Brian: No surprise here. I imagine that Wellemeyer has to be frustrated with the way this season has gone for him. Since a great first week or so with the Cubs, he has been pretty bad both in the majors and in Iowa. He won’t get a chance to pitch again this year unless he gets some garbage time in September. Hopefully, getting jerked around like a puppet all year by GM
Dusty Baker Jim Hendry didn’t mess with his head too much, and he’ll be able to put it together next season.
Christian: Wellemeyer did what he was called up to do — pitch long relief after Shawn Estes was bombed yesterday. He didn’t fare too much better, but surprisingly I didn’t read anything after the game about how he was pitching well, he just got unlucky. I guess you have to be a few years older before that sort of luck kicks in.
Whether or not Dusty says so, today’s start has to be a rotation audition for Cruz. The way Estes has pitched recently has been historically bad, and there’s no way Baker can keep running him out there every fifth day as long as Cruz pitches even marginally well.
Christian: Why, exactly? I suppose it’s so Wellemeyer can bail out Shawn today if necessary, but couldn’t Leicester have done that, too? It doesn’t matter all that much, since I expect Wellemeyer will be sent down after today’s game to make room for Juan Cruz, who should start tomorrow.
(Thanks to Tony for the alert.)
Brian: Maybe I just haven’t been paying attention, but I didn’t know Veres was hurting, so this is a surprise to me. Until melting down in his last two outings, giving up three runs in both games, Veres hadn’t given up more than one run in any appearance since being activated from the DL the first time.
What this most likely means is more innings for Antonio Alfonseca, which has me pretty happy. Wait, not happy. Very nervous. Especially since Farnsworth has been less than sharp lately (he’s blown the game tonight as I’ve written this).
The right-handed Leicester, 24, is a somewhat highly-rated pitching prospect who had kinda hit the wall entering the year. He had a 1.52 K/BB ratio and a 6.22 K/9 for his career in the minors entering this season, along with a 4.92 ERA mostly as a starter in A ball. This year he’s pitched much more in relief, and has pitched much better. He still walks too many batters (2.00 K/BB) although his strikeouts are way up (8.97 K/9). Overall, he has a 3.89 ERA in 36 relief appearanes and nine starts.
Since the AA season ends this weekend, I guess Leicester was recalled simply because most of the other pitchers on the 40-man roster still have a start to make. Leicester made his last start on August 23rd, so he should be ready to go when the Cubs need him in an emergency. Otherwise, I don’t expect he’ll pitch much. Which is fine, because he’s not really all that good.
Christian: Apparently, Veres was never quite right after his earlier bout with tendinitis. Of course, putting him on the DL before September 1st gives the Cubs more flexibility regarding who they want to have on the post-season roster (The F-Rod Loophole). This way, they can call up whoever they want in late September to replace Veres on the roster for the post-season (if they make it that far). I’m hoping it’s Todd Wellemeyer.
I expect Leicester is only around for if (when) Estes blows up on Saturday. He mops up and gets sent back to Iowa in time for Juan Cruz to pitch on Sunday. Of course, given how well the bullpen pitched last night, he might see an inning or two tonight.
Brian: OK, I hope this clears everything up:
The roster page on the Official Site, since it’s run by Major League Baseball, is naturally fairly useless. They’ve had 41 players on the 40-man roster for a while now, a mystery that we cleared up a while ago. Turns out that Alan Benes hasn’t really been on the 40-man since he returned to the Cubs from Texas.
Another source of confusion in the last week was Augie Ojeda. I speculated last week that reports that Augie Ojeda was “optioned” were wrong. I thought Augie was out of options, and would have had to be designated for assignment before he could be sent back to Iowa.
Turns out that I was wrong. Ojeda was indeed optioned to Iowa, and remains on the 40-man roster. What the Cubs did to make a spot for Tony Womack was put Phil Norton on waivers. He cleared waivers and pitched a few more games for Iowa before being sent to Cincinnati.
So, what this means is that yesterday’s trade did not open a spot on the 40-man like I said. I hope this clears up the confusion. If the Cubs/MLB would take the time to report these things, which should be easy since they have a section of the website devoted to transations, they would make these things a lot easier.
Memo to MLB: Wake up! People care about these things.
Brian: I wonder if this doesn’t foreshadow another trade, since trading Norton opens up a spot on the 40-man roster.
Koronka is a 23-year-old lefty who has struggled in a starting role in AA Chattanooga. He showed some promise last season playing for advanced-A Stockton, when he went 11-0 with a 3.07 ERA along with 69 K in 73.1 innings. He’s yet to get over the hump in AA, though, going 7-13 with a 4.39 ERA in the pitcher-friendly Southern League this season. Both Baseball America and Rotoworld imply a move to the bullpen in the future, so it looks like this trade works out well for the Cubs in that they get a younger, probably better, left-handed reliever while clearing a roster spot.
Christian:Both pitchers are left-handed. Koronka is four years younger than Norton, and was not on the Reds’ 40-man roster. Since Norton was on the Cubs’ 40-man, the Cubs now have an open spot, but I imagine instead of a trade what we’ll see is them calling up someone who wasn’t previously on the 40-man. I’m hoping it’ll be Phil Hiatt.
