Cubs Roster Moves

The long rumored deal to nab Ian Stewart from the Rockies went down last night, and the Cubs also received pitcher Casey Weathers in the deal. The cost? Tyler Colvin and D.J. LeMahieu.

To the analysis...

The Cubs have optioned Tyler Colvin and Marcus Mateo to Triple A and called up lefty Scott Maine and speedster Tony Campana.

Maine was sporting a 2.84 ERA in Iowa, striking out 21 in 19 IP, while walking just 8. Hard to imagine he'll be any worse than what he is replacing.

Campana was sporting a good luck line of 342/383/442 in Iowa earning his promotion. I wish him well, but he'll be hard pressed to find enogh playing time and such good luck in the majors(.423 BABIP in Iowa this season). He does bring speed with him, being successful in 8 of 9 stolen base attempts this year and 144/186 for his minor league career (77.2%). Of course, Yadier Molina wasn't playing in those leagues during the same time, so he probably won't see that success translate either.

Colvin did need to start getting some regular at-bats, although it's hard to figure out why he can't get them over Fukudome, Byrd or Soriano. For a team that already hits plenty of singles without walking much and in desperate need of some power, Colvin seemed closer to a cure than Campana, but neither will be effective without regular use.

It's also of note, as mentioned in the comments, that the Cubs are about to begin interleague play at American League parks starting off at Boston this Friday. Barring injury, Colvin cannot be recalled now for 10 days, leaving the Cubs DH options Reed Johnson, Castillo, DeWitt, Campana and Baker or more likely one of those play the field while the likes of Ramirez, Soriano and so forth get a defensive rest day. It's foresight like that keeps a century-plus losing streak alive.

Anyway, the appropriate deck chairs have been moved on this Titanic. May the disaster continue...

The Cubs acquired RHP Robert Coello from the Boston Red Sox yesterday, in exchange for minor league 2B Tony Thomas. Coello had been Designated for Assignment by the Red Sox last Wednesday to make room on their 40-man roster after the Sox signed free-agent RHP Alfredo Aceves

The rush of major league prospect rankings are about to make their way out and MLB/MILB.com and Jonathon Mayo is the first out of the gate. OF Brett Jackson is the only Cub and is listed as the #46 best prospect in all of baseball. Just traded Cub, Chris Archer, finished one spot below Jackson at #47. You can always view past rankings at Wiklifield, where you can discover such things as Starlin Castro being rated #22 last season.  From the video clip on Jackson they had this to say...

"Each tool may not wow you, but he can do a little bit of everything and has the potential to be a 20/20 type player in the future."

In other news, if you care to call it that, the Cubs signed Todd Wellemeyer to an $800K non-guaranteed deal with another $400K in incentives. Hendry must be on a contract quota or something.

Clay Rapada ended up where you'd expect an ex-Cub minor leaguer to end up.

In Bruce Levine's weekly chat, he says the Cubs may add a veteran middle infielder with Orlando Cabrera, Julio Lugo and Chirstian Guzman being named. He calls out the two Jackson's (Brett and Jay) as the most likely call-ups in 2011.

 

 

The Cubs traded Tom Gorzelanny to the Nationals yesterday for 3 minor leaguers. This will make the road to the rotation a little easier for Carlos Silva. Phew. 

The three prospects the Cubs received were 24-right hander A.J. Morris, right fielder Michael Burgess and lefty Graham Hicks. Baseball America has a write-up on each of them.

To the excerpts...

 

 

Morris

Morris pitched effectively enough as a starter for Potomac, going 3-2, 3.16 with 49 strikeouts in 57 innings, but he came down with a sore arm in June and missed nearly a month. The Nationals shifted him to the bullpen upon his return to Carolina League action in mid-July and Morris showed improved velocity, hitting 95 mph, if lesser results—he notched a 12-to-6 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 15 innings to go with a 6.60 ERA.

Burgess

Burgess ranked among Washington's top 10 prospects every year from 2008-10, but he had dropped into the 11-20 tier heading into 2011 after a second straight season in high Class A. He's taken 937 at-bats for Potomac in the past three years, batting just .245 but with above-average power output in the form of 37 homers and an isolated power figure of .182. Stocky and strong, Burgess concentrated on making more contact last season, which he did at the expense of a bit of power.

