Spraying to all fields - Samardzija, Arrieta and more

I believe that there will be a competition for the Cubs’ 2B job come the spring.

Barney is perhaps the definition of a one dimensional player as his defensive is the only facet of the game he contributes to. He doesn’t strike out all that often considering the offensive context we are in but even if he hits .250 his contributions with the bat are empty and it likely mitigates his defensive gains.

Emilio Bonifacio has signed a Minor League deal with the Cubs. He had a down year last year overall but using selective endpoints (dangerous thought process) he did hit .285/.352/.348 with 16 steals in 18 attempts over 179 PA’s with Kansas City. He’s posted an 8% walk rater over his career and he knows how to steal bases. Bonifacio, if he makes the team, would solve the Cubs’ leadoff issues.

Look, it’s not going to chance the fortunes of the 2014 season, but Bonifacio is a solid addition to a roster that needs more offense. He can provide that and it will be interesting to see how the spring shakes out.

  • Emilio Bonifacio is a Cub
    • This has a few longer reaching repercussions and it could spell an interesting discussion between who should start, Bonifacio or Darwin Barney. Full write up is incoming.
    • Shark pretty much knows what the deal is heading into the 2014 season. If the Cubs manage to contend in the early part of 2014 there will be an increased chance that he is not dealt. Odds on that one are kind of long however, and it's a sure bet that he's going to be shopped heavily around the deadline. I suppose the most pressing question to me is what will Samardzija be in 2015?
    • I understand the age gap, but Julio Teheran signed a six year extension for 32.4 million. I think that's about half what Shark would want (considering it's the last big contract he'll likely sign) and to be honest…I would prefer Teheran over Samardzija at this point.
    • Arrieta is experiencing Shoulder Tightness in his pitching arm. Hoyer: "No time table yet but he is throwing and feeling good right now, but that was something in the back of our minds as far as we went through this and added some pitching depth". The last part of that sentence is something to keep in mind, particularly when it comes to trading Samardzija. In any deal expect the Cubs to ask for a guy like maybe, Sean Nolin in return.
    • Jake Arrieta as a reliever might be an attractive option in the near future. Fels has espoused these thoughts in the past only to be shouted down but let's just take a step back and think about this. Arrieta is a player who is an inconsistent starter with good stuff and a hard slider. That sounds like basically every single useful bullpen pitcher out there. I would prefer he stick as a starter but the bullpen is a real possibility as well.
    • This better explains the James McDonald and Jason Hammel signings. I understand the thought process but I'm still not in love with the McDonald move. Even if he steps in I am not confident in his ability to perform well. Hammel also has limited upside so I'm just kind of meh on both these moves.
  • Derek Jeter retires
    • I think it's hard to properly evaluate Jeter because of all the widely oscillating opinions people have about his career. Yeah, he was a tremendous hitter (.312/.381/.446 at short with 3316 hits and a career 8.7 BB%) and yeah he couldn't field to his left and all of the defensive metrics hated him but what was he? I think the answer is tremendously simple, a first ballot Hall of Fame player.
    • Which brings me to Alan Trammell, who hit .285/.352/.415 in a much tougher offensive context while playing tremendous defense and supplying a bit of speed to boot. Trammell's offensive peak compares quite nicely to Jeter's offensive peak and the glove is much, much better. So tell me again, why is Trammell having such a hard time getting into the hall? This isn't meant to devalue what Jeter has done over his career, but c'mon guys. C'mon.

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  • I got the Cubs Den email and the Bonifacio signing news at the same time. Feel pretty good about getting him on a MiLB deal.

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    In reply to KC Cubs Fan:

    Yes, Bonifacio is a good addition.

  • In reply to KC Cubs Fan:

    I am still pulling for Barney,.... but have to admit that Bonifacio making the team as a better than average 2B fielder and (for the Cubs anyway) lead-off hitter solves some problems with the Cubs offense in 2014.

    IF he can approximate the 285/.352/.348 line he finished with in KC with a solid number of steals,.... then it was a great move on the part of the Cubs.

  • Joe Posnanski agrees with you.

  • So who's on the hook for his $3.5M contract?

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    In reply to Paulson:

    When KC DFAd him he became a free agent and could sign wherever he liked. No terms announced yet.

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    In reply to Paulson:

    KC is on the hook for 20% of his pay, IIRC. Arb contracts are non-guaranteed, but 20% of it or something like that is. They owe him $700K.

    If KC was on the hook for the entire contract, they would have traded him, and sent cash along

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    To compare Shark to Teheran is a joke. Teheran is good Shark is an overrated failure. That's why the Braves win and the Cubs lose. They know talent.

  • In reply to Dave Cookfair:

    Are you serious? I'm not in favor of breaking the bank for Samardzija but he's far from a failure. Dude has been top 35 in cumulative WAR over the past two seasons as a starter out of 375 pitchers. He's easily a #3 and probably a #2 on all but a handful of teams.

