Cubs Roster Moves

Bruce Levine is reporting that a deal with John Grabow should be completed today for two years and nearly 7.5 million. I had expressed my indifference in the past over resigning Grabow. Oh sure, his ERA has been pretty good the last two years, but with a BB/9 rate near 5 last year and 4.15 for his career, I don't think anyone would really miss him if he got away. I was asked in the comments yesterday how I'd handle this situation and here was my response.

The Cubs opened up a second slot on their 40-man roster today, as they sent IF-OF Bobby Scales outright to AAA Iowa.

The 32-year old switch-hitter made his big league debut in 2009, hitting 242/312/411 in 51 games (138 PA) for the Cubs, while playing 2B, 3B, LF, and RF. Scales was acquired by the Cubs from Iowa on May 4th, after spending ten-plus seasons and playing 1,000+ games in the minor leagues with San Diego, Philadelphia, Boston, and the Cubs.

Scales did his best work for the Cubs coming off the bench, leading all MLB pinch-hitters (minimum 15 PA) in BA, SLG, and OPS in 2009, hitting 500/533/1.204 with 2 HR & 5 RBI, two doubles, and a triple, as a PH.

The University of Michigan alum is eligible to be a Rule 55 Minor League FA, which means he will be free to sign with another organization when the MLB Free-Agent Filing Period ends 15 days after the conclusion of the World Series, unless he opts to sign a 2010 minor league contract with the Cubs.

If there's anything good about this Milton Bradley suspension other than not having to read about the last idiotic thing Milton said, is that the Cubs are calling up Tyler Colvin. Well it would be good if Lou Piniella wasn't managing, because then he would just play Sam Fuld, Jake Fox or Micah Hoffpauir and Tyler Colvin the rest of the season with a few at-bats for Kosuke Fukudome sprinkled in, but instead I imagine it'll be more Scales, Fuld and Fukudome than anything else and that makes me want to throw a brick at the TV screen. And let's say I wouldn't be all to upset if that brick magically traveled through that TV screen and knocked some sense back into Lou.

For those that might have missed the former #1 picks career arc, he was a suprise first round pick at #13 in 2006. There were reports later that some teams were thinking about taking him later in the first round, so there's no way he would have lasted to the Cubs next pick in the 5th round and then the Cubs picked up a first round talent in Jeff Samardzija who slipped because of his football committment at the time. Then the Cubs ruined it all by giving Samardzija a major league contract but that's for another time.

Colvin then had some decent seasons in Boise and Daytona in 2006 and 2007 but struggled badly in 2008 in Double A. Ended up that he had a bum elbow and went under the knife for Tommy John Surgery at the end of last year after trying to play in the Arizona Fall League. He was ready by the start of this year, but just in DH capacity and started the year off in Daytona. Once the Cubs felt he was healed up, they brought him back to Tennessee for his second tour and in half a season he put up a .859 OPS in what is normally considered a pitcher's league with 35 XBH's and earned Southern League player of the week twice in August. He still strikes out at a Mark Reynolds rate with no walks or patience to offset that, so let's just say I'm not on the edge of my seat, but I'd like to see the kid get plenty of opportunties to play the rest of the way.

The Cubs were awarded a waiver claim today, acquiring 26-year old RHP Thomas Diamond from the Texas Rangers.

The Cubs enter the Pacific Time Zone, which coincides perfectly with California native Ted Lilly's return to the Cubs. The Padres might as well just save their energy and give the Cubs this win. To make room on the roster, the Cubs optioned their entire pitching staff to Iowa1, because they won't be needed anymore (I'm auditioning for the TLFC). 

Sadly, not much else going on, the Cubs trail the Cardinals now by 5 games which is my personal benchmark for dismissing a team, at least this late in the season2. With only 3 games left between the two clubs, it's gonna take quite a streak by both clubs for the Cubs to make up that ground. The Wild Card is a little more attainable, trailing the Rockies by 3.5 games, but the Giants and Marlins are in the way and the Braves are tied with the Cubs.

I'll post lineups when they become available. Join the late-night fun in Parachat.

1 - Justin Berg was actually sent down.

2 -  Other worthy reasons to dismiss a team: the presence of Dusty Baker, Neifi Perez or Aaron Miles, batting Corey Patterson lead-off, having Ron Coomer as your first basemen, wearing a Pittsburgh Pirates uniform (list subject to change)... 

