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Thursday, February 02, 2017

Last Minute Depth Shopping

I added a comment to the last post about the Brett Anderson signing, but there wasn’t a thread for it (nor did it really deserve it’s own thread).  That’s obviously a depth signing, and at only $3.5 mil guaranteed, it’s relatively low risk.  It’s incredibly unlikely he’s healthy enough to be a much of a factor at all, but if he is, the incentives can take his deal up to $10mil.  I’m perfectly fine with this, but if he’s really the 6th starter, there still is more work to do.

So yesterday, the Cubs made this trade:

Chicago Cubs ‏@Cubs 23h23 hours ago
Welcome, @Butler4Life! #Cubs acquired RHP Eddie Butler and international bonus money slot number 74 from the #Rockies.

Chicago Cubs ‏@Cubs 23h23 hours ago
#Rockies received RHP James Farris and international bonus money slot number 28. RHP Dylan Floro has been designated for assignment.

I don’t know much about either guy, but Cubs Den has a pretty good write-up.  He likes the deal, as Butler was once a top prospect who still has good stuff but hasn’t been able to harness it.  Butler can also pitch in AAA this year, but he’s yet another depth option/project for the team.

It’s probably worth noting that both Jason Hammel and Travis Wood still are un-signed.  I woudn’t predict that it’s likely either of them re-sign here - never say never, like Fowler last year - but the pitching side of the roster looks pretty full these days.

Only 12 days until pitchers and catchers report, and opening day is 2 months from today…

Moses Taylor, Unwavering Optimist Posted: February 02, 2017 at 11:21 AM | 34 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Moses Taylor, Unwavering Optimist Posted: February 02, 2017 at 12:01 PM (#5394675)
2 months is too long to go without a post.
   2. zonk Posted: February 02, 2017 at 01:06 PM (#5394751)
Yeah - this is a really, really good deal I think.

Butler is only a year older than Farris - but while the sheen has long since worn off Butler, he's got a far better prospect pedigree (dimmed though it may be) than Farris. Former 1st rounder (albeit supplemental) + a couple years in the top 50 of all the prospect lists.

His K rate hit a wall when he rose to AAA (and obviously, in the majors) - but I'm optimistic that there's something there Bos and company can salvage.
   3. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: February 02, 2017 at 01:21 PM (#5394767)
...in which I learn that a guy named Eddie Butler has pitched in the major leagues for three years.

Zonk, do you have any reason for optimism other than former prospect status? Because man, his ML numbers look scary across the board.
   4. Moses Taylor, Unwavering Optimist Posted: February 02, 2017 at 01:49 PM (#5394786)
I'd recommend reading that Cubs Den post I linked to. He points out the reasons to think Butler could improve.
   5. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: February 02, 2017 at 01:51 PM (#5394787)
What, you expect me to actually click on a link and read stuff? Are you new here?
   6. Moses Taylor, Unwavering Optimist Posted: February 02, 2017 at 01:54 PM (#5394793)
I could copy and paste the whole thing here, I guess. You're right, this is on me.
   7. zonk Posted: February 02, 2017 at 02:52 PM (#5394843)
Zonk, do you have any reason for optimism other than former prospect status? Because man, his ML numbers look scary across the board.


Heh, well -- with most such things, it's primarily predicated on the fact that he turned out pretty decent for me several OOTP versions ago :-)

But yeah - as Moses said, I thin the Den post is right.

Here's a more dated report -- from 2015 -- where Sickels responded to a question on his future...

The problem the last couple seasons seems to be that while the velocity is back and still great, he seems to have lost a fair bit of the action and movement.

That - to me anyway, seems like the biggest reason for hope... Granted, the shoulder problems might very well play a big part in the loss of movement -- so maybe he's just cooked (at least as a starter... anybody that can consistently throw in the mid/upper 90s ought to be able to become cromulent in relief so long as he doesn't walk the universe).

