They Should Have Passed

The recent announcement that Edwin Jackson was DFAed finally ends the long saga of undoubtedly Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer’s worst acquisition for the Cubs. Jackson, signed to a 4-year/$52 million contract prior to the 2013 season, struggled mightily in 2013 and 2014 before being demoted to the bullpen. Overall, he finished with a 5.37 ERA in 347 innings with the Cubs. Yet Jackson isn’t the only player the front office should have passed on. Below I review the top “misses” since Epstein/Hoyer took over in late October 2011. I've listed them in chronological order rather than ranking them: feel free to weigh in on which you think is the worst or if there are any clunkers that I missed (I've tried to purge some recent players from memory, so omissions are possible).  

 

Lendy Castillo

The Cubs selected Castillo from the Phillies in the 2011 Rule 5 Draft. Converted from a shortstop to a pitcher in just 2010 by the Phillies and at only 23-years-old, the Cubs were intrigued by his potential. Forced to keep him on the major league roster or return him to the Phillies, the Cubs used one of their bullpen spots for him to begin the season. He pitched in only 7 innings over the first 6 weeks of the season, before being placed on the disabled list. He returned from the DL and rehab in mid-August and pitched another 8 innings over the last two months of the season. After keeping him on the major league roster for all of the season, the Cubs were then able to demote him to the minors in 2013—a price the regime seemed willing to pay to obtain another young arm for the system. Castillo struggled in 2013-2014, however, with an ERA just under 6.00 in 2014 and nearly 4.00 in 2014. Granted free agency, Castillo signed with the Rangers and is pitching in AA in his age 26 season. Moreover, the Phillies filed a grievance against the Cubs for abusing the DL with Castillo in 2012 and were awarded the Cubs 2013 first round Rule 5 Draft pick. Castillo ended up being more of a headache than he was worth.

 

Ian Stewart

Obtained in December 2011 from the Rockies for Tyler Colvin and DJ LeMahieu, Stewart was supposed to be the Cubs answer at third base. In his prime at age 27, Stewart had ripped off three straight double digit home runs seasons prior to his 2011 campaign where he struggled and was demoted to AAA. All Stewart did with the Cubs was hit .201 before landing on the 60-day DL with a wrist injury. Signed to $2 million contract for 2013, Stewart hit just .168 in AAA before making critical comments about the organization on twitter, prompting his release.

 

Chris Volstad

The Cubs weren’t going to get much for Carlos Zambrano, but they couldn’t have done much worse than Volstad. Acquired in a trade with the Marlins in January 2012, Volstad was still just 25 and the hope was he would bounce back from a 5-13, 4.89 ERA season. Somehow, Volstad managed to do worse, going 3-12 with a 6.31 ERA in 21 starts with the Cubs in 2012. After bouncing around with several organizations, he is now having some success as a starter in AAA for the Pirates.

 

Scott Baker

Why did the Cubs spend $5.5 million dollars on Scott Baker for the 2013 season? He was recovering from an April 2012 Tommy John surgery and the Cubs knew he would not be ready until late in the 2013 season. Perhaps gambling that he would come back soon and be able to be flipped at the trade deadline, or that he would have success in the later part of the season and then re-sign on friendly terms, the Cubs were disappointed. Baker was only able to make three starts in September and then promptly left as a free agent. He struggled for the Rangers in 2014 and is now in AAA for the Dodgers.     

 

Kyuji Fujikawa

The 32-year old Japanese closer Fujikawa was signed to a 2-year/$9.5 million contract prior to the 2013 season. Fujikawa was not one of the more coveted Japanese players on the market and given his age many felt at the time that the Cubs over paid. In the end, he made just 12 appearances for the Cubs in 2013 before having Tommy John surgery. He made it back for 15 games at the end of the 2014 season, but struggled, and left as a free agent in the off-season. He is now playing Kochi Fighting Dogs of the Shikoku Island League in Japan.

 

Jose Veras

Veras had 21 saves and a 3.01 ERA in 67 games between the Tigers and Astros in 2013 and was signed to a 1-year/$3.25 million contract to be the Cubs closer in 2014. He proceeded to post a 15.88 ERA over his first 6 games, spent time on the DL, then continued to struggle in May before being released in June. Overall, he had an 8.10 ERA with the Cubs. He had some success for the Astros after his release and is now on their AAA team.

 

(Dis)Honorable Mentions

Phil Coke: $2.25 million garnered 10 IP and a 6.30 ERA in 2015.

 

Ryan Sweeney: The Cubs are paying Sweeney $2 million dollars for 2015-16 not to play for them simply because it seems they couldn’t accurately count the number of back-up outfielders they had this past off-season. 

 

Comments

Different category, same theme: Dale Sveum.

If this is a "what ever happened to so-and-so" list, it doesn't apply to Sveum. I keep seeing him in the dugout during World Series and All Star games.

"Stewart had ripped off three straight double digit home runs seasons prior to his 2014 campaign" Should be: "2011 campaign"

Fixed.

