Fleita Afoot

The weekly radio baseball gabfest known as "Talking Baseball" (ESPN AM 1000, Chicago) hosted by Bruce Levine (and frequently Chet Coppock, in the role of sidekick) is a nice source of Cub information. Of course you have to wade through lengthy questions that often take minutes to unfold. Interviews with management are usually cloaked in generalizations, clichés and unrequited hope.

This saturday's show featured an interview with Cubs Vice President of Player Personnel, Oneri Fleita, as well as some discussion on the management's thinking behind the recent Mark DeRosa for prospects trade.

Fleita was not going to short change us on clichés like  "You've got to play the games" and  "Everybody starts in first place." Still it was good to hear about prospects in the news like Josh Vitters and the 3 newest pitching prospects acquired from Cleveland.

Bruce Levine updated and opined about the state of the Cubs roster changes including keeping the roster flexible as well as the progress on acquiring a sense of left handedness with attitude (feisty Milton Bradley, scrappy Aaron Miles and the even scrappier Mike Fontenot).

He also has an opinion about Jake da Ace, aka he-who-must-not-be-named.

The incredibly wordy play by play after the jump...

Cubs VP of Player Personnel, Oneri Fleita was interviewed on Bruce Levine's Talking Baseball show hosted by Bruce Levine and Chet Coppock (ESPN radio 1000), Saturday 1-3-09.

Chet Coppock: Asks about what hurdles (Felix) Pie has to vault over with his unique set of tools?

Oneri Fleita: I heard you talking about Corey Patterson before. He (Fleita) was a scout in Georga when we signed CPat. Regarding Pie, the toughest thing to do is to get the job done at the major league level. I'm the guy who alway has to be positive, who says they can do it, it's easier to talk about what they can't do. Pie hit over .300 in winter ball, he's starting to show signs of learning the strike zone. Learning to control emotions. Some guys develop sooner than others.  I still think he can get that done.

Bruce Levine: Who will be this years surprises of the guys coming thru the minor league system. This year's Geo Soto or (previous year) Ryan Theriot? Who should Cub fans be watching?

Fleita: We just acquired  Jeff Stevens (recommended by Stan Zielinski), looks like he could surprise us in camp. Not far down the pipe is  (shortstop) Darwin Barney, (1st round draft choice, pitcher) Andrew Cashner could be on a fast track. You mentioned catcher Soto, the kid Wellington Castillo, he can really catch and throw and handles the bat real well and should start at triple-A level. Jim was with me on a trip last year, right place right time, when we signed a kid pitcher from the Dominican Republic, Esmailin Caridad. He spent minor league time in Japan and could come fast. A number of guys are close and we're always looking for a bigger group of guys that are closer,  but spring training always brings a number of surprises.

Coppock: I'm looking at your game right now, not the demise, but the lack of African-American players on the major league level,  the exponential rise of Latin American ballplayers to the bigs,  down the line (6-8 years) will the latin ballplayers compromise 75-80% of the ballplayers?

Fleita: I hope not. A lot of things contribute to that. Baseball is watered down by other sports, golf, soccer. All sports face this issue. For example, my children play hockey, I didn't grow up playing hockey at all. Our scouting director, Tim Wilken is trying to get into the inner cities. (He's) trying to find those players and get them playing baseball.

Levine: When you see guys like Cedeno and Pie's names bandied about as possible guys used in trades, how do you feel knowing you've help raised some of these guys. Part of your job is player development which is used to get players from other teams. Is it difficult to see guys leave the system before they reach their peak?

Fleita: The longer you do this, you'd think it would get easier and you understand this is a business, but you do get emotionally attached. You become a father figure to a lot of these kids. A lot of these kids are a long way from their home and don't have their father nearby. You've got to understand that this is a business and part of the job is to feed the major league club. (Part of the job is) having the guys in the system to help us acquire the players that will help us win. That's what it's all about but it is difficult.

Levine: How fast of a track is Josh Vitters on? Another name that is heard from other teams that want to make a deal with  the Cubs. One of the first names that comes up.

Fleita: Vitters is by far our best pure hitter in the organization. I believe if we put him in the Florida State league rather than Peoria, he may flourish and move real fast. Peoria in the spring is like Chicago, it's real cold and difficult on a hitter in the midwest league, early in the season, especially players from California,  Florida, Texas,  or somewhere in Latin America, It's tough to swing the bat and young hitters can lose their confidence. He's the best young hitter in this organization and I think will be a very good mlb player.

Coppock: Bruce and I were projecting 2009 for the Cubs. Last year they knocked down the division with 97 victories. Looking at the division, I look up at Milwaukee and they appear to be a shadow of what they were last year without Sabathia. Strohs, Pittsburgh, Reds aren't going to frighten anybody. Would you make book that you'll win the division with 87-88 wins?

