There was a flurry of roster activity of all kinds: trades, signings, call-ups, and DL stints. Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer didn’t waste any time starting their sell-off, firing the first shot of the deadline season.
We can only gather that there will be even more roster moves in the next day or two with the new additions to the bullpen and over the course of the month as the Cubs continue to move pieces. This figures to be just a start of things to come…
Dodgers Get: RHP Carlos Marmol, Cubs #4 International Signing Slot, Cash
Cubs Get: RHP Matt Guerrier
What It Means For Cubs: Carlos Marmol is officially not a Cub, anymore. Guerrier was in DFA limbo with the Dodgers. He becomes yet another arm in the Cubs’ busy bullpen this season. Marmol gets a fresh start. Adding Guerrier could spell the end for Shawn Camp. *Fingers Crossed* Jayson Stark, interestingly, tweeted that this is almost a no lose for the Dodgers. If he doesn’t work out and is released, the Cubs are on the hook for more money if he signs elsewhere.
Orioles Get: RHP Scott Feldman, C Steve Clevenger
Cubs Get: RHP Jake Arrieta, RHP Pedro Strop, Number 3 International Signing Slot, #4 International Signing Slot
What It Means For The Cubs: Clevenger being moved comes out of right field, since he and the Cubs apparently just within the last day had a difference of opinion on his injuries. Feldman was expected to go as part of a sell-off, and the Cubs actually did quite well in this move. Jake Arrieta is a talented 27 year old who hasn’t quite figured it out at the major league level just yet. He will go to AAA Iowa for the time being. He could be part of a trade to the Padres, who apparently like both him and Matt Garza. Acquiring him could help sweeten the return if the Cubs send Garza and Arrieta to San Diego. Strop is a good bullpen arm and should fill the void being left by Carlos Villanueva being stretched back into a starter. He, too, has struggled some at the major league level. Overall, I’d have liked this deal if it was Feldman for Strop OR Arrieta and the pool money. To get both, while only losing Clevenger in addition to Feldman is a nice move for the Cubs, regardless of whether they view Arreita as a trade asset or as an arm to bring to Chicago.
Astros Get: INF Ronald Torreyes
Cubs Get: #2 and #3 International Signing Slots
What It Means For The Cubs: More international spending money. Torreyes is a good hitter, but with the logjam in the middle infield in the Cubs’ organization, they could afford to make this move to spend money on potential impact international free agents. The move brings in $784K to add to the spending pool, which would presumably be used to target OF Eloy Jimenez. After all of the moves today, the Cubs have $5,520,300 in total international spending money, which is one of the key means of stocking the system with talent.
Cubs Sign: SS Gleybar Torres ($1.7M). P Jefferson Mejia, Erling Moreno, C Johan Matos
What It Means For The Cubs: The search for impact players continues, with Torres ranked the #2 International Free Agent. He’s 16, so you can file his name away, but scouts love him and say he is quite polished for being so young. Mejia is 18 and his contract is for 2013, so he is a name we might hear a bit sooner than Torres.
Cubs Call-Up: LHP Chris Rusin, OF Dave Sappelt
Cubs Place OF Ryan Sweeney on 60 Day Disabled List (Fractured Rib)
What It Means For The Cubs: Rusin takes the roster spot vacated by Feldman, and he will start tonight at Oakland. He has been very good at Iowa, being named to the PCL All-Star team. This is an opportunity to try to stick in Chicago, either in the rotation or the bullpen, as more moves are likely as the deadline approaches. Sappelt adds a right handed bat to the outfield mix after Sweeney fractured a rib in Seattle. Sweeney could have been a trade chip, but going on the 60 Day DL kills that opportunity, and is now not eligible to come back until the end of August.