But - I guess that my hope is that there's at least a little of the Arrieta redux at work here... I.e., prospect drafted high with universally regarded "good stuff" hits a wall, org tinkers with him, he becomes a mess, stuff becomes less, results follow suit, etc.

Bos and company aren't miracle workers, of course -- Chris Volstad never stopped sucking and while I suppose injuries didn't help, they weren't able to fix Jacob Turner any more than anyone else could -- but the 'Jake secret' seems to have mainly been a matter of stop trying to force him into conforming into an organizational standard, but instead - work with him on maximizing the stuff in whatever manner he delivers it.

I certainly don't want to get over-excited or anything -- chances are probably pretty good that this deal is as forgotten as the Turner waiver claim a year from now...

I'm just saying that I really like the virtually no-risk gamble.
   8. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: February 02, 2017 at 03:23 PM (#5394872)
Thanks for the info - and I did RTFA. Butler will at least be interesting to watch.
   9. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: February 02, 2017 at 03:31 PM (#5394884)
...in which I learn that a guy named Eddie Butler has pitched in the major leagues for three years.


There are so many anonymous relievers these days. Look at the 2016 pitching stats and you will probably find plenty of pitchers who made over 50 appearances that you have never heard of.

Someone named "Ryan Dull" appeared in 70 major-league games this year? I'll be damned.

   10. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: February 02, 2017 at 04:45 PM (#5394968)
So as of right now Montgomery would be the No. 5. In the quite likely event one of those five misses time or falls apart the first man in would be the ever-reliable Brett Anderson and then... ?
   11. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: February 02, 2017 at 04:54 PM (#5394973)
There are so many anonymous relievers these days.

Whole parades of them, in fact.

Actually, that would be a fun event for the All-Star Game. Have a Mardi Gras-style Parade of Anonymous Relievers. They could wear masks and throw out candy to the kids at 98 MPH.
   12. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: February 02, 2017 at 04:54 PM (#5394974)
In the quite likely event one of those five misses time or falls apart the first man in would be the ever-reliable Brett Anderson and then... ?

I think it might be me. I better start getting in shape.
   13. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: February 02, 2017 at 05:03 PM (#5394982)
You're a good guy but I'm not above booing the #### out of you if you walk the opposing shortstop on four pitches.
   14. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: February 02, 2017 at 05:51 PM (#5395018)
You're a good guy but I'm not above booing the #### out of you if you walk the opposing shortstop on four pitches.

"No, Juan. Pops was not yelling 'Cruuuuuuuz.'"
   15. zonk Posted: February 02, 2017 at 05:52 PM (#5395019)
So as of right now Montgomery would be the No. 5. In the quite likely event one of those five misses time or falls apart the first man in would be the ever-reliable Brett Anderson and then... ?


The only others with recent starting experience currently on the 40-man would be:

Eddie Butler
Aaron Brooks
Rob Z
Pierce Johnson

There's also Caleb Smith, David Rollins, Jake Buchanan, and the relievers who started years ago (Edwards, Grimm).

Jose Rosario and Duane Underwood were also added to the 40 man -- but neither would be candidates in 2017... well, I guess Rosario has been moved to the pen full-time and finally seems to have advanced to AAA with the switch.

It's... well.. yeah, it's pretty damn scary if something happens - or ineffectiveness happens - to Monty.

My big concern is one hell of a lot less whether the 5th starter (Monty or otherwise) is ineffective, but the domino effect that comes to pass if one something were to happen to one of the big four.

A crappy, revolving flotsam in the 5th starter spot really shouldn't be a big problem -- it's what happens if we're no longer spoiled by the amazing durability of the top 4.

I am increasingly thinking we ought to just give Travis a boatload of money and give him a shot to beat out Monty for the 5th starter job in the spring.

