A League of Her Own

Chicago Cubs Headlines For Tuesday Morning

Orange County News - February 21, 2009

My little leaguers beat the holy hell out of their opponents last night, thus foreshadowing a Cubs victory today

I woke up this morning to learn that the Cubs have begun giving Josh Vitters the ol' Felix Pie treatment:

While seeking a replacement for injured third baseman Aramis Ramirez, Lou Piniella recently brought up the name Josh Vitters. Piniella knew the 19-year-old prospect wasn't at all ready, and that the idea of calling someone up from Class-A Peoria to replace Ramirez was inconceivable anyway. But if the Cubs are right, Vitters is the third baseman of the future and should be ready to take over when Ramirez's contract ends after 2012.
It shouldn't be long now until they rush him through the rest of the minors, bring him up with the promise of him playing every day, start him, and then bench him every time he fails to get a hit. Your future is bright, Josh!

In previewing today's amateur draft, Paul Sullivan recaps our many recent successes with minor league prospects:

The failure of the Cubs to draft, sign and develop top-line position players has been a sore subject for general manager Jim Hendry, who turned the scouting department over to Tim Wilken to fix the problem four years ago.

The well-respected Wilken has a reputation for going against conventional wisdom, as evidenced by the surprising picks of the 2006 draft: outfielder Tyler Colvin, No. 13, and right-hander Jeff Samardzija, a fifth-rounder whom Wilken believed was the No. 1 player in the draft.

Samardzija received a five-year, $10 million deal in 2007 and has shuttled between the Cubs and Triple-A Iowa for the last year. Colvin was recently promoted to Double-A Tennessee, after returning to Class A following off-season elbow reconstruction surgery. The Cubs believe both will eventually become consistent major league players, though the jury is still out.

Ditto for Josh Lansford, a sixth-round pick in '06. The son of former A's third baseman Carney Lansford, Josh Lansford made the conversion from third to pitching this spring and has spent the last two months at extended spring training. Most of the pre-Wilken draftees have already been labeled, and most were busts. Patterson, the No. 3 pick of the 1998 draft, is back in the minors in Washington's system.

Outfielder Ryan Harvey, a first-round pick in 2003, was quietly released with no announcement this spring. Free-agent signees Pie (2001) and catcher Wellington Castillo (2004) haven't worked out either. Pie has continued to struggle with Baltimore after flopping with the Cubs, while Castillo is hitting .198 at Tennessee.

Puke. Paul Sullivan tosses millertime (and his man-crush on Guzman) a bone:

One of the few bright spots in the Cubs' bullpen has been Angel Guzman, who entered the final days of spring training not knowing if he'd make the team. Guzman has thrown 13 1/3 scoreless innings since May 8, cementing his role as the bridge to set-up man Carlos Marmol and closer Kevin Gregg.

After years of battling arm injuries, Guzman credited pitching coach Larry Rothschild for giving him the confidence to succeed. "Larry was working with me almost every day in spring training, and that worked," he said. "Now it's given me good results, so it's just a matter of doing it consistently."

Snort. I notivce that Angel didn't give any credit to all the towels who gave their lives for his recovery. Rude.

A propos of nothing, Lou is starting to talk funny: 

But Guzman's rise has coincided with Marmol's mysterious bout with control issues. Marmol leads all major league relievers with 9.0 walks per nine innings, though he often manages to squirm out of his self-created jams. "We've got to get that arrested, and quick," manager Lou Piniella said.

Bruce Miles tries to make me feel better about the McDreamy trade. And fails:

The specter of the Mark DeRosa trade hangs over the Cubs, and DeRosa isn't going away. He was in town over the weekend as he and the Cleveland Indians played the White Sox. DeRosa will be back next week as the Indians visit Wrigley Field for interleague play. In one way, the DeRosa trade was the prism in which the Cubs' entire off-season can be viewed.

Let's evaluate each of the key moves made by general manager Jim Hendry to date: The DeRosa trade: On New Year's Eve, Hendry traded the immensely popular and productive infielder-outfielder to Cleveland for minor-league pitchers Jeff Stevens, John Gaub and Chris Archer.

Looked at this deal in a vacuum, the trade can be justified even now. DeRosa is a 34-year-old player in the final year of his contract whose stats were projected to decline beginning with this year. And they have. DeRosa has an average/on-base/slugging line of .262/.329/.434. He has 9 home runs and 38 RBI. Last year with the Cubs, DeRosa had an on-base percentage of .376 and a slugging percentage of .481. The three pitchers the Cubs received in return all have performed well in the minor leagues.