A lot of pressure is put on a manager to effectively use his pitchers. Knowing when to pull a starter, knowing which reliever to go to, knowing how long a reliever can go, knowing when to give a reliever a day off, knowing when a reliever has had too many days off and needs to get some work…all of it matters when it comes to managing a pitching staff. For Dale Sveum, it’s amazing he knows who is sitting down there sometimes. For comparison sake, here is the difference between the bullpen when the season started and today:
Cubs 2013 Opening Day Bullpen:
- Carlos Marmol, Kyuji Fujikawa, James Russell, Shawn Camp, Hisanori Takahashi, Michael Bowden, Hector Rondon
Cubs Bullpen, May 29
- Kevin Gregg, Carlos Marmol, James Russell, Carlos Villanueva, Rafael Dolis, Hector Rondon, Alex Burnett
Every bullpen goes through changes through the course of the season. That’s not news. The amount of turnover in the Cubs’ pen, though, has been crazy. Shawn Camp is on the disabled list, Michael Bowden is still in DFA limbo after last week when Matt Garza came off the disabled list, Hisanori Takahashi was outrighted to Iowa, and Kyuji Fujikawa needs Tommy John surgery. Alex Burnett was claimed off of waivers and made his debut in a scoreless ninth today. Kevin Gregg was signed as organizational depth, or so we thought. He’s the freakin’ closer. KEVIN GREGG IS CLOSING AND BEING SET UP BY CARLOS MARMOL! It’s like 2009 all over again, and that’s not exactly what any of us wanted. In the mean time, Dolis has been up and down, and Kameron Loe was in town, got smacked around for a few weeks, and was released.
Some of the turnover is because of injuries. They happen disproportionately to pitchers, and we all knew a spot was going to be lost in the pen when Garza returned, but the ineffectiveness of the bullpen is another factor in the turnover. Blaming Dale for the ineffectiveness is unfair, too. He went to players who were reliable for him last season and they have failed him, time and time again. Both Carlos Marmol and Shawn Camp were supposed to be anchors at the back of the bullpen, and both have been removed from their roles. Camp only because of an injury he concealed for the better part of a month, according to Sveum. One of the more reliable relievers was Michael Bowden, who after being designated for assignment last Tuesday, must have action taken on him by Friday. He either needs to be waived, released, or traded. At this point, I can’t see why the Cubs wouldn’t try to sneak him through waivers and bring him right back. It won’t be difficult to find a 40 man slot for him, with Kyuji Fujikawa sacrificing his to the 60 day disabled list.
The numbers are gruesome. 10/20 in save conversions. Although, not all of those were in the 9th inning. Actually, a number of those were blown in the seventh and eighth innings, which underscores the importance of the ‘set up guy.” The Cubs have allowed 32% of inherited runners to score, which is just above the league average of 30%, according to baseball-reference.com. None of this information is a secret. It really only assigns numbers to what we’ve watched for the first two months of the season.
There is some hope, though. Carlos Villanueva has been good this season, and being a veteran reliever has been a strength of his. Kevin Gregg has been a stabilizing force since becoming the closer. James Russell continues to be the best reliever the Cubs have had since Sean Marshall went to Cincy. Carlos Marmol seems to be figuring it out and pitching much better when he doesn’t have the weight of closing the game on his shoulders. Like last season, the pen seems to be getting stronger now that there is a defined, effective guy at the end. Everything between the starter and closer then falls into place. If the starters keep pitching like they have been, and the pen extends its brief resurgence, a run of really good baseball isn’t out of the question.
About seven years ago, this would have been the move to end all moves for the Chicago Cubs…bringing back Dontrelle Willis. Now, the D-Train has been signed to a minor league contract with an invitation to minor league camp and the possibility of coming to major league camp if he’s throwing well. Considering the Cubs’ pitching last season was very much like how Dontrelle has been pitching since about
2007, this move makes a lot of sense.
Willis was originally drafted by the Cubs and sent to Florida in the trade that brought back Antonio Alfonseca and Matt Clement. He was stunningly good with the Marlins, especially in 2005 when he went 22-10 with a 2.63 ERA in 34 starts, finishing 7 and throwing 5 shut outs. He finished 2nd in the Cy Young voting to Chris Carpenter of those guys in St. Louis. He won the Rookie of the Year in 2003.
He has not been the same since 2006, where he has been unable to post an ERA under 4.98 (2010, in 9 games with Detroit). It appears innings and notoriously poor mechanics may have done in the once dominant starter.
