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After semi-successfully filling in as emergency depth last year – both in the rotation and in the bullpen – the Chicago Cubs have re-signed Rodrigo Lopez to a minor league deal.

He’ll come to Spring Training to compete, at most, for a chance to be the long-man out of the bullpen. It’s far more likely that he’ll head to Iowa and standby for the inevitable seven injuries in the rotation.

Last year, Lopez made 16 starts for the Cubs (and 10 relief appearances), and put up a not-awful 4.42 ERA. As a vet, stashed away in the minors, I’m pretty pleased Lopez is returning. Bruce Levine says Lopez will make $900k if/when he’s on the big league team, and $235k when he’s in the minors – which suggests the Cubs were pretty eager to have him as depth in the minors (and, if you really feel like extrapolating, suggests more rotation moves are on the way (but I wouldn’t go that far (it’s just for you eager extrapolators (hooray embedded parentheticals!)))).

Cubs President Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer have said that a good and prepared team knows who its eighth and ninth starters are, if it comes to that. Last year, the Cubs got burned by knowing only who their sixth starter was when Randy Wells and Andrew Cashner went down in the first week. The Cubs didn’t know who number seven was, and had to scramble to pick up Lopez and to get Doug Davis ready to pitch.

This year, at present, the Cubs go at least 10 deep in the rotation without really digging into the depths of the minors. In whatever order you choose, they are: Matt Garza, Ryan Dempster, Paul Maholm, Travis Wood, Chris Volstad, Randy Wells, Jeff Samardzija, Andy Sonnanstine, Lopez, and Casey Coleman.

  • SweetJamesJones

    God I just threw up.

  • Bren

    como se dice championship!?

  • CubFan Paul

    randy wells will be the odd man out at $2.7M, thats way too much for a reserve. he’ll be dumped like gorzelanny

  • curt

    omg if we get to lopez were on our way to a 100 losses, praying for extrapolating lol

  • chris margetis

    I’m sure this goes without saying, but let’s start printing those playoff tickets now.

  • TWC

    Man, you guys gotta cool it.  Ro-Lo was the best 4-inning starter we had last year!

    • http://bleachernation.com loyal100more

      this is the chicago medias counter to the yu darvish signing in texas. yeee hawww!!!

  • cubs4life

    you know lopez really wasnt that bad… and in a long relief role he would be pretty good.. if we all remember he would go through 5 innings and at least keep us in the game, and then time and time again, quade would leave him in there for the 6th inning and he would get knocked around.

  • http://bleachernation.com loyal100more

    i like this signing. very safe and with a lot of upside. i think this guy could be a long relief expert.

  • JR 1908

    Rodrigo Lopez… Exciting Stuff….

    • http://bleachernation.com loyal100more

      im taking the “far fetched” optimists position… ya hooo we got ro lo!!!

  • ferrets_bueller

    Do I need to post about the plethora of ways that having good AAA pitchers leads to better development of prospects and winning ways again?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Yes.

      • ferrets_bueller

        To quote myself following the Sonnanstine signing:

        “And even if he doesn’t end up playing in the majors for us, he provides AAA Sp depth, something Jim Hendry never understood the value of.

        You need consistant starters in AAA/AA for several reasons. One, it keeps your team from getting blown out, regardless of the strength of your farm system. Playing in close games, when you’re actually in contention to win, is very valuable to the development of prospects.

        Two, it prevents you from having to move guys up from AA to AAA before they’re ready, for sake of depth. It also helps you from leaning on guys too hard before they’re ready, out of necessity. Having guys of little future value, who can be consistent at AAA, allow you to have players to lean on without risking prized arms instead.

        When you’re trying to build a farm system, you need players like this in the system to aid in development.”

        Thought I had a longer one somewhere, but hopefully that should suffice for now, haha

        • http://bleachernation.com loyal100more

          great post and i agree.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          I just wanted to make sure folks saw it again. :)

        • http://bleachernation.com loyal100more

          this is a very insightful post and i hope that it made the rounds. it gave me a good point of view on the farm and the direct effect it has on the way talent is handled. as we will soon learn cub fans the way you bring along your talent in the farm has a tremendous impact on you rebuilding process, and putting together a quality club in general. great post!

    • TWC

      Yes.  Yes you do.

  • ferrets_bueller

    1

  • Ivy Walls

    He reminds me of the new LF’er on the movie ‘Sandlot’, “he’s all right” as the nth starter if we need ya?

    Actually I see the following Garza [traded], Dempster [goes FA for suppl draft pick], Wells [healthy comeback], Volstad [a little better than expected] Maholm [as expected] and Wood [good and bad], #6 Lopez, #7 Sonnastine, #8 McNutt, #9 Corpus, #10 ?

  • Leo Deleon

    I hope Ozzie doesn’t find out or he’ll take him out to eat then trade for him.

  • OHBearCub

    Lopez was good for 5 innings most of the time. Quads was so stupid it was hilarious you could watch the game on tv and say honey this Guy has pitched pretty good tonight. Buthe is going to get hammered this inning and Quade is going to leave him out there like Gatorade bait. Oops that was every night… my bad .. I was sleeping on the coasth and had a nightmare.

    • http://bleachernation.com loyal100more

      exactly… if better managed, better yet if better placed (the bullpen) he could end up being a great asset. at the price we payed and for a non roster deal, this is a great move.

