Cubs Roster Moves

With Carlos Zambrano expected to be reactivated from the 15-day DL tomorrow, the Cubs will need to make an acompanying roster move.

Here are the three most-likely moves:

UPDATE: If I understand this correctly, the offical deal is the Cubs getting Ryan Freel and $2.6 or $2.7M from the Orioles for Joey Gathright. The O's would then pay the rest of Gathright's contract (about $670K), thus making it "cash-neutral" as Rosenthal described as Freel was owed about $3.3M on his $4M deal for 2009.


I guess the O's really did want to get rid of Ryan Freel as Rosenthal is now reporting that deal has been made...Joey Gathright for Ryan Freel.

The deal is cash-neutral, according to one source. The Cubs will pay
the balance of Gathright's $800,000 salary for 2009 with the O's paying
the balance of Freel's — about $3.3 million
(ed note - Freel's 2009 deal was for $4M total).

If that source is correct, then an absolute no-brainer for the Cubs as Freel can play the outfield and a few infield positions at the same cost for the Cubs. Freel also gives the Cubs a right-handed bench option that they'd be missing, whenever a walk or a single might be needed.


Besides his little friend Farney, Freel also brings a rap sheet with him...a DUI offense in Kentucky in 2005 and then "disorderly intoxication" during a bachelor party in Tampa, FL in January of 2006. He's also a magnet for concussions.


On the other hand, Christie Freel is part of the package as well.




Soriano, Theriot, Fukudome, Ramirez, Hoffpauir, Bradley, Fontenot, Hill and Randy Wells tonight versus Weeks, Hart, Braun, Fielder, Cameron, Hardy, Hall, Kendall and Dave Bush.

The Cubs needed to make a roster move with Randy Wells getting the call-up for today's start. With MIlton Bradley's ridiculous 2-day suspension loooming and Derrek Lee in injury limbo - too hurt to play, not to hurt to be put on the DL - the Cubs are going to ask Joey Gathright to go the minors.  WIth 5+ years of service time under his belt, Gathright can refuse the assignment, but then he forfeits the remainder of his $800K contract and has to hope another team will pick him up. And him getting picked up is an unlikely scenario with a .214 batting average, being a putz in the outfield and getting caught twice stealing to just one successful attempt for a guy whose speed is suppose to be his main tool. Enjoy Iowa Gathright, I hear it's lovely this time of year. Say hi to Jeff Samardzija...and your mother.

On the rumor front (hat tip to VA Phil for the find), the Cubs are interested in utility-man Ryan Freel who seems upset with the Baltimore Orioles. Freel is owed whatever is left on his $3.3M contract this year and can play all three outfield positions along with second and third base. Once an easy bet to steal 30 bases, it looks like he's lost a step but will at least take a walk although he brings almost no power. As an added bonus, Freel also brings his imaginary friend Farney with on bus rides or when you've accidentally killed a hooker.

"Farney, what have you done?"

So those that had Jake Fox to the Orioles in your trade pools, I think the odds just went up.

In day old news (that high priest and ruler of all men "The Joe" uncovered for us after hours of laboring), Luis Vizcaino will sign a minor league deal with the Cleveland Indians.

It looks like I was on to something yesterday when I mentioned that Jeff Samardzija might get sent down. Chad Fox gets the call-up and has been added to the 40-man roster. As in years past, when Fox blows out his arm and has to go on the 60-day DL, the Cubs can call up anyone from their organization for the playoffs to take his spot (as long as he was with the organization by September 1st I believe).

Also, Derrek Lee sits again with the bulging disc issue and the lineup for tonight is Soriano, Riot, Bradley, Ramirez, Soto, Johnson, Hoffpauir, Miles and Harden against lefty Mike Hampton

As had been rumored, the Cubs have gone and designated Luis Vizcaino for assignment and promoted Jeff Samardzija. Vizcaino has 72 hours to clear waivers and then the Cubs have 7 days to trade or release him. Vizcaino is owed $3.5M for 2009, some of which has already been paid by the Cubs, plus he had a $4M option for 2010 with a $500K buyout, which I believe the Cubs are still responsible for.

Muskat's article suggests that Jim Hendry was trying to deal Vizcaino - possibly to the Washington Nationals - but he was unable to finalize anything, so they decided to DFA him instead. Which makes me ask, what's the fucking rush? A Trib article that Cubnut linked to in the previous post  that I can't seem to get to work now, suggested Vizcaino got in Lou's doghouse by showing up late on Opening Day, but that's hardly enough to burn $4M. As far as I know, Jeff Samardzija bobblehead day wasn't scheduled yet, so I don't know why he needed to be called up by April 23rd at the expense of Vizcaino. And you know, Vizcaino hasn't sucked so far, say like one Neal Cotts. A matter of fact, you could say he's been good with 3.2 IP, 3 K's, 0 BB's and 0 ER. And let's not even get into the Cubs burning over $5M between Vizcaino and Gaudin (if they don't find someone to take Vizcaino's contract) and then crying poor all offseason on why they didn't want to resign Kerry Wood and had to move Mark DeRosa and Jason Marquis.