  • In reply to Dave Cookfair:

    #3 starters are hardly failures, and that's basically what Samardzija is at this point.

  • Updated to reflect the Bonifacio Minor League deal

  • In reply to Mauricio Rubio Jr.:

    Who gets bumped off the 40 man roster?

  • In reply to John57:

    No one gets bumped. It is a minor league deal.

  • There is all this hand wringing over getting a deal done for Samardzija, while not a peep about looking to get something done for Travis Wood? I see an article every day about Samardzija and while I think he's a decent #3 pitcher: Wood has better numbers, is younger, and may be more open to staying anyway. He also proved he can do it over a full season.

  • In reply to Hallzy:

    Wood has a better ERA and WHIP, but the peripheral numbers favor Samardzija. Samardzija has superior stuff, Wood has the better results as of right now.

  • In reply to Mauricio Rubio Jr.:

    Samardzija is the better thrower, while Wood is the better pitcher. Will Samardzija ever become a real Pitcher? I think it's kind of late in his career/age to become that. He should have stayed in the pen.

  • Bonifacio is about perfect right now. I'm sure we're about to learn his deficiencies, but you can't deny the benefits of a fast switch-hitter with reasonable plate discipline who can play every position on the field. He'll give us a legit leadoff man when he starts. And his new hitting coach was a switch-hitter, perhaps that can help.

    This opens up a lot of possibilities. Not just second base, but left and center. More competition for all spots. It'll be kind of crazy. Junior Lake will have to really earn a spot now. There are eleven outfielders and seven infielders now ticketed simply to compete for AAA jobs in Iowa. Smells like some late March deals.

  • There is also the feeling among many baseball people that Wood has overperformed his stuff, and is likely to decline somewhat, while Samardzija is believed to have underperformed his stuff, and is likely to improve.

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    Bonifacio's better offensively, Barney defensively. Barney's salary is higher, as well. Barney will start if not traded.

  • In reply to Ray:

    Dunno, I think they've been looking for an upgrade all year and won't hesitate to relegate Barney to either a UTL role or shop him aggressively.

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    In reply to Mauricio Rubio Jr.:

    Not sure the Cubs want to pay Barney 2.3 million dollars to play defense. A trade is more likely.

  • In reply to Ray:

    agree there, a trade is the most likely scenario.

  • In reply to Mauricio Rubio Jr.:

    What do you think a realistic trade would be if Barney doesn't significantly improve this year. Is there a market for a 2nd basemen who can't make a roster in the bottom 5 of baseball?

  • In reply to KC Cubs Fan:

    PTNBL, much like Brendan Ryan to the Yankees.

  • In reply to Mauricio Rubio Jr.:

    Agreed. Not much value there. Probably a low level minor league guy in return with a modest upside.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    If Barney loses his job, we would be fortunate if someone wants to pay his contract.

    His salary, however, is non-guaranteed; if the Cubs can prove a release for baseball reasons, i.e. he has a bad spring, they can cut him. It's happened before; Todd Walker springs to mind as an example

    If that happens, though, nothing in return, it would just be bye-bye

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    In reply to Zonk:

    Happens all the time. I'm not sure of the exact rules, but with arbitration level players, I believe they earn 1/6 if cut before the start of spring training, 1/4 during and all of it if they are on the opening day roster. Maybe someone else knows the details better than I do.

  • Updated with expanded Barney v. Bonifacio thoughts.

  • The Cubs probably don't want to pay Barney 2.3 million just to play defense. But neither will most other teams. I doubt that they can get an awful lot for him without essentially paying all his salary.

  • or packaging him , I am sure the Yankees would love Shark/Barney but their farm stinks

  • Mauricio, I may have missed something, but what's up with the Nats gear in the Twitter and Cubs Den pics?

  • In reply to KC Cubs Fan:

    I lived in DC for about four years and it's my Wordpress avatar.

  • I really like the Bonifacio signing. Yes, he should be a bench player on a good team but I think he's good enough to start on this team as is Ryan Roberts. That being said, I like Darwin Barney a lot more than most people on this site do.

    I do think the average fan tends to overvalue offense and undervalue defense and base-running. I personally follow a stat that assigns a winning % to a player's contributions on an otherwise .500 ballclub and then estimates what that otherwise average club's record would be with that player. Obviously a .50000 player would an average player. The 3-year weighted average for Bonifacio is .50064, Roberts is at .50074 and Barney is at 0.50182. Contrast that to Starlin Castro at .49996 and Jeff Samardzija at .49854.

    The highest rated Cubs using that stat with a 3-year weighted average are Welington Castillo at .51814 and Travis Wood at .51338. The lowest is now Justin Grimm at .42948 after losing Brooks Raley (0.42788) on waivers. Obviously like all percentage statistics, sample size is an issue.

