Christian: Why is he now designated for assignment rather than going outright to Iowa? I have no idea. It may be that he refused the assignment, something he has a right to do if he’s been outrighted before, but ordinarily that would mean he becomes a free agent. It seems to me that maybe the Cubs never actually outrighted hm, and have designated him instead, but the net result is essentially the same: he’s off the 25-man and 40-man rosters so that there is room for Doug Glanville.
Brian: I’m a bit confused here – wouldn’t he have to clear waivers in order to go back to Iowa since he’s being taken off the 40-man? In that case, it only makes sense to DFA him while that process takes place.
In any event, he was never “outrighted,” so I’ve taken that information down from the last post.
Brian: Apparently, the Cubs are sending some money to the Rangers too.
I guess this trade shows us just where the Cubs’ collective head is at. Instead of having a fifth outfielder like Trenidad Hubbard who can hit lefties OK and take a walk now and again, we’re stuck with Doug Glanville, he of the .318 career OBP and .386 career SLG. Damn it.
This trade just reeks of Cub-ness. It’s a move designed to make it look like the Cubs are trying, but does nothing at all to address any actual problems, and in fact only makes those problems worse. I know that as a backup OF, Glanville won’t make a lot of tangible difference one way or the other during the rest of the season, but it’s insulting that the Cubs want me to believe that this is progress. The hell it is.
At least Fransz won’t be missed. He’s hitting .262/.328/.408 in right field for the Lugnuts this year, and he’s already 22, so it’s not like he’s young for the league. But that isn’t the point – the point is that we have a GM who thinks that Doug Glanville will make this team better, and that he’s actually willing to give someone up to get him.
Christian: Doug Glanville? Come on. This is a guy who hasn’t had a good season since 1999. In 1999, he went 325/376/457 with the Phillies, hit 11 home runs, drove in 73, and was 34/36 in stolen base opportunities.
Over the next three years, he went 263/295/367, and this year he’s at 272/294/359. He is still good at stealing bases (82/98), but the phrase “you can’t steal first” comes to mind. Basically, he’s a right-handed Tom Goodwin. He will most likely play the short side of a center field platoon with Kenny Lofton. Of course, his numbers against lefties over the last three years (259/305/384) are almost identical to Lofton’s (251/341/351), so why bother picking him up? Like Brian said, at least, it didn’t cost much — Fransz is a non-prospect.
About the only good things I can say about this deal are that A) Glanville is a smart guy (Penn graduate) and a quote machine, and B) Trenidad Hubbard is out the door, though what happens when Goodwin comes back is an open question. Other than that, this trade is, at best, a nothing deal and at worst another example of the veteranizing of the bench that I dislike so much.
Discuss this trade at The Cub Reporter.
Christian: As expected. Cruz pitched today in Prior’s spot in the rotation (well, in Estes’ spot actually), and he may stick around long enough to get another turn if Prior isn’t ready, or he may take Estes’ spot for good. He didn’t pitch badly.
Wellemeyer seems to be the guy on the I-88 shuttle this year. I’m sure we’ll see him at least one more time this year.
Brian: Hopefully, that one more time isn’t until September when the rosters expand. I don’t really understand why the Cubs don’t have at least one veteran to shuffle pointlessly from AAA to the majors, since this is at least the second time they’ve run into this problem this year. On the other hand, I’m the guy who’s been campaigning to get rid of Alan Benes. At least they should use a lesser prospect, if the two-day twelfth pitcher is an important enough job to disrupt the Iowa rotation, but unfortunately the 40-man roster isn’t constructed in such a way to give the Cubs a lot of flexibility in situations like this.
It looks like Cruz will get at least one more shot. I hope he makes the most of it.
Christian: I think it’s this Jose Silva, but I’m not sure. If so, it’s another good minor-league free agent signing as the Cubs try to figure out when to take Shawn Estes out of the rotation.
Brian: It is indeed “that” Jose Silva. He pitched his first game for Iowa in relief, so I’m not sure if he’s going to start or not. Either way, he’s a long shot to pitch in the majors for the Cubs.
Brian: The next Joe Borowski?
Dingman is a 29-year-old career reliever, and has bounced around in several organizations over the past few years. This year, he has been pitching for Yucatan and Cancun in the Mexican League. His line:
43.1 IP, 41 H, 22 R, 13 BB, 37 K
I don’t know much about the quality of play in the Mexican League, but Dingman has averaged close to or over 9.0 K/9 throughout the minor leagues.
