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Transaction Oracle
— A Timely Look at Transactions as They Happen

Friday, April 02, 2004

Chicago Cubs

Signed IF Damian Jackson and P Glendon Rusch to minor-league contracts.

Jackson will be hard-pressed to make the roster.  They just have better infield options.

I’m about the last fan of Rusch left, but I do feel the Cubs might be better off sticking Mitre in the 5th spot temporarily than Rusch.

Both Jackson and Rusch should be in the minors in this organization.

Dan Szymborski Posted: April 02, 2004 at 03:28 AM | 5 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   101. Bunny Vincennes Posted: October 31, 2002 at 09:17 PM (#559136)

I was hoping that Hendry was stockpiling some cheap spare parts to use in case some of that young pitching needed a trip down to Iowa. Take a flyer on a small handful of these types, and see who shakes out to help out the bullpen. But then again, you never know. What do you think of all of the Dan Wilson to Chicago talk?
   102. Stevens Posted: October 31, 2002 at 09:57 PM (#559139)
Brian C, I understand your doubt, but this move is hardly indicative of a desperate win now approach. Sirotka is a great flyer, although I'm not convinced he's anything special at 31 coming off surgery, but a minor-league deal is not a problem. The Cubs still managed to pitch Zambrano last year and limited the Pat Mahomes/Donovan Osbourne/Jesus Sanchez/Alan Benes appearances to a thankful few. I give that a few is too many for that crew, but still, Sirotka might be another Jason Bere, which wouldn't be awful by any means. And why not put him in the bullpen?

Jack, Dan Wilson isn't a bad player, but I think Hundley would be fine if the Cubs left him alone. I bet a full season of at-bats would give you 25-30 home runs, albeit with lots of Ks. Bat him 8th. It might work if the fans didn't hate Hundley worse than the 7th-inning last call.

I read a while back about a possible Hank Blalock trade. Has anyone heard any more?
   103. Bunny Vincennes Posted: October 31, 2002 at 10:01 PM (#559140)
Any idea as to how Christensen is coming along after surgery? I think the 2003 Chicago Cubs is going to tell us a lot about what we as Cub fans have in store for us for the next 5 years or so.

I know the organization is considered to be very deep in pitching, but I don't know the readiness of anyone currently on the farm. Do you have any insight on that?
   104. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: November 01, 2002 at 03:38 PM (#559143)
Sirotka's contract includes a $1M bonus if he makes the opening day roster, and could be worth up to $4M if all the incentives are met. He also has the right to become a free agent if not in the majors by July 1. [,0,522097.story?coll=cs-cubs-headlines ]

The Blalock rumor said that Texas would ask for either (Juan Cruz and Corey Patterson) or Kerry Wood, and I don't think that it's a very likely bet at this point.

Dan Wilson is getting old (he'll be 34 next year), and I have this gut feeling that last year was his last hurrah, offensively. He would be a better backup than Girardi, and it might make sense to use him as part of a fastball-offspeed platoon with Hundley, since Wilson has a slow bat and Hundley has trouble with breaking stuff. The Mariners would like to dump his contract, so I guess it all comes down to cost.
   105. User unknown in local recipient table (Craig B) Posted: November 01, 2002 at 11:48 PM (#559149)
The Cubs are pretty much set.

Yeah, I'm sure they are pretty much locked into fifth place... they've set nicely.
   106. Andere Richtingen Posted: November 02, 2002 at 01:10 PM (#559153)
Dan Contilli -

Your pitching casualty list looks worse than it is. Christensen's stock went into the tank long before the 2002 season - he had the rotator cuff surgery in 2001 and has been nothing more than 40-man roster flexibility since. Chiasson, Ohman and Norton weren't major losses. Bere was pretty much Bere, and of course the loss of Lieber hurt. Prior, as you said, was taken out as a matter of cautionl.

The Cubs were well on their way to the 67-95 record before the major league injuries.

<iThe Cubs need a #5 pitcher</i>

The Cubs could definitely use an additional quality starter. Right now it looks like Wood/Prior/Clement/Zambrano/someone else. They have some good candidates for the "someone else" spot, but they would be better off acquiring a reliable greybeard, make Zambrano number five, and keep Cruz in the bullpen for a bit.

They need a bullpen overhaul in a big way. Finding guys like Sirotka under the sofa cushions is something the Cubs need to do.

Hundley's .254 Eqa isn't significantly worse from Wilson's .268.

Simply forget about rational discussion of the catching situation from the Cubs organization. Hundley is viewed as some combination of John Muhammad and Osama Bin Laden. Girardi is the Emperor with No Clothes. In today's Tribune Teddy Greenstein hinted the Cubs will consider re-siging Girardi. In any case, Hundley is probably gone, at considerable expense, possibly the assumption of an even-worse contract. The realistic best-case scenario is that the Cubs can somehow dump Hundley without picking up an albatross contract like that of Kendall or Hampton, sign Dan Wilson to something reasonable, Girardi desires to retire, and Mike Mahoney is the back-up. Yes, I said that was a best-case scenario and I meant it.

I think I'd do the Cruz/Patterson for Blalock deal

I think I would too, but it's paying retail. The Rangers might go for Cruz and another pitcher, which might be better from the Cubs perspective.
   107. Andere Richtingen Posted: November 03, 2002 at 02:05 AM (#559156)
Wow, maybe I have given up on Patterson. Frankly, he hasn't produced a whit since he was in the Midwest League, and the way the Cubs have handled him it will be difficult for him to right the ship now...especially if Hendry is thinking that Dusty Baker is an ideal manager.

That's not true. Patterson had a fine year in 2000 at age 20/21, hitting .261/.338/.491 in the pitcher-friendly Southern League. I'll grant you that he hasn't done a whole helluva lot since.

