Bako is Backo

UPDATE: ESPN AM 1000 reports the deal as a $750K non-guaranteed contract that becomes guaranteed if Bako survives (on the roster) to the end of March. Bako gets $150K if he is released before the contract becomes guaranteed, and he can earn an additional $300K in incentive bonuses, based on At Bats (or more likely Plate Appearances?)... -- AZ Phil


As expected, the Cubs have signed veteran catcher Paul Bako to a 2009 contract. ESPN's Bruce Levine reported yesterday on XM radio that Bako will get $725,000, but that has not yet been confirmed. Bako replaces Henry Blanco as the Cubs back-up catcher. 

The 36-year old left-handed hitting Bako has spent all or parts of the past 11 seasons in the big leagues, playing for ten different MLB clubs in that period. If you're at a Super Bowl Party on Sunday and the game isn't too interesting, see if anybody can name the ten MLB teams Bako has played for.  

This will be Bako's second tour of duty with the Cubs. He was previously with the Cubs for two seasons (2003-04).

Bako hit 217/299/328 last year as the back-up catcher for the Cincinnati Reds, and has gone 196/239/346 versus LHP and 216/293/271 versus RHP over the past three seasons. He has hit 231/305/317 over the course of his career (745 games). Obviously, he isn't much of a hitter, but he makes up for it by having virtually zero power. But at least he hits left-handed. 

Defensively, Bako threw out 29% of opposing base-sealers in 2008 (Henry Blanco threw out 46%). 

Bako is so old, he attended Louisiana - Lafayette back when it was still called Southwestern Louisiana.

As an Article XX MLB free-agent, Bako will have "no trade" rights through June 15th.

Somewhere, Koyie Hill is warming up the circular saw.



...taking getting more lefthanded to the point of absurdity.

"I have to admit when we left Vegas at the winter meetings, we were a little worried.” - Jim Hendry

2 articles up about what Jim Hendry had to say at the Fort Wayne Sports Corp. Banquet

here is another Cub press release on Bake-0

It's all been said for weeks, but seriously, if we save a half-mil here and a million there, that's the cost of keeping someone like DeRo on the team this year.

assuming major league minimum salaries

the difference between Koyie and Bako was 325K fwiw...

the difference between Pie and Gathright would be 400K

assuming we didn't grab Miles, there's $2.2M

keeping Cedeno instead of getting Heilman, would be 803K

I get 3.72M there... DeRosa will make $5.5M plus potential incentives...


1 mil for Marquis in Colorado

2 million for Gaudin

1.1 for Wuertz

1-3 million we probably could have gotten by waiting Milton Bradley out

1-3 million by waiting Dempster out

Make no mistake, Money has been left on the table in plenty of places.

the Cubs saved about $5M moving Marquis for Vizcaino, how is that relevant?

we'll see what happens with the arbitration pitchers, I am worried that some of them just ended up getting cut.

can't say I agree at all about Dempster, he wanted to stay in Chicago, I just don't think there were any other offers that were reasonably better, but I don't think he would have made less.

Bradley maybe, $7M for this year is a helluva deal though...

and why is everyone in love with DeRosa now, the guy had a career year last year...I can't imagine he'll ever hit 20 HR's ever again. Bitch about selling high, bitch about selling low...

also on Bradley, the report was the Cubs and him had an understanding by the Winter Meetings and the Cubs just needed to move salary to complete it. I don't think it's unreasonable to guess that he could have been signed a lot sooner by another team.

1-3 million we probably could have gotten by waiting Milton Bradley out ... 1-3 million by waiting Dempster out

And you know either of those how?

By the way... when did you become the new Hendry hater around here? Just because manny isn't around much doesn't mean we need a new manny.

I'm hating because he has had an awful offseason.

Take away the 2006 offseason and he has sucked alot more than he hasn't.

I'm guessing that Hendry could have gotten guys for less, because there is a huge surpluss of guys STILL on the market heading into spring training.

I think this team is worse than it was last year, and I don't particularly like that it is.