Um. . . I wasn't aware that Mark was going to be back at Wrigley next week. I'm going to need some time to prepare . . . emotionally, physically, makeover-ly . . . I just didn't think it would be so soon. I'm not ready. WHY DIDN'T SOMEONE TELL ME?!?!?!?!?! Cubs @ Houston tonight.

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flyball said:

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is DeRosa really the answer? I think the teams problems go way deeper than that

JulieDiCaro said:

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of course not, but it's something to talk about, so i'm milking it for all it's worth.

Umbra said:

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You don't feel like you're just being part of the Cow-herd when you pine for DeRosa?

I think the bottom line is that when the Cubs go on a tear (and they will- you can't have 4 players suck forever, and sometimes they improbably rake together for a week) everyone will forget about DeRosa and this story will never be brought up ever again.

Also, good on Bruce Miles for saying what needed to be said: trading DeRosa for some arms and the space to get Bradley was a good idea.

flyball said:

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it was a good idea, then the rest of the team decided to play bad baseball and/or get hurt

Umbra said:

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And it's useless to judge a previous decision based on new events and information. I know some people apparently foresaw Aramis Ramirez getting hurt for two months and being replaced by Aaron Miles (or whoever), but I didn't.

I think the increased production that Milton Bradley will bring to this team outweighs the increased risk incurred by not having a super-utility guy to plug the gaps.

Don't look now, but over the last month, Bradley is hitting .286/.384/.508. CRISIS AVERTED.

flyball said:

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I don't think Bradley was the answer, but neither was DeRosa

the reality is that Hendry was hoping to extend last season's team into this season, with everyone a year older, and a year more expensive, to really have done it Soto needed to not have a sophomore slump, and the bullpen needed to be good

instead Ramirez gets injured, with no solution for a long term backup, the bullpen can only pitch well on days when the offense sucks, and the offense can only muster 2 or 3 runs

the team is filled with players that have had good season, and are not having those seasons this year, bad luck, bad timing, whatever it still sucks

Doc said:

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"Also, good on Bruce Miles for saying what needed to be said: trading DeRosa for some arms and the space to get Bradley was a good idea."

Um...no.

What arms?

And trading DeRosa, a dependable, multifaceted fielder and solid hitter...for an undependable player who can only play one position...and a position that we were already paying a player $10 million a year to play...that was not a good idea.

Now we are stuck with a crappier second baseman...no one to back up at third...a right fielder who only plays 1/2 the games.

Look, I know the cubs needed a left handed hitter, but we a paying milton bradley $10 million to play only 1/2 the games is ridiculous...and how many of those 81 games will be against right handed pitchers? 60? So we are paying milton bradley $10 million to bat left handed in 60 games this year. Maybe if we payed him $20 million he'd actually play a full season.

I'm sorry...but that sure doesn't seem like a good idea to me.

berselius said:

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Derosa = Bradley? Are you serious?

Millertime made many good points above about Bradley and DeRosa, but here's another one.

I think you're putting too much value on DeRosa's ability to play multiple postions. Most of that value last year was tied up in the fact that Mike Fontenot was backing up DeRosa at 2b and was playing out of his mind. Think of it like this - when DeRosa moved to 3b (or wherever else last year), FONTENOT was the one backing up the injured player, because he was the one that replaced him in the lineup. Yes, DeRosa's flexibility made it easier for Fontenot to back up multiple players, but still, the real value is in who replaces the injured player in the lineup, not the player who frees him up to get there. If the Cubs hadn't signed the shit-tastic Aaron Miles and kept Cedeno around instead this would be less of an issue.

flyball said:

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our choices are derosa and fontenot

fontenot and miles or

fontenot and cedno?

I was with you about derosa not being the key until you present that choice, excuse while I go read up on Cutler

berselius said:

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You're not looking at the whole picture, flyball. The choices are

Fontenot, Bradley, and Miles
Fontenot, Derosa, and Reed Johnson
Fontenot, Bradley, Cedeno, and a few extra mil that could be spent on a reliever

berselius said:

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Also, in the scenario where DeRosa was playing RF every day instead of 2b, Reed Johnson would be the defacto backup to the IF. REEDZ is a guy you want to have in the lineu v LHP, but as an everyday guy, he's pants

JulieDiCaro said:

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see, i reject the idea that there was NOWHERE ELSE they could have freed up money for bradley other than launching derosa. how about not signing the sucky kevin gregg and using guzman and marmol in the 8th and 9th?

okay, so i know that we didn't know that guzman would be this good. but what i want is deRosa, fontenot (not really, but better than miles---who i'm going to start calling "the precious"), and bradley.

berselius said:

