Cubs Roster Moves

The Cubs have signed RHP Scott Baker for $5.5M, plus $1.5M in incentives. He became a free agent after the Twins declined his $9.5M option for 2013.

The Good: Baker will be playing his age 31 season and has a career 63-48 record and 3.44 K/BB ratio. His career rates are: 7.2 K/9, 2.1 BB/9, 1.2 HR/9. He only costs $5.5M in guaranteed money which is pretty cheap for a starter that threw 170-200 innings in 2008, 2009 and 2010.

The Bad: Baker is coming off "surprise" Tommy John surgery last April. He also missed time in 2011. His ERA+ for his career is just 102.

The Judgement: While most pitchers are back on the mound a year later or less after Tommy John surgery, it's my personal and casual observation that it takes a good 2-3 months after that for the pitcher to regain their full control and consistency. We may see some flashes of his old self, but I don't know if we'll see it start after start at the beginning of the season. And if they are attempting another Paul Maholm signing to try and flip him at the deadline, a good first half is a key part of that successful equation. Also, he's pretty damn mediocre before the injury (ERA+ starting from 2007: 101, 122, 100, 91, 129). It's not a lot of money, but this seems more like pitching depth than any type of solid foundation. Regardless of the Cubs likelihood to not be very competitive in 2013, I don't think it's wise to make unwise decisions. Sure the risk is moderate, but it's hard to see where the upside is any greater in this case. And while the Cubs new regime may have their moments of brilliance, they've also misfired on their evaluations as well (points and laughs at picture of Chris Volstad).  So ultimately it's a big old shrug of the shoulders on this one for me.

 

 

By outrighting eight players and losing two more off waivers over the past couple of days, the Cubs are beginning to clear some space on their MLB Reserve List (40-man roster).

The Cubs MLB Reserve List now stands at 33 players, but three more players (RHP Matt Garza, 3B Ian Stewart, and RHP Arodys Vizcaino) are still on the 60-day Disabled List and they will need to be reinstated no later than the 5th day following the conclusion of the World Series. So the Cubs essentially have a 36-man MLB Reserve List right now.

Catcher Anthony Recker (Designated for Assignment yesterday to make room on the 40-man roster for RHP Carlos Gutierrez after Gutierrez was claimed off waivers from Minnesota) was claimed off waivers today by the New York Mets, and the Cubs have sent RHP Jason Berken (claimed off waivers from Baltimore in September), 2B Adrian Cardenas (claimed off waivers from Oakland last February), RHP Marcos Mateo (who was on the 60-day DL after undergoing TJS in June), and RHP Miguel Socolovich (claimed off waivers from Baltimore in August) outright to Iowa after the quartet cleared waivers. 


Today the Cubs claimed former Twins first round pick (27th pick in 2008 draft) Carlos Gutierrez off waivers after he was outrighted.The 6-3" righty will be 26 next year and was in the midst of his third year at Triple A Rochester. Then his shoulder gave out, which led to arthriscopic surgery for a cleanup by Dr. Yocum in June. Claims are he will be ready for spring training and I'm sure our own Dr. Hecht can elaborate on the surgery details.

Aaron Gleeman had him as the Twins #25 prospect heading into the season.

From the moment they took him 27th overall in the 2008 draft the Twins have talked up Carlos Gutierrez as a future late-inning reliever, touting his "power sinker" and closing experience at the University of Miami. Unfortunately there hasn't been much about his actual performance to match those high hopes, as his impressive ground-ball rate comes attached to terrible control...

He did boost a nifty 60% groundball rate though.

As for the 40-mam carousel, it was catcher Anthony Recker's turn to get off and he was DFA'd to make room for Gutierrez.

I waded through about 5 minutes of clips from "The Benchwarmers" trying to find something funny for this post. 5 minutes I'll never recover...