As expected, Carlos Zambrano will be placed on the disabled list with recurring back spasms. It'll be back-dated to August 2nd though and he could return as soon as August 17th. If he can return by the 17th, it would mean just one start would need to be covered on Wednesday, August 12th versus the Phillies. Jeff Stevens is being recalled to take Z's roster spot, and it appears that Jeff Samardzija is the clubhouse leader to take the start on Wednesday. The Phillies of course feature lefties Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Raul Ibanez, but their overall team OPS versus lefties and righties is about the same.

On the flip side, Ted Lilly felt good after a bullpen session and should be back sooner, rather than later. They haven't put a timetable yet on it, but it seems reasonable he could be back within a week.

The Cubs had to make a roster move today to accommodate Geovany Soto and the victim was Micah Hoffpauir. He'll surely be back up when rosters expand on September 1st and possibly sooner. After a good start to the season, he sort of crescendoed at a .920 OPS on May 20th and since then has hit 182/217/336 in 115 PA with 4 HR's, mostly in part-time duty.

That leaves the Cubs bench with Jake Fox, Koyie Hill, Aaron Miles, Sam Fuld and either Mike Fontenot or Jeff Baker depending on who gets the start. 

 


LIneup for tonight: Fukudome, Bradley, Lee, Ramirez, Soto, Soriano, Fontenot, Theriot, Zambrano

If Soto comes back with a vengeance, that has to be my favorite lineup of the season...hopefully they score some runs this weekend and Lou sticks with it.

By the way, the Rockies are the best team in baseball since June with a .661 winning percentage and 39 wins (tied with the Angels) including 14 straight wins versus NL Central opponents. It's gonna be a tough series...


UPDATE: Z didn't finish his warm-ups and Sean Marshall will make a spot start.

Chris DeLuca tweets that the Cubs have acquired left-hander John Grabow from the Pirates. You can read my thoughts about him from earlier today. ESPN confirms that the deal is being finalized. I'll update as details emerge...

UPDATE #1: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette adds Tom Gorzelanny to the trade and the deal is "just about done".  No word yet on the Cubs cost.

UPDATE #2: Sun-Times says deal for Grabow will be announced after the game, no mention of Gorzelanny or the players going to Pittsburgh.

UPDATE #3: The Breaking News banner at ESPN Chicago says it's Kevin Hart and Jose Ascanio for John Grabow and Tom Gorzelanny.

UPDATE #4: Make it Kevin Hart, Jose Ascanio and infielder Josh Harrison for Grabow and Gorzelanny. Gorzelanny will be assigned to Triple A immediately but could be called up to take the fifth spot in the rotation to replace Kevin Hart for Tuesday's start versus Cincinnati. Other options could be Jeff Samardzija, Aaron Heilman (remember when he was good in spring training as a starter?), Mitch Atkins (6.92 ERA in Iowa), JR. Mathes (happens to be his turn in the rotation today at Iowa) or a mystery 5th pitcher. Hendry says Lou and Larry will figure it out on the plane.

Be sure to vote on the 100-game surveys below....

The Cubs have signed recently released Toronto Blue Jays reliever B.J. Ryan, according to the Chicago Tribune. The article says he'll first report to Mesa and then Triple A Iowa before supposedly joining the Cubs at some point in the 2009 season.

I figured they'd sign him and rush Sean Marshall back into the rotation until Ryan Dempster was back, but it looks like the Cubs have another plan. Maybe when Ryan is set to join the major league club, they'll send Marshall down and have him stretch out in the minors getting ready for an inevitable injury. Or they'll just send Jeff Stevens or Jeff Samardzija down and go with two lefties. 

UPDATE: Bruce Levine says it's a one year minor league deal and he'll be working on building up his arm strength, so he might not be joining the Cubs any time soon. They could even be breeding him to try to return as closer for next season assuming Kevin Gregg leaves via free agency.

The Cubs have optioned RHP Kevin Hart and LHP Jason Waddell to AAA Iowa, and have (apparently) recalled RHP Jeff Stevens from the same club. The Stevens move will not be made official until just prior to tomorrow's game, so something could conceivably happen in the meantime to alter things.

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Ryan Dempster heads to the disabled list with a broken toe on his right foot and Carlos Zambrano will get the start tonight on three days rest. To fill the roster spot, Kevin Hart has been recalled from Iowa, just a day after being demoted, and will start tomorrow versus the Braves. This should set up the four game series versus the Cardinals to be Harden, Lilly, Wells and Zambrano for the Cubs and then the All-Star break. 

