Tag Archive | "Jake Fox"

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Moving Bradley Key to Successful Off-Season for Cubs, GM Jim Hendry

Posted on 05 December 2009 by Lou

CHICAGO CUBS JIM HENDRY LOU PINELLA

It boils down to this – if the Cubs can find a taker for disgruntled, troublemaker Milton Bradley, then the Cubs and GM Jim Hendry could have a successful and productive off-season leading up to the 2010 MLB schedule.  Hendry has already made moves – dealing the likes of Aaron Heilman to the Arizona Diamondbacks and Aaron Miles and Jake Fox to the Oakland A’s for prospects and to clear some salary cap space to sign new deals for arbitration-eligible players like Carlos Marmol, Sean Marshall, Ryan Theriot, Jeff Baker and Mike Fontenot.

If Hendry can somehow find a team willing to take Bradley (full-well knowing that the Cubs will still have to pay a pretty chunk of the $21 million owed to him over the next 2 seasons), it will be a step in the right direction for Hendry.  Hendry has had a series of bad years at the helm and with a new owner in place, Hendry needs to prove his worth to the Ricketts family.  That will be easier said than done as Hendry’s bad moves have left the Cubs brass with little flexibility.

Hendry and Manager Lou Pinella plan to move Kosuke Fukudome back to his more comfortable right field position.  Then Hendry can concentrate on finding a center fielder and 2nd baseman for the 2010 Cubs.  Even though the Cubs did not offer arbitration to Reed Johnson, they have not closed off talks with his handlers.  So Johnson could be back to patrol center field at Wrigley Field next season.

Jeff Baker and Mike Fontenot are in the running for the starting 2nd base job, so it is unlikely that Hendry will pursure any options outside the organization for that position.

The Cubs could also be in the market for a veteran right-handed reliever to complement John Garbow in the pen.  While the Cubs have a lot of up-and-coming young stars in the bullpen – Angel Guzman, Esmailin Caridad, Jeff Stevens and Justin Berg – Hendry and Pinella would love to see a little more experience back there in front of closer Marmol.

We’ll keep you posted as soon as we hear anything good – Winter Meetings start next week in Indy…

CHICAGO CUBS JIM HENDRY LOU PINELLA2

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Cubs Move Aaron Miles & Jake Fox, Acquire Reliever Jeff Gray

Posted on 04 December 2009 by Lou

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The Chicago Cubs made a trade right before the Winter Meetings – moving Jake Fox and Aaron Miles for Jeff Gray.  Sometimes I really don’t think GM Jim Hendry has a clue as to what he is doing.

My biggest complaint is moving Fox.  At 27, Fox could be coming into his prime.  I know that finding a position for Fox is the issue – the Cubs are set in left field with Alfonso Soriano, 3rd base with Aramis Ramirez and 1st base with Derrek Lee.  But injuries are always a concern with older players like Soriano, Lee and Ramirez (see how many games they missed last year) and Fox filled the void very well.  He played in 82 games (216 at-bats) and batted .259 with 11 HR’s and 44 RBI’s.  Compare that to Soriano (117 games, 477 at-bats, 20 HR’s and 55 RBI’s) and Bradley (124 games, 393 at-bats, 12 HR’s and 40 RBI’s) – the Cubs regular corner outfielders – and you can really see how productive Fox was in a reserve role.  Sometimes you just have to admit you made bad moves – if Soriano and Bradley aren’t living up to their expectations, then you have to suck it up and move on even if you owe them a lot of money.

Because of his mistakes, Hendry now has moving Bradley at the top of his list (even if it means that the Cubs have to eat some of his salary for the next 2 years) and is forced to deal younger players like Fox in order to free up some salary cap room because of the bad moves that he made.  What a big mess.

As for Aaron Miles, it’s great that we can save the $1.7 million owed to him for 2010.  Miles will be 33 this month and he was a complete bust for the Cubs in 2009 – .185 batting average and .224 on-base percentage in just 157 at-bats.