If we had to get more "Lefthanded", Why not Orlando Hudson? Why thin out the bench and go into the season relying on Mark Prior in RF and KW Harden figuring promenently?

I think this has been a lackluster showing from the front office. If I can't bitch about it here,then where do I?

I hope I am wrong about all of this in 2009. However I imagine there will be more people echoing my sentiments if Doug Deeds is playing RF and Mitch Adkins is taking a rotation turn come June?

feel free to keep bitchin here, we really don't mind...

that being said, there's not many who liked the 2006 offseason either... DeRosa off a career year, Soriano for way too much, Lilly was a 4th starter at best, etc, etc....

Bradley's contract is not out of line with anyones - and he was the best hitting RF available.

Dempster's contract in hindsight maybe we could have saved a little, but he was the first pitcher to sign and did so before the economic collapse. It's a better deal than the two contracts the Yankees gave out and arguably better than Lowe's deal. How you expect Hendry to know things that nobody on Wall Street or the nations top economists knew is beyond me, though.

Not offering Wood arbitration was probably a bad idea, but look at what has happend to Cruz.
Miles seems a little overpaid.
Blanco into Bako probably the dumbest thing he's done, but Pinhead may have forced his hand on that one.
Pie into Gahtright = making manager happy again

Pie and Cedeno into Heilman = seems like a reasonable trade, and adds the depth he likes.

I do have to agree that I wish Hendry would take the same attitude towards Piniella, that Pinhead takes with his players "Shut up and play".

I hope that's how it plays out Neal,

I just didn't see the harm in waiting things out a little bit. In hindsight it would have been a better way to go. I still feel that, given Bradley's injury history. We might have been better served with

A) Abreu,Hudson,Cedeno,Pie,Koyie Hill


B) Bradley,Miles,?(Aurilia) ,Gathright,Bako

It will be interesting to see how it plays out.

Anyhow, have a good weekend kids.

Although I can understand why people are keen on Abreu, if you look a little deeper, I think, you'll change your mind. He's likely to be the worst of the 'name' FA outfielders in 2009. The Bradley signing makes a little less sense now that the Gathright and Pie transactions have been made.

Lets see him, Aurilia and Hudson sign before we assume how much salary they're going to get.

All of these bench moves though are Pinhead's deal. I guess it's good that they're on the same page, but Gathright and Bako aren't good ballplayers.

Levine says it's 750K in his blog, either he misspoke yesterday or I misheard...

$300K in potential incentives, non-guaranteed contract that becomes guaranteed at the end of March. He'll get 20% though if he's cut.

It's sign of a good team when the backup catcher is a major concern....but, still.

that's the problem. This team has major concerns and they are wasting time worrying about backup catchers.

This team is looking worse and worse every way we turn.

With the exception of MAYBE right field (i am afraid that any gains Bradley will make will at best be a draw by what we are losing in center), we are the same or weaker at every spot.

Vizcaino and Heilmann figure to be better setup guys than Eyre and Howry were last year.

if heilmann isn't given a shot at #5 starter i'd be shocked.


Vizcaino and Smardijzia figure to be better setup men than Howry and Eyre were last year.

I don't think the team has regressed on the whole, but the problem is that all of these chips (such as they were) have been tossed away in order to remain relatively static outside of the bullpen (and RF was a FA move). And then stuff like swapping out Hank for Gabor, brought about by a ridiculous desire to get more lefthanded when the individual pieces which were exchanged almost completely negate each other (if you want to be kind to Bako).

I mean, is Gathright better than Pie? Both guys can't hit or get on base, and both guys can run really fast, but the difference is that Pie's younger and there's still a CHANCE he puts it together. Would we not have been able to pick up Heilman without dumping him off on the O's?

Perhaps most importantly, why in the blue hell did our answer at second base have to involve Aaron Miles?


That last line made me laugh.

Then I cringed at how dark it was.

Then I laughed again.

That last line made me laugh.
it worked for mordecai brown...maybe they should be looking at converting Koyie to a pitcher?