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Agreed on Gregg - if they wanted to save money they should have just made Marmol the closer. Of course, with the way Marmol has pitched this year, that wouldn't have worked out so well. I'm not saying that Cedeno is better than Miles, just that the Cubs could get the same (crappy) production from him for less money. Blanco = Cedeno = Miles as far as I'm concerned, it's just the money that's different

JulieDiCaro said:

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see? this is what i mean. we could have found money to get bradley elsewhere. we didn't have to leave our middle infield completely decrepit in the process.

berselius said:

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Gregg's money + Miles money = $6.4MM. Money saved from DeRosa = $5.5MM. I still think trading DeRosa was the right move, in that he was quite fungible, coming off a career year, and had a up-and-coming backup in Fontenot. It's those other deals, along with getting rid of Wuertz and Gaudin that make no sense to me.

JulieDiCaro said:

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how dare you call mcdreamy "fungible?"

YOU'RE FUNGIBLE!!!!!

JulieDiCaro said:

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as i KEEP SAYING, i'm not saying the trade was a mistake. i'm just saying that if we HAD mcdreamy, i wouldn't have to look at aaron miles or ANDY WHITE's ugly mugs right now.

who wouldn't rather look at mcdreamy than aaron miles? miles looks like gollum.

JulieDiCaro said:

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cow herd? what cow herd?

the one that keeps devoting entire blog entries to telling me where to go?

if you think it's popular to say that we need mcdreamy back, you don't live in my world. and anyway, i've said a billion times that, rather than drop a fortune on peavy, i'd rather have us go after a real second baseman, like aaron hill.

so there.

flyball said:

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I'm just afraid that they trade away the last remainders of what used to be a decent farm system and spend $10 mil for a mediocre 2nd baseman that will be with the team for 2 month

JulieDiCaro said:

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oh, i don't think they're really going to DO it. that's why i can whine about it. kind of like when millertime sung the praises of angel guzman, never really expecting him to pitch.

flyball said:

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I'm afraid they will, or at least try, and miss the mark, and screw up the teams future

JulieDiCaro said:

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you realize that i'm, like, one-sixteenth serious about all of this, right?

it's easy to sit and scream about how much better we would be with mcdreamy because i know we'll never get him back. if we really had the chance to get him back, i would seriously hestitate, because i'd be afraid he would suck. still, sucking for mcdreamy is like .250, which might make him the best hitter on this team.

flyball said:

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oh yeah, I'm just being contrary today

I am mostly serious though about being afraid that they will try to save things by overpaying for a mid level infielder

Umbra said:

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I wish the Cubs had Paul DePodesta's magic computer so they could draft the correct players.

millertime said:

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That way we can avoid bad prospects like Prince Fielder and draft good players like Jeremy Brown!

JulieDiCaro said:

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poor jeremy brown and his big jeans. you need to stop piling on.

JulieDiCaro said:

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you know what? if we didn't have enough $$$ to keep wood, we don't have enough to feed prince fielder.

millertime said:

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We could do what the Brewers do and treat our players like indentured servants. What's that Prince Fielder, you're one of the top hitting 1st Basemen in baseball and we pay you under $1 million? How dare you complain about your salary! You're not acting very PRINCLEY, are you?

millertime said:

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I do admit, I never thought Guzman would actually pitch this well. I liken it to my old roomate, who supported Rickie Weeks and his .230 batting average to the bitter end, drafted him this year in fantasy baseball, and had the last laugh when Rickie actually played amazing till he got hurt and lost for the season.

This makes up for me being wrong about Sean Gallagher. Has Gallagher won that Cy Young award yet?

JulieDiCaro said:

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this is how i feel: do i really think mcdreamy would solve all our problems? of course not. but it's the one thing i can hang onto as an excuse for our shitty, shitty start.

and hang onto it i will.

millertime said:

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Robert Pattinson could use his vampire powers to crush home runs no mortal man could ever possibly hit.

JulieDiCaro said:

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well, yeah. plus, his sparkling would distract the baserunners, so there's that.

flyball said:

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if we're trading for vampires I think Angel is a much better choice

just saying

Doc said:

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Funny...

Those stats are about what DeRosa hit ALL SEASON last year.

Doc said:

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Oh...and DeRosa played in 149 games last year.

millertime said:

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That is also a Career year for DeRosa, and a slightly below average year for Bradley.

Milton Bradley 2008: VORP 57.2
Mark DeRosa 2008: VORP 35.4

That's with Bradley having 80 fewer plate appearances. Call me nuts, but trading away DeRosa (34 years old coming off a career year he will likely never match) to give mroe playing time to a guy that OPS .900 last year, recieving three pitching prospects and freeing up enough salary to buy the best bat in AL last year seems like a move I'd make over and over again.