Hicks

Hicks compiled steady strikeout and walk rates for Hagerstown but proved far too hittable because of poor command. A tall, lean lefty, he sits in the high 80s with his fastball, touching 91 mph, and shows the makings of an average curveball and changeup. If it all comes together for Hicks, he could have a future as No. 5 type starter.

Gorzelanny was out of options and the Cubs clearly felt he could net them the best return while still having plenty left to withstand the demands of a 162 game schedule. No big loss or impact in my opinion. The rotation now stands at Dempster, Zambrano, Garza, Wells and Silva with Cashner and Russell trying to force their ways in with a good spring.

ESPN's Bruce Levine reports that the Cubs have signed 34-year old free-agent OF Reed Johnson to a minor league contact with an invitation to Spring Training.


The right-handed hitting Johnson played college ball at Cal State - Fullerton, and was a 17th round draft pick of the Toronto Blue Jays in 1999. He made his big league debut in 2003, and is a career 281/340/408 hitter in MLB. He was released by Toronto at the end of Spring Training 2008 (the Jays wanted to avoid paying him the $3.2M salary he won in arbitration), and he was immediately signed by the Cubs. Johnson played for the Cubs in 2008 and 2009 and did a nice job, hitting 303/358/420 with six HR and 20 doubles in 109 games in 2008 while platooning with Jim Edmonds in CF. and 255/330/412 with four HR and ten doubles in just 65 games in 2009. 


Johnson signed with the Dodgers after leaving the Cubs, and hit 262/291366 with two HR and 11 RBI in 45 games last season.


Johnson has a chronic back problem that his landed him on the DL for extended periods over the past two seasons, but when healthy he is a decent 4th OF. Ryan Dempster had lobbied to bring the popular Johnson back to the Cubs when he was a free-agent post-2009, but the Cubs chose to let him look elsewhere.  


Johnson will battle Fernando Perez, Brad Snyder and James Adduci for a back-up OF job in Spring Training. and while he is signed to a minor league contract, Johnson probably has an opt-out clause in his contract allowing him to demand his release if he does not make the Cubs 2011 Opening Day 25-man roster.


The Cubs have also agreed to an $850K 2011 contract with 31-year old back-up catcher Koyie Hill, avoiding arbitration. The switch-hitting Hill has been with the Cubs since 2007, and has been the team's primary back-up catcher for the past two seasons.  


Hill is a career 215/276/302 hitter in the big leagues, and has hit 211/271/299 in 206 games (642 PA) as a Cub. He has thrown out 28% of opposing base-stealers in his career (but only 18% last season). The veteran backstop has good receiving skills and is a smart and savvy game-caller and handler of pitchers, and that has kept him in a Cub uniform despite a weak bat,


Hill played college ball at Wichita State, and was a member of Team USA in 1999. He played 3B at Wichita State and 2B with Team USA, and then was converted to catcher after getting drafted and signed by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2000. Once a Dodgers Top 10 Prospect, Hill suffered a broken ankle in a home plate collision after being acquired by the Arizona Diamondbacks in a trade for Steve Finley in 2004, and then he sustained a near career-ending hand injury when he cut off his thumb and two of his fingers of his right hand (throwing hand) with a table saw after the 2007 season. Doctors were able to surgically reattach the thumb and fingers in a way that allowed him to continue his baseball career.  


The Cubs originally signed Hill as a Rule 55 minor league FA after the 2006 season.

The Cubs have claimed 26-year old C-1B Max Ramirez off waivers from the Boston Red Sox.


MLB.com's Carrie Muskat reports that the Yankees have claimed RHP Brian Schlitter off waivers. The 25-year old Schlitter was dropped from the Cubs 40-man roster to make room for recently-signed free-agent Kerry Wood.


Schlitter will be reunited with former Cub (and current Yankee) Pitching Coach Larry Rothschild in New York. It's very possible that Rothschild recommended Schlitter to the Yankees, or at least was consulted before the Yankees made the claim.


A Chicagoland native, Schlitter was born in Oak Park, and attended Maine South HS in Park Ridge. He was selected by the Phillies in the 16th round of the 2007 Rule 4 Draft out of the College of Charleston, and was acquired by the Cubs from the Phillies for LHP Scott Eyre in August 2008.


