Lets start with the positives. Hendry signed two of our three best starting pitchers through free agency, and both have wildly exceeded our expectations. Terrible Ted Lilly has been worth 10 WAR since he began his Cubs career in 2007. For comparison's sake, Yovani Gallardo has only been worth 5.5 WAR over the same period of time. Ted has been very, very good.
Ryan Dempster has been even better. In the two seasons since he returned to the rotation, Dempster has been an ace. He's put up 8.7 WAR in that time period, and was able to accumulate 3.6 WAR last season even though he missed a month of the season with a broken toe. Since he joined the rotation, Ryan Dempster has been the Cubs best pitcher.
That's about the extent of the positives. Here are the negatives, in lazy list form: Alfonso Soriano @ 8 years, $136 million with a no trade clause. Kosuke Fukudome @ 4 years, $48 million with a no trade clause. Milton Bradley @ 3 years, $30 million. Jacque Jones @ 3 years, $15 million. Jason Marquis @ 3 years, $21 million. Bob Howry @ 3 years, $12 million. Aaron Miles @ 2 years, $5 million. John Grabow @ 2 years, $7 million. Etc.... These players have a ton in common. Most were coming off a career year. (Jones is a notable exception.) Most did not contribute enough WAR to justify their salaries. All were seemingly signed for too many years. The Cubs roster has been an elephant's graveyard of declining players being paid a ton of money for their past contributions to other teams.
This shouldn't come as much of a surprise. Most MLB team's have gotten smarter about keeping their young, high WAR players away from free agency. The majority of players who reach free agency are players that their original teams didn't deem worth extending, because their likely salaries would exceed their likely contributions. In short, free agency isn't a smart way to try and build a ballclub. Jim Hendry has spent a lot of money in free agency and usually hasn't gotten his money worth. The bad, long term contracts on this Cubs squad have hamstrung him in his efforts to improve the team going forward. The Cubs are older, maddeningly mediocre, and expensive. This team won't contend in 2010, and it won't contend in 2011 either. Because of his nasty habit of making it rain on every flavor of the week free agent who comes a knockin, Hendry should be fired.
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So who remembers good ole Scott Erye?
The big (and I don't mean that in a healthy way) lefty was traded from the Cubs to the Phillies last season where he went on to help the Phillies win some kind of thing that I really don't feel like talking about.
But who remembers which player the Cubs got in return for him? Give up?
That's right, it's right-handed pitcher Brian Schlitter.
I'll never forget that trade because I went to high school with Schlitter and we played football together. It makes you feel quite old and worthless when a person from your high school becomes a member of the Chicago Cubs. Le sigh.
While Brian was catching touchdowns and dreaming of a life as a professional athlete back in high school, i was sitting on the pine dreaming of interviewing athletes for a blog someday.
So I guess we're even when it comes to achieving our dreams. Suck on that Maine South High School Class of 2004.
Anyway, I saw Brian back home over winter break and he decided to answer a few questions about being in the Cubs organization and what it's like to be a minor league pitcher. Enjoy.
Goat Riders: Let's start off by letting the good people know a little bit about yourself.
Brian Schlitter: I was born in Oak Park, Ill., and lived in the city of Chicago. I lived there my whole life up until the summer before high school, where my family and I moved to Park Ridge, Ill. I attended Maine South High School and played football, basketball and baseball all four years, but I always knew I would go on to play baseball after high school. I only got one offer to play baseball after high school and it was to Lake City Community College in Lake City, Fla. I pitched as a starting pitcher there for two years and was drafted by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the 34th round after my first year in school. I didn't sign with them and went back to school. At Lake City, I had offers to go to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and the College of Charleston in South Carolina for my junior year. I decided to go to the College of Charleston and pitched there as a reliever. After one year there I was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 16th round and signed with them. I played one game in short season A ball and was moved up to Low A. I finished out the season in Low A in Lakewood, NJ. The next season I started in High A in Clearwater, Fla., and played all of the season expect in August when I was traded to the Chicago Cubs for Scott Eyre. The Cubs sent me to the Daytona Cubs which is their High A team, and we ended up winning the Florida State League.
GR: So how about we get the obvious question out of the way, has Ted Lilly threatened to murder you yet? Just kidding. Why don't you tell us what it's like to be in the Chicago Cubs organization.
BS: Playing for the Chicago Cubs is already a dream, and I haven't even made it to Wrigley Field yet. I grew up a huge Cubs fan and went to as many games as I could growing up. So far I couldn't think of any other team I would want to play for.
GR: Besides the near orgasmic joy that most of us will only live out in our fantasies, what did it feel when you found out you were traded to the Cubs?
BS: The day that I was traded, we were in the clubhouse packing our bags to go on a road game, when my manager came in and called me into his office. My first reaction was "what did I do wrong now?" everyone in the room was just looking at me walk into his office because normally when the manager calls someone into his office it's either they are getting released or moved up to double A. So when I came out my teammates were all asking if I got moved up, and I said no I got traded to the Cubs. No one believed me at first but they soon realized that I wasn't joking. My first reaction was shock because I never would've thought that this kind of thing would happen. After I got over that I couldn't stop smiling, I called my family and all my friends to tell them the news. I got back to my apartment and was on the phone with all sorts of people for the next three hours until I was finally able to relax and think about what just happened. The next day I drove three hours north from Clearwater to Daytona.
GR: Tell us about the experience of being a minor league baseball player. You must have some interesting stories from down on the farm.
