The Week That Was....

The rest of the world might have been on holidays the last few weeks, but general managar Jim Hendry was busy shuffling the deck chairs on the Cubbie Titanic. Things happened at a rather fast and furious pace last week, so let's revisit with a more in-depth look. What you may have missed while in your drunken egg nog stupor...

Cubs Sign Gathright

Granted, this was before the holiday break, but it's not like I can let a Cubs move go without commenting. Gathright, as we all know by now, can jump over a car and he can also jump over a pitcher if needed. He'll also take a swing at Julian Taveraz which certainly warrants a +1 if this was Deadspin. We also know that Gathright grades at 80 on the 20-80 scouting scale for speed, one of those five tools that Corey Patterson supposedly possessed. A shame that scouting scale hasn't been revamped to include a sixth tool for "baseball IQ" or "can't layoff a breaking pitch".

Back to Gathright, we know he's fast, we know he can jump a car or player, but what he can't do is play baseball very well.  He's a track star wearing a baseball uniform. The speed is fun and all when you're getting a .365 BABIP like he did in 2007, but when lady luck isn't on his side, he's a .265 hitter with a slugging percentage below his on-base percentage. When Ryan Theriot says you hit like a girl, you've got problems.

And as for his 80-grade speed, you'd think a guy so damn fast could steal at better than a 75% clip. While passable by the laws of baseball sabermetrics, when your only real benefit on the field is your wheels, he should be much closer to the 80% or higher range like Dave or Brian Roberts. Of course, speed also is beneficial in the field, but Gathright rates as below average by BP's fielding metric over his career

I still contend that on a one year, $800K deal, he was brought in as no more than a backup plan and motivation for Felix Pie this spring training. I don't think that contract will keep the Cubs from cutting him if Pie can put together a nice spring training. If he does stick, we just hope Piniella uses him appropriately, which would be not much at all.


Jason Marquis for Luis Vizcaino

This one isn't official as word was they were waiting for Marquis to return from his vacation to make the final announcement. Assuming it does get done, the report is the Cubs take Vizcaino and his $3.5M 2009 contract and $500K 2010 buyout and give back Marquis and about a $1M to the Rockies. 

On the player personnel side, the Cubs are definitely downgrading. For all the crap Marquis gets, he makes his starts and his ERA is right around the league average and provides the all important rotational stability. Is that worth $10M a year? Not at all and of course why the deal was made. The Cubs are up against it budget-wise and needed to shed some salary to try and fit their left-handed hitting corner outfielder into the budget. So if you have cheaper and likely better options on the club, such as Sean Marshall or Jeff Samardzija, you have to make the move. 

If Vizcaino sticks with the team, the Cubs get a 34-year old reliever who can strike out hitters but has trouble finding the plate. Well that's nothing new, now is it? Yeah, he struggled with Colorado last year, but not in Colorado (3.81 ERA @ Coors, 7.21 on the road). His rather extreme righty/lefty splits have been noticed by some (.529 OPS against vs righties, 1.174 vs lefties last year), but they don't seem nearly as harsh when you look at the three-year splits (.683 vs righties vs. .820 vs lefties) or his career (.719 vs. lefties, .769 vs. righties). Our resident baseball genius, Arizona Phil, thinks the rather big shift over the last few seasons may be due to Vizcaino lowering his arm slot.

Straight up, the deal is definitely a loss for the Cubs, losing a solid but unexciting starting pitcher for a reliever usually doesn't make a lot of baseball sense, but we all know this move was made to cut salary and bring in a bat, most likely Milton Bradley. Plus, relievers are generally a volatile group, and when you get a guy that can strike out more than a batter an inning, there's always a chance you might catch him on the northside of a good season (see what I did there?).