While 2002 was not a good major league performance, he did take a step forward, and there is a good chance that he will take more steps forward in the coming years. There are a number of really good players who looked like Patterson at age 23. Sometimes you have to look at talent when evaluating a 23 year-old in addition to accomplishment. If Patterson had never done anything in the minors, I would be a lot more dismissive.
   108. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: November 04, 2002 at 02:53 AM (#559158)
There's no way that Texas would be willing to trade Blalock AND something of value for Cruz and Kelton. Maybe if the PTBNL were Carl Everett or someone like that, I guess...

I would gladly swap you the production of the Pirates' 4-headed CF monstrosity last year for Patterson's season. No give backs.
   109. Andere Richtingen Posted: November 04, 2002 at 05:04 PM (#559162)
And it's difficult to argue, I think, that his 2002 was a significant step forward from his 2000 at West Tenn.

No doubt.

I think we're at a point where we can look at the glass as half-empty or half-full, and it could go either way. I think 2002 was a step forward in a couple of senses: 1. In April Patterson showed - hopefully showed HIMSELF - what happens when he controls the strike zone, and 2. He hit 14 HR at the major league level. You're right though, it was certainly not a big step, and he's behind where we might have projected him to be back in 2000. At different points in his pro career he has exhibited most of the pieces of the puzzle as far as hitting goes, and even glimmers of plate discipline.

What worries me most about him is his defense, actually. I thought Patterson projected conservatively to be a Marquis Grissom type, who was quite a valuable player when you consider his defense. The thing is, by the measures I've seen Patterson has been below average defensively. I guess that's something he can learn as well, but I thought the Cubs were in decent shape bringing up a young defensive whiz who could learn to hit on the job. That isn't how it's turned out, and overall he looks far less prepared than I expected.

Some might be justifiably reminded of the baseball equivalent of Quincy Carter, but you also have to be a bit reminded of players like Lou Brock who looked awfully similar at the same age.

He still might turn into a Grissom or Brock type player, or even something much better, but my guess is that he won't be an above average player until 2004 at the earliest.

I agree that Blalock remains a much better prospect and a trade for Blalock involving Patterson might be a very good thing. Still, I'd be more inclined to trade from the Cubs' greater minor league strength, pitching, which is also more volatile, and perhaps more what Texas is looking for anyway.

Cruz has done more in the bigs than Blalock, and Kelton projects to be a better hitter than Blalock.

Cruz has been extremely spotty, but when he is bad, he's awfully bad. Physically you have to have some concerns about him as well. I think he's a helluva pitching prospect and I am willing to be very patient with him, but I hope you aren't seriously suggesting that Cruz projects more value than Blalock.

Not to mention Kelton. I would have to look at EqA's but my impression is that Blalock has been the better hitter at every age, and he's a year younger. Plus, there are very legitimate defensive concerns about Kelton that are not an issue with Blalock.

I agree with the idea that trading Cruz and Kelton for Blalock may be too much, but I don't think it's clear-cut.
   110. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: November 05, 2002 at 08:50 PM (#559167)
Other than Kelton's mom, who projects him to be a better hitter than Blalock? Find me a citation, if you can. I'll give you a head star: it's not Voros, or Baseball Prospectus, or Baseball America, or Top Prospect Alert, or John Sickels.

Trading Kerry Wood would be a terrible thing for the Cubs, especially if his poor overworked arm falls apart in the next few years and he never fully recovers.
   111. Mike Emeigh Posted: November 06, 2002 at 10:15 PM (#559169)
I've seen Kelton play several times, and he doesn't impress me. I have yet to see him hit a ball hard. He's been handled fairly easily by some not-so-good prospects at Carolina every time I've seen him (and a good one, Aaron Cook, too). He is blocked by Choi at 1B, he's a statue at 3B. If he can't play the OF, he's got a very limited future.

-- MWE
   112. Greg Franklin Posted: November 14, 2002 at 02:16 AM (#559358)
According to AZ Republic columnist Dan Bickley, besides the injury, there was some Greg Maddux / Javier Lopez friction going on. (The Durazo clubhouse turmoil just wasn't enough!)

While Miller was recovering from the injury. Randy Johnson asked to have Moeller assigned to be his "personal catcher." Bob Brenly acceded to Johnson's wishes, and with Barajas as Miguel Batista's personal catcher, Miller ended up the last half of the season with nobody to catch except Schilling and the 4th/5th starters.
   113. User unknown in local recipient table (Craig B) Posted: November 14, 2002 at 03:41 AM (#559361)
Denny : literally LOL.
   114. Jason Posted: November 14, 2002 at 03:51 AM (#559362)
Tampa Bay??

eh, why not, I guess.

That is one GM I don't mind the Cubbies dealing with
   115. Dylan Posted: November 14, 2002 at 04:41 AM (#559363)
I'm a bit biased here being a DBacks fan but I have to believe Miller had more worth than two career minor leaguers who are <i>way<> too old for AA. Any thoughts out there?
   116. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: November 14, 2002 at 04:43 AM (#559364)
This is the quintessential Chicago trade: give up something of no value for something of little value, and proclaim the problem solved.
   117. Andere Richtingen Posted: November 14, 2002 at 02:03 PM (#559372)
From what I've read, I don't see either of the minor leaguers who the Dbacks got as a prospect, but I don't know.

Neither is a prospect. The D-Backs simply did not want to pay Miller when they had two other catchers they prefer to use. They probably had no intention of offering him arbitration, and sought to get something/anything out of the deal - which works well for Miller because now he is arbitration eligible for a team that actually wants him. Probably wants him. I can see the Cubs signing Ivan Rodriguez and then not offering Miller arbitration, making him a free agent.

I would be very surprised if Hundley remains with the team. The Cubs really seem hellbent on getting rid of him. Maybe they've cooled off since September, but they were definitely not treating him like someone who had a future with the team.
   118. VegasRobb Posted: November 14, 2002 at 02:40 PM (#559373)
Maybe I missed something, but isn't the best thing about the Miller trade that Girardi won't be back?
   119. Andere Richtingen Posted: November 14, 2002 at 03:12 PM (#559374)
Maybe I missed something, but isn't the best thing about the Miller trade that Girardi won't be back?

