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Craig Wilson, Cubs Bullpen, and More

Today seems to be a bit of a slow day on the trade rumors front.  I'm still working on gathering some Tejada info.  For now I'll just say that you shouldn't discount the White Sox even after both major Chicago newspapers quoted Kenny Williams saying no deal will happen.  As commenters in this thread pointed out, Williams has been known to keep a low profile and be less than forthright when talking to the media.

Somehow, a rumor came about yesterday that San Francisco's KNBR 1050 was reporting that the Pirates had dealt Craig Wilson to the Athletics for Kirk Saarloos.  This rumor appears to have been fabricated; it doesn't seem that the radio station ever proposed it.  KNBR didn't return my emails, but I'm still pretty sure there's nothing to the rumor.  It's not implausible, as Billy Beane is the type of GM to acquire an undervalued player and worry about his outfielder surplus later.  I don't believe Dave Littlefield's statements about not wanting to trade Wilson.  He'd be valuable to many teams, and the Pirates' recent acquisitions indicate that they'll deal him.

RotoAuthority's latest:

Jae Seo Projection

Travis Hafner Projection

2006 Fantasy Guide On Sale For $9.99 For A Limited Time

Good readin': 1060west has updated its post about the Cubs' revamped bullpen.  This quote resonated with me:

"Seen in the light of statistical evidence, it becomes clear that nothing has been done to improve the Cub bullpen from April 2005 to this stage; in fact, if anything, the Cubs have actually gotten weaker in going from Hawkins to Howry and Remlinger to Eyre."

The main point is that Hendry tends to purchase free agent relievers for big bucks following the reliever's best season.  Not a smart strategy.

The Phillies and Ryan Franklin?  This won't end well.  I'm just happy to see than Ryan Madson will finally get a shot in the rotation; he's got a 3.25 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, and 7.27 K/9 in 166 Major League innings.  High strikeout totals and good control are always a great combo.   

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Disagree wholeheartely with the Cubs bullpen situation. First of all, Remlinger did not have an arm last April - he was injured. Secondly, Dusty isn't smart and as long as we had Hawkins, Dusty would try to use him as a closer. This year, the roles are much more defined... we have a closer, and two setup men.

If nothing else, this years's bullpen will cause Dusty to have to think less which is a good thing for Cubs fans.

"If nothing else, this years's bullpen will cause Dusty to have to think less which is a good thing for Cubs fans."

He'll have Marquis Grissom to worry about. He's a veteran, and The Dude loves veterans. Just wait until Murton enters a batting slump--you won't see him for a week. LOL

June 20, 2006: Dusty responding to another question relating to sitting Murton:

"Cmon, Man. My boy Marquis needs respect too. It's society, really. And....hold on, Darren, daddy needs you to come over here to be a human shield."

Did you put that up there just get a reaction?

When the Cubs traded him, LaTroy Hawkins was dead friggin last in relief wins or relief runs prevented or whatever the hell BP's metric is for relief quality---and it was by A TON. The Cubs bullpen is much better than the '05 version, no dizoubt.

Well, I wanted to see the arguments for and against. OK, Hawkins had a bad '05. I'm not sure that means the '06 pen has improved a lot.

