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Cubs acquire Justin Ruggiano for Brian Bogusevic

Cubs acquire Justin Ruggiano for Brian Bogusevic

Of course, I had to take care of some errands this morning I come back and the Cubs have made a trade.  It isn't a huge one but it's one that gives the Cubs a better fit in the OF.

The Cubs exchanged 30 year outfielder Brian Bogusevic for 32 year old OF'er Justin Ruggiano.

At first glance it seems somewhat even with Bogusevic putting up slightly better numbers at a younger age, so why do it?  The answer is simple, Ruggiano hits from the right side.  The Cubs are likely to have Ryan Sweeney and Nate Schierholtz in their starting outfield and it appears that Ruggiano would platoon with one of them.

Another factor is that Ruggiano can play CF if needed, though he is much better suited in the corners.  Still, his career UZR/150 in CF is right around average at -1.7.

As far as what he can do at the plate, Ruggiano hit .222/.298/.396 last year with 18 HRs and 15 SBs.  He has an above average walk rate of 8.7%, which is a skill the Cubs are always looking to add.  In 2012, Ruggiano was even better, hitting .313/.374/.535 with 13 HRs and 14 SBs.

The real Ruggiano, however, is somewhere in between as the two seasons showed a wide fluctuation in BABIP from 2012 to 2013.  In fact, it was over a 150 point swing.  If Ruggiano hits a league average BABIP of .300, which is very realistic considering his good speed, we can expect him to hit around .250 with a .320-is OBP and double digit HRs and SBs.

Ruggiano was still very good vs. LHP last year, hitting .248/.329/.504 vs. LHP, an OPS of .834 -- and this was in on off-year.  So even if we would expect him to hit .250 with about 15 HRs overall, we should expect him to be a more efficient hitter vs. LHP.

Both Bogusevic and Ruggiano are not core-type players but they're the kind of players I talked about in my preview - the kind that add wins at the margins, it's just that Ruggiano is a better fit for the Cubs as their roster is currently constructed.  For that reason, I really like this move.  The Cubs are losing a good ballplayer in Bogusevic, but they're getting a player that fits the puzzle better and should help make the Cubs a better teams vs. LHP.

I think this could be a heck of a RF platoon with Nate Schierholtz if the Cubs decide to go in that direction.  We may see 30+ HRs with some solid OBP numbers when we combine their numbers.

Rule 5 Draft

In other, somewhat good news, the Cubs lost only Marcos Mateo in the MLB  Rule 5 Draft.  Mateo has great stuff but has been injured for much of his short career.  He can hit the high 90s and has an excellent slider, but he is already 29.  The Cubs had no room and when he had an excellent winter, it appears the Cubs weren't able to sneak him by.  He's MLB ready so I think we can consider him gone.  He was selected by the Diamondbacks, making it the 2nd straight year the D'Backs took a Cubs pitcher.

In the minor league phase, the Cubs lost 1B Justin Bour to the Marlins, pitcher A.J. Morris to Pittsburgh,  and OF Julio Borbon to the Orioles.  Neither figured in the Cubs long term plans.

The Cubs did pick up catcher Charlie Cutler from the Pirates AA affiliate Altoona, though he was originally drafted by the Cardinals.   Cutler has backup potential.  He has a good eye at the plate and makes solid contact.  In fact, his walk rate (13%) is higher than his strikeout rate (12.3%) last season.  He hit .298/.397/.420 overall.

Cutler will likely compete for a backup spot but probably winds up in AAA as catching depth along with Eli Whiteside, who was acquired on a minor league deal.  Whiteside has some MLB experience.

In case you're wondering, the Phillies took RHP Kevin Munson with the pick they were awarded in their grievance against the Cubs.

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  • Yes, very interesting and seemingly good trade. Totally see how it fits both team's needs at the moment.

