As reported by Patrick Mooney, and others, Arodys Vizcaino won’t throw a baseball for the next six weeks after having debridement surgery to remove calcium deposits by Dr. James Andrews.
A debridement is an arthroscopic, outpatient procedure to remove loose particles or to cut off bone spurs and the normal recovery time is between four and six weeks, depending on what the purpose of the debridement was. In this case, the procedure was to remove calcium build up. That’s not an uncommon occurrence after a major operation like Tommy John Surgery, so it’s not like Vizcaino is getting blasted with some out of the norm bad luck. The best news to come out of this is that the ulnar collateral ligament, which was replaced last year, is undamaged.
For those who have forgotten or were unaware, the Cubs acquired Vizcaino and Jaye Chapman from the Braves in the trade that sent Paul Maholm and Reed Johnson to Atlanta at the trade deadline. Vizcaino had Tommy John Surgery last April. He is not expected to pitch at all for the Cubs this season.
The final player installment of the positional previews is the group who will see the most change throughout this season. In reality, that’s the case for just about every team, every season.
This season figures to be extra interesting for the Cubs in the bullpen. The addition of Kyuji Fujikawa from Japan as a potential (and likely) closer when Carlos Marmol departs the organization, either via trade or the expiration of his contract after the season lends some stability to the the back end, and the addition of Carlos Villanueva gives the Cubs the long reliever they’ve been without since Tom Gorzelanny packed his bags. Indeed, this will be the group with the most turnover of any on the team.
Closer: Carlos Marmol
For now. In spite of being only 30 and coming off of an impressive rebound in the second half of last season, Marmol is the most talked about trade piece this side of Alfonso Soriano. The fact that he did have a strong second half, is 30, and is in the last year of a deal with Cubs would be willing to pay almost all of make him a valuable piece for any contending team (*cough cough* Tigers) that needs a proven back end. I am of the opinion that Brian Wilson makes more sense for the Tigers than Marmol because he will be inexpensive and won’t cost prospects, but it seems as though Detroit is looking at all available options, including Marmol. That said, however long he’s around, he should be fine. Sure, he’s an adventure. He’ll put some on and he’ll make it interesting. But he slammed the door quite a bit last year. Another year of Chris Bosio would probably do him some good, but I don’t see Marmol being back under any circumstances next season if he finishes this season in Chicago. I see him becoming “controllable assets” before too long. This spot is definitely one that is not set…
Set-Up: Kyuji Fujikawa
This is the guy who will likely be the closer if/ when Marmol is sent out. The 32 year old “rookie” from Japan is coming over on a two year deal and was an excellent closer before coming over the states. The thing that worries me about “KJ” is that Japanese closers haven’t exactly been common…or good. In Japan, though, Fujikawa was uncommonly good. His ERA broke 2.00 only one time, a 2.01 ERA in 2010, and his 202 career saves lend him some credibility to finish games. He’s entering a new level of competition, and he very well could struggle like many of the Japanese pitchers before him. If he can be the exception to what has been the norm, however, everything should be fine for the short term.
Middle Relief: Shawn Camp, James Russell, Hector Rondon , Jaye Chapman, Michael Bowden (and a host of others throughout the season)
The two major pieces to this puzzle are Camp and Russell. Both of those guys were fixtures just about every day last season. And they were each pretty good. Russell appeared in 77 games with a strong 3.25 ERA. After being used in a variety of situations in 2011 and struggling before settling into the bullpen, 2012 was spent entirely in the bullpen, and Russell showed that he is an effective lefty, and can pitch effectively to both left and right handed hitters. He’s shown his value and as everyday asset much like Shawn Camp, who might be the oldest guy in the organization. At 37, Camp was another everyday fixture in the bullpen and led the league with 80 appearances. He was surprisingly effective in a set-up role with Russell, but struggled when he became the closer in Marmol’s absence. For a guy who signed a minor league deal during camp last season, Shawn Camp turned into one of the most valuable players on the roster. This season, he will probably not get the same use, and may improve the effectiveness of his aging arm. The last player of note is Rule 5 selection, Hector Rondon, who needs to be on the active roster for 90 days. The difference between Lendy Castillo from last season and Rondon is that Rondon has pitched at AAA, which is something Castillo had never done. Rondon has had arm issues, and if he’s past them, he could turn into a pleasant surprise, and may not spend months and months on the DL with Rule-5itis.