As a White Sox fan I probably have no business probably commenting on this but I will anyway. Being completely honest with Cub Nation, I will say this I believe the Cubs have improved their bullpen with Howry and Eyre. However based on the money spent to acquire the two, I'm not convinced it will be as big an upgrade as many people think or enough of an upgrade to justify the amt of money Hendry spent. Rumor is right for Hendry's tendencies to pick up guys after they have a career year which both guys have had. There are some concerns both men logged their highest number of innings in at least 5 years. Howry logged more last year than his previous three years combined. The past 2 yrs Eyre has had 83 and 86 appearances but only logged 52.2 and 68.3 innings respectively which tells me he primarily is a 1 or two batter pitcher which further sorta makes you go hmm with the deal he got. Outside of his time with San Fran (which Im pretty sure is a pitchers park) Eyre has had basically no success, however all of his experience prior to San Fran was AL and yes alot of it was as a reliever. IF Dusty uses him correctly Eyre should be effective for the Cubs. Howry worries me a little more from the outside looking in. While his ERA was good, for whatever reason his K to IP (an important stat with RP) was less than impressive last year. Howry had just 48 Ks to 73 IP. From his time in Chicago I also remember Howry being a more flyball than groundball pitcher which again in Wrigley can cause problems. Other worries with Howry 10 of his 16 walks came with men already on base and his ERA with RISP was 6.75 and with RISP and two out it was 12.00. This tells me he may possibly have some shortcomings in another important area for RP which would be percentage of inherited runners that score. I dont have #s on that but just guessing with his ERA with RISP it could be the case. Basically it all ties in with the low K rate and the high ERA with RISP. I'm just not sure how comfortable Cub fans will be with a righty setup guy that seems less than capable of working out of jams and getting a big K when needed. That being said they are upgrades if nothing else because im not sure if you could get anything less than what they did last year with Remlinger and Hawkins.

That guy at 1060West is good at pointing out the negative.

If you're going to site and compare statistics, you should at least consider the other relevant factors that changed in addition to the reduction in hit rate. I'd consider switching to the bullpen a major change. Changing from a starter to reliever allows you to cut down to 2 pitches, not 3 or 4. Thus, some guys who struggled as starters are able to become good relievers (see Eric Gagne).

As for the comparison between Hawkins and Howry, well, did you look at Hawkins' performance in 2004, when he was awesome as a setup man? It wasn't until (surprise) another substantial role chance (from setup man to closer) when Hawkins deteriorated performance-wise.

Finally, I don't think it's quite fair to compare Eyre to Remlinger since Remlinger was injured all last year, and was mis-cast as a lefty specialist when he's terrible versus lefties.

RumorMonger, please note that I'm referring to the 1060West guy when I say "you."

And to clarify my point about switching from starter to reliever, the reduction in pitches allows pitchers to go with their best pitches entirely and not vary in their weaker, more hittable pitches.

Yeah that's cool. I still lean towards 1060west's opinion, but some of the opposing points have made me reconsider a bit.

Fair analysis, Matt.

RM, I don't think there's any doubt that Howry and Eyre v. 2006 will be better than Hawkins and Remmy v. 2005. Whether or not they can be as good or better than Howry and Eyre v. 2005 remains to be seen.

I agree that Hendry doesn't have a great grip on how to build a bullpen and that he usually over-spends on it. Fortunately, his tactic of picking up injured talents worked with Dempster and hopefully will still work with Williamson, who I think can be as good as Howry and maybe better when healthy. If Dempster, Eyre, Howry, and Williamson stay healthy and perform decently, the Cubs' bullpen should be in fine shape with Novoa, Weurtz, and Ohman rounding it out.

I disagree about Franklin to the Phillies not ending well. 2.6 million is a bargain, all things considered. In 2003, he posted a 3.57 ERA and 1.23 WHIP. Coincidentally, the last two seasons, as the Mariners struggled, so did Franklin. When the team was good, he pitched better than league average. Im not expecting a Cy Young from him, but as the #5, if he goes 12-10 with a 4.25 ERA, then he was a bargain. Considering the money Padilla will make in arbitration, its going to be a solid move for the Phillies. Hes a durable pitcher at worst, and a good gamble, IMO.

I'll agree with the Sox fan, I don't think these moves will give the Cubs a GREAT bullpen but it should be a good bullpen and a MUCH improved bullpen.

In terms of overpaying, well I probably wouldn't have done it but at least the Tribune is spending some of that cash!

