As expected (well, by me anyway), today the Chicago Cubs are expected to call up 24-year-old infielder Adrian Cardenas to take the spot (nominally) of Travis Wood. He’s actually taking the spot of infielder Blake DeWitt, who was DFA’d to make room for Wood yesterday.

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.

Head to that link if you want more on Cardenas’ background and scouting report.

Since being picked up, Cardenas has torn up the PCL, hitting so well that teammate Anthony Rizzo calls Cardenas the best hitter on the Iowa Cubs. He’s currently hitting .319/.376/.521 in 26 games at Iowa. Those numbers square with his solid minor league career. His best stat from the minors this year? He’s taken 11 walks and struck out just five times. Yo.

Cardenas is a kid who can hit, but who doesn’t have much power, and doesn’t play any infield position particularly well (he can play them all, though). He’s a lefty, so he could see some starts at second base (or shortstop in a pinch), to give Darwin Barney a day off or two. Maybe more if he hits in the bigs.

  • Nick Pipitone

    So wait, did DeWitt get picked up by someone?

    • wax_eagle

      no, he was designated for assignment, the only way he can come back to the club is if he is not picked up off of waivers, accepts his minor league assignment and then the Cubs send someone back down. (Probably also a short waiting period as well).

  • Jay Anderson Jr

    Him over Dewitt is pretty obvious. I wish Wood could have stayed up. I would have DFA Marmol and moved Volstad to the pen, or kept Wood in the pen. We’ll see Wood before to long though.

  • Luke

    Before the Cubs got him, Cardenas was being converted to an outfielder.  At least some scouts thought he could hit enough to play in left, and while he wasn’t great defensively out there, he made the plays you’d expect a left fielder to make.

    • Jay Anderson Jr

      So does this mean we might see him out there too. Between Him, Mather, and even though I don’t really like Baker, we have 3 bench players who can play almost any position. The versatility of those guys may allow us to carry an extra pitcher.

  • Dustin

    How is his speed?

  • CubFan Paul

    “..more versatile, slightly worse defender”

    No way DeWitt is better than Cardenas at 2B …DeWitt runs through wet concrete for balls then just falls -five feet short every time

    • Brett

      I thought Cardenas looked pretty good out there this Spring, but that was the scouting consensus as of February.

  • David

    Hopefully Cardenas can field well enough to supplant Barney from the majority of starts at 2B. I like Barney, but I think as an everyday player he’s just not good enough with the bat to justify his superior glove. He’s a smart, heads-up player, who I think will be a nice twice a week starter and IF reserve.

    • MaxM1908

      I think people will be singing a different tune if Cardenas starts giving up runs with his glove. I may be in the minority, but I’m much more annoyed by runners reaching on fielding mishaps than a .200 hitter in the lineup. I haven’t seen Cardenas field yet, but if he’s as bad as everyone says he is, I’m not sure I’ll be too pleased with him starting over Barney.

      • Drew

        If defense (non-pitching) and offense were evenly-detrimental to the outcome of baseball games, I’d be more worried. The fact is, if Cardenas can hit at 85-90% of his AAA production, I believe he needs to play over Barney.

        Most importantly, we need to see what he can do with the bat in the big leagues; if he cant out-produce Barney offensively, then its obvious Barney should remain the starter.

      • hansman1982

        its all about runs. If Cardenas costs a run per game in the field but makes a run more at the plate than Barney, then they are, in effect, the same player and you might want to go with the defensive Barney to reduce wear and tear on the pitching staff.

        Now if Cardenas costs half a run in the field and gains a run at the plate, then you take Cardenas.

        That is what is meant by “being able to live with a guys defense because of his offense” and vice-versa.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          Exactly.  Obviously, the numbers that you use in the example are (despite broadcaster hyperbole) far beyond the best and the worst players, but that’s exactly how we need to think of it: relative to league average (or replacement player) a guy gains us X runs with his bat and Y runs with his fielding.  (X & Y can be positive or negative.)  If (X+Y) Player A > (X+Y) Player B, then over the long term, you’ll win more games with Player A.

