Christian: A mystery solved! After a series of emails with Scott Nelson, Director of Baseball Operations for the Cubs, I learned that in order to make room for Josh Paul on the 40-man roster the Cubs designated Jackson Melian for assignment. This actually happened on September 1st, so the Cubs have until the 10th to trade him, otherwise he becomes a free agent. I expect he’ll end up re-signing with the Cubs.
Melian’s star has fallen far since he was signed to a $1.6M bonus as a 17-year-old by the Yankees. The Venezuelan prospect impressed a lot of scouts with his tools and potential, but his seven years in teh minors have been all about not meeting expectations.
After four seasons in the Yankees system, he had progressed to AA Norwich, where he had shown good speed on the basepaths and a decent instinct in the outfield, but his K/BB ratio was nearly 4.0 in 2000, when he was traded to the Reds in the Drew Henson trade (speaking of busts). After a .237 season in AA Chattanooga, the Reds let him go and the Brewers claimed him on waivers. Almost immediately, they traded him to the Cubs for Robert Machado, and he put up sterling numbers (308/375/432) for the Diamond Jaxx. He was promoted to Iowa this year but struggled mightily (178/226/279) and found himself back in AA for a fourth season.
Brian: Nice work, Ruz.
This seemed like the obvious move to me. I had originally thought that perhaps Francis Beltran was transferred to the 60-day DL, but according to MLB.com, he’s actually been reinstated from the DL. So Melian seemed like the most sensible choice remaining to be exposed to waivers.
He is only 23, though, and underperforming or not, it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to lose him for the sake of Josh Paul. All the same, I wonder if the Cubs even want to re-sign him, since he wasn’t even playing everyday at West Tenn. They may just let him walk if they can’t work out a deal for him.
UPDATE 09-12-03: According to MLB.com, Melian has been outrighted to Iowa.
Brian: Not much to say about this. He’ll get Alfonseca’s time while Alf serves his 5-game suspension.
Brian: I guess it’s nice to have Grudz back, to the very maginal extent that he’s a better option than Ramon Martinez, but I wonder if he isn’t stepping into a platoon situation that didn’t exist when he left. He’s been terrible against righties this season, and I’m guessing that Tony Womack will continue to see the bulk of the playing time from here on out. I think that’s the right idea, although it’s certainly regrettable that Womack is the best they’ve got to pick up the slack.
Christian: My big hope is that the return of Grudz means Ramon will get some significant playing time at short, pushing Gonzalez to the bench. Ramon flashed some nice leather yesterday and has been pretty solid at the plate, so Dusty might actually play him.
I, too, expect a Womack/Grudz platoon, essentially, at second. And yeah, it’s sad that that’s the best the Cubs can do at the keystone in a playoff race…
(This entry will be continually updated if and when more minor-leaguers arrive.)
IF Augie Ojeda
OF Dave Kelton
P Sergio Mitre
P Felix Sanchez
P Todd Wellemeyer
1B Hee Seop Choi
Purchased the contract of:
C-OF Josh Paul
Brian: I hate, hate, hate the Official Site. In order to make room for Paul on the 40-man, someone needed to be cut. Of course, we may never know who it turned out to be. Right now, they have 42 players listed on the 40-man roster. But there is an article on how weird it is for Paul to go from the White Sox to the Cubs! That’s useful and/or interesting! Funny, but I don’t remember anyone giving a rat’s ass about what Matt Karchner thought about it (and Paul isn’t even as useful as Karchner).
Choi returns after presumably “regaining his stroke.” He put up a .258/.351/.621 line in 66 AB for the I-Cubs. He ended the season with a flourish, hitting two homers and a triple last night in their final game. He still won’t get much playing time though, even though Karros has been slumping since Choi was sent down and Randall Simon, even though he’s been decent with the Cubs, is still Randall Simon.
Wellemeyer … well, nothing’s really changed for Wellemeyer. I assume he becomes the number one long relief guy, since the Cubs don’t really have that. He’s struggled in that role, however, and I’d just as soon see him shut down until next year. I’m sure it’s been a tough year for him.
Ojeda’s role should be limited strictly to defensive replacement and perhaps pinch-runner. I think he’s actually very useful in this kind of role once rosters expand.
Kelton may get some pinch-hitting opportunities. He didn’t really hit very well at all in the second half of the season, with only three homers after the All-Star break.
Mitre will be lucky to pitch more than once or twice. Relievers on this team don’t generally get a lot of work on non-Estes days (and hopefully every day will be a non-Estes day), and he’s certainly not going to get any starts.
Felix Sanchez is a new face. A 22-year-old lefty, he’s spent the year relieving for AA West Tenn, pitching 64 innings with a 3.23 ERA, 31 BB and 55 K. His time will probably be limited also, although the way the bullpen has pitched lately, who knows.
Paul … what can I say about Josh Paul? I guess he serves as the third catcher, but that doesn’t let him off the hook for being a pathetic offensive player, hitting only .253/.297/.322 in three months for Iowa. Since the Cubs needed to add him to the 40-man roster anyway, they might as well have called up Keith McDonald, who has hit .239/.330/.443 this year. Even if his defense sucks (and I don’t know if it does or not), who cares? He’s only the third catcher! What’s even worse is that Paul spent a lot of time in the outfield for Iowa too, and I shudder to think of his “versatility” earning him extra playing time like it did for the I-Cubs.
Christian: I honestly don’t see Paul getting any playing time. Really, the only guy who’s going to get any significant PT out of this bunch is Wellemeyer, I’d guess. Dusty already has three spare outfielders, so Kelton’s way down the depth chart. So is Augie in the infield, and we know how Dusty feels about Big Choi.
Basically, I figure it’s just a way for Dusty to make more LaRussa-esque lineup moves, like he did on Tuesday. Start Karros, pinch-hit Lofton for him, put Simon in, pinch run Kelton for him, and put Choi in, and you’ve used five guys in one lineup spot. LaRussa should be proud of Dusty.