I suppose we still have the Candelario chit to trade -- not sure what he brings back, though.
   16. Moses Taylor, Unwavering Optimist Posted: February 03, 2017 at 11:12 AM (#5395266)
I'd say that today Anderson is the 6th starter, but would have an outside chance of winning 5th starter spot depending on his and Monty's performance. The Cubs have said they'd like to use 6 starters early on, so not sure at what point one goes back to the pen (actually, I bet the Cubs go to 5 starters when Anderson goes to the DL). Right now, I'd guess Zastryzny is the next in line, and he'll be starting in AAA and only come up if needed. The race for the 8th in line will be one of the exciting battles in spring tr........zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

the domino effect that comes to pass if one something were to happen to one of the big four.

I mean, yeah, but I think the Cubs have plenty of options now. And if it were a significant injury, then yes I'd guess a trade would happen. I still think/predict they'll make a trade for one of those magical young, cost controller starters at some point this season regardless (and that person ends up being in the postseason rotation ahead of Lackey* and Monty is back in the pen).

*This year's Hammel.
   17. Andere Richtingen Posted: February 03, 2017 at 12:03 PM (#5395305)
Good trade, but I think it's unlikely that this will be of significance. Cubs Den starts off saying "I love this trade" but I see nothing to love. The Cubs risk nothing to bet on the low likelihood that Butler will be a major league quality pitcher. That's a good risk to take, but nothing to proclaim love over.

It's true that Butler's career has no way to go but up. The difference between his xFIP and ERA might have been large last year, but a 4.47 xFIP is nothing to write home about. He has consistently had poor command and been hit hard, both at Coors and on the road. His 486 minor league innings over five years offer little optimism. The optimism lies in his stuff, which is great, and it's worth taking this chance on him figuring it out, but I think it's a major longshot.
   18. Brian C Posted: February 08, 2017 at 09:44 PM (#5398290)
Cubs made another trade today, picking up Alec Mills from the Royals in exchange for Donnie Dewees. I don't know Mills but I'm encouraged that his big selling point in the minors is that he doesn't really walk anyone.

Maybe I'm crazy but I really like the deal. Mills is plausible rotation depth and could conceivably even compete with Montgomery outright for the fifth spot, while Dewees was nothing special, although I'm sure that won't stop zonk from being angry that they traded him because he imagined him as a poor man's Bobby Dernier or something like that.
   19. Davo's Favorite Tacos Are Moose Tacos Posted: February 08, 2017 at 11:56 PM (#5398346)
I'm a Royals fan and have been tracking Alec Mills for a few years. General consensus is the guy throws hard but has a fastball that's straight as a string. Tommy Hunter is the guy I'm reminded of, who of course did go on to have some success in the pen after bombing as a starter. That might be Mills's only shot in the Majors as well. He'll give up 40 homers a year against Major Leaguers.

(My .02. Sorry!)
   20. Meatwad needs baseball Posted: February 09, 2017 at 01:25 AM (#5398369)
I liked dewees, saw some great glove work from him at second. Seemed to play a decent outfield.
   21. Moses Taylor, Unwavering Optimist Posted: February 09, 2017 at 10:37 AM (#5398515)
The few things I've seen on Dewes is that his arm is just absolutely awful, and that by itself might be enough to limit his upside.

Law on Dewes:
Donnie Dewees (15) has the speed to play center and steal 30-40 bases a year, but he has so little power that he probably isn't a regular and legitimately has a 20 arm that limits him to left. (I asked one scout how Dewees got four assists in 2016, and he said, “Because everybody runs on him!”)


Law said Mills could be a 5th starter type. Cubs seem to be trusting their scouting and coaching for both this move and the Butler one.
   22. Moses Taylor, Unwavering Optimist Posted: February 09, 2017 at 10:38 AM (#5398516)
I liked dewees, saw some great glove work from him at second. Seemed to play a decent outfield.

Second? Are you thinking of Happ?
   23. Brian C Posted: February 09, 2017 at 10:59 AM (#5398534)
It's only one game, but I went to a South Bend game last season and Dewees took terrible routes on two balls into the corner in left.

