Cubs Recall Cotts from AAA, Send Ascanio Down

The Cubs have optioned RHP Jose Ascanio to AAA Iowa, and have recalled LHP Neal Cotts from the same club.

Ascanio was acquired from the Atlanta Braves last December for LHP Will Ohman and IF-OF Omar Infante, and was optioned to AAA Iowa during Spring Training. He went 1-0 with nine saves at Iowa (2.08 ERA, allowing 14 H and one HR in 21.2 IP, with a 1.01 WHIP, a .179 OBA, and an 8/23 BB/K) before being recalled on May 19th when Chad Fox was placed on the DL with a sore elbow.

Ascanio got into five games with the Cubs over the past ten days, going 0-0 with a 1.80 ERA, allowing one run (earned) on four hits (.235 OBA) over 5.0 IP, with a 3/3 BB/K. He threw one scoreless inning in last night's Cubs victory over the Dodgers. 

The 28-year old Cotts was also optioned to Iowa during Spring Training (March 21st), and had spent the entire 2008 season (up until now) at Iowa, posting a 2-0 record with three saves, a 2.00 ERA, and a 1.22 WHIP in 19 games, all in relief (.232 OBA, 23 hits in 27 IP, no HR, and a 10/33 BB/K). Cotts has been particularly effective versus left-handed hitters, allowing just seven hits (.206 OBA) and one walk with 15 K in 9.1 IP (0.78 WHIP).

Cotts was acquired by the Cubs from the White Sox in November 2006 for RHP David Aardsma and LHP Carlos Vasquez. He was selected by the Oakland A's in the 2nd round of the 2001 Rule 4 Draft out of Illinois State, and was traded to the White Sox after the 2002 season.   

Cotts has 3+077 MLB service time and will (once again) be eligible for salary arbitration after the 2008 season. He is making $800K (plus another $75K in potential performance bonuses) in 2008, and will be out of minor league options as of Spring Training 2009.   


I'm surprised. I thought Ascanio looked pretty good. Are there a lot of lefties in Colorado?

in addtion: Iowa started using Cotts as their closer of late and he did well in something like 3 or 4 outings.

Cory Sullivan
Seth Smith

All lefties...

we don't have a real left handed option out of the pen right now. we know that Stevie is no loogie.

scott eyre really isnt a loogy at this point either.

what's wrong with Eyre?

He's retired all 9 lefties he's faced this year. and was fantastic the 2nd half of last season.

Curious move, but if the Rockies are loaded with lefties, it's understandable.

Did Cotts find a slider though? He use to be all fastball/changeups with a marginal breaking ball.

I guess LouPa still likes Wuertz more than Ascanio.

I beleive Wuertz has options, but I think he can refuse an optional assignment, as he has accrued enough service time. Someone help me out there, but I think Wuertz has to stay in Chicago.

Regardless of his struggles, Wuertz is definitely too valuable to expose to waivers.

We haven't heard the last of Ascanio. He is probably the first call in the event of bullpen injury. He could be a regular bullpen guy in 2009 if we choose not to resign Howry or Wood.

Hendry ALWAYS seems to have a stockpile of Righty Relievers around.

I believe you are correct, sir...Wuertz has an option year left, but has enough service time to refuse an optional assignment.

Regardless of his struggles...

What struggles?

ERA: 3.12
ERA+: 142

15Ks, 9BBs in 26 innings.

Wuertz cannot be sent down without waivers. He has been arbitration eligible for 2 years already. I for one am glad the stockpile is here now. At the end of the year the following guys are Free Agents


and unfortunately NOT Jason Marquis

So we are looking at possibly replacing 5/12ths of our current pitching staff. Hopefully all those guys move along and Hendry has the forsight to Get FA compensation in return for Woody,Dempster and Howry.

Submitted by Q-Ball on Thu, 05/29/2008 - 3:51pm.

I beleive Wuertz has options, but I think he can refuse an optional assignment, as he has accrued enough service time. Someone help me out there, but I think Wuertz has to stay in Chicago.


Q-BALL: A player needs at least five years of MLB service time to refuse an Optional Assignment to the minors, and Michael Wuertz came into the 2008 season with 3+007 MLB ST. So he will not be able to refuse an Optional Assignment to the minors until the 2010 season. (Players with at least three years of MLB Service Time can refuse an Outright Assignment to the minors, which is maybe what you're thinking of).

Because his debut date on an MLB roster was Opening Day 2004 (beyond three years ago), Wuertz would have to clear Optional Assignment Waivers (which are revocable) in order to be optioned to the minors. However, because they are revocable, Optional Assignment Waivers are normally just a formality, and once a club gets a player through Optional Assignment Waivers the waivers are good for the entire waiver period, so clubs will usually place players who require Optional Assignment Waivers in order to be optioned to the minors on Optional Assignment Waivers right at the start of each waiver period, just to get it out of the way in case a move needs to be made during that waiver period.

At present, among Cubs players with minor league options left who have less than five years of MLB ST (so that they cannot refuse an Optional Asignment to the minors), only Neal Cotts, Angel Guzman, Michael Wuertz, and Mike Fontenot would require Optional Assignment Waivers in order to be optioned to the minors. Later in the season, Rich Hill (June 15th) and Matt Murton (July 7th) will hit their 3rd anniversary date on a 25-man roster, and then they will require Optional Assignment Waivers to be optioned to the minors, too (but that only matters if the Cubs recall one or both of them and then want to send them back to the minors again after their third anniversary date).

thanks for the clarification...

Submitted by Dr. aaron b on Thu, 05/29/2008 - 3:57pm.

