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.
In the last inning of the last game required to break the consecutive errorless games streak by a second baseman, Darwin Barney committed an error. A throwing error, his third of the season. His first error since April. In spite of all of that, I still think Reds’ 2B Brandon Phillips is the favorite to win the Gold Glove this season. These awards seem to be given based on reputation, and it is no secret that offensive production plays into the defensive award, as well. None of this is to say that I don’t want Darwin to win the award. He absolutely should. It would be brutal for anyone but him to win after going over five months between errors, and the one he makes is on an insanely tough play. Anybody that has seen the play knows that would not have been an error if it did not allow to cause a run to score. We’ll see how it turns out.
After last night, the Cubs have gone 0-17 in road games against the NL West. It is unfortunate that the team didn’t have a western swing in July, when they played well before the deadline. They have two more opportunities to win a game out west this weekend, finishing the series against the D-Backs. Should they fail to get a win, they will lose their 100th game, and have the first 100 loss season since 1966.
After all of the fuss about what Jed Hoyer said this week about having financial flexibility, it is important for Cubs’ fans to know that they can put away their anticipatory Josh Hamilton jerseys. There will not be a major signing this off-season. When you look at everything that the front office has said over the course of the last year, there is no reason to believe that they are going to pony up the cash for a big time free agent when they have said it is their goal to build from drafting and developing good players. The goal is to have a strong organization from top to bottom, and we saw that over the course of the last few months. Trading Ryan Dempster, Paul Maholm, Geovany Soto, and Reed Johnson were all products of building a strong organization. When you combine those statements with Theo Epstein saying he made mistakes in his approach toward the end of his tenure in Boston, there is no reason to believe there are going to be any nine figure deals getting tossed around this off-season. It will be another in the process of building for future success. At this point, the actual baseball season is a formality. Games, at least in the north side of Chicago, won’t be all that significant for the next two to three years.
There have been a great many players this season that could be classified as an important piece for the Cubs’ rebuilding process. Players like Starlin Castro, Anthony Rizzo and Jeff Samardzija rightfully get much of the attention as the process moves forward. One player who does not get the credit he deserves for the rebuilding process is outfielder, David DeJesus. The reason is likely because DeJesus will not be an integral part of the team once the rebuild is complete, if he is a part of the team at all. Looking forward, players like Jorge Soler and Albert Almora are going to make DeJesus an expendable piece within the next year or two, with his contract unlikely
to be extended when it expires, if he is not traded before it ends.
Drafted: 4th round, 2000 Amateur Draft by the Kansas City Royals
Debut: 9/2/2003 vs Texas Rangers. No official at-bat
Cubs’ Statistical Analysis:
Something that gets lost about David DeJesus is his stellar on-base percentage. As a lead-off hitter, DDJ trails only Norichika Aoki of the Brewers in OBP, which almost never gets talked about. After reaching four times today in the win against the Cardinals, where he provided the walk off hit, he raised his OBP to match his career average, of .355. What does get said, and not enough, is that he’ll give a good, professional at bat every time at the plate, and he plays a very nice outfield, whether it be in right, where he has spent the majority of the season, or in center, where he was stationed between the time Anthony Rizzo came up and the time Brett Jackson came up. DDJ had never stepped foot on Wrigley Field before this season, but you wouldn’t know it by the way #9 has played the hardest “9” in the National League. With all of the matinees at Wrigley, the sun is an adventure in right, but DeJesus has been outstanding, making tough plays look routine. He has been a steady force in an outfield with vastly improved defense over years past. None of the numbers blow anybody away, but all of them are solid for DeJesus, who is undervalued almost universally by those watching the Cubs day to day.
It is difficult to find a player who DeJesus compares to, but one player who immediately comes to my mind is former Cub, Angel Pagan. Like Pagan, DDJ doesn’t have great power, is versatile in the outfield, and plays smart baseball for nine innings just about everyday. Both players run pretty well, and neither player is appreciated for the value that he brings to a clubhouse as a veteran that will give you a good sound at bat and play very good defense.
The BIG Question:
Will David DeJesus be a part of the roster when the Cubs are “ready to win?”
