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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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   301. Dusty's Least Favorite Base-Clogger (Roy Hobbs) Posted: August 04, 2003 at 09:37 PM (#567306)
I'll be shocked if Augie is still a Cub next week. It is just a timing thing for him to be available right now.

What am I thinking? LFH was here for 4 months!
   302. Dan Szymborski Posted: August 04, 2003 at 09:50 PM (#567307)
It was fun watching Battlefield Earth until about 20 minutes in when the realization hit that it wasn't a comedy.
   303. ColonelTom Posted: August 05, 2003 at 02:55 PM (#567321)
Those of you who know the PTBNL rules - does the fact that the Cubs didn't bring up Bobby Hill tell us that he's headed to Pittsburgh after the season as part of the Lofton/Ramirez deal? Or is he disqualified from being a PTBNL because he was in the NL earlier this year?

Now if they'd only kept Lenny F'ing Harris a couple of days longer...
   304. True Blue n/k/a "DeJesusFreak" Posted: August 05, 2003 at 04:30 PM (#567322)
Yeah, Grudzielanek is having an unusually good season (.361 OBP), but then again, so is Jose Guillen and it didn't stop Billy Beane from dealing Harang and Valentine. The difference, as I see it, is that Beane recognizes that he's getting Guillen on the cheap and specifically for the next two months. What scares me about Hendry is that the Cubs are the type of team to overlook 8 years of .324 OBP, focus on a season of .361 OBP, and resign him for $4+ million.

One key, I suppose, will be the alternatives. Even if they don't deal him, I've given up on the idea of Bobby Hill being a saviour. What FA's are available? As I see it, Mark Loretta, Placido Polanco, Luis Castillo, Todd Walker, Roberto Alomar, maybe Eric Young? Ick.
   305. Walt Davis Posted: August 05, 2003 at 04:34 PM (#567323)
According to the Cubs' Sunday broadcast, Hill wasn't called up because he hurt himself and will be out for a few days.
   306. jwb Posted: August 05, 2003 at 09:02 PM (#567325)
ColonelTom, They tell us exactly the opposite. This is from Rob Neyer's Transactions Primer (see link above).

<i>Player To Be Named Later
   307. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: August 06, 2003 at 02:29 PM (#567327)
Kyle's correct. There are plenty of past deals where the PTBNL played in the same league earlier in the season. The 1996 trade of Denny Neagle for Jason Schmidt is the first one I thought of, but there's more where that came from.
   308. jwb Posted: August 06, 2003 at 03:39 PM (#567328)
Kyle, Vlad, ColonelTom: That makes sense. No other reason to call up Augie Ojeda (.642 OPS at Iowa) rather than Hill (.783 OPS at Iowa). Sorry if I came across as too shrill.

Thank you for correcting me!
   309. True Blue n/k/a "DeJesusFreak" Posted: August 06, 2003 at 04:42 PM (#567329)
Not exactly jwb -- as Walt Davis and PBish observed, they called up Ojeda because Hill is on the DL. The fact Hill may (or may not) also be the PTBNL is beside the point.

Meanwhile, our wise GM is considering deals for Tony Womack or Ronnie Belliard. Ick.
   310. AMcK75 Posted: August 06, 2003 at 09:41 PM (#567330)
I love running the Oracle's thoughts through the homepage. They reveal deep inner truths. I apologize for any profanity that comes through the filters.

Bad news fo' da Cubbies in that Grudz having a bad 'nuff August 'n September could help da chances that they don't sign tha dude's ass long-term instead of thanking tha dude's ass fo' da season 'n sending tha dude's ass on tha dude's way n' ####. Bad news fo' da Cubbies in that a bad August 'n September fo' Grudz is better than what Augie Ojeda's likely do fo' da Cubs n' ####.
   311. JMM Posted: August 06, 2003 at 10:29 PM (#567309)
Dindi wrote:
   312. Dan Szymborski Posted: August 07, 2003 at 02:26 AM (#567331) is great for this stuff. My two favorites:

ad NEws fRo teh cibbe1s in that grudz haivng a b4d enough 4ugUst nnd septemBar could help teh chancez thAt they dont sign him long-term instead of thannjing him fro the sesson and sending him pn ihs wAy,,, bad ness for the cubbeis in th4t a bad august and sEptemmbar fro gurfz is bettar than what augie ojedas likely to do for teh coubs/
   313. Andere Richtingen Posted: August 17, 2003 at 02:37 PM (#567382)
Oh, it's much worse than this, as I see it.

I actually believe that Choi IS a worse hitter than Randall Simon right now (defense is another story), and I blame Dusty Baker for that.

Before the season started, Baker was already ######## about Bellhorn's approach at the plate - you know, the approach that netted him 27 HR and a .374 OBA the previous year. I gave Baker the benefit of the doubt at the time, figuring that there ARE players who look at too many pitches and see a decline in performance, players like Todd Hundley. While Bellhorn's P/PA rate remained pretty much the same as always, he was not the same hitter this year.

Choi is also a guy who looks at a lot of pitches, and it's been clear to me as the season has progressed that he has been trying to be more aggressive early in the count, to no advantage.

Before the season even started, Baker was complaining about guys with Choi's hitting approach (contemptuously associating it with the Oakland organization). Now we find that both of the Cubs' hitters with that approach have tanked. Causality can't be determined here, but I am awfully suspicious.