    Definitely intrigued by his power potential and speed. Maybe the new batting coach can get Ruggiano's BA back up to the .260-.270 or higher range which would be great for a platoon guy. I also see him as a the fall-back option if Junior Lake doesn't pan out in LF this year.

  • In reply to DetroitCubFan:

    I think he can hit .270 vs. LHP, which is when he'll mostly be playing. He also is insurance for Lake, no doubt.

  • This is helpful for 2014. Bogusevic was an expendable role player given all of the lefty-hitting outfielders we have now.

    For 2015 and beyond... We still need another lefty bat, preferably a leadoff guy who plays outfield. I guess we'll see how it shapes up. Maybe it ends up being Alcantara, someplace on the field. But we are sorely missing that solid veteran leadership.

    I wonder how things are going with Grady Sizemore. For lack of any "genuine" moves this offseason, if we're standing here empty-handed, you could do a lot worse than Grady.

  • In reply to HackWilson09:

    YEs, this was a move strictly for the short term and I think he'll help. He can get more ABs than Bogusevic because he is a righty. I know they checked the meds on Sizemore. That they haven't move forward yet means they weren't happy or they think his price is too high.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I don't know about strictly for the short term, a guy that can hit lefties well and can play all 3 OF positions has some value. He's also under control for 3 more years. I agree that it certainly fits with next year, but I think it'll fit down the road as well.

  • In reply to TulaneCubs:

    I'll have to agree with you, there. Even if someone comes along as more of a regular (prospect Soler etc...) they'll still need a bench w/2 OFers on it & RH pinch hitting. Whether it's him or someone else, No guarantees that Schierholtz, FA after this yr, comes back or isn't traded near deadline.

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    Only thing is, I wonder if the Cubs will non-tender Ruggiano after this year. $1.5-$2M is OK for a platoon OFer. Another raise next year could make it iffy.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Why not gamble on Sizemore, it's not like they haven't before with the Baker contract this last season. Maybe they view Sizemore as another Prior with his perpetual 1 MM per year rehab fee. Nice work if you can get it.

  • I missed ou for the past couple of months. I did mange to have dinner with your dad in early October while I was in town for a few days. He looks quite hale.

  • Good trade for Marlins, Bogusevic has turned the corner with his career.

  • Now there's 2 Cutler's in the system of Chicago teams. One throws, the other catches. What a pair. (smiley face)

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    My last name is also Cutler! I want to know when he gets a number on a jersey. I'll get one as I need to retire my Kosuke Fukudome jersey lol

  • In reply to LRCCubsFan:

    Ha ha, now we got 3 Cutlers... Yikes, I'm proud to say I never owned a KF jersey, lol! Bout time you traded that one in.

  • The real question for me is who will play second?

  • Do you think this trade means the Cubs are more than likely keeping Schierholtz? I know his name has been bandied about in possible trades.

  • @CSNMooney Hoyer: “Junior Lake’s going to get a ton of playing time. We have opportunity. (He) needs to be out there getting at-bats and developing."

    This is really good to hear. I know most people here think Lake needs more development time, but do you think this means he will be starting in the outfield come opening day?

  • In reply to Peter Chicago:

    I think he's the favorite to start in LF, yes. I don't imagine they want to platoon him. He either plays everyday in Chicago or he goes to Iowa.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I would think CF would be better for him. He has the athleticism and arm, and now that he has a little experience playign the OF he will be able to get better reads in CF. Sweeney showed decent range in CF last year, but that wasn't expected or in line with his previous numbers. I think Sweeney plays LF everyday, Lake in CF, and then Schierholtz/Ruggiano platoon in RF.

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    In reply to Peter Chicago:

    Chicago Cubs: Junior Lake, OF

    I’ve written about Lake before over at Baseball Prospectus, but he’s the guy for this post. He’s going to get a ton of at-bats in an outfield that currently consists of him, Nate Schierholtz (trade candidate) and Ryan Sweeney. I spent the majority of the aforementioned article arguing against Lake being what his surface stats portend him to be, and I don’t plan to argue against myself.