2003 was a long time ago, and a guy who's already HR prone going to Philly is a bad match. I think it'd take a miracle with his number of baserunners and HRs allowed to get near a 4.25 ERA. He might be a 200 inning guy, but a lot of guys can throw 200 innings with a 5 ERA. But, I suppose in this day and age gambling less than 3 mil on a starter isn't the worst idea.

Anything more with Tejada?

But James, that's as a Mariner. And he's moving to Citizens Bank Ballpark. 'Nuff said. He's going to challenge Eric Milton for most HR/9.

i stronmgly, strongly disagree that the cubs bullpen is weaker. hawkins never got better after the trade last season. the cubs had the better pitcher in getting williams of all people. remlinger is done. and dempster has more than proven he can very consistantly close.

i fail to see how they are worse off. hendry might have overpaid, but that doesnt mean the bullpen is worse. can you imagine the bitching if he HADN'T overpaid? or if he got involved in getting wagner? given the market, i applaud the cubs on getting two halfway decent relievers.

Hey,

If Eyre and Howry can also score a few runs, we'll be all set!

Otherwise, expect more of last year - where the bullpen will be epected to post all 0.00 ERAs or be blamed for every loss.

I bet they'd just once like to be protecting a three-run lead instead of a 1-1 tie. Every run given up pretty much equals a loss. That's way too much pressure on any bullpen.

GET SOME OFFENSE, HENDRY!!!!!!!!

WE GET WHAT WE DESERVE! Why are we (Cub Fans) so content with mediocrity? The "feel good" site (Bleed Cubbie Blue) and many of you who post here are kidding yourselves. Wake up and realize that part of being a fan is expecting, no demanding, that your team to live up to its side of the bargain. If I see one more post about the Cubs securing " halfway decent" players I will vomit. Even worse, I do not understand the love affair that many on BCB have for one A. Ojeda! Give me a break.

Let us assume the Cubs rank at the top of MLB in revenue. If that is true, which I believe it is, why are we stuck signing the Jones, Grissoms and half ass relief pitchers of the world?

The White Sox have set the bar. It is imperative for OUR team to step up and compete. It is always about "hope" with the Cubs. When can it be about more than that?

Just for sh#ts and giggles, here is my recap of the off-season:

1) Hendry over paid for Eyre.
2) Howry was a solid sign.
3) Hendry misread the market and whiffed on Furcal. As a result the Cubs faithful are now stuck with Jones for three years (would Burnitz have been a better play at one?), Juan Pierre (in a walk year) for three pitching prospects and Nefi and Korey.
4) We have not solidified our starters.
5) Kerry is still hurt.
6) The drunks are lining up for tickets.

For all of the folks who cannot stand the criticism, you will get what you deserve! These are your 81 win Chicago Cubs! The BCB “dreamers” can meet with Al in the bleachers and enjoy the atmosphere. They surely will not be enjoying quality baseball.


I've read two write ups from 1060west(Cedeno and now the Cubs bullpen)both negative by the way.

1060west seems to be the classic stat head who is well versed at manipulating stats to shape a view. He trys to prove that the bullpen will be worse in 2006 then 2005 but then uses stats dating back to 2002 to justify his point. He might want to start with facts first.

1060 proclaims that Dempster's season last year was an aberration when Dempster has no track record of closing and thus no reasonable conclusion can be made. A person could conclude that given the fact that Hendry signed Dempster to a 3yr/$15m contract and not 5yr/$50m that he does not expect Dempster be a Wagner/Gagne/Soriano like closer but expects solid production. And from that I think a person could conclude that going into '06 the Cubs should be in better shape then '05.


FACT#1 Stats help to shape a story and are only part of tha story. You don't average(or more appropriately manipulate) them over a time period that helps "sell" your view. If you did this in the business world you'd be called out in 2 seconds.

Given this, the "story" the stats of Howry,Eyre and Cedeno tell me is that over the last few seasons they have all shown the ability to get better. Will their performances top out, drop off or were their recent performaces an aberration as 1060 seems to suggest. I don't know. But you can't call a performance an aberration until they have proven that they can't repeat or come close to that performance again. Until they do, I don't think it is unreasonable to think they will perform slightly below, at or above recent performace. Do discount entirely is absurd.