This is not to say that Choi would not benefit from a more aggressive approach early in the count, nor that in the long run he won't be a better hitter if he can tweak that. But the fact is that he is hitting far worse now than he was early in the season and the Cubs could really use a good lefty bat right now.
   314. Andere Richtingen Posted: August 17, 2003 at 02:39 PM (#567383)
Before the season even started, Baker was complaining about guys with Choi's hitting approach (contemptuously associating it with the Oakland organization

Er, should have said "guys with Bellhorn's hitting approach", which of course would include Choi.
   315. Ziggy's screen name Posted: August 17, 2003 at 03:34 PM (#567385)
Okay, the Cubs are winning, right? Or at least are above .500? And the Pirates, if memory serves, are below .500? So why, exactly, are the cubs trading their team for the Pirates'?
   316. Barry Bonds Posted: August 17, 2003 at 03:58 PM (#567386)
Rob H wrote:
   317. Dusty's Least Favorite Base-Clogger (Roy Hobbs) Posted: August 17, 2003 at 04:14 PM (#567387)
Davis Gee, I'm sorry to say that you are right. Dusty's quotes along the lines of "you don't earn a walk, the pitcher gives you one" and his tinkering with hitters that already have a plan at the plate, show that Dusty can't adapt to different styles of hitters unless their last name is Bonds. This is trouble now and for the future of the organization.

Randall Simon looks like the inadequate, but "aggressive" hitter that Dusty thinks is good. Simon offers nothing now (let's pray he's nontendered this winter).
   318. Andere Richtingen Posted: August 17, 2003 at 04:47 PM (#567388)
(I should point out that the only evidence I have that the Cubs are taking this approach with Choi is my eyeball assessment that he is swinging more early, and the statements about Bellhorn)

Actually, I don't think of Bonds as a take and rake guy of the type Choi is trying to be. I think Bonds is quite aggressive, but ONLY when the pitch is a strike, and he almost always accomplishes something when the ball is in the strike zone. Choi, on the other hand, looks at a lot of strikes and lately hasn't done much with them when he swings.

I believe the great hitters ARE, more often than not, more aggressive than Choi and Bellhorn, but we have to look at who these two guys are. Bellhorn is someone who struggled to hit in the major leagues, but finally had a breakthrough year at age 27. Sorry, but when that happens, you don't screw with it. The way you coach a Bellhorn is to make sure he continues to do what he did before, perhaps making adjustments as pitchers adjust. In the case of Choi, you already have two stellar models for the hitter the Cubs should try to make him: Jim Thome and Jason Giambi. Both are outstanding power hitters who draw a lot of walks and look at a lot of pitches. Hee Seop Choi should be shown film of Jim Thome until his eyeballs bleed.

Choi needs to learn to be more like Bonds in the sense that he needs to do more with the pitches in the zone. "More aggressive" should not be the goal, and we can only hope that isn't the sort of advice he's getting from the Cubs.
   319. Dusty's Least Favorite Base-Clogger (Roy Hobbs) Posted: August 17, 2003 at 05:45 PM (#567389)
David, I didn't mean that Choi is the same type of hitter that Bonds is--just that Dusty probably didn't mess an established veteran who draws walks. (I suppose that since many pitchers avoid putting the anywhere near the plate with Bonds is why Dusty thinks walks are given.)

Your mention of Giambi (I've seen him a lot more than I've seen Thome) is a great model for Choi to study. He knows what pitches he can hit, and more importantly what he can't hit well.
   320. True Blue n/k/a "DeJesusFreak" Posted: August 17, 2003 at 07:55 PM (#567391)
Very well put, Dan and David Gee. After I got all my screaming out, what really aggravates me is that, just a few minutes ago, I heard the WGN-TV lapdogs compliment Simon's aggressiveness, saying that it was a good thing that he was swinging at a pitch 8" outside the strike zone. Sheesh.

If there's any bright side, it could be that Simon would be a more effective lefty off the bench than TOF'L -- considering that he never plays in the field anyway, I wouldn't mind the deal if the Cubs' intentions were to keep Choi in the starting lineup, put Simon on the bench as a lefty pinch-hitter and emergency OF, and dump TOF'L. Sadly, this doesn't appear the case.

Things will get even hairier soon, though -- TFG is expected back soon. Look for the Cubs to send Choi to Iowa.
   321. Andere Richtingen Posted: August 17, 2003 at 10:52 PM (#567395)
maybe the Pirates should've asked Dusty for Hee Seop instead of this Sadler kid.

Dusty isn't the GM, but fact is I cannot say with certainty that he isn't the man to ask first when arranging a trade with the Cubs.
   322. MM1f Posted: August 17, 2003 at 11:38 PM (#567396)
Choi since the break: .158/.238/.289
   323. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: August 18, 2003 at 02:48 AM (#567398)
There's always this big discussion among sports fans here whether Nunez or Wilson is the better option at shortstop. Nobody seems to care for my opinion on the matter (they both suck, and the Pirates could probably get better play from a random AAA vet).

Sadler for Simon's a nice flip for the Bucs. There's a lot to like about Sadler: He's fast, he plays good D, and he's got gap power and the potential to develop more. The walk rate's not great, but it's also the best of his career, so maybe he's working on it.

Simon wasn't that bad a gamble for the Bucs, since he had a power spike in 2002 in a tough power park and he was approaching his age-27 season. Giving up three prospects for him was overpaying pretty badly, and while Burnside and Novoa look like dogs at this point, Kody Kirkland has the potential to make it really painful.
   324. Greg Franklin Posted: August 18, 2003 at 05:34 AM (#567400)
Kelton and Choi have both been optioned to Iowa, sez CBS Sportsline. "Ride of the Veterans" music is playing in Chicagoland....
   325. Bunny Vincennes Posted: August 18, 2003 at 02:29 PM (#567403)
Oh the Cubs. The whole Randall Simon thing, has me contemplating lunch time martinis. Dusty Baker. I just don't know what to say. Who would have thought?

