Northsiders Make a Ton of Moves

The Cubs posted the National League’s best record in 2008, before being defeated in the playoffs by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Despite ongoing ownership issues, Jim Hendry and crew began the off-season looking to upgrade their team, and dominos appeared close to falling as the Cubs flirted with acquiring Jake Peavy. Weeks later, the tipping point has struck, as in the past two days the Cubs have traded Mark DeRosa and Jason Marquis – the latter which is “done in principle” just unannounced – receiving in return three prospects and Luis Vizcaino, signed Aaron Miles, and seemingly reached an agreement with Milton Bradley. Oh, and they still seem interested in Peavy.

We’ll begin with the contract swap. Marquis is owed roughly 10 million next season, the final of his current dealt, while Vizcaino receives 3.5 million in 2009, and has a club option for 2010. Both teams motives are pretty clear; the Cubs wanted financial flexibility and to clear a starting pitcher logjam, the latter being something the Rockies could use.

Marquis had a so-so season in 2008. On one hand, his FIP did improve by 0.3 runs meanwhile Marquis strikeout and walk rates moved the wrong way, leading to a poor K/BB ratio. Marquis did allow fewer homeruns, yet are those the results from improved processes, or simply the product of homerun per flyball rates below his career norm? Hitters swung out of zone against Marquis more than in recent years despite nothing changing in his approach

Vizcaino continued having walk and homerun issues. As you can imagine, those two don’t mix well when placed within Coors Field. To his credit, Vizcaino did strike out quite a bit less season, and he was a victim of some BABIP bad luck. Vizcaino is somewhere between 4 and 4.5 FIP moving forward.

CHONE has Vizcaino worth ~0.2 WAR, and Marquis worth ~1 WAR. Marcels has Marquis closer to 2 WAR and Vizcaino again around ~0.2 WAR If you call the difference around ~1.3 WAR you’re talking about a difference of ~7 million, which coincidentally is almost exactly the difference in salary. The Cubs are trading from an excess with the intention of putting the difference towards a player superior to both, making this move understandable, if not perfect in return value.

The signing of Miles was simply a precursor to the DeRosa deal. The Cubs again are losing some value in their major league tradeoffs. Working with the assumption that Miles rarely (if ever) stands in at short, the Cubs are signing an average defender with a below average bat. Miles will be paid 2.2 million in 2009 and 2.7 in 2010, which is beyond questionable. 2008 was Miles first decent offensive season, driven by unsustainable BABIP and line drive totals. Once that regresses, Miles is an ordinary middle infielder. I won’t go as far as to say players like Reegie Corona and Ray Olmedo are better, but Miles simply isn’t worth an average of 2.5 million. That salary also assumes Miles will reach 0.5 WAR, something accomplished once in his career.

Plus where’s the need? Given Mike Fontenot’s placement on the roster and Ronny Cedeno sitting in purgatory, Miles offers nothing above those two. Even if Fontenot or Cedeno is part of a package for Jake Peavy, I’m still not sure the Cubs couldn’t have paid less and acquired the same level of talent as Miles, who also can’t play the outfield, something DeRosa brought to the table.

DeRosa has been a solid ~3-3.5 WAR player the past three seasons and could step in as the Indians starting second baseman, completing a left-ward shift of Tribe middle infielders – Jhonny Peralta to third and Asdrubal Cabrera to short – and is owed 5.5 million in the final year of his contract. The return on DeRosa consists of a package of minor league arms: Jeff Stevens, Chris Archer, and John Gaub. Stevens appears to be the closest to the majors, and could make his debut in the Cubs bullpen next season.

Finally, we reach the probable Milton Bradley signing. Since there’s a lack of concrete details out, we’ll assume this makes him the starting right fielder and not in center. This leaves Reed Johnson and Kosuke Fukudome (along with Joey Gathright) fighting for the center field job. The biggest concern about Bradley is his durability and volatile nature. Expecting 100+ games from Bradley in the field seems a bit reckless. We’ll wait on the contract details before providing further analysis, but one things for sure: the Cubs are becoming aggressive.

