September 16, 2009
Senior Circuit Stragglers
Placed LF-R Alfonso Soriano on the 15-day DL (knee), retroactive to 9/4. [9/14]
Purchased the contract of OF-R So Taguchi from Iowa (Triple-A). [9/16]
This isn't really a setback as much as it's an opportunity to take looks at Micah Hoffpauir and Jake Fox in left field-except that's not what the Cubs seem to have in mind, preferring a more Soriano-like analog in starting Bobby Scales in left field in seven of their last 10. After all, he's a second baseman-ish sort of guy with pop, and he's lighter on his feet-maybe the home folks won't even notice the difference as they wrap up their season-ticket packages, right? It's a bit odd, in that Scales does have his uses, but starting left fielder in anything other than a pinch isn't really one of them, especially when you're porting around Fox and Hoffpauir. For all of the exaggerated enthusiasm for moving Soriano back to second base, that was out of a faith that Fox and Hoffpauir could be parked in left and take up the offensive slack, not out of any great faith that Soriano could play second any better than badly. Even if defensive concerns over Fox and Hoffpauir contribute to this odd bit of lineup selection, this would seem to me exaggerated, because the Cubs are still a team fielding a fine defense as a whole.
Activated RF-L Jay Bruce from the 15-day DL; recalled 3B-L Juan Francisco from Louisville (Triple-A). [9/14]
Activated OF-L Laynce Nix from the 15-day DL. [9/15]
Nix and Bruce were last night's starters in the outfield corners, not that I'd make too much of that, since I figure Jonny Gomes will stay in the rotation in some sort of job-sharing or platoon role. It can't really have come too soon (assuming Bruce is healthy), since Wladimir Balentien's been out with a finger injury, which has contributed to Darnell McDonald playing a lot more than the surgeon general recommends for robust offensive health. If Bruce gets to end a disastrous sophomore season on an 'up' note, that's something.
The truly interesting addition to the roster at this late date is Francisco, because the unusual prospect had an unusual/good season. Graduating to the upper levels of the minors in his age-22 season, Francisco raked in Double-A and built on it with a good three weeks or so in Triple-A, hitting a combined .295/.329/.518. Perhaps surprisingly, that didn't represent any better power, even having escaped the Florida State League (his ISO stayed flat), and his shortcomings stayed with him: he drew unintentional walks in just over three percent of his PAs, while struggling to keep his fielding percentage at third base above the Hobson line (.900), committing 39 errors, but also perhaps taking a page from the Bobby Bonilla hot-corner playbook by utilizing his strong arm to help turn 28 double plays. He also had a big platoon split during his time at Carolina, pulping right-handers at a .299/.334/.544 clip, but struggling to do much of anything against his fellow lefties (.235/.270/.387), and then doing all of his slugging damage against right-handers during his brief intro to Triple-A. It makes for an interesting blend that would exasperate an impatient manager if you focused on the negatives (the errors, the possible platoon limitation, the absence of patience), but power, good contact, that arm, and a big-league lineup with a dysfunctional offense could all combine to get Dusty Baker to look past the hazards. Scott Rolen isn't doing anything that doesn't suggest that shutting him down for next season might not just be the right idea, and Adam Rosales isn't worth "evaluating" any further, so working Francisco into the mix might be the best thing the Reds can do at the hot corner.
Recalled RHP Esmil Rogers from Colorado Springs (Triple-A). [9/12]
Outrighted RHP Adam Eaton to Colorado Springs. [9/13]
Thanks to roster expansion, there wasn't too much drama to slotting somebody into Ubaldo Jimenez's turn when his hamstring started barking enough to sit him down, but Jimenez's return in the already-absented Jose Contreras' slot wasn't cause for celebration, as he was rocked, and suddenly the Rockies are in the two steps back position as far as their rotation without having taken that one step forward for consolation. With Contreras out for a while and Jimenez struggling, they're counting on Rogers to help at a time when it isn't exactly clear that he's ready to. He'd been dominating in his Double-A stint at the start of the season, and wild and handily cuffed around in his 11 turns for the Sky Sox. While Rogers has a live arm, between the command issues and his rough intro to the PCL, I can't help but wonder if the Rox might not be better off turning to Jhoulys Chacin in their moment of need, because between Rogers, Josh Fogg, or Contreras once he's back, it's not like they have a great group of options as far as staying ahead of the Giants. I suppose such fretting over the fifth slot is somewhat academic; if Jimenez is still struggling come the postseason, I doubt we'll get another dose of Rocktober next month.
Placed RHP Billy Sadler on the 60-day DL; purchased the contract of RHP Chad Paronto from Round Rock (Triple-A). [9/16]
Recalled RHP Drew Carpenter from Lehigh Valley (Triple-A). [9/11]
Optioned RHP Drew Carpenter to Lakewood (High-A). [9/14]
Activated RHP Clay Condrey from the 15-day DL. [9/15]
Activated 4C-L Greg Dobbs from the 15-day DL. [9/16]
Outrighted C-R Luke Montz to Syracuse (Triple-A). [9/14]