At any rate, he's pretty old to be just now heading to AA with his unremarkable track record. If he has no power and no arm then he's just a poor man's Tony Campana, and what's that worth? Dude has "pinch runner" written all over him. As depth trades go, getting a potential MLB-ready fifth starter is pretty shockingly good value for a guy like that, I think.

ETA: Just realized Dewees is a year younger than I thought - I conflated his age with Mills's. But still.
   24. zonk Posted: February 09, 2017 at 11:19 AM (#5398551)
Maybe I'm crazy but I really like the deal. Mills is plausible rotation depth and could conceivably even compete with Montgomery outright for the fifth spot, while Dewees was nothing special, although I'm sure that won't stop zonk from being angry that they traded him because he imagined him as a poor man's Bobby Dernier or something like that.


There is no emoticon to express my outrage!

I was thinking more like a poor man's Jason Tyner... which everyone occasionally fetishes over :-).

Anyway, I don't like trading 2nd rounders who still have another couple years before you even need to think about using a 40-man spot on them.... and arm/defense aside, his minor league slashes offensively look nominally promising.

But meh - they've already got Matt Szczur around (though, I imagine he'd be gone one way or another by the time/if Dewees was ever ready).

Mills track record looks promising.

Given Heyward's contract and the fact that there's really no place else for Schwarbs to play but LF -- I'm not all that invested in any OF who can't play a good CF (well, any OF not named Eloy Jimenez).
   25. Spahn Insane, stimulus-funded BurlyMan™ Posted: February 09, 2017 at 12:00 PM (#5398601)
I was thinking more like a poor man's Jason Tyner...

So, Tony Campana.
   26. Moses Taylor, Unwavering Optimist Posted: February 09, 2017 at 05:05 PM (#5398850)
Some more Law comments on these Cubs moves from his chat:

Ryan: Cubs traded for Alec Mills yesterday, is he a starter long term?
Klaw: Yes. Opinions I’ve heard range from okay fourth starter (so, think a little below league average) to swingman. I think he’s probably a decent fifth starter option, which the Cubs needed. Nothing really exciting.

Geno: Appreciate all of your hard work Keith. What are your thoughts on the Alec Mills for Donnie Dewees swap? Thanks!
Klaw: Mills I discussed earlier. Dewees can run and put the ball in play but has no power and a 20 arm. I don’t think you can use him in CF, so what is he? Bench bat?

Marty: Do you have any thoughts on the Eddie Butler trade for the Cubs?
Klaw: If healthy, he’s got great ####. I’d take that flier and see if it was either the injury or the altitude that killed him.
   27. Moses Taylor, Unwavering Optimist Posted: February 13, 2017 at 01:46 PM (#5400650)
Supposedly the Cubs have made Travis Wood an offer to be a swingman. He also has an offer from SD to be a starter.
   28. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: February 13, 2017 at 01:50 PM (#5400658)
Supposedly the Cubs have made Travis Wood an offer to be a swingman. He also has an offer from SD to be a starter.

Heh. I guess that's about the ultimate test of a player's priorities as far as winning team vs. individual role. Are San Diego schools better than Chicago? Probably. But then again, I bet there's a pretty large correlation between "people who wear camo vests with nothing underneath" and "people who home-school their kids."
   29. zonk Posted: February 13, 2017 at 02:28 PM (#5400704)
Bringing some prospect chatter over -- as I think all the top 100 lists are now out --

With absolutely no data-driven reason to lean on it -- I generally like to use Sickels list as my gold standard... and I'm thrilled to see he puts both my favorite pitching prospects into the top 100, with Dylan Cease at #60 and Trevor Clifton at #73. The BA list has Cease in the 90s (Clifton didn't make the cut); while BPro has Clifton at #87... this makes sense - Cease has the scout drool, but a bit short on pro resume; while Clifton has a bit less of the scout drool, but a better pro resume by the numbers.

There's also Eloy Jiminiez - making or just falling short of everyone's top 10 - but given the young, loaded lineup - I just find it increasingly harder to get excited about position prospects.