FACT #2. Everyone has overpaid for relief pitching this offseason.

Given the offseason RP signings...
Looper 3/13.5
Farnsworth 3/17
Gordon 3/18
Hendry should be commended for realizing the market conditions and signing 3 relief pitchers quickly at what I would call below market prices. Enough of my ranting!!!

I agree. Howry and Eyre were signed as the market dictated (perhaps even below). It would have been disaster if the Cubs decided to go with a youthful bullpen and rely on Novoa, Ohman, and Wuertz. Latroy's stats weren't good, but they still didn't tell the story of how horrible he is and how much he incredibly easy he gets rattled. I think just having guys that throw strikes will be a breath of fresh air.

As for the park factor, Franklin actually pitched just as good, if not better, away from Safeco. I think playing on a winning team that scores runs might benefit Franklin.

Dude, come on with the cubs. What else should they do? nothing? So what, he gave howry a big deal, same with eyre, but they can't continue to pitch whoever dusty feels comfortable with pitching everyday. That hasnt been working lately....These are solid moves, the cubs offense was bad, but they could have had 5-6 more wins with better relievers. I think they're front runners in the NL central

Dude, come on with the cubs. What else should they do? nothing? So what, he gave howry a big deal, same with eyre, but they can't continue to pitch whoever dusty feels comfortable with pitching everyday. That hasnt been working lately....These are solid moves, the cubs offense was bad, but they could have had 5-6 more wins with better relievers. I think they're front runners in the NL central

How about this trade scenario?

BOSTON

Gives
Manny

Gets
Murton AND Pie AND one froma pool of (Guzman, Wurtz, Wellemenyer, OR Novoa)

Boston may come up short on the talent end of things here, but they get a huge windfall in cash savings, and the fill the gaping holes left by Damon and Ramirez long term.

BALTIMORE

Gives
Tejada

Gets
Manny AND Rich Hill

This is essentially the package they were asking for from the Red Sox with Manny and either Lester or Papelbom. The biggest problem with this whole deal is now Manny is saying he wants whatever team he goes to to pick up his two option years, in 2009 and 2010 I beleive. I think Boston would agree to negotiatie a buyout with Manny if the Cubs sent along another pitching prospect (one from a pool of Guzman, Wuertz Novoa or Wellemeyer) to help balance Bostons talent gap. The deal with Ramirez might be a $9M buyout after the 2008 season. If Baltimore wanted to pay the difference they could excercise say a $15M contract for 2009.

CUBS
Give
Murton AND Pie AND Rich Hill AND One from a pool of (Guzman, Wuertz, Wellemeyer, or Novoa).

Cubs assume a lot of salary and give up the farm, but get Tejada and Keep Prior. Yeah!

Last post should have included under 'CUBS'...

Get
Tejada

Ryan Franklin is a below average major league starter who will be pitching in an environment that will do nothing but hurt him.

Let's see if we can sum up how bad a move this would be without going on for pages and pages:

Franklin doesn't strike anybody out - only 100+ strikeouts in six major league seasons, 427 K's in 811.2 innings, only 93 K's in 190.2 innings in 2005, and a 4.39 K/9 number

Franklin is as extreme a flyball pitcher as there is - his GO/AO career ratio is 0.76...that is 1148 flyball outs in his career vs. 812 groundball outs

Franklin the flyball pitcher also gives up homeruns at an alarming rate - 34 in 2003, 33 in 2004, and 28 in 2005

Franklin is a has-been (or maybe a never-was) - he will be 33 in March and is coming off back to back seasons with ERA's of 4.90 and 5.10 (good for ERA+ of 88 and 85)

Frankin is a cheater - on August 2nd, 2005, Franklin became the 8th major leaguer to test positive for steroids and was suspended for 10 games

It is a one-year deal worth $2.6 million so the financial committment isn't a serious one, but Franklin is such a bad idea for the Phillies that he'll either A) not make it through the year in the rotation or B) survive the year as a starter (due to shoddy management calling the shots, i.e. old school baseball men like the Phils skipper) and challenge for the all-time homeruns allowed record.