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41 Responses to “Northsiders Make a Ton of Moves”

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  1. erik says:

    Looking forward to seeing Miles pitch donning Cubbie blue.

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  2. Clonod says:

    Sickels doesn’t have any of these 3 minor leaguers in the Indians top 38 prospects.

    That is an indefensibly low haul for 1 year of Mark DeRosa at $5.5mm.

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    • kip9134 says:

      The haul is good BECAUSE DeRosa has only one year left. Netting three young pitchers for a one year rental second basemen (3B for the Indians) is a good deal. Outside of Stevens, I don’t know much about the players but it could add potential for future trades. Keep in mind you’re not going to grab any of a club’s top talent when you trade them an aging second basemen in his second year.

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  3. MikeDidIt says:

    I’m a Cardinal fan and a Cub fan. Yes I know this borders on illegal. Let me say that I am extremely annoyed that the Cardinals didn’t retain Miles and I am glad the Cubs were the one that got him. I’ve watched Miles since he came to the Cards and his value doesn’t show up in the normal sabermetrics. His hits are timely — starts/extends a lot of rallies, and he always plays hard. He is definitely not the best infielder in the league, he is definitely not the leagues best hitter, he is not as good of a hitter as DeRosa, but I predict that Cubs fans will quickly learn to appreciate his scrappy play. You could do MUCH worse than Aaron Miles.

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  4. Jason says:

    I cannot understand the Milton Bradley signing. Like it says above, can he play 100+ games in the field? This guy may just need to stick to being a DH. I would rather have Adam Dunn’s 40 HRs and shoddy defense, than have Bradley (who I hear is a cancer to the teams he has been on) injury prone butt. At least we would know Dunn is going to be healthy enough to be in the field and more importantly plate. Dunn has also apparently stated that the Cubs are his first choice.

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  5. bobby says:

    derosa probably won’t do as well as last year anyway

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  6. Timmy says:

    Agreed about Bradley above, unless Dunn is simply too expensive, which is probably the case. He’s gonna haul 14-17 million a year whereas Bradley, who’s super talented but has been limited due to injuries, will come in the range of 10ish million a year. Over 3-5 years that’s a pretty big discrepancy in wages, which is why we’re going for the injury prone guy over the lug.

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  7. Ron says:

    What is it that everyone sees in DeRo? He was a terrible hitter all season, I say that because of his batting avg with someone in scoring position

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  8. Jason says:

    What about Abreu? By far the best fit for the Cubs. They need a middle of the order left handed bat, and while I love Milton Bradley’s skills, Abreu just seems a better fit. The Cubs can’t sign Dunn. With Soriano in LF, putting Dunn in RF would mean the Cubs would need to play both Kosuke and Reed in CF in order to cover any ground.

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  9. Bryan says:

    Hi. I AM a CARDINALS FAN !!!!!!!! AND i am NOT HAPPY that we let Aarom Miles go!!!!!!!! REALLY NOT HAPPY he went to the Cubs!!!!!! Your team will be BETTER with Miles he does a lot of little things that dont show up in the stats!!! He shows up everyday @ plays HARD anywhere you put him!!!!!! I think he can be a good starting 2nd baseman. Anyway if the Cubs dont want him PLEASE PLEASE send him back to my DUMB DO the WRONG THING CARDINALS!!!! We can trade you our GM for him. CANT wait to give MILES a STANDING OVATION when he comes back to bush in 09. WOW 2 years in a row we have to give a Cub a standing ovation at bush Edmonds @ Miles. WHAT IS THIS WORLD COMMING TO!!!!!!!!! GOOD LUCK Aaron Miles we,the CARDINALs @ Cards fan WILL MISS YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  10. Jason says:

    Last year was the first time Bradley played over 100 games since 2004, and only 77 of his at bats were when he played in the OF. I hate this stupid move by the Cubs. I would rather sign Chris Sabo and he could possibly be dead for all I know. Wake the hell up Hendry!