Girardi not coming back is a great thing, if it happens, but the acquisition of Miller may have nothing to do with it. I'd say it was doubtful but possible that the Cubs would sign Girardi before they picked up Miller, and it is still doubtful but possible. They need a second catcher and want to dump Hundley. Hopefully they've figured out that Mahoney, crappy hitter that he is, is actually better than Girardi, but who knows, they might decide it's important to retain a catcher who is familiar with the pitching staff. An unbearably depressing thought, but it could happen.
   120. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: November 14, 2002 at 05:55 PM (#559375)
Re: jmoultz

I'd probably try to acquire either Jason Phillips from the Mets or Ramon Castro from the Marlins. Both teams have other options behind the dish, and neither one seems to value their young catcher very highly. Phillips and Castro are solid defenders with good bats, and they could likely be above-average regulars if given a chance. The Cubs would get a starter not for the one or two years of health likely remaining to Miller, but rather for the long-term.

The Miller deal is a problem because it demonstrates that the Cubs as a franchise are adrift, with no idea of their current status. Are they trying to win now? If so, they need to make some drastic improvements to their lineup, and Miller isn't good enough to make up much of that difference by himself. Are they rebuilding? If so, they need to add a young player who might still be productive when the team is notionally good in 2005/2006. Miller is old for a catcher, and he's unlikely to remain healthy and productive that long. Miller would be a good pickup for a legitimate contender with a hole at catcher, a team that doesn't _need_ a big upgrade to bump with the big boys. St. Louis, say, or Atlanta. Anywhere else, he's just getting in the way of real progress.

The Cubs are a team that fears the big move, and that fear has kept them solidly mediocre for my entire baseball-watching life.

Re: Dan Szymborski

I think Meluskey is an excellent candidate to be this year's Scott Hatteberg, if some team is willing to give him a shot at first base. The lack of throwing might be good for his shoulder, and he's got the bat to be acceptable at the position if healthy.
   121. Walt Davis Posted: November 14, 2002 at 06:03 PM (#559376)
The Cubs are a team that fears the big move, and that fear has kept them solidly mediocre for my entire baseball-watching life.

I wish they rose to that level more often.
   122. Stevens Posted: November 14, 2002 at 10:25 PM (#559378)
My great fear now is that, in an attempt to head off arbitration, the Cubs will give Miller a 2- or 3-year deal instead of just biting the one year arbitration bullet.

Good point. Is it still true that a MacPhail player has never gone to arbitration?
   123. Andere Richtingen Posted: November 14, 2002 at 11:59 PM (#559379)
Good point. Is it still true that a MacPhail player has never gone to arbitration?

I think so, but I'm not sure that MacPhail has ever handed a multiyear deal to a player in Miller's situation either. I don't see any multiyear deals for Miller before mid-season.
   124. Cris E Posted: November 15, 2002 at 05:32 PM (#559380)
I'd probably try to acquire either Jason Phillips from the Mets or Ramon Castro from the Marlins. Both teams have other options behind the dish, and neither one seems to value their young catcher very highly.

If Johnson agrees to the COL trade Castro might be valued much more highly very soon.
   125. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: November 18, 2002 at 01:48 AM (#559381)
Isn't that just like the Marlins, to trade Johnson and screw up my master plan? Hmph.
   126. Christian (ruz) Posted: November 26, 2002 at 09:54 PM (#559775)
For a few hours I thought maybe this move wasn't even significant enough for the Oracle to comment on it. Then I remembered the 30 comments about Julio Zuleta signing with Boston.

As long as Bako doesn't get more than 120 at-bats next year, this is a good trade. Gripp was going nowhere and Bako is Joe Girardi minus 10 years and a few million dollars. Bako should give Miller a weekly day off, and even if Hundley is still around next year (a pretty good bet, I think) he should make the team. Hundley should expect to be an over-priced pinch-hitter, filling the Marvin Benard role on a Dusty Baker team.

And don't forget about last year's #3 catcher, Mike Mahoney. Oh, OK, go ahead and forget about him. Hope you didn't give up your lease in Des Moines, Mike.
   127. True Blue n/k/a "DeJesusFreak" Posted: November 26, 2002 at 11:01 PM (#559777)
As long as they don't get Pudge Rodriguez (which I hope they don't) or deal for another catcher, I agree with Christian -- I like this deal. Of course, I'm assuming they are not going to resign Girardi (whose defensive/game-calling reputation is vastly overrated, IMHO) and will foist Hundley on another team (eating much of his contract in the process). Based on the ill will Hundley has with "Cubs Nation" (he still blames most of his current problems on Baylor's decision not to start him for Opening Day 2001), I simply can't see him remaining with the organization next year.

As for Bako, I think he's a pretty good catch-and-throw guy and should be a good backup for Miller, assuming that (a) they resign/arbitrate with Miller and (b) Miller stays relatively healthy. If they have to give Bako the ABs he's had with the Braves and Brewers in recent years, the Cubs are back to square one.
   128. Andere Richtingen Posted: November 26, 2002 at 11:22 PM (#559779)
My theory: The Cubs want to get in on the Greg Maddux sweepstakes, and Bako is their bait.
   129. Christian (ruz) Posted: November 26, 2002 at 11:32 PM (#559780)
What can an arb-eligible guy like Bako do that a $300K guy like Mahoney can't?

Hit left-handed.
   130. Mike Emeigh Posted: November 26, 2002 at 11:58 PM (#559782)
I guess you could say that the choice has kind of been made by default, although who knows if Kelton ever plays 3rd in the majors.

As someone who has seen him attempt to play the position - he can't.

-- MWE
   131. Mike Posted: November 27, 2002 at 12:00 AM (#559783)
My theory: The Cubs want to get in on the Greg Maddux sweepstakes, and Bako is their bait.