Fleita: I won't make book on anything to be honest with you. You've got to play the games. Everybody starts in first place. There are so many things that come into having a good season and winning 87-97 games. The goal all winter from  Jim (Hendry) and Randy Bush's standpoint was to get a lot of players that have versatility, get left handed hitters, they've done a great job in doing that. When you're a manager in the NL, you want to have as many players with versatility, if you have guys who are switch-hitters  or hit left handed and a nice balance of both, you're got a chance to win a lot of games.

Levine: You've got to feel good about this trade for Mark DeRosa. Not for the fact of trading DeRosa, who was popular with everybody including media, players and front office alike, but the fact that you got 3 really good young arms from Cleveland. Not only can they help solidify whatever minor league spots they are sent to but all three can be projected as mlb pitchers.

Fleita: DeRosa, he obviously contributed to much of the success we had here the last couple of years. We lost a couple of guys like Jose Ceda (trade for Kevin Gregg), Donald Veal (rule 5 draft) and Sean Gallagher (last season trade for Rich Harden). To be able to replenish and to add on to pitching, its so difficult to acquire and develop pitching. To bring in guys like Jeff Stevens who is real close to the major leagues. John Gaub, a left handed reliever, who is now healthy, with good stuff. That's an area in the game that everone is always looking for, left handed  pitching, especially relief pitching. The young kid Chris Archer, the needle is pointing north. He's got a great ceiling. He throws in the mid-90's. He's 20 years old. Those are the kind of guys we can't get enough of. I'm thrilled we've added them to the organization.

 


Here are the highlights from the Cub section of the Talking Baseball radio show. The good news is Chet only asked one question. The bad news is it was 3 hours long on a 2 hour show. Most of the commentary is from Bruce Levine.

Bruce Levine discussed the DeRosa trade:

Premise: Cubs locked into $140M payroll (for 40 man roster)

the budget was at $140M before the DeRosa and Marquis trades...saves $11M. (Marquis trade will be announced Monday or Tuesday)
$2.5M for Miles
$8-9M for Bradley (my take: implying year 1), not so sure it implied $8-9 per yr x 3 yrs (my take: expect some backloading).
DLee has a no trade, can't trade ARam, Fuku, Soriano...locked into your Pitchers.

...this left DeRosa as the tradable player, age 34 on last year of his contract. The only way to get more left handed was to move DeRosa. Not the most ideal situation, as at times he was the most valuable and flexible player on the team. This deal gets the team (organization?) younger, more left handed and gets players to help go after Jake Peavy one more time in January (also implying the salary unloading factor plus young pitching aquisition).

Chet Coppock asks about over-unders in terms of Bradley and Fukudome at bats. Bruce Levine expects 400-500 AB's for Fukudome in a platoon with Reed Johnson. Late in games he expects Joey Gathright will be a late inning defensive replacement with Fukudome moving to RF. Fukudome won't be coming out of games that much because of his defensive skills.

Hendry is giving Lou Piniella a roster with the possibility of 4 starting lefty bats in a game (implying Miles at SS, Fontenot at 2B, Bradley in RF and Fukudome in CF; last year had 3 maximum, including Fontenot at 2B, Fukudome in RF, Edmonds in CF).

Levine thinks Hendry is still going after a #1 pitcher and that's why Jake Peavy is back on the radar. Bruce Levine still thinks there is about an 80% chance of a Peavy deal happening.

Caller Question: Aaron Miles, what kind of defensive player is he? Can he fill in SS and can he hit from both sides of the plate?

Miles is not an everyday SS but he's sure handed, has a decent arm but not a great arm, not alot of range, he can't go in the hole at SS. He's not an everyday SS but good for 15-20 games at SS. He's similar to Theriot defensively. He can hit leftys, a .300 hitter who has come a long way. The lefty element of his switch hitting will be a key. The Cubs didn't have a lefty infielder last year (BL temporarily forgets about Fontenot? but he talks about him shortly).

Not sure that Cedeno, Pie will be on the team, both are out of options. Both will be involved in trade talks in the next 2-3 weeks. Not surprising if they both get moved.

The development of Pie is a disappointment in the Cubs organization. The hitting part has not worked out at the major league level (see the Fleita interview above, regarding more on Pie). Discussed a comparison with regard to Corey Patterson, as a touted prospect from the farm system who was a bust, although CPat got more major league time until it was clear he was a failure.

Caller Question: How does DeRosa's departure affect Fontenot?

BL see's more at bats for Fontenot now that DeRosa isn't here. He showed the capacity to hit well and in the clutch last year. Fontenot will platoon with Miles and backup Theriot at SS at times. Miles will also play at SS so both Fonty/Miles gives LouPa lefty flexibility at SS as well as 2B.

 

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Comments

It will be interesting to see if Fieta gets his wish and Vitters starts off in Daytona. If he suceeds, that could put his ETA as early as '10.

Thanks Cubster! Wow - Impressive staying power with the program. I guess I missed a bunch of detail - so I appreciate your attentiveness filling in all of the blank spaces.