I think this is a good signing. Dingman is the kind of cheap relief help Hendry should be looking for, instead of the $4 million Alfonsecas.
Christian: I think I have a slogan for us. “The Cubs Transaction Report: No Move to Small.”
Dingman last appeared in the majors in ’01, throwing 7 1/3 innings for the Rockies. He gave up four home runs, thereby earning the nickname “The Dinger,” if he didn’t have it already, which he should have. Dingman was signed to take Wellemeyer’s spot on the Iowa roster.
Brian: This solves one mystery and opens another. The Official Site lists 41 players on the 40-man roster, and obviously someone has to go.
It’s a shame that Goodwin got hurt just as he was in the middle of a truly bizarre hot streak, and it’s somewhat ironic that he hurt himself while running out an extra base hit. Not as ironic as Prior hurting his shoulder while running the bases, but still. The reality of the situation is that he’s not going to be playing much with Lofton joining the team anyway, so no big loss.
We’ll see who the 40-man casualty is. Personally, I think it’s time to get rid of Alan Benes once and for all.
Christian: Huh, how did that happen? I thought the Cubs traded away two guys on the 40-man (Hernandez & Bruback) and replaced them with the two they got (Lofton & Ramirez), so there shouldn’t be a problem with the 40-man.
If they do have to trim someone, it really should be Lenny F. Harris. Of course, it won’t be, but it could be Troy O’Leary, couldn’t it?
Looking at the 40-man roster, it still scares me that there are only two catchers on it. What are the chances of Miller and Bako both making it through the season unhurt? If the Cubshave to DL one of them, they’d have to purchase the contract of Mahoney or Paul, and that would mean removing someone else from a 40-man roster that doesn’t have much at on it…
UPDATE [07-24]: Brian: It looks like the culprit of the 40-man mystery is … Alan Benes. I don’t believe he is actually on the 40-man roster – I think the Official Site is wrong. Before he was traded back to the Cubs, the Rangers DFA’d Benes, and he cleared waivers and accepted a minor league assignment upon being traded to Chicago. I should have realized this at the time, since the Cubs did not make a corresponding move on the 40-man.
Christian: Phew, mystery solved. Even if the Cubs’ 40-man roster page is wrong, rest assured that mine is correct, and it has contract information to boot!
Christian: Funny how this one didn’t get much press. I guess there were more important moves happening or something. Mitre pitched about as well as you’d expect a AA pitcher to pitch against the Braves: 10 hits and 8 runs in 3 2/3 innings. He should get a chance to improve on his 19.64 ERA.
Prior is going to miss another turn in the rotation, and the Cubs are planning to call up Juan Cruz to start on Sunday, but in the meantime they brought Wellemeyer up for a few days to help out a bullpen that has thrown over ten innings in the last two days. The Cubs will need to make at least one more move before tonight’s game in order to get both Lofton and Ramirez on the roster.
Brian: Like you, I imagine that Wellemeyer is around only as an emergency reliever, since the Cubs starters haven’t made it out of the fourth inning in each of the last two games. He’s been shelled in each of his last two starts for Iowa, and I’ll be surprised if he makes it into a game before he’s presumably sent down to make room for Juan Cruz over the weekend.
As for Mitre, his start last night has not influenced my belief that he’s an underrated prospect, but he clearly has a ways to go. I doubt we’ll see him again this year.
[Update 12:00 PM]: Christian: You know, the Trib reported this move last night, but I don’t know if it happened. The roster on Cubs.com shows Mitre still on the 25-man, with both Ramirez and Lofton added as well. Astute readers will note that this is 26 players, which leads me to believe that Goodwin is going to be DLed before gametime tonight.
The Cubs have acquired CF Kenny Lofton and 3B Aramis Ramirez in return for INF Jose Hernandez, P Matt Bruback, and a PTBNL.
Brian: This deal was just announced during the game on WGN, so I don’t know yet who will be sent down to make room on the 25-man for Lofton. Goodwin hurt himself tonight, and there’s no word yet on how serious that is, but he may be headed to the DL. If not, I assume Hubbard gets DFA’d.
This doesn’t seem like a bad deal at all, but it’s not something that I think will have a big effect on the Cubs’ fortunes this year. Here are the two new Cubs’ offensive stats this year:
Ramirez: 371 AB, .283/.333/.453, 12 HR
Lofton: 339 AB, .277/.333/.437, 9 HR, 18-23 SB
Of course, Ramirez should be the everyday third baseman now, and he’ll fix the ungodly black hole the Cubs have had there by providing roughly league-average production. He’s signed through next year also, and makes an adequate placeholder until the Cubs figure out if Brendan Harris can play.