Jeff Gray made 24 appearances for the Oakland A’s in 2009.  He was 0-1 with a 3.76 ERA and a 1.39 WHIP.  In 26 1/3 innings pitched, he walked only 4 batters while striking out 19.  Gray did not allow an earned run in 15 of his 1st 19 outings and the Cubs like the upside potential with Gray.  Hendry had this to say about Gray: “He’s a power arm type of guy who gets it up to 95, 97 on a regular basis.  We felt he could come in and compete for a job in the bullpen… We’ll put him in the mix with a lot of young people… His arm strength is very good.  He’s not old by any means as far as bullpen guys.  He’s got the stuff to be able to pitch in any area of the bullpen, if he’s able to harness it a little bit better.  He throws very hard and throws strikes.”

The Cubs also got highly regarded prospect Matt Spencer and Ronny Morla in the deal.  Spencer split time in the Class A and Double A levels in 2009 – .289 batting average with 19 HR’s and 91 RBI’s.  He is only 23 years old.  Morla had a 4.86 ERA in 17 games for Class A Vancouver.

I’m definitely disappointed with the departure of Fox.  I like Fox and think he has a lot of upside with very little salary commitment.  But I guess Hendry thought it was the right time to move him with his options being almost all done.  We’ll see how the move pays off – it would be great if Gray made the club in 2010, but with an already young, deep talented bullpen, that seems unlikely…

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Outfield Report Card – Milton Bradley – F

Posted on 09 November 2009 by Lou

Cubs Milton Bradley Risk 1

Let’s take a look at our outfield – I wish we didn’t have to.  The trio of Alfonso Soriano, Kosuke Fukodome and Milton Bradley left a LOT to be desired…

Milton Bradley – Right Field

2009 Report Card Grade – F – seriously.  It is hard for me to give someone an F, but because I don’t think Bradley really even tried, Bradley gets the lone F (see Alfonso Soriano from a few days back with his D+).

2009 stats – 124 games; 393 at-bats; .257 batting average; .378 on-base percentage; 12 HR’s, 40 RBI’s; 61 runs scored; 95 K’s; 66 walks.

2008 stats (with Texas Rangers) – 126 games; 414 at-bats; .321 batting average; .436 on-base percentage; 22 HR’s, 77 RBI’s; 61 runs scored; 112 K’s; 80 walks.

We should have known that the Bradley signing was going to be a mistake when he got injured the 1st week of the season.  Next to the Soriano signing, this will go down as GM Jim Hendry’s 2nd worst move of his career.  The 2008 MLB season was only the 3rd season of his 9-year MLB career where Bradley played over 100 games.  He had a history of injury issues and he never showed that he could play a full year in the outfield.  In 2008, Bradley was the Rangers DH, and even then, he only accumulated 414 at-bats.  Throw in his poor fielding (when he was out there) and his hot temper, and it was a recipe for disaster.

Hendry had already hurt the Cubs payroll with the signings of outfielders Alfonso Soriano and Kosuke Fukudome each of the previous 2 off-seasons, and now he was adding a 3rd 30+ year-old player to the mix with another 3-year deal.  Going into the 2009 season, the Cubs were then stuck in the outfield with long-term deals with Soriano, Fukudome and Bradley for the next 3 seasons.  I’m not sure how Hendry thought this was the right way to go, but somehow he convinced himself that he knew what he was doing.  Further, in order to sign Bradley, he had to dump innings-eater Jason Marquis to the Colorado Rockies for Luis Vizcaino (whom the Cubs released less than a month into the season) and fan and clubhouse- favorite Mark DeRosa for 3 minor league pitching prospects from the Cleveland Indians.  I think Hendry must have been on something when he made these moves last off-season.