Wuertz cannot be sent down without waivers. He has been arbitration eligible for 2 years already. I for one am glad the stockpile is here now.


DR. AARON B: Michael Wuertz was eligible for salary arbitration for the first time this past off-season (post-2007).

Players on the Cubs 40-man roster who will be eligible for salary arbitration after the 2008 season are (at this time): 

Ronny Cedeno
Neal Cotts
Reed Johnson
Michael Wuertz

Until they were optioned to AAA earlier this season, Matt Murton was a lock to qualify for salary arbitration post-2008 and both Sean Marshall and Rich Hill were in a good position to be eligible for salary arbitration post-2008 as a "Super Two," but probably not anymore. (No way for Marshall, still possible for Hill, but only if he gets recalled within the next week or so).

As for Murton, he could still get eligible, but he needs 117 days of MLB ST in 2008 to automatically qualify (he has 15 days so far), and probably at least 70-75 days (total) of MLB ST in 2008 to qualify as a "Super Two."

So you can see why Murton, Marshall, and Hill (and their agents) were especially unhappy when they were optioned to AAA!

BTW, here is something else to think about:

If the Cubs do not recall Felix Pie from Iowa by Monday (that is, no later than Monday), he will have spent 20 days on Optional Assignment to the minors in 2008, and thus will have used up his last minor league option year.

While not recalling him by Monday won't affect the Cubs ability to option Pie back-and-forth to Iowa in 2008, it will mean he will be out of minor league options as of Spring Training 2009, and the only way the Cubs would be able to send Pie to the minors in 2009 would be by placing him on Outright Assignment Waivers (which are irrevocable).

So not recalling Pie by Monday essentially locks the Cubs in with Pie next Spring Training, forcing them to either keep the then 24-year old OF on the 25-man roster, or trade him prior to Opening Day.  

So the Cubs probably need to decide by Sunday what they want to do with Jim Edmonds (and Felix Pie). If they don't think Edmonds has anything left in the tank, then they really need to release him after Sunday's game and recall Pie.

As for Pie, after starting out his optional assignment at AAA Iowa in a 3-40 funk, he is 4-10 with two doubles and two walks and only one K over his last three games. Not a lot of games on which to base any conclusions, but at least he APPEARS to be starting to hit again. (He destroyed AAA pitching last year, going 362/410/563 in 55 games at Iowa). 

Makes me wonder how aware Pie is of all of this, and whether he feels particular pressure to perform over the next several days to justify recalling him by Monday.

I like Edmonds more than the average TCR'er, since I watched him play well in STL for several years, but I can't see any way in which he's better than Pie now.

Teams that are just about out of it and their center fielders:

Mariners/Ichiro (not happening)
Royals/DeJesus (well there's something)
Tigers/Granderson (we wish and I don't think the Tigers are really out of it)
Nationals/Milledge (no good)
Giants/Rowand, Winn (Winn is a possibility)
Padres/Gerut (amusing, but unlikely)
Rockies/Taveras, Spilborghs (no on Taveras, yes on Spilborghs)

Coco Crisp is floating out there as well. Seems like we could make a trade for Randy Winn tomorrow if we wanted. Wouldn't be the worst 8th hitter in the world, not sure if he can still handle CF duties.

Since I assume they're like everyone else in baseball and not interested in Matt Murton, what is Winn worth? He's got $8.25 MM owed to him next year and the remnants of $8MM from this year, plus a limited NTC to 10 teams.

Giants are doing okay in the pitching department, although you can't have enough young arms.

Only guys I want on that list are Ichiro and Granderson, and being that they aren't coming, why not just play Pie or Patterson if you're not going to wait on Edmonds to find his bat? I mean, Randy Winn is the great hope of 2008? Take your Major-League-Leading offense and let Pie search for his swing and help the team with his defense. Matt Murton for Randy Winn would be a gift to the Giants, who ought to be looking to dump Winn's contract on the first GM to inquire.

Also, LouPa has apparently spoken a bit recently about how great Fuki is in RF and how he doesn't want to mess with that, so any dreams of Murton/Hoffpauir in RF should be labelled "not going to happen unless the team really, really struggles."

since were speculating...

the last time ichiro and fukudome played together, kosuke moved to CF while ichiro stayed in RF.

Let it not go unsaid: DeJesus bats lefty

I like Edmonds more than the average TCR'er, since I watched him play well in STL for several years

I think most of us saw several good years from Edmonds in STL. The problem is that those years seem to be quite clearly behind him.

He is coming up on a year and a half of some pretty awful offense. It isn't like he just started to struggle when he got to the Cubs a few weeks ago.

I hope that we see an improved version of the Neil Cotts that was on display last year. He didn't appear to be fooling anyone, some games it looked like BP out there.

When did Neal Cotts become a good pitcher? Despite the fact that they both had very good numbers in AAA, I think I believe in Ascanio more than Cotts. I hope, though, that I am and wrong and Cotts turns out to be good, as well as Ascanio.

I guess it was a tough situation to make your major league debut for the year. Still, Marquis followed by Cotts was not a pitching change I was looking forward to.

I assume you meant 2008 debut, but Cotts pitched well last night. The Taveras hit was a jam shot that Derrek catches if he wasn't playing even with the bag. And I have no idea why he was with a 1-2 count and the bases loaded.

And I have no idea why he was with a 1-2 count and the bases loaded.

For the double play at home?

it was a 2-run game at that point, made no sense to be playing to stop one run from scoring there. Now if my memory was wrong and it wasn't a 1-2 count, then you could be worried about Taveras bunting and that would make some sense. Otherwise I don't see why they were even with the bag or holding the runner there (I think Ramirez was even with the bag as well).


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