David is on to something. Dusty loves veterans and Maddux would be the perfect tutor for the Cubs' young staff.
   132. Christian (ruz) Posted: November 27, 2002 at 12:49 AM (#559785)
If if if...

I agree, Rodriguez wouldn't be the worst free agent signing the Cubs could make this off-season (that would be giving $10.5M to Mike Remlinger). And yes, if they can't sign Kent and if they can move Hundley, and if they can get him for less than 8 mil, they should consider it.

But what are the odds of those three things happening? Not very good, I'd bet. I think the Cubs are doing the smart thing (there's a sentence I don't type very often) by essentially ignoring Rodriguez, trading for Damian Miller, and (hopefully) using their budget increase to go after Jeff Kent.
   133. Shredder Posted: November 27, 2002 at 04:20 AM (#559787)
Then I remembered the 30 comments about Julio Zuleta signing with Boston.

A move made by the Red Sox discussed on BaseballPrimer and all it got was 30 comments? C'mon, Red Sox Nation. You're slipping. ;-)
   134. Andere Richtingen Posted: November 27, 2002 at 01:38 PM (#559788)
Second, the Cubs aren't interested in Rodriguez. They're just honoring his request for a meeting because he happens to be in town.

I think the Cubs are potentially very interested in getting him for a short contract. As unlikely as that may be, this year it's hard to predict what will happen with FA's like Rodriguez, so they are wise at least to answer the door when he comes calling.
   135. Christian (ruz) Posted: November 27, 2002 at 04:35 PM (#559789)
The trade has been amended; it's now Bako for a PTBNL. Since Gripp wasn't added to the 40-man roster, he's exposed to the Rule 5 Draft. If he doesn't get drafted, he'll go the Brewers; if he does, the Cubs will send someone else.
   136. Andere Richtingen Posted: November 27, 2002 at 05:30 PM (#559791)
Since Gripp wasn't added to the 40-man roster, he's exposed to the Rule 5 Draft.

And the chances of Gripp being picked up via Rule 5 seem pretty thin to me.
   137. Andere Richtingen Posted: November 27, 2002 at 05:36 PM (#559792)
He's just another guy in the Servais/Girardi mold that this organization seems to think of as an absolute must, and I don't understand that.

At least Servais hit on occasion.

On further reflection, I guess Bako is likely to hit significantly better than Mahoney, who is basically a pitcher with the bat and probably doesn't belong anywhere near a major league roster. Bako is basically Joe Girardi with the bat, which is still awful.

Still, the Cubs should be assuming that Miller is not going to show up for more than 100 games, so they need another catcher who can hit at least a little. That catcher, I'm afraid, probably should be Todd Hundley.
   138. Walt Davis Posted: November 27, 2002 at 10:04 PM (#559793)
they'll meet with anybody of that caliber who comes calling. After all, they did get Andre Dawson on a blank contract that way once.

Well, not exactly. Andre came knocking and the Cubs refused to answer the door. Andre showed up at the field and the Cubs refused to answer the door. Andre continued to show up, saying how much he wanted to play for the Cubs, and they refused to answer the door. Andre gave them a blank contract and the Cubs dismissed it as an empty media ploy.

The next day, after legal looked at it and said yes, it was a legit blank contract, the Cubs signed Andre Dawson for maybe half of what he'd have gotten in a non-collusion year.
   139. Christian (ruz) Posted: December 03, 2002 at 11:39 PM (#559879)
Waaay too much money! Good pitcher, but $10.65M for three years for a 36-year old who throws 70 innings a year is just foolish.
   140. Christian (ruz) Posted: December 03, 2002 at 11:49 PM (#559882)
Meanwhile, I heard a rumor that this is just Phase One of a multi-team deal involving the Expos and Rockies. Anyone heard anything more about that?
   141. Christian (ruz) Posted: December 04, 2002 at 12:04 AM (#559884)
anybody know where Remlinger disappeared to in 1992-1994

The minors, pretty much.
   142. Stevens Posted: December 04, 2002 at 12:25 AM (#559886)
   143. Stevens Posted: December 04, 2002 at 12:31 AM (#559887)
Okay, I'm gonna try that again with 2 sentences:

I do not think Alfonseca will be back.
   144. True Blue n/k/a "DeJesusFreak" Posted: December 04, 2002 at 01:14 AM (#559890)
"Remlinger is superior to the beast known as a LOOGY as he can get righties out just as well as lefties."

-- Of course, he'll probably be used as a LOOGY, so what difference does it make? Is it in Dusty's history to restrict a good lefty reliever to the LOOGY role (as Baylor and Kimm did), or is he more flexible with lhps?
   145. Andere Richtingen Posted: December 04, 2002 at 01:41 AM (#559891)
A stable, dependable veteran is definitely worth this much money to Cub fans. The revolving door bullpen is getting tiresome, and I never, NEVER, want to see Courtney Duncan on the mound in Wrigley again.

How about Jeff Fassero?

I expect Remlinger's Cub years to be pretty similar (and overall, pretty good). Remlinger had the benefit of really good defense behind him in Atlanta, and now he is moving to a team that, at least in 2002, was the opposite. I expect Remlinger to have some tough stretches, as can happen to any reliever, and I expect him to be skewered by Cubs fans.
   146. Gaylord Perry the Platypus (oi!) Posted: December 04, 2002 at 02:15 PM (#559893)
As a Braves' fan, I'm sorry to see Remlinger go. He's been the most reliable member of the bullpen since he got here. That being said, I'm glad the Braves aren't paving him $3+ million a year for the next three years.