Clifton's a guy we might see as soon as 2018 -- he'll be moving up to Tennessee this year and his career has been almost the very definition of progress, winning Carolina league POY last year. If he has a strong year at AA, I'd ready to start penciling him into the rotation. Good, well-rounded repertoire, almost the very definition of mid-rotation anchor.

Cease is the guy who has a real chance to be an ace, though. Getting Schwarber underslot allowed the Cubs to overspend on Cease - he was in the discussion as a possible 2014 first-rounder till he had to have TJ surgery. Fully back now - he had an eye-popping 13.3 K/9 over 12 NWL starts, but losing a year to TJ rehab means 2017 will be his first year in full-season ball. Still - the stuff is scary good and now he's got a season of results to go with the scouting reports. I keep wondering if the scouts will start whispering that he might be better served in the bullpen (ala CJ Edwards), but thus far - all the scouting reports continue to talk him up as a potential ace level SP.

It's really exciting to see how 'the plan' has come together --- advanced bats paired with veteran pitching... now the advanced bats have more or less cemented themselves into the lineup and the raw pitching to supplement the vet departures are starting to make a name for themselves and look to be right on schedule to get their turn.

TINSTAAP, yada yada.... but if you were sketch all this out 3-4 years ago, this has to be almost exactly how you'd hope things would look in February 2017.

Oh yeah... and there's that WS Championship, too.
   30. Lassus Posted: February 13, 2017 at 02:35 PM (#5400710)
I keep reading this headline in the sidebar as Last Minute Death Shopping.
   31. Moses Taylor, Unwavering Optimist Posted: February 13, 2017 at 05:47 PM (#5400864)
Ken Rosenthal ‏@Ken_Rosenthal 8m8 minutes ago
Travis Wood on two-year deal to #Royals, pending physical, per @JerryCrasnick and @JonHeyman.
   32. Moses Taylor, Unwavering Optimist Posted: February 14, 2017 at 02:26 PM (#5401473)
Not sure if I should start a new thread for these:

Patrick Mooney ‏@CSNMooney 27m27 minutes ago
Joe Maddon says #Cubs plan to use Willson Contreras as Jon Lester's personal catcher this year.


Awesome.

Mark Gonzales ‏@MDGonzales 1h1 hour ago
Maddon said Schwarber will catch but will primarily play LF

Mark Gonzales ‏@MDGonzales 1h1 hour ago
Schwarber on catching, "I’d like to do it, but if it’s not medically smart, don’t risk it."

Mark Gonzales ‏@MDGonzales 47m47 minutes ago
Theo said Schwarber examined today. If cleared to catch, he'll be brought along slowly. "We'll walk before we squat."


Reading and projecting into this...Schwarber wants to catch, Maddon wants Kyle to catch as Joe loves the flexibility, and the FO is hesitant.
   33. Moses Taylor, Unwavering Optimist Posted: February 14, 2017 at 02:49 PM (#5401502)
Patrick Mooney ‏@CSNMooney 3m3 minutes ago
Assuming Schwarber gets medical clearance, #Cubs would only have him do physical catching drills one or two days a week.

Patrick Mooney ‏@CSNMooney 56s57 seconds ago
The goal by end of camp would be getting Schwarber ready to be a third catcher (more in case of emergency than part of a regular rotation).
   34. Moses Taylor, Unwavering Optimist Posted: February 17, 2017 at 03:07 PM (#5403927)
Still haven't gotten around to writing a "what to watch for in ST" thread, so just will continue dumping things here for now:

Watch Joe Maddon discuss Kyle Schwarber's first day catching. He was behind the plate for John Lackey's bullpen session on Friday but didn't do any other drills as the Cubs take things slowly. He crouched with his left leg extended in the same manner Tony Pena used to catch. Maddon said it's possible Schwarber catches up to 20 games if all goes well.


20 games is fairly reasonable, I guess.

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