Subscribe to the Newsletter

January 2011 Archives

The Cubs really are trying to put the old band back together, signing Augie Ojeda very soon after signing Todd Wellemeyer. Ojeda, yet another ex-Cub who went on to have somewhat better years elsewhere (for Ojeda, it was in Arizona), joins a growing list of guys in the same boat: Kerry Wood, Reed Johnson, Wellemeyer, and Scott Moore. Who's next? Tuffy Rhodes.

Other than Wood, it is hard to imagine any of these guys having an impact on this year's squad, though Ojeda might have the best chance. Not sure I like that the Cubs are bringing old hands back into the fold--could be a good sign of a team that's trying to use inexpensive, familiar faces to keep you from noticing how bad it is.

Meanwhile, Braden Looper, a half decent starting pitcher who has been good in stretches for the Cardinals and Brewers, also signed on to play at Wrigley.

Freddy, Todd: You can go home again

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

MLB Trade Rumors has something this morning on the possibility that Freddy Garcia could again return to the White Sox. The Sox got more than they could have ever expected last season from the 2005 World Series vet, as he went 12-6. He did fade, and ideally you would like to see a starter pitch more than 157 innings, but he had his moments.

Given his age--35--and recurring general gimpiness, I still assumed at the end of 2010 that Garcia would be long gone, with the Sox potentially adding a different againg, back-of-the-rotation starter. The Adam Dunn deal may have changed things, and looking at the free agent crop and the pricing, bringing Gracia back wouldn't be a bad idea, particularly if it means you mold Chris Sale as closer from the start of spring training. I'm not totally against Sale being a starter, but for this season at least he may be more valuable as closer and should have that as his main focus.

Meanwhile, the Cubs recently welcomed back right-handed pitcher Todd Wellemeyer on a minor league contract. Wellemeyer is one of those guys who had an incredible debut with the Cubs, earning the save in a 17-inning game in 2003, but faded quickly. He did win 13 games for the Cardinals in 2008, though he has again faded since then, with an elbow injury on his resume. Anyway, it's a low-risk deal, so if the Cubs don't want him, he won't be floating Samardzija-like in the minors for very long.

Trade bits and tidbits

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

--It was a little surprising to see Tom Gorzelanny traded to Washington for three middling prospects. The Matt Garza acquisition did deal a blow to the lefty's potential to make the starting rotation, but I still felt Gorzelanny and Randy Wells were the two arms to beat come spring training.

--Garza supposedly wasn't going to be trade bait in Tampa until the Cubs backed up the truck and he suddenly was available, but Garza sounds happy to have left Tampa and its indifferent fan base. I had forgotten that garza didn't have much of an audience in Tampa for his no-hitter last summer and other big games for the Rays--that would never happen in Wrigley.

--The White Sox signed pitcher Phil Humber, one of the top overall picks in the 2004 draft. Humber hasn't done much since then, but sounds like the just the sort of reclamation project the Sox and Don Cooper like to bet on.

--Both teams avoided arbitration with several players this week by giving them raises, but one of the most intriguing could be Sox reliever Tony Pena. He had a 5.10 ERA last year, but put in 100 innings and was 1-1 in three starts at the end of the season. He seems pretty versatile if he can keep the walks and hits under control, so it will be interesting to see how his role evolves. At $1.6 million this year, he could prove a great value, or at worst, a fairly low-cost mistake.

Ohman, Johnson and the ex-Cub factor

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Will the ex-Cub factor--which dictates that the performance of ex-Cubs will always be greater than, and never equal to or less then, their performance while with the Cubs--work for Will Ohman?

The lefty reliever who left the Cubs back in 2007 via trade, and was probably better known for whining his way out the door than for anything he did on the field, has been signed by the White Sox. This seemed at first like an odd move by GM Kenny Williams, who currently has at least two lefties--Matt Thornton and Chris Sale--in his bullpen. Ohman also seemed like sort of a character risk, the type of player Cubs GM Jim Hendry would sign again even though he bitched and moaned his way out of Chicago the first time.

But, consider the likely possibility that Thornton will be the first choice to set up Sale as the new closer, and the Sox still need a southpaw specialist they can bring in to face one or two left-handed batters, and save Thornton and Sale for prime time appearances. Also, Ohman sounds more mature than when he left town, and has generally been more effective the last few season than he was with the Cubs, so maybe it will all work out.