I really got the feeling from BL that Hendry will certainly at least try to go after a pitcher such as Peavy - although Lowe is a "custom fit" for little Wrigley and its crazy weather.

Padres ownership change has an agreement in principal.

There was also some comment about Jeff Moorad acquiring the Padres. Levine thought Peavy still wants to come to Chicago because the Padres team will be so bad next year even if the new ownership can reverse the salary scaledown that has occurred because of the current owner's ( John and Becky Moores) divorce issues.

I'm thinking the new ownership will kabosh any notion of trading Peavy and that opportunity is probably gone.

I wonder which will happen officially first, the Cubs ownership change or the Padres. Looks like it will be the Padres.
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Whether that is the path Moorad will pursue is pure conjecture at this point. When asked if it could be assumed his involvement would mean Peavy would be removed from the trade market, Moorad replied, “You should assume nothing of the sort. John and Becky (Moores) remain the primary owners of the Padres. I have no influence at all, nor will I have any influence on any of their personnel decisions.”
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http://www3.signonsandiego.com/stories/2009/jan/02...

if the Peavy talks are really dead, maybe Hendry can talk Ricciardi into rebuilding and grab Halladay.

someone earlier was mentioning why the Cardinals would just let Miles go...

http://www.stltoday.com/blogzone/bird-land/bird-la...

The Cubs pursuit of Miles intensified the weekend after Christmas, and the entire deal hinged around the Cubs being able to deal second baseman/super utility fielder Mark DeRosa. When they completed that swap with Cleveland, they made their offer to Miles formal. The Cardinals entered at the 11th hour, and Miles said the offer was both a surprise and a complication. He spent many hours laboring over the decision. Miles said the offer from the Cardinals was a two-year deal and that the difference between it and the Cubs’ offer could have been $1 million. Several sources described the Cardinals’ offer as worth a total of around $4.3 million, or $600,000 less guaranteed than the Cubs’ contract.

basically says Cards and particularly LaRussa wanted him back but didn't want to risk paying arbitration prices...

If hitting at Peoria (Midwest League) is such a negative thing for young hitters from CA, TX, or FL in April (and it very likely is), why don't the Cubs just move their basic "A" affiliate to the warmer climate of the South Atlantic League?

Players move back & forth during the season between Fitch Park (Mesa) or Boise and Peoria, or Peoria and Daytona, not between Peoria and Des Moines or Peoria and Chicago, so replacing Peoria with a team in South Carolina or Georgia would make sense, especially if the cold weather in Peoria in April has a negative affect on the confidence of the young Cubs hitters from California, the Deep South, and Latin America... .

The SAL is considered the lowest of A leagues, a notch below Midwest. The competition would not be quite as stiff. (On the other hand, the Yankees has many of their best single A prospects in Charleston, SC this year. I got to catch a couple of their games.) I would imagine finances are involved in the decision too. Peoria draws great Cub crowds and offers exposure for the parent club's prospects, which can translate into more interest in the Cubs.
Besides, what the heck, Cub players better learn to hit in the cold weather, I'd think.

If payroll is as tight as they say it is and if Bradley is as guaranteed to come as it seems like he is, I don't see how Peavy's going to fit. There's no room financially for him. I hope I'm wrong.

Peter Gammons weighs in on a Hendry-Bradley meeting as well as Jake-You-Know-Who:

During the GM meetings at Dana Point, Calif., last November, Cubs GM Jim Hendry drove to L.A. and dined with Milton Bradley. Since then, Bradley has been an inevitability for the Cubs, who need his left-handed bat in their righty-heavy lineup, and his fire, passion and productivity (Bradley led the AL in OPS in 2008). Hendry still wants another starting pitcher and hasn't given up on Jake Peavy, but that may be an ownership issue.

http://insider.espn.go.com/espn/blog/index?entryID...

OUCH....clicked on the iink, and read Gammons drooling over Ricky Nolasco.

Well if we sign him don't expect a 1.000 OPS season from him. Hell don't even expect a .900 OPS season from him.

It will be like Derrek Lee putting up a 1.000 OPS season and people expecting that to be the norm. Bradley is going to be in the .820 to .860 range...and be lucky if he can attain that. But that will be a massive disappointment to the Bradley fan boys expecting him to be a dominate bat. Just like Lee has been a massive disappointment since his career year to alot of people.

imo, that's a little harsh.

i dont think anyone expects a 1.000 OPS season (at least seriously) out of a guy who's more of a 25-30HR hitter than a 30-40HR type.

he should be good for some mid-high .300s ob% and some .500+ slugging.

be nice if he stayed healthy.

I'm skeptical on Bradley as well. I don't know if people are forgetting what type of hitters' haven Arlington is. You have to put it up there with Coors.