I don't see the value in haning onto DeRosa so that we have a super-utility fielder. Would you have felt better if our lineup right now had Reedz in center, DeRosa playing third, Fontenot at 2B, and Fukudome in RF? Would our offense really be that more productive?

JulieDiCaro said:

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dude, stop comparing derosa to bradley. no one is saying we shouldn't have traded for bradley.

i just think a) maybe we could have traded someone ELSE to free up money and b) maybe we could offer them aaron miles and kevin gregg to get him back?

millertime said:

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Why not have them throw in Wood while they're at it?

JulieDiCaro said:

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that's a good idea. we're giving them gregg, they should give us back wood.

millertime said:

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And the best thing is, no team really loses. Or wins. We exhange Gregg, who is doing awful, for Wood, who has seen better days. If Wood is going to struggle, he deserves to struggle for us! Plus I don't like those goggles. I mean, come on. Goggles? What a nerd. Guess who's doing the teams's taxes this year?

JulieDiCaro said:

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post of the day.

millertime said:

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yes, just imagine how many games ahead in first place we'd be if only still had DeRosa with his 34 year old .764 OPS bat in our lineup. Don't worry, I'm sure he'll rebound to his career numbers of .769.

Who wants a right fielder that OPSed .999 last year anyways. Or a 2B who OPSed .904. Keep those guys off my team.

flyball said:

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too bad all the numbers we talk about are last years, non of that helps this season

millertime said:

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I believe the difference between Felix Pie and Josh Vitters might come down to the this thing I keep hearing about called "talent". Apparently, this Vitters kid is chalk full of it, while that Pie guy didn't have as much as we all thought.

flyball said:

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whatevs, they'll trade him before he hits AAA

JulieDiCaro said:

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right.

because we never EVER heard about how talented Pie was when he was in the minors, especially when he had on OPS of over 1.200 in AAA.

flyball said:

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how about just trade everyone for a stock of young prospects?

millertime said:

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We could sign robert pattinson to play third base.

JulieDiCaro said:

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don't be silly. he's british, he plays footy.

JulieDiCaro said:

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OMG.

I can't believe I missed this (though I don't watch Jimmy Fallon, so I guess I shouldn't be too surprised):

http://www.tmz.com/2009/06/09/the-return-of-zack-morris/

Carl Heartscubs Gierhan said:

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As much as I'm ambivalent about Jimmy Fallon, a Saved By the Bell reunion is a wonderful idea. I hope they do "Friends Forever" again if they manage to pull the reunion off.

Carl Heartscubs Gierhan said:

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Wasn't Wellington Castillo Matt's pick to be backup catcher this year? The next Soto?

JulieDiCaro said:

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some of us might be delusional about derosa, but there's an entire community of people out there delusional about cedeno. his line this season:

.154/.214/.292

that's worse than what blanco is hitting.

berselius said:

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Okay, I take that back about Cedeno - his true talent level is pretty much the same as Blanco's. At least the Cubs wouldn't be paying him a ridiculous contract though. When you factor in defense Miles is about the same as all of them. What would have been awesome would be if the Cubs had signed Orlando Cabrera, but they wouldn't have moved Theriot off of SS unless they picked up an elite SS like Furcal

Carl Heartscubs Gierhan said:

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I specifically unclicked the bar so that wouldn't be a reply to comment from cubbiejulie.

Nicky Pork n' Beans said:

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You know who I miss?
Matt Murton.

Not really, its just been awhile since I heard someone complain about losing him

JulieDiCaro said:

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any and all laments for bad/medicore ex-players are welcome here.

Nicky Pork n' Beans said:

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Good, because I got a million of them

JulieDiCaro said:

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at least you didn't buy a prior jersey, like certain other people did.

berselius said:

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I've still got my Prior 'jersey' (just a t-shirt one, since I can't afford a real one). It's hiding in the back of my dresser though, since looking at it makes me sad.

gravedigger said:

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i love my prior jersey

JulieDiCaro said:

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of course you do.

but you didn't even know how badly this team was slumping. as far as you know, prior is still on th team.

gravedigger said:

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yeah its embarrassing how little ive been able to follow this team. my mind is still blown. i mean, holy shit.

gravedigger said:

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and whoa, whoa, whoa -- wait a minute. prior's gone?

JulieDiCaro said:

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if it was up to me. davey martinez would still be patrolling CF.

well, maybe REEDZ.

flyball said:

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:) WGN (news at noon) was on in the little place we just had lunch at

too bad we finished before sports

millertime said:

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I might have bought my Mark Pawalek jersey too soon.

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