I feel like a character in an Updike novel, silently screaming about a problem nobody else sees, while I sip gin into oblivion.
   326. MM1f Posted: August 19, 2003 at 12:45 AM (#567408)
By the way Simon's walk rate has taken a small upturn since the break.
   327. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: August 19, 2003 at 02:22 PM (#567409)
Gerald Perry worked hard to get Simon to be more selective this spring. Simon's early walk rate hardly budged, but his K rate basically doubled. I don't think Simon can change his approach.
   328. ColonelTom Posted: August 19, 2003 at 03:43 PM (#567410)
This just in - the Cubs traded for Tony Womack (.557 OPS) to be their starting second baseman in Grudzielanek's absence. Believe it.
   329. Bunny Vincennes Posted: August 19, 2003 at 04:09 PM (#567411)
Unbelievable. Lunchtime martinis.
   330. Jason Posted: August 19, 2003 at 04:34 PM (#567436)
And Womack is going to start, right?
   331. Walt Davis Posted: August 19, 2003 at 04:37 PM (#567414)
It's bad enough I've had to be a Cub fan all my life, but do they really need to do this to me?

I'm looking for a bright side. The best I can come up with is that since Ramirez bats righty, they won't bring in Todd Zeile. But they probably will anyway.

Womack's OBP by months:

210 April
   332. Walt Davis Posted: August 19, 2003 at 04:40 PM (#567437)
I posted this in the Simon thread but better here:

Womack's 2002 OBP (!) by months:

210 April
   333. Robert S. Posted: August 19, 2003 at 04:48 PM (#567439)
As a depressed D-Backs fan I still take joy from the trade of Womack.

Also, I'm glad that we are still, in some small way, able to help Dusty lose.
   334. Sweet Posted: August 19, 2003 at 05:09 PM (#567440)
Just to turn the screws a bit, consider this:

Projected August lineup, c. February:

2B Hill
   335. True Blue n/k/a "DeJesusFreak" Posted: August 19, 2003 at 05:33 PM (#567441)
Holding my fingers in my ears, I refuse to believe this is official until I know the identity of the minor leaguer. After that, I will refuse to believe it until I see/hear an official press announcement (such as on After that, I will refuse to believe it until I see Womack in a Cubs uniform.

That said, I'm almost ready to give up hope on the Hendry/Baker regime. The promise I held for the future was based on homegrown (or at least harvested) talent such as Wood, Prior, Zambrano, Cruz, and Farnsworth (among current major league pitching talent) and Patterson, Choi, Hill, and Kelton (among current major league hitting talent).

Of these, Wood, Prior, Zambrano, and Farnsworth have "knocked down the door" in the sense that *no* team would refuse to play them. As a result, I give the Cubs no credit for giving playing time to these pitchers. The same may also be true for Patterson, although it wouldn't shock me to find him a lesser player in 2004 than at the promise he showed in 2003.

What's left is Cruz, Choi, Hill, and Kelton -- each of whom quite typically didn't immediately set the world on fire after being called up, only to be quickly shown the bench/first bus to Iowa while the Cubs have brought in, paraded, and/or given countless chances to the likes of Alfonseca, Estes, LFH, TFG, Glanville, TOF'L, Simon, and now Womack(?). (I'm ignoring what happened to Bellhorn.)

If this isn't bad enough, what will happen at the end of the year? Will the Cubs make Cruz the 5th starter or even give him a legitimate chance at the job, or will they sign another veteran? Will they resign Grudzielanek and/or Womack? Will they give a legitimate chance to David Kelton and Brendan Harris to win jobs in the OF and IF, respectively? What happens if Choi doesn't hit .350 in spring training -- will he be kept in limbo? Will he even be given that opportunity, or will the Cubs resign Karros and/or Simon? Heck, if Patterson isn't at 100% health and/or ability, will they resign Lofton?

The fact that all of these are legitimate questions scares the bejeezus out of me.
   336. Ziggy's screen name Posted: August 19, 2003 at 05:39 PM (#567443)
How long until Womack gets an F? "TFW0," it just rolls off the tongue. Does he actually have to appear in a Cubs game to get the F, or can we give to it him now in expectation of future non-performance?
   337. Ziggy's screen name Posted: August 19, 2003 at 05:41 PM (#567444)
Erm. That 0 wasn't supposed to be there. It seems appropriate, however, as that's the number of hits you can expect from Womack.
   338. True Blue n/k/a "DeJesusFreak" Posted: August 19, 2003 at 07:43 PM (#567454)
I'm presuming both Womack and Simon get the dreaded F's -- TFW and RFS, right?

I also want to know what happens when Grudzielanek and TFG return.
   339. Stevis Posted: August 19, 2003 at 07:49 PM (#567456)
It's not enough to limit the F'n's to the players anymore. It's got to be Jim F'n Hendry at this point.

I'd rather run Augie out there than Womack. At least Augie's fun to root for (even though you know better) and can play D.

I'm not sure I can even really root for them anymore...I know I won't be able to watch a lineup with Womack, Simon, and Goodwin or Glanville in it...I like to keep my meals down...
   340. Greg Franklin Posted: August 19, 2003 at 08:02 PM (#567460)
The minor leaguer is now specified: P Enmanuel Ramirez. Who's he?
   341. True Blue n/k/a "DeJesusFreak" Posted: August 19, 2003 at 08:02 PM (#567461)
Brian C -- I agree wholeheartedly with your thoughts, which are basically the source of my angst in #7 above. Going into this year, I thought the Cubs were a .500 team, maybe a little better with luck. (I certainly didn't think the Cards and Astros would be this bad.) I also thought that they had a great deal of veteran "temps" just holding places until younger, cheaper, more promising players could come in.

At this point, however, the temps keep piling up, while the younger players continue to be benched/exiled. While most of these temps won't be back next year, I can't help but feel that next year will see a new batch because "the kids haven't proven themselves yet, and we can't trust them yet when we're so close to contention." I also, for the first time, have legitimate doubts as to whether Hendry shares Baker's philosophies as opposed to simply letting him pilot the ship.