Chances are it won’t be Koronka. He was great at Stockton (A) last year, but overall he has 559 strikeouts and 3177 walks in his 685 inning minor league career, numbers that don’t bode well for major league success.
Discuss this trade at The Cub Reporter.
Christian: I’ve seen this reported one place so far, and it isn’t unexpected. Now that the Cubs have Tony Womack to play middle infield and not hit, they don’t need Augie. Goodwin becomes the third centerfielder on the roster, and the Cubs now have the best bench in baseball, if it were 1997.
This doesn’t address the 40-man roster situation — the Cubs are currently one man over the limit with the arrival of Womack. I’m sort of surprised that Augie wasn’t DFA’ed, but it may be that he was, and it was just misreported.
Brian: I think Ojeda would have had to be designated. He’ll need to clear waivers before he can be removed from the 40-man, and he’ll need to be removed from the 40-man before being sent to the minors because he doesn’t have any options left.
I said earlier today that the Womack acquisition
may spell the end for Troy O’Leary. We had assumed that the Cubs were going to go with six OF, but if Tom Goodwin is really about to be activated, there’s no room for all three Goodwin, Glanville and O’Leary with Womack aboard.
Uh, I’m not sure what I was thinking there. We’ll just let that go, shall we?
Anyway, I’m looking forward to seeing how Baker handles these six outfielders, since three of them (four, if you count Lofton, which it’s tempting to do) can’t hit. I’m not quite sure what Hendry is aiming to do with this.
Brian: If I’ve been somewhat alarmist over the course of the season, I’ve been vindicated now.
To paraphrase Eddie Murphy, there’s gonna be all kinds of consequences and repercussions to this move.
For one thing, I think this may spell the end for Troy O’Leary. We had assumed that the Cubs were going to go with six OF, but if Tom Goodwin is really about to be activated, there’s no room for all three Goodwin, Glanville and O’Leary with Womack aboard.
Second, assuming Grudzielanek is returning, there’s going to be another choice to be made at that time. Perhaps Womack is only a two-week rental. Yeah, right.
Third, Ramires isn’t a bad pitcher. He’s put up a 2.36 ERA and struck out 47 batters in 45.2 IP between AA West Tenn and A Daytona. Sure, he’s just a minor-league reliever, but for crying out loud, Tony Womack?
Fourth, we’re actually stuck with Tony Womack. To say that he’s past his prime implies that he once had one. The only value he’s ever really had were his stolen bases, which were mildly impressive to be sure, but he can’t do that anymore. Now he has to rely on his career .316 OBP.
Fifth, there’s still the matter of the 40-man roster to clear up. I’m sure Ojeda will be DFA’d. In the strict sense that Womack is better than Ojeda, this trade helps. But that’s scraping the bottom of the barrel, and it’s silly that the Cubs are even in the situation to have to choose between them.
Christian: Why? Why??? Brian, you thought the Doug Glanville acquisition was pointless, but it looks like Bagwell-for-Andersen compared to this one. Tony Womack? Tony Womack, who is hitting .225 this year, after spending the season in Phoenix and Denver, the two best hitter’s parks in the NL? The wire story about the trade notes that Womack is leading the league in infield hits and bunt hits, prompting me to wonder just how low his batting average would be if he didn’t have speed.
Rosterwise, this is going to get Augie Ojeda off the 25-man (and, most likely, the 40-man), so it’s a slight positive there. But basically, it’s a pointless move, and to me it’s another indication that the Cubs are just sort of flailing around, hoping that they can cobble enough 30-something former speedsters together to push the team into the post-season. Just ridiculous.
Discuss this trade at The Cub Reporter.
Brian: That the Cubs prefer Randall Simon to Hee Seop Choi is bad enough, but now we know that they prefer Troy O’Leary to Hee Seop Choi, and that’s a much bigger problem. Unless Tom Goodwin isn’t really going to be activated tomorrow, I don’t understand this.
One might say that Choi needs to go to Iowa to further his development, but there’s only two weeks left in the PCL season. Is two weeks really going to make a difference long-term for Choi?
And besides, when did this team start worrying about development, anyway? Was it while they were letting Choi rot on the bench over the last month? Was it while they were jerking around Dave Kelton, Todd Wellemeyer, or Sergio Mitre? Or perhaps while they were letting Juan Cruz go two weeks between appearances? If the Cubs were really worried about his development, they’re making this move too late for it to do any good.
In the meantime, veteran Troy O’Leary continues to get a free pass. Granted, I don’t love the idea of having three first basemen on the roster, but it’s not like having six outfielders will do the Cubs any good, either. Either way, the 25th man will be used almost exclusively for pinch-hitting duties, and in that role I’ll take Choi over O’Leary any day.
Christian: Yeah, the continued presence of Troy O’Leary on the major league roster is both puzzling and troubling. With Goodwin back, there’s nothing he brings to the team that can’t be better accomplished by someone else (either Goodwin or Glanville), so I don’t see what purpose he serves.
