for us, but I think we'll be looking for somewhere to unload him by July 09.

Can't get that excited over the 5th outfield position. If Pie can be traded for somebody of value, great. I saw him a few times in Des Moines and I've never seen a prettier swing while missing a breaking ball by a minimum of 6 inches. I'm counting outfielders: Sori, Fuko, Reed, Gathright, the Hoff. That's 5, does this mean Cub no longer are going after a left handed right fielder?

LF - Soriano
CF - Fuku/Reed Platoon
RF - ?
4th OF - Gathright
1B (RF?) - ThePower

pretty much it...not like hoffpower or gath should be too much apart on plate appearances, though, no matter who considers which one the 4th/5th OF.

i hope gathright is a luxury the team can afford. yes, he can play all 3 OF slots and instantly becomes the fastest guy on the team available selectively almost any time off the bench, but his power is non-existant (yes, less than theriot hands down). everything he will do as a cub will rely solely on his legs. even if he ends up hitting .280+ or something respectable it will all rely on his speed.

The whole Pie-Gathright debate is like arguing over which turd smells the worst.

My only thought is that sometimes it is better to have a 25th man who knows he is a 25th man, rather than some hotshot stud who believes he shouldn't be in that role.

From the Royals blog: "He does not hit homers, ever. He does not triple, ever. He does not hit doubles, ever. In 1239 big league PAs, Gathright has a total of thirty eight extra-base hits. He walks, hit hits singles, that's it, and on most team that just isn't good enough. He's one of the most extreme slap hitters in the modern era. Like the wine fridge, he's a waste of money..."

Pie/Hill/Colvin/Atkins for Jeremy Hermida.

The Jeremy Hermida!??? Can we give them Vitters, Samardzija, and Marmol too?

.249/.323/.406 last season in 142 games. 48 walks and 138 K's.

I understand that Pie will never get to play here. I understand that Gathright fills a need for a pinch runner, pinch out-maker, and car jumper.

I also understand that I am leery of why the Marlins would want to trade the soon to be 25 year old OF if he has so much potential.

Cause none of those guys are really "Prospects"

1. Hermida is on the block
2. He is cheap
3. He would be under club control for 3 more years
4. He plays a decent RF
5. He hits left handed

What doesnt seem to fit?

Which of those six conditions does Felix Pie not satisfy?

Since when is Colvin not a prospect?

They're all 'prospects', but since Colvin repeated AA poorly and had TJ surgery he's not much of one.

Maybe because Hermidia by atleast one scout shows no passion for the game of baseball. Just playing the game to get a paycheck. He was benched towards the end of the season

I think as Cubs fans we have seen far too many of those players come through our organization that just go through the motions.

That attitude for sure wont gel with Piniella who wants players that have a fire inside them. Thats why he likes guys like Theriot, who work their ass off. They may not be the best, but sometimes wanting it more gets the job done more than the guy with all the talent in the world who just doesn't give a fuck.

I'd take Manny Ramirez... at shortstop... over Theriot.

I think the not caring thing can be from a Bakerized scout who doesn't like to see hitters try to work the count. That's the same thing that was said about Dunn, which turned out to be a complete fabrication.

One of the teams that reportedly approached Hendry at the Winter Meetings was the Twins, who supposedly had interest in DeRosa's availability.

The Twins do have Jason Kubel, a lefty hitting RF who hit 20 HR's last year and has an OPS superior to Hermida's, and whose salary fits within the Cubs budget constraints. The Twins can afford to move Kubel as there are some adequate in-house replacements on their roster.

I'm not suggesting a DeRosa-for-Kubel, but perhaps there is a fit here somewhere if Bradley decides go with Tampa.

I saw the Twins continuing interest in DeRosa this morning. I'm for trading DeRosa depending on what we can get. Kubel would be OK, but I really like Delmon Young. I still think he has super star potential and is plenty young.

Well put Mike C.

Bravo!!
If Hermida was working the count...he should probably stop at this point:
2007: 47 walks/ 105 K's
2008:48 walks / 138 K's

Hey...at least the Marlins were giving him a shot to play I guess?

Sorry, I thought Young was a lefty. I still like him though. The marlins top 10 prospects came out in Baseball America and Ceda is number 10. It makes me sick that we gave him up.

Who cares about Ceda? Now we've got Gregg, who is one of our top 10 relief pitchers.

Yeah, the whole "don't sign the gutsy face of the franchise, who can be unhittable at times and who everybody absolutely loves, then trade your top closer prospect for a middle-of-the-road closer" thing hasn't gotten any easier to understand with time.

Still hurts.

I think Hendry has believed for the past couple years that he wouldn't have a job with the Cubs in 2009. So, he kept signing FAs and re-signing guys on the team to backloaded contracts that would give the team a great chance to win in the short-term (2007, 2008, 2009), but would be crippling to the payroll in the long-term.

Now, with a piss poor economy and new ownership yet to be determined, Hendry's handcuffed with regards to the payroll and can't afford to make any significant moves this offseason. It suddenly became very important to save $3-4 million here and there. That's the only legit reason why he would have traded Ceda for Gregg and told Kerry to take a hike.

Let me also say that I don't think that all those contracts were that bad (except Soriano's), and it probably did give us the best possible chance to win in 2008. Unfortunately, it all hinged on Fukudome being the star we were promised. Unless he turns it around, 2009 may be our last chance with the team as currently configured. Beyond '09 we lose Lilly, DeRosa, and probably Harden, Lee will continue to get older and less productive (if that's even possible), Aramis may start to decline (hopefully slowly), Soriano won't be getting any better or more healthy, and unless Vitters works out we have a dearth of prospects of any kind.

World Series in 2009, then blow up the team.

Two problems.

Lilly's on a four year deal.

How are you going to blow up the team when all your high priced players have NTC clauses and just won a World Series?

Winning a championship and blowing up the team worked fantastically for the Chicago Bulls.

I'm thinking more like the Marlins after their first championship, but keeping enough guys around to still compete.

I didn't consider the NTC mess Hendry got himself into, but I just don't see how this team can compete beyond '09 without acquiring some really good prospects/young guys.

I'd love it if the Cubs spent $150-160m a year, but at least for the foreseeable future, that's not likely. That means they're stuck with the guys they have and a weak farm system. Unfortunately, most of the guys they have are going to get worse, not better.

" but keeping enough guys around to still compete."

1998 Florida Marlins won 54 games.

handcuffed or not...the day cubs fans start bitching (and im NOT saying you are) about a 130m-140m team is the day i lose hope for cubs fans. heh...

i could care less that they "could" spend 200m or so...personally, i don't want to watch 162 games of a guns-for-hire NYY/BOS style team. for all the winning they've both done there has been NOTHING close to the 96 yanks team as far a "feel good" win.

for as much winning as BOS does that clubhouse seems to be a constant source of players who are unhappy or being forced out. it's always someone who's a problem who doesn't seem to have problems elsewhere...pedro, nomar, manny (well...), etc.

given all the stress youkillis seems to be laying on the team, he's probably next.

...implying that Hendry could be a basketball scout in a few years.

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