Oh, and by the way, Jeff D., the Braves have had a "revolving door bullpen" for years. That's how you build a bullpen out of spare parts - you keep running through them the first month or two of the season, and figure out who to keep. The tricky part is making sure you've got a good supply of those spare parts to work from.
   147. Christian (ruz) Posted: December 04, 2002 at 07:32 PM (#559897)
other than that, there's a lot to like here

Like what, exactly? I agree with all the points you make about it being a bad deal, but I don't see what the positives are...
   148. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: December 05, 2002 at 03:52 PM (#559910)
That's the bright side for Chicago: The Cubs are overpaying for a good reliever, not Ricky Bottalico or Doug Henry.
   149. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: December 06, 2002 at 12:05 AM (#559912)
Well, when the Pirates needed a good veteran lefty , they took Scott Sauerbeck in the Rule V draft and stuck with him for three years, without criticizing his manhood or bouncing him between the rotation and the bullpen. At the end of that time, they had a good veteran lefty, for considerably less than Remlinger's contract.

A similar approach might have worked for the Cubs. Will Ohman, maybe?
   150. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: December 06, 2002 at 05:58 PM (#559915)
You have my answer: I wouldn't have signed anybody. If I want a lefty, I'll make one myself. Signing a guy like Remlinger might make sense if the Cubs were a contender, and for that reason unable to wait for a lefty to develop.

Unfortunately for Chicagoans, the Cubs are NOT a legitimate contender, and by the time they are, Remlinger will be at the end of his contract. They're giving up a second-rounder for him; you don't think a smart-drafting franchise like the Cubs could come up with a good situational lefty with a second-round pick?
   151. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: December 06, 2002 at 06:05 PM (#559916)
Part 2: If you want one for just this year, sign a dozen pseudo-scrubby vets to NRIs, and sort 'em out in spring training. Have a cattle call. Bring in everyone with a functioning south paw, from Kevin Tolar to Micah Bowie. One or two will be just fine, guaranteed.
   152. True Blue n/k/a "DeJesusFreak" Posted: December 06, 2002 at 07:34 PM (#559917)
For the record, I would have tried to sign Remlinger, but not at 3 yrs/$10.65MM. The Braves were holding firm at 2 yrs/$6MM (according to what I read here, and although the Giants and D-Backs were reportedly interested, I'm not aware of any offers. Keeping in mind that the 3rd year was the sticking point in the talks, I might have offered 3 yrs/$7.5MM, with some reachable incentives that 3rd year that could push him up to $9MM.

Having said that $10.65MM is overpaying, however, I agree with Parker that it's only relative -- the Karros and Grudzielanek contracts are far worse.
   153. Andere Richtingen Posted: December 12, 2002 at 02:18 PM (#560535)
Actually, according to today's reports, the Cubs are still considering Rodriguez, and some think the contract may actually increase interest in Miller.
   154. Eli Hungerford: Cityboy Crypto-Elitist for hire Posted: December 12, 2002 at 05:31 PM (#560537)
Not to be snide, but how exactly is this contract below-market and attractive? Miller is 33 and pretty gosh darn mediocre. Nearly $3 million a year when Mike Stanton can (probably) be had for roughly the same price?

Are adequate catchers really in such short supply?
   155. Christian (ruz) Posted: December 12, 2002 at 05:44 PM (#560539)
It's below market because Miller, who made $2.7M last year, would almost certainly have gotten >$3M in arbitration. As a result, the Cubs have a catcher signed for two years at below his free-market price, which automatically makes him attractive to any other team (except the Expos -- Miller got a no-trade guarantee for Montreal) in case they actually do sign Rodriguez and need to move Miller.
   156. True Blue n/k/a "DeJesusFreak" Posted: December 12, 2002 at 06:40 PM (#560541)
To further Christian's point, I had read that it was expected Miller would get in the $4 million range in arbitration. Whether he is worth that is another story, of course, but I don't think they overpaid for him (at least not as they did with Remlinger).
   157. Ned Garvin: Male Prostitute Posted: December 12, 2002 at 07:42 PM (#560542)
Assuming he purposely signed for below market value (and I'm not sure that has to be true) he did it because he wanted to play for the Cubs, for whatever reason. And we all know from Jeff Shaw that if he gets traded, he can demand a trade at the end of the year. If he was signed to be dealt, that sounds fairly dumb to me.
   158. AMcK75 Posted: December 12, 2002 at 07:57 PM (#560543)
Can we possibly start distinguishing between being signed below 'their' market value (since Miller had a decent season, and was making X in salary, he will now make at least 1.4 * X) and what we perhaps perceive as 'the' market value for that level of performance. Perhaps the Cubs are paying for certainty, as they believe that Miller is extremely likely to do what he has done again (they may not understand catcher aging from peering across the city towards Fisk), but I have a hard time saying that this is THE market value for the catcher of this level of performance.
   159. Christian (ruz) Posted: December 12, 2002 at 08:59 PM (#560544)
Well, obviously we'll never know what Miller would have gotten in arbitration (or free agency, had the Cubs decliend to offer), but the fact is that he signed this contract for the same amount of money he got last year, and history shows that players who go to arbitration tend to get raises. Ergo, his signing comes in at below market value.

As far as distinguishing between market value and "what we perhaps perceive as 'the' market value," well, no. Market value is what a player fetches on the market, not what we think he should fetch on the open market.
   160. Andere Richtingen Posted: December 12, 2002 at 09:00 PM (#560545)
If he was signed to be dealt, that sounds fairly dumb to me.

I don't think he was signed to be dealt. I think he was signed to a deal that the Cubs thought was fair, but would not impede them from trading him if they wanted to go that route. Keep in mind that the Cubs NEVER go to arbitration. I do think Miller at 2 yrs/$5.7 million is more attractive than at 1 yr/$3.5 million.
   161. Mr. Crowley Posted: December 19, 2002 at 11:31 PM (#552326)
It's a trap!
   162. Mr. Crowley Posted: December 19, 2002 at 11:32 PM (#552327)
It's a trap!
   163. MM1f Posted: December 20, 2002 at 04:03 AM (#561358)
Does this even qualify as a trap?

At least traps are supposed to be deceiving, this one just flat out bites.
   164. MM1f Posted: December 20, 2002 at 04:15 AM (#561360)
Hmm, I've heard Urbina could have been gotten for around this price.