Bradley's 2008 splits

Home .358/.466/.679/1.145
Away .290/.410/.462/ .872

The OB is impressive but only 6 of his 22 HRs were hit on the road. Milton also put up some mediocre slugging% seasons in LA and OAK .424, .446, .447. The only glimmer of hope is that in his short stint with the 2007 Padres where his numbers were similar to his 2008 TEX season. Granted it was only 77 ABs but he racked an impressive .299/.379/.597/.977 line in Petco Park.

It's a pity the Cubs don't play in a better hitters ballpark (like the one 7th easiest to hit a HR in last year, compared to the Rangers which was 5th). LA, Oak and SD are all pitcher's parks.

For comparison, Abreu hit .279 .354 .418 on the road last year (.241 .330 .394 the year before) and the Cubs RF'rs hit .250 .350 .381 last year.

...and that's only counting HRs. I guess your smarm manual didn't come with info regarding actual runs scored or even extra base hits.

Runs
1. Arlington 1.142 per game
8. Wrigley 1.068 per game

Hits
4. Arlington
9. Wrigley

2B
8. Arlington
18. Wrigley

3B
1. Arlington
24. Wrigley

Uh... you were the one talking about HR's.

Now describe to me how moving to Wrigley will effect Bradley's likelyhood to get a hit, a double or a triple. That 0 triples he had in Arlington is really going to take a hit. Will that turn into -1 triples this year? He also had more doubles and more non-HR hits and walks on the road last season. What he did do better at home is hit Home Runs - and I pointed out that Wrigley was almost as conducive to HR's as Arlington last year. All this could have easily been found in your dipshit manual.

I am all for applying statistics to make an argument, but don't make an argument, then try to find statistics to back it up, particuarly irrelevant or incorrect ones. I'll call you out on it.

Also, Bradley would be moving from the AL to the NL, and at the risk of offending those who are into the league rivalry, would also be facing inferior pitching. There are a lot of good pitchers in the NL, but as of right now the quality of American League talent is superior.
Factor in the knee injury that carried into 2007 and it's virtually impossible to project numbers for the guy if he's a Cub.

Sorry about the dipshit comment. I think 'smarmy' was a bit overboard (and misused) for a little light sarcasm.

HRs were just one of the factors I originally opined. Notice OBP and OPS, those account for hits, 2B, 3B as I mentioned above so those figures I mentioned are certainly relevant. Smarm is pretty much in most of your posts as sarcasm implies some semblance of humor. If you don't understand the word "smarm", you can study a Rich Eisen broadcast.

Are you obtuse or just stupid?

The difference in his home and road splits were the home runs. 10 hits, 40 extra bases, 10 HR's. I could do the actual math for you, but it would be good for you to exercise your brain.

Sarcasm is " Saying something that is opposite of what is intended to be meant.

Smarm is "Falsely earnest, smug, or ingratiating."

Clue is "What DB is without."

As Levine discussed on last week's show, the instability of when new ownership - and what ownership - takes over the club, is really hampering some of what Hendry's moves have been this off-season.

It sucks for us as fans. Timing is everything.

I keep having fantasies of an owner taking over the club (such as the Rickets family), and in their press conference states unequivically, "I, as the new owner, will be taking losing PERSONALLY on the North Side, and will truly do whatever I can to bring a consistently winning product to the field. The days of the 'Lovable Losers' is over. There is nothing lovable about losing, and I am not going to be a part of it!"

But, of course, I fantasize about Playboy of the Month Centerfolds, too...

Ah.....for those paying attention...back to back Division titles, 3 playoffs in 6 years (plus one near miss), 97 wins last year, spending big bucks for big-name managers, a very competitive payroll and very demanding fans...I think we can safely say the "lovable loser" thing has been gone for a while.

when you work with a 140m payroll you lose the right to bitch about things, imo. hehe...

...well, besides how it's spent.

in this era 10m can buy you solid mid-level+ talent and 20m can buy you some top shelf talent.

spending 50-60m more than your peers is a hell of a "26th man"

Will Milton Bradley be Chicago's next Dennis Rodman or Brian Cox?

Also -- to me, the DeRosa and Wood moves seem to indicate the "new" Cubs mindset. Made with winning in mind (rightly or wrongly), even though they seem a little heartless.

and don't forget this little Gammons drool-ism from the above link:

"Geovany Soto wasn't just the rookie of the year, he changed the Cubs"

There's truth to that statement. Soto's offensive contributions hid a few failures in the middle of the lineup before Ramirez got hot, and he performed well batting 4th or batting 8th. He knew the strike zone, for the most part he was as intelligent a hitter as the Cubs had. Adding a hitter like to the list of the guys the pitcher needs to worry about is bigger than it might seem.

according to a comment by Jon Heyman on the mlb network hot stove show tonight:

Derek Lowe rejected the Mets 3/36.

Wants $16M per year (3/48, gotta do better than Jason Schmidt!)

Supposed other suitors are: Red Sox, Phils, Braves and that ubiquitous Boras Mystery team.

Outstanding job, Cubster. (I noticed you omitted Coppock's denture clicks in your transcript.)

