Cubs Roster Moves

- 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.

- Cubs.com 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 MLB.com 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.

UPDATE: ESPN AM 1000 reports the deal as a $750K non-guaranteed contract that becomes guaranteed if Bako survives (on the roster) to the end of March. Bako gets $150K if he is released before the contract becomes guaranteed, and he can earn an additional $300K in incentive bonuses, based on At Bats (or more likely Plate Appearances?)... -- AZ Phil

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As expected, the Cubs have signed veteran catcher Paul Bako to a 2009 contract. ESPN's Bruce Levine reported yesterday on XM radio that Bako will get $725,000, but that has not yet been confirmed. Bako replaces Henry Blanco as the Cubs back-up catcher. 

The 36-year old left-handed hitting Bako has spent all or parts of the past 11 seasons in the big leagues, playing for ten different MLB clubs in that period. If you're at a Super Bowl Party on Sunday and the game isn't too interesting, see if anybody can name the ten MLB teams Bako has played for.  

This will be Bako's second tour of duty with the Cubs. He was previously with the Cubs for two seasons (2003-04).

Bako hit 217/299/328 last year as the back-up catcher for the Cincinnati Reds, and has gone 196/239/346 versus LHP and 216/293/271 versus RHP over the past three seasons. He has hit 231/305/317 over the course of his career (745 games). Obviously, he isn't much of a hitter, but he makes up for it by having virtually zero power. But at least he hits left-handed. 

Defensively, Bako threw out 29% of opposing base-sealers in 2008 (Henry Blanco threw out 46%). 

Bako is so old, he attended Louisiana - Lafayette back when it was still called Southwestern Louisiana.

As an Article XX MLB free-agent, Bako will have "no trade" rights through June 15th.

Somewhere, Koyie Hill is warming up the circular saw.

 

Reports are out that Andy McPhail is adding to his Cubs minor league collection, much like I use to collect G.I. Joes. The latest acquisition looks to be left-hander Rich Hill.

One industry source said it's a "strong possibility" that Hill will
wind up with the Orioles, perhaps as early as next week. The Orioles
will likely give up a player to be named who could be contingent on
Hill's success in Baltimore.

The O's just need to make some room on their 40-man roster for the deal to go down. This would also clear a spot on the Cubs 40-man roster for the new Jose Macias that the Cubs have been in search of lately.

Also, Bruce Levine did a guest spot on XM radio that I heard on my drive home. He said that the Paul Bako signing should go down tomorrow, mentioning $725K as the contract amount. The only other revelation from the interview was Levine saying that Felix Pie was the big hang-up in the Cubs not getting Brian Roberts last offseason.

The Cubs moved yet another once-upon-a-time prospect in Ronny Cedeno today, along with left-handed pitcher Garrett Olson to the Seattle Mariners for Aaron Heilman. You'll remember Olson as the pitcher the Cubs received along with Hank Williamson for Felix Pie about a week and a half ago. That makes the net trade:

Cubs get: Hank Williamson, Aaron Heilman

Cubs lose: Ronny Cedeno, Felix Pie

Cedeno's fate was likely sealed when the Cubs acquired Aaron Miles and I'll shed no tears on this loss. Cedeno might be more talented than Ryan Theriot, but he's shown all the baseball intelligence of a junior high dropout. I also find it a bit amusing that the one rookie that Dusty Baker ever gave much of a legitimate shot of playing time to - besides maybe Matt Murton - was Cedeno in 2006. Dusty Baker's eye for talent strikes yet again.

The Cubs signed Michael Wuertz for $1.1M today, thus avoiding any ghastly arbitration cases with any of their players. Not including auto-renewals - which Arizona Phil on the right sidebar estimates at around $3.5M total -  the Cubs payroll for 2009 is at $134.1M, so they still have a few million in wiggle room.

They also released their NRI list for spring training.

Our wonderful radio listening audience heard Bruce Levine of ESPN1000 reporting that the Milton Bradley signing is about to become official. Three years and $30M sounds like the damage, which seems a bit expensive with the Rays about to sign Pat Burrell for two years and $16M total. I'll chime in later with a thorough analysis, but adding the AL OPS leader, even if a bit of a fluke, is never going to hurt your team. That is unless Bradley kills a racist Bleacher Bum, then things might go bad.


UPDATE: The deal is pending a physical and it appears that 3/30 isn't completely accurate. Wittenmyer says there will be wording in the contract to protect the Cubs on back end of the deal if Bradley misses significant playing time on the front end. Wittenmyer also says that the Marquis deal should be completed today with $875K going the Rockies way.

The rest of the world might have been on holidays the last few weeks, but general managar Jim Hendry was busy shuffling the deck chairs on the Cubbie Titanic. Things happened at a rather fast and furious pace last week, so let's revisit with a more in-depth look. What you may have missed while in your drunken egg nog stupor...

