1yr/0.8mil for Joey Gathright


This has to mean Felix Pie is headed out of town, right?

Gathright is a fast outfielder who can not hit at all, though he has managed to walk a little bit (but would need to do it twice as much to be Theriot level worthwhile.) He’s really a CF, though he’s could play LF or RF as a sub

Pie is a fast outfielder who has not hit at all. He’s really a CF, though he could play LF or RF as a sub.

Ultimate Zone rating had Felix as +1.5 game defender in 2007, and a slightly negative one in 2008, but that was off a small sample. Gathright was +2 games in 2007, +0.7 last year. I think it’s probably about a wash, considering both will ideally be backups.

The bigger difference is Gathright will be 28 and likely never going to be better. Pie is 24, and there’s still a little bit of hope there. Except, the Cubs saying there’s not enough hope for their team, but perhaps there would be more hope on a new team.

The thing is, usually you move the guy you’re replacing before you pick up the replacement. Maybe there’s a fear Gathright would get away and the Cubs really wanted a designed pinch runner on the team, but it seems like everything else could’ve just been done by any number of other pickups if Gathright was in such high demand he signed elsewhere, or they even could call up Sam Fuld to do the same fielding and non-hitting (and everyone’s given up on Fuld, which doesn’t say much for Gathright.) The value of Pie on the trade market has already fallen, and this won’t help.

The strength of Lou Pinella as your National League manager is he’s a guy unafraid to unload the bench for situational advantages and we’ve seen hints of how frequently he’d replace a slow baserunner with Felix when Pie was up and riding the bench, so you can understand how they might use the extra speed. I don’t think they’ve been happy with Felix’s ability to steal bases (all of 3 last year – Gathright went 21 of 25), but the issue becomes more who Gathright (or Pie) would pinch run for on this team. Fukudome, Theriot, Soriano can run fine on their own. You’d lose too much on defense by replacing Lee. DeRosa’s not that slow, and you’d lose a lot of positional flexibility. Taking Ram or Soto’s bat out of the lineup in all but the most dire spots seems like overmanaging. There isn’t an obvious speed platoon here, unless there’s a slow outfielder signing to come.

This doesn’t seem like a good use of resources, but there’s got be a few more things in play which affect it so maybe it’s too soon to judge. I wonder if it’ll eventually come out that the money involved s only guaranteed if he makes the team. It’d make more sense – it’s good to have a Gathright around in case something does happen with Pie, as long as you don’t have to pay him – but make this whole post moot. I think I’m also forgetting that .8 mil isn’t much more than minimum these days.

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many words about non issues


If a heart issue only requires a week off before getting back to normal, is it really an issue? (Alternate question: if the old Cubs Post Only page, still with VGA era graphics, exists but I forget to include a link to it for a month, does it still count?) I think this at least a 2% chance it’s only a plan to get out of boring February drills (and a 50% chance a call was put into the O’s.)

Since Mark DeRosa will be back before they start playing games that even matter a little, this doesn’t seem to matter much. The projected lineup is kinda interesting…

LF Soriano
SS Theriot
1B D-Lee
3B A-Ram
2B DeRosa
CA Soto
CF Pie

…because there seems to be a plan of stacking the OBP guys in front of Ram and giving him possibly a million RBI opportunities, while allowing Soriano to continue to be in his own world. It puts early pressure on Kosuke and Ryan to be getting on early, because flaws won’t be hidden there.

On the flipside, it allows Pie (and to a lesser extent, Soto) to just play every day and not worry about what he does at the plate. If everything else works moderately well, Felix can struggle at the plate as long as he’s fielding the way we figure he should and there’s no real problem. I’m still thinking they’ll find someone as a right handed platoon partner (because Pinella likes to rest guys anyway, and Pie off the bench in a close game has a lot of value), but it’s not a must situation if he’s batting eight.

Still, I’d be surprised if this was the default lineup by May 1st. Something will surely break before then.

There’s really nothing else going on, except the quiet dwindling of rotation options. It seems like they’ve set the order as

1) Z!
2) Lilly
3) Dempster – sounds as though a lock unless he stinks in Spring Training
4) Hill – 4th only for lefty/righty alternation
5) Marquis or Lieber
Out without throwing an in-game pitch: Marshall, Gallagher, Hart

I’m not quite sure it’ll end up being the best possible five, but I’m also not sure the difference between 5 and 9 is all that significant. Lou’s comments about Marquis or Lieber were interrupted as loser may be willing to go to the bullpen, but it feels more likely that a last minute trade might happen. I think the Cubs would like Lieber to take it and someone else to take Marquis, because the trust is gone there, but I don’t know if it’ll work out that way.

There’s that battle, there’s the closer battle (which I also don’t think is so vital – it’s more important to have people who can pitch well close & late than what order they’re in), the last two spots in the pen (totally unclear until the rotation falls out) and maybe the last spot on the bench (depending on if there’s a trade.) The roster spots are about as uncritical as they come, which is maybe why there hasn’t been much stuff to come out of camp so far.

The most intriguing news item of the spring to me so far is the new (home) bullpen seats being sold at auction. People might go a bit crazy spending for those on some weekends, though less than if they auctioned them out thru the season (they’ll only be doing it from 03/03 to 03/13.) The Cubs might make back all the money for the field resurfacing just from a couple St. Louis weekend stints.

03/11 Spring Training Thoughts


I was watching Saturday’s game – Cubs/Royals, a world series preview if I’ve ever seen one – and I was utterly confused by the uniforms.

– why have both teams wear their blue uniform tops? That’s amazingly confusing.
– And they’re not even their actual road uniforms – they’ve got a weird white/red (or blue) stripe under the arm down the side. Is that some new heat vent?

I guess I could google it, but…the moment’s passed.

The one answer I got out of that game is Prior’s renting an apartment in Des Moines this year. Not an extended stay hotel, but something where he can camp out till All Star Break. Maybe by then, he won’t still be throwing 86 and maybe he’ll be able to control his fastball. No one’s saying he’s cut from the major league roster yet, but if he’s pitching in minor league games and he has minor league stuff, then he’s probably a duck. Or a Iowa Cub. Or whatever they AA team is called this year.

It looks like we’ve got 3 spots up for grabs, since Theroit’s made the team (and playing a bit of everywhere – he’s Neifi now, and I hope that’s a good thing)

SP5: Miller, Cotts, and Guzman’s the one they’re talking up. Unless Miller falls on his face, I think they’ll give him the chance to start the season, since that puts of the permanent decision. I’m still believing Miller’s done, but I’m not totally on the Guzman bandwagon yet.

Backup OF: It seemed to be Pagan almost by default, but he’s not coming off a good year and didn’t seem to be a good defender – BProspectus’ numbers argue the other way, but I think you could do better and need to do with what’s starting out there. Buck Coats isn’t much better, he’s a below average SS who got pushed to CF, but he’s hitting well enough to get a chance, and he’s still on the 40 man roster for some reason. Pie’s not here unless there’s an injury.

25th Man: Pinella talked about going with 11 pitchers, which would make this a reserve infielder (Cedeno? NO! Scott Moore?), but today he seems to have floated back to 12. Which would probably means Cotts or Wuertz, and both guys really should be making the team. You can’t do that with 12 unless Miller or someone else doesn’t, so 12 it is.

No feel for the batting order. No feel for the rotation – Z’s one, but the next four could be a jumble. I don’t think they’ll start setting it down till next week.