I called Miles scrappy, but whoa ...he's got cojones of steel.

http://www.suntimes.com/sports/baseball/cubs/13604...

a Carol Slezak article in this sunday sun-times:

Spring Training 2000 as an Astro prospect...

"The masked gunman had Aaron Miles in a headlock and pressed a semiautomatic against the back of his head..."

damn.

That's prety fucked up. OJ should have hired that 2nd gunman's lawyer.

Funny!

at least that's what this Indians writer says

http://www.ohio.com/sports/indians/37033944.html

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

on a slow day...5 teams interested, 2 are Rays and Mariners, the rest are 2 NL Teams and 1 AL.

also says he hid a knee injury most of the season that he had surgery on this offseason....

Thanks, Dr. Hecht, from someone outside the range of Chicago sports radio. This is good stuff.

Fleita's comments more interesting than Levine's, since he's more in the loop. I still don't think Gathright makes sense merely as late-inning defensive replacement, since Pie or Fuld would have done that better. And if you say that Pie or Fuld won't be on the team, isn't Reed Johnson a better fielder (arm-wise and overall) than Gathright?

Even I have to reluctantly admit that, based on Fleita's damning him with faint praise, Felix Pie's Cub career is over. A miracle could happen in spring training, but it doesn't sound like Pie will even go to ST with the Cubs.

Gathright and Johnson are a wash. Reed has a below average arm, and isn't as fast.

I like the Gathright signing as he's always had a ton of upside, but has played on some piss poor teams. Perhaps being surrounded with some more talent will make him 2009's Johnson signing.

Pie is done, as is Rich Hill. I said that last year. These guys are mentally weak. They've got the talent, but can't deal with a few bumps in the road.

Saying Gathright has "always had a ton of upside" but that "Pie is done" hurts your credibility a bit, Matt. What skills does Gathright bring to the table that Pie doesn't? Tae Kwan Do?

We've discussed this at length, and it seems to me that no one but Virginia Phil would rather have Gathright than Pie, but most see the signing as a signal that Pie will be dealt before April, unless he has a great spring training (or Gathright has a god awful spring training).

That should of read "Pie is done with the Cubs." I wasn't really comparing the two outfielders. Gathright has never been known for power like Pie is.

Okay... then maybe you can point out what evidence exists of this "ton of upside" that Gathright supposedly has?

I can't. It might ruin my credibility as a blog commentor.

You know, because blogs are the be all end all of all things. This is serious stuff here. GM's look to all of us for roster ideas. Good grief.

As for the "upside" comment. I believe Gathright will be the Johnson signing of 2009 (or 2008 since we're all being so snitty), a hard working, defensive oriented outfielder with speed. Lots of it. The signing at least gives the Cubs a 4th/5th outfielder with MLB experience. They're not going to get that in return for Pie when they trade him, or have to just let him go.

You know, because blogs are the be all end all of all things. This is serious stuff here. GM's look to all of us for roster ideas. Good grief.

Yea... heaven forbid if we ask you to back up your statements.

I would still like to know what upside Gathright has. Is is just that he runs fast? Because by most reports he plays pretty mediocre defense. He has average range in CF (which is interesting, considering his blazing speed) and a below average arm.

And oh yea... he has just a 74% SB success rate. Again, pretty interesting considering his speed.

Yea... heaven forbid if we ask you to back up your statements.

To which I did, you just chose to ignore it. I'm glad to see you piss, moan, and rant at people on multiple Cubs blogs.

And oh yea... he has just a 74% SB success rate. Again, pretty interesting considering his speed.

Which is better than any of the other Cubs.

It's a done deal. Gathright will be on the 40 man roster, Pie won't. Get over it.

Matt... you do know that Gathright is almost 4 years older than Pie, right?

And you do know that Pie was better in the minors than Gathright, right?

And you do know that Gathright has had over 1100 at-bats in the big leagues, and has continually sucked, right?

And you do know that Pie has only had 260 at-bats in the big leagues, right?

But sure... Gathright has a ton of upside, but Pie is done.

Gathright does have speed and apparently a work ethic.

Pie is like Corey Patterson. Except Kpatt had 25 Homer Power. Pie has 10-15 Homer power and less speed.

Last I checked, Pie also had speed, and I would argue that Pie is a much better defensive player than Gathright.

Further... Pie has actually shown that he has the ability to hit at some levels, which is more than can be said about Gathright.

The only thing that Gathright does better than Pie is run fast, and we are taking about the difference between really fast and really damn fast.

Felix Pie is a better baseball player than Gathright, and he is also significantly younger. Gathright has proven that when given the opportunity at the big level, he sucks. Pie has not proven that yet, unless you believe that 260 at-bats is enough of an opportunity for a 23 year old kid.

Fuckin' A, dave. Unfortunately, Hendry buys into that whole please-the-manager-by-getting-him-the-crap-players-he-wants theory. Or, even worse, he himself wants the crap players.

"And you do know that Pie was better in the minors than Gathright, right?"