    He is however set up to accrue plenty of counting stats, purely thanks to playing time. Add in his natural raw talents and there are likely to be streaks where he is extremely good. Outside of that though, inconsistency is this likeliest true outcome.

    -- Craig Goldstein

  • Isn't Ruggiano's a pizza place on the Northwest highway?

    One of those trades that neither over or under whelms me. Completely whelm-less. It will be irrelevant in two years, maybe even one. I guess there's less redundancy in the outfield now. But more chance for a by the book platoon situation....which I absolutely abhor. I might even Justin A-bour platoons in honor of the fallen....

    Trying to wrap my head around a front office that stands pat on a 96 loss team.....

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    In reply to felzz:

    I think there is an episode on The Sopranos called Mr, Rugganio's Neighborhood.

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    In reply to felzz:

    By the way, thanks for introducing me to your friend Felzzy. I am hoping we can hire her to do some television work for us.

  • Only thing that is interesting is if he can regain some power and raise the average up to .270's and provide speed. Other wise this is like me trading in my Sprite for a 7up. We will not remember this trade come June.

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    hey! we got an outfielder with an italian name from the marlins! wait, what? - his name's not giancarlo....?

  • id much rather have ruggiano than bogusevic, i think this is a great trade for the cubs. taking ruggiano out of miami will also probably help his numbers all by itself.

  • In reply to jshmoran:

    That's a valid point on the park.

  • John, Marlins Park is a huge park and very difficult to hit for power... If you look at Ruggiano's splits in 2013:

    Home: .216/.313/.316/.629
    Away: .225/.287/.451/.738

    I think he was a victim of the ballpark, similar situation the Cubs saw with Nate Schierholtz... I think we'll see something more like his away numbers next season.

  • In reply to Caps:

    Great point Caps. I think in a lot of ways this is their RH Shierholtz. Good athlete, good defender, some untapped power -- but probably not a full time guy. I think they could have a great corner outfielder between the two.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Agreed... The Cubs have 4 OF'ers set, if I'm not mistaken, I wonder if Josh Vitters can make it as a 5th OF'er that can spell Rizzo at 1B every now and then.

  • Lake, Sweeney, Shierholtz/Ruggiano. It's a decent outfield, better than last year's going in.

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    In reply to wastrel:

    I have to disagree there; I think Soriano and DeJesus were better than Lake/Sweeney/Ruggiano respectively.

    It is much cheaper though, and a better value, I'll give you that

  • In reply to Zonk:

    It didn't seem like they had a center fielder last year.

  • In reply to wastrel:

    Agreed. I'm a fan of DeJesus, and will always be a fan of Soriano, but this is a solid, defensively good, and inexpensive OF.

    Add in Vitters as a corner OF and emergency 3B/1B,.... and I like the way this is starting out. Good (if not awesome) power, good OBP (assuming Lake progresses), and a good mix of decent speed, decent arms, and good clubhouse quality guys.

  • I like Ruggiano but hate they had to give up Bogey who was a nice bench piece. I'm kinda bummed about Mateo too I have to admit. Was hoping he'd be retained and bounce back.

  • John, how many stops are open on the 40-man roster? Who is
    out there that we can get without making a trade

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    3 spots still open. Sorry, I know you asked John.

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    Thanks for fielding that one Milk.

  • Glad the Phillies didn't take out their revenge on the Cubs by grabbing someone from our system in the Rule V. Guess our fears were for nothing!

    Funny how few selection their were this year. Seems like teams are getting better at protecting their best players, or it could mean that there are just a ton of players that fall in that "median" range of having average talent, but lack more than one skill set that stands out in the crowd.