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  11. Steve F says:

    None of the Cubs moves this off-season make any sense. Both Miles and Fontenot are not anywhere near the quality of DeRosa. The Cubs just gave away the only true leader on the infield. Signing Bradley give the a player that has the skills to be very good but once again he has never played more than half a season as an everyday outfielder. His attitude is as suspect has his health. The three ‘pitching prospects’ don’t even show up in the Indians top 20 pitching prospects. The best of the three, Jeff Stevens, career projection was as a low-end MLB middle reliever.
    The Peavy or Roberts deals that all Cubs fans are still pining for won’t happen. Hendry is killing this team trying to ‘catch lightening in a bottle’. He needs to be the first subtraction from this organization. He is truly another in a long line of horrible Cubs GMs. After the DeRosa trade Cubs fans probably heard the sound of laughter. It was coming from Cleveland.
    I along with all other Cubs fans should get ready for another disappointing season. We will be battling the Pirates for the basement.

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  12. Buddyh_5 says:

    Look, liked dero we need a left power hitting OF, with or without Peavy we look good….Bradley will get us too the dance pitching will win it for us…plus let me be the first to say this Bring on the Yanks…if we are going to charge a windmill let it be on the big stage!!!!

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  13. SoX_MeNaCe says:

    Silly cubbies indians got the best of you, you could’ve got better prospects from the bottom crap of the free agent pool but you announce it like if people cared lol and miles
    200 yrs of losing seasons with hendry

    A 1
    A 2
    A 3 Take Me Out To The Crap Game lol

    Sox 4 Life
    Scubs Suck

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  14. SoX_MeNaCe says:

    Hi Im SoX MeNaCe and im hear to remind the Chicago Scrub fans how LONG its been since they last won a world series because I think jim hendry must have forgot so lets start
    A3 lol


    End the madness

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  15. BT says:

    Signing of Miles is fine.
    The next moves are more important either sign Ben Sheets or trade for Jake Peavy. As for the outfield I know the CUBS are looking for a lefthanded bat, but as saw in the last few postseason we need money players who will hit during the postseason. I’m talking about Manny or Pat Burrell to play the outfield.

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  16. CWeb says:

    It is easy to pick apart a trade without having to be responsible for the rest of the team.
    1. 5.5 million is too much for a utility player. Which against RHP is what DeRo will be this year. He only played so much last year because of injuries to Sori, and ineptness of Fukodome. I don’t see that being the same this year.
    2. The Cubs won’t be able to afford DeRo or have a spot for him after this year. He will command Casey Blake $$ and the same guys will be mad at Hendry for letting him go and getting nothing in return.
    3. If you building a team for the playoffs the Cubs need to change it up. Miles offers some intangables that DeRo doesn’t.
    4. This trade offers roster/lineup flexiblity that we havn’t had. You now could see Miles leading off with Sori batting 6th. Plus this actually could give Fontenot more playing time.
    5. Finally there is the financial side you must look at. Marquis, DeRosa for Miles, Bradley, and Vizcaino. I do that deal all day long.

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    • 1. Fukudome is a solid defender and has plus value. Call him inept if you want, he should start in center.

      2. Without checking, isn’t DeRosa likely to bring back draft compensation?

      3. If you’re building a team for the playoffs, you’re doing it wrong. The playoffs are a crapshoot where results matter more than processes. The Cubs had it right last season and the larger sample size showed it.

      4. You call that flexibility, but honestly it just hurts your lineup. Miles career OBP is equal to Soriano’s, and we all know what type of power Soriano brings. If you want men on base for Soriano that’s one thing, but Miles is just as likely to produce an out, and nowhere near as likely to hit a homerun.

      5. I noted the financial side, but you’re paying Aaron Miles roughly the same money over two years that you would’ve paid DeRosa over one. That’s fine if two years of Miles is greater than one of DeRosa, but it’s not. You can find players who are just as good as Miles for 800k.