Cubs Sign Miles, Trade DeRosa

Much like the Marquis for Vizcaino swap, this series of moves should be berated on the surface. Trading away a guy that could very easily have been the team MVP of a 97-win team usually doesn't make a lot of baseball sense either, especially when the Cubs just get prospects back, only one of which may have an impact in 2009. But of course, this deal was also done to help fulfill the Cubs 2009 offseason goal of getting left-handed. While I believe that plan is far too reactionary based off last year's playoffs, it's the Cubs plan nonetheless and they seem to be well on their way to accomplishing it. If and when the Cubs sign Milton Bradley, it's really not much more than a lateral move for the ballclub. DeRosa at 2b, Fukudome in RF and an Edmonds/Johnson CF platoon versus Bradley in RF and a Fontentot/Miles 2b platoon and Fukudome/Johnson CF platoon looks like just about the same production to me, with the added bonus that it does balance out the lineup.

Of course, I'm not exactly sure that Miles was the best choice to replace DeRosa as the official team roamer. Yeah, he can play short, second and third base and possibly even the outfield in a pinch (although less than 10 career games out there). The Cubs were previously rumored to be interested in Rich Aurilia if they did move DeRosa, and although he's 37 years old, he's shown a much better split versus left-handers last year (.903 OPS) and over the last 3 years(.899). Of course, you have to play defense as well and Aurilia looks to be on the decline, although it's always hard to get a good read with limited games at each position using any defensive metric. Miles on the other hand showed significant improvement last season. Miles does have the added benefit of being able to save the team if they're kidnapped by German terrorists in a high rise.

Some other news and notes...

  • Reader "crunch" noticed that Amazon was running a huge sale on MLB replica jerseys. You can get some Alfonso Soriano jersey's for around $35, which is an nice little discount off the $90 or more you'd normally spend.  If you are interested, feel free to go through our Amazon store, sends a few bucks our way without costing you anything extra.
  • The steadily improving Fangraphs has been producing some real nice analysis of the Cubs offseason moves.There's Dempster's contract (expect something in the 3.90 ERA area next year), the pitchers received in the DeRosa trade and a great piece comparing Miles vs. Fontenot
  • Latest Jake Peavy rumor - Kevin Hart, Josh Vitters, Welington Castillo and Jeff Stevens. I would still hate to lose Vitters in any deal, but that seems reasonably fair to me. Essentially it's a deal of Mark DeRosa, Hart, Vitters, Castillo for Peavy, Gaub and Archer. 
  • Finally, a hardy fuck you to every toy manufacturer on the planet. Let's package our products in such a way to ensure that the kid is bored before it's ever open. Oh here Cindy Lou, doesn't this doll look fun, would you like to play with it? Let Dad open it for you, just come back in a couple hours. I just need a pair of scissors, a screwdriver (I shit you not), and a few bandages to cover up the cuts from the razor-sharp plastic it's encased in. So if you've all been wondering where I've been the last week or two, it's been opening up my girls Christmas gifts while making the hydrogen peroxide companies rich.

 

Comments

Nice article, but aren't you a little old to be bleaching your hair? Don't use a copper bowl, that will turn it green.

+

That's really gross. I've never done that, but I can understand the temptation. Just know that for every toy you're in for a 15 minute reverse engineering game that you purchased for free.

Rob, my youngest of 4 is now 10 so I'm thankfully beyond most of this. However, he did get a NERF gun that took about an hour and half to get out of the box. We could probably swap some horror stories.

He's just frosting the tips. Ala Chad

"a few bandages to cover up the cuts from the razor-sharp plastic it's encased in"

No shit. Fuckers.

WMVP & Bruce Levine reporting Bradley is in the fold for 3y/$30m, pending a physical of course.

Hopefully they do their due dilligence a little better than the Dodgers did with Schmidt. I wonder if this means Marquis and Vizcaino passed their physical physicals.

It took about 30 minutes or so to put together my daughter's scooter-tricycle-type-thing. No cuts, though.

put together a dollhouse from Costco that took about 2 hours, but that wasn't packaged to try and kill people.

