Getting the Fox Out of Chicago

Although it has not officially come full circle, it appears that Oakland is moving on from Jack Cust with the acquisition of Jake Fox from the Chicago Cubs last evening. Fox is built in the same mold as Cust, a batter who has showed some remarkably good hitting skills in the minors, is past prospect age status, has yet to get an extended Major League shot and is not well regarded for his glove. With Cust about to get expensive, there were already rumors that Oakland would be non-tendering him.

Coming along with Fox to Oakland is Aaron Miles and $1 million, making Miles’ cost to Oakland $1.7 million in 2010. Aaron Miles went four years being a replacement-level player with the Rockies and Cardinals before having a breakout (for him) season in 2008 with a BABIP-fueled .317 batting average. Signed by the Cubs, he immediately plunged into his worst offensive season to date and a poor defensive showing in a small sample as well. Just as a lucky high BABIP inflated Miles’ 2008 average, an unlucky low BABIP depressed his 2009 average. Expect a small bounce back if given the chance, though moving to pitcher-friendly Oakland and the AL probably will not be doing him any favors.

Heading back Chicago’s way are three players: Jeff Gray, Ronny Morla and Matt Spencer. Gray is a useful relief pitcher. He generates ground balls, misses some bats and keeps his walks under control. He can bring a mid-90s fastball and a mid-80s slider and with little service time accrued can make for a decent and cheap bullpen option for the next few seasons.

Morla, 21, also has some good velocity and has been in Oakland’s short-season program the last two seasons working as a starter for the majority of the time with some success. Spencer, 23 and originally a Phillies draft pick who came to Oakland by way of Joe Blanton, reached Double-A last year and has shown some decent hitting skills but his defensive position is currently up in the air.

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Matthew Carruth is a software engineer who has been fascinated with baseball statistics since age five. When not dissecting baseball, he is watching hockey or playing soccer.

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David MVP Eckstein

More in the name link, but…

Sadly, the Cubs just traded the cost-controlled slugging 1B, who could have replaced Derrek Lee’s $13 million salary after this season, in addition to that piece of shit Aaron Miles and $1 million cash for A’s reliever Jeff Gray and two random prospects. On the plus side, Gray does not walk batters, making him a welcome addition to the Cubs walk-happy bullpen. On the downside, however, Jake Fox had more value to the Cubs than a cost-controlled reliever.

And vincente padilla? why are the cubs trying to sign him??

Scouting report for the cubs:
* RP Jeff Gray, the centerpiece of the deal, has superb control and efficiency, but average strikeout potential. Gray seems to have a lot of potential as a reliever and has 31 IP of major league experience.
* OF Matt Spencer has a high power ceiling and average power, but below average plate discipline and a high tendency to strike out. Spencer spent most of 2009 playing AA ball.
* SP Ronny Morla has good stuff and high strikeout potential with above average control, but he is somewhat hittable (barley below average efficiency rating). Morla has not even played above A ball.

Bobby Boden

I don’t think it was a terrible move for the Cubs. I like Fox a lot, but he’s no Derrek Lee. Lee’s a gold glove first baseman, with a much better batting eye. Remember, Fox is 27, and still has nowhere to go this year for the Cubs. Also, don’t forget about Micah Hoffpaur, he’s very comparable to Fox (better BB/K, slightly less power, a very unfortunate BABIP in 2009), but he’s left handed (something the cubs somewhat lack currently).

I’m excited about Grey, if he can maintain a K/BB near his 4.6 so far, and his 52.3 GB%, he would be the best reliever on the Cubs. Yeah, Marmol gets the K’s, but they are offset by his walks. Digging a little deeper, a 2.8 K/BB seems more reasonable an expectation for Grey, which is still pretty good.

They traded a cost controlled 1B option (which won’t help them in 2010) for a cost controlled RP option which will. Maybe something will come of the other 2 rookies as well.

David MVP Eckstein

Look at the minor league numbers. By far, fox is superior to hoffpauir in almost every way. Hoffpauir had one breakout yr in 2008. The rest is passable

I dont think Fox is a perfect replacement at all for lee. However, when you consider that with Fox, you get a 30 HR capable 3B and $13M of salary to spend the following season…