Speaking of character, the Cubs have brought back Reed Johnson in a minor league deal. (Does the ex-Cub factor work for ex-Cubs who come back to the Cubs?) The scrappy outfielder was a fan favorite, hustling on the bases and playing the field with no concern for life or limb. But, he was a marginal hitter whose .303 average in 2008 was by far a career peak, and that was when he was 31. He's now 34.

It's a low-risk deal and if he makes the team out of spring training, he'll get a nice hand when he returns to Wrigley. But, consider him the new Sam Fuld (though I guess you could also call him the old Sam Fuld, for multiple reasons)--that is, a guy who will make a few tumbling, diving, jumping catches, hopefully as a late-game replacement for Alfonso Soriano, and may collect a clutch hit or two, but probably won't have much impact overall.

 

Ohman, Johnson and the ex-Cub factor

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Will the ex-Cub factor--which dictates that the performance of ex-Cubs will always be greater than, and never equal to or less then, their performance while with the Cubs--work for Will Ohman?

The lefty reliever who left the Cubs back in 2007 via trade, and was probably better known for whining his way out the door than for anything he did on the field, has been signed by the White Sox. This seemed at first like an odd move by GM Kenny Williams, who currently has at least two lefties--Matt Thornton and Chris Sale--in his bullpen. Ohman also seemed like sort of a character risk, the type of player Cubs GM Jim Hendry would sign again even though he bitched and moaned his way out of Chicago the first time.

But, consider the likely possibility that Thornton will be the first choice to set up Sale as the new closer, and the Sox still need a southpaw specialist they can bring in to face one or two left-handed batters, and save Thornton and Sale for prime time appearances. Also, Ohman sounds more mature than when he left town, and has generally been more effective the last few season than he was with the Cubs, so maybe it will all work out.

Speaking of character, the Cubs have brought back Reed Johnson in a minor league deal. (Does the ex-Cub factor work for ex-Cubs who come back to the Cubs?) The scrappy outfielder was a fan favorite, hustling on the bases and playing the field with no concern for life or limb. But, he was a marginal hitter whose .303 average in 2008 was out of the ordinary, and that was when he was 31. He's now 34.

It's a low-risk deal and if he makes the team out of spring training, he'll get a nice hand when he returns to Wrigley. But, consider him the new Sam Fuld (though I guess you could also call him the old Sam Fuld, for multiple reasons)--that is, a guy who will make a few tumbling, diving, jumping catches, hopefully as a late-game replacement for Alfonso Soriano, and may collect a clutch hit or two, but probably won't have much impact overall.

 

Trading futures

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

The Matt Garza trade rumors appeared to run their course a few days ago when reports suggested that the Rays would hold onto the starting pitcher until the trade deadline. But, that must have been when Jim Hendry told Tampa just to take anyone they wanted from the Cubs. The deal reportedly has been done, with Garza and two currently unidentified minor leaguers coming to the Cubs in exhange for top Cubs minor league starter Chris Archer, top infield prospect Hak Ju Lee, top catcher Robinson Chirinos, stalwart late-season gamepiece Sam Fuld and outfielder Brandon Guyer.

Sorry if that sentence was too long to read without taking a breath or two, but the Cubs pretty much left the clubhouse doors open for the Rays. Archer, Lee and Chirinos have shown significant promise, and it's a bit shocking to see all three of them go in one trade. Sure, Lee and Chirinos have their paths to the majors blocked by young stars Starlin Castro and Geovany Soto, but Lee, who has been compared to Jose Reyes, could have played other infield positions and questions remain about Soto's power, consistency and health. Archer likewise has guys like Andrew Cashner and Casey Coleman ahead of him for starting rotation consideration with the big league club, but neither one of them is locked in. (Fuld was a fan favorite for giving 110% in the field, though he never seemed able to break through at the plate.)

It's surprising that the Cubs would spend the last half of the 2010 season offering minor leaguers major league playing time, then hire a veteran of the farm system as manager, but end up trading at least three key farm hands during the offseason.

Garza is definitely talented, having pitched a no hitter last year and collected 15 wins, but he still had almost a 4.00 ERA and has been streaky since his days with the Twins. He's still young and strikes out a lot of guys, and is definitely a "name" starter being added to a staff that didn't look to have much punch entering 2011.

Garza is a nice addition, but what the Cubs gave up for him seems to contradict the rebuilding process that started last season. Archer looked to be part of the rebuilding, if not this year, then in 2012. The wild cards in this deal are the Rays minor leaguers that were thrown in. The Rays have a great farm system, so maybe the Cubs will be able to replace some of what they lost.

Top 5 from the Archive

Triple Header

Categories


Monthly Archives

Breaking Beachwood Sports Feed!