Even if it were 5 million or so, it'd have been better spent on Urbina.
   165. Bill Posted: December 20, 2002 at 04:18 AM (#561361)
Are the Cubs planning anything special for the 2008 centennial celebration of their last World Series championship?
   166. Andere Richtingen Posted: December 20, 2002 at 02:22 PM (#561369)
the Cubs, after viewing Alfonseca's conditoning program this offseason and its results, feel Alfonseca's health is back to where it was in 2001, when he wasn't that good, but could hold down the job of closer.

This situation more or less proves that Hendry couldn't evaluate a reliever if his life depended on it.

The whole idea that Alfonseca will somehow return to his pre-2002 level of success now that he's lost weight defies all logic, BECAUSE ALFONSECA WAS PRETTY MUCH THE SAME PITCHER IN 2002 AS HE WAS BEFORE.

Have a look at his rate stats. His BB rate was higher than usual, but he also enjoyed a nice spike in his K rate. His opponents' OPS of .705 was the best of his career. His ERA of 4.00 was right around his career average. He did not suffer from an unusually high hit rate on balls in play.

This signing shows that Hendry is thinking about saves as a skill, and serves as one more bit of evidence that he should stay a player development guy and isn't very savvy at the major league transactions stuff.

My new nickname for Hendry: Retail.
   167. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: December 20, 2002 at 02:57 PM (#561370)
Sorry, Stu. Wish it weren't so.
   168. Devin has a deep burning passion for fuzzy socks Posted: December 20, 2002 at 03:11 PM (#561371)
I'd like to nominate Bill for a Primey, for summing it all up so effectiently.
   169. Bill Posted: December 20, 2002 at 03:34 PM (#561372)
Thanks, Devin. On my occasional visits to Chicago I've always gotten the impression that the fans were more proud than embarrassed by the Cubs extraordinarily consistent failure. Which I suppose is a nice coping mechanism.
   170. Andere Richtingen Posted: December 20, 2002 at 04:26 PM (#561373)
I'd like to nominate Bill for a Primey, for summing it all up so effectiently.

And I'd like to nominate Jeff Webber for summing up the bright side of this very nicely!

I'm more afraid of what this contract signifies in terms of Hendry's thought processes than I am afraid of Alfonseca.

Actually, Alfonseca is a useful reliever, it's just that the Cubs are paying him three times what he's worth. The idea of making him the front-line guy for the most pivotal late-inning situations is a bad one, but he's decent as a second or third righty guy. He gets a lot of groundballs, and that's a nice thing to have in the bullpen IF you use it to its greatest advantage. We can debate the chances of Baker actually figuring that out.

The Cubs bullpen is shaping up so far to be Borowski/Alfonseca/Remlinger/Farnsworth/Sirotka/Cruz, with the still strong possibility that the Cubs will sign Gordon (and perhaps trade Farnsworth), which actually looks okay to me. Signing Gordon would make Alfonseca number two in the closer role, I think.
   171. Brian Posted: December 20, 2002 at 05:16 PM (#561375)
And I'd like to nominate Jeff Webber for summing up the bright side of this very nicely!

Yes, there's a bright side to everything. Even crucifixion.
   172. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: December 20, 2002 at 05:28 PM (#561377)
You had your shot and blew it, Kyle. It's not a reflection on your character to be Left Behind in the bullpen competition; some guys just don't have THE RIGHT STUFF.

In a more serious vein, why doesn't Alfonseca get better break on his breaking ball? You'd think that he could use the extra finger to generate more torque.
   173. ColonelTom Posted: December 20, 2002 at 06:22 PM (#561381)
So the Cubs' off-season acquisitions have been Eric Karros, Mark Grudzielanek, Troy O'Leary, Mike Remlinger, and Antonio Alfonseca.

Makes you want to stake out your spot on Michigan Avenue for the World Series parade right now, doesn't it?
   174. Teddy Posted: December 20, 2002 at 06:28 PM (#561383)
Seriously people. It's fun to bag on someone's post but at least make sure you're reading it right. I think it was pretty obvious Jeff was playing devil's advocate in his earlier post.

Two more words for those who say this is the classic bad Cubs deal: Moises Alou. One more word: H-Rod.

Is this the classic bad "closer" deal? Sure it is. If you don't count all of the money thrown at Mike Timlin, Ricky Bottalico, Jeff Brantley, Jose Mesa, etc... hey their all Philles...
   175. True Blue n/k/a "DeJesusFreak" Posted: December 20, 2002 at 06:54 PM (#561384)
I'm sure Hendry probably did have reasoning similar to Jeff Webber's "devil's advocate" position above -- i.e., they needed a "closer," the only other ones on the market were more expensive, and Alfonseca's lost 25 pounds this offseason. The trouble is that this reasoning (a) identifies a problem that they really don't have (who will pitch the 9th inning of games where they have a lead), and (b) limits the available candidates (even while Hendry continues to claim that Remlinger, Farnsworth, and/or Cruz can "close"), with the result that (c) they drastically overpay for a "solution" and (d) that "solution" won't end up solving the problem they identified in the first place.

Of course, noted Chicago Tribune "baseball expert" Phil Rogers reported Monday that "if . . . Jim Hendry can't re-sign [Alfonseca] for $2.84 million (giving him the maximum pay cut possible for a tendered player), they'll cut him loose and pursue a trade for Jose Jimenez, who converted 41 saves for Colorado."

As much as it pains me to type this, that's classic Cubs logic. I'm particularly disappointed because I had high hopes for Hendry last summer.

The reports are that they are still interested in Flash Gordon (who would have been cheaper and at least as good) and also Mark Guthrie and Grahame Lloyd (presumably as LOOGYs). I'd rather they'd sign Guthrie, let Farnsworth or Cruz "close," and spent the money elsewhere.

