Cubs Roster Moves

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.

UPDATE: Apparently CSN Chicago jumped the gun on that one as Sullivan is saying that nothing has been agreed upon, although the Cubs are interested in bringing Howry into the bullpen fold.

It appears that Carlos Zambrano's return to the rotation can be partially credited to the return of Bob Howry to the Cubs. He'll join the team this weekend after being released by the Diamondbacks earlier in the week.  Howry was 1-0 with the Diamondbacks and that's where the good news ends. He also had a 10.69 ERA in 14 IP, 1.674 WHIP, struck out 6, walked 6 and I guess this isn't a typo, but gave up 6 home runs in those 14 IP.  Howry did have a decent season with the Giants last year with a 3.39 ERA albeit a 2-6 record to follow up the 5.35 ERA he put up with the Cubs in 2008. If Fangraphs data can be trusted, his fastball is averaging 89.4 mph, down about 2-3 miles from where he's been most of his career.

Speaking of Z, he'll throw a 60-70 pitch simulated game on Monday and he may have found his spot in the rotation after tonight. Sloth was pitching a gem against the Phillies before a line drive knocked him out of the game hitting his bare pitching hand. Grab-Ass came in to finish the 7th inning and they head to the bottom of the 8th, up 2-0 and looking for their 4th straight win.

The first in-season roster move was annouced as Esmailin Caridad will go to the disabled list for sucking, a forearm strain with Jeff Gray getting called up. I updated the bullpen chart on the right with the green indicating Gray's appearances in the minors. Derrek Lee takes the day off with the sore right thumb, conveniently on day when Dave Bush is pitching, whom Lee is 5/31 against in his career against with a .413 OPS.

Lineups after the jump...

From Bruce Miles latest blog:

The Cubs also outrighted the contract of Rule 5 pitcher Mike Parisi to Class AAA Iowa. Because Parisi had been outrighted once before, he was able to become a minor-league free agent and not go back to St. Louis. He chose to stay in the Cubs organization.

This should be the final piece to to tilt the axis of NL Central power to the Cubs. I hear plans for a parade down Clark Street are already under way.

Please note the question mark in the headline, but that is what Paul Sullivan seems to insinuate in his latest article.

Carlos Silva and Tom Gorzelanny appear to have locked up starting spots, meaning Jeff Samardzija and Sean Marshall will be in the bullpen.

That seemed to be the most likely scenario before spring training started, made all the more likely when Angel Guzman went down and the bullpen being filled with inexperienced players like Caridad and Berg. Marshall had some moderate success out of the pen last year and if Samardzija doesn't get optioned, he did at least have one really good month in the pen in 2008. Silva just isn't suited for pen work in my opinion. He's a sinkerballer that's gonna let guys put the ball in play and sinkerballers seem to need a few innings to get into the groove, tire the arm out a little and get a little heavier drop on the ball. Gorzelanny didn't do anything to embarrass himself so far this spring, striking out 10 in 8.1 IP, although he did walk 8 as well. He probably won't make more than 3-4 starts anyway once Ted Lilly returns.

As spring training approaches, the Cubs are pulling out the heavy weapons to fill out their roster. Jerry Crasnick tweets that the Cubs will sign Kevin Millar to a minor league deal with an invite to spring training.

2004 32 BOS 150 588 508 74 151 36 0 18 74 57 91 .297 .383 .474 .857 117 16 0
2005 33 BOS 134 519 449 57 122 28 1 9 50 54 74 .272 .355 .399 .753 98 12 0
2006 34 BAL 132 503 430 64 117 26 0 15 64 59 74 .272 .374 .437 .811 111 14 3
2007 35 BAL 140 562 476 63 121 26 1 17 63 76 94 .254 .365 .420 .785 106 8 2
2008 36 BAL 145 610 531 73 124 25 0 20 72 71 93 .234 .323 .394 .717 89 8 3
2009 37 TOR 78 283 251 29 56 14 0 7 29 31 49 .223 .311 .363 .674 79 10 0
12 Seasons 1427 5382 4688 648 1284 296 15 170 699 564 838 .274 .358 .452 .810 110 117 17
BOS (3 yrs) 432 1725 1501 214 423 94 2 52 220 171 273 .282 .362 .451 .813 109 42 5
BAL (3 yrs) 417 1675 1437 200 362 77 1 52 199 206 261 .252 .352 .415 .768 101 30 8
TOR (1 yr) 78 283 251 29 56 14 0 7 29 31 49 .223 .311 .363 .674 79 10 0
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 2/1/2010.

As you can tell by the last four years, baseball has passed Millar by, but at least he'll get some per diem money in spring training. By some miracle, if Xavier Nady's rehab isn't going so well and he has to go to the disabled list to start the season, or Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez, Micah Hoffpauir and Chad Tracy all get hurt stepping into gopher holes at Fitch Park, I suppose Millar could make the team in a bench role.



