A Little More on New Cub Adrian Cardenas

Photo by Michael O'Day/MLB.com

Yesterday, the Chicago Cubs picked up one utility infielder and dropped another. Adrian Cardenas came in from the A’s and Blake DeWitt went out by way of a DFA (which could see him traded, released, claimed, or sent to AAA Iowa within the next seven to ten days).

The broad consensus is that the Cubs dropped DeWitt in favor of a cheaper, younger, better-hitting (though less power), more versatile, slightly worse defender. On the balance, it’s easy to see why the Cubs made the move, even if Cardenas isn’t anyone who’s going to knock your socks off. Like DeWitt, Cardenas is no lock to make the Cubs’ 25-man roster out of Spring, but, because he’s theoretically able to back up shortstop (where DeWitt wasn’t), he’s got a leg up.

In the wake of the move, there were a number of reactions, pontifications, etc. about Cardenas, and there are also a number of useful background bits on him:

  • Cardenas was, before the Gio Gonzalez trade, the A’s 12th ranked prospect according to Baseball America – that’s a pretty nice prospect to pick up for free. He’s frequently described as having an excellent approach at the plate, good contact skills, uses all field, etc. But he’s also frequently described as lacking any semblance of power, and having only mediocre base running skills. His defense is called “fringy,” and he apparently doesn’t look particularly fluid at shortstop or second base. He played a fair bit of left field last year, and can also play third base, so he’s passable in a number of positions – he just doesn’t play any of them particularly well.
  • Before 2010, Cardenas was consistently considered one of the best prospects in baseball. He was the high school player of the year in 2006, and was a supplemental first round pick that year by the Phillies (he came to the A’s in the Joe Blanton trade). He was roundly considered a top 100 prospect in baseball back in 2008 and 2009. But the defense didn’t come along, and the bat didn’t explode to such a level as to overcome the defensive issues. He’s got a great bat for a middle infielder, but he doesn’t have the glove to be a regular in the middle infield, according to most.
  • BP’s Kevin Goldstein wasn’t all too impressed with the pickup, questioning why, if Cardenas was someone worth giving a job, he was even available in the first place. He went on to say that Cardenas “can hit,” but is “a really bad infielder.”
  • On a battle between Cardenas and Darwin Barney, such as one would ever exist, Goldstein was clear: “Darwin Barney shouldn’t play every day, but he’s a wonderful defender and 80 makeup guy. He’ll still be in MLB when Cardenas is forgotten.”
  • That all said, I asked Goldstein whether he thought DeWitt would be claimed off waivers (if the Cubs can’t find a trade partner), and, if so, whether the Cubs are better off with Cardenas and $600k (the difference between DeWitt’s and Cardenas’ salaries). He indicated that DeWitt would probably be claimed, and that the Cubs are probably better off with Cardenas and the cash. In other words, even someone who’s unimpressed by Cardenas thinks the move was probably a net gain for the Cubs.
  • When Cardenas was DFA’d by the A’s a week and a half ago, Yankees’ blog River Avenue Blues gave him a pretty thorough review. RAB went through Cardenas’ pros and cons, and lands about where you’d expect – good hitter, nice upside, bad defense.
  • One thing to keep in mind on Cardenas – he’s still got two option years left, so it’s not as though the Cubs have to either open the season with him or lose him completely. He could make some time at AAA Iowa to start the year, if it were required.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

93 responses to “A Little More on New Cub Adrian Cardenas”

  1. MightyBear

    Brett, as usual, another stellar job. Good info.

  2. BD

    I believe it’s more likely to teach a bad fielder how to field than it is to teach a bad hitter how to hit.

    Based on that (and saving $600k), I’d say this move is swell.

  3. CubFan Paul

    i think Cardenas would be the 7th hitter if the season started today
    1. RF Dejesus
    2. CF Byrd
    3. 3B Stewart
    4. SS Castro
    5. 1B LaHair
    6. LF Soriano
    7. 2B Cardenas
    8. C Soto

    yes, castro is batting clean up ..i like it

    1. CubFan Paul

      i like the lefty/righty balance that Theo&Co have added. after digging into John Arguello’s lineup series over at cubs den that explains the ‘old’ & ‘new’ school thoughts/ways on each spot in the lineup I still went against the grain & put Castro 4th ( http://www.chicagonow.com/cubs-den/2012/02/cubs-lineup-the-clean-up-hitter/ )

      ..basically we’re still an impact bat away (Fielder) from scoring consistently. replacing Soriano with Cespedes won’t do much offensively, unless he’s a .285plus power hitter (scouts says .250-.275BA). But, replacing Byrd and Soriano with Cespedes and Brett Jackson midseason would light a fire with more speed (& power from BJax)