Probably not. While DeJesus brings versatility, leadership, and a stabilizing influence to a young team, DDJ does not bring what you want in a corner outfielder. There is a chance that he hangs on in Chicago as a fourth or fifth outfielder who can play off the bench, like Reed Johnson. He will not, however, be a key piece to any winning ball club, much less the Cubs. What he can bring was displayed on May 12th in Miller Park. As a pinch hitter, DDJ turned around the first pitch he saw and deposited a grand slam in the right field bleachers. He can be a guy, off the bench, who brings good defense and a good at bat with occasional power. DeJesus could very well see himself traded this off-season, so it is up in the air whether or not he returns next season. It is ultimately going to be up to the front office to decide of the value he can bring back in a trade is greater than the value he offers as a veteran leader on a very young team. My prediction: DDJ is on the Opening Day 2013 roster. Whether he is on it when 2013 ends is anybody’s guess.
With the season winding down, the off-season stove is going to start to heat up in front offices around MLB. To think Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer aren’t putting together a list of names to go after this winter would be foolish. Theo said earlier this year that he made some mistakes in making big slashes in Boston, and when accompanied by the team’s “bottom up” approach to building, don’t expect any big names to be added to the roster this winter. Any clamoring for Zack Greinke, B.J. Upton, or Brian McCann should be toned down dramatically. It is highly unlikely that it happens. Think starting pitching, relief pitching, and veteran players that can help develop players and may have trade value down the line…like Paul Maholm last winter. With all that said…ON TO THE SPECULATION!!
1. RHP Scott Baker, Twins
Scott Baker is exactly the type of free agent that would interest the Cubs. He has had some success in the major leagues, and probably will not command a big price. The Twins do have a club option on Baker, so he may not even be available, but if he is, I would anticipate the Cubs to give him a look. He’ll be 31 next season, so he won’t be too old, and would be a good candidate for a contract similar to what Paul Maholm got last winter.
2. RHP Ryan Dempster, Rangers
I know, I know. He’s barely out the door and now I’m talking about bringing him back. Why? First, because he said he wouldn’t rule out coming back. Second, he pitched very well for the Cubs this season. Third, he has strong ties to the city of Chicago. I can keep going on and on about why Dempster is a logical target, but it’s pretty obvious. He didn’t want to leave, his teammates love him, and he loves Chicago. A reunion shouldn’t be out of the question. It is very possible.
3. RHP Colby Lewis, Rangers
He’s another Ranger who has some success at the major league level. Before this season, he has pitched over 200 innings and kept his ERA respectable in the bam box in Arlington. He’s another second tier free agent that can make starts and eat some innings. And he will probably have some trade value at mid-season. While it is unlikely that every free agent will be traded, they should at least have the ability to bring something back via trade, and Lewis will. His 4-1 record and 2.34 postseason ERA proves that October isn’t too big for him, so that gives him value to teams looking to acquire him, but an injury history and average numbers will keep his free agent value marketable.
4. OF Reed Johnson, Braves
Reed is basically in the same boat as Ryan Dempster. You know what you’re getting. A versatile outfielder that plays excellent defense, can make a start and give four good at bats, and is always ready. There wouldn’t be a better man to have on the bench for a young team than Johnson, and he proved that during the first half of this season.
5. RHP Jair Jurrjens, Braves
Jair Jurrjens is arbitration eligible, but has struggled mightily in 2012 and was sent to the minors and currently resides on the disabled list. He has pitched his way, this season, to non-tender contender, which would make him a buy low candidate for any team looking to sign him. He is a 26 year old, who has been excellent until this season. The Braves have arms in their system and may not want to deal with a Jurrjens arbitration, so he could be an odd man out. If he’s available, he is exactly the type of player Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein would target. He’s young, got a good arm, and has a ton of upside. Unless he commands big money, he would be a great pick up for the Cubs. There is a lot of low risk, high reward potential to grabbing a non-tendered Jurrjens.
Without knowing who is going to be available for sure until the winter, this was an exercise of trying to get an idea of what the Cubs could look for. The front office is going to center their efforts around adding starting pitching, especially after trading Ryan Dempster and Paul Maholm. While Dempster could come back and fill a rotation spot, there are going to be openings for free agents to step in and contribute. There will not be any big names coming to the North Side, but there are some nice players that could be available at a reasonable price. After trying so hard for years to fill spots with free agents to contend right away, these names may not make anyone sit up and take notice, but they are names that can help the rebuilding process move along.
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.
3:10 PM: And that’s that. Garza and Soriano (for now) have not been traded.
2:15 PM: The Cubs are saying that Alfonso Soriano is likely staying put, but that could change in August when he clears waivers, according to Bob Nightengale.
2:04 PM: David Kaplan is back on Earth, saying the Cubs and Tigers are hard at work on Soriano, but is not sure money is going to work out.