There is no risk to this move at all. After all, he will only be 31 next week. He does not have a ton of wear and tear on his arm because nobody’s given him a shot in the last few years. I am assuming they didn’t pay very much. There is no harm. And if the Cubs can somehow manage to fix this disaster, it could be one of the greatest moves in the history of the organization. If they can turn him into a serviceable reliever/ spot starter, that might be the greatest thing Theo Epstein can do with the Cubs short of winning the World Series.
And now…I’ve given you 300 words on a guy who didn’t pitch last season, had a 1-6 record with a 5.00 ERA in 2011 with the Reds, last time he did pitch, and likely won’t see the inside of Wrigley Field in any way unless he watches on television. I feel I’ve said enough.
The Cubs claimed 26 year old RHP Miguel Socolovich off of waivers from the Baltimore Orioles today, and optioned him to Triple A, Iowa. To make room on the 40-man roster, the team designated C Blake Lalli for assignment. Socolovich has been very good at Triple A in the Orioles organization this season, posting a 1.90 ERA over 52 innings in relief. He was not so good in his 10 1/3 innings in the majors, allowing 8 earned runs.
Miguel Socolovich was signed as an amateur free agent in 2004 by the Red Sox, so Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have some familiarity with him.
The certain addition of Zack Greinke to the trade market today does nothing to help the Cubs unload either Matt Garza or Ryan Dempster. Never before have I heard a General Manager come out and say that a player would be dealt, but that is exactly what happened with Brewers’ GM Doug Melvin today in regard to his ace pitcher. And I could not have been more upset about it.
With the Braves being in the running for Greinke, it all but kills the chances that a deal with the Braves for Dempster is resurrected. The chances were slim to begin with since Dempster has made it clear that he wants to go to the Dodgers. There has been some positive speculation that a deal could be consummated either between the Cubs and Dodgers or with the help of third team. The best opportunity for this deal to be completed is to add a third team, allowing the Cubs to get additional prospects back. With the Braves “moving on,” the Cubs have no leverage. The Dodgers have reportedly turned down an offer that would have sent Dempster to LA straight up for prospect pitcher Allen Webster. All in all, the Dempster scenarios are a mess. And the mess was made by whoever, reportedly on Atlanta’s side, leaked the details of the deal and upset Dempster. While the leak sent the media into a Tweet-splosion of reports, which even prompted Cubs TV play-by-play man Len Kasper to tweet a good bye message, Dempster napped and woke to find out he had been dealt without waiving his 10/5 rights. And here we are…
As I have said before, it seems less than 50/50 at this point that Matt Garza goes anywhere with his arm trouble and pushed back start. I would doubt a contender is going to pony up the big time prospects required to obtain a guy that left his last start with “arm discomfort” without seeing his next outing, and I would doubt the Cubs are going to take a smaller return on a guy they’ve said repeatedly that they wouldn’t mind extending. None of it adds up to a deal going down before the deadline, but stranger things have happened. I have had random musings with myself about the potential of a massive Dempster and Garza to the Dodgers for Zach Lee, Allen Webster, and other parts trade, but that is not going to happen. Garza seems to be limited to going to the Dodgers at this point with the Red Sox falling out of contention in the AL East, the Tigers acquiring Anibal Sanchez, and and Orioles being hot on Francisco Liriano.
Depending who you ask, the Dodgers interest in Dempster ranges from “they’ll get something done” to “they would rather have Garza.” The latter is the desirable scenario, mostly because they could get the most back for Garza. Dempster staying around, however, would not net anything more than a draft pick, as the potential for resigning him this off-season seems slim, at best.
All this talk about Garza and Dempster is probably killing the possibility of trading Paul Maholm. It didn’t look likely that he was going anywhere to begin with, but with Dempster/ Garza talks still on-going, it seems increasingly clear that Paul Maholm will be wearing Cubs’ pinstripes until the end of the season.
On the bright side…multiple national reporters have reported that OF Reed Johnson is likely on his way up I-94 to Detroit, probably for some low to mid level prospects. So there’s that…