As I write this, Steve and Chip are speculating that since Ramirez is only 25, he may still make good on the promise he showed in 2001. I’d like to think that the Cubs aren’t expecting this, but I think i’s possible that he may. Ramirez was a very good hitter in the minor leagues, but once he got to the majors, he stopped taking walks. In 1,734 minor league at-bats, Ramirez walked 262 times. Yet, in 2,057 major league at-bats, he’s walked only 128 times. Perhaps the Pirates’ coaching staff messed with him too much, or perhaps Ramirez just can’t figure out major league pitching, but his numbers have suffered as a result. If he relearns the patience he once showed, I think he’ll be the steal of the new century for the Cubs. I’m not willing to bet actual money on that, but he does provide a fine alternative to Lenny Harris in the meantime.
As for Lofton, he provides the Cubs with a sort of Tom Goodwin-with-pop, which when you think about it, makes him not like Tom Goodwin at all. Like Ramirez, provides a league-average bat at his position. He doesn’t replace Corey Patterson’s, but he’s not a bad stopgap until the season is over.
Basically, this trade takes two positions that the Cubs were sorely inadequate and turns them into league-average positions. It’s definitely needed, and the Cubs didn’t have any minor leaguers ready to step in. But it’s not the kind of deal that brings division titles.
At least the Cubs didn’t give much to the Pirates. They don’t figure to miss Hernandez, what with him being a mediocre player that never played anyway. We’ll have to comment on the PTBNL when he’s named, but since Jim Hendry indicated on WGN that the Cubs are picking up the two Pirates’ contracts, I don’t expect him to be anyone special.
Bruback is the key to this deal for the Pirates. He had a fine year last season with West Tenn, and a fine season with Daytona in 2001, but isn’t a top-tier prospect. He’s 24 this year, his first in AAA, and is 6-8 with a 3.96 ERA. He’s pitched 125 innings, with 33 BB, 90 K, and a whopping 15 HBP. As you can see, he’s a decent pitcher, maybe an eventual fourth starter, but no one the Cubs figure to miss.
Christian: I like this deal. Dunno if it’s “highway robbery,” as at least one online source has described it, but it’s a net positive for the Cubs. As you said, Brian, it fills the two biggest holes the Cubs have (if only they could have gotten Jason Kendall, too).
Offensively, Lofton is a career 298/375/424 guy, an honest-to-God leadoff hitter who can put the ball out of the park occasionally and steal a base more than occasionally. He will do a fine job of replacing much of what Corey brought to the table and will, conveniently, be a free agent after the season. Ramirez, besides being the best major leaguer ever named after a Musketeer, brings the promise of a return to 2001 form (300/350/536, 34 HR, 112 RBI), and he’s still only 25. Plus, if he doesn’t return to that form, the Cubs are on the hook for one year at $6M and if necessary they can send him on his way.
Defensively, Lofton is not the defender he used to be (I watched him take some absolutely horrible routes to balls during his stint with the Giants) but he is still above average, while Ramirez has a good arm but makes a few too many errors for my tastes.
As far as the guys the Cubs gave up, Hernandez did nothing for the Cubs in his brief return, I defer to Brian on the quality of Bruback (though I agree he’s not in the top tier of Cubs pitching prospects), and as long as the PTBNL isn’t a pitcher better than Bruback, I say the Cubs came out on the good end of this deal.
As far as roster construction goes, if Goodwin’s hamstring injury isn’t too serious, I imagine Cummings will be cut to make room on the 25-man for Lofton. Otherwise, Goodwin can be DL’ed. They don’t need to make a 40-man move because Bruback was already on the 40-man roster.
The Cubs have placed Mark Prior on the DL and purchased the contract of SP Sergio Mitre from West Tenn.
Christian: Prior is going on the DL retroactive to 7/12 with shoulder soreness stemming from his collision with Marcus Giles. He pronounced himself “fine” over the break, but after a session over the weekend he had his start pushed back to Tuesday. Now, he’s on the DL but may miss only one start since the retroactive date means he eligible to return on 7/27.