      1. RF Dejesus
      2. CF/LF BJax
      3. 1B LaHair
      4. SS Castro
      5. 3B Stewart
      6. LF/CF Cespedes
      7. 2B Cardenas
      8. C Soto

      but no matter the combination, with the new Lefties, I keep coming up with Castro as the Clean Up hitter to split up the Lefties that we need to be successfull (lahair and stewart) ..against a LH pitcher these lineups go to hell because the utility/backup guys have no power -OF sappelt, 1B/3B baker, 2B barney, OF r.johnson

      1. CubFan Paul

        This team just doesn’t have a Clean-up hitter. I wonder if Theo&Co see Cespedes as that type of player (i don’t).

  4. Alex

    Tom from Cubs Den posted a comment on his site and on Twitter that MLB Radio said Selig was near a decision. And a name being tossed around was Josh Vitters as compensation for Theo to the Red Sox.


    I’m not crazy about this, but oh well. Lets finally put this behind us and move on.

    1. Cheryl

      Maybe, if Vitters is the one, it would be best for him. And, as you say, let’s get it settled.

  5. Big Joe

    Starting to wonder…if the big league club, and the AAA Iowa team played a seven game series, who would win? Could you tell them apart? Not trying to be negative here. But, with each passing day, another player that I’ve never heard of is picked up. On the other hand, the competition is busy buying up the high-level talent. I realize there is a plan, but I fail to see the logic in grabbing up every utility/fringe player out there…bounce-back/high upside, or not. Gambling on guys that other teams have written off doesn’t excite me in the least. Yes, yes, I know there is a plan. That plan is shaping up to be a much longer developing scenario with each new transaction. In my opinion, this year’s team may have Cub fans begging for last year’s team. A 100 loss season is very much a possibility.

  6. die hard

    They must think they need more hitting and can work with him on his fielding….or hes going to be packaged in trade before camp opens

  7. Jeremy

    Can anybody explain to me why in the Cubs chat today on Espn Chicago Bruce Levine discussed Junior Lake being able to hit? From everything Ive read about him he struggles with plate discipline and strikes out a ton where in the world would Bruce be getting this info?

  8. curt

    this move is a mystery to me they sign dewitt to a deal now dfa him in favor of a guy who doesnt play real well defensively, which btw were told over and over pitching and defense wins championships he doesent pitch obviously and from what im reading plays spotty defense so other than saving money whats the point just wondering.

  9. MightyBear

    No way we should have to give up Vitters or Lake. If Selig does that, he’s a bigger idiot than I thought.

    1. Alex

      Selig unfortunately is a bigger idiot than everyone thinks.

      1. Toosh

        I’ve always thought Selig was a bigger idiot than some people.

        1. Luis Salazar

          I have never met anyone who doesn’t think Selig is a complete and raging dumbass… This comp. thing got scary when it was put in his hands.

          1. Cubbiecop

            I’d be more angry with giving up Lake than Vitters to be honest. I think there is more upside with Lake. Vitters might prove me wrong if he gets a change of teams. I think that is a bit steep for compensation, low level prospect that we DID NOT JUST DRAFT. I’d be royally pissed if we gave up Vogelbach. I think he is gonna be a beast!!

            1. JulioZuleta

              I’d rather give up Vitters as well, but not by much. I’d be sick if Lake left and we saw him hit his potential (unlikely). It won’t be a 2011 draftee, they can’t change teams until 1 year after they signed, which is August for most of them.

          2. baseballet

            I’m curious why everyone always dumps on Selig. Nobody ever mentions anything specific, they just say they hate him. I don’t know anything about him or the decisions he’s made–he may in fact deserve scorn–but I remember hearing Steve Stone gush about how fantastic he’s been for baseball, so I’m curious why commenters always express their distaste for him.

            1. Toosh

              The owners like him. What baseball really needs, though, is a leader that both sides have agreed on. The way it’s set up now, the Commissioner works for the owners.

            2. WGNstatic

              That is a good question baseballet.

              There are certainly aspects of how MLB is run that frustrates many fans. Most notably are some of the blackout rules on broadcasts and the All-Star game thing.

              That said, there are other aspects that he should get some credit for (even if purists don’t like it), such as interleague play. Most forget/ignore that he also was at the helm for the institution of the Wild Card playoff format, again, something that some purists don’t like, but we could all probably agree has been good for baseball.

              He comes off as a retired used car salesman from Milwaukee. So, I think the disdain is more based on that than any real reason to dislike him.

