Is Olt Starting Yet? (Or the Cubs make some BIG little moves)

Is Olt Starting Yet? (Or the Cubs make some BIG little moves)

Clearly these moves were made to spite me. The moves were a bit of surprise given that even marginal players like these had some value. I was surprised to see the Cubs give away these players while the likely players replacing them could be sent down to Iowa to bide time to make moves. The cutting of these players saved the Cubs a little over 2 million dollars in their salary but they likely will end up adding to payroll when Emilio Bonifacio's salary is added.

These moves are bringing the 13 position players of the 25 man roster into focus at this point. The Cubs are indeed proving me wrong again with the fact that at least two NRI are going to make the roster this spring. Here is what the moves tell us about the Cubs opening day 25 man roster.

John Baker over George Kottaras

I wrote about the Cubs not valuing pitch framing, and George Kottaras was a prime example of this. Kottaras is not a good defensive catcher. He did offer value with a high walk rate and pop. While not Ryan Doumit bad behind the plate, Kottaras was going to cost the team whenever he was behind the plate.

Offensively though, Baker is likely to be a downgrade from Kottaras. Here are some key areas of comparison. Here is the walk rate which clearly favors Kottaras.

Source: FanGraphs -- John Baker, George Kottaras

Here is the strikeout rates which is the one area that Baker has been consistently better than Kotttaras.

Source: FanGraphs -- John Baker, George Kottaras

Power is another clear advantage for Kottaras though.

Source: FanGraphs -- John Baker, George Kottaras

And that is why, despite being younger, Kottaras has shown a much higher offensive value throughout his career than Baker.

Source: FanGraphs -- John Baker, George Kottaras

Now in fairness to Baker, he has only received 200 or more plate appearances in only 2008, 2009, and 2012. There are some extra small sample sizes in play for Baker in the other years. However, Baker is projected by most systems to put a Koyie Hill-esque slash line. Steamer is the most optimistic with Baker at .217/.294/.304 with a 64 wRC+.

The improvement on defense is mostly due to Kottaras being so bad defensively. Baker has hardly been a defensive standout in his career. But according to Baseball Prospectus Baker has been worth 6.4 framing runs per 7000 than Kottaras and 1.1 more receiving runs per 7000 than Kottaras. I am not certain that is enough to bridge the gap in offensive value between the two players, but it is clear that the Cubs feel that way. Also the human element is important as well.

What does Donnie Murphy being waived tell us?

That is what it tell us. I was just about to write some long drawn out section writing about the battle between Ryan Roberts, Ryan Kalish and Mike Olt for the final two spots on the 25 man roster. And Jed Hoyer makes it utterly clear what the move of Donnie Murphy meant. Murphy and Olt on the same roster was redundant, and Emilio Bonifacio was a lock the moment he signed his minor league deal. The Cubs have to open a 40 man roster to spot to add both Bonifacio and Kalish to the 40 man roster. One such move could be placing Kyuji Fujikawa on the 60 day DL. Fujikawa has been recovering quickly, but that would allow him a more conservative return date without losing any more players off of the roster.

However, it is most important to remember that I did in fact get one thing right.

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