Meanwhile, today they signed Shawn Estes while the Braves trade Millwood for Johnny Estrada. Ick.
   176. True Blue n/k/a "DeJesusFreak" Posted: December 20, 2002 at 06:57 PM (#561385)
oops, the "classic Cubs logic" paragraph was meant to refer to the logic of identifying a non-existent or small problem, then overpaying for solution that doesn't address it -- it wasn't meant to refer to Phil Rogers.
   177. Stevens Posted: December 20, 2002 at 07:03 PM (#561386)
It's a sad day when we have to defend a signing by saying it was better than Henry Rodriguez. But when the Cubs have the low Free Agent level of Jeff Blauser, it's hard to go anywhere but up.

If Pulpo is not placed in critical situations, this is just way overspending. But it's only for a year. If he is, then the Cubs should simply expect what they had last year, which as a fan is not satisfactory.
   178. ColonelTom Posted: December 20, 2002 at 07:10 PM (#561387)
Add Shawn Estes to the list of the Cubs' off-season acquisitions. Blech.
   179. Brian K. Posted: December 20, 2002 at 07:42 PM (#561388)
The Phillies got Millwood for a backup catcher...let's see how the oracle puts his anti-philadelphia spin on this one.
   180. Walt Davis Posted: December 20, 2002 at 07:42 PM (#561389)
What a horrific off-season for the Cubs. Let's get the fire Hendry bandwagon rolling.

You pay $4 M for a lousy reliever.

You have Rosie Brown, but you'd rather let him walk to Japan and sign O'Leary for twice what Brown would make.

You pick up Karros and Grudzielanek who, combined, will cost you more money than Hundley.

You smartly let Jason Bere walk but rather than replace him with one of the young arms you've been touting for years, you sign Shawn Estes (a league average pitcher who doesn't eat up innings).

And instead of significantly improving your team, a team that lost 95 games, you make piddling deals like picking up Damian Miller.

And although you got burned on the Hundley contract, the only significant free agent you seem to be pursuing at all is an older, injury-prone C.

In what way aren't those typical Cub moves?
   181. True Blue n/k/a "DeJesusFreak" Posted: December 20, 2002 at 08:27 PM (#561392)
Well, they did get Remlinger (albeit for about $2-3MM more than what the probably needed to pay). Still, thanks for capsulizing things, Walt. Throughout the last few weeks, the various moves kind of ate away at me -- at least until yesterday's colossal blunder -- but I never really put them all together in one, depressing bundle until you did. Try as I might, I was hoping to argue/quibble with any of your citations. Other than to point out Remlinger, I'm stuck.

On the Score (Chicago sports-talk radio) today, they were taking calls from listeners who were giving predictions/wishcasting. Surprisingly, most of the callers were thinking the Cubs would be around .500, while the announcers were thinking better thoughts. (FWIW, I'm figuring 77 wins or so, depending on how much time Choi, Hill, and Bellhorn get versus Karros and Grudzielanek.)
   182. True Blue n/k/a "DeJesusFreak" Posted: December 20, 2002 at 08:36 PM (#561531)
Here's Estes's reasoning for going to the Cubs:

"Meier [Estes's agent] said the reports they got on Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild were 'phenomenal.' . . . . 'In end, we were dealing with a limited field because of what we wanted to accomplish in getting Shawn in the hands of very accomplished instructors,' Meier said."

So the Cubs are paying $3MM for someone who views himself as a project?!?!?

Once again, the Cubs do what they did with Alfonseca -- identify a overblown problem (the "need" for a lefty starter), artificially limit the number of candidates, then overspend on someone who won't solve the "problem" anyway.
   183. Fog City Blues Posted: December 20, 2002 at 08:46 PM (#561533)
How much longer until the Cubs sign Shawon Dunston?
   184. Dan Szymborski Posted: December 20, 2002 at 08:47 PM (#561393)
Walt, the normal Cub move is far worse.

Signing Antonio Alfonseca for $4 million is bad. Signing Mark Clark for $5 million is worse.

Choosing Troy O'Leary over Rosie Brown is bad. Choosing Delino DeShields over Rosie Brown is worse.

Trading Hundley for Karros and Grudzielanek is bad. Trading Jon Garland for Matt Karchner is worse.

Trying Shawn Estes to fill out a rotation for $3 million is bad. Trying Terry Mulholland to fill out a rotation for $3 million is worse.

Piddling trades to acquire Damian Miller are bad (well, not really all that bad). Piddling trades to acquire Miguel Cairo for Eric Hinske are much, much worse.

As pointless as some of the Cubs' moves this offseason are, they're not the type that will do too much damage, only wasteful in resources.

Alfonseca's a waste, but he's a *mediocre* reliever signed for a 1 year, not a bad one signed for 3. Karros is signed for *1* year, not a long-term deal to seal Choi's fate.

Would I be a happy camper if I were a fan of the Cubbies? No, I wouldn't; I don't believe they've really addressed any of their weaknesses while gleefully spending money for non-solutions to non-problems. But it can be a lot worse.
   185. True Blue n/k/a "DeJesusFreak" Posted: December 20, 2002 at 09:08 PM (#561537)
Dan -- Not that I disagree with your thought that the Cubs would've been better off adding $3MM + $4MM to get someone who could really help (I agree), but who would this be?

IMO, it wouldn't be wise to spend a the few extra TribBux to make a run for Clemens. I suppose the Cubs could've freed Colon from Montreal -- even though he's a FA after next year, it's not like they are getting muliple years from Estes and Alfonseca. (Of course, we now know that they could've gotten Millwood for a song.) Finley? I'll pass. Who else other than Colon?
   186. Andere Richtingen Posted: December 20, 2002 at 09:10 PM (#561394)
Piddling trades to acquire Damian Miller are bad (well, not really all that bad). Piddling trades to acquire Miguel Cairo for Eric Hinske are much, much worse.

Well, that was done for the benefit of keeping Scott Chiasson on the roster, so it was okay.....
   187. Klobedanz Posted: December 20, 2002 at 09:16 PM (#561538)
Kenny Rogers.
   188. Andere Richtingen Posted: December 20, 2002 at 09:24 PM (#561539)
Mike Sirotka. Oh wait, he's already on their roster.
   189. Andere Richtingen Posted: December 20, 2002 at 09:26 PM (#561540)
Are Cruz and Zambrano on the market now or are the Cubs going to waste them in long/middle relief?