              1. baseballet

                Thanks WGNstatic. I love the wild card, which is a huge improvement, and I also love interleague play. I’ve seen the Cubs play the Mets in NY and look forward to see them play the Twins in Mpls this year. So if he’s responsible for both of those then kudos.
                If he’s done anything terrible to baseball I’m curious to hear what it is. There’s so much venom on the blogs every time his name comes up.

                1. Toosh

                  It’s a long list, but I’ll start with this. Letting the All-Star game decide who gets home field advantage for the World Series.

                  1. TWC

                    I think you could start and end with that and I’d say you’d have made a pretty strong case.

                    1. Luke

                      On the other hand, the Wild Card is also his work. That one has worked out very well. The World Cup isn’t such a bad thing either, especially if baseball can’t get back into the Olympics. And while the 94 debacle is on his resume, so is 20+ years of labor peace. I gotta give the guy some credit for that.

                      I’ll be glad when he retires – no one should hold a job like that for that long – but I can’t agree that he’s an idiot or has been bad for baseball. In fact, when I look at labor peace and the wild card, I think I have to put him in the Hall of Fame as a Commissioner. And that’s despite the All-Star game nonsense.

                    2. Toosh

                      Don’t mind the Wild Card the way it is now but the addition of another Wild Card in each league and then a 1 game sudden death matchup? Ridiculous! Cancelling the ’94 postseason, giving tacit approval to steroid abuse because fans were coming back to the game, etc.

                    3. hansman1982

                      Toosh, I disagree. Right now, there isn’t much of a disadvantage to getting the Wild Card over the divisional crown and at time teams may prefer the Wild Card due to matchups.
                      Instituting a 1 game play-in is a good way to spur teams to maybe play harder for the divisional crown at the end of the season and ensures that every year we get 1 exciting win-or-go home game. If you don’t want to play in that game or think its unfair to get one shot to make it in the playoffs – win your division.

                  2. WGNstatic

                    I whole heartedly agree, the All-Star game – World Series thing, is, well, just dumb.

                    That said, I still think that despite being an oafish, ham-handed, used car salesman, Bud Selig has been a decent commissioner.

                    1. BetterNews

                      Don’t use the word dumb around here.YOU WIL BE BLACK BALLED.

  10. Andrewmoore4isu

    Who’s the guy that we let go that always played second and
    Shortstop like a gold glover but could barely hit .200? I think he went to Texas…? Backed up theriot and fonteno…? Gah I’m drawing a blank

    1. Luke

      Andreas Blanco?

    2. chris margetis

      It was Blanco. He was arguably the best fielder I have ever seen with the Cubs. Also, couldn’t hit his weight unfortunately.

      1. Bric

        If I recall, Blanco was traded to the Rangers who needed a utility infielder for a “player to be named later” who never was. I viewed it as informal compensation by Hendry for Jarimillo. Even though he couldn’t hit and I believe eventually got waived, he still got a World Series Ring out of it. And the Cubs got nothing.

        1. Luke

          His contract was purchased by the Rangers (ie: traded for cash considerations). He was with Texas off and on in both 2010 and 2011. This spring he’ll report to camp as a National.

  11. Idaho Razorback

    I like the Cardenas move. Low risk, high reward. Blake DeWitt is a nothing. Hell, I’d rather have Joyce DeWitt play 2nd. As far as compenstion to the Red Sox, at this point in their careers I think Lake has more upside than Vitters, I’d rather loose Vitters.

  12. Russ

    Whatever the compensation turns out to be, it it shall be a trivial price for a Championship.

  13. Alex

    I hope this means that the agreement the Cubs have with the Red Sox to not raid their front office for 3 years is now voided.

    I thought that would be part of the agreement if the Cubs and Red Sox settled the compensation issue. Now since that won’t be the case I hope Theo raids every non-contracted employee in the Red Sox organization.

  14. Dick

    If the Cubs lose Vitters or Lake as compensation, they will have lost or given away
    Cashner, LeMahieu, Flaherty, Colvin, Vitters/Lake, and Gonzalez – in other words, almost every near major league player in their farm system when Theo, Jed, and company arrived. And we still have Soriano, Byrd, and all the other old hopeless players from last year. I hope Rizzo, Torreyes, and a couple others turn out to be good, but I’m not impressed with our new regime’s performance thus far. The Cubs all-time record for losses is 103, and I’m afraid they are going to test it this year and next year.

    1. Martin

      You realize that, outside of Cashner and (maybe) Lake, none of those players are any good, right?

    2. Toosh

      The players you mention are Hendry’s suspects, I mean prospects. Which means they never would have panned out with the Cubs.

