Welcome to the Bigs, Part I (of II?)

The Cubs have called up 4 guys to supplement the team, all from Iowa, added two guys from the D.L., and made a few other roster moves, all of which will be detailed here. This is the first of likely two groups coming to Chicago...the Cubs are expected to make another selection after the I-Cubs finish the playoffs, although Lou only wanted about 6 guys and 6 guys have been added. To show all you loyal TD fans how accurate I was at making these predictions, you can look back at Late Season Help, Part I and Part II.

Additions from Iowa

Koyie Hill-the Cubs purchased the contract of Koyie Hill, which was required to add him to the 40 man roster. I thought Hill was on the fence...actually, I thought he wasn't on the Cubs radar until I read reports to the contrary. My feeling was that although the Cubs would welcome a third catcher 1) Hank White doesn't play enough to warrant any loss of P.T., so all the Cubs needed was an emergency catcher and 2) Koyie Hill wasn't a prospect deserving an addition to the 40 man roster. But what I've learned is that this is more of a loyalty issue. The Cubs had Hill on the 40 man roster last year, during the Barrett fight transition to Rob Bowen transition to Jason Kendall days, all with Hank White battling neck issues. He was then designated for assignment to clear him from the 40 man roster, cleared waivers after being DFA'd, and rejoined the I-Cubs. After last year, he once again signed a minor league deal to stay with the Cubs. So the Cubs are rewarding his loyalty to the organization.

But what can Hill bring to Chicago? Well, he handles a pitching staff well, as the Cubs excelled last year with him behind the dish. He didn't hit at all for the big club last year (.161 BA), but had a solid offensive year at Iowa this year. He hit .275 with 17 HR's in 113 games.

Michael Wuertz-I put Wuertz as a lock to return, not because of what he did at Iowa, but because he was the best of the relievers at Chicago before the demotion. Wuertz' last performance prior to the demotion was a rough one, leaving a sour taste in many a Cubs fans mind; a 4 run appearance in relief against Cincinnati and his 4th appearance of his last 6 in which he allowed a run to score.

Wuertz was sent down in July, and while he didn't dominate, his number mirror his work at Chicago. He pitched in 17 games and had an ERA of 3.60, including 4 saves. His concerning number is the 14 walks he allowed in 20 innings of work. He probably stays in Lou's doghouse unless/until the Cubs need pitching or they've clinched a spot in the post-season.

Micah Hoffpauir-The only reason the Cubs wouldn't have called up Hoff is if they were concerned about winning the PCL championship. He probably will spell D.Lee a little at the 1-sack position and could even see some time in the OF, because after all, even without much PT in the OF, he will still probably be better than Sori. With D-Ward hitting .232 and only having 4 hits since July 28th, Hoff may be auditioning for a spot on the post-season roster. Lou probably goes with the veteran and primary pinch hitter, but Hoff's play in the next month could force Lou's hand.

These are the numbers you've all been waiting for: Micah Hoffpauir's final numbers at Iowa. First, the averages: .362 batting average, .752 slugging percentage, 1.145 OPS. A 1.145 OPS is something guys have for a game, or a week's timespan; not an entire year. Now, the numbers, in 71 games, 290 AB's: 25 HR's (roughly 1 per 12 plate appearances), 100 RBI's (1.4 per game), 63 runs (0.89 per game), 34 doubles (almost one per every two games).

Casey McGehee-Casey McGehee is a surprise pick. That is, a surprise to everyone who doesn't read TD. I have yet to find an article stating that McGehee was being considered, except the article I posted saying he was a long-shot. McGehee is a solid addition because he provides depth at the Cubs shortest position, 3rd base. He can also catch, if needed, allowing Lou to have an emergency plan if a game goes late into the night and he wants to save his regulars. McGehee also is in the 6th year of his career; if the Cubs didn't add him to the roster, he would be free to leave via free agency.

