Update: Cubs should have kept Cardenas and dealt DeWitt

Update: Cubs should have kept Cardenas and dealt DeWitt

Timing on this article was slightly off, so now I'm updating this to reflect today's decision to send Cardenas down and apparently keep DeWitt.

I know that Blake DeWitt has impressed Dale Sveum from day one.  He looked like an early lock to win his roster spot back from Adrian Cardenas, who scuffled out of the gate.

Things have changed very much since then.  For one thing Cardenas has been better on defense than advertised.  He's not going to win a Gold Glove out there but talk that he's absolutely awful seems to have been a bit exaggerated.  He hasn't shown anything that leads me to think he can't be at least adequate there, especially in a part-time role.  At any rate, it's at least as good as DeWitt's defense.

Cardenas's calling card, however, is his bat and he has had it on display for a couple of weeks now, raising his average up to .286.  He has outslugged DeWitt .647 to .463.

Then there's the all-important roster situation.  Those spots are precious commodities at this point in the spring.  Non-roster player Joe Mather already seems like a lock to earn one spot, but he has played head and shoulders above his competition this spring.  That has not been the case with DeWitt.  Do you give him the job over Cardenas because of experience or a slightly better batting average in the spring?  Those seem like trivial reasons for a team focusing 3 years down the road.  When DeWitt was badly outplaying Cardenas early this spring, you could make a case for sticking with DeWitt and taking a chance on waiving Cardenas, but it seems pretty obvious that Cardenas does not get through waivers at this point given his recent performance and the general need for 2Bs out there.

DeWitt may also bring you back a piece that could be useful, whether it's a relief arm or perhaps another asset for an improving farm system.  It's not likely the Cubs get back something substantial for DeWitt but he should bring back enough value to make it worthwhile.  DeWitt's skills are redundant with Cardenas.  They are the same kind of player in that they are lefty hitters with so-s0 defense at 2B, 3B, and the outfield corners.  The difference is that Cardenas is slightly younger and has a 40 man roster spot -- a spot that the Cubs originally gave him at the expense of DeWitt's place on the roster.  It seems reasonable to think that they believed Cardenas was the better fit back when they made that decision the first time, and there's been nothing that's happened this spring that should have made them change their minds.

Update: The Cubs sent Cardenas to AAA Iowa.  While it doesn't ensure that DeWitt has made the club, it's a good indication that unless a last minute spring deal is made, he will go north with the team.  I'm disappointed in this move because I think it was made by Dale Sveum before the Cubs even took played a game.  Not that I think decisions should be made based on spring stats, but has DeWitt really been so much better than Cardenas that you should use another 40 man roster spot to keep him?

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  • Apparently Theo and Jed don't read this blog. Muskat reports that Cardenas was sent down this morning.

  • In reply to North Side Irish:

    Haha! I doubt they'd take my advice even if they did read my blog. I think I made my case...maybe I was too late! I don't like this move at all, but they're the experts so I'll give them the benefit of the doubt.

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    I am hoping that Dewitt will be sent to the phillies so that we can keep our rule 5 pick, i see a lot of talent in him. Also i think that Cardenas can beat out barney if he had more time with this team. I like the way he approaches the plate. Although i have to admit seeing barney hit a lot of doubles this spring has been a welcomed surprise.

  • In reply to Larry:

    If Barney had Cardenas bat, we'd really have something...or if Cardenas had Barney's glove. Either way!

    Barney is a guy who will probably always have to fight for his job. If Cardenas improves his D then we could see him challenge. Right now, it's hard to go against Barney given that he's the best defender and has hit better. OBP needs to get better, though.

  • They might try waiving mateo. After his arm injury perhaps the chances anyone takes a flyer on him are pretty low. They could also move him to the 60 day and open a roster spot that way. If we lose a good player because of this move, I'll disagree with it, but I say wait and see how it plays out. I could also see us optioning De La Cruz since that seemed to be just a shot in the dark and maybe he'd get through waivers. I'll trust Sveum's ability to judge talent and that he will pick the best guy for the job.

  • In reply to Andrew:

    That's true. We'll have to wait and see the extent of the injury. If it's a major one, it could either be the 60 day DL or he could just get waived. Even a lesser injury could get him through waivers at this point.

    Agree on De La Cruz as another option. He didn't have a great outing but I'm thinking the Cubs will give him at least another shot before reaching that decision. There's always the rule when it comes to the 40 man roster: Last in, first out. So De La Cruz needs to pitch well. I think if it doesn't work out for him, they'll take their chances and waive him and bring him back on a minor league deal if he clears.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Mateo's injury may be a blessing in disguise. You don't want to lose someone like him unnecessarily, but he doesn't really deserve a spot in the pen on pure merit.

    I would stick him on the 60-day, stick Dolis at AAA where he's never pitched, and use the opportunity to give extended looks to de la Cruz and Castillo at the big league level.

    By the time Mateo is ready to come off, someone else will be injured or someone will have proven they don't belong in the bigs. If not, then he's that much more expendable. And, IMO, Mateo's resume is not as impressive as de la Cruz's.

    In the event that Samardzija, not Wells, ends up in the pen, and Lopez goes to Iowa, de la Cruz can perform the swing man role, as he has a lot of experience starting in AAA and was pretty good at it.

  • Since Cardenas has made it to AAA, my Cub optimism would rather have me believe that they are trying to raise DeWitt's trade value by having him a 40 man team member. Then bring Cardenas up after DeWitt is traded. Ha! I'm with ya, I woulda picked Cardenas over DeWitt.

  • In reply to Bill:

    They certainly could be playing coy here. By sending Cardenas down the Cubs are sending signals that they're planning on keeping DeWitt, so teams can't assume the Cubs will waive him as they did earlier this year. The Cubs in effect could be saying, "If you want him, come get him."

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    As I understand it, Cardenas has simply been sent down to Iowa. Nothing has been said that DeWitt is being placed on the 40-man, is there? Until that happens, I don't think we should read too much into this move.

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    Exactly. That's why I'm not convinced the Cubs open with DeWitt just yet. Once they make the procedural move to put him on the 40 man, it's pretty much a done deal.

  • Unlikely that DeWitt would bring much in a trade since he just cleared waivers a few weeks ago. If there's so much demand for him, why didn't someone just claim him?

  • In reply to SVAZCUB:

    Things change. Demand is different. A couple teams with need now and DeWitt has played well. No way he would get through had the Cubs waited until now to waive him.

  • How do waivers work here, John? Once he's taken off the roster, he'd have to clear waivers? So even though he's been sent to AAA, he hasn't cleared waivers, right?

  • In reply to Carne Harris:

    Cardenas is safe. He's on the 40 man roster and he has options, so they can send him to AAA without going through the waiver process. In fact they'll be able to do that next year too since he has 2 options left.

  • John, just out of curiousity, do you know if waivers work the same in the spring as they do in August? I am wondering if the Cubs waive a player before the season starts (for example Mateo) whether they could pull him back if another team claimed him?

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    I would assume so. The difference in August is that you're only waiving people to see if you can trade them. In Mateo's case, they'll have to be prepared to lose him if they waive him. If a team is going to take him now, it probably won't change later.

    That said, the injury might be a factor and maybe he gets through now. We'll have to see what the extent of that injury is.

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