It all goes back to something someone told me last year: The reason the Cubs haven't won in forever is because they are too afraid to fail. They would never have a season like this year's Indians, for instance -- essentially sacrificing the year for the sake of a greater 2004-05.
   342. JMM Posted: August 19, 2003 at 08:03 PM (#567462)
And on the same day the Giants pick up Eric Young....
   343. Bob T Posted: August 19, 2003 at 08:07 PM (#567464)
Is Eric Young just Ray Durham after taxes?
   344. Dusty's Least Favorite Base-Clogger (Roy Hobbs) Posted: August 19, 2003 at 08:22 PM (#567468)
I've gotten upset about many of Hendry/Baker's moves but this one is inconsequential. Womack sucks, but the alternatives in the system are not any better for the next few weeks. Augie can't really help (although, yes Stevis, he's definitely more fun to root for), Nate Freese hasn't hit since low A ball, and Brendan Harris isn't ready.

It's a bad sign as a trend, but it's not truly disturbing like the Randall Simon pickup accompanied by the season-long mishandling of Choi.

Best line is on rotoworld, "how many pinch-runners does a team need?"
   345. True Blue n/k/a "DeJesusFreak" Posted: August 19, 2003 at 08:46 PM (#567471)
Great comments about the Simon deal and the Cubs in general in Joe Sheehan's Prospectus Today, btw.
   346. Andere Richtingen Posted: August 19, 2003 at 09:02 PM (#567473)
For those interested, I wholeheartedly endorse the use of the Middle Initial here. It's not even questionable.

Career HIGH OPS of .702.
   347. Andere Richtingen Posted: August 19, 2003 at 09:06 PM (#567475)
Why are good moves by the Cubs attributed to Hendry and bad moves attributed to Dusty? Hendry is the GM, and is accountable for every transaction the Cubs make. Let's stop this foolishness.

Amen, but Hendry relegating these decisions to Baker exhibits spinelessness AND stupidity in Hendry. Thus, blaming Baker means blaming Hendry twice over, in my opinion.

I am actually beginning to think that the Cubs are using NO performance metrics in evaluating players. None. I'm not talking about cerebral stuff like OPS, I'm talking about batting average, HR and RBI. None of it.

I'm serious.
   348. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 19, 2003 at 09:16 PM (#567476)
For the better part of this year, I complained almost exclusively about Dusty. Today's move made me reevaluate that, and this is an email I sent to a friend:

Here are the career OBP of Hendry's acquisitions to date (career/this year):

Lofton: .372/.335
   349. Sweet Posted: August 19, 2003 at 09:17 PM (#567477)
It's official! TFW it is.

The worst thing about the trades the Cubs have pulled recently is that they make it seriously hard to root for the team this year. Not only because the names on the backs of the jerseys aren't "Choi" and "Hill," but also because if the Cubs make the playoffs this year (and there's a good chance they will, TFW notwithstanding), the following will likely happen:

1. The media will attribute it to Proven Veteran Chemistry;
   350. Ziggy's screen name Posted: August 19, 2003 at 09:20 PM (#567478)
Not that I really care about the Cubbie's finances, but if memory serves, TFW is making something like $6M this year, and even if the Cubs are only responsable for a prorated portion of it, he's still an expensive stop gap.

Dusty was pretty good as a player, with only one really bad season once he got established. (Career OPS+ 116) He may yet earn the F for his managerial shenanagans, but I think his playing career is good enough to offset that for now.

And if David Gee has given us clearence, I hearby bestow an F upon Mr. Womack. (He of the career 75 OPS+, with a high of 82.)
   351. Dan Szymborski Posted: August 19, 2003 at 10:08 PM (#567481)
- Winning now vs. stathead stuff

Womack has nothing to do with this because he can't help a team win now in any role whatsoever. He's not a good player that us statheads like to rag on like Garret Anderson or a player who contributes a bit who we give a hard time to like Juan Encarnacion.

Womack is a terrible hitter, his speed is nothing like it was in recent years, and he's an awful defensive player at either second or short. At this point, he's Augie Ojeda without the glove.

- Only 1/2 game out of first place

The Cubs are a team that could field probably the best top-to-bottom rotation in baseball, a decent bullpen with a few guys having super years and on offense, disappointing production only at catcher and 3B.

That they're actually a half game out and barely above .500 in the NL Central strikes me as disappointing.
   352. Sweet Posted: August 19, 2003 at 10:35 PM (#567482)
Thanks, Dan, for addressing both those points. Here and elsewhere (mostly elsewhere -- see the posts on Christian's *excellent* Cub Reporter site), defenders of the recent spate of moves fail to recognize that Womack and Simon not only aren't preferable to Ojeda and Choi when you adjust for developmental concerns, they aren't preferable at all. Womack is not better than Ojeda; he's worse. Simon is not better than Choi, even the post-concussion-August-swoon Choi; he's worse. If nothing else (and Augie's giving us just that), an Ojeda/Choi left side of the infield is well above average defensively. Womack/Simon? Womack/Karros? Anybody/Simon or Karros? Holy crap.
   353. Sweet Posted: August 19, 2003 at 11:06 PM (#567485)
You know, Ed, if we added an "F" as your middle initial, you'd become EFF. Sound it out, now . . . .

Please, permit us our fun. It's all we have lefffft.
   354. Enrico Palazzo Posted: August 20, 2003 at 12:05 AM (#567417)
By my count, the Cubs are down to nine guys who were on the team last season, five who were on the team in 2001. Maybe the Cubs, like the Red Sox, are trying to dodge their World Series curses by sticking with guys who simply haven't been Cubs or Red Sox very long.
   355. Andere Richtingen Posted: August 20, 2003 at 12:28 PM (#567488)
Can we please retire the "F"?

I would LOVE it if the F's retired. They should have retired years ago.
   356. MM1f Posted: August 21, 2003 at 12:20 AM (#567490)
   357. Greg Franklin Posted: August 22, 2003 at 11:54 PM (#567311)
Lenny, the Marlins recalled you from ABQ and you'll most likely appear tonight vs. the Giants with a bat in your hand.