Zambrano will probably start and Cruz will probably get a bullpen job. Both roles make sense.
   190. True Blue n/k/a "DeJesusFreak" Posted: December 20, 2002 at 09:26 PM (#561397)
Awhile back, someone offered an insight on the Cubs that I hadn't considered, one close to what Brian C just offered: The reason the Cubs make moves that condemn themselves to mediocrity (or worse) is because they are too afraid of actually being mediocre. I know this sounds counterintuitive, but let me clarify:

In '97, the White Sox decided (rightfully or not) that they weren't going to succeed and made the infamous "White Flag" trade, essentially condemning themselves to a few years of ineptitude with the hopes that they would (and did) contend in 2000 and beyond (at least until Kenny Williams came along). The Cubs would never do this; they don't have the guts to bite the bullet and sacrifice any season, always figuring that a minor tweak here or there is all they need (especially if that tweak is a "safe" investment like a ProvenVeteran). As a result, they are condemned to the mediocrity that they continually strive to avoid -- much like the Bears (but that's another issue).
   191. Buford Sharkley Posted: December 20, 2002 at 09:29 PM (#561399)
True Blue,

Excellent point.

I think there's one quick-cut reason for that:

The White Sox (except for KW and Reinsdorf's checkbook) care about winning.

The Cubs just want to fill up the "ballpark." If the Cubs ever played for the future, they'd risk the attendance.
   192. Andere Richtingen Posted: December 20, 2002 at 09:46 PM (#561401)
The Cubs would never do this; they don't have the guts to bite the bullet and sacrifice any season, always figuring that a minor tweak here or there is all they need (especially if that tweak is a "safe" investment like a ProvenVeteran).

I've been saying this for years. The defenders always have some excuse, that the offers for players like Rojas or Mulholland or McGriff just weren't coming, but this happens year after year and I think it's more than a coincidence.

That said, I think the Cubs actually were a few moves away from being real contenders this year. I think Retail spent way too much on those moves, and I think he could have done a much better job of putting themselves in that position, but I think the team could easily gel into contention, and they did not do anything to weaken their long-term prospects. The Cubs needed to put together a bullpen, and while they could have picked up relievers of equal value from the waiver wires and non-tendered lists, they are in a better position. Their minimum need was for a fifth starter, and Estes fits the bill.

Overall, the 2003 team lacks the dead roster spots of previous Cubs teams, and that was their big bugaboo last season. I'm not ready to make a projection yet but this is looking to me like an above .500 team that could easily do much better than that (or not).

So, this year I don't have a problem with Retail viewing the Cubs as being a few players away from contention, I have a problem with the banal decisions he made about who those players were.
   193. True Blue n/k/a "DeJesusFreak" Posted: December 20, 2002 at 09:55 PM (#561543)
Let me clarify my query -- certainly, there are better investments than Estes at $3MM or Alfonseca at $4MM, but who would you spend $7MM for?

In my mind, Rogers is a better bet than Estes (with a much better ERA and SNWAR), but with his fairly mediocre K rate and advanced age, he's not worth $7MM either IMO. As for Sirotka, I place no faith in him until I see him healthy.
   194. Andrew Edwards Posted: December 20, 2002 at 10:06 PM (#561547)
The Cubbies could have had Millwood for what they're paying those two. Oh, and a bucket of warm tar.
   195. True Blue n/k/a "DeJesusFreak" Posted: December 20, 2002 at 10:08 PM (#561403)
Color me unconvinced for 2003 -- even as I drink the Cubs Kool-Aid, I can only see the Cubs improving 2-3 games from Remlinger, maybe 1-2 games from Cruz or Zambrano maturing, maybe 1 game from Miller, and maybe 2-3 games from Choi/Patterson/Hill (so long as Karros and Grudzielanek stay on the bench).

Adding in 4-5 games for luck (which justify by comparing 2002 actual reults against their Pythag), and you've got a 79-80 win team, not a contender. (I'm more optimistic about 2004, however.)
   196. True Blue n/k/a "DeJesusFreak" Posted: December 20, 2002 at 10:10 PM (#561404)
meant to say "which I justify by comparing 2002 actual results against their Pythag"
   197. True Blue n/k/a "DeJesusFreak" Posted: December 20, 2002 at 10:22 PM (#561549)
"Honestly, and I know this is overly cynical, but having that money in a bank might help them more this year than those two clowns."

My thoughts exactly. Going into the off-season, I figured that after they trimmed off the McGriffs, Beres, Hundleys, etc., and figuring resignings of arb eligible guys like Wood, they'd have about $15MM to play with (with 8 or 9 roster spots to fill) . . . and that they would be better off spending only a few million of it in 2003 and saving the rest for 2004 (when Guerrero and Colon came on the market, among others).

Instead, they've spent $3.5MM on Remlinger and pissed $4MM on Alfonseca, $3MM on Estes, $750K on O'Leary, plus took on a few million on Karros/Grudzielanek. Ick.
   198. Andere Richtingen Posted: December 20, 2002 at 10:25 PM (#561405)
By the way, I'm going to air out a long-held suspicion that you indeed ARE secretly a Cubs fan. You're far too cranky about them this offseason for someone with no emotional ties.

I think it's pretty much a given that Dan is a Cubs fan. He even occasionally shows up on The Cubs are a logical target of envy for any thinking Orioles fan.
   199. True Blue n/k/a "DeJesusFreak" Posted: December 20, 2002 at 10:31 PM (#561406)
. . . and, to many Cub fans (logical or otherwise), vice versa.
   200. True Blue n/k/a "DeJesusFreak" Posted: December 20, 2002 at 11:46 PM (#561555)
Yeah, but he's not a pitcher.
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