Gathright: .315 .390 .365

Pie: .299 .353 .470

Gathright had 197 SBs (to Pie's 117) in 1,000 fewer at bats

With Cedeno on the way out, and Miles not a speedster, the Cubs needed someone who could pinch run and steal a base. Pie was 11 out of 18 stealing at Iowa last year.

I hate losing Pie--the Cubs will be selling low and won't get much for him--but he's just not a useful sub right now. We can all count to 25.

Are you trying to say that Gathright was better in the minors? You also have to remember that Pie started in the minors at 17. Gathright started at 21. That is a HUGE difference. Of course, you also think that Micah Hoffpauir is a prospect, so maybe in your mind age doesn't matter.

At 21, Pie put up this line at AAA: .283/.341/.451.

At 21, Gathright put up this line at A: .264/.332/.269.

Again, Gathright has shown that he is better at Pie at one thing - running fast.

I just compared their minor league numbers. I suppose I might have known that when you said Pie was better in the minors, you meant he was younger in the minors.

I'm playing the devil's advocate here. I'd love to keep Pie. But no matter how many people keep repeating that all Gathright can do is run, the fact remains that right now the Cubs need somebody who can run. They need somebody who can come off the bench and steal a base. It's a simple requirement that most good teams acknowledge.

Since Gathright can run, he doesn't bother me as much as Fukudome, who might not be able to do anything well except play defense, which Pie can take care of himself.

Well... I think that one HAS to factor in age when evaluating how well a player plays in the minors.

Further, even without factoring age, I would argue that Pie was better.

Pie had five different seasons (of at least 200 at-bats) where he had an OPS over .800, and another season at .792.

Gathright had one, at the age of 26.

Yes, Gathright had more stolen bases. And again, that is the only thing that Gathright may do better. And Gathright has only done that one skill decently, but not great, at the major league level.

By OPS you mean SLG, not OBP, since Gathright's OBP was much higher in the minors than Pie's.

Obviously Gathright is SLG-challenged. Everybody knows that, including the Cubs. They got him to do other things besides hit doubles.

A bunt single and a stolen base is a lot like a double, by the way, especially if you're leading off.

Go ahead and factor in age. You like to make things complicated, I don't. It's a wash anyway, because college grads spend less time in the minors by skipping levels. So the degree of difficulty is the same. You can just compare the numbers at a given level. Gathright had 211 bats at AA, then he had to hit AAA pitching. He had 1500 ABs in the minors to Pie's 2500. So why was it harder for Pie?

So why was it harder for Pie?

It is not very difficult to understand.

Pie was significantly younger. You can discount that all you want, but you would pretty much be alone among people who follow the minors.

Although, I'll agree that Pie's best years are probably ahead of him because of his age, I'm still not sold he'll be any better than Gathright when he hits his stride. If, he hits his stride.

You can try to argue age, but it's still just a crapshoot trying to figure talent out at any time. Who would of thought Soto would suddenly be catching at the major league level after his time in the minors?

I'm still not sold he'll be any better than Gathright when he hits his stride.

Well... he already plays better defense and has hit for better power (in his short time in the bigs) than Gathright. He has shown similar patience (in his short time in the bigs). There is a pretty strong argument that he is already at least as good as Gathright.

but it's still just a crapshoot trying to figure talent out at any time.

Not really... minor league performance has been shown to be a VERY good predictor of future major league success.

No... it isn't perfect - nothing is. But success in the minors typically means success in the big leagues.

Has Corey Patterson gotten any better with age?

Simpy put, guys who cannot control the strike zone fail way more than they make it.

For every Ozzie Guillen or Pudge Rodriguez there are thousands that you never hear about.

And at least those guys have/had good contact, and compact swings.

Felix has a long,slow swing that prevents him from making contact.

Felix Pie is Neifi Perez with a tad more "tools" but without the premium defensive position to make it tolerable to play him.

CF isn't a premium defensive position? Really?

And I am not really sure about what your point is in relation to this conversation. We are comparing players here. I don't expect Pie to ever be great. I am just saying that he is and will be a better option than Gathright.

I don't think Gathright making the team is a foregone conclusion.
I suspect if Felix Pie shows something this ST, then he gets the call ahead of Joey.
If Felix continues to be a flake. Then he won't make the team. I doubt 800K to Gathright will prevent Felix from getting a fair shot. Actually I think it is a motivational ploy to light a fire under Pie's ass.

Corey Patterson got better with age.

Which is what I don't believe at all. I think the two are a total wash between each other. I give the edge (or upside, ha ha) to Gathright. Pie can't seem to hack it, and I don't think he'll ever get it together at this point. Might as well see if the Cubs can get something in return for him. Not likely, though.

We can argue that the minors are a good measuring stick for players, but for every guy that rakes in the minors and sucked in majors, is a guy that kind of scraped by in the minors and raked in majors.

give the edge (or upside, ha ha) to Gathright.

