Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Felix Pie

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A slice of Baltimore Pie

It's a sad day in the Cub Fan Nation as yet another former top prospect has burned out and been dealt.  This time, it's Felix Pie, who has been traded to the Orioles for a couple of pitchers, one of whom whose name came up in the Jake Peavy trades.

With apologies to loyal Goat Reader feet69, losing Pie is not a big deal.  Jim Hendry has built a very, very complete team with some very very talented, versatile players while loading up unecessarily in certain positions - center field being one of them.

Even without Departin' Felix Pie, the Cubs outfield is cluster-effed.  You've got the 3 starters in The Fonz, Kosuke, and Ragin' Milton Bradley, and competing for the 2 given backup spots are shoe-in Reed Johnson, and then Micah Hoffpauir, Ambivalent Taguchi, and Royal Joey Gathright.

But I have to say that unless Felix Pie hits the game-winning homerun for the Orioles in the Baltimore-Chicago World Championship, I don't see how this one is going to bite us in the bum.  He's 50-50 at best in becoming a major leaguer, and the Cubs have some talent already in the outfield - in fact, the Cubs outfield is running a No Vacancy sign for the next 3 years.

Pie to Baltimore

In the least surprising move of the year, Felix Pie has been traded to Baltimore for lefty pitcher Garrett Olson.  As I'm sure everyone knows, Pie was out of options and out of favor and thus had to be out of Chicago.  Coming back in return is Garrett Olson, he of the 6.87 ERA in 33 starts as well as right handed minor league pitcher Henry Williamson.

Holy crap.  Baltimore let him get 33 starts with a 6.87 ERA? Nice team Baltimore's got going over there.

Anyway, this trade makes a fair amount of sense.  The Cubs had a glut of outfielders and a derth of young lefties and Pie was the odd man out.  Olson is supposed to have a fair amount of potential, although the numbers are hardly overwhelming (83 strikeouts and 62 walks in 133 innings pitched).  Olson did, however, exhibit much better control in the minors and solid strikeout numbers (almost a strikeout an inning), posting an almost 3:1 K:BB ration over his minor league career.  Basically, this is a trade of two players with good minor league numbers who fizzled in the majors.

Williamson looks to have the kind of potential the Cubs love, having put up K/9 numbers of 10.0, 13.5, and 11.4 in his three stints over two minor league levels.  Williamson has also shown excellent control.  In fact, the only downside to his numbers is that he's old for A ball as he will be 24 this year.

I have no idea what kind of stuff Olson has, so please feel free to chime in in the comments.  In general, this seems like a good haul for Pie given the position in which the Cubs have put themselves.

h/t Another Cubs Blog

No holes; just several low spots and too many 25th men

I positive Chris DeLuca's article today in the Sun-Times, because like myself, he looks at the 2008 Cubs, and he's looking at what we have right here, in the now, and The Now is a bit lacking.  He then focuses on two areas that he more or less categorizes as "holes".  One is the Lack of Five Proven Starters, which natually he opines would be filled quite nicely by Jake Peavy.  And the other?  That would be the Lack of A True Leadoff Man, whereupon he re-opens the Oldest Story Ever Told, the Brian Roberts trade.  He even goes as far as tossing Chone Figgins into the mix here.  I found it more interesting than anything else I've read lately, but whether it be due to the lack of available space, or the need to simplify, but there are factors in play that he either missed or was not able to cover in his article.

On paper at least, what we have now is not quite as good as what we saw when the Cubs were last on the teevee.  Keeping Dempster was a huge thing, sure.  But DeLuca's title, paraphrased, is "Additions do not add up to Subtractions".  And in my mind, DeRosa + Edmonds + Blanco + Howry + Marquis + Wood is more than Bradley + Miles + Gathright + Luis Vizciano + three mid-level Indians prospects.  And no, bringing in Paul Bako is not going to tip the scales in our favor.

Where I veer away from DeLuca today is that I don't really see any big, car-swallowing potholes on the roster.  Addressing the two he brought up, I might phrase it this way: We don't lack a fifth starter, we have Sean Marshall, he has experience in the role; and We don't lack a leadoff man, we have Alfonso Soriano, he has experience in the role.  Therefore, we have no gaping, dripping chasms that we're gonna fall in.

But see what I did there?  I applied Cubness to the argument!!  Sure, Soriano HAS hit leadoff, but he ain't so good at it!  And sure, Marshall HAS started, but only one full season's worth, and while his overall record compares with what we lost with Marquis, it certainly doesn't represent an upgrade. 

And let's go further!  Milton Bradley HAS played right field.  Aaron Miles HAS played second base.  Mike Fontenot HAS played second base.  (Ryan Theriot HAS played shortstop, too, but I'm not including him as part of this argument today.  There are plenty who can and will).  Ryan Dempster and Carlos Zambrano HAVE, at various times, served as the "Ace" of the rotation. 

More?  Sure.  Carlos Marmol HAS closed games.  Luis Vizcaino HAS been an effective setup man.  Derrek Lee HAS served as the Clubhouse Leader, and he HAS also hit in the 3 hole.