DJ was a total head-scratcher. You give up TWO guys for Stewart who had documented head issues? How nice he would be at 2B for this team now. After Stewart soiling himself, what do they do? Of course, sign him for $2MM for another season of crap!! It was obvious that coming in they did not know what the team had in the minors. Probably just assumed everyone sucked and painted with a broad brush.

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  • bradsbeard 48 min 57 sec ago (view)

    Since the deal isn't official, I wonder if the Cubs will wait until camp opens to finalize the deal and then put him on the 60 day IL as soon as it's available (assuming it's a major league deal). That doesn't really make sense in light of their luxury tax maneuvering though. If he's gonna miss a third of the season they'd probably only offer a minor league deal I guess. 

     

  • Arizona Phil 3 hours 52 min ago (view)

    Cory Abbott, Ben Hecht, Ryan Lawlor, and Brailyn Marquez were in a separate group on Field #3, so they may be prepping for NRIs to MLB Spring Training.   

     

  • Arizona Phil 3 hours 52 min ago (view)

    And Max Bain threw (long toss) at Instructs this morning, too. 

     

  • Arizona Phil 3 hours 52 min ago (view)

    I can positively confirm that Jerrick Suiter (1B-OF selected by Cubs from Pirates in Minor League Phase of last month';s Rule 5 Draft) is indeed being converted to a RHP. I saw him throw long-toss this morning at Instructs. 

     

  • Arizona Phil 3 hours 52 min ago (view)

    The Cubs have purchased the contract of LHP Adam Choplick from Southern Maryland (Atlantic League) and he has been assigned to AA Tennessee.

    Choplick was the 14th round draft pick of the Texas Rangers out of the U. of Oklahoma in 2015, and he was released by the Rangers at the end of Spring Training 2019 (never got higher than AA). 

    I saw Choplick throw (long-toss) at Instructs this morning and he is one huge dude (6'9 250+). 

     

  • crunch 4 hours 58 min ago (view)

    the entire cubs offseason has been "wow, this guy was good 2-3 years ago, but didn't play or sucked in recent past."

    houston finished using their trash can and the cubs are rooting around in it looking for players.

    speaking of...it's taken MLB longer to figure out bryant's service time complaint than the entire astros cheating scandal.

     

  • crunch 6 hours 35 min ago (view)

    "Chicago Cubs selected the contract of LHP Adam Choplick from Southern Maryland Blue Crabs."

    okay.  sure.  congrats and good luck.

    https://www.baseball-reference.com/register/player...

     

  • Charlie 9 hours 20 min ago (view)

    Good for Nick. Good luck to him and the Reds improving his defense. That park should very much play to his offense.

    Interest in Gennett is strange. If you are going to pick up a bench infielder at this point, shouldn't it be someone with SS chops?

     

  • crunch 10 hours 21 min ago (view)

    nick castellanos to the reds, 4/64m...opt out after 1 year.

    meanwhile, on the cubs front...

    "Bruce Levine of 670 The Score reports that the Cubs continue to have interest in free agent Scooter Gennett. "

    wtf...

     

  • Sonicwind75 14 hours 42 min ago (view)

    There seemed to be a least an tacit understanding between ownership and fans during the rebuild that we as fans should support the organization when it was intentionally underspending and tanking. When it was time to be competitive, you know when the greatest core of Cubs players in my lifetime are in their prime, ownership would make the most of that window. That doesn't appear to be the case with the team shedding around $40 million in salary. 

     

  • crunch 1 day 50 min ago (view)

    in all honesty, the team is spending a healthy amount that i only jokingly complain about...but...it was not just fans talking about the extra perks the new revenue streams and tv contract would open.  it was ownership and front office at points in the past bringing it up.

     

  • George Altman 1 day 2 hours ago (view)

    What's pretty obvious is that the Cubs 2020 salary budget is $208m AAV.  Whatever Theo/Jed can field with that number (existing players, trades, and/or signings). They could generate $100m from Marquee, concerts, Wrigleyville, etc and it's NOT going to translate into more $$$ for players.  Very sad, frustrating, and maddening. 

     

  • crunch 1 day 6 hours ago (view)

    maybe if the cubs can squeeze a 5th in-season concert at wrigley they can sign addison russell.

     

  • Charlie 1 day 6 hours ago (view)

    Morosi reporting that the Reds are favorites for Castellanos. Seems like a good direction for them if they can deal with his defense in LF. They look to have the best sarting rotation in the division (or close to it) as things stand. If they can squeeze more offense out of the OF and skate by with their bullpen, they could hang reasonably close to the Cards-Brewers-Cubs pack. I'll be curious to see how much money they throw at him if they do sign him. Being younger has to get him more money than Ozuna, right?

     

  • Charlie 1 day 9 hours ago (view)

    Sure would be nice to rehab a player and then have them stick around and help out the team. Fingers crossed for Souza.

     

  • Arizona Phil 1 day 12 hours ago (view)

    BRADSBEARD: Unfortunately the video doesn't show how his knee looked the day after the workout, whether he can run and take BP two days in a row, if he needs to take pain meds before or after he does physical activity, and/or if he has to have his knee drained every couple of weeks.