Schlitter was the Iowa Cubs closer the first half of the 2010 season, and went a combined 2-1 with 13 Saves and a 3.15 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, and 21/42 BB/K in 45.2 IP (37 Games) over two AAA tours in 2010. He made his MLB debut this past June, going 0-1 with a 12.38 ERA and 2.88 WHIP with 5/7 BB/K in 8.0 IP (7 Games) with the Cubs. He was placed on the 15-day DL for three weeks in July with a "right shoulder impingement," and was optioned to Iowa on August 5th. He was placed on the Iowa Cubs Disabled List with recurring shoulder soreness on August 25th, and was not recalled when MLB Active Lists expanded in September. He was healthy enough to pitch in winter ball for Los Senadores de San Juan in the Puerto Rico Baseball League last month, however, putting up a 4.15 ERA and 1.38 WHIP in four PRBL games.


The MLB office was closed from December 24th through January 2nd because of the NYC snowstorm (the office ordinarily would have been open Monday through Thursday between the recent Christmas and New Year's holidays), so clubs who would normally have had to make roster moves involving waivers last week were given an extension that ended today. That's why Joe Martinez (Designated for Assignment by the Pirates on 12-22-2010) and Wil Ledezma (DFA'd by the Pirates on 12-23-2010) did not need to be traded or outrighted until today's deadline, and that's why the Cubs were able to wait until this week to make a move to open up a roster slot for Kerry Wood.

Carrie Muskat and just about everyone on twitter is saying the deal is done for Carlos Pena for a grand sum of...

(drumroll please)

1 yr/$10M

I'm sure we'll get more details on Wednesday, but looks like Cubs chose to pay a little more this year and a little less overall than the 2/$14M that Levine suggested earlier. If the numbers are true, it is $2M more than they offered Berkman and I'm wondering if Pena and Co. were willing to take deferred money that Berkman was not.

It was hola to one old friend and sayonara to another today, as the Cubs signed minor league FA INF Scott Moore to a minor league contract with an NRI to Spring Training 2011, and placed Micah Hoffpauir on Outright Release Waivers so that he can sign a contract with the Nippon Ham Fighters (NPB Pacific League) of Sapporo, Japan, where he will be playing on the same team as Japan's #1 pitcher, RHP Yu Darvish. 


With Hoffpauir being released, the Cubs now have 35 players on their MLB Reserve List (five slots open) as they continue to consider which players they will add to the 40-man roster by the 11/20 pre-Rule 5 Draft roster-filing deadline.   


On the heels of the eight Cubs minor leaguers opting for free-agency this week per MLB Rule 55, the Cubs have outrighted 28-year old OF Brad Snyder to Iowa.


Because he was outrighted previously in his career, Snyder is eligible to be a free-agent immediately per CBA Article XX-D. And he has in fact exercised his right to be a FA (he is not signed for 2011, so there was no point in deferring his free-agency until the end of the 2011 MLB regular season).


The Cubs reinstated RHP Angel Guzman from the 60-day Diabled List today, and then outrighted the 28-year old righthander to Iowa. Guzman missed the 2010 season after undergoing shoulder surgery at the end of Spring Training, and spent most of the past seven months rehabbing at Fitch Park.

The Cubs have sent RHP Jeff Gray outright to Iowa. This moves leaves three slots open on the 40-man roster, two of which will be taken when LHP John Grabow (knee surgery) and RHP Angel Guzman (shoulder surgery) are reactivated from the 60-day DL.


The 28-year old Gray was acquired from the Oakland A's last December 3rd along with 1B-OF Matt Spencer and RHP Ronny Morla in exchange for INF Aaron Miles, IF-OF-C Jake Fox, and cash considerations.


Gray suffered a groin strain at Fitch Park in the very early days of Spring Training 2010 and never was able to get it together, going 1-0 with a 6.75 ERA and 1.82 WHIP in seven games (9.1 IP) for the Cubs, and 3-1 with one save, a 5.66 ERA and and 1.71 WHIP, allowing 45 hits and 15/25 BB/K in 25 games (35.0 IP) at AAA Iowa. 


Gray would have been out of minor league options if he had remained on the Cubs 40-man roster going into the 2011 season. He is eligible to be a Rule 55 minor league free-agent if he does not sign a 2011 minor league contract with the Cubs.


In other Cubs minor league roster news, IF-C Jonathan Mota (who was eligible to be a Rule 55 minor league FA post-2010) has signed a 2011 minor league contract with the Cubs, and INF George Matheus was released.

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