As someone rooting for the D-Backs in the wild card chase, I count on you to perform to your abilities.
   358. The Artist Posted: December 03, 2003 at 05:32 AM (#569010)
Won't hurt ? that's a bit harsh, isn't it Dan ? better to spend the 3.75 mil a year on Hawkins and co as opposed to the Alfonseca's and Veres' of the world. Hawkins was 11th in the league in ARP - to sign one of the top 15 relievers in baseball for under 4 mil is a damn good deal. While Win Shares tends to overrate relievers, the 21st best pitcher in the AL (if we discount that and place him in the top 30) is worth that kind of money.
   359. WillYoung Posted: December 03, 2003 at 05:35 AM (#569011)
I'm sad to see LaTroy go, but the draft picks will be nice. He has been an excellent reliever and will always be in my memory striking out Tejada in the 8th inning of Game 5 of the 2002 ALDS.
   360. NTNgod Posted: December 03, 2003 at 06:13 AM (#569013)
what of the hometown curse of Todd Hundley? LaTroy's a Gary boy.

Kenny Lofton's from East Chicago.
   361. NTNgod Posted: December 03, 2003 at 08:41 AM (#569016)
If it's the curse of Todd Hundley, it would only be applicable after his December 13, 2000 signing with the Cubs.

I don't claim to an expert on curses, but I'm under the distinct impression they don't work retroactively...
   362. Andere Richtingen Posted: December 03, 2003 at 01:12 PM (#569017)
I'm not worried about the Cubs giving up a draft pick, particularly this season where they will go low in the order. They do well in the other rounds, and may well pick up a sandwich pick or two anyway.
   363. Dag Nabbit at Posted: December 03, 2003 at 02:17 PM (#569018)
My first thought was that this is a terrible move - overpaying a reliever in his early 30s coming off a career year. However, though I think they are overpaying him, I didn't realize how good he was in '02. Even better, not only has he been very good the last two years, but looking at his stat line it's clear why he's been so much better over the last two years than before: his control's gotten much better. If he can keep his control going good, he can continue to be a terrific set-up man.
   364. Cris E Posted: December 03, 2003 at 03:35 PM (#569023)
Hawkins is as healthy as a horse, so the physical is a formality.

What's interesting is that this is one more trip back to MIN for Andy MacPhail. In his time with the Cubs he's gone back to the Twins for a ton of players:
   365. Greg Pope Posted: December 03, 2003 at 04:00 PM (#569024)
Is there a place to get the draft results from past years? I didn't see it on baseball-reference. Without looking at the drafts, it's my impression that the MLB draft isn't anywhere near as predictable as the NFL or NBA. Sure there are a number of high NFL/NBA draft picks that don't work out, but doesn't 75% of the first round in MLB wash out? I just don't see the value in taking the draft picks into account when evaluating a free agent signing.
   366. Dag Nabbit at Posted: December 03, 2003 at 04:05 PM (#569026)
Does McPhail have anything to do with this move though? Hendry's GM now & he said improving the pen was one of his main off-season priorities. As it happens, one of the bigger name middle relief free agents is from Minnesota. I know McPhail made all kinds of moves to get ex-Twins in his organization when he was GM (Garland to Sox for ex-Twins hand, signing & then re-signing Gaetti, trading for Aguilera, etc), but this strikes me as a generic move that happens to be with the Twins. As GM, Hendry's shown a preference for acquiring veteran players who've already had success, whether they be Dodgers (Grudz & Karros), Pirates (Lofton, Simon), Marlins (D. Lee) & now Twins.
   367. Ephus Posted: December 03, 2003 at 04:24 PM (#569032)
I don't get the attacks for using the money to sign a "middle reliever". Hawkins is a reliever and he has been a very good for the past two years. "Middle" reliever indicates how he was used over the past two years. I thought that one primate theorem was that outs were outs and it was foolish to overpay for a "proven closer" when someone who gets outs in the 7th inning could be put into the role.

I know that Hawkins was the Twins' closer for a period and did not have great success in that role. I have a hard time believing that Hawkins' improvement is a product of pitching earlier in the game, as opposed to just getting better with experience.

If you do not like spending $11 million over three years (and a first round draft pick) for a reliever, fine. If you do not like spending the money because you believe that Hawkins could not succeed as a closer and only in the middle innings, I disagree with your assessment. And, if you just don't like the signing because Hawkins is not a "proven closer", think it through some more.
   368. Andere Richtingen Posted: December 03, 2003 at 04:46 PM (#569034)
Well said, Matt. Usually it's a bad move to sign a middle reliever to a multi-year contract worth lots of money, but in baseball people should not blindly follow rules like that.

Hawkins is not old, and he has maintained excellent walk and K rates for the last two years. Decent relievers are a dime a dozen, but relievers with good stuff and 5:1 K:BB ratios are not. The Cubs really only had two relievers last year with good walk rates, Borowski and Veres, and Veres is unlikely to come back. I think the Cubs definitely need a guy with Hawkins' skill set on the 2004 roster, and unless someone can come up with a different option that would have been cheaper, I will conclude that this was a good acquisition. I think it's paying a lot, but I also think Hawkins is worth it.

The problem will come when Hendry signs another multi-million dollar reliever.
   369. Dusty's Least Favorite Base-Clogger (Roy Hobbs) Posted: December 03, 2003 at 05:28 PM (#569039)
Wow, Hendry's paying less for a quality reliever than he did for Alfonseca. That's a big step forward--if you're going to pay, pay for quality.
   370. True Blue n/k/a "DeJesusFreak" Posted: December 03, 2003 at 05:31 PM (#569040)
"If you do not like spending $11 million over three years (and a first round draft pick) for a reliever, fine. If you do not like spending the money because you believe that Hawkins could not succeed as a closer and only in the middle innings, I disagree with your assessment. And, if you just don't like the signing because Hawkins is not a 'proven closer,' think it through some more."