For those planning their second Mark DeRosa returns parties, he's gone on the disabled list as well and will miss this weekend's series. Get your deposit back on the balloons and catering....

UPDATE: Dave Kaplan is "hearing" that the injury is non-baseball related and could be anywhere from a 3-6 week stint. Paging Doc Halladay...

UPDATE #2: From the twitterverse, Demp says the injury happened jumping over the railing celebrating Sunday's win. Earlier photos show Kevin Hart tying Dempster's shoelaces together...

Dempster thinks he'll miss about 3 starts, Lou and the training staff may disagree.

Wittenmyer tweets that Sam Fuld and Kevin Hart have been optioned to Iowa and David Patton will go on the disabled list with a groin injury. The Cubs will carry 11 pitchers for the time being and Patton will certainly take the full rehab time before rejoining the team.

The Cubs countered the Cardinals acquisition of Mark DeRosa with one of their own, acquiring 2B/3B Jeff Baker from the Colorado Rockies. It's like countering a handgun with a slingshot. Seemingly running out of players to put on the disabled list, Baker is already on it with a left hand sprain suffered back in April, so he should fit right in with the Cubs. He did start a rehab assignment in mid-June, so I presume he's ready to play again and the Rockies were just out of roster space.

The player the Cubs are sending back is unknown at the moment, most likely a player to be named later.

UPDATE: The Cubs send Hi-A Daytona pitcher, Alberto Albequerque to the Rockies. I can't tell you anything about him other than he was having a nice season for the Cubs and he had shoulder surgery back in April of 2008.

UPDATE #2: The Cubs will DFA Ryan Freel to make room on the roster. They have 10 days to try and trade him for a spare minor league part, but chances are he'll just get released.

As mentioned earlier, Aaron Miles has been activated and slugger Jake Fox has been sent down giving the Cubs the worst bench that has ever been assembled. Okay, tonight's actually isn't so bad with the lefty Wandy Rodriguez on the mound: Fontenot, Hill, Blanco, Fukudome and Hoffpauir. But for the next couple of weeks, assuming the normal starters of Fukudome, Fontenot and let's say Miles at second base, the bench will be: Hill, Johnson, Hoffpauir, Scales and Blanco. 

Wittenmyer though says the plan is to give Jake Fox regular at-bats so that they can call him up in 11-12 days so he can sit on the major league bench again when interleague games begin. I suppose he'll DH a bit, but he'll have to fight Hoffpauir for those at-bats and Fox is on the short side of that platoon.  Also, don't be too suprised if Lou changes his mind on all of this in a week and a half and realizes he wants to give some regulars a break by DH'ing them and Fox's defensive limitations get him passed over by the Miles, Scales and Blancos of the world.

Lineup for tonight: Soriano, Theriot, Bradley, Lee, Johnson, Soto, Scales, Miles, Zambrano

versus

Bourne, Tejada, Pence, Lee, Berkman, Blum, Kata, Quintero, Wandy.

Also, the Astros have been flipping starters for tomorrow's finale between the originally scheduled Mike Hampton to Roy Oswalt back to Hampton and currently settling on Russ Ortiz. It's like Cecil Cooper wants to get fired.

Jake Fox and his 17 PCL home runs are on their way to Chicago for today's game. To make room on the roster, Aaron Miles will be put on the disabled list with a sore shoulder that has apparently bothered him since spring training. Miles is barely good enough to play major league baseball when healthy, he certainly didn't need to be struggling through an injury all this time.

Fox - even with all his defensive misgivings - was putting up a line that he probably hadn't put up since his days in the Pony League: .423/.503/.886 for a 1.389 OPS.

Bruce Miles also says that Neal Cotts could be on his way out, possibly to Iowa as he states that Cotts still does have an option left. Arizona Phil and other outlets have been saying he's out of options, so we'll see what the loophole is here if the roster move does indeed happen. And if he did have an option left, what the fuck was the hold-up on sending him down?

UPDATE: Muskat says lefty Jason Waddell and infielder Andres Blanco are at the park as well and also says that Cotts should be looking for a Des Moines apartment.

UPDATE #2: Fox, Blanco and Waddell called up, Scales and Cotts optioned to Triple A.

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