You’re absolutely right that Choi would be a better 25th man/lefty off the bench than O’Leary, except that you’re dealing with Dusty Baker’s Proven Veteran Syndrome, in the middle of a playoff race no less. In Baker’s mind, it is apparently better to have an older player with an established level of talent (no matter how low that might be) than a younger player whose level of talent is still unknown. I mean, it wouldn’t do for a guy like Choi to get in the lineup and maybe get a few hits, would it? Too much uncertainty! Better to go with a guy you can depend on (to make outs).
Brian: Not much to say here. They needed to make room for Simon on the 25-man, and of course, Kelton wasn’t busy anyway.
As Rotoworld mentions, this raises the specter of Choi being sent down when Tom Goodwin is activated on Tuesday. I can’t wait to see a six-OF roster featuring both Tom Goodwin and Doug Glanville. Given that possibility, perhaps if we pray hard enough, O’Leary will be cut instead. That would leave the Cubs with three first baseman but a somewhat improved bench.
Hey, maybe Randall Simon can catch!
Christian: Sure would be nice if O’Leary were cut instead of Choi going down. The question is, what’s more important, the team right now or Choi’s development? Given that the Cubs are in first, I go with the former. Cut O’Leary and go with a three-headed first base monster down the stretch.
Brian: Sometimes it’s hard to know what to say.
I think that even though I’ve been very critical at times this season, I’ve been a pretty good sport. I don’t think I’ve ever rooted for anyone on the Cubs to do poorly, whether it be Lenny Harris or Shawn Estes or whoever. Perhaps in some of my weakest moments I have, but I generally think fans should root for the players on their team, even if they do want them gone in the worst way.
But, it’s almost to the point where I’m ready to root for the Cubs to crash and burn. I’m just not sure that I want to live in a world in which positive reinforcement is provided for acquiring Doug Glanville and Randall Simon, on top of all the other questionable (at best) moves Hendry’s made this year. Especially if Simon replaces a perfectly good first baseman in Hee Seop Choi. Especially when that perfectly good first baseman provides the team with exactly what they need, a patient left-handed batter with some power.
Sadler turns 23 in September, and is hitting .291/.352/.434 for AA West Tenn. That’s good enough to believe he might become an adequate major league centerfielder someday. Maybe that’s a stretch, but even if he doesn’t turn out that well, the organization is better off having him play everyday in West Tenn than they are letting Randall Simon get one plate appearance in Chicago.
I can’t find anything good about this. I’m too depressed to even make a lame sausage joke.
Jim Hendry needs to go.
Christian: I guess I’m not as down on this trade as, well, apparently everyone. Yes, Choi is outhitting Simon against righties this season. Over the last three seasons, though, Simon’s numbers are better against righties than Choi’s are this year.
In general, I suppose you could argue that this is another sound and fury move for the Cubs, signifying nothing (and told by an idiot, depending on how you feel about Hendry). The worst part of it is that it delays Hee Seop Choi’s development, as well as keeping him off the post-season roster (last year’s Angels shenanigans notwithstanding), and that is a bad thing for the future of the Cubs. In the present, though, I choose to look at it this way: Dusty Baker has essentially refused to play Big Choi, which means Erik Karros has gotten far too many ABs against right-handed pitching. If this trade puts Karros on the bench against righties, it’s a net positive for the Cubs.
As far as your disillusionment, Brian, I don’t share it. If the Cubs make it to the playoffs this year, that playoff run will not be tainted by the acquisitions of Glanville and Simon. We’re not going to remember that 2003 was the year those guys came over. What we’re going to remember is that 2003 was the year Baker came over and got the Cubs into the playoffs. In 1998, the Cubs picked up Matt Karchner and Felix Heredia at the trading deadline, neither of whom pitched well. In ’89, the deadline acquisitions included Marvell Wynne and Luis Salazar, a fact I didn’t remember until I went and looked it up.
In a few years, we may look back at the handling of Choi, Bobby Hill, and Juan Cruz as the reason why the Cubs never sniffed the playoffs after ’03, just like we can look back at the poor handling of young pitchers and outfielders as one of the reasons for the futility of the ’90s. If so, you can bet I’ll be at the vanguard of front office criticism. But honestly, I’m getting greedy. I’ve been a Cub fan all my life and I’ve seen a total of three playoff victories. As wrong as it might seem, if this move helps the Cubs get to the playoffs (and I think it will), I’m in favor of it. Anything can happen in a short-playoff series, and pennants hang forever.
As far as the lame sausage joke goes, maybe we can refer to Simon as Abe Froman (The Sausage King of Chicago) and leave it at that?
Brian: After sleeping on it, I’m not as disillusioned as I was last night. Besides, I couldn’t root against the Cubs even if I wanted to.
At the same time, it’s hard to have any faith in a front office that would rather have Randall Simon than Hee Seop Choi. And it’s hard to believe that the Cubs won’t do the same thing next year if Choi hits another slump. It’s not even a very protracted slump, although it seems like one since Choi plays so rarely.
The bottom line for me is, does this move give me faith in the front office? And the answer is, no, it doesn’t. And I’m tired of justifying moves by saying that Dusty wasn’t playing him anyway. That’s no way to run a baseball club.