These are basically my thoughts. I agree that the Cubs could use some help in the bullpen. I agree that Hawkins is a great reliever. I agree that Hawkins at just over $3mm/yr is well priced compared to some of the Cubs past reliever excursions. To the extent I have a problem, it is that I'm not convinced that the Cubs should be spending $11mm on a reliever, regardless of his quality. IMO, the bullpen is a prime area where a resourceful team can get quality on the cheap and that, once again, Hendry has decided to pay retail prices (to adopt David Gee's phrase). I guess what I'm saying is that I don't oppose Hawkins -- certainly not to the extent I would oppose paying for Grudzielanek or Vina -- but I would have preferred they save the money for use elsewhere (Vidro, extending Lee's deal, signing Wood, etc.)

On another Cub note, what are people's thoughts about the OF? Alou's gone after 2004. Not that I think it'll happen, but I'd like to see them give 200 ABs to Kelton, backing up Alou and/or Lee, just to see if he pans out. In the meantime, they can see if Dubois pans out in Iowa and let Pie and Harvey develop in Daytona and Boise, respectively.
   371. Sweet Posted: December 03, 2003 at 05:40 PM (#569042)
I agree with you, True Blue, but the only way Kelton gets 200 ABs this year is if Alou goes down early (well before the trade deadline) and neither Kenny Lofton nor Tom Goodwin is on the roster.

I like both Kelton and Dubois, but I don't think either is starting for the Cubs in 2005. (Although Dusty said nice things about Kelton in spring training last year.) I think Alou's money goes to a free agent LF signing. Pie and Harvey are still a ways away.
   372. Dusty's Least Favorite Base-Clogger (Roy Hobbs) Posted: December 03, 2003 at 05:44 PM (#569043)
True, I fully understand your position on committing money to a reliever--I just think Hawkins will give a lot of value whether he sets up or closes. I hope they don't overpay for a LOOGY now, they should look on the cheap for that.

For the OF, I think it's a make or break year for Kelton, Nick Jackson and Dubois. I hope they all get a chance to get big league AB's or a full season at Iowa to sort it out. IF the Cubs are lucky, they may get a platoon combo out of some combination of the 3 in 2004, but I'm not counting on it. I think it's best not to think about Pie or Harvey for a couple years and then be happy if they are still on track.
   373. Dusty's Least Favorite Base-Clogger (Roy Hobbs) Posted: December 03, 2003 at 05:46 PM (#569044)
I meant 2005 OF platoon--if we're very lucky.

Or was I subconsciously predicting an Alou leg injury next April.
   374. Walt Davis Posted: December 03, 2003 at 05:55 PM (#569046)
there was some serious dead weight in Chicago's bullpen last year.

Yeah, but to the extent it hurt all that much, it's because of when Dusty used them. The "serious dead weight" was Alfonseca (ERA+ of 73). Veres wasn't awful (ERA+ of 91) and didn't pitch many innings (33). The rest of the guys were solid or better: Borowski (161), Farnsworth (129), Remlinger (116), Guthrie (155 but only 43 IP). If Dusty doesn't give Alfonseca 66 IP in some crucial situations (after missing at least a month or more), that's a quite effective pen.

But the lesson is that the three most effective guys (Borowski, Farnsworth, and Guthrie) were the three least expensive guys ($410 K, $600 K, and $1.6 M respectively).

I don't like spending money on relievers because I just don't think their performance is very predictable. Remlinger's 2001 and 2002 were just about as impressive as Hawkins' 2002 and 2003. Remlinger was much older so a better bet to decline of course, but I wouldn't be all that surprised to see Hawkins post an ERA+ down around 120 this year -- still fine, but not top performance. Why? Because that happens with relievers all the time.

That said, if you're going to spend money on relievers, spend it on the ones with good track records. Compared to the Alfonseca signing, this is absolute pure genius. Of course, that's basically what I said last year when the Cubs signed Remlinger. :-)
   375. True Blue n/k/a "DeJesusFreak" Posted: December 03, 2003 at 05:56 PM (#569047)
Sweet -- You're probably right; they won't start Kelton (and certainly not Dubois) in LF for 2005. Still, I'd like to give Kelton a decent chance to see if he pans out before deciding what to do in 2005 or before seeing his trade value evaporate a la Zuleta, Brown, et al.

Roy Hobbs -- I see Kelton on the Cubs bench thoughout 2004, the question will be how many ABs he sees. Jackson is probably a lost cause at this point. As for Dubois, I'm not expecting the moon and the stars, but we'll have to see if he can use 2004 in Iowa to combine plate discipline with his promising production. If so, perhaps he would be a viable 5th OF in 2005.

You're absolutely correct about Pie and Harvey, of course; I just wanted to mention them as long-run possibilities. Pie needs more plate discipline, but he's still quite young. IMO, if he pans out, he's more of a Kenny Lofton-type CFer. Harvey is even further out to make any judgements.
   376. True Blue n/k/a "DeJesusFreak" Posted: December 03, 2003 at 05:58 PM (#569048)
Once again, I'll repeat my long-used refrain: "What Walt Davis said."
   377. True Blue n/k/a "DeJesusFreak" Posted: December 03, 2003 at 06:43 PM (#569051)
Ted B (#40) -- I'm also not sold that Kelton will be all that great and that, at the end of the day, the Cubs probably should deal him. I do think, though, that the Cubs are better off seeing how he pans out first. I suspect that if he gets 200 ABs next season, his trade value will be higher on December 3, 2004 than it is today.

Also agreed about Dubois -- he has little chance (and shouldn't have the chance) to spend significant time in 2004 at any place other than Iowa. He probably won't pan out to be anything more than Kelton, but let's see.
   378. True Blue n/k/a "DeJesusFreak" Posted: December 03, 2003 at 07:07 PM (#569054)
IOM is probably a typo -- I'm guessing it is IMO ("in my opinion"). LOL is "laughing out loud."