  • Epstein and Hoyer are doing a masterful job of adding to the back half of the major league roster, and giving the Cubs a farm system stronger than any time in my memory.
    But going forward the front office will need the support of owners...both to pursue all-star caliber free agents and retain our own home grown players. It must be a little embarrassing for the Ricketts family to open today's paper and see criticism on two fronts from Boras and Emmanuel.

  • In reply to Rosemary:

    To follow his long term plan I hope Jeff and Nate are traded by Aug. 1

  • As much as I hate losing players, Bour realistically has a shot at making the majors now that he's in the Marlins system, so I'm happy for him.

    Overall not too upset with the Rule 5 results. Didn't see Morris or Borbon as real big pieces of the picture, so it's Mateo for Cutler. Lose from strength, gain towards a weakness.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Jim Weihofen:

    pitching is a strength now? not sure I agree yet, but at lease we've identified one system that is in worse pitching shape than we are.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    Relief pitching is. There's a ton of depth there now. Strop, Russell, Grimm, Cabrera (if he isn't a starter), Vizcaino (also if he's not a starter), Wright, Fujikawa, Parker, Rondon, Rosscup, and so on.

    Yeah, the results weren't great last year, but that's a lot of youth to be excited about, especially now that we're finally moving past Camp and Marmol.

  • In reply to Jim Weihofen:

    He was a big bat in the middle of that good Smokies lineup.

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    back to Samardzija for a moment, I think we've been so caught up in thinking about what prospects we can get back for him, we've lost sight of a bigger point: we already have a top-5 farm system, after next year's high drafts it could be #1 or 2. It's time to move past the asset-acquisition phase and on to phase 2 of the rebuild - getting players that can complement the core in the next 1-3 years. I personally would have been in favor getting a guy like Choo, but that's just my opinion. I also think Shark is one of those players than can help the team over the next 3-5 years; he's not going to be the prospect-laying golden goose we thought he was, so just sign him and build with him.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    Convince Choo to play about half of the 7yr $140MM+ he's asking for and yeah, he'd be a great fit....

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    you're right, I can't argue with the fact that he is expensive, and overpriced like every free agent. I would have gone 5yrs/90 mil but what he's asking for is a bit much. Once again, the Yankees doing what they have always done, skewing the market by overpaying.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to SKMD:

    It would be great to sign Samardzjia, if only he wanted a contract that was equivalent to his abilities.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Michael Canter:

    Well put. Also, the rumors are that the Cubs are not offering him TOR money but they want the return in a trade that a TOR starter would bring.

  • In reply to Ray:

    What you pay out in a contract is always based on past performance, but trades are always based on projected value (this is especially evident in the case of prospects) The Cubs believe Samardzija's projected value to be greater than his present value.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    Samardzija and his agent apparently believe his projected value is greater than present value as well.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    I agree with you. No way a team is going to part with top prospects for Shark. He can be a valuable part of the cubs for 5 years.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    Unfortunately, until some of these guys get to the big leagues (or struggle in the minors and not make the bigs) we don't know what players will or will not compliment the core because we don't have any idea what our core is going to be comprosed of or what positions we will need help at. is Baez a SS/2B/3B? Is Bryant a 3B/RF? Can Mike Olt recover? How far away is Almora? Is Soler ever going to stay healthy? Is Alcantara a viable leadoff hitter?

    No sense in buying something that we may not need, and then find out in a year that the money would hae been better spent in a different spot. About the only thing that seems safe to assume right now is that the team could use a young TOR starter. And if Tanaka becomes available, I am sure the Cubs will make a valiant effort and hopefully land him. Beyond that, there are still far too many questions.

