Rounding Up the Usual Suspects
Submitted by Arizona Phil on Wed, 11/14/2007 - 12:12pm
In an interview with the Sun Times yesterday, Lou Piniella discussed some of his ideas about the upcoming season, including a desire for added bullpen depth. Sun Times Cubs beat writer Gordon Wittenmyer speculated that in their quest to add depth, the Cubs would probably be looking at minor league free-agents. Of course, teams do that every year. Players on a minor league roster who have been previously released or non-tendered, players outrighted during the previous season who deferred their right to be a FA until after the season, and players who have played at least seven seasons in the minors, are eligible to be free-agents on October 15th of every season. There is a one-week period starting on October 15th where teams retain exclusive negotiating rights with their own minor league free-agents, and then beginning on October 22nd, minor league free-agents can sign with any of the 30 MLB clubs. Last year, the Cubs signed 23 minor league free-agents after October 22nd, nine in November (one of whom was selected in the Rule 5 Draft), none during the "frozen" period between November 20th and the Rule 5 Draft, and then 14 more (including two recently de-rostered Cubs players, one of whom had been released on 11/17, and the other who had been non-tendered on 12/12) after the Rule 5 Draft: MINOR LEAGUE FA SIGNED BY CUBS PRIOR TO 11/20/06
Nate Bland, LHP (11-06-06) - was released at end of ST
Jason Anderson, RHP (11-09-06) - got NRI to ST, was released at end of ST
Jorge Cortes, OF (11-09-06)
Jason Smith, INF (11-09-06) - selected by TOR in Rule 5 Draft
Koyie Hill, C (11-10-06) - got NRI to ST
Geoff Jones, LHP (11-10-06)
Ben Howard, RHP (11-12-06) - got NRI to ST
John Webb, RHP (11-13-06) - got NRI to ST
Mike Kinkade, 1B-OF (11-20-06) - got NRI to ST
MINOR LEAGUE FA SIGNED AFTER 2006 RULE 5 DRAFT:
Cory Bailey, RHP (12-11-06)
Josh Kroeger, OF (12-11-06)
Mike Mahoney, C (12-11-06)
Ryan O’Malley, LHP (12-11-06) - got NRI to ST
Adam Harben, RHP (12-17-06) - got NRI to ST
Kevin Ciarrachi, C (12-17-06) - was released at end of ST
Corey Myers, C-INF (12-17-06) - was released at end of ST
Derek Wathan, INF (12-17-06) - was released at end of ST
Tony Miller, OF (12-19-06) - was released at end of ST
Edgar Omana, LHP (12-19-06) - was released at end of ST
Val Pascucci, OF (01-05-07) - was released at end of ST
Chris Amador, OF (01-12-07)
Tomas Perez, INF (01-12-07) - got NRI to ST, was traded to LAD (AAA) at end of ST
Bobby Hill, INF (01-26-07) - got NRI to ST, but flunked physical
Only twelve of the 23 minor league free-agents signed by the Cubs last off-season survived Spring Training to play in the Cubs organization in 2007, and of the twelve "survivors," only Koyie Hill accrued any MLB service time.
So expect the Cubs to sign upwards of two dozen minor league free-agents again this off-season, some prior to November 20th, and then some more after the Rule 5 Draft. They have already re-upped LHPs Les Walrond and Geoff Jones for '08 (and both will likely get an NRI to ST), but the Cubs have probably also already signed a few minor league FA from other organizations, too. However, clubs usually announce signings of minor league free-agents in batches. (Last year, the first "batch" of minor league free-agent signings was announced by the Cubs on November 16th).
If the Cubs are indeed looking at minor league free-agents to add potential bullpen depth for the big club in 2008, let's "Round Up the Usual Suspects" and take a look at the Top 15 relievers with MLB experience who are available as minor league free-agents (listed alphabetically):
Of the 15 pitchers listed above, those with Cub Connections include Francis Beltran (ex-Cubs prospect who was dealt away in the Nomar deal in 2005), Franklyn German (a member of Cubs bench coach Alan Trammell's bullpen in Detroit 2003-05), Vic Darensbourg (pitched for Jim Hendry when Hendry was managing in the Marlins system), and Mike Venafro (a member of Lou Piniella's bullpen in Tampa Bay in 2004).
Anytime a club signs a minor league FA to a minor league contract with an NRI to ST, it's a crap shoot. But sometimes you can catch lightning in a bottle, so it's probably worth a shot. It doesn't cost much. But of course it's not something you can count on, either.
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Also - what did Bosio say when we went to talk to Rondon? "OK, Hector, tie game, 9th inning, 2 outs, 2-0 count on the hottest hitter in the game. Let's try the ol' fastball right down the middle and see how that works, hmmm?" Terrible pitch. I've never been a fan of using closers in non-save situations -- they are used to pitching with adrenaline pumping and celebrating the last out of the inning. I realize it was a a swinging bunt and an error that caused the problem, but that may have been the worst pitch I have seen Rondon throw in a long time.
Ugly series save a few clutch Homeruns. 2 first inning Homeruns allowed. 2 complete innings (out of 27) with a lead (8th and 9th game 2). 6 Leads/Ties given up top half of the inning after scoring. 9 9th inning unearned runs. Brutal roadtrip coming up while SF plays 22 straight against teams with losing records. Like the Cubs odds, obviously, but long way to go.
No more f'n Pajama Parties, Joe! Losing a series at home to the Reds (who have a worse record than the Brewers) in September is not what we are looking for, gentlemen. 3 series losses in a row -- let's get that fixed immediately. Bad error by KB as Crunch describes -- almost like he was surprised the ball was hit to him. I think if he makes that play we win the game.
solid smack to him...right through his legs. he wasn't even in motion, totally stationary. no bad bounce, either. it was hit very hard, but also squarely wiffed...not even any glove contact. it happens...not a good time for it to happen with 2 outs, though. that was the inning ender, easy.
Can someone tell me about Bryant's error who saw the play? You cannot give the Reds (or most teams) 4 outs. In this case with Joey Votto coming up.
un...fucking...believable... tie a game in the bottom 8th, give up 3 runs in the top 9th...why the hell not. awesome.
DAT TIE THO.
Ugh Hammel...the new Haren. The 3-5 starters have imploded and killed yet another series.
Just about to type the same thing.....Augh!
5 times in the last 3 games, Cubs have taken the lead or tied the game in the bottom half, only to give up runs in the top half.
<p>I'd like to see stats on opposing pitcher batting average. It's probably not real, but seems like we give up hits all the time to f-ing pitchers. </p>
Tony Four Sacks # 27
Hammel has k'd Votto twice. /baseball
Sore Ribs doesn't worry me too much. Getting a "precautionary MRI" has me assuming he is going to be out at least a few days, possibly more.
Maybe he got injured diving for the ball in LF? I really hope it's not code for a "strained oblique"....
Our starting pitching kinda sucks for #3-5.