Anyway, the Cubs are taking advantage of the roster expansion with a few call-ups. The lucky bastards so far include:

(Drumroll)

  • Dave Sappelt, OF
  • Crazy Legs Campana, OF
  • Adrian Cardenas, INF
  • Miguel Socolovich, RHP
  • Jaye Chapman, RHP
  • Rafael Dolis, RHP
  • Anthony Recker, C
  • Chris Rusin, LHP

Rusin is actually taking Brooks Raley spot in the rotation as Raley hit some innings limit on the season and has been shutdown.

In the minors, the Arizona League Cubs lost to the A's team in the one-and-done semifinal playoffs last Thursday (15-3). Boise is the only other affiliate in the playoffs and lost Game 1 to Yakima (Diamondbacks affiliate) last night 5-4 (despite an early 4-1 lead on a Rock Shoulders grand slam). 1st round supplemental pick from this year's draft, Pierce Johnson pitched 3 innings, giving up an unearned run in the losing effort. They play again tonight in a must-win game for Boise.

Cubs vs. Nats tonight; Rusin vs. E. Jackson; Cubs lineup - DeJesus, Valbuena, Rizzo, Soriano, Castro, Castillo, Jackson, Barney.

I've added the Draft pick standings to the left sidebar...might as well do some scoreboard watching.

So pretty much out of nowhere yesterday, the Cubs decided to promote Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters. In a lost season, where getting the #1 draft pick is more important than winning 70 games, I'm all for going with the youth movement. Now when the Cubs were keeping Rizzo in the minors to delay his shot at free agency, TheJedi were spouting that they like their prospects to get a full 162 games at the Triple A level. Rizzo ended up with 163 between his time in Tuscon and Iowa to the tune of a 336/405/670 slash line. There was another factor and that was the play of Bryan LaHair, who after a red hot April deserved all the chances in the world to keep his spot. Yeah, they could have moved him to the outfield sooner, but between LaHair's early play, Rizzo's long-term future and that the Cubs were going to suck regardless, it was a wise decision to keep Rizzo in Iowa.

I'm on vacation this week, so no blog-a-palooza from me at the trade deadline. That being said, word is that Reed Johnson has been traded. No word on the team as of yet, but Levine says 4 teams made their best offer today including the Pirates and Tigers.

Update: No time for linkage, but Cubs get 24-year-old RHP Jake Brigham from the Texas Rangers for Geovany Soto(meh). From the Atlanta Braves they get pitchers Arodys Vizcaino and Jaye Chapman(Vizcaino could be very good in a few years, but currently is out after TJ surgery).

Rosenthal rumors that Reds are in on Matt Garza.

Soriano apparently said no to any ideas of trading him to the San Francisco Giants.

Plenty of good info in the comments, so read on.

It was hinted at on twitter last night that big Cubs news was coming today and news did come.

IF-OF Blake DeWitt was Designated for Assignment on Sunday to make room on the Cubs 25-man roster for LHP Travis Wood, and in the process DeWitt (at least temporarily -- see below) has been removed from the Cubs MLB Reserve List (40-man roster), although he will continue to get paid and accrue MLB Service Time while he is on the Designated List.


The Cubs now have ten days to decide his fate.


While many Cub fans couldn't care less and probably just wish he would go away, here are the Cubs options (and DeWitt's options):


Back when Chris Carpenter was announced as being sent over to the Boston Red Sox for Theo Epstein, I mentioned that the deal still can't properly be evaluated because there were still 2 players to be named later involved. There was some talk that it was just a logistic move, that the Red Sox had to send a player  to the Cubs besides an executive and the two players would be non-news. Well that turned out to be B.S. Today the Cubs announced they're sending RHP Aaron Kurcz to the Red Sox and we still don't know who the Cubs are getting. Temples were built in less time.

As for Kurcz, he's hardly a nobody, a matter of fact I was going to put him around #15 on my prospect list I was hoping to get out for Monday. He was a teammate of Bryce Harper at College of Southern Nevada, but beyond that coincidence, he's a 21-year old power righty reliever with a 9.9 whiff rate to go with a 3.7 BB/9 ratio. He might not be the quality of Chris Carpenter, but certainly not someone to just dismiss.