  • I may have been one of the few that agreed with Fels about Arrieta... I think he's a future reliever at some point... And I think a huge evidence is the fact that if you look at his splits by innings, he has a 3.12 era in the 1st inning and it goes down from there significantly to 5.00, 6.56, 7.73, 4.11, 4.15, 6.00, 4.91 and 0.00 in only 0.2 IP.

    So, in other words, if Arrieta pitches only 1 inning per game, I think we could see more of those 3.12 era results... And he has shown much better command in the first inning too.

  • In reply to Caps:

    Could well wind up a reliever, but you have to at least try and see if he can stick as a starter. Even if he's a #3, that's still more value than a reliever.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Agreed, during this rebuilding phase, you don't lose much by trying Arrieta and giving him the chance to start first... You don't wanna turn him into a reliever without ever knowing if your staff could've turned him into an efficient starter.

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    I have a question for John or anyone to answer. Why do they stop talking about bat speed after a player reaches about 20 yrs old? They rarely talk about bat speed for major leaguers. Is there no way to electronically measure bat speed like they do with pitched balls? They will talk it up for amateurs but then rarely mention it again after they have played professionally. Why, do you suppose?

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    In reply to Jim Pedigo:

    My son's hitting coach used to measure bat speed using a device made for measuring the speed of a golf swing. Seemed to be pretty accurate.

  • I was on the fence about giving him a MLB contract, but there is no downside here on a minor league deal. Good signing.

  • I know it is to early to tell but if arm issues will be a problem for Jake and he becomes just a bullpen guy instead of a 3-4 starter then the Feldman trade isn't that impressive. I get Pedro could still be a good closer. But the trade looked real good when he could be a starter.

  • 2013 stats:
    Darwin Barney led Cubs with 22 GDP in 555 PAs
    Emilio Bonifacio had 4 GDPs in 461 PAs.

    I like this move!

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    I like the Bonifacio signing but let's not get overexcited. Neither guy will start at 2B next season so at this point I would be pulling for Barney to start and go for another gold glove this season. If we can see him hit .255-.265 for the season, we might be able to really turn him into something valuable next winter.

    Just another way to look at it.....

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    In reply to bocabobby:

    Even when Barney hit .276, his OPS was just .669, which was 2nd worst among all MLB second sackers that year.

  • I do agree on Trammell, although much, much better D may be an over value. NY obviously is a big deal here, but Jeter has one of the holy grail HOF numbers with 3,000 hits. We can debate if compiling stats should make such a difference (although I lean towards they should), that is the number that will put it over the top.

    But I do agree that Trammell is getting too little attention for a great career.

  • I would love $100 from all of you who say this is going to be a bad season. These games are not played on paper and these are major league ball players. I'm excited for the season to start and I expect strong effort and a much better than expected team.

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    In reply to givejonadollar:

    That all depends on what you consider a bad season. I consider this season is a poor one if we record less then 70 wins unless of course we realize Baez, Bryant, Castro, and Rizzo are core building blocks for the future of this team.

    Problem is ( although I hope I am right ) that if that's the case, the cubs will most likely win more then 70 w the vastly improved bullpen.

    If you think the Cubs will be around the 78-82 win mark, I will be happy to take your money.

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    Why is Logan Watkins not in the picture? I'd like to see what he can do.

  • In reply to Jim Pedigo:

    Thank Dale for not giving everyone a chance to see what Logan Watkins could do last Sept.

  • In reply to Jim Pedigo:

    I am sure he will be given a chance in ST. If he plays better than his competition, he will make the team.

  • Regarding Alan Trammel, I'm sympathetic, but he just wasn't the dominant player at his position during his era. That was Robin Yount and Cal Ripken. And then throw in Ozzie Smith in the NL, and that's three SS better than Trammel in his era. Unfortunately, the 4th bet player at a position during one era rarely gets in.

    Trammel had many good solid years, but only one truly stand-out year (1987). So without coming close to 3,000 hits or any other major milestone, it's hard to make an overwhelming case. His credentials aren't even as good as Dale Murphy, who I'm even more sympathetic to, but I understand the voters reasoning there as well.

    One's interest in believing Trammell deserving of induction probably also comes down to whether you think too few people get inducted or not. I'm in the latter camp, but that is admittedly purely a subjective preference.

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    Whatever it takes to put Barney in a utility role is fine by me. I really hope Olt grabs the 3B job so that Valbuena x Murphy can man 2B. Offense already looks much better without a substantial drop in defense.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    I hope I am wrong but I see Olt needing some time to get his confidence back up to where it was in 2012. Plus Espstein/Hoyer like to promote prospects when they dominate at a level for a while. So I think it will take a couple months before Olt grabs a hold of 3B but once he does, I don't think he will let go.

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