Cubs Sign Gathright

Granted, this was before the holiday break, but it's not like I can let a Cubs move go without commenting. Gathright, as we all know by now, can jump over a car and he can also jump over a pitcher if needed. He'll also take a swing at Julian Taveraz which certainly warrants a +1 if this was Deadspin. We also know that Gathright grades at 80 on the 20-80 scouting scale for speed, one of those five tools that Corey Patterson supposedly possessed. A shame that scouting scale hasn't been revamped to include a sixth tool for "baseball IQ" or "can't layoff a breaking pitch".

Back to Gathright, we know he's fast, we know he can jump a car or player, but what he can't do is play baseball very well.  He's a track star wearing a baseball uniform. The speed is fun and all when you're getting a .365 BABIP like he did in 2007, but when lady luck isn't on his side, he's a .265 hitter with a slugging percentage below his on-base percentage. When Ryan Theriot says you hit like a girl, you've got problems.

And as for his 80-grade speed, you'd think a guy so damn fast could steal at better than a 75% clip. While passable by the laws of baseball sabermetrics, when your only real benefit on the field is your wheels, he should be much closer to the 80% or higher range like Dave or Brian Roberts. Of course, speed also is beneficial in the field, but Gathright rates as below average by BP's fielding metric over his career

I still contend that on a one year, $800K deal, he was brought in as no more than a backup plan and motivation for Felix Pie this spring training. I don't think that contract will keep the Cubs from cutting him if Pie can put together a nice spring training. If he does stick, we just hope Piniella uses him appropriately, which would be not much at all.

No suprise here, but the Cubs end up offering contracts to all of their arbitration eligible players that Arizona Phil went through this morning.

They even got Chad Gaudin to sign a one-year deal already, terms have yet be to be disclosed.

This seemed like a no-brainer to me once they dropped the Jake Peavy pursuit. None of these guys will be making much and all could provide some sort of usefulness next season.


6:10 PM CST: It looks like Neal Cotts signed as well. Sullivan says Gaudin will get $2 million, and Cotts will get $1.1 million.

1:20 AM CST: Add Reed Johnson as well for $3 milllion.

Link.

So trading Jose Ceda because the Cubs were going to get two draft picks for Wood doesn't seem like such a good idea anymore.

The Cubs have added three players to their MLB Reserve List (40-man roster), one day in advance of the November 20th deadline that requires MLB clubs to submit major league and minor league reserve lists to the MLB office. .

RHPs Mitch Atkins and Justin Berg were selected from Iowa, and RHP Marcos Mateo was selected from Daytona, and with the addition of the three, the Cubs now have 36 players on their MLB Reserve List.  

Notably absent from the list are LHP Donald Veal (the Cubs 2005 2nd round pick) and 2B Nate Spears (acquired along with two other prospects from the Baltimore Orioles in January 2006 for OF Corey Patterson), meaning both will be eligible for selection in next month's Rule 5 Draft. And I would say that it's very likely that Veal will get selected, and somewhat likely that Spears will be, too.    

UPDATE: Here are the contract terms according to SI.com: $8 Million in 2008 with a $4M bonus ($12M total). $12.5M in 2010, $13.5 M in 2011 and a 2012 $14M player option which is almost a guarantee to be picked up. And as I mentioned earlier, I'm about 90% certain he's earned 10/5 no-trade rights.


It's being picked up by multiple news sources that the Ryan Dempster Experience will call Chicago home for the next four years. It sounds like it might be for a total of $52M a year or $13M on average. That's a pretty good deal if he pitches like he did last year, not so much if he pitches like 2001-2003. For what was out there though and for how much the Cubs and Dempster seem to like each other, it sounds like the right deal. He really did have a fantastic 2008 season. His 152 ERA+ was good for third best in the NL.

UPDATE: The Miami Herald says it's for 4-star prospect Jose Ceda. Shiite. Too much, way, way too much. And since Ceda was one of the possible names going to San Diego for Jake Peavy, you have to think that ship is about to sail.

Double check my work if you wish, but I believe Gregg is set to be a free agent after 2009 and is arbitration eligible for this year. He made $2.5M last year.


 

Ken Rosenthal is reporting that the Cubs have acquired Marlins relief pitcher Kevin Gregg. The 30-year old pitcher was the Marlins closer for the better part of two seasons racking up 61 saves and ERA's of 3.54 and 3.41 respectively. He strikes out nearly a batter per inning but walks a few too many guys for my tastes. I'm sure the first reaction will be that Kerry Wood is definitely a goner, but my guess is that it's just a possible back-up plan as Gregg could certainly slide into a set-up role. Even if Wood goes, I'd rather see Carlos Marmol in the closer role.

Of course, whenever a Cubs trade goes down, the first question is who do the Cubs get and the second question is what did they give up? Rosenthal don't have the answer on the second part yet, but I'll update as soon as someone finds out.

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