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      • Troy says:

        Was that even a serious post? To me it came off as satire given that all of the points were comically off base. Fukudome inept? Miles leading off? DeRosa demanding Casey Blake money? He’s already making Casey Blake money. I’d be genuinely surprised if that wasn’t intended as satire.

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  17. Boris says:

    Fontenot was actually pretty good last year and I think Lou likes him. You will see a lot more of him than Miles. And if you think Miles was a bad signing (it was), wait for the return of Gabor Paul Bako III.

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  18. CWeb says:

    Bako may not be what you hoped for. But you need a serviceable backup who doesn’t need playing time. Bako wins cheaply.

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  19. I am a long term educated fan and I am not quite seeing the value just yet. However, Hendry is a fairly smart cat and I am hoping he has something up his sleeve.

    If you would have told me 2 years ago that DeRosa would be as good as he has been I wouldn’t have believed it. I wasn’t real happy with the move at the time, but DeRo turned into something special.

    Let’s just wait and see. We have been to the playoffs two straight years so Hendry is doing something right.

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  20. DW says:

    Great analysis CWeb!!! Point 5 was the best. Although these moves were four different moves, they all can be summed up in one transaction on the same day and the Cubs are in a great position to make moves, even if it is in the near future or during the season.

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  21. CubaDubDub says:

    If anyone here can safely say Mark DeRosa is a starter on any other team, and that he isn’t 100% a product of injuries and a GREAT Cub lineup the past two seasons, he or she better bring some stats. I do not see him and that $5+ MM contract doing any good for the Indians.

    Unfortunately, Cleveland does not have that great a farm system. I’d rather have seen someone from the Sabathia-Brewers trade come over (though LaPorta/DeRosa seems like a distant dream that would never have happened). But in reality, DeRosa is a utility player coming off of a career year and still owed significant dollars for his efforts.

    With full-time play in a terrific NL lineup, his stats are misleading; he actually regressed in 2007 offensively. In 2008, his career-high statline hid the fact that he bordered on mediocre/poor in clutch hitting categories, especially when it’s late in the game and close. After the sixth inning, he didn’t surmise anything above .271 or a .792 OPS in any one inning.

    And it’s not like his defense is all the rage, either. He’s slightly above-average in LF and 3B. Great. Compare his range and zone factors in other positions (RF, 1B, 2B) and he’s well below-average. His ability to play five different positions for your team doesn’t mean he has “ability” in each.

    So let’s not make Mark DeRosa out to be worth anything more than he is: a super-utility playing full-time in an outstanding lineup, leaving him with inflated stats and an expensive contract for a player of his caliber.

    Translation: overrated and well worth the dump (yes, he’s a dump, not a solid player with a solid contract). Do not fret about the return value. The Cubs were dealing with the Indians, so it’s only natural they get absolutely nothing in return, albeit in three bodies instead of just one.

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    • “After the sixth inning, he didn’t surmise anything above .271 or a .792 OPS in any one inning.”

      Well that’s relevant, because most of the at-bats come in innings 6-9, not 1-5, right? Oh, wait.

      “Translation: overrated and well worth the dump (yes, he’s a dump, not a solid player with a solid contract)”

      You’re going to LOVE Aaron Miles.

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    • Royce says:

      I’m still confused how the other Cubs hitters inflated DeRosa’s stats. Did Geovany Soto make him slug .481? Should we blame Derrek Lee for his 21 bombs?

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  22. Cubs 1# says:

    Wow Lol SoX MeNaCe you funny and even as a cubs fan I agree with a sox fan that’s a lot of years

    Get read of hendry

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  23. BT says:

    Now that Bradley and Miles are signed, I believe CUBS need couple more things
    5th starter – Ben Sheets, Lowe, Looper, Mulder, Glavine.

    Bullpen – Hoffman or Smoltz


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