I’m glad to see Parker return, because I wanted to see more of him when he got hurt. The Cubs have churned though a lot of minor league relievers this year, and Parker seems as promising as any of them, at least in the sense that he might plausibly still be on a major league staff three years from now.
What I hope now, though, is that Dale Sveum actually puts him into games. Too often this season we’ve seen guys in the pen who deserve longer looks that stay sitting on the bench for long stretches at a time, and that doesn’t do anyone any good (it certainly hasn’t made the pen more reliable). Parker’s paid his dues in the minor leagues, he deserves to be on the major league team as much as anyone else in that bullpen aside from Carlos Marmol, and he deserves to pitch until he proves he’s not cut out for a major league job.
Can someone please tell me what the point of putting Alex Hinshaw on the roster was? He was only here for a week, and only appeared in 2 games. He was predictably and laughably ineffective, and now he leaves the team with a 135.00 ERA and an 81.00 HR/9 ratio.
Now, those numbers are obviously the result of a small sample size, but that just raises the question once again of what the point was. Why bring him in if he’s going to be cut after two bad outings? What did those two games tell the front office that they didn’t already know from spending 5 minutes looking at his minor league stats? Were they somehow surprised that Hinshaw wasn’t very good?
I guess this wouldn’t bug me if two other, better pitchers hadn’t been cleared out to make way for the guy. Jeff Beliveau and Scott Maine are, like Hinshaw, high-K lefty relievers, and the former was optioned to AAA and the latter has been DFA’d himself so that Hinshaw could spend his pointless one week on the team. In the grand scheme of things it doesn’t really matter, but this entire sequence of events has been baffling.
EDIT 9/1/2012: Hinshaw has been outrighted to Iowa.
The breakdown, according to the official site, notwithstanding any additional performance incentives:
$6 million signing bonus
2013: $5 million
2014: $5 million
2015: $6 million
2016: $7 millon
2017: $9 million
2018: $10 million
2019: $11 million
2020: club option for $16 million or $1 million buyout
What’s there to even say? This is a terrific deal for the Cubs, and will be even if Castro plays out the contract at his performance level from this season. The conventional wisdom is that Castro has had an off year, but at best that’s only half-true. His batting average has dipped, and his walk rate has regressed as well, although it’s ticked back up recently to about where it was last season. He’s set a new career high in homers already, and his isolated slugging percentage is the highest of his career, although his overall number of extra base hits is down. His BAbip is 40 points lower than his career level, and seems to be the biggest culprit in his struggles. At the plate, I think there’s been signs for optimism, although there’s no doubt his season has been a mixed bag offensively.
But his defense is a whole other story. After starting the season with a whole bunch of errors, he’s been, quite simply, a terrific defensive shortstop. He’ll still make occasional errors, but he has fine range and a powerful arm. He ranks first in the NL in both putouts and assists, and he and Darwin Barney have made a formidable double play combo. Overall, I think that the case can be made that this is Castro’s finest season yet, when both offense and defense are considered.
And, obviously, he’s still only 22, still the youngest player for the Cubs this season and the 9th youngest in all the National League. This year seems to have tempered some of the enthusiasm fans have for Castro’s future, but I don’t really see why. It was inevitable that he’d have some bumps in the road along the way, and even this year he’s still a fine overall player. It doesn’t seem unlikely to me that this year will be Castro’s worst, especially if he can keep up his high level of defensive play. I’m still excited to see what the future holds for him.
Well, I don’t understand this one either … from the A’s perspective. Minor league stat lines for both players:
Recker: 2902 PA, .273/.351/.459, 98 HR, 719 K, 21 SB in 36 attempts
Lalli: 2458 PA, .297/.357/./417, 40 HR, 332 K, 4 SB in 11 attempts
A few things here. One, Recker is a few months younger than Lalli. Recker bats righthanded, Lalli bats lefty (but throws right). And although I have no idea how good Recker is defensively, he can hardly be worse than Lalli, who isn’t even a full-time catcher. Both have had short appearances in the majors in which they’ve struggled, but Recker has over 1200 PA in AAA, while Lalli has only the 324 that he’s accumulated this year. So, while they’re ostensibly close to the same age, Recker is the far more developed of the two players.
So, while this isn’t a major trade, I don’t see how Recker isn’t the considerably better player of the two. The only advantage to Lalli for the A’s that I can see is that acquiring him allows the team to clear a space on the 40-man roster (he’s on the Cubs’ 40-man). In the meantime, Recker’s been optioned to AAA, but I expect we’ll see him as a September call-up, since he immediately jumps to third on the organization’s depth chart at catcher.
As I’ve noted before, Maine deserves a longer look than he’s gotten, and I can’t imagine that Maine will clear waivers. Who doesn’t want a lefty with his strikeout numbers? So it seems very likely that the Cubs will lose him, and for what? To audition Alex Hinshaw (who, incidentally, got creamed last night against the Brewers), a pitcher with the same weaknesses as Maine, but with an even worse track record? I don’t really understand that.
Obviously this won’t make much of a difference in the long run, and equally obviously, there could well be factors at work here that I don’t know about. But from a strict performance standpoint, Maine is a better pitcher than Hinshaw, and one that I wouldn’t be so eager to lose for such a seemingly pointless reason.
EDIT 8/30/2012: As I predicted, Maine did not clear waivers, and has been claimed by the Indians. There was just no way that there wasn’t going to be some other team who wanted him for free – if some other team had put him on waivers, the Cubs probably would have put in a claim.
But it is what it is, and Maine is now with Cleveland.