Long Relief: Carlos Villanueva
Even though, Villanueva will start the season in the rotation, this is going to be his role going forward. He’s well suited for it, too. Coming over from Toronto, he was looking for a chance to start, but it will probably not come
to fruition for him without some injury and trade subtractions from the rotation. And that’s alright. His numbers won’t blow anyone away, but he can make a start in a pinch and go 5-6 innings, or come in early in a game and save the bullpen from being spent. This is an often overlooked role and an unglamorous position for just about any pitcher to be in. He doesn’t get his name on the scroll on ESPN as the probable starter, nor does he get his name on it for the save. But this is a vital role because it allows the other players in the ‘pen to stay in their roles. As far as long relief pitching goes, there aren’t many who are better than Villanueva, even if he does look himself in the mirror and call himself a starting pitcher.
Other Names to Watch: Arodys Vizcaino, Trey McNutt, Robert Whitenack, Barret Loux, Hisanori Takahashi, Nick Struck
Vizcaino is probably the most well-known of these players, coming over from the Braves at the deadline last season. He could find his way into the bullpen to pick up some major league innings this season to get experience, especially if the Cubs fall out of it. McNutt seems to be throwing as well as he has in a few years, but now seems destined to have a bullpen role, and may make his way to Chicago this season. Loux is who ultimately came for Geovany Soto after Jacob Brigham was found to have had arm issues, and is in camp as a non-roster player. He seems to be a better prospect than Brigham, and is closer to the majors, so it seems like the Cubs won in the end on that deal. Takahashi and Struck are both in camp as non-roster players, as well, and could wind up in the bullpen at some point this season as well. As I mentioned at the outset, this is where there is the most flux during a season. This season should be no different.
So…that was an eventful few days. To sum it up, Ryan Dempster, Paul Maholm, Geovany Soto, and Reed Johnson are out. Arodys Vizcaino, Jaye Chapman, Jacob Brigham, Christian Villanueva, and Kyle Hendricks are in the system to replace them. The major league roster picked up Casey Coleman, Adrien Cardenas, and Wellington Castillo for last night’s one hitter from AJ Burnett. Today’s game brings back Chris Volstad and Alberto Cabrera from Iowa, and sees Coleman headed back to Iowa. Got all that? No? Don’t blame you…here it is more simply stated:
OUT BEFORE 7/31 vs. Pirates: RHP Ryan Dempster, LHP Paul Maholm, C Geovany Soto, OF Reed Johnson
IN FOR 7/31 vs. Pirates: RHP Casey Coleman, C Wellington Castillo, IF Adrien Cardenas (Roster stands at 24)
OUT BEFORE 8/1 vs. Pirates: RHP Casey Coleman
IN FOR 8/1 vs. Pirates: RHP Chris Volstad, RHP Alberto Cabrera (Roster at full 25 man limit)
Now that we sorted out all of the roster formalities, onto the fun part of talking about who the Cubs added at the deadline! Baseball America rated the Cubs’ farm system 14th this past May. That was quite a bit better than I expected to it to be because of how many pieces have been shipped out for parts the last few years. That system became weaker by default when 1B Anthony Rizzo was called up to play every day. At this point, he is no longer a “prospect” so much as he is a “rookie.” Considering what is going on with the Riz-kid at the big league level, it is difficult to believe that he is going to be sent back to Iowa any time soon. This week, though, the system got an infusion of talent. Two Top 100 prospects from Baseball America were added to the system; RHP Arodys Vizcaino and 3B Christian Villanueva. In addition, Kyle Hendricks and Jaye Chapman have some upside, and both project to be major league pitchers. Jacob Brigham has major league potential depending on what source you ask. He can range from a system arm who is perpetually stuck in the minors to a guy who can contribute as a middle reliever. Regardless, he is more than what anyone should have expected for Geovany Soto. ESPN’s Keith Law says Arodys Vizcaino is the best prospect dealt at the deadline. Others say Jacob Turner in the Marlins/ Tigers deal and others still say Jean Segura in the trade sending Zack Greinke from Milwaukee to the Angels. Scouting is a very subjective topic, and Law clearly values the pure stuff and command that Vizcaino can bring to the mound. Others may disagree with Vizcaino being the best, but it is unanimous that all three are very good.
The new prospects rank within the system (Place in Top 100), according to MLB.com
#3 Arodys Vizcaino (40)
#6 Christian Villanueva (100)
#17 Kyle Hendricks
The other two fall outside of the top 20 in the organization. Jaye Chapman may find his way to Chicago this season, while Brigham may take until next year before he gets to Iowa and subsequently, to Chicago.