3/44 loser :)


it was in the comments in the previous thread...just messin' around..

it's also in the new post that is up...

Maybe I'm a bit behind, but what is Hendry's motivation for letting Hank White walk and bringing in Bako? Bako is an embarrassment to the game of baseball. Seriously, how does he stay at catcher (or in baseball) after throwing out runners only 29% of the time, and hitting for a stellar sub-mendoza average?

Re: Chad, comment 7

With the exception of MAYBE right field (i am afraid that any gains Bradley will make will at best be a draw by what we are losing in center), we are the same or weaker at every spot.


My thesis is that the Cubs have traded regular season depth and versatility (DeRosa and Marquis) for post season balance and LH power (Bradley).

Cubs will have the same pesonnel at 5.5 of 8 offensive positions (C, 1B, SS, 3B, LF, RHCF). I believe that group won't produce as well in 2009 as they did in 2008 since I think the only hopeful places for improvement are 1B and LF (if Soriano produces the same rate in more games by staying healthy).

Considering Fukudome as the full-time RF and DeRosa the full time- 2B last year, the Cubs are replacing Edmonds (in a platoon), Fukudome, and DeRosa with Fukudome (in a platoon), Bradley, and FontyMiles.

The Cubs mgmt believes they will make the playoffs with the current team even if they don't win as many regular season games in 2009 as in 2008.

So to me the whole essence of the offseason, from the offensive perspective, has been to replace the 2008 playoff ABs that went to the group Edmonds/Fukudome/DeRosa with the 2009 playoff ABs of Fukudome (in a platoon rather than full time)/Bradley/FontyMiles.

I happen to think it's an upgrade, and I think the Cubs brass thinks it, too.

AramRam and Soto both can do better than they did last year. If he's healthy, I would expect Ramirez to.

Reed Johnson's not going to hit .333 playing in center again.

Aram will not do better. If he does the difference will be negligible. I mean he hit 27 homers, maybe he'll get 7 more? That's good but his numbers were in line (if not better) than his career numbers.

With Soto, we'll be lucky if he repeats last year's numbers. I just don't see a catcher improving from what he's done. I think it's very realistic that he'll be about the same.

I think in both cases there is a better chance they will do worse than there is better. Soto because it's damned hard to be a catcher and Aramis as he's getting a bit older now.

"Aram will not do better. If he does the difference will be negligible. I mean he hit 27 homers, maybe he'll get 7 more? That's good but his numbers were in line (if not better) than his career numbers."

Aram had is lowest batting average and slugging percentage since 2003.

Soto's EQA last year was about .015 below that of 2007. It's not a guarantee, but it's a possiblitly.

Not arguing with you here, Neal, just wanted to point this out: A-Ram's walk total in 2008 was the highest he ever posted. How did that happen? I'm not really sure. But The Hardball Times had an article they ran around the beginning of the 2008 season discussing the correlation of an increase in walks one year to the a drop in batting average over the next few. They were really looking at older and declining players, but is it still a concern.

Okay, I doubt it. I was happy to see A-Ram take more walks. I'd like to see it continue, especially if Soriano or Bradley somehow ends up batting behind him.

In 2001 Barry Bonds had his highest walk total. In 2002 he batted .370. Sammy Sosa and Ryne Sandberg did the same thing. By becoming more selective at the plate, you have a chance to increase your BA and slugging%.

I'm alwayw suspsicious of trying to predict what is going to happen to one player, based on what happened to some subset of other players.

"But The Hardball Times had an article they ran around the beginning of the 2008 season discussing the correlation of an increase in walks one year to the a drop in batting average over the next few."

too bad a webpage can't be used as toilet paper.

"The Cubs mgmt believes they will make the playoffs with the current team even if they don't win as many regular season games in 2009 as in 2008."

So our management went into the offseason "expecting" to make the playoffs...why don't you go ahead and ask the Idians and the Tigers about how that mentality works?