As the baseball world turns...

I try not to use that headline too often, but it seems fitting here. The verdict has been reached and the Boston Red Sox will get RHP Chris Carpenter from the Cubs. Cue the feigned outrage!!!!

The 26-year old righty can hit 100 mph and occassionally the broad side of a barn; 6.4 BB/9 in 45.1 IP in AAA. The overall minor league numbers are 1.384 WHIP, 4.2 BB/9, 7.6 K/9 , 3.62 ERA and a history of arm problems. He's probably a good bet to have a few good major league seasons, but I doubt the Cubs have lost a key cog in the machine they're attempting to build. Carpenter will go off the Cubs 40-man leaving room for the Cubs to add LHP Gerardo Concepcion.

The Cubs claimed infielder Adrian Cardenas off waivers today from the Oakland A's, where he was outrighted to make room for Johnny Gomes. To make room on the 40-man, the Cubs DFA'd Blake DeWitt. Before we get to Cardenas, if I'm reading this correctly, the Cubs most likely cost themselves up to $1.1M? I believe they're on the hook for DeWitt's salary, when they could have just non-tendered him back in December, but of course they didn't know Cardenas was available back then. If DeWitt signs with another team, I believe the Cubs are just on the hook for the dfference in salary, which will likely be the mininum, so a little over $600K. Now a team may also put a claim in or work out a trade and the Cubs will be completely off the hook, but those scenarios seem less likely. Not a big deal overall, as the Cubs have plenty of wiggle room to their payroll, but an odd move nonetheless. Now was it worth it for Cardenas?

The infielder was a supplemental first round pick of the Philies in 2006 (37th overall) out of high school in Florida. He was on the Philles top 10 list in 2008, ranked 2nd behind Carlos Carrasco and ahead of guys like Kyle Drabek and Domonic Brown and #76 among the top 100 overall prospects. In July of that year he was traded along with now-a-Cub Matt Spencer and Josh Outman for Joe Blanton. He was ranked #5 in the A's top 10 list for 2009 and #74 overall. He dropped to #9 in 2010 and out of the top 10 by 2011. I don't have the BA 2012 handbook, but apparently he was ranked #12 although that was before the Gio Gonzalez trade.

The Cubs did sign an acclaimed player out of Cuba, but it's not Yoenis Cespedes or Jorge Soler. Rather 18-year old LHP Gerardo Concepcion. A player Kevin Goldstein called polished for his age, but with the ceiling of a #4/#5 starter and whom Goldstein would put at #6 on his Top 11 Cubs prospect list.  Standing at 6'2", he throws in the upper 80's to 90mph with a curve and a change-up (what's up Ted Lilly?). Considering his age and alleged polish, he should start in Peoria rather than hang back in Arizona and then join Boise or the Arizona Rookie League in June. Enrique Rojas says the deal is for a total of $7M and a major league deal, which means a 40-man roster move would be necessary. ESPN Chicago adds that incentives can take the deal up to around the $8M mark. All this makes the Jeff Samardzija draft deal look good.

The Cubs have also signed Ryan-Rowland Smith to a minor league deal. The 29-year old Aussie pitched in the Astros minor leagues after spending parts of 4 seasons in the majors with the Mariners, but I'll always remember him from this commercial. I presume he'll be added to the non-roster invite list for spring training.

Also, with Edwin Jackson signing with the Nationals, the Cubs at the moment own the #6, #43, #55 and #65 picks in the 2012 draft. Derek Lee and Raul Ibanez are the last two Type B free agents out there and there's no guarantee they'll sign, but if they do, they both rank higher than Carlos Pena in the Elias Rankings, so those last two picks I mentioned could drop to as low as #57 and #67 if I did my math correctly. BA put out an early top 100 prospect list for the 2012 draft for some early obsessing.

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