2:01 PM: Harold Reynolds just said his “favorite rumor” is Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza for Justin Upton. That would be a huge move for the Cubs.
2:00 PM: One hour from the deadline. Nothing new to report. Arodys Vizcaino is ranked #3 in the Cubs’ system, though. So that’s cool.
1:54 PM: The Cubs and Tigers continue to discuss names in a Soriano deal that seems like a long shot at this point. It is not known of Sori would go to the Tigers at this point. Other players discussed with Tigers have been Tony Campana and Luis Valbuena. All of this is speculation, and for his part, Jim Leyland thinks the Tigers are done making trades.
1:50 PM: Carrie Muskat has reported that Casey Coleman, Wellington Castillo, and Adrien Cardenas are going to be called up to Chicago to replace the players traded last night.
1:41 PM: All of the talk around the Cubs seems centered on Dempster, with almost nothing being said about Garza or Soriano. With so little time remaining, I would be surprised (mildly) if either was not a Cub at 3:01 this afternoon.
10:00 AM: Ken Rosenthal says that as of early this morning, the Rangers did not think they had a match to get Garza. He also says the Rangers have said there is “minimal attractive talent.” It appears the Rangers are going to stand still at the deadline as far as pitching goes.
9:55 AM: Dave Sappelt tweets that he is not being called up. The mystery continues…
9:54 AM: Ken Rosenthal is reporting that the Rangers don’t like the low amount of quality starting pitching available and may wait until the August waiver period. Meanwhile, Buster Olney is reporting that Garza is an interesting option for GMs that have confidence in the doctor’s report on his MRI, and that the Diamondbacks have the prospects and aggressive GM to make a trade for Garza work.
9:32 AM: For what it’s worth, the Geovany Soto deal is now official. They will get the dreaded player to be named later…or some of their money back.
9:28 AM: David Kaplan says he spoke to Brett Jackson, who told him that he would be playing in today’s day game for the Iowa Cubs. I still think it’s going to be Dave Sappelt getting the call up. We know now it will not be Jackson, at least not today.
9:08 AM: Jon Heyman reports that the Cubs are talking to the Rangers and two other teams about Matt Garza. Those teams are assumed to be the Reds and the Blue Jays. He also says it is still possible that Garza could stay until at least winter.
9:04 AM: Not really trade related, but since Brett Jackson is not being traded and it does not appear that he is going to be called up, Twitter exploded on Jackson for nothing more than a coincidence, which was Jackson being removed from the Iowa Cubs’ game last night in a double switch right around the same time Reed Johnson was getting hugs in the Cubs’ dugout.
8:54 AM: The Dodgers appear close to acquiring Shane Victorino from the Phillies for Josh Lindblom and a second player. That pretty much kills any chance that the Dodgers would be willing to take on Alfonso Soriano.
Since the arrival of Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer, there has been a significant changing of the guard, which started with the trade to acquire 3B Ian Stewart for OF Tyler Colvin and IF DJ LeMahieu. Last night, the Cubs sent three of their veteran players packing, all of whom were rumored to be on the move. Paul Maholm and Reed Johnson are headed to Atlanta, and Geovany Soto is headed to Texas. For those players the rumors end. For the rest, there are still about 13 1/2 hours of uncertainty remaining until the deadline.
Veteran players are always going to be on notice when a team is trying to rebuild for the future. Ian Stewart was acquired to be a piece to replace the departed Aramis Ramirez, who went to the Brewers as a free agent. Rumors are a part of the deal that comes with any kind of rebuilding process. Stewart had not had his best season in Colorado in 2011. Colvin had been counted on to take over in right field for the Cubs after a strong rookie campaign, in which he hit 20 home runs. The “change of scenery” swap had been rumored for quite a while before the trade actually happened. When I asked Ian on Twitter (@IAN_STEWART_2sc … great guy, very fan friendly, I highly recommend following him) what the rumors were like, he was candid, saying he “hated it.” And that he “love(ed) it there [in CO].” What it all boils down to is, it is difficult to understand what it is like to be traded or to be the subject of trade rumors because very few of us will ever be professional athletes.
The trade deadline and off-season “hot stove” bring a lot of excitement to media and to fans. There is another side of it, though. Players with families are forced to pick up and move on short notice. Focusing on Ian Stewart in this piece was easy. First, he’s accessible on twitter, in one of his late night Q&A sessions. Second, he is one of the younger parts brought in for the changing of the guard, and was subjected to rumors about being traded to the Cubs for quite a while before the trade actually happened.