Take all that FWIW ("for what it's worth"). Of course, YMMV ("your mileage may vary").

HTH ("hope that helps").
   379. True Blue n/k/a "DeJesusFreak" Posted: December 03, 2003 at 07:15 PM (#569056)
It's all educational, Brian.
   380. Andere Richtingen Posted: December 03, 2003 at 07:49 PM (#569060)
I don't like spending money on relievers because I just don't think their performance is very predictable. Remlinger's 2001 and 2002 were just about as impressive as Hawkins' 2002 and 2003. Remlinger was much older so a better bet to decline of course, but I wouldn't be all that surprised to see Hawkins post an ERA+ down around 120 this year -- still fine, but not top performance. Why? Because that happens with relievers all the time.

That's absolutely right, but I don't think the conclusion from that is necessarily "never ever sign a reliever to a three-year, $11 million deal." I think Hawkins could post an ERA+ around 120 this year, or worse, but it won't necessarily mean that his performance is inherently volatile, it might mean that the numbers are volatile, or any of a number of things.

Remlinger had a worse year in 2003, but his HR and BB rates both increased quite a bit, and of course Baker used him more as a LOOGY than Cox did. Why Remlinger performed worse in 2003 is a matter of speculation, but I don't think it reflects any inherent performance volatility in relievers. I would say 1) he did a worse job, 2) was not used optimally and 3) small sample sizes had something to do with it. I see no reason to expect Hawkins to have any of these problems and I'm going to try not to let statistical vagaries affect that evaluation. If Hawkins puts up a 4 ERA, but maintains a 5:1 K:BB ratio, I will not conclude that he was a bad risk.

The problem with giving relievers lots of money is that they aren't in the game much, but like anything else there are many factors determining their value. Is a top 20 reliever worth nearly $4 million per year and a three year commitment? I think the answer to that depends partly on context. I think reliability, where it exists in relief pitchers, is value, and I'd say Hawkins brings a good deal of reliability with him. The Cubs have some good relief arms but not a whole lot of reliability, so this is a commodity they can definitely use. There are few pitchers in the majors who bring that to the degree Hawkins does, and most of them cost a lot more, so I would conclude that the value here is good.
   381. True Blue n/k/a "DeJesusFreak" Posted: December 03, 2003 at 09:07 PM (#569063)
"Way back on #15 ? I believe that the value of a #1 pick really depends on which team owns the pick. #1 picks are much more valuable for smaller-market teams like the Twins than for big market clubs like the Cubs."

-- I'm not so sure of this, Joe M. Considering how many players the Twins have had to pass over through the years because of bonus demands, having a #1 pick may not be all it's cracked up to be. (For instance, in 2001, the Twins selected Joe Mauer -- who is a fantastic prospect, but certainly no Mark Prior.) Of course, most folks think the latest CBA changed all this and made slotting of bonuses much more viable, which would make the pick more valuable to the Twins.

Also, the Cubs #1 pick in 2004 will, happily, be more toward the end of the first round than usual.
   382. Walt Davis Posted: December 03, 2003 at 10:55 PM (#569066)
That's absolutely right, but I don't think the conclusion from that is necessarily "never ever sign a reliever to a three-year, $11 million deal." I think Hawkins could post an ERA+ around 120 this year, or worse, but it won't necessarily mean that his performance is inherently volatile, it might mean that the numbers are volatile, or any of a number of things.

I didn't say that his performance would be volatile. On the one hand, all we can predict is ability. On the other hand, if due to random variation that ability doesn't reliably translate into value, the investment hasn't done you any good.

If you want, you can take what I'm saying as:

1) the signal to noise ratio for pitchers is so high, that we have a harder time judging true ability;

2) due at least to randomness and higher injury risk, the connection between today's ability and tomorrow's value is much lower for pitchers than for hitters;

3) due to small sample sizes and other factors, (1) and (2) are doubly true for relievers.

I'm not saying that Hawkins is a bad risk, but I'm not willing to say this is a good signing either. Look at last year's leaders in ARP:

Gagne: $550 k (the Jays could have had him for Izturis)
   383. Walt Davis Posted: December 03, 2003 at 10:58 PM (#569067)
Whoops, I did say his performance would be volatile (or something close to it). That's just not what I meant to say. :-)
   384. Noffs Posted: December 04, 2003 at 10:54 AM (#569069)
Details on the Hawkins contract (player option!), why Chicago, and how it could be a 2 yr/$10+M deal real fast.
   385. Andere Richtingen Posted: December 04, 2003 at 03:11 PM (#569071)
Adding $1.3 million per year if he were to become the closer -- now THAT'S dumb.
   386. Andere Richtingen Posted: December 04, 2003 at 03:33 PM (#569072)
Walt -

I think the difference in our arguments is that I am really weighing K and BB rates heavily.

One might argue with the extent to which I value K and BB rates in relievers, but here is the list of relievers taken from yours above who have managed K and BB rates similar to those Hawkins has maintained for the last two years:

Gagne: $550 k
   387. Dr. Vaux Posted: December 08, 2003 at 09:52 AM (#569374)
Who besides Baltimore and the Cubs needs a catcher and has $$$? It looks like Lopez for one and Rodriguez for the other... they're both veteran leaders, too!
   388. MM1f Posted: December 08, 2003 at 07:28 PM (#569378)
I'd be wary of Lopez.

It was his first good year in awhile, in a contract year. He's a 33 (34?) year old injury-prone catcher.
   389. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: December 17, 2003 at 02:56 PM (#570317)
Given the rumors (true or not) that the PTBNL is Damian Miller, what are his ZiPS projections? I'm guessing they're fairly similar to Barrett's, with maybe a little less on the power side (and no SB).

If true, I guess it's a good move by the Cubs only in that they're trading the same stats but gaining 7 years in age (and probably more offensive upside). I still worry, though, that Miller was the steering hand that guided the Cubs young pitchers last year. I don't know Barrett's reputation for game calling, but given that pitching was the Cubs' strength, I'm wary of mucking with it.

