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Chicago Cubs MLB News - Cubs Baseball Blog » 2011 » January

The Chicago Cubs essentially will have the same crew back behind the plate in 2011

Blogged under Bloglockers, Front Page, General, Positional Preview for Season by chinmusic on Sunday 30 January 2011 at 2:05 pm

28-year old righty swinging Geovany Soto will be back as the Cubs’ starting catcher. Soto played in 105 games for the Cubs last season and he was 90 of 322 (.280 avg, .890 OPS) with 47 runs scored, 17 homers and 53 RBIs. It was a nice bounceback year for Soto after having a poor sophomore campaign in 2009. Soto will likely get back to cranking around 25 homers this season as long as he can stay healthy. Soto had 4 errors and 2 passed balls in 104 games behind the plate for the Cubs, which isn’t too bad. He threw out only 18 of 95 (18.9%) of runners trying to steal on him last season and Cubs’ pitchers had a 4.29 ERA with him behind the plate. Soto is one of the better all around catchers in the N.L. and I look for that to continue in 2011.

31-year old switch hitting Koyie Hill will likely be Soto’s backup once again in 2011. Hill played in 77 games for the Cubs last season and he was 46 of 215 (.214 avg, .552 OPS) with 18 runs scored, 1 homer, 17 RBIs and 1 stolen base. Hill is a hacker at the plate as he whiffed 61 times while only walking 12 times so don’t expect him to hit for a good average any time soon. Hill had 4 errors and 4 passed balls in 72 games behind the plate for the Cubs. Hill only threw out 5 of 45 (11.1%) runners trying to steal on him last season and Cubs’ pitchers had a 4.16 ERA with him behind the plate. Hill has the reputation of being a solid defensive catcher but I didn’t see that last season. He will be challenged for his job this spring by Welington Castillo and Max Ramirez.

23-year old righty swinging Welington Castillo is one of the better prospects the Cubs have. Castillo played in 69 games in AAA-ball last season and he was 61 of 239 (.255 avg, .815 OPS) with 35 runs scored, 13 homers and 59 RBIs. He also played in 7 games for the Cubs last season in which he was 6 of 20 (.300 avg, .983 OPS) with 3 runs scored, 1 homer and 5 RBIs. Castillo didn’t make any errors or have any passed balls in 5 games behind the dish for the Cubs. He also threw out 2 of 5 (40%) runners trying to steal on him and Cubs’ pitchers had a 4.30 ERA with him behind the plate. Castillo will be pushing Hill this spring.

26-year old righty swinging Max Ramirez is a former top prospect who hasn’t made his mark in the majors quite yet. Ramirez played in 28 games for the Rangers last season and he was 15 of 69 (.217 avg, .689 OPS) with 8 runs scored, 2 homers and 8 RBIs. Ramirez had 2 errors and 2 passed balls in only 26 games behind the dish for the Rangers last season. He was 4 of 29 (13.8%) throwing out runners trying to steal against him last season but Rangers’ pitchers had a 3.56 ERA when he was catching so they liked throwing to him.

PROJECTED GRADE FOR THE CUBS CATCHERS IN 2011: B+

The Chicago Cubs sign Braden Looper

Blogged under Arrivals & Departures, Bloglockers, Front Page, General by chinmusic on Thursday 27 January 2011 at 5:45 pm

The Chicago Cubs have signed 36-year old starter/reliever Braden Looper to a minor league deal. The Cubs are likely looking at Looper as a reliever as the rotation is likely set for 2011. Looper sat out last season. He pitched in 34 games (all starts) for the Brewers in 2009 and he was 14-7 with a 5.22 ERA and a 1.49 WHIP. He has now pitched in 670 games (97 starts) in his first 12 years in the majors and he is 72-65 with 103 saves, a 4.15 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP. This was a good low risk/high reward signing for the Cubs as Looper has been a solid pitcher both as a starter and a reliever in his major league career.

UPDATE: (3/26/2011) - Braden Looper has decided to retire from baseball. He pitched in 5 games (1 start) for the Cubs this spring and he was 1-0 with a 9.95 ERA and a 1.82 WHIP.

The Chicago Cubs sign Augie Ojeda

Blogged under Arrivals & Departures, Bloglockers, Front Page, General by chinmusic on Thursday 27 January 2011 at 5:42 pm

The Cubs have signed 36-year old switch hitting infielder Augie Ojeda to a minor league deal. Ojeda played in 59 games for the Diamondbacks last season and he was 15 of 79 (.190 avg, .486 OPS) with 6 runs scored and 5 RBIs. He has now played in 502 games in his first 9 years in the majors and he is 249 of 1,062 (.234 avg, .633 OPS) with 135 runs scored, 7 homers, 81 RBIs and 7 stolen bases. Ojeda will have a shot this spring to earn a utility role on the bench for the Cubs.