The Cubs have made two separate trades this evening. They are:
Cubs Get: RHP Jacob Brigham (AA)
Rangers Get: C Geovany Soto, Cash Considerations
Analysis: Brigham is regarded to be more than what the Cubs should have expected to get back for Soto. The price may have been driven by multiple teams vying for Soto at one time and the Cubs throwing in a little extra money. As it is, Brigham is a 24 year old pitcher, who is 5-5 with a 4.28 ERA in the Texas League. His overall record at AA is 11-11 in parts of two seasons. This season, he has made 21 starts and 124.0 IP. He strikes out 2.52 for batters for every one he walks, but he does have a wild streak in him, uncorking 23 wild pitches since joining the Double A Frisco Rough Riders. If he can get his wildness under control, he may be able to pitch in the major leagues, but I wouldn’t expect him to be much more than a long reliever and spot starter down the road. At this point, I would not expect him to be much more than a “system arm” who may eventually accrue some time in the majors.
***Deal Still Pending Approval Because of the Inclusion of Cash from the Cubs***
Cubs Get: RHP Arodys Vizcaino, RHP Jaye Chapman
Braves Get: LHP Paul Maholm, OF Reed Johnson, Cash Considerations
Analysis: Jaye Chapman is 3-6 with a 3.52 ERA in AAA Gwinnett this season as a relief pitcher. He has 60 strike outs and 29 walks this season, finishing 20 games for the Gwinnett Braves. He is considered to be a throw in player in this trade because the big acquisition here is Arodys Vizcaino, who came into 2012 rated the #2 prospect in the Braves system, and the 40th overall prospect in baseball. He will miss all of the 2012 season after under-going Tommy John Surgery in Spring Training, but he is expected to be available for next spring. He has had durability issues that may end up making him a short reliever, but he has good command of three above average pitches, a fastball in the low- mid 90s, a curveball, and a change-up. If his injury issues become a thing of the past, he has the potential to be a #2 starter at the major league level. If not, his powerful stuff and good command could make him a valuable reliever, potentially a closer. This is a very worthwhile trade for the Cubs. Maholm was in Chicago on a one year deal with an affordable option for next season. If Vizcaino pans out, he could have been an absolute steal for the North Siders. While much remains to be seen with his health, the upside for a pitcher the Braves labeled “untouchable” last season was just too much to pass up at this stage in the building process.
UPDATE 10:36 PM: Ken Rosenthal reports that the Cubs will receive Arodys Vizcaino and Jaye Chapman for Johnson and Maholm. Vizcaino is coming off of Tommy John Surgery, but was one of the untouchable prospects in the Braves organization last season.
UPDATE 1030 PM: One of the pitchers from the Braves is Jaye Chapman, according to Jerry Crasnick, and Ken Rosenthal reports the Cubs could have a bigger deal with a “red hot division rival.” That would be the Reds, who have opened discussions to acquire Matt Garza.
UPDATE 10:25 PM: Alfonso Soriano has informed the Cubs that he will not accept a trade to the Giants.
UPDATE 10:17 PM: The obligatory Matt Garza and Ryan Dempster rumors are that the Cubs are still working to trade Dempster to the Dodgers, and the Blue Jays and Rangers are interested in acquiring Matt Garza after his MRI came back without any problems.
UPDATE 10:03 PM: The Cubs will get 2 minor league pitchers back from the Atlanta Braves for Paul Maholm and Reed Johnson, according to Jerry Crasnick. Neither of them is named Randall Delgado.
UPDATE 9:51 PM: The plot thickens…Paul Maholm and Reed Johnson have been traded to the Atlanta Braves, according to Jon Morosi.
UPDATE 9:48 PM: We do not know who is getting Reed Johnson, but according to multiple sources, it will not be the Tigers, Indians, Dodgers, or Giants.
UPDATE 9:45PM: Geovany Soto has been traded to the Texas Rangers, according to Yahoo’s Tim Brown. According to CBS Sports, the Cubs will get RHP Jacob Brigham.
UPDATE 9:31 PM: Ken Rosenthal reports the Cubs have made separate trades, including Reed Johnson and Geovany Soto
UPDATE 9:25PM: Geovany Soto is getting hugs and saying good byes in the dugout and it appears he has been traded, as well.
ORIGINAL POST: In addition, OF Brett Jackson has been removed from tonight’s Iowa Cubs game.
The Tigers have pulled pitching prospect Thomas Collier after three innings, and they were one of the teams interested in acquiring Johnson.