It's every little action figure and doll and toyset that comes in those encased plastic bubbles that made me want to get them socks and underwear next year.

Was it the 4 ft one? I put the same one together for my girl.

Then she used grandparent gift cards to guy the barbie room sets. Way too many un-twisting and plastic packaging for a 6 year old.

yup, has an elevator, pretty solidly built I must say, it should last them for awhile...we hope.

That's the one.

http://www.tampabay.com/sports/baseball/rays/artic...

Milton Bradley's expected signing with the Cubs this week should further define the free-agent market and may (finally) lead to movement as the Rays consider a group of corner OF/DH types topped by Bobby Abreu, Pat Burrell and Jason Giambi.

considering the Rays are about to sign Burrell, looks like they've moved past Bradley.

Leaves Adam Dunn to Giants, Dodgers, Nats and possibly Rangers, I guess...

Bradley to the Cubs offical according to Levine for 30/3.

Bargain! Even though I do not see Milton playing past 38 or 40.

Too many injuries in the past.

I seriously doubt that this signing will happen. Not much sense in signing a 40 year old Japanese player with a relatively high ERA (by Japanese standards.) Besides, who would we pull off the 40 man? Wonder if any current Cubs on the 40 man have options left...

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  • On the other hand, Pries won his first start for Iowa, only giving up two HRs in the process. This trade has got some legs yet!

    Eric S 20 min 58 sec ago view
  • KB now with 0 RBI in his last 10 games and 1 in his last 15, despite having 19 hits in his last 15 games and raising his batting average from .278 to .286 over that span.

    Maybe have Zobrist hit 2 and KB hit 4?

    Also -- no HR in the last 15 games -- time for a bunch. Starting tomorrow.

    billybucks 36 min 41 sec ago view
  • Down a run. Fowler on first. Nobody out. KB singles to left, Fowler makes it to third, perfect throw from Cabrera nails KB trying to stretch for 2nd.

    So, instead of 1st & 3rd and no out, you have 3rd with one out. It was a perfect throw, but why take the chance with 3-4-5 hitters coming up?

    billybucks 51 min 1 sec ago view
  • Must be a Cub thing - our lefties can;t get lefties out.

    billybucks 51 min 42 sec ago view
  • Splitting hairs, but Jake's pitch was poor execution, while KB's play was a poor decision (and the 2nd time he got thrown out trying to stretch in the game). Poor execution happens. Poor decisions are preventable. Speaking of poor decisions -- Baez's steal of 3rd made absolutely no sense.

    billybucks 52 min 22 sec ago view
  • Didn't Jake cost them the game with a pitch to Frazier?

    The E-Man 1 hour 5 min ago view
  • Missed the play w/Bryant. What happened?

    The E-Man 1 hour 6 min ago view
  • Not a good decision by Bryant in the 9th. That may have cost them the game.

    billybucks 1 hour 10 min ago view
  • Can we un-do the Montgomery deal? Please?

    billybucks 1 hour 11 min ago view
  • THAT WAS TURRIBLE.

    crunch 1 hour 14 min ago view
  • Who is this Arrieta guy? Can I get the old one back please?

    The E-Man 2 hours 23 min ago view
  • Well, this is, once again, the whole season for the Sox.

    billybucks 2 hours 27 min ago view
  • ...and the Bryant RBI jinx continues in the 3rd....crap.

    billybucks 3 hours 59 min ago view
  • bryant's in the dugout filling a police report BECAUSE HE JUST GOT ROBBED.

    f'n cabrerra...

    crunch 4 hours 36 min ago view
  • chapman showing up and available tomorrow night.

    i'm sure he'll be a bit hit. hope he doesn't choke. dude has a rifle for an arm. he'll add a bit of punch to the bullpen.

    crunch 4 hours 37 min ago view
  • the 'crosstown classic' sure has lost it's magic with interleague. the excitement level is barely noticable...maybe it's a bit more hype in the city, itself.

    crunch 4 hours 42 min ago view