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    In reply to mjvz:

    Now that we're no longer in the NTC business, if you buy something you find you don't need, you trade him. That would include Choo or Shark.
    If our core guys aren't what we thought they were, that's unfortunate but they're all we've got - at some point you have to throw them out there with some MLB veteran support around them. If you're afraid of spending money you're in the wrong business. Every year you paralyze yourself while waiting for things to fall into place you bleed fans (including a whole generation of kids just forming their loyalties) and lose ad/broadcast value.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    I think Choo is a bad investment, he can't hit lefties and I think a contract over 4 years for him is goign to be a disaster for whatever team signs him. I have no problem with extending Shark. I want the team to spend big on Tanaka (and think they will). Like I said, spending money on pitching is something they should do. Spending big money and years on any 30+ year old OF is a poor investment. The simple fact is, there is very little talent available in MLB FA nowadays, and the teams that are in contention are the only ones that are in a logical position to bid for it because it is almost always an overpayment, which is fine if you are in a position to capitalize on it with a championship, but the Cubs are not. The Cubs are better served spending their money on draft and international markets because they can get younger players and aren't forced into overpaying that way. The time for overpayment will come.

    The Cubs TV contract will not be affected in any way by the Cubs winning or losing over a 5 year period. Those deals run for a decade or more. The Cubs are a national brand. The Cubs are a huge property (hence why the team is considering beginning a Cubs Network).

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    Grabbing the catcher Cutler just illustrates that we are really thin at the upper levels in catching. We just needed a body, org filler. He's not much of a prospect, but somebody has to play the position in AA/AAA.

    Lopez and Cutler and Krist are guys that if you squint you can see a marginal backup C at the ML level, but that's about it for them

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Koyie Hill?

    *ducks & runs for cover*

  • We are still a year away from the point where we should be going after big time free agents, if for no other reason than we don't know where our weaknesses will be.

    Will Rizzo have another bad year, and cause us to look for a first baseman? Will Olt recover and hit with the promise that he showed in the minors? Where will Baez and Alcantara wind up on the field, if at all. Will Castillo become the offensive and defensive force that some are predicting.

    Hopefully, all of these questions will be somewhat clearer next winter.

    In the meantime, let's sign Baker.

  • In reply to DaveP:

    Why Baker? Why not the options currently on the 25/40 man...? See what they already have in order to weed out with the younger guys. C. Villanueva is there in case 1 of those guys would bust or another righty is needed for a spot start. Baker's a nice guy, veteran for a team in need of a 4th/5th starter. Unfortunately, the Cubs are loaded with those guys & need front end starters.

  • In reply to DaveP:

    Rizzo's "bad year" was still worth 2.6 WAR. They aren't going to be acquiring another first baseman for quite a long time.

  • In reply to TulaneCubs:

    I disagree...If Rizzo struggles again, we will look at options to improve at 1b. And to say for quite a long time is a dangerous statement to make.
    I don't know how a guy who hits .233 and had 127 k's can have a 2.6 WAR. Bottom line he hit .233 and you can sugar coat it, but he struggled.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    You can disagree, but he stated a fact (2.6 WAR) which is indisputable.

    Also, think that Rizzo has been targeted multiple times by this FO, With them giving up an AS, MVP, GG Slugging 1B for him once and a 24yo SP with a 100mph FB most recently (something we really lack). He's only 24 and has not hit his peak yet. Oh, and they extended him until he's 30yo... So maybe after 3 or 4 "off" years of on;y 2.6 they would consider an alternative. But not now.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    i was disagree with statement of front office will not be looking for a 1b for a long time.
    That is why I have hard time buying into a WAR stat. A 2.6 maybe a good number but Rizzo didn't have a good year. That is a fact.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    I agree - too much emphasis is placed on this. I felt like he got hot for a bit, then cold for a while.

    My take is this, bottom of the ninth, two outs, down one, men on 2nd and 3rd. A single wins it. Rizzo strikes out and we lose. The next day he smacks two solo homers in an 8-3 loss. Clutch hitting wins games. Guys rise up. For me, he didn't do that last year. We forget that he was a .150 hitter with the Sox, then got his act together in the minors and came back for a great half year with the team. Then last year he regressed a bit. I hope like hell that he is the long term answer, but he hasn't shown me that yet. If he doesn't string together a solid full year, maybe he never will. I think he will, but he hasn't shown that just yet. This is why we need to hang onto Vogelbomb in case things head south.

