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Yesterday the Chicago Cubs added a little bit of minor league depth, signing utility players Joe Mather and Edgar Gonzalez to minor league deals. The duo will presumably be invited to Spring Training.

Mather, 29, split 2011 between the Atlanta Braves and Colorado Rockies’ organizations. You may recognize his name as a former Cardinals farm-hand, who never quite put it all together. He had a good year with the Cardinals in 2008, but it’s been nothing but the minors and an occasional (unsuccessful) stint in the bigs since then. Most of Mather’s value comes from his ability to play all over the diamond, seeing time in the last couple of years at every outfield position, as well as first and third base. He hit quite well in the PCL (AAA) the last two years, but, then, who didn’t?

The most exciting thing you’ll read about Edgar Gonzalez, 33, is that he’s the older brother of Adrian. The excitement ends there.

Gonzalez last saw time in the bigs in 2009 with the Padres, playing all over the diamond, and hitting not terribly (his .255/.312/.381 MLB line doesn’t look like much, but he’s got a 91 OPS+ (Darwin Barney was at 83 last year (just sayin’))). He hasn’t been able to crack the bigs again since then, spending the interim years crushing it in the PCL. Like I said: everyone hits well in the PCL.

Obviously these moves are minor – both in a literal and figurative sense – but that doesn’t mean they aren’t also good. Although you want your upper levels of the minors to be full of prospects, the Cubs simply don’t have an abundance of upper level, top prospects. That means, unless they are going to continue the past practice of aggressively promoting youngsters, the Cubs were going to need some AAA depth. Thus, even if these guys never contribute at the big league level (and, to be clear – it’s nice to have them as depth in that regard, too), it’s good to have them in the organization. They aren’t really blocking anyone.

Throw in the fact that both can play all over the diamond in a pinch, and it’s nice to have guys like that at AAA, just in case.

  • PeteG

    There is a possibility Mather can be this year’s Bryan LaHair. Optimism never hurts!

  • jt

    wasn’t edgar the guy that took one to the dome and was out for a while a couple of years back?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Doesn’t ring a bell (no pun intended), but that could explain his abrupt departure from the bigs.

  • ty

    this pickup of 29 and 33 yr. old fillers is worrisome! Could be that prospects that we owe will be gone soon!

    • http://cubbiescrib.com Luke

      Nothing to worry about. There will be more legit prospects in Iowa next season than there were last season, but the vast bulk of the Cubs’ talent is in the low minors. If these guys ever block a prospect from progressing, they’ll be waived, traded, or allowed to sign in Japan.

      If the Cubs do start dealing some prospects… which may not be a bad idea depending on the prospects and the trade… it will likely be from players deeper in the system.

    • Wilbur

      The front office has to not only field 25 guys on the MLB roster, they need to fully stock AAA, AA and couple of A teams. That’s a lot of bodies to keep in motion. Every year players for a lot of reasons leave your system – they quit baseball, baseball tells them to quit, injuries, trades, promotions, etc.

      Knowing that every major league team will rotate 35 to 40 people through the MLB roster annually means you’re constantly either promoting AA or AAA players to play a game, a week or a month and then sending many back down. If the franchise is weak on AA or AAA players (and we’ve heard a lot on that issue the last few months) you have to go out and sign whoever is on the market to play in Iowa and maybe make a cameo appearance in Chicago.

      Every move/signing is not about somebody who is targeted for the “bigs”!

      • http://bleachernation ferris

        exactly someone has to be the crash davis (bull durham) type…..the stable mate for some better prospect or the preverbial ptbnl

  • ty

    In response to the notes on barbaro Garbey he is a coach in our minor league organization. Hard worker and well liked .

  • die hard

    If this is the way Boston was made into a contender, hats off to the Boston fans for having the patience of Job

    • fester30

      Keep in mind the 2004 Red Sox champs were built on Dan Duquette’s work from 1994 through 2002. Epstein just had to do some fine tweaks to what was already a very strong core and system, and then keep that core and system strong for a few years for the next champs. This is his first effort at a complete rebuild, so in a way we’re watching him do this for the first time. Red Sox fans didn’t need patience with Theo, but they did with the 8 Duquette years as he built the winner Theo benefited from. It’s why I’m still not sold on the Epstein thing, but I’m hopeful. I was pulling for Friedman to get the job.

      • http://bleachernation.com loyal100more

        not to mention the changes in the CBA

      • Joe

        I don’t think you can some up what Epstein did in Boston as “fine tweaks” Ellsbury, Pedroia, Bard, Papelbon, Buckholtz, Ortiz, and many many others. I agree that he has a ton of work to do, but people shouldn’t sell him short either.

      • Kansas Cubs Fan

        Why do people keep bringing this up? I’m not going into details because its been done countless times but Epstein did his fair share of work for the ’04 team. Lets not forget that he drafted Ellsbury and Pedroia either.