  15. Alex

    Now I don’t feel so bad.. I was texting back and forth with my buddy who is a Red Sox fan. He said he will be pissed if the Sox get either Vitters or Lake. He is still pissin’ and moanin’ about wanting Garza (who they were never going to get) and/or Brett Jackson as compensation.

    He said they don’t need Vitters nor Lake, because they have Middlebrooks and Bogaerts and that neither Vitters or Lake will be a Top 10 prospect for the Red Sox.

    Maybe that’s what Selig was going for. Something in the middle. They asked for the moon, we offered the floor. This way both fan bases will be dissatisfied.

  16. Clark Addison

    I have little confidence in Selig. He’s always been Reinsdorf’s tool. As such, he could stick it to the Cubs.

  17. Luis Salazar

    It also sucks that Selig is directly involved with the Brewers. It would only help his team by weakening a division rival’s future.

    1. KCubsfan

      The Cubs are weak enough right now they dont Selig help to weaken anymore. I dont think He will do anything out of spite

      1. Turn Two

        Agreed, logically Bud would have every incentive to want the Cubs to be good. When the Cubs are in the playoffs, people are watching the playoffs.

  18. oswego chris

    MLB trade rumors with a couple of sources saying that Cespedes wants to play in Miami…fine in my opinion…big gamble for a 26 year old guy….

  19. 2much2say

    Cubs: “We would like to talk to Ebstein” Boston: We need significant comp Kenney: Like? Boston: Garza? Kenney: Sure Ricketts: “He was kidding” (gives Kenney the stink eye) Ricketts whispers to Kenney (stfu) Kenney: “Can I just run the business side? “ Ricketts: “You mean like Mcdonalds?” Kenney: ”Yep” Ricketts: ”OK” ….2 weeks later Ricketts: “Who paid 20 ml for the Mcdonalds?” Kenney: “Was that wrong? I mean you said?” Ricketts: “Is there a big sign on my head that says Screw me?” Kenney: “No”
    2 weeks later Ricketts: “Who ordered a 75 foot Sign?” Kenney: “That would be me” Ricketts: “I give up” Kenney: “Does that mean I am CEO now?”

  20. ferrets_bueller

    I would MUCH, MUCH, MUCH, MUCH, MUCH rather give up Lake.

  21. LouCub

    Look it’s not a lateral move it was a major promotion he never would have gotten in Boston PERIOD!!!!! Vitters is still a young player and still a top 10 prospect whose improved every year…It’s bullshit and a very dangerous precedent to boot…. Look when Larry the douchebag Lucchino asked the BlueJays for permission to interview John Farrell Alex Anthhoweveryouspellhisname asked for Clay Bucholz for compensation, the jerk off said no…His demands are ridiculous…He should not recieve any top 10 prospect or anyone on the 40 man roster..however i’d have no issue giving them Jeff Baker or Marlon Byrd..

    1. KCubsfan

      Vitters and Lake are nothing in the big plan. You care just get this compensation over with if it takes Lake or Vitters even better they will not have an impact on the Cubs future.

    2. Brady

      Ill just throw Dewitt’s name out there since he is no longer on the 40 man roster.

  22. Shawn

    Theo was given a promotion and the compensation could be a top ten prospect in the system. I can only imagine what the Padres would ask for in a lateral move for Hoyer. The relationship between the two clubs may be swell, but as they say in The Godfather, “Its not personal, its business”.

    1. KCubsfan

      The padres wanted Byrnes as their GM from the beginning but he was the GM of the DBacks when Hoyer was hired. So this worked out very well for the Padres in their minds so I dont see it costing that much.

    2. die hard

      OT… movie trivia….who was first to say that in the movie and to whom and under what circumstances

  23. ferris

    the comp shoulda been done at time of deal…heres a list pick one that simple.problem is red sox even tho they gave permission are bitter because he took guys with him……..basically they didnt think he’d actually leave imo

  24. BetterNews

    Now i’m mad! I never said anything against a person unless a jusifieable comment was unleashed.”

  25. Adrian Cardenas Expected to Be Called Up to the Chicago Cubs Today | Bleacher Nation | Chicago Cubs News, Rumors, and Commentary

    [...] Here’s part of what I said about Cardenas the first time the Cubs DFA’d Blake DeWitt to make room for him, and it’s still pretty applicable: The broad consensus is that the Cubs dropped DeWitt in favor of a cheaper, younger, better-hitting (though less power), more versatile, slightly worse defender. On the balance, it’s easy to see why the Cubs made the move, even if Cardenas isn’t anyone who’s going to knock your socks off. Like DeWitt, Cardenas is no lock to make the Cubs’ 25-man roster out of Spring, but, because he’s theoretically able to back up shortstop (where DeWitt wasn’t), he’s got a leg up. [...]