  • In reply to Break The Curse:

    Well said. I agree. I am rooting for him too. And exactly why we need an insurance policy called Vogelbomb.

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    In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    Here is another number: .258 BABIP. Even Adam Dunn normalizes over .280.

    Add 32 points to his BA, and now Rizzo is batting nearly .260, with an OPS closer to 800. Not Joey Votto, but good enough.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    I pegged Rizzo' s struggles early watching him hit for Italy. He looked confused at the plate taking offerings he should drive and chasing pitches well off the plate. He basically missed ST and never caught up. This year will be different.

  • I see the Bogi for Ruggiano trade pretty much the same way, a LH bat for a RH bat.

    Sorry to lose Marcos Mateo. His injury troubles started when Mike Quade left him for about 5 innings in a relief appearance, when he'd been pitching in the bullpen for quite a while. Q-Ball is the gift that keeps on giving.

  • Whenever I buy Parmesan, I always make sure it's Ruggiano.

  • This is what you call a surgical trade as it meets a very specific need, which Epstein and Hoyer are very good at.

  • In reply to Tinker Evers Chance:

    More surgery ahead in 2014......the bleeding will be massive like in 2012.

  • This trade is like rearranging the chairs on the Titanic.

  • RE: the Phillies took RHP Kevin Munson with the pick they were awarded in their grievance against the Cubs

    Seriously? The Cubs got "Munsoned"... like in Kingpin.

    You can't make this stuff up.

  • Since both Sweeney and Bogusevic spent so much time on the DL last year, I viewed them as interchangeable parts that were in effect one player. So, next year when Sweeney is on the DL, which I am taking for granted, and there is no Bogusevic there to take his place, the Cubs OF will likely be Lake, Ruggiano and a Schierholz/McDonald platoon, with a depth chart behind that of Jackson, Watkins, Vitters and Szczur.

    That's not a legitimate or competitive major league outfield, especially when the Astros can now trot out Fowler, the Marlins are stacked with Stanton and Yelich, and even the White Sox are looking good with Eaton and Garcia. Surely a player like Jeff Baker, Franklin Gutierrez or even Delmon Young would inspire us with more confidence on a short-term deal than Justin Ruggiano. If Schierholz gets traded, Lake ends up going back down to AAA and Sweeney gets hurt, the Cubs outfield could be McDonald, Jackson and Ruggiano with Vitters or Watkins as the 4th. That's not really fair to the Cubs pitchers or to a first-time manager like Renteria. I've never been on the free agent bandwagon, but I'd take a seat on the Choo train if Chairman Tom ever makes up his mind to buy the ticket.

  • Ho hum........another .250 hitter, if they're lucky. Nothing to see here, please move along. at the same time I'm not expecting a huge splash but don't build this guy into something he isn't,. He's a marginal, at best, MLB player.

  • In reply to INSaluki:

    We're building him into a role player. I don't think that's a lot to ask. In the absence of big contracts, what you look to do is exploit market inefficiencies. That still exists for role players. The next step is to find a way to maximize their value.

    I'd be willing to bet the Cubs get more production out of a Schierholtz/Ruggiano platoon that many teams will get out of their everyday RF'er.

  • John, I wasn't necessarily saying that you or the staff was building him up.....just making a general statement. With that being said, however, I will take the bet on your statement. While I'm sure that platoon may do better than some teams everyday RF'r,, I highly doubt it will be more than "many" teams. Usually you want to grab RH hitter who bats .300 against lefties and .250 overall not .250 against lefties and .220 overall. Again though, we're set up to lose again this year so it doesn't matter to me. This guy is just a transition piece until 2015 and beyond when we DO start putting players who can hit above their weight on the field. I can wait until then, but can't at the same time.

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