Randy Wells and Blake DeWitt are Free Agents and Other Bullets

Johnny Cueto went out after the first batter last night, but the Reds still managed to beat the Giants in San Francisco 5-2. I think maybe I’m pulling for the Reds. The Tigers took down the A’s 3-1. Each was the first game in those divisional series, and the first games in the other two series – Cardinals/Nats, Orioles/Yanks – go today at 2pm CT and 5pm CT, respectively, today on TBS.

  • Randy Wells, Blake DeWitt, and Alex Hinshaw are now free agents. By virtue of being veterans who were left off of the 40-man roster at the end of the season, each had the option of electing free agency, which they understandably did. Hinshaw was a mid-season waiver pickup, so there isn’t much sting there. DeWitt, the primary piece in Jim Hendry’s dump of Ted Lilly and Ryan Theriot in 2010, was a light-hitting defensive third baseman who was never given a chance to play third base with the Cubs. So he became a light-hitting, poor defensive second baseman with the Cubs, and his departure was inevitable by the end of 2011.
  • As for Wells, it’s a bummer, and there’s a team or two out there that will take a chance on him, at least on a minor league deal. I doubt he sticks with the Cubs. After back-to-back 3.0+ WAR season in 2009 and 2010, Wells struggled with a forearm injury in 2011 (and a return to the level of effectiveness afforded by his modest stuff), and didn’t crack the Cubs’ roster out of Spring Training this year. He didn’t take the news well, struggled in Iowa, struggled badly in a few starts and bullpen appearances with the big club earlier in the year, and then had arthroscopic surgery on his elbow in July. Even if the Cubs had kept him on the 40-man, he was going to be non-tendered anyway. Will he be back next year? Probably depends on where he sees his best chance of cracking a big league roster while in camp on a minor league deal – the Cubs would actually probably be one of his best bets, but we don’t know what’s gone on behind the scenes. It’s possible both sides are ready to move on.
  • Here’s a list of other minor leaguers electing free agency as of a couple days ago – Wells may actually be the most interesting name.
  • Paul Sullivan writes up the 2012 season, which he notes came without controversy (unless you count the Dempster trade situation … which I do). The thesis, I suppose, is that Dale Sveum has been pretty laid-back and positive in a tough situation. It underscores that, once again, Sveum knew what he was getting into, and knew that the expectations for him did not include “winning.” At least not in 2012. Probably not 2013, either.
  • John Sickels reviews his top 50 hitting prospects from earlier in the year, to see how they’ve done – the only two Cubs on the list come in for the precise thoughts you’d expect: Brett Jackson’s strikeout rate is terrifying, and Anthony Rizzo looks like he’s over his growing pains, and ready to be a solid regular.
  • Thanks to BN’er Todd for passing on the only election sign I’ll ever post here. It looks like Kerry Wood may not be as committed to the Cubs as we thought.

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

37 responses to “Randy Wells and Blake DeWitt are Free Agents and Other Bullets”

  1. Northside Matt

    How will the Houndstooth Saloon survive without Randy???

  2. fromthemitten

    Hinshaws 135.00 ERA this season looks pretty epic

  3. bluekoolaidaholic

    Kerry Wood for president of the Cat’s Pajamas club.

  4. Don McLeese

    DeWitt actually came to the Cubs with the reputation of being a potentially strong hitter but a liability in the field.

    1. MichiganGoat

      Yeah DeWitt is a great example of the inconsistent world of drafting and prospect ranking. At one point DeWitt was thought to be a future solid starter and a solid 1st round pick. After doing some search on Baseball Prospectus I found this nugget:

      “[a national league scout said] I love it, he flat out rakes, Really nice swing with great timing and rhythm. Hard contact to all fields, excellent pitch selection–he’s going to be a .300+ hitter with 30-35 doubles and 15 home runs in the big leagues. He’s got a chance to be special.” (http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=5318)

      Yeah and Felix Pie is the CF of the future and Gary Scott is the next Ron Santo, sigh. At this point I would imagine DeWitt is considering Japan or retirement as his options.

      1. Fishin Phil

        I vote for retirement, the war with Japan ended over 60 years ago.

        1. hansman1982

          nearly 70 years by now…

      2. DocPeterWimsey

        Dewitt is not an example of the inconsistency of scouting. He is an example of two other things: 1) the probabilistic nature of scouting; and, 2) differences in what scouts consider to be “good” and or “true” tools.

        So, say I have a system that accurately predicts 2 prospects in 3. With any number of prospects, that’s going to be much better than 50:50. (And given that far fewer than half of prospects flop, getting it right 50% of the time is beating the uneven coin flip that “random” would give you.) That 3rd guy of three that they system errs on is not an example of “inconsistency”: it’s an example of the fact that baseball is as far from deterministic as anything not in a cyclotron. (By the same token, a 0.300 hitter is not “consistent” on his 3 hits and “inconsistent” on his 7 outs.)

        The second and bigger issue is, was DeWitt highly ranked on bad criteria? I would say, “yes.” In particular, he was someone who people said had the tool of “hitting for average.” That’s not a tool, but an amalgam of several distinct tools. DeWitt had this because he hit a lot of line drives in the minors, and people see that and say “0.300 hitter!” However, he did not take walks while striking out a bit without hitting for a ton of power. That meant that, line drives or not, he was going to be heavily at the mercy of the BABiP goddess: and Eris is a fickle lover!

        1. Kevin

          Have the Cubs unloaded any of their scouts? If we keep the same talent evaluators, who have failed, are we doing ourself any favors?