  • Ivy Walls

    Can we say a rotation of Cardenas and Barney where Barney gives Castillo a needed rest every once in a while (or visa versa, I am sure).

  • Mrp

    Good call on this one Brett. Let’s hope he gets some starts right away to take advantage of his hot bat.

    Also, I love the pic!

    • MaxM1908

      I think the question is whether the ball is in his glove in that pic. If it’s still 10-15 feet above his head with that pose, we could be in for some Soriano 2010-2011 fielding.

      • Cubbie Blues

        There wasn’t a ball involved at all. It was a team building exercise and he was doing the trust fall. I guess he isn’t the most loved player on the team.

      • Mrp

        He’s only made 1 error so far this season, so I don’t think he is on the atrocious level defensively. His range is lacking, but certainly can’t be worse then DeWitt’s statue defense. It’s a downgrade defensively from Barney, no doubt there.

  • rcleven

    The Cubs fall far short in offensive performance in the 6th thru 8th slot in the batting order. If Cardenas can help in those spots I am all for it.

  • Norm

    Cardenas is interesting in that he’s always hit in the minors. Never had a season under .295 average, and never under a .354 OBP.
    How a team like OAK couldn’t find a spot for him and NO American League team claimed him off waivers is weird, to me.

  • morgan

    Cubs are starting to have to many lefties in there linup castillo and castro the only right handed hitters once we bring up jackson and rizzo, need to find a good right handed hitting 3rd baseman,

    • morgan

      aka david wright

      • djriz

        cant see the new guys going for an aging, injury prone 3rd baseman with diminishing power.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      The concern of having too many lefties is a good case of the perfect being the enemy of the good.  Basically, instead of worrying about all of the ABs they’ll have against right handed starters, it worries about the single ABs that they’ll have against a left-handed reliever.  The Cubs starting pitching is actually not bad: and if a bunch of lefties can build up multiple runs against starters more often than not, then the Cubs will play better than 0.500 baseball.

  • morgan

    campana, castro, lahair, wright, rizzo, jackson, castillo, cardenas theres a linup right there, and sign cole hammels

    • hardtop

      yep, thats definitely a lineup… not one id like to see, but ill give you that it has the correct number of players.

    • ClydeR

      Morgan, if I tried hard enough I could possibly come up with a worse lineup! Then again maybe not!

  • Dumpgobbler

    Ideally Cardenas will start and Barney will be a utility IF; at least for a while. I think we all have a good sense of what Barney is. Hopefully we can find out what Cardenas really is.

  • rcleven

    With Dale claiming that he hopes DeWitt stays with the origination and DeWitt not being claimed not once but twice by MLB teams what does this say for the current 25 and 40 man roster?

    • Smitty

      The way I understand it, since he was DFA, even if he goes down to Iowa he is no longer on the 25 man roster but would still be on the 40. If he were to be called up later, then the Cubs would have to make the appropriate move to the 25 man roster.

      • rcleven

        The point I am trying to make is why have him on 40 man roster when 29 other teams are taking a pass. 29 other teams are saying DeWitt has no up side value to their team.

  • Cooper R

    I thought DeWitt was DFA’d for Wood. With Cardenas coming up does this mean Wood is heading back to Iowa?

    • Andrew

      That is correct. At least that’s what is assumed. The roster move probably won’t be official until just before game time, though, so a little surprise could be thrown in.

    • hansman1982

      Yes and Yes. No sense in carrying 13 pitchers.

      • Cooper R

        Yeah I didn’t see that anywhere so I figured I’d ask. I’d rather send down Volstad though.

  • Don

    Why don’t we trade Baker to make room for Cardinas? Baker is expendable.

    • Bric

      Good question, especially since there definitely a couple of teams out there that could use him and Thed (at least IMO) has shown no special allegiance to tradable Hendry hold overs. But at this point he’s about as useful staying with the Cubs as he would be to anyone else so I think the trade value wouldn’t be high enough for him to make any calls. But I would also think he wouldn’t be letting any inquiries go to straight to voicemail right now either.