I can go on and on, but all of the above aren't exactly "holes" in the true sense of the word (ie. Jacque Jones is our right fielder), but I suggest they represent "low spots", like when Streets and Sanitation drop some tar into a pothole, tamp it down, and three days later it starts to sink again.  You're not going to rip your fender in two when you hit them, but you have to slow down, they will jar your spine, and you might get home safe, but you ain't winnin' no races that way.

THEN, then, there's another problem - we have several guys who are young, cheap, and might have value to someone, but have not proven anything with us.  I'm sure Hendry knows who these people are, and perhaps you do too, but I will maintain over and over again that it is simply NOT healthy and useful to keep a BUNCH of AAAA players like Cedeno, Marshall, Hart, Guzman, Hofpauir, Pie, Gathright, Koyie Hill, Rich Hill, Wuertz and Cotts around.  Not to mention the three prospects that we just haaaad to trade DeRosa for, plus all the arms Hendry's drafted the past ten years.

I understand the need for depth; protection against injury, and development for the future.  But none of these guys are blue chip.  None of these guys are ever going to win a pennant for anyone.  There's too much redundancy; we don't need Miles AND Cedeno.  We don't need Pie AND Gathright.  We don't need Hart AND Marshall AND Rich Hill.  I'm not sure we need Miles AND Fontenot.  I wouldn't mind too much if we kept Hofpauir, to be this year's Daryle Ward, except that while Ward is old and fat and more accepting of his fate, Hofpauir is young and fit and probably most desirous of a full-time position at this point in his career.  These guys can't all play at once - or even be on the active roster.  It's one thing to be hungry, but another yet again to be discouraged by the logjam of mostly high-dollar talent in front of you.  It's NOT a healthy situation, take it from a former benchwarmer - I won't be convinced otherwise.

So, finally, my point - certainly we aren't going to fill in all the rough spots, nor should we.  All teams have at least a few.  But we may have a few too many, and perhaps that was what DeLuca was getting at - pointing out a couple that have been previously discussed.  It doesn't take a magician to throw $30MM at Milton Bradley, or get someone to give you prospects for a top-flight utility man.  If Hendry is the man we think he is, can't he use some of the surplus resources we STILL have to improve?

Brian Roberts is a pipe dream; and Jake Peavy may very well be also.  But looking at a Chone Figgins is an example of stepping outside of the box a little.  It won't make as big of splash as grabbing a Cy Young winner and certain Staff Ace.  But the Cubs employ an army of scouts, a boardroom full of Special Assistants, and the so-called best personnel man in the biz, the Magnum P.I.-clad Gary Hughes.  Why can't these people complete a decent trade?  If it is because Sam Zell can't decide which billionaire to rip off, then MLB ought to step in tomorrow and tell the scaly motherstroker to Shit or Get Off The Pot.

If all of our spare parts (Pie, Cedeno, et al) are still on the roster, and if the "DeRosa Prospects" are still around, come Opening Day, I will consider this offseason to be a Qualified Failure.

 

What To Do When You Are Out of Options?

The cubs roster is starting to take shape.  The Team has made several moves (some good, some not-so-good, some debatable) and has a big one left to make (Milton Bradley).  My question is, what are we going to do with all of the guys we have that are out of minor league options?

Felix Pie has been a hot topic for years now.  However, if the cubs do in fact add Milton Bradley, it will give us 974 outfielders.  Bradley, Kosuke Fukudome, Alfonso Soriano, Reed Johnson, Joey Gathright, Micah Hoffpauir, etc...  Where exactly does Felix Pie fit?  If you answered nowhere you are the 64 thousand dollar winner.  So, what do the cubs do with him?  Well, they have to trade him right, but to where and for who?  Are we going to have to trade him to the Orioles for Garrett Olsen straight up because we have no other options?

What about Rich Hill?  He is the next Erik Bedard, or at least that is what we all thought in the spring of 08.  He is also out of options.  Can we even move this guy, much less afford to keep him on our major league roster.  I dont think he gotten bad enough to clear waivers so that we can assign him back to the minor leagues.

Ronny Cedeno?  What to do with poor Ronny?  He could make the team, actually he has a way better shot than the other two listed above. These are a couple of questions the team has to be thinking of addressing in the next couple of weeks.

2008 Season Recap: Felix Pie

Sorry to interrupt all exciting trade talk, but I gots to get this recap in before Felix is shipped out of town.

I don’t know what it is about young, left-handed centerfielders with a lot of success in the minors who wear No. 20, but it just doesn’t seem to work out for them with the Cubs. Such was the case with Corey Patterson and such is the case with poor Felix Pie.

Unlike Patterson, most of us probably feel a little bad for Pie if only because of his…ummm…unfortunate incident. However, like Patterson’s waning days with the Cubs, most of can probably agree that Pie’s time is all but over on the North Side.