Da Krone: Put the pipe down!

Mike-- Thank you for that post. That just saved me so much time because I was about to say the same thing. I am so sick at tired of 1060 west being so damn negative. I understand if they feel a certain way they have their right to voice their opinion. But like mike said, all 1060 west does in manipulate stats to form an opinion. I can't wait for them to post something good... o wait that'll never happen. If the Cubs do for some reason ahve a good year, I want to see what 1060 west says then. They'll say someting like "Oh see we knew this was going to happen becuase of blah blah blah." As far as I'm concerned I can completly do without 1060 West.

Once and for all Ronny Cedeno has a shot at being a good player 1060 west. When a minor leaguer improves by a solid amount 3 years in a row, that isn't luck, that's legitimate improvement. Check his numbers. While modest at first, he has managed to improve in almost every stat a solid amount all while moving up the organization. Just because he struggled for awhile when we drafted him at a ripe age doesnt mean he has no shot at being a good pro. I really hope RumorMonger doesn't even bring 1060 west up anymore because I have lost all use for that crappy website.

I think 1060west has intelligent commentary, otherwise I wouldn't link to it.

Nothing wrong with a few opinions that are off the beaten path - sometimes you guys shoot 'em down, other times they make great points. Pessimistic, sure, but the Cubs aren't a well-run team.

The cabash has been put on the whole Manny trade, if any of you fools decided to get your news from the most credible souce, MLB.com, you would know that Manny has said he no longer wants to be traded.

Anyways, since I am coming off a several week vacation, I might as well take my time to stomp all of you idiots who think that the Cubs are a weaker relief staff than last year.

Okay, so we are all aware that the Cubs bullpen was down right awful last year. They combined for an ERA of roughly 4.6, and were in the bottom 15% of the league with RISP. Not to mention that they posted only a .462 W%.

This year, it is going to be hard to make a good prediction on those numbers. However, let's look at the comparison the aformentioned radio station made: Hawk to Howry and Remlinger to Erye.

-------------------------------------------------------
Hawk: Posted a 3.92 ERA last season with a 1.44 WHIP and 9 blown saves ( a 2-8 record.) Not exactly a man who can handle pressure. On top of that, the previous year Hawkins only went 25/34 in save opportunities despite posting a 2.63 ERA. thats a meager 73%. He alone costed the Cubs a playoff birth that year (they only missed by 1.5 games)

Howry: Posted a 2.47 ERA with a stunning .89 WHIP and a 7-4 record. The year before he managed a 2.74 ERA with a 1.15 WHIP. Sounds like he had more than just one good year as many of you are suggesting. He has been absoluely stellar the past couple of seasons.

-------------------------------------------------------

Remlinger: Posted a 4.91 ERA with a mediocre 1.30 WHIP. He was terrible in his short stint at Boston, and it is clear that at nearly AGE 40, the guys straight change doesn't quite have the movement it used to (its a joke.)

Erye: Posted a 2.63 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP and was very durable with 89 appearances. The guy showed up in more than 1/2 of the Giants games last year!! Yes it was his best season of a mediocre career, but the Cubs are improving by adding a stable set-up man, something they've been missing for years.
-------------------------------------------------------

At the very least, it is absurd to say that the Cubs did not improve STATISTICALLY. There are many arguments that these relievers are going to struggle at Wrigley, and they may very well be true, but nothing is worse than reading a radio-host's lunacy about how there is "nothing to suggest the Cubs have statistically improved." Its quite clear that another media big shot decided to blow his mouth off just because he has a microphone.