      • die hard

        only if he follows someone throwing mainly heat at 94 or better and he comes in the 4th or 5th and leaves 7th at latest…..yes it could work…but as a starter, agree wont work

        • http://bleachernation.com loyal100more

          a slow starter that needs to maintain a pitch count of no more than about 40 pitches to be effective. that sounds like a bullpen gut to me… and if nothing else a cheap vet in AAA

  • OHBearCub

    Damned this phone changing
    My typing… pos

  • die hard

    I believe that the Braun suspension was engineered to level the playing field for the Cubs and other teams in the division because he has a decent defense to the charge which is being disregarded…the commish was concerned that if the Brewers ran away with it that attendance around this division would be way down…this way there can be a good give and take for 50 games until Braun returns so as to ignite fan interest in this weak division

    • http://bleachernation.com loyal100more

      selig would sabatoge his own team to generate cash flow in a weak spot.

    • hogie

      Diehard…you are amazing.

    • EtotheR

      Diehard…did the surgeons give you the chance to ask any questions before opening up your brain?

  • Leo Deleon

    Out of curiosity how many players went through the Red Sox system and helped them win a championship?

  • ty

    Diehard-you sure know how to keep us smiling!

    • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

      Somewhere at the intersection of lunacy and satire you will find a missing pill bottle with die hard’s name.

  • rocky8263

    Good for Rodrigo, good for the Cubs.

  • http://bleachernation ferris

    is it possible we trade byrd and wells along w/5 mil to bos for two ptbnl and an end to theo comp.this will also free up two forty man spots for us.Also theres no way we should just cut soriano,if the cubs brass are refusing to take back a bad contract then` were gonna be paying alot close to 50m of this deal we need to get 2 or 3 solid prospects if this is the case..if we just cut him the yanks will sign him for the league min. and the cubs will be stuck w.53+m and no prospects……im in favor of just keeping him before we do that.
    240-26-88….yes hes not good def. but we have those guys for after the seventh on.

    • http://bleachernation.com loyal100more

      not to mention soriano probably will lead this team in HR and RBI if he stays. ouch!

  • Stuart Williams

    If the cubs field a AAA team, maybe they should charge AAA prices….

  • http://bleachernation.com loyal100more

    than we would have to rebuild on a AAA payroll.

  • Leo Deleon

    I don’t believe all this AAA mum bow jumbo. Till someone can name me some people that whent through the Red Sox system to help them get 2 championships

    • DocWimsey

      Also, Youkilis, Lester (who came up late in 2007 and pitched well in post-season) and Delcamaran.

      Tek was, too, although Theo was in diapers when the Sox drafted him.  (George Herman sent a congratulatory pigeon.)

      Hanley Ramirez should be included here: Theo converted him into Beckett and Lowell, which was huge in ’07.  Using the farm to acquire big pieces has actually been the biggest contribution of “home grown” to championships over the last decade.  (Free agents lead in win shares, followed by guys acquired by trades.)

  • http://bleachernation.com loyal100more

    padroia,papalbon,elsbury

  • Leo Deleon

    Dice-k,Beckett, and Schilling were the key to there rings not the “system” guys.

  • Leo Deleon

    Oakland,Texas,Toronto great farm systems 0 championships

    • Kansas Cubs Fan

      What are you trying to say? That farm systems don’t win championships?

       

       

      • DocWimsey

        That obviously is his point.  Although he clearly knows nothing about the ’04 or ’07 Sox, he’s neither wrong nor right: all teams win (or lose) with a combination of: 1) free agents; 2) trade acquisitions; and, 3) farm products.  2 & 3 are not separate: often you use farm products to get veterans.

        That being said, people have broken down the numbers.  Last year, someone looked at the 20 pennant winners of the last 10 years, and found the win-shares to rank as:

        1. Free agents;
        2. Trade acquisitions;
        3. Farmhands.

        What that analysis did not separate was trade acquisitions that were basically contract buyouts involving non-prospects (e.g., Schilling) or “now” talent for “tomorrow” talent trades (e.g., Beckett & Lowell for HRam).

    • DocWimsey

      Um, in my reality, Texas has two AL championships in a row.  The A’s were perennial post-season teams: they just got unlucky in October.    The Rays have made 3 post-seasons, even if’ they’ve gotten only 1 AL championship out of it.

      Now, it is a dangerous route: the A’s farm system seemingly “dried up” largely because they had a good run of top prospects making it big in MLB followed by a run of top prospects not making it big.  TB certainly has been rolling snake eyes more often than probable, too: it seems like they never get a bust!

  • DocWimsey

    Sorry, but, no.  Peddy and Youk were huge in ’07.  Els came by late, but was big in post-season.

    Oh, and some guy named Papi usually gets a bit of credit.  (Yes, the Twins drafted him, but the dumped him because he was not good at small ball….)  Even in ’04, Varitek was big: in particular, getting his numbers out of the catchers slot was great.

    Have you ever even seen a Sox game?

  • Leo Deleon

    Papo came through the Mariners system

    • DocWimsey

      I had completely forgotten that: wasn’t Papi a farmhand traded for a name player to a contending M’s team?

      Ortiz’s history with the Twins is funny, or would be if it was not such a sad indictment of small ball.

  • Leo Deleon

    Oops Papi

  • T Larson

    You miss the point. Papi wasn’t a product of the farm system, but he was a missing piece picked up from the Twins. Just another smart move.

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