          1. hansman1982

            yes…the Cubs have had some serious turnover in the scouting department over the past 2-3 months.

  5. SoCal Cubs Fan

    This is a lttle off topic I know, but with the Cubs needing an outfielder what do think about going after Melky Cabrera? I think he might be willng to take a 1 or 2 year contract to reestablish himself and he is the type of hitter the FO likes. He would make eveyone else in the lineup better. If we could sign him and Sanchez and Santana for the rotation I think we could be competitive.

    I don’t know what to do about 3b as there isn’t anybody out there right now.

    1. Tommy

      I wouldn’t take a chance on someone coming off a suspension for PED use, personally. It’s just not worth the risk. I believe in 2nd chances, but let the home team give it.

    2. Frank

      I love the possibility of Melky and here’s why: after costing himself a huge 5+ year deal, I think he’s only 27, so he may be willing to take a gamble on himself and accept a 1 year deal with a low base salary and heavy on incentives in hopes of parlaying that into a 3-5 year deal the following offseason. Perhaps he could add a team friendly 2014 option. If we could get this done, worst case scenerio, he’s awful but doesn’t cost us much, and we let him walk. Best case scenerio, he puts up big numbers and helps us contend. Middle scenerio, he puts up a big first half and we still don’t contend and we flip him ala Maholm.

      1. SoCal Cubs Fan

        Exactly! I think he will be extremely motivated and with him in the 3 hole in the order followed by Soriano and Rizzo I think we will score some runs.

    3. Carne Harris

      Pass.

  6. Frank

    Someone will likely give DeWitt a minor league deal. If not, I could see Japan or else an Indie League.

    Someone will likely give Wells a shot. There’s never any shortage of demand for veteran starting pitching depth. Perhaps Brewer fans should take note of the rise and fall of Randy Wells before pencilling in Mike Fiers as a front end starter for any length of time. It seems every year there’s a few of these finesse pitchers that come out of nowhere to dominate for half a season and their fans think they’re the next Greg Maddux until hitters figure them out.

  7. Dr. Percival Cox

    The Sickels article is kind of bizarre. How do Rizzo and Jackson wind up with the exact same grade? Further, how does Rizzo get a B+ and Jesus Montero get an A when Rizzo’s overall slash line is substantially better than Montero’s? True, Sickels says the home park killed Montero and so you should pay attention to road slash line — but Rizzo’s numbers are better than that, too. Unless Rizzo owes the guy money, something just doesn’t make sense here.

    1. JR

      I was thinking the same thing. How in the world did Brett Jackson get a B+? That dude had an absolute terrible and very disappointing year. I am just hoping that he goes back to things that made him successful at AAA in 2011.

  8. Blueblud

    I would sign Melky, but I would go out on the limb and offer him a 4 yr, lower salary deal. I don’t think PED’s makes you a great hitter…..Ask Marlon Bird. If we can get him on the cheap for 4 years, why not. I’m now looking for guys to help us compete, not guys to sign and flip at the deadline. At least a combination of both.

    1. JR

      I would be all for signing Melky on the cheap. But it’s really hard not to think the big spike in his #’s the last 2 yrs didn’t have anything to do with PED’s.

      1. Frank

        Of course. That’s why we’d only sign him on a low risk/high reward deal. If that wasn’t the case, he’d still be looking at a 5/75 deal or better.

        The thing is, this FA outfield market is full of guys who’d be solid additions to ready made contenders looking to add an extra bat to a strong lineup, but nobody who would be a real difference maker to a team like ours, with the possible exception of Hamilton who everything Epstein has said indicates that there’s no chance of that type of signing.

  9. Jay

    Why are the Cardinals the home team in their series against Washington? Am I missing something? Washington was the division winner?

    1. Kyle

      The division serieses this season took a 2-3 format. Two home games for the lower-seeded team, then three straight for the higher seed.

      1. Jimmy james

        Further proof that a number of Stl residents have sold their souls to Satan in the last decade or so…..

  10. jim

    Obvious third base answer is move baez to third. Or even lake.

    1. TonyP

      and then pray they aren’t Gary Scott and Kevin Orie!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. EvenBetterNewsV2.0

    Hmm…. Drew Ward is going the Bryce Harper route. Houston didn’t want to pay Appel last year. Doubt they pay the kid this upcoming season. Wonder if we would take a crack at him.

  12. josh

    does anyone know if Conception is throwing the the instructional league?

  13. Fastball

    I don’t know how long Melky was on PED’s. It’s hard to say but the testing is pretty frequent and I just have to wonder if he was on them for a period of time how he slipped through the cracks. He is going to have to piss in the bottle all the time coming back so he will have to be clean and stay clean upon return to MLB. I would take the risk. If he flops (don’t think he will) we took a risk and it didn’t work out. Not the end of the world. I am going to bet that the Giants take him back though.

  14. Kevin
    1. Kevin

      Complete

  15. DarthHater

    And the Cardinals lose. Let the gnashing of teeth and rending of mullets begin!

  16. daveyrosello

    I like the Melky idea. Sign him to a modest 1 or 2-year deal so he can prove himself, it’s really low risk for the Cubs. If he mashes, Theo can flip him. Or, the Cubs can keep him, lord knows we need the offense. Castro, Melky, Rizzo, Soriano and Castillo, that’s the makings of the start of a respectable offense, I’ll take it.

  17. Big Joe

    Bye, Randy. Won’t miss you.

  18. gutshot5820

    LOL. Cubs home field declared filthiest in all of baseball.