Let me correct myself, the Cubs missed by 2 games in 2004, not 1.5.

I'm sorry but I can't get this Ronny Cedeno thing out of my head. 1060 west made the argument that what Cedeno did this past year was not credible due to his lack of any success prior to last year. It's true-as a 19, and 20 year old, Cedeno struggled at almost all of his stops. But starting at age 21 (TWO years ago) until now Cedeno has undergone serious improvement. Here are some numbers:

'03 (21 years old)380Abs - .211/.257/.295 (Bad even by shortstop standards)

'04 (22 years old)384 Abs - .278/.328/.401 (Not great but an improvement)

'05 (23 years old) 245 ABs- .355/.403/.518 (Very good)

Major League Time- 80 ABs .300/.356/.375 (Pretty good for limited playing time)

Winter Leauge- I don't have his official numbers but I understand he finished with one of the top 5 (!) for BA.

Cedeno's success in 2005 was not a fluke, or an "abberation" as 1060 would say (The thought of even using the term abberation when referring to a 23 yeard old is almost comical). 2005 for Ronny was simply the culmination of 3 years of steady improvement. 1060 simply chose to isolate Ronny's AAA ABs of '05 and say they were unprecedented. But the fact of the matter is that is wasn't 245 AB's of AAA that stand out, rather it is 384 AB's from 2004 of AA, 245 AB's of AAA in '05, 80 AB's of Major league service, and probably something like 100+ AB's in the winter league. That's more like 800 or so ABs of Ronny having sold production. At the tender ages of 20-22 THIS KIND OF IMPROVEMENT IS POSSIBLE. The problem with 1060's logic is that they are using an idea about statistics that applies to players who have sudden unexplainable spikes in production at ages that wouldn't suggest improvement (around 27 and older). But if there were no such thing as a young 20 year old steadily improving over a 3 year span, then no prospects would ever make it except for the Blue Chip phenoms which only come around once in awhile.

The bottom line is there has been a STEADY improvement by Ronny; contrary to 1060's erroneous accusation that Cedeno's only taste of success has come in too small a sample size to believe he has any chance at being a major league quality player.

Radio host? Huh?

You compared 2005 season stats only didn't you? There's more to it than that. (Not that I disagree with you, but you didn't stomp anything out).

Jack, I agree with you.

People can easily mislead themselves (and others) by not examining the underlying factors for why sudden changes in performance occur. 1060west presents interesting statistics, but fails to realize (or chooses to neglect) the fact that there are very significant confounding factors associated with each of the players whose stats he presents.

I'm all for statistical analysis. I believe in OPS, WHIP, etc. But not everything is told in the stats. Dempster and Cedeno have undergone significant changes (Dempster moving to the pen, Cedeno growing up) that may have had a major impact on their game. Similarly, Hawk and Remlinger had major changes that made them struggle (Hawk moving to closer, Rem getting old and injured) which makes the comparison to Howry and Eyre suspect.

Didn't stomp anything out!! I looked at the real age difference between Rem and Eyre as well as their stats (Rem's decline is quite obvious), and I compared the past TWO seasons of Hawk and Howry. Anyone who even pays attention to baseball knows that a set-up man's only real indicator is his past two seasons. I think that if you read my previous post, you will see that there isn't a whole in my argument. I respectfully dare you to find something that disproves me Monger.

Cedeno update:
He finished 5th in the league in batting average with a mark of .355 while also slugging .491 with 2 HR, 9 2B, and 4 3B.

Hey Jack,

Three years of steady improvement does sound impressive but you need to look again. That's TWO years of improvement.

Last time I looked, the Orioles 40 man was at 40. So even allowing for some discards (Roberson, Leicester, etc) to make room for a 4 or 5 player acquisition, it seems much harder to then also make a 3-for-1 Roberts Deal. Go ahead and look at their roster and try and cut 7 "fringe" players. It's a fun endeavor but somewhat tough.

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