But, the Cubs and Hendry have 10 days still to do something with Vizcaino so I'll save flying off the handle until the final end game is clear, but at the moment this series of moves sure looks like some of the most serious roster blundering since the day they resigned Neifi Perez.


The other bit of news is that Milton Bradley will sit until he's 100% and when he comes back he'll be batting 6th in the lineup. Anyone who watched the game last night could see that Bradley was still favoring his groin, so probably the right move, although the Cubs probably should have just DL'd him from the beginning to start saving themselves from that third year option that is contingent on days on the disabled list. With Bradley struggling and Micah Hoffpauir hitting, probably not a big deal in the short term. I'll be curious how this will affect the lineup though.


Gordon Wittenmyer tweets that Jeff Samardzija will be called up before Thursday's game and get this, Neal Cotts is NOT in danger of being moved. Paul Sullivan says pretty much the same thing as well. Both think that Luis Vizcaino is on the hot seat and could be DFA'd, although you have to believe that it would just be to buy some time for the Cubs to complete a trade as there has been interest in some of the Cubs' relievers and I don't think DFA'ing a reliever with zero earned runs is anything resembling a smart move.Contrary to earlier reports, Samardzija will go to the pen and Sean Marshall will stay in the rotation.

Wittenmyer also says Milton Bradley will be back in the lineup tonight and batting cleanup.

Lineup for Tonight: Soriano, Fukudome, Lee, Bradley, Ramirez, Soto, Theriot, Miles, Lilly vs. Taveras, Hairston Jr., Votto, Encarnacion, Bruce, Phillips, Hernadnez, Gonzalez and Cueto.

The Cubs and Jim Hendry cost themselves $1.6 million today by releasing Chad Gaudin(assuming another team signs him). They also optioned Jeff Samardzija to Iowa and the 25-man roster is set. Angel Guzman and David Patton make the team and the Cubs will start with these 25.

Catchers - Soto, K. Hill

1st Base - D. Lee, M. Hoffpauir

2nd Base - M. Fontenot, A. Miles

Shortstop - R. Theriot

Third Base - A. Ramirez

Outfield - A. Soriano, K. Fukudome, R. Johnson, M. Bradley, J. Gathright

Starting Pitchers - C. Zambrano, R. Dempster, T. Lilly, R. Harden, S. Marshall

Relief Pitchers - K. Gregg, C. Marmol, A. Heilman, L. Vizcaino, N. Cotts, A. Guzman, D. Patton

Be sure to enter our '09 contest before first pitch on Monday.

The Cubs made a move today to clear some much needed....minor league roster space? Rotoworld says the Oakland Athletics have acquired pitcher Rocky Roquet for the ever popular player to be named later.

Roquet, a 26-year old right-hander was always a favorite of Arizona Phil and was a non-roster invitee to camp this spring. He pitched in the Arizona Fall League the last two years and had him at #18 in their 2008 prospect rankings

I'm not sure why the move was made unless the Cubs felt they were full at the minor league levels or Billy Beane really liked Roquet and promised a decent return for the Cubs on that ambiguous future player they'll eventually receive. Or the Cubs know they're going to have to bite the bullet on Chad Gaudin's salary and the deal will just end up being for unlikely but possible scenario.

UPDATE: Muskat also says the Cubs have released LHP Ed Campusano.  I believe over the last month the Cubs have cut ties with their top picks from 2003-2005 (Ryan Harvey, Grant Johnson and Mark Pawelek), plus pitchers Ryan Acosta, Campusano, Micahel Cooper, Jim Henderson, Jordan Latham, John Muller, Audy Santana, Harol Tolentino, catchers Mario Mercedes and Tony Richie, 1B Bryan Jost and SS Erick Almonte.

UPDATE #2: The Cubs VP of Player Personnel Oneri Fleita says the trade was simply due to a minor league roster crunch.

“He’s a great kid with a chance to pitch in the major leagues,” Cubs Vice President of Player Personnel Oneri Fleita said of Roquet.


“We were simply full and had to create (minor league roster) space.

Muskat reports the Cubs have optioned Kevin Hart and Randy Wells to Triple A. Outfielders Brad Snyder (who was already outrighted off the 40-man roster) and So Taguchi have been assigned to minor league camp, along with infielders Estaban German and Andres Blanco and catcher Mark Johnson. That gives Joey Gathright the final bench spot with just the decision between Paul Bako and Koyie Hill left for the backup catching duties.

A list of the final 30 players left in camp after the jump.

