The Chicago Cubs have signed an interesting reliever to a minor league deal: righty Jensen Lewis, a formerly very good pitcher with the Indians. The deal, reported by Baseball America, presumably comes with a non-roster invitation to Spring Training.

Lewis, 28, was intermittently a very solid reliever for the Indians from 2007 to 2010, posting a 3.68 ERA (115 ERA+) and 1.359 WHIP over 198 innings during which he struck out 8 per 9 innings (3.9 BB/9).

For reasons that aren’t entirely clear, Jensen appears to have simply “lost it” starting in 2011. After an ugly Spring Training that year, he was sent to AAA to start the season, and was released by the Indians in June of that year. He didn’t catch on with another team that season, which makes me wonder if there was an injury issue. He bounced back a bit last year with the Diamondbacks at AAA, posting a 3.65 ERA and 1.235 WHIP over 56.2 innings. He struck out 43 and walked 20. That’s definitely not a bad ERA for the PCL, and playing in Reno.

Taken all together, Lewis might be one of the more interesting non-roster invites to Spring Training (I’m assuming he’ll get an invite).

Probably playing at least a small role in the signing? Lewis’ pitching coach in college was the Cubs’ new Minor League Pitching Coordinator Derek Johnson.

  • Chris_RG

    He might have “lost it” due to that ugly Inverted V. Those mechanics can create a timing problem.

    • Internet Random

      My comment was going to be, “Enter the elbow-up-commentary crowd”… and before I could even type it…

      • MichiganGoat

        But but but his name is not Scott so that logic doesn’t work 😉

  • Austin

    Let the wrath of “this FO is cheap, why won’t they sign anyone good. We always sign injured players.”

    I like this signing, low risk and high reward potential. Also with your last tidbit, it could be nice to see what Johnson could do to bring him back to his past performances.

    • MichiganGoat


      • Austin

        Sounds about right.

  • FarmerTanColin

    Never trust a man with two last names.

  • Brian Peters

    Okay, I’m going to be as optimistic as possible because I have lectured others about holding to the plan. However, it doesn’t seem like these big-time free agents who supposedly love the direction in which the Cubs are headed are all too hippie skippy about signing with the Cubs. It comes down to where the Cubs are now, which is fine, but I’d almost rather the Cubs wouldn’t have made a bid on Sanchez.

    • cjdubbya

      Well, it works out that Detroit dropped an extra $32M over the life of his contract, which maybe that makes a difference down the road. Always a bright side.

  • PeteG

    I like it. Keep signing arms and we’ll see who sticks. Not saying we’re going to have great pitching but we may have a pretty good core. Now we just need some offense…

  • Myles – WSCW

    He looks like a thrower, not a pitcher.

    That being said, this is a low-risk, low-reward type move, so good on Theo & Co.

  • Frank

    Broken record: no risk,flippability…actually I like it. Doesn’t look like we are getting Jackson or pelfrey. Hopefully loshe. We really need to add offense too.

  • KYCub

    Yawn!!!!!! Are we living in a perpetual groundhog day?

  • Myles – WSCW

    Apropos of nothing, reports have Jackson maybe getting 4 or 5 years at 12 or 13 per. For 4/52, I’d say sign us up, for 5/60 or 5/65, I might not.

  • The Show

    Guys keep in mind, at this time last year the Cubs had not made the Marshall, Stewart, Zambrano, or Rizzo trade, or signed Maholm. It is December 16th, it’s not February! There is still times for “bigger: moves to be made, These minor moves are made by every team and they would be stupid not to make them, no risk, with some reward.

    • Kyle

      That’s very true, but also keep in mind that the Cubs have stated this offseason that their potential for trades is severely diminished compared to last year.

  • PeteG

    Stop with the Edwin Jackson crap already! He’s not that good of a pitcher. I’d take Feldman and Baker over him in a heartbeat. He’s a .500 pitcher with a 4.00 era. Great talent but he probably will never figure it out and become a great pitcher…

    • Myles – WSCW

      Which pitcher would you rather take?

      The guy with 4 consecutive years of 2.7 WAR or better (averaging 205 innings a year), or the guy with one career season over 2.7 WAR, who has coincidentally exceeded 165 IP in a season once in his career?

      The first guy is Edwin “consistently 3.80 xFIP” Jackson, the second guy is Scott “ow, my knee” Feldman.

      Scott Baker is closer to Edwin, but Edwin has been just as good the past 4 seasons without being injured.

      I think most people’s concerns with Edwin stem from his very forgettable entrance into the league. A lot of that is due to being sent up way too early. Since his age-25 season, he’s had an ERA+ of 105. Over the past 4 years, out of pitchers with 700 or more innings he’s 29th in the league in FIP, 28th in ERA, and 20th in WAR. Jackson is a legit #3 option that is extremely durable. In the FA market we live in, that’s a pretty valuable commodity. We might not be getting a steal with Jackson, but we probably aren’t getting screwed either. Lets use our budget to our advantage.

      • Frank

        So why do so many teams not want to keep him? I mean, he’s been on what? 4 teams in the past 3 years? Something like that?

        • MichiganGoat

          That’s a concern I have if he is so consistent and so automatic then why didn’t he get extended, why has he been moved so much, it might be just bad luck but it does raise an eyebrow.

    • MattM

      I’m sorry but what you just typed makes absolutely not SENSE whatsoever!

  • Frank

    I hope Castro,rizzo and soriano have great seasons this year or it will be yawn city at the old ball park.

  • Frank

    The rizzo and maholm deals very good. The zambrano trade,a wash. The Stewart deal sucked. The jury is still out on the marshal
    Trade(IMO ) all in all 101 losses. Thanks for the encouragement. Lol

    • The Show

      Wow, you missed the whole point of the post.

  • Jay

    Had to read the article a few times because I didn’t see any mention of TJS….we actually sign pitchers that haven’t undergone this procedure?

  • Frank

    I got your point. It’s not too late to make”big” moves. My point was maybe last year might not be a good example.

  • http://facebook disappointed bearsfan

    cubs get another low risk pitcher woohoo #embarrassing

    • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

      Using a # to make a statement is the only thing embarrassing.

      • http://facebook disappointed bearsfan

        wats embarrassing is u have to be a dick when im just saying what i think

        • MichiganGoat


          • Kenster

            Nothing embarrassing about signing someone to a minor league contract. Pay the guy next to nothing and has a great surprise season helps the bullpen a lot and adds depth is great. If he does bad oh well dump him its not like hes making any money. ALL teama sign minor league free agents. Its called depth

  • bbrave307

    If we could get Jackson for three years or less, I think we should do it. At this point though, I believe extending Garza for an extra two or three years is the best pitching move we could make.

  • Carmelo

    Interesting line tonight for Alberto Cabrerra—-starting pitching, 4 ip, 0 hits 6 bb 10 k’s.—big arm, hopefully command gets better real soon.

    • Brett

      Holy crap. That’s awesome. And awful.

  • Fastball

    This guy will fill up the Iowa bp. they need pitchers too.

  • WilliamGlass

    Since we’re constantly taking gambles on bounce back candidates, we should definitely sign Francisco Liