Cubs acquire Neil Ramirez as PTBNL in Garza deal

Is anyone surprised? The Cubs wanted Neil Ramirez as part of the original deal but backed off when the medical records showed some red flags. They re-structured the deal with him as the PTBNL so they could have more time to evaluate the potential impact those flags hand on his long term health.

Seems that they were satisfied he'd be okay.

There are mixed reviews on Ramirez. He looks the part at 6'4", 210 lbs and can reportedly reach 97 mph out of the bullpen while sitting at 90-94 as a starter (per Baseball America). He has developed a slider as an alternative to his inconsistent curve, which was plus at times but hard to command and a pitch he tended to leave up when he lost his feel. He has the size to be a power sinker/slider type with good downward plane as a starter.

As a starter at AA this season, Ramirez is 9-3 with a 3.84 ERA (3.11 FIP) with a strikeout to walk ratio of 11.10/3.67 per 9 innings pitched.

The problem is more with his mechanics. He's cleaned them up in recent years and it led to a bounce back season this year but flaws remain. He has trouble repeating his delivery, particularly the release point, and it leads to command issues such as we talked about with the curve.

Those flaws may someday relegate him to the bullpen where he can be a power late inning reliever that can let loose with his good stuff and not worry about making precise pitches. It's the kind of gamble the Cubs have taken of late -- which is to take a chance on power arms, knowing they could end up as valuable bullpen pieces should they fail as starters.

It's possible the Cubs think the delivery can be tinkered with a bit, but as we learned from Derek Johnson, sometimes you don't want to tinker with it too much. Ramirez's delivery also creates some deception which adds to his effectiveness, so you want to be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater here.

It's clear the Cubs are erring on the side of upside over probability in the Garza deal. Mike Olt and C.J. Edwards are mid to high reward types but carry risk as top end prospects. Ramirez fits that mold as well and so goes Justin Grimm to a lesser extent. If two of these guys pan out, we can consider this a very good deal for the Cubs.

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  • Nice pick up.

  • Ramirez and Grimm would be great additions to the bullpen for 2014. Work them slowly ala Shark.

  • In reply to lokeey:

    Both are very good potential bullpen arms. I'd give Grimm a shot at starting first.

  • Bruce Miles ‏@BruceMiles2112 8m
    #Cubs claim RHP Neil Ramirez off waivers from Texas and assign him to Class AA Tennessee. That satisfies the PTBNL in Garza trade.

    This sounds would he make it through the entire AL to the Cubs?

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    In reply to North Side Irish:

    Miles probably misspoke, or has it wrong......

  • In reply to North Side Irish:

    Gentleman's agreement between GMs. They never claim prospects traded during the waiver period, because the trading teams will just pull him back and complete it in the off season, so there's really no point.

  • In reply to SenatorMendoza:

    Yes, well put. Waivers in this situation is just a formality.

  • In reply to North Side Irish:

    If another team claimed him, the Rangers would have revoked the waiver claim and sent him to the Cubs after the MLB regular season ended. The other teams knew this, so they didn't bother claiming him. Allowing him to pitch for Tennessee for a week or two wasn't likely to hurt them.

  • John, Ive always looked at Ramirez as a late inning power RP, since his mechanics are suspect and he makes you wonder if hes a surgery waiting to occur. Still yet, if he becomes a top end RP, hes a worthwhile addition. Certainly has the potential to be better than what the Cubs have had in a while.

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    If I had to bet, I'd say that's his most likely role -- and given the bullpen issues this year and this front office traditionally not wanting to spend big in that area, it makes a lot of sense that they'll stock up on these kinds of arms, knowing they only need a few to pan out.

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    Our minor league pitching is still thin. But every little bit helps, including this one.

    It is true that FO seems to prefer ceiling over floor when it comes to arms; we drafted alot of guys with good MPH on the FB, but with command issues.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Yep. It goes hand in hand with what we learned in the Johnson interview. You can always teach skills but you can't teach athleticism, arm strength, etc.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    It is factually incorrect to state that you can't teach arm strength (velocity).

  • In reply to cubsker:

    Of course you're right, but I think you're missing his point. You know the phrase; "you can't teach speed". It's out there.

    Pretty sure he meant that you look for arm strength and teach on top of that, just like you would make a speed guy faster.

    I long for a world where people give other people enough credit as human beings that they don't have to dig into sentences in order to prove some kind of point...a world where people try and figure out the point being made instead of their argument to it.

  • Dont think he has to go through waivers.

  • One word here.


    Acquire as many as you can and move forward. Glad to see us getting some assets that are a little further along. Ramirez could be at AAA next year and Edwards at AA.

  • Never seen him pitch, but your description sounds strikingly similar to Trey McNutt.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    He makes me think of McNutt too, actually, biggest difference is that Ramirez is performing in AA the way they hoped McNutt would this year.

  • You'd think between Rarmirez, Grimm, and Vizcaino (if he can get healthy), we have some nice young bull pen arms. I dont know why, but the bull pen on a lot of teams seems to be terribly its the place where reject starters and career journeymen go to toil their careers away when in most cases, the bull pen is giving you 3-4 innings every game and the runs scored in those innings count just as much as the runs scored in the first 6 or 7 against your starter. I don't know why bullpens are though as after thoughts by most MLB teams.

  • In reply to Ike03:

    Agreed. I do think the bullpen as a whole needs more attention. But how to do it is the question. It's difficult to project bullpen arms. Their performance is so much more volatile from year to year, so it makes it very risky to invest a lot of money in it. The idea is that you get real good arms, prospects who could possibly be starters but lack that one thing -- whether it's a 3rd good pitch or stamina or the precise command you need to get through the order 3 or 4 times, and you put them in the bullpen where their flaws are not exposed. It's the way the Cardinals and other good teams do it.

  • In reply to Ike03:

    I think it is a matter of numbers. There just aren't enough good pitchers to go around. Very few teams have 5 very good starters, so if you have a good pitcher who is able to be a starter, that is where you put him.

    That pretty much leaves your bullpen full of guys that do not have the ability to start, either because of lack of secondary pitches, the lack of stamina, of lack of command.

    With the exception of closer, starters are more valuable than relievers.

  • Trey McNutt, Jake Arrieta, etc?.. take your pick.... We just need a couple of these to work out for us next year and we're a .500 club....

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Add a hitter and maybe we go above the break even level.It might even increase attendance .

  • Blake Parker has been a nice little story this season-could be the 7th inning guy going forward. I think among Russell, Rusin, Strop , Arrieta, Grimm,Ramirez, Vizcaino, Parker, and a strategic vet signing, you could have a nice group with some serious collective upside.

    As far as FA SP arms go, which pond are we going to be swimming in: the Scott Baker/Feldman waters or the Johnson/Lincecum? Depending on medicals and dollars, there MAY be some value with the latter two fellows. Something tells me both Johnson and Lincecum will get paid more than we think , despite obvious question marks. I thinks it's safe to assume we'll be in the market for a serious bat.

    According to Cot's we only have 48mil or so committed next year, not taking into account arb numbers. Only arb cases that look remotely heavy are Shark and Nate- assuming he's not traded. There is lots of room to work, while still keeping aggregate # low. Saving money on the pen always helps in that regard.

  • In reply to Carl9730:

    Pleasantly surprised with Parker. He's one of Sveum guys so kudos to him for recognizing his potential.

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    In reply to Carl9730:

    I figure the Cubs committed payroll next year to be around $67 mil, once you allocate arbitration money to Shark, Wood, Nate, Barney, Russell, Valbuena, etc, and fill out the roster with auto-renews. I would like someone to check my math though.

    That still leaves room for FA spending, and I would advocate a) an OF bat, and b) a rotation sign-n-flip

  • trying to figure out who we had to pare off of the 40-man to bring Ramirez in

  • In reply to Rob Letterly:

    David DeJesus spot hasn't been filled yet.

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    I have to look at the Garza deal like so. If just one of the players the Cubs got back goes on to help them in any significant way, the trade was a "win." Garza wasn't going to be resigned, and what they got was worth more than a compensatory pick.

    Ramirez and Grimm might make it as back of the rotation starters, or they might become solid bullpen guys.

    Olt was starting to look like his old self the last few weeks he was with the Rangers organization, but since the trade, it's been all down hill. It's the same league. All he did was switch teams. There is no one standing in his way right now if he wants an everyday job in the show, but it's up to him to take advantage of it. He's looking more and more like Brett Jackson to me. We'll see if he can regroup over the winter, but if he isn't careful, Villianueva is going to pass him up, and there is a certain amount of irony in that, given he was standing in CV's way in Texas just over a year ago.

    Edwards is the one guy in this deal that could be an impact player either as a starter or out of the bullpen.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    That's true. If one guy becomes an impact player, Cubs basically win the deal, but you would hope to get more than one for the guy many thought was the best player on the market last July.

  • Will they protect Olt, Jackson, and Vitters for the 40-man roster
    when they turn in the list in mid-Nov,? Are there other more
    promising prospects to protect or is enough dead weight going
    to be off the 40-man roster

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    In reply to emartinezjr:

    I can't imagine the Cubs dropping Olt. I would protect Vitters, and he would be claimed in 2 seconds.

    B-Jax has fallen so far that I think he is a DFA candidate. Someone might take him as a reclaimation.

  • Protect those that must absolutely be protected, then cut bait.

  • Whither Barney? About the only relevant thing pointed out by Jesse Rogers this season is that they should be taking this opportunity to evaluate Logan Watkins.

    Can't we all safely conclude by now that Barney isn't a viable everyday player @ 2B? Given the Cubs woeful offense, they really can't afford to punt, offensively , on a position, like they've been doing. Not to beat a dead horse......

  • In reply to Carl9730:

    They should play watkins more, and I wish they would take jesse rogers of the beat because it seems like he is clueless.

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    In reply to Carl9730:

    Watkins isn't a long term answer either.

    Alcantara or Baez, IMO, is the Cubs 2B of the future. Baez could end up there if Alcantara fails, and another 3B emerges.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    I am not as certain on Watkins not being the answer, but I am certain he is closer to the answer than Barney.

  • In reply to springs:

    Agree with Zonk long-term but Spring you said exactly what I was going to say. We know what Barney is but Watkins may be a nice option for '14. We need all marginal improvements we can find for the offense, particularly in OBP area.

  • In reply to springs:

    With Watkins, you get a guy that is just as ban offensively as Barney, but a much worse fielder.

    Not much point in giving him much playing time.

  • another day... another Baez homer. this one went Oppo

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