Muskat says nine have been cut and they are (drumroll please)....

Pitchers Mitch Atkins, Justin Berg and Jeff Stevens have been optioned to Triple A, with Marcos Mateo headed to Double A(for now).  NRI's C Welington Castillo, INF Luis Rivas and Darwin Barney and OF Doug Deeds and Jason Dubois have been assigned to minor league camp.

Apparently unhappy with what they've seen so far from Luis Rivas, the Cubs have signed 30-year old super-sub IF-OF Esteban German to a minor league contract, with an NRI to Spring Training. German was released by the Kansas City Royals last Friday.

In 388 MLB games (with OAK, TEX, and mostly KC), German has played 2B-3B-SS-LF-CF, and even has gone behind the plate on ocacasion. A right-handed hitter, German has hit 277/358/383 over his big league career, with 28 SB (14 CS).

German possibly has a chance to make the Cubs 25-man Opening Day roster, although it would probably require the Cubs going with an 11-man pitching staff. Otherwise he will probably end up at Iowa.

In addition, the Cubs have cut five players, optioning OF Richie Robnett (acquired from OAK in the Michael Wuertz deal) to AAA Iowa, and sending Pitchers J. R. Mathes, Brian Schlitter, and Matt Smith, and Catcher Steve Clevenger to minor league camp. None of the cuts are a surprise. Contrary to what it says in the Official Press Release, the Cubs big league camp Spring Training roster actually now stands at 54 (not 53). They didn't count Esteban German when they added up the total).

Also, veteran 3B Corey Koskie has arrived at Cubs camp, and will be given a chance to show what he can do and if he has anything left. The 35-year old Koskie was a member of Team Canada in the WBC, after missing the 2006 and 2007 seasons with Post-Concussion Syndrome.  

My guess is that Koskie will go to Iowa to start the season as insurance in case something bad happens to Aramis Ramirez, with the understanding that he can request his release every 30 days (after 30 days, after 60 days, etc). The Cubs have had that type of arrangement in the past with veteran players who agree to play at AAA. 


- The Cubs purchased the contract of catcher Shawn McGill from the Lincoln Saltdogs of the (cutting and pasting) American Association of Independent Professional Baseball. McGill will be at spring training as one of the extra catchers around to help with all the extra pitchers around.

- with an article on some of the Korean players the Cubs have signed.

- Individual game tickets for 2009 games at Wrigley Field go on sale on February 20th. Our readers say skip the virtual waiting room and just call.

- Cubs special assistant Gary Hughes inducted into the Professional Baseball Scouts Hall of Fame.

- Matt Murton traded to the Colorado Rockies for minor league infielder Corey Wimberly. Good luck to Orange Guy.

- New York trades Wright to the Brewers...give it a sec....then give reader John Beasley credit for that one.

- Don't mess with Edinson Volquez.

-  Ken Rosenthal doesn't believe the new owner in San Diego will change the Jake Peavy situation too much.

- Aramis Ramirez is going to sit out of the WBC because he doesn't want to back-up A-Fraud.

-  An interview with Cubs radio play-by-play man Pat Hughes at Chicago Cubs Online.

-  A little site news, at the bottom of each story below the comment box you'll see the RSS icon , you can now subscribe to comments to an individual post. You can also add this link to your favorite RSS reader for site-wide comments. They only show up in flat view, so no threaded comments and it doesn't seem to update too frequently in my Google Reader so far, but it's available.

Also, we have a Twitter page too thanks to Cubnut (there's a widget on the sidebar as well) and we've had a Facebook page apparently since last year thanks to Ruz. Anyone know of a Twitter widget that will display all the feeds of the people you're following?

It was hinted at when the rumors first popped up, but the story from Spencer Fordin at confirms that the player to be named later in the Rich Hill deal will be contingent on his performance.

That future return will be tied to how Hill performs as an Oriole, and
in some potential circumstances, it could even be a cash transaction. 

Fangraphs takes a look at the trade as well, although I have issues with the suggestion that Hill should just throw more change-ups and "diversify his repertoire". If it was that simple, he would have already been doing it. Anyone that has followed him knows that his change-up and cutter are very poor offerings that he has trouble controlling and more importantly for the pitcher, believing that he can get it by a hitter.

Time to retire the "worst-Wuertz" puns as Jim Hendry moves another player without any options for 2009. As we heard yesterday, the Cubs do end up dealing Michael Wuertz to the Athletics for outfielder Richie Robnett and infielder Justin Sellers. Scouting reports and pertinent info on the newbies after the jump...

As expected, the deal to move Rich Hill to the Baltimore Orioles has gone down for the very important player to be named later. Let's hope it's another Kevin Hart. The report is coming out of ESPN1000 and the Cubs version of Ken Rosenthal...Bruce Levine.


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