Okay... but you have yet to tell me what upside Gathright has. You have yet to tell me how you believe that Gathright will all of a sudden be able to "hack it" when he hasn't been able to in over 1,000 at-bats at the big league level.

but for every guy that rakes in the minors and sucked in majors, is a guy that kind of scraped by in the minors and raked in majors.

Really? I would love to do a comparison on that one. Very few successful major league players struggle significantly in the minors. Especially if they got hundreds/thousands of minor league at-bats.

And what makes you think Pie is suddenly going to start hacking it?

Go for it. Knock yourself out on that comparison. At least you'll find something more constructive than bitching at me all day.

And what makes you think Pie is suddenly going to start hacking it?

I have already told you; I am not sure why you choose to ignore that.

Pie has a successful track record of hitting in the minors. It often took him a little while to adjust, but when he did, he hit. He is also significantly younger than Gathright, and it just entering into an age where he should be starting to mature as a player. He also has been given very little opportunity in the majors. I have already shared all of those things.

Gathright did not hit in the minors. He has not hit in the majors. And he is old enough that people start to think that he isn't going to progress much more. He has also been given significant opportunities at the big league level, and has been awful.

Has Pie failed in the bigs? Sure, in very limited opportunities. Garthright has failed and continually been given more opportunities.

So again - what upside does Gathright have? What makes you think that Gathright will magically find success after a significant track record of failure?

Which is what I don't believe at all. I think the two are a total wash between each other. I give the edge (or upside, ha ha) to Gathright.

By the way... how can they be a "total wash" while, at the same time, you give the edge to Gathright?

Further, you yourself have said that Pie will probably get better, specifically due to his age.

So why would you rather have an older player, for more money, than an equally good (or bad) player who is younger and cheaper, and has a greater record of success at lower levels?

Gathright in the minors: .315 .390 . 365

Pie in the minors: .299 .353 .470

Both over seven seasons.

Haven't we addressed this already? Pie was significantly younger, which makes a big difference.

And while Gathright has the advantage in OBP, Pie has the much bigger advantage in SLUG.

Maybe Levine's right, since Soriano needs a late-inning sub also. Johnson in left, Gathright center, Fukudome right.

mmm crack.

On ESPN Radio Friday, DeRosa intimated that the 100 Year thing wore on the players during the season. He said he enjoyed it but "there were some guys who didn't", and that this pressure made it tough come post season time to concentrate on performing well. In his introduction to the Cleveland press, Kerry Wood also referred to the "stuff that goes on outside the game" as something he would not miss having been in Chicago. Considering these admissions, I have to say that Derrek Lee hitting so well in the playoff series is more admirable than I gave him credit for.

Sorry if I'm 3/44 here, but Chicago Cubs Online via Bruce Levine reports that Peavy might cost the Cubs a package of Vitters, Jeff Stevens, Wellington Castillo and Kevin Hart.

http://chicagocubsonline.com/archives/2009/01/cubs...

It also mentions an ugly Rich Aurilia to the Cubs rumor that I shouldn't have read right after lunch.

Then Hendry's right not to make that trade. Seems to me you get ONE of Vitters/Castillo, not both.

The Cubs are in the position where they have to overpay, but considering they have Soto in place then Castillo is not really an asset other than being trade bait. Vitters by all accounts is going to be a star big league hitter....but when? 3,4 years? Plus he's battling a bum wrist, and still "has work to do" at third base. The Cubs have a window that's closing and bolstering the rotation with a top flight pitcher calls for dealing practically any asset you have that is not going to contribute to the team in that short window. As for Hart and Stevens, if you see those two names in three years you will say WHO? Like reading about Kevin Blankenship, or Drew Hall.

Good-hitting, good-fielding catchers like Castillo projects to be are INCREDIBLY valuable. More so than just about any other class of player; they're the left tackles of baseball. That's why you almost never see them become available in the open market. I'd rather lose Vitters than him--good-hitting, no-field guys become available every year (see the Burrell signing below).

What happens if Soto gets hurt? Do you really want to see 100+ games of Paul Bako?

The Aurilia rumors have been floating around for a few weeks, and I suspect the fact that DeRosa is lo longer arround to back up Ramirez caused the rumors to re-surface (along with your lunch).

Aurilia would be a classic 1B-3B backup and RH pinch-hitter for this team. Except that his RH bat doesn't offer much balance in place of Lee or ARam, and he would effectively bump Hoffpauir off the roster.

me thinks someone got confused with an old rumor...

once they signed Miles, Aurilia stopped making any sense

Are you kidding, that is more than a fair trade. The only thing that hurts is losing Vitters. You basically get Peavy and do not subtract anyone from the parent club. Hart sucks, why anyone would want him is beyond me...he is as useless as Wellemeyer was when he left the team. I doubt anyone turns him around like Todd though...

So you give up a crappy mid reliever, a potentially good reliever (stevens), and a good backup catcher. Hendry would probably piss his pants he would be in such a hurry to make that deal.