The Cubs are one of only two teams in the majors (Seattle is the other) who have used only five starting pitchers, but that will change tomorrow as they call up Sergio Mitre, a soft-throwing righty who is pitching well with the Diamond Jaxx this year: 6-7, 3.79, 32 BB/98 K in 109 1/3 innings. He gets thrown into the fire right away as his major-leaguedebut will be against Greg Maddux.
Cubs blogger manqué Bryan Stroh ranked Mitre as the Cubs’ #22 prospect during the off-season and had this to say:
“I’ve had conflicting thoughts about Mitre since he was drafted in the 7th round out of a California JC 2 years ago. His best asset is a real plus sinker that moves hard and down in the zone. He is successful at peppering the zone in and out with this pitch and as a result gets tons of groundballs. When I saw him last spring, his breaking stuff was just mediocre, but reports are that he improved them significantly down the stretch as he ended the year pitching very, very well. His velocity is not exceptional, 88-90, but it doesn’t have to be with his movement. If his breaking stuff did improve, he should proceed through the minors a level a year, without too much variation in his numbers, making him a candidate to contribute with the Cubs in ’04 or ’05.”
Obviously, losing Prior for even one start is bad for the Cubs. So far, the Cubs have been saying there’s no structural damage to Prior’s shoulder, it’s just soreness, or swelling, or whatever. Having seen the collision, I find that hard to believe, but until I hear otherwise, I’ll believe them and expect Prior back, either on the 27th against the Astros or perhaps on the 29th against the Giants.
In order to make room for Mitre on the 40-man roster, the Cubs have moved Corey Patterson to the 60-day DL.
Brian: Welcome to The Report, Christian. It’s good to have you aboard!
I got the chance to see Mitre a few weeks ago in Jackson and was impressed; you can read what I have to say here. I’m not sure that calling him a “soft-throwing righty” is quite accurate, since he was consistently 91-92 even into the ninth inning. That’s not flamethrowing, but it’s a perfectly good major-league fastball. On the other hand, I suppose that I should allow for a home-team radar gun.
Anyway, as you can see, Mitre has fine K and BB rates this season, and he’s pitched especially well lately. In his last five starts, he’s pitched 35.2 innings, giving up 7 runs, walking 9 and striking out 40. I think he’s got a pretty good chance to hold his own tomorrow night. I doubt he’s ready for full-time work in the Cubs’ rotation, though, so if Prior’s out for more than one start I think they should go to Cruz regardless of how well Mitre does tomorrow.
Speaking of Prior, I’d be curious to know if leaving him to pitch made the situation worse in any way. Like you say, it’s hard to believe that the problem is merely a bruise. I think Prior was full of it when he said after the game that his shoulder didn’t hurt, and that he was only clutching it at the time because he thought it would. That doesn’t even pass the laugh test, especially given the look on his face at the time. And he was obviously lying to Tim McCarver last Saturday when he apparently said that he was feeling no pain whatsoever.
Assuming that Prior will only miss one start, the fact that I’ll be at the Houston game notwithstanding, I’d rather see him start the 29th against San Fran than the 27th in Houston. More than likely, coming off shoulder problems he’ll be pretty rusty, and neither Minute Maid Park nor the Astros are very forgiving. But that’s a bridge to cross when and if we get there.
The Cubs have placed Corey Patterson on the DL and purchased the contract of OF Trenidad Hubbard from Iowa.
Torn ACL. This is truly bad news, as it further cripples an already crippled offense. Not only do the Cubs lose Patterson, who will miss the rest of the season, but Tom Goodwin is the leading candidate to take his place, which means that they’ll replace one of their best hitters with a guy who offers less than zero production. Not only that, but it’s a safe bet that Goodwin will see time in the leadoff spot, which is too bad since he offers even less than Grudzielanek in the top spot, meaning that what few weapons the Cubs have will be even further neutralized. This injury hurts the Cubs in just about every way possible.
Of course, it wouldn’t be as bad if Hubbard got the bulk of the playing time in center. He won’t offer a lot in the way of power, but he’s put up an OBP over .400 in the last eight seasons he’s played in AAA, plus a .407 this season. I’m not sure how he’ll do defensively in center, but the Cubs need the offense much more than they do the defense right now.
Long term, I’d expect the team to make a trade to fill the gap, but we’ll have to see. If the current third base situation is any indication, Jim Hendry won’t let anything so simple as a “glaring need” rush him into a deal.
UPDATE: In order to make room for Hubbard on the 40-man roster, the team transferred Will Ohman from the 15-day DL to the 60-day DL.