Of course, if this is just a prelude to signing IRod and making Barrett a sub (and he is an ideal backup C given that he can also play the infield positions), then I'm all for it.

Seriously. Look -- goosebumps.
   390. Andere Richtingen Posted: December 17, 2003 at 04:01 PM (#570318)
I didn't see anything in the Cubs pitching staff that wasn't apparent in previous seasons, with the exception of Zambrano. There was actually a fair amount of criticism of Miller for not being good about stalling at appropriate times or guiding the younger guys enough. And Barrett's reputation as a receiver is quite good.

I don't think defense is a negative in this trade, which I think is a weak plus for the Cubs.
   391. Old Matt Posted: December 17, 2003 at 06:01 PM (#570319)
At first I was confused about the whole thing but I think Barrett at worst is Damian Miller from 2003 and at best has tremendous upside. This could make Hendry look really smart or really dumb, only time will tell.
   392. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: December 17, 2003 at 06:46 PM (#570321)
I think at the time Oakland's catching picture was very much up in the air after they dealt Hernandez for Kotsay. The Cubs had an incumbent, even if it was Damien Miller.

Improving from nothing to something is a good step, particularly given Oakland's cash consciousness that probably prevented them from going after a Lopez or Rodriguez (or swinging a deal to pick up Kendall and his salary). Barrett might have been the best available option for them. The Cubs, OTOH, seem to be willing to put more money into the fray. As a result, their decision (thus far) to settle for Barrett when the bigger fish are still out there is more disappointing.

Plus the comparisons stating that Barrett is better than Miller almost exclusively turn on the fact that he's younger and could potentially be better. Right now (at least comparing last year), the difference is fairly negligible.

However, I reserve the right to celebrate happily should the Cubs sign one of the top catchers and make Barrett a (what could be very useful) C/INF sub who starts (particularly with Dusty there) 30-40 games next year.
   393. Old Matt Posted: December 17, 2003 at 07:32 PM (#570322)
Right on UCCF, Barrett's versatility is a solid plus over Miller.
   394. def Posted: December 17, 2003 at 09:08 PM (#570324)

Barrett doesn't have any versatility. He's a mediocre defensive C who is wildly inconsistent at bat, and that's it. He should not be considered as a possibility at 3B - he was an out-and-out disaster at third in Montreal. think of the worst defensive player you've ever seen at any position - Barrett at 3B was worse. decent hands and an OK arm, but absolutely no range (one step and then dive) and atrocious reaction time (the ball would be 2/3 of the way to 3B before he'd even start to move). Barrett at 3B was ugly. Very, very ugly.

when Barrett was playing 3B, the expos ERA was ~0.75 runs higher than when Barrett was at C. I've seen a couple of analyses that estimate the Barrett's defense at 3B was responsible for the vast majority of that difference. Think about it - a guy who is 0.5-0.75 runs a game worse than average defensively.

then again, I don't like the Cubs, so i guess I hope they do play him at 3B.

   395. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: December 17, 2003 at 09:19 PM (#570325)
By the numbers, Barrett was bad-but-not-horrible at third in 1999, but completely atrocious in 2000. I wouldn't count on him having much versatility.

As for his offense, I like him better than Miller at this point (with Miller's history of back problems), but I don't see him getting much better than he already is. He wasn't much of an acquisition for the A's, and he's not much of one for the Cubs, either.

That said, he's inexpensive enough that the trade doesn't necessarily preclude the possiblity of the Cubs signing a marquee FA and making him the backup.
   396. True Blue n/k/a "DeJesusFreak" Posted: December 17, 2003 at 09:47 PM (#570326)
"The only thing I shudder to picture is Javy Lopez in a Cubs uniform, if only for the fact that he's so bad behind the plate that Greg Maddux for years had to tote a personal catcher on the roster in protest. It would be just like the Cubs to throw money at the wrong big-ticket free-agent catcher."

--Not that Lopez is a Gold Glove candidate, but he's not Mike Piazza either. Maddux has used Eddie Perez and others as his personal catcher, but from everything I've heard, it was because of personal animosity between Lopez and Maddux -- the two loathe each other -- not necessarily because Lopez is such a bad receiver.

As for Barrett, I don't see how one can look at a guy who's put up OPS+ of 94, 43, 64, 96, and now 63 as being an offensive upgrade over Miller. Yes, he's coming into his "magical" age 27 season and he was once a promising prospect, but from what he's shown in the last 5 years, Damian Miller is his upside, not his minimum.
   397. NTNgod Posted: December 17, 2003 at 10:52 PM (#570328)
Maddux has used Eddie Perez and others as his personal catcher

The Braves liked Perez so much they grabbed him back today.

Oh, no - what will the Brewers do now?
   398. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: December 18, 2003 at 09:57 PM (#570331)
How does Mike DiFelice keep stumbling into major-league jobs? He's a lousy catcher and a terrible human being.
   399. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: December 19, 2003 at 02:50 PM (#570572)
As sad as this is...

Looking at Wright's ZiPS projection, he'd still be an upgrade over 2003 Estes. Of course, it's like that scene from the Simpsons where Moe is complaining because crows are pecking his eyes out, so they switch to his crotch, which he says is even worse, so they go back to his eyes.

"Oh, yeah. After the crotch, that almost feels good."

Nicely sums up replacing Crotch Estes with Eyes Wright. Let's hope Dusty's never seen that episode...
   400. Zen Bitz Posted: December 19, 2003 at 05:09 PM (#570576)
So... the giants signed Hammonds, Tucker, and traded for Mohr, when Hollandsworth, who hits righties better that than any of them + Grissom signed with the cubs for $1M.

That Sabean is tricksy, he is. Oh, wait, I forgot - he couldn't get rid of the draft pick by signing HollandsworthnotthatmuchbutmorethanTucker
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