BS: Being in the minors definitely has its ups and downs. Playing baseball everyday is great, but the road trips and spending half the season in a hotel can wear on you. But if you love playing the game then you get used to the daily grind of things. You never really run out of things to talk about being around 2 dozen guys from all over the country and even out of the country. You're always learning new things.
GR: Do you have a nickname? If not, can we forever refer to you as S-Bomb on this Web site?
BS: I don't really have a nickname. My first pitching coach would call me Big Donkey. My coach in Clearwater would either just say "bring in the big guy" or just call me Schlit or Schlitz like everyone else.
GR: Who is your favorite pitcher past or present? Why?
BS: I would probably say Greg Maddux was my favorite pitcher growing up, because he doesn't throw the hardest but he goes out there and competes and gets guys out.
GR: Chicago can really suck in the winter. How have you been dealing with the suckitude?
BS: The winter/offseason is at first relaxing. Usually guys wont do very much of anything for at least the first 2 weeks, maybe even a month. But you get pretty bored and eventually start running and working out in the gym. Pitchers will start throwing around new years and build their arm strength back up so that they come to spring training at about 90-100 percent.
GR: Do you see yourself as more of a relief pitcher or a starter in the future?
BS: I like coming out of the bullpen because you never know when you're going in and you come into high pressure situations. Being in the bullpen is also fun, because you get a different look at the game and all the people in the stands. Plus bullpen talk is always a good laugh. We talk about anything that comes to us….from the game to what we are eating after to what girls are in the stands haha.
GR: Why do you think the Cubs wanted you in the trade for Scott Eyre?
BS: I couldn't tell you why the Cubs traded me for Scott Eyre. The way I looked at it was that they had known me coming from Chicago and I was having a good year, and thought that I would fit in well with the Cub organization.
GR: On a scale of 1-10 (1 being the least and 10 being the most) how much has your baseball experience been like all the baseball movies you've seen? Do local hussies try to seduce because they want to make you a better baseball player?
BS: I would say that my baseball experience compared to the movies is around 5. The lower levels would compare more to Bull Durham because the fields were never good, the bus trips were long and boring, and the hotels were usually on the cheaper end. Then there is the big leagues, which I hope to find out what it is actually like but, I would probably compare it to For Love of the Game. Those two movies I would say are my two favorite baseball movies because they capture true baseball life on both sides of the spectrum.
GR: What's your team like? Is there a lot of turnover? Do you guys have time to gel as a team?
BS: Spring training is the best time to get to know guys that you don't already know. I think guys get along easier, especially in baseball, because we are there to make a team and are professional about it. Sure there is always going be some issues here and there, but it usually doesn't last any longer than that day. You usually get along with your roommate during spring training the best because you spend more time with him back at the hotel after practices. You meet managers and other coaches through out spring training and get to know them and their personality and also their coaching styles. Some are more loose and relaxed and some are more "old school". Once you leave spring training and know what team you made you plan on you and a few guys getting an apartment or townhouse. Its pretty much a rush to find a place from the second you get there.
That's about all I got. Hopefully we'll hear from Brian in the future and maybe I can get him to write some posts for us on his minor league experience this year.
Scott Eyre is now a member of the Philladelphia Phillies. Presumably the Cubs ate salary to make the deal happen. In exchange the Cubs relieve A-ball reliever Brian Schlitter, who may even make it to a major league ballgame without having to pay admission.
UPDATE: Phillies take on all the salary. Wow.
Scott "Fourthmeal" Eyre and his Sam's sized-bag of Doritos were just traded to the Phillies for someone named Brian Schlitter, a native of Park Ridge and a Class A reliever.
Well, I figured we'd get back something schlitty for Eyre, and so we have.
Lou never warmed up to him, and I suspect it had work-ethic overtones, since Eyre chose the Cubs in the first place during the Dusty Days because he believed that Dusty did not insist his pitchers run sprints before games. Might have been his wacky lefty humor, but if there was a grain of truth to it, it'd be a helluva reason for a major league caliber pitcher to choose a team.
There's a lot of traffic lately about employing the same tactic for Bob "Gascan" Howry. Ain't gonna happen. Lou believes the man works hard (probably), has been overused (probably) and will bounce back before the season is over (hopefully, although I don't see how with the usage patterns of our starters).
I have to stick with my beloved Uncle Lou on this one. He is The Most Interesting Man in the World, who prefers Dos Equis when he drinks beer, who has as much to say about the Brewers' chances as he does about rollerblading ("No"), and is a lover, not a fighter, but he's also a fighter too, so don't be getting any ideas. And when he thinks a Bob Howry is still good, then I too believe he is still good. How many times has he been wrong with us? Stay thirsty, my friends.
One more booze-related note - the Belvidere Vodka commercials with the tattoo addicts and the sick redhead sucking face are THE SINGLE MOST OBNOXIOUS THINGs I have ever witnessed? Agree?
Scott Eyre has been designated for assignment, according to Bruce Miles.
Now what does this mean? Well, in order to be designated for assignment, a player has to clear waivers. So Eyre has cleared waivers.
And remember - the "Assignment" in "Designated for Assignment" is to a team's minor league system. The upshot is that Eyre is now off the 40-man roster (which I believe now stands at 38 players.)
- The Cubs have seven days to trade Eyre, likely taking on salary to do so. The Yankees and the Red Sox were both interested at the deadline.
- If at the end of seven days the Cubs haven't traded Eyre, they can either assign Eyre to a minor league team or give him his outright release. Eyre can refuse an optional assignment, so it would be up to him, basically.
(EDIT: I should probably add that Kerry Wood was brought up to take his place.)