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— A Timely Look at Transactions as They Happen

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Cubs - Signed Lieber

Chicago Cubs - Signed P Jon Lieber to a 1-year, $3.5 million contract.

Not a bad risk really.  Lieber’s health might mean that if the Cubs want Lieber to win 20 games for them again, they should have signed him to a 3-year contract, but since his sophomore swingman season for the Bucs, Lieber’s yet to put up a season in which he’s clearly below average for a starter, the lowest ERA+ being a 95 in ‘06 (starting pitchers usually combine for an ERA+ around 96).  This solidifies a Zambrano/Lilly/Marquis/Hill/Lieber rotation as long as everyone’s healthy, which has the side effect of pushing Gallagher and Marshall out of town, probably for Brian Roberts, fairly quickly.  This also might mean the end of the Dempster-to-start experiment, an idea so puzzling that you would think Jim Hendry went for it because Frodo Baggins told him to do it in a dream or another owner he dislikes in his fantasy league wants Dempster to get some saves next season.

Lieber should give the Cubs what they want from him.  A 5th starter who’s more dependable than most 5th starters at winning games but an injury risk and who can throw some mopup innings in the playoffs if Bad Zambrano shows up.

2008 ZiPS Projection - Jon Lieber
        W   L   G GS   IP   H   ER HR BB SO   ERA ERA+ 
Projection   9 12 27 27 166 181   87 26 35 106 4.72   98  
Opt. (15%)  13 10 32 32 197 193   82 23 32 128 4.11 112
Pes. (15%)  5   9 18 18 111 129   66 19 26 67 5.37   89
Top Comps: Woody Williams, Fat Freddy Fitzsimmons

Dan Szymborski Posted: January 17, 2008 at 12:02 AM | 18 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Cabbage Posted: January 17, 2008 at 01:08 AM (#2670127)
I always liked him. Memory might be failing me, but I though I remembered a game where he got Roided Barry to go 0-3 on only 3 pitches.

/too lazy to check retrosheet
//in class
   2. McCoy Posted: January 17, 2008 at 02:15 AM (#2670153)
April 25th game at Chicago in 2002.

Strikeout in 4 pitches.

Heading into that game Bonds was batting .404 had 8 homers, with a .622 OBP and a 1.000 SLG in 17 games.
   3. Sweet Posted: January 17, 2008 at 03:41 AM (#2670190)
Meh. I've fond memories of Lieber's last tour-of-duty with the team -- who doesn't like a sub-two-hour game every now and again? -- and I'm pleased that ZiPS likes him slightly more than all of the other back-end options, but I don't think this changes the expected outcome by more than +/- 1 win except to the extent it frees up spare parts to be dealt for higher-value pieces. I'd like to see them get Roberts, so Hendry's noises in that direction ("we're still looking to make significant moves to improve the team," or something like that) are vaguely encouraging.
   4. Walt Davis Posted: January 17, 2008 at 04:33 AM (#2670205)
But there is something curious here. Possibilities:

1. The Cubs have given up on the idea of Dempster as a 5th starter (until someone gets hurt at least) and will return him to the pen ...where they have absolutely no use for him. Alternatively, they found someone who wants to trade for him.

2. The Cubs have found someone who wants to trade for Marquis. Surely the Pirates need a #2 behind Morris. :-) Alternatively, the Cubs have given up on Marquis as a 5th starter.

3. The Cubs are working on an even "bigger" trade involving one of their top 3, probably Hill. I can't imagine who for -- obviously I'm thinking for a hitter.

4. Somebody's hurt.

5. The Cubs have sensibly decided to add starting pitching depth given a pending trade of Marshall and Gallagher ... and somehow have gotten 6 veteran starters (or "starter" in Dempster's case) to agree to share 5 spots.

Since # 5 requires both the Cubs and veteran players to be acting sensibly, we can rule that one out. I can't possibly think who we could get in #3 (unless the Cubs are dumb enough to move Hill in the Roberts trade) and surely even Hendry isn't dumb enough to enter the season with Marquis, Lieber and Dempster all in the rotation (on purpose). Note even somehow managing to pick up both Roberts and Bedard (by including Hill ... and other stuff ... instead of Marshall) still leaves the Cubs with "too many" veteran starting pitchers.

#1 seems the most likely though I'd just as soon they traded Dempster for a bag of balls as kept him. #4 seems like the second most likely scenario.
   5. McCoy Posted: January 17, 2008 at 05:01 AM (#2670210)
ESPN 1000 is reporting that the trade for Roberts has gone through.
   6. Meatwad Posted: January 17, 2008 at 05:50 AM (#2670225)
i havnt seen it in print ne where though so im not countig on it as true
   7. SouthSideRyan Posted: January 17, 2008 at 05:53 AM (#2670226)
Any details on the Roberts deal? Haven't seen it anywhere else.
   8. DKDC Posted: January 17, 2008 at 03:41 PM (#2670368)
ESPN 1000 did not report that, it was just an internet rumor.
   9. Spahn Insane Posted: January 17, 2008 at 04:11 PM (#2670391)
I have fond memories of Lieber one-hitting the Reds on something like 79 pitches. (Think that was the first of back-to-back one-hitters the Cubs threw.)
   10. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: January 17, 2008 at 04:16 PM (#2670398)
"Surely the Pirates need a #2 behind Morris. :-)"

Man, don't even joke about that stuff...
   11. rr Posted: January 17, 2008 at 04:20 PM (#2670400)
I think the Reds should have done this.
   12. Sweet Posted: January 17, 2008 at 04:57 PM (#2670424)
Lieber must be the test case for sanity-checking projection systems. Here are his ERA+ figures from best to worse since he became a full-time starter in 1997:

110, 110, 109, 109, 106, 105, 104, 103, 98 (big leap there), 96, 95

That's almost freaky.
   13. Spahn Insane Posted: January 17, 2008 at 05:39 PM (#2670460)
If nothing else, Lieber should be the anti-Dempster on the "fun to watch" versus "completely hair-pullingly agonizing to watch" scale. He works fast and throws strikes. Sure, at his age that means he'll have some games where he gets bombed, but on balance, he should be OK. I'm pleased with this signing.
   14. Walt Davis Posted: January 17, 2008 at 07:17 PM (#2670544)
Oh, I should say I'm pleased with this signing too (unless the unlikely Hill scenario actually comes to pass). I'm really hoping the Cubs have just given up on Dempster as the (intended) 5th starter.

Granted, I'm not entirely clear on Lieber's health at the moment ... and am too tired to read the article.
   15. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: January 17, 2008 at 07:56 PM (#2670575)
It's a good move, and it doesn't have to be part of a bigger plan. We're giving Hendry too much credit if we think that. It's a cliche, but you can't have enough starting pitching and I like Lieber.
   16. Kyle S Posted: January 17, 2008 at 08:15 PM (#2670589)
The optimistic value is worth 10-15 million, I'd imagine, while the the median value is maybe $5mm-$6mm. This seems like a great, low-risk deal for the Cubs.
   17. Zonk is a cagey fellow Posted: January 18, 2008 at 02:21 AM (#2670881)
...something else for the list of wonderful things you learn on retrosheet:

Did you know Lieber was originally drafted by the Cubs, but didn't sign?
   18. paytonrules Posted: January 18, 2008 at 03:22 PM (#2671146)
So Marquis is still be in the rotation? Won't Gallagher, Marshall or my dead Grandmother be a better option than that?

Maybe ZiPS needs to project "veteran savy"

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