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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  • Charlie 1 day 22 hours ago (view)

    Currently at a near full-time job that just barely covers my monthly expenses if nothing emerges.

    I make more than that.

     

  • crunch 1 day 23 hours ago (view)

    "Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that Major League Baseball is considering opening the season in empty spring training parks -- with no fans and all players quarantined.

    The plan would have all teams stationed in one centralized location -- likely Arizona"

     

  • Arizona Phil 3 days 12 hours ago (view)

    In addition to 40 players signed to 2020 MLB contracts, after releasing 22 minor leaguers this week the Cubs now have 279 players signed to 2020 minor league contracts (plus one minor leaguer on the Restricted List), for a total of 320 players in the organization (181 pitchers, 30 catchers, 60 infielders, and 49 outfielders).   

     

  • JustSayin' 3 days 21 hours ago (view)

    Years of over-drafting pitching shown here.

     

  • Dolorous Jon Lester 3 days 23 hours ago (view)

    Some of the players cut I am not too surprised by. Some of them I think are definitely victims of the minor league pay thing and being squeezed out.

    That said, I am very surprised they gave up already on Riley McCauley and Niels Stone.

     

  • Hagsag 4 days 55 min ago (view)

    Baseball America is showing a big group of players that have been released.

     

  • Arizona Phil 4 days 14 hours ago (view)

    The Cubs have released minor league catcher Rafelin Lorenzo. He was selected from the Pittsburgh Pirates in the AAA Phase of the 2018 Rule 5 Draft and spent the 2019 season at South Bend. He was eligible to be a minor league 6YFA post-2020. 

     

  • JustSayin' 5 days 23 hours ago (view)

    The organizations will cut rosters down, as if the full-season teams were breaking camp to start the season, THEN pay the remaining minor leaguers $400/week or whatever.  That's similar to what costs would have normally been but the "one last chance" players who got spring training invitations this year and didn't have an obvious roster spot won't be getting their last chance.

     

  • crunch 6 days 1 hour ago (view)

    "According to Jeff Passan of ESPN, all minor league players will be receiving $400 per week from MLB through at least May 31."

    so that's where that promise landed.  the scary thing is that's still more than some in the low minors make on a weekly basis.

     

  • crunch 1 week 1 day ago (view)

    "Jeff Passan of ESPN writes that the players and league agreed that the 2020 season won't start until "there are no bans on mass gatherings that limit the ability to play in front of fans, there are no travel restrictions and medical experts determine games will not pose a risk to health of teams and fans." Passan does add that the two sides "will consider the feasibility of playing in empty stadiums" and also at neutral sites.

     

  • crunch 1 week 1 day ago (view)

    i miss baseball.  it could happen in june...it may happen in late may...it might not happen either way.

    there's so many things getting messed up right now i would get lost making a list.  there's some college guys making a serious "okay, we need to look at that guy" push that's dead.  former cubs draft pick russell smith (2017, LHP highschool) took last season off for injury (TCU college) and returned with a low 90s fastball, impressive control, and a MLB-quality changeup.  his "comeback" was 4 games and done thanks to this current situation...

     

  • JustSayin' 1 week 2 days ago (view)

    COVID 19 + a short draft + Manfred's obsessive drive to shrink the minor leagues will change baseball forever.  It WAS still America's grass roots sport.  Where I live, from June through August, you could see a quality live game any day of the week, within an hour's drive.  I believe that era is over.  What's going on will have ripple effects, contracting serious college ball, college summer leagues and independent pro ball just as much as the MiLB systems.  With those changes, some of the game's charm will also go.  I've seen a kid from Cape Cod play in the Ca

     

  • crunch 1 week 2 days ago (view)

    fyi for anyone who bought MLB.tv

    for "some reason" getting a cancel+refund via phone is like pulling teeth, but if you contact them via a webpage contact request many people are getting a cancel+refund confirmation within an hour or 2...

     

  • bradsbeard 1 week 3 days ago (view)

    I imagine because the new labor agreement freezes rosters as of whenever the agreement is approved by the owners and it might affect what those guys are paid under the agreement. 

     

  • Hagsag 1 week 3 days ago (view)

    AZ Phil. what was the reason that a whole bunch of teams optioned or assigned players to the minor leagues yesterday on March 26 ? Thanks.

     

  • Arizona Phil 1 week 3 days ago (view)

    jdrnym: Ordinarily, players on an MLB Reserve List (40-man roster) who are on Optional Assignment to the minors do not accrue MLB Service Time, are paid at the minor league rate rather than at the MLB rate if the player has a "split" contract, and if the player gets hurt or becomes sick after being optioned, he can be placed on a minor league IL instead of on an MLB IL (so that he cannot accrue MLB Service Time or be paid at the MLB rate while he is on the IL). Also, a player who is optioned to the minors for at least 20 days will burn an option year.