The Chicago Cubs sign Todd Wellemeyer

Blogged under Arrivals & Departures, Bloglockers, Front Page, General by chinmusic on Tuesday 25 January 2011 at 6:04 pm

The Chicago Cubs have signed 32-year old righty starter/reliever Todd Wellemeyer to a minor league deal. He pitched in 13 games (11 starts) for the Giants last season and he was 3-5 with a 5.68 ERA and a 1.59 WHIP. He has now pitched in 208 games (75 starts) in his first 8 years in the majors and he is 32-34 with 3 saves, a 4.83 ERA and a 1.51 WHIP. The Cubs will give Wellemeyer a chance to win a job as the long man in the bullpen this spring. They hope he’ll be much better than he was the first time around with the Cubs. Wellemeyer pitched 3 years earlier in his career (2004-2006) with the Cubs in which he was 5-3 with 2 saves, a 6.19 ERA and a 1.72 WHIP.

The Chicago Cubs sign Luis Montanez

Blogged under Arrivals & Departures, Bloglockers, Front Page, General by chinmusic on Thursday 20 January 2011 at 11:44 am

The Chicago Cubs have signed 29-year old righty swinging outfielder Luis Montanez to a minor league deal. Montanez played in 26 games for the Orioles last season and he was 8 of 57 (.140 avg, .296 OPS) with 2 runs scored, 3 RBIs and 1 stolen base. He has now played in 93 games in his first three years in the majors and he is 56 of 251 (.223 avg, .579 OPS) with 25 runs scored, 4 homers, 23 RBIs and 1 stolen base. The Cubs will give Montanez a shot to win a job on the bench this spring.

The Chicago Cubs deal Tom Gorzelanny to the Nationals

Blogged under Arrivals & Departures, Bloglockers, Front Page, General by chinmusic on Monday 17 January 2011 at 4:50 pm

The Chicago Cubs have dealt 28-year old starting pitcher Tom Gorzelanny to the Nationals for 22-year old lefty swinging outfielder Michael Burgess, 24-year old righty starter/reliever A.J. Morris and another minor league pitcher. Gorzelanny pitched in 29 games (23 starts) for the Cubs last season and he was 7-9 with 1 save, a 4.09 ERA and a 1.50 WHIP. He pitched in 42 games (30 starts) in his two years with the Cubs and he was 11-11 with 1 save, a 4.43 ERA and a 1.47 WHIP. Gorzelanny became expendable when the Cubs picked up Matt Garza from the Rays in a deal last week. The Cubs were smart to make this deal as they made the Nationals pay full price and then some for Gorzelanny.

Michael Burgess came into last season as the Nationals’ #9 prospect according to Baseball America. Burgess played in 122 games in A+AA-ball last season and he was 122 of 460 (.265 avg, .822 OPS) with 68 runs scored, 18 homers, 85 RBIs and 5 stolen bases. He has now played in 439 games in his first four years in the minors and he is 414 of 1,610 (.275 avg, .813 OPS) with 235 runs scored, 72 homers, 277 RBIs and 24 stolen bases. A.J. Morris came into last season as the Nationals’ #15 rated prospect according to Baseball America. Morris pitched in 27 games (16 starts) in Rookie + A-ball last season and he was 5-3 with 2 saves, a 3.77 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP. He has pitched in 37 games (26 starts) in his first two years in the minors and he is 5-7 with 2 saves, 3.64 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP.

UPDATE: The Cubs have also gotten 20-year old lefty starting pitcher Graham Hicks from the Nationals to complete this deal. Hicks came into 2010 as the Nationals’ #19 prospect. Hicks pitched in 16 games (all starts) in A-ball last season and he was 2-6 with a 5.02 ERA and a 1.56 WHIP. Hicks has now pitched in 31 games (all starts) in his first three years in the minors and he is 7-12 with a 5.33 ERA and a 1.63 WHIP. Hicks hasn’t missed too many bats so far in his minor league career as he has given up 163 hits in only 133 1/3 innings so far in the minors. But, he does have a nice upside.

The Chicago Cubs sign Reed Johnson

Blogged under Arrivals & Departures, Bloglockers, Front Page, General by chinmusic on Thursday 13 January 2011 at 2:10 pm

The Chicago Cubs have signed 34-year old righty swinging outfielder Reed Johnson. Johnson played in 102 games for the Dodgers last season and he was 53 of 202 (.262 avg, .657 OPS) with 24 runs scored, 2 homers, 15 RBIs and 2 stolen bases. He has now played in 886 games in his first 8 years in the majors and he is 781 of 2,783 (.281 avg, .748 OPS) with 418 runs scored, 54 homers, 321 RBIs and 37 stolen bases. This was another solid move for the Cubs as Johnson will likely serve as the #5 outfielder for them in 2011 unless they deal one of their outfielders (Kosuke Fukudome) before the season starts.