I don't believe we are as good as last year. Bullpen is not as strong. Weaker at second base. We gave up our most valuable player, Derosa...when you consider what he does when Aram pulls a muscle, when soriano goes down, when fukudome spins himself into the ground, etc...he was a huge loss. we are weak defensively up the middle. Backo is terrible. still no real lead off hitter...unless you prefer a weak OBP and no ability to run in the top spot.

let's just hope lilly's fast ball is above 78 come April.

fwiw, AP article says it's 725K...

The best thing about the Bako deal is that he has to compete for the job in Spring Training with Clevenger, Hill and Johnson. Provided Soto stays healthy whoever wins the job is going to be capped in all likelyhood to 175 AB's so I am not going to cry about being Hank Whiteless. The only dumb thing this offseason was the Gregg-Ceda deal that now is compounded by the fact we lost Woody for nothing and we got Heilman who if healthy can be an 8th inning guy for cheap, but you cant blame Jimbo for not guessing the Mets-M's-Tribe would do a 3 way deal and Heilman could be gotten for cheap. Given that we won the division games by 7 games last year to a team that lost its best 2 SP and nobody else in the division made upgrades, this team is still head and shoulders above everybody else in this division.

rumor has it that manny might sign with the cards. If that does indeed happen, then winning the division might be alot harder.

Maybe jim and lou thought turning a 97 win team into an 88 win team with lefties was a good idea. But I'm thinking both are jobless if were sitting home extra early in October.

that wasn't the rumor...

I live in memphis (cards country). I've heard that pujols is trying to bring his friend manny to st louis for 2 days. Now I just watched the same rumor on espn news. I would venture to say there is some level of validity to those rumors.

yeah Pujols wants the Cards to sign Manny, he also said maybe Manny could give a discount to the Cards...

what do you think the odds are of Manny/Boras giving any discounts?

especially with the Dodgers just waiting with a 2/40 or 2/45 deal...

There's still plenty of time for Hendry and the DL to take care of that.

from the LA Times:

Albert Pujols, after all, was quoted by the Dominican Republic newspaper El Caribe as saying he had asked the Cardinals to sign Ramirez. And, three years ago, when no one thought Barry Bonds had any suitors besides the Giants, Cardinals Manager Tony La Russa met privately with Bonds' agent at the winter meetings.

So we called Cardinals General Manager John Mozeliak. Is your team interested in Ramirez?

"The answer is no," Mozeliak said.

Scratch another mystery team off the list.

-- Bill Shaikin

What another great Lefty pick will be great to plug in his lefty hitting .231 career batting average to blance our team lineup....don't get it unless the saw severed koy's hand completely don't see how Bako's will be the key to the least don't try and convince me that it's because of the lefty bat...tell me he's good teacher and throws out runners...because the left bat is crap!

I love how we are making some many trades for crap right now...just dump jobs! As much as I love Hendry these deals lack foresight...hope I can eat what I just said when Heilman a great 4th starter!

Abreu may be the "worst" of the FA right fielders this season.

Bradley:126G, 78Runs, 32 2B, 1 3B, 22 HR, 77 RBI, 5Sb, .321/.436/.563
Abreu: 156G, 100 runs, 39 2B, 4 3B, 20 HR, 100RBI, 22 SB, .296/.371/.471

Bradley had a better season as far as his ba/.obp/.slg...while 30 fewer games...and putting out career highs in all categories.

If last year's Bradley shows up and plays like that in 140 games in RF in 2009, he will be loved by Cub fans. If the Bradley who played in 141 games in 2004 shows up:.267/.362/.424...there may be a problem.

"If the Bradley who played in 141 games in 2004 shows up:.267/.362/.424...there may be a problem."

Yeah, then we should have signed Abreu since that's about what he's going to hit in 2009.

Yeah, then we should have signed Abreu since that's [.267/.362/.424]about what he's going to hit in 2009.

Hmmm... being that CHONE/Bill James/Marcel/Oliver predictions average out to 281/379/445, which is significantly better than what you are predicting, I would be curious where you are getting your predictions from.

He's getting them from IRNAIAR: I'm Real Neal And I'm Always Right

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