The Hall of Fame made the right move, albeit the unpopular one, by announcing that Andre Dawson will be inducted as a Montreal Expo. Real Neal did the legwork for me using BP's WARP3 numbers:

Montreal: 43.7 Wins

Chicago: 18.1 Wins

Others: -2.2 Wins

Dawson may have been a more popular player in baseball thanks to his Cubs days, but he was clearly a better player as an Expo. Even if you divide his wins per season, it's 3.97 as an Expo and 3.01 as a Cub, so there's just no reasonable argument for Dawson as a Cub other than a popularity contest. Dawson did prefer the Cubs for what it's worth and says he may don a Cubs hat during his speech to acknowledge the Cubs fans.

A busy day for Jim Hendry as he's now inked Chad Tracy to a minor league deal. He'll get a chance to compete for a bench spot in spring training.

Tracy hasn't played a full season since 2006 due to a number of maladies,  including microfracture surgery on right knee in 2007. He's also had oblique, groin and back problems. You wonder if he can even play third base or the corner outfield positions anymore.

His OPS+ and wOBA numbers since 2004:

Year OPS+ wOBA
2004 90 .325
2005 132 .385
2006 98 .342
2007 100 .342
2008 82 .313
2009 76 .296

Nothing too exciting here, but it's a minor league deal and Tracy may be more than willing to go to Iowa if he doesn't make the team out of spring training to try and jumpstart his career back to life.

UPDATE: Heyman tweets that it's for $3.3M with $2M in incentives based on games played.

Tim Brown of Yahoo breaks the story that the Cubs have signed outfielder Xavier Nady on a one year deal...dollar amount yet to be determined (likely in the 3-4.5M range according to Levine). Out of the names mentioned so far - Jermaine Dye, Rocco Baldelli, and Johnny Gomes, Nady was probably my preference on the assumption that he's recovered fully from his second Tommy John Surgery. According to Tim Brown, the physical is later this week but Nady's been throwing regularly and without problems. Before we get into the player, let's talk about the injury. Dr. Hecht in the comments dropped this note about having multiple TJ surgeries yesterday.

The basic operation takes a tendon graft from the forearm from a small tendon called the palmaris longus.

On a second surgery they have to take a graft from somewhere else. Other sites are available (the other arm or a tendon from the calf (plantaris) but that means he's gonna have two limbs involved to recovery. I'm not sure why his graft failed but it's pretty unusual for this to happen (expecially when it's not a pitcher). This would make me a bit leary too (Chad Fox alert!) but my guess is he'll be OK.

The Cubs signed 5 of their 8 arbitration eligible players today.

Baker: $975,000, up from $415,000

Guzman: $825,000, up from $421,500

Gorzelanny: $800,00, up from, $433,000

Fontenot: $1 million, up from $430,000

Hill: $700,000, up from $475,000

That's $4.3M total for those 5, leaving Carlos Marmol, Ryan Theriot and Sean Marshall. The three will file their salary figures today and the Cubs will counter. Marmol made $575,000 last year, Theriot made $500,000 and Marshall made $450,000. Miles guesses Marmol will top $2M, Theriot will go over $1M and no guess on Marshall but I would guess right around $1M. Always a good time to remind everyone that Jim Hendry has never actually gone to an arbitration case ever with a Cubs player...the last Cub to make it that far was Mark Grace in 1993.

Miles also says the Cubs are interested in Jermaine Dye and Rocco Baldelli, but it all depends on the price.


Theriot asks for $3.4M(dear god, just cut him), Cubs counter with $2.6M. Marmol asked for $2.5M, Cubs put in $1.75M, Marshall asked for $1.175M, Cubs offered $800K.

UPDATE #2: Rob Neyer linked up to us and didn't cut my article to shreds. Neat.

UPDATE: Wittenmyer tweets that it's $3M for 2010, then $5.5 in 2011 and $6.5M in 2012...not terribly unreasonable and similar to DeRosa's deal from the Cubs (2.75, 4.75, 5.5M). Now only if Byrd could play as well as DeRosa did his two years with the Cubs.

The Cubs signed outfielder Marlon Byrd to a three year, $15M deal today. As one would expect with a Jim Hendry contract, it's backloaded to give the Cubs more flexibility this season. Specific terms have yet to be released.

Byrd will be penciled in to play center field and if or when he proves he can't handle that on a regular basis, he'll be a perfectly adequate 4th outfielder and the Cubs will continue their center field quest. $5M a year is actually a decent price for Byrd, but depending on the structure of the deal, the final year will probably be impossible to unload when the Cubs realize they're paying a back-up outfielder $6-$8M or whatever it ends up to be.

I gave my thoughts on Byrd earlier, but the cliff notes version is: decent offensive production for center fielder,  terrifying home/road splits over the last 3 years including a major drop in power, walks way too little and at best an average center fielder.

Feel the excitement.

Assuming no more than some bullpen and bench roles to be added, I expect the Opening Day lineup will be:

Theriot, Fukudome, Lee, Ramirez, Byrd, Soriano, Soto, Baker or Fontenot

I also expect Lou to start bitching about needing a left handed bat in the lineup by March 1st. He may flip the 7 and 8 spots and if Soto has a good spring and Byrd doesn't, they could flip as well. Here's hoping Soriano and Soto get their groove back.

Happy New Years Cubs fans!!!

(Give credit to QuietMan for the brilliant headline)


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