You can’t feel too bad for Felix though, he did have more than a few chances to prove himself at the major league level. He was practically given the starting centerfield position without any competition at the beginning of 2008 (albeit on a short lease) and he couldn’t hold onto it. He couldn’t even stay with the big club for most of the season. In fact, he played so poorly, the Cubs had to go out and reconstruct the smoldering corpse of Jim Edmonds. That, my friends, is not good for Felix.

Pie has all the physical tools to still be a decent major league player. He’s fast, he’s athletic and still young (23). I’d like to think that someone the same age as me isn’t washed-up quite yet, but his time as a Cub seems to be all but over. In fact, his name is probably being tossed around the negotiation table with the Padres or Orioles as I write this.

It’s funny when you think about it really. Pie has only played in 130 games (260 AB’s) in a Chicago Cubs uniform but it feels like the guy has been around foooooreverrrrrrrrr. Maybe it’s because we’ve heard whispers of the ability he displayed in Iowa or maybe it’s because we wanted to get excited about an in-house prospects after the C-Pat implosion, but I can’t help but feel like we didn’t get a long enough look.

Oh well. Too good for the minors + too inconsistent for the majors = Outta here like Blago.

Baltimore Pie?

As KP noted in the shout box, never count out Andy McPhail to maintain a perhaps unreasonable affection for Cubs prospects who were once in his care.

The Orioles may or may not play the third team in the long-rumored Cubs-???-Padres trade combo that would land Jake Peavy in Chicago, particularly if Felix Pie is available.

According to the Sun, the trade is in no way imminent, but talks are on-going as the Cubs continue their scheme to build the scariest pitching rotation since that time Einstein built a time machine and assembled the deadly five-some of Maddux-Koufax-Gibson-Johnson and Young, although they failed to win the Series that year because they ran out of room in the booth and had to settle for Abe Lincoln at second base.  (Let history reflect that we at GROTA always felt he was best suited to play first base due to his lankiness, plus ol' Abe honestly couldn't hit a curveball to save his life.)

But I digress.  We've been voicing the view that the Cubs are surely not done yet, while also insisting that whatever comes next won't be on anybody's radar.  It's not Baseball Prophecy so much as it's Baseball Conventionalism, and I'll love being proved wrong under the right circumstances.

A Policy of Truth

There’s been a bit of buzz on Cubs blogs recently on Felix Pie’s work ethic, based on this from Arizona Phil over at The Cub Reporter:

Reading between the lines, it appears that Pie being sent to Fitch Park was more for disciplinary reasons than it was to rehab an injured thumb, with the so-called "sprained thumb" the excuse needed to justify the DL stint and the Fitch Park rehab assignment.

As a further tidbit of bizarro information, Pie had what sounded like an argument with someone from the Cubs brass (I couldn't see exactly who it was, but I could probably guess) who was sitting up in the Fitch Park Tower that overlooks the four fields as Pie was walking to the clubhouse after he left the game in the 6th inning.

I didn't understand the complete nature of the "discussion," but I believe it had something to do with Pie expecting to leave town immediately (like "who is driving me to the airport?"), but being told instead that he would be staying in Arizona for at least one more day.

Pie did not look happy, that's for sure.

Juicy! Intriguing! Absolutely false!

I talked with Cubs Organizational Hitting Instructor Dave Keller today, and he admitted that he was the guy in the tower yelling at Felix Pie (in Spanish) after Pie left the AZL Cubs game on Sunday, but that the conversation had to do with Pie verbally being given the hitting schedule for Monday at Fitch Park (which otherwise was an off day for the AZL Cubs), and that there was no animosity involved in the exchange.

Oh.

Let’s put it bluntly – Goatriders of the Apocalypse does not precisely shy away from saying negative things about baseball players. (You’ll find something that I wrote once as the number one result for the Google search “Ryan Theriot sucks.” I’m sure that nobody is surprised.) So I’m not trying to engage in some rah-rah Kool-Aid drinking.

But – and this is me, anyways, your mileage may vary – I really don’t like passing judgement on a player’s personal life unless there’s some sort of criminal proceedings to go with it. I have no problem talking about Jason Marquis' poor imitation of a starting pitcher; his bad command, his mediocre stuff, his surprising amount of home runs for a ground ball pitcher.

But people will say things about him lacking mental toughness, or lacking focus or whatever - and how in the hell do you know what's going on in Jason Marquis' head? I mean, really, if you can diagnose somebody's mental state from a box score they need you in the FBI violent crimes division. Expect recruitment shortly.

Ask Roger Clemens - or better yet, ask his mistresses: the ability to pitch in the majors is not related to your merits as a human being. You can be a horrible person and a fine ballplayer; you can be a fine person and a horrible ballplayer.

And now there are all sorts of rumors floating around the Internet about Pie, simply because somebody wanted to tell him what time batting practice was the next day.

I guess my point is this - baseball players, all of them, are humans, just like us. And like all of us, they aren't perfect. We respect and honor them for what they're capable of doing as baseball players, and most of us are only going to know them as baseball players. It can be dangerous and just simply wrong to presume we know them in any other way, and we owe it to them to be careful with the conclusions we draw.

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