The fact that McGehee plays third weighed into the decision, but he certainly provided the numbers to back it up. In 133 games for Iowa, McGehee hit a solid .296 with a .345 OBP. He had 12 HR's and 92 RBI's. He was a clutch hitter, hitting .312 with runner's on and .323 with runner's in scoring position.

The Others

Jon Lieber-the Cubs removed Lieber from the D.L. and returned to the active roster (as I predicted), giving them some more pitching depth. Whether Lieber makes the post-season roster is to be seen. With the depth they have, you would probably say no, but he could take the spot of Jason Marquis if Lou decides Marquis can't pitch in relief.

Lieber spent a little bit of time in Peoria, first making a start at the beginning of August, and then making a couple of relief appearances in the last week. He allowed 3 runs in his start, but pitched 4 scoreless innings of relief in his two appearances this past week.

Angel Guzman-Guzman was also removed from the D.L. and returned to the active roster (as, once again, I predicted). Of all the pitchers who were recalled, he may have the best shot at making the post-season. The Cubs are fond of Guzman, as evidenced by the fact they've kept him despite being injured so often. Since he was removed from the 60 day D.L., he now occupies a regular roster spot counting to the 40 man limit.

Guzman progressed slowly through the minors on his rehab, throwing 2 games in Daytona, a game in Tennessee, and 4 in Iowa. Overall, he had a 1.59 ERA in 7 appearances lasting 17 innings. He struck out 20 and only walked 4.

Chad Fox-Chad Fox moved from the 15 day D.L. to the 60 day D.L., as I predicted would happen. Man, I'm good. That move was necessary to allow the Cubs to add Angel Guzman from the 60 day D.L. and select Casey McGehee's contract and select Koyie Hill's contract, meaning that the Cubs are now at their 40 man limit. Technically, the Cubs could still move Rich Hill to the 60 day D.L. if they feel the need to add another player not on the 40 man roster. That move would likely be to add Jose Ceda, who may be headed to supplement the I-Cubs playoff run, now that they have lost Guzman and Wuertz.

Rich Hill-the Cubs placed Rich Hill on the major league disabled list, instead of having him back in the minors and being on the minor league disabled list. Why? Well, if I understand my post-season roster rules correctly, Hill being on the D.L. helps provide Lou with more flexibility. In order to be on the post-season roster, you must be on a team's 25 man roster before September 1st. Essentially, that means that all of the guy's called up would be ineligible for post-season play. But, it is my understanding that guys on the 25 man roster essentially occupy a spot on that "25" man roster, meaning that if they return from injury, they can be in the playoffs. Now the Cubs aren't planning to bring Hill back to pitch in the playoffs, but the rules also state that if a guy isn't able to play, you can substitute another player for him. So essentially, Rich Hill being on the major league D.L. allows the Cubs to substitute him, if they need to, when it comes time for the post-season.

To attempt to simplify this, let's look at the Cubs roster. As of September 1st, the D.L. included Jon Lieber, Chad Fox, Rich Hill, and Angel Guzman. So, Lieber and Guzman can be added to the post-season roster because they were on the D.L. on 9/1 but healthy now. If Chad Fox and/or Rich Hill were to become healthy, they would be eligible. But since they aren't going to be (looking into my crystal ball), the Cubs can substitute other guys to take their spots. So, if Lou wants to add two guys added after the September 1 deadline (say, Micah Hoffpauir and Michael Wuertz), he can.

Welington Castillo-Castillo is still under the Cubs control for another two years, so he was not added to the 40 man roster and likely won't be, unless all the Cubs catchers go on the D.L. But Castillo was promoted to Iowa, in order to replace Koyie Hill on the I-Cubs playoff roster. With Hill and McGehee headed to Chicago, the move was necessitated immediately. The I-Cubs have two days off before they start the playoffs, so the remaining additions have time to be discussed.

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September 3, 2008 at 5:48 AM

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