        People need to quit whining about Epstein he is hired and will be here for the next 5 years. He has done a good job in the 3 months hes been here, so has Jed who is the GM if you hadn’t noticed.

        • http://bleachernation.com loyal100more

          im gonna give theo and co. there time and space and as i expect all other cub fans to do… im gonna want results…end of the theo discussion…next

        • JasonB

          The funniest part about it is that the people who are whining now are 1) probably the ones who wanted to run Hendry out of town because he signed too many overrated players to terrible contracts and 2) the ones who will cheering the loudest for Theo five years from now when we’ve just rattled off three straight playoff appearances.

          And with a fan base like this, no wonder why the Cubs took the we must win now approach over the last decade.

          • JR1908

            Personally, I hated Hendry even win the Cubs were winning. He has always been terrible..

            • Bric

              Two words… Milton Bradley

        • BetterNews

          Kansas—How can you say that? Cubs haven’t played a single game under Theo and Jed and your claiming they have done a good job. You are basing your statement on what? I am not saying they have done a bad job, but this is all just starting to transpire.

          • Rick Vaughn

            “You are basing your statement on what?”

            I think he’s basing it on, I don’t know, his opinion maybe?

            And Kansas, I wish everyone could see the many comments that you and others have posted showing what Theo did to build those Boston teams. Pretty impressive what he did over there. You should just compound all that stuff into one big signature for all your posts so people could maybe chill out and show some patience and confidence for the new regime.

            And just for the record, I’ve been very satisfied with the front office so far. I hate seeing Zambrano go, but it’s probably for the best and I hope he figures it out down in Miami. This team got a whole lot less exciting to watch today.

            • BetterNews

              Rick, the team hasn’t been excitng in 3 years. Not seeing “tantrums” by Baby Huey makes them worse? Please.

              • Brian Myers

                While I do agree, I will state there is an interesting point in there. Who on this team will make you excited by just showing up to play?

                Castro I enjoy, but he doesn’t actually make me excited.

                Carlos Marmol… maybe, but it’s in a Mitch Williams kind of way, you get excited because it could be heaven or hell.

                Soriano… a HR, a SO or an error waiting to happen.

                Dempster? Not really…

                Bryan LaHair? Maybe.

                …but when Reed Johnson becomes an exciting player on your club, it’s tough to get excited about the club in general, even if it is going in the right direction.

            • Kansas Cubs Fan

              Thanks Vaughn!

              I don’t know about you guys but Starlin was just about the only reason I kept watching Cubs games last year. If you guys don’t find him to be an exciting Cubs baseball player you should check your pulse.

          • Kansas Cubs Fan

            BetterNews- Theo and Jed have done a good job by trading Zambrano for a 25 year old starting pitcher. In my opinion they have done a good job by trading Marshall for T Wood, Sappelt and Torreyes.

            By the way I’m a Zambrano fan, and an even bigger Marshall fan.

             

            • BetterNews

              Kansas–I can appreciate your enthusiasm! However, the fact remains Volstad is not very good. He might not even start 2012. I like the fact that he is only 25 and seems to be a work horse. We’ll see.

              I used to be a Zambrano fan also, and like you, a big a Marshall fan. The Marshall deal looks more promising for sure.

        • fester30

          I didn’t say these things to whine or complain about the current front office. I love what Ricketts is doing. I am just the voice of caution. Someone commented that Red Sox must have needed patience with Theo. I was simply pointing out that they really didn’t. They won in his 3rd year. Sure, he had a lot to do with their 2 championships. He also made a few bad decisions, not the least of which was Crawford. I remember when Andy McPhail was the Theo of the 90s. Cubs got him. What came of that? I think future Cubs’ success will have more to do with what Ricketts is doing than anything. The way he’s trying to improve the stadium and area around it… what he does with TV deals… what he’s doing with minor league and spring training facilities, and continuing to hire smart people.

    • Martin

      Job had to wait more than two whole months? Wow.

  • ty

    so 33 year old edgar gets a job–older brother of Red Sox Adrian Gonzalez. Wonder how that happened?

  • coal

    I don’t follow the Red Sox or Theo (before Starbucks) enough to know about the 2004 club, etc. but there is no disputing that the Red Sox have been a great team (yes, with a lot of $ to spend) over the past decade. Even if he wasn’t the sole architect, he was a in pretty important position for a number of years and clearly learned some stuff about how a succesful oranization does — and doesn’t — do things. We could do a lot worse than having a GM who could at least say “what would we have done in Boston?” – and I think we have a lot more than that on our hands.

  • barroof

    WOW !!! Was this a waste of my time. When is the Cubs press conference for this exciting group of guys ? Won’t somebody follow this up with a comment about how we don’t have team control over these older guys ?

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