The Chicago Cubs claim Max Ramirez off waivers

Blogged under Arrivals & Departures, Bloglockers, Front Page, General by chinmusic on Monday 10 January 2011 at 4:19 pm

The Chicago Cubs have claimed 26-year old righty swinging catcher Max Ramirez off waivers from the Red Sox. Ramirez played in 28 games for the Rangers last season and he was 15 of 69 (.217 avg, .689 OPS) with 8 runs scored, 2 homers and 8 RBIs. He has now played in 45 games in his first two years in the majors and he is 25 of 115 (.217 avg, .699 OPS) with 16 runs scored, 4 homers and 17 RBIs. I really like this pickup for the Cubs as Ramirez was once a very highly touted prospect. He will likely start 2011 in AAA and get a call to the majors if the need arises for the Cubs behind the plate.

The Chicago Cubs acquire Matt Garza from the Rays

Blogged under Arrivals & Departures, Bloglockers, Front Page, General by chinmusic on Friday 7 January 2011 at 12:35 pm

The Chicago Cubs have acquired 27-year old righty starting pitcher Matt Garza, a minor league pitcher and a minor league outfielder for 22-year old righty starting pitcher Chris Archer, 20-year old SS Hak-Ju Lee, 24-year old OF Brandon Guyer, 26-year old catcher Robinson Chirinos and 29-year old outfielder Sam Fuld.

Matt Garza will give the Cubs a top of the rotation starting pitcher. Garza pitched in 33 games (32 starts) for the Rays last season and he was 15-10 with 1 save, a 3.91 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP. He has now pitched in 121 games (118 starts) in his first five years in the majors and he is 42-44 with 1 save, a 3.97 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP. Despite giving up some quality and quantity in prospects I still love this deal for the Cubs as they will be able to move one of their other starting pitchers in a deal to recoup some prospects.

Chris Archer was the Cubs’ #22 prospect heading into last season according to Baseball America. Archer pitched in 28 games (27 starts) in A+AA-ball last season and he was 15-3 with a 2.34 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP. Hak-Ju Lee was the Cubs’ #6 prospect heading into the 2010 season according to Baseball America. Lee played in 122 games in A-ball last season and he was 137 of 485 (.282 avg, .704 OPS) with 85 runs scored, 1 homer, 40 RBIs and 32 stolen bases. Brandon Guyer was not one of the Cubs’ top 30 prospects according to Baseball America heading into 2010. Guyer played in 102 games in AA-ball for the Cubs last season and he was 127 of 369 (.344 avg, .986 OPS) with 76 runs scored, 13 homers, 58 RBIs and 30 stolen bases. Robinson Chirinos was the Cubs’ #26 ranked prospect heading into the 2010 season according to Baseball America. Chirinos played in 92 games in AA+AAA-ball last season and he was 104 of 319 (.326 avg, .999 OPS) with 63 runs scored, 18 homers and 74 RBIs. Sam Fuld came into last season as the Cubs’ #23 ranked prospect according to Baseball America. He played in 19 games for the Cubs last season and he was 4 of 28 (.143 avg, .404 OPS) with 3 runs scored and 3 RBIs. Fuld played in 98 games in three years with the Cubs and he was 33 of 131 (.252 avg, .711 OPS) with 23 runs scored, 1 homer, 5 RBIs and 2 stolen bases.

UPDATE: The outfielder the Cubs are getting from the Rays is 27-year old, switch hitting Fernando Perez. Perez played in 116 games in AAA-ball last season and he was 86 of 385 (.223 avg, .579 OPS) with 46 runs scored, 4 homers, 32 RBIs and 24 stolen bases. He last played in the majors in 2009 with the Rays. Perez has played in 41 games in parts of two years in the majors and he is 22 of 94 (.234 avg, .652 OPS) with 22 runs scored, 3 homers, 10 RBIs and 5 stolen bases. Perez is as fast as lightning on the bases and he is a outstanding defensive player. He will have a good chance of making the Cubs’ bench in 2011 and I like this trade even more with him in it.

UPADATE II: (1/9/2011) - The Cubs have acquired 22-year old lefty starter/reliever Zach Rosscup from the Rays to complete this deal. Rosscup pitched in 12 games (8 starts) in Rookie + A-ball last season and he was 3-1 with 1 save, a 2.64 ERA and a 0.93 WHIP. He has now pitched in 22 games (17 starts) in his first two years in the minors and he is 6-5 with 1 save, a 2.66 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP. I now really like this deal for the Cubs as Rosscup has a nice upside.

The Chicago Cubs lose Brian Schlitter on waivers

Blogged under Arrivals & Departures, Bloglockers, Front Page, General by chinmusic on Wednesday 5 January 2011 at 10:27 pm

The Chicago Cubs have lost 25-year old righty reliever Brian Schlitter on waivers to the Yankees. Schlitter pitched in 7 games (0 starts) for the Cubs last season and he was 0-1 with a 12.38 ERA and a 2.88 WHIP. He also pitched in 37 games (0 starts) in AAA-ball for the Cubs last year in which he was 2-1 with 13 saves, a 3.15 ERA and a 1.42 WHIP. No big loss here as Schlitter was putrid with the Cubs last season.

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