In any event, the deal was done, and all that was left to happen was waiting for the shoe to drop.  Bradley’s performance on and off the field made that easy.  Bradley had 4 hits in the month of April – .118 batting average.  By the end of May, Bradley was on fire with his batting average over .224.  After finally reaching the .250 mark on July 29th, Bradley reached his high water mark of .269 on August 30th. Yippee.  12 HR’s & 40 RBI’s?  Jake Fox had 11 HR’s and 44 RBI’s in just 216 at-bats in 82 games.  Even Micah Hoffpauir had 10 HR’s and 35 RBI’s in just 234 at-bats in 105 games.  And like we said about Soriano, Bradley’s fielding was atrocious.  How many balls did he misplay?  How many balls did he lose in the sun?  How many balls hit him in the head?  It was comical out there in right field.

To top it all off, Bradley had the worst attitude.  He took it out on Cubs fans.  He accused people of being racist.  He never took any responsibility for his own actions.  And he always had an excuse for why he was not playing well for the Cubs.  It all reached a head when Bradley went off on the Cubs organization and the Cubs were forced to suspend him for the rest of the baseball season.  Now the Cubs are in a no-win situation.  They cannot bring Bradley back into that Cubs locker room in 2010.  But now, every other MLB team knows that the Cubs have to get rid of him with 2 years and $20 million remaining on his contract.  Any team that takes Bradley will likely make the Cubs eat at least half of the deal in order to take a “chance” on the troubled Bradley.  It goes from bad, to worse, to horrible for Hendry and the Cubs.

So while we’ll still have to live with Soriano and Fukudome struggling in the outfield for the next several years, at least we don’t have to worry about Bradley creating problems both on and off the field.  His 2009 F grade is clearly deserved.

Let’s hope Hendry can get a little creative over the next few seasons, or else Cubs fans will be calling for Hendry’s head louder than they ever did for Bradley’s in 2009…

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Outfield Report Card – Alfonso Soriano – D+

Posted on 07 November 2009 by Lou

Mets Cubs Baseball

Let’s take a look at our outfield – I wish we didn’t have to.  The trio of Alfonso Soriano, Kosuke Fukodome and Milton Bradley left a LOT to be desired…

Alfonso Soriano – Left Field

2009 Report Card Grade – D+ – seriously.  I was tempted to give him an F, but I just don’t think anyone who at least tries a little bit deserves an F (see Milton Bradley in a couple of days).

2009 stats – 117 games; 477 at-bats; .241 batting average; .303 on-base percentage; 20 HR’s, 55 RBI’s; 64 runs scored; 118 K’s; 40 walks.

2008 stats – 109 games; 453 at-bats; .280 batting average; .344 on-base percentage; 29 HR’s, 75 RBI’s; 76 runs scored; 103 K’s; 43 walks.

As bad as we thought 2008 was, 2009 was that much worse.  It’s almost comical.  One of GM Jim Hendry’s best/worst moves in his career.  It was a good move, because Soriano was the most sought-after free agent player at the end of the 2006 MLB schedule. Someone was going to throw a LOT of cash at Soriano and while Hendry made a big splash to get him, he also mortgaged the franchise in one of the worst baseball contracts ever.  Soriano was 31 years old at the start of the 2007 season – to give him an 8-year contract at approximately $17 million per year was a bad business decision.  Did Hendry and the Cubs really think that this guy would be worth $17 million per season at 36, 37, 38, 39?  In just his 3rd year of the contract, Soriano has already started breaking down, and the decline will likely continue.  The guys on-base percentage is barely over .300.  He hit only 20 HR’s.  55 RBI’s?  We could go on and on and we haven’t even started to take about his horrendous fielding.

I just wish Jake Fox was a left-handed hitter – then we could at least platoon Soriano and Fox in the outfield.  Or maybe the Cubs agree to eat half of the $85 million still remaining on Soriano’s contract.  Take that $40 million liability with the $10 million the Cubs will likely have to eat in order to move Bradley, and the Cubs will probably be playing 2 players around $50 million to NOT be on their roster.  That’s more than the team salaries for several major league teams – Pirates, Royals, Padres…

So long story short, Soriano will come back to haunt the Cubs for years to come.  His 2009 D+ grade is deserved.

Let’s hope Hendry can get a little creative over the next few seasons, or else Cubs fans will be forced to watch Soriano patrol left field at the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field for 5 more years.  Yippee!

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