Rusin pitched reasonably well in his debut, and the team says that he’ll be back after rosters expand. In the meantime, Raley was needed to make another start, and pitched OK yesterday against the Rockies. So far, Raley’s been just adequate enough to deserve another look. I don’t think he’s much of a prospect in the long term, but he looks like he has a decent assortment of offspeed pitches. He’s walked too many hitters since being promoted for a guy with his lack of raw stuff (9 in 20.1 IP), but if he could improve his control at the major league level, he might be a candidate for a rotation spot next season.
At the same time, though, the Cubs figure to have a lot of candidates for the back end of the rotation next spring, including Rusin, so Raley has his work cut out for him.
The Cubs’ pursuit of bullpen help continues, although for the time being Socolovich (righthanded, and in his age-25 season) has been optioned to AAA. He’s been around, having been originally signed by the Red Sox and beginning his minor league career in 2006, then having spent time in the White Sox organization before ending up with Baltimore before this season.
He has an interesting minor league track record, in that he rather suddenly became a strikeout pitcher upon his initial promotion to AAA. Here are his minor league numbers:
75 G (2 GS), 126.0 IP, 2.93 ERA, 8 HR, 7.2 H/9, 4.1 BB/9, 10.4 IP
Like I said, that’s interesting, because his strikeout rate in the lower minors never got higher than the low 7′s. He’s walked more batters since hitting AAA, but his overall K/BB ratio is substantially improved. This season he’s been very good with Norfolk in the International League, the Orioles’ AAA affiliate, and as a result made his major league debut, pitching 10.1 IP in relief before being designated for assignment.
So, as far as I’m concerned, he’s worth taking a shot on. I’d guess that he’ll be in Chicago once rosters expand in September, and get a chance to compete for a bullpen slot next season.
Lalli is still officially listed by the Cubs as a catcher, but since returning to Iowa in late May, he’s actually played at first base more than behind the plate. As I’ve noted before, he hasn’t really been a full-time catcher in the majors, and now even with Geovany Soto gone, both Juan Apodaca and Brian Esposito have apparently moved past Lalli on the organizational depth chart.
Unfortunately for Lalli, he can’t hit enough to play first base, so his time with the Cubs is most likely at an end. I’ll be surprised if he isn’t given his release now, or at the very least I doubt he’ll still be in the organization next season. But at least he got to play in the major leagues this season. It was unlikely heading into the season that he’d ever get that chance, but thanks to an improbable sequence of injuries he got his call-up. It only lasted a short while, but at least he made it.
EDIT 8/26/12: Lalli has been outrighted to Iowa, who have a little over a week left in their season.
The Cubs have optioned P Jeff Beliveau and INF Adrian Cardenas to Iowa, and selected the contract of P Chris Rusin from Iowa
It’s hard to know what to make of Rusin (25 years old, LHP). He was drafted by the Cubs in the 4th round of the 2009 draft out of the University of Kentucky and steadily climbed up the minor league ladder. He always performed well enough to deserve promotion, but at the same time, never really stood out, being a pitcher with solid control but who would also get knocked around from time to time. Despite his promotion to the majors this season, though, he seems to have taken a step back in his development. Here are his overall minor league numbers, including this season:
84 G (78 GS), 418.0 IP, 3.85 ERA, 36 HR, 9.2 H/9, 2.4 BB/9, 6.7 K/9
But here are his numbers for this season with Iowa:
24 G (all starts), 133.1 IP, 4.59 ERA, 16 HR, 9.6 H/9, 3.5 BB/9, 5.9 K/9
You see what I mean? He’s been hit pretty hard, and his control has been substantially worse than it’s ever been in his career. He showed some of that last night, walking 2 and hitting 2 more batters, although on the whole he acquitted himself pretty well.
The Cubs are very bad and this is the time of year for a bad team to audition guys like Rusin, so I’m happy to see him get a shot. He might even be a rotation candidate next season, as his past minor league career fits the bill for a potential back-of-the-rotation kind of guy. But he’ll need to stop walking (or hitting) so many batters.
As for the demotions, I think Cardenas was an easy call to make. I have no idea what his role on this team was supposed to be, and apparently no one else did either, because he’s gotten only 10 plate appearances (and one start) since being recalled over three weeks ago. And he probably wouldn’t have even gotten those if the team had not had a doubleheader this past weekend, during which Cardenas got a start in the second game. He was a backup infielder on a team that already has a lot of roster flexibility, and his main competition for playing time (Luis Valbuena) is also lefthanded, meaning that Cardenas doesn’t even have a viable platoon role.
On the other hand, I don’t understand why Beliveau is being demoted to make room for Alex Hinshaw. Beliveau hasn’t exactly been good – a 5.8 BB/9 rate won’t win a guy any favors in this organization – but it’s not like Hinshaw provides a reasonable alternative along those lines, with a 6.8 BB/9 rate over 73.2 major league IP over his career. Plus, Hinshaw is 4 years older, and lefthanded like Beliveau. I’d much rather the team give a guy like Beliveau a chance to establish himself than waste time with a walk machine like Hinshaw. Beliveau has both a better walk rate and a better strikeout rate than Hinshaw in the minors – and for what it’s worth (probably not much), an ERA a full run lower – so I have no idea what advantage Hinshaw is supposed to have.
We already expected that Garza was finished for the year, but now that is more or less made official. He’ll technically be eligible to return over the last week of the season, but the Cubs have said that he won’t be back, and it’s hard to see why they would activate him for the last few games at any rate.