Hey, the only way this gets better is if you can figure out a way to keep Vitters, Marshall, and Harden and still make the deal. Now that would be a keeper.

I concur.

Then maybe we can package Pie,Hill,A ball arm (Archer for example) to Florida for Hermida. He's still cheap and under club control for 3 more years.

Then we could fit our LHRFer and Peavy into our financial framework. And we might even be able to add someone down the line if need be.

Makes too much sense.

Hermida is missing that important element though, 'good'. In four years when he's a FA he's probably going to be a pretty darn good player. Right now though, he's not, and though the guys you listed don't have much value - we've got to pay him something.

His career path is similar to Corey Patterson's following the 2004 season. He could go either way, and I'm not sure if the Cubs are in position to trade prospects and $4 million to take the chance that he's going to return to his 2007 form.

So in your opinion, which will be better

A) Hermidia And Jake Peavy

B) Milton Bradley on a backloaded deal and no Jake Peavy

B, but I don't expect Bradley to be on a heavily back loaded deal. Maybe something like $9,$10,$11.

If Hermida doesn't crap out, he and Peavy are going to cost like $15, $22 and $26 million over the next three years. It doesn't make much sense to compare that $63 to the rumored $30 million Bradley is going to get.

A 'moneyball' type thing to do would be to play Soto for two more years at club contract, then trade him for a boatload of prospects and let Castillo take over. Can't do that if Castillo is with the Padres (or doesn't pan out).

Well, considering we gave up DeRosa to get Stevens, I'd say we have to count him in as a loss to the parent club.

I'd probably be okay with trading a mediocre reliever in Hart, Stevens, and two prospects (albeit good/great ones) for Peavy. However, there's still no mention of how his salary will fit into the Cubs' payroll this year. If Hendry's so maxed out that he's shipping off DeRosa and Marquis to sign Bradley, how the hell is he going to financially afford Peavy?

I'd trade him for someone like Peavy. Where are we going to play Vitters? He looks like a disaster at third base.

In that case, I'm in favor of keeping Vitters.

Vitters fielding stats last year look a lot like Scott Rolen's in his first full season. I think it's a bit early to be mashing the panic button.

Rays tab Burrell, 2/16:
http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=3811501

Price for Bradley and Abreu drops a little bit more. If this is musical chairs, the Cubs RF spot is getting to be one of the last seats left.

holy fucking cheap

No shit. I hope Hendry reads that story before he tries to ink Bradley for 3/36.

Boy I wish Hendry would have just signed Burrell at that price!

What the hell is Brian Sabean doing out in San Fran? Burrell would have been a HUGE upgrade over any one of the

Dan Ortmeier
Randy Winn
Nate Schuerholz

That they are going to trot out at Pat the bat's possible defensive positions. Why sign Randy Johnson,Edgar Renteria and 2 overpriced middle relievers if you aren't going to finish the job?

They're rumored to be kicking the tires on Manny, and I've got Dunn in the FA contest (as I recall).

just say no to aurilia and say yes to hoffpauer
power and money are just two of many reasons

Can Hoffpauir play 2b, 3b, and SS?

Cedeno can!

Is KC still looking for a SS or 2B? Cedeno would be a good fit there, and we can throw in a RH reliever too.

Can Hoffpauir play 2b, 3b, and SS?
No, but Aaron Miles can. How many utility guys does a team need? I'd rather have a guy off the bench who can hit the occasional HR.

My point is that Aurilia and Hoffpauir probably have little to do with each other. Sure - they each can play 1b, but DLee won't be sitting too often.

Hoffpauir is supposed to take over Ward's old role as the LH PH and 1B/LF/RF, but acquiring Bradley and Gathright would appear to leave minimal AB's for Hoffpauir in the OF.

That leaves an occasional PH and very occasional spell of Soriano in LF and Lee at 1B.

Either Lou gets very creative to get AB's for this young hitter, or they have other plans for this roster spot.

How about 'resting' Lee once a week?

i heard d. ward is gonna sign in colorado this way
jason marquis has someone to pinch run for on his
off days

3/44

new post up btw...

I hope this Burrell signing makes Hendry realize that we don't need to spend 3-30...and a 2yr-18 may be enough is good enough. Don't think there is a need for Aurillia with Miles signed. He can spell A-Ram if needed.

The big question marks are how are we going to get something out of people like Pie, Cedeno, Hill who are out of options....there has to be another deal in the works...is it for Peavy or something else.

It's probably for A ballers who don't have to go on the 40 man for two years. I don't think any of those guys have a lot of trade value. Other GM's can look at the Cubs 40 man and their projected roster and see that they'll be able to make claims on Pie (possibly) and Cedeno (likely) in late March. It would have made sense to trade them before signing Gathright and Miles.

Gathright hit .307 with a .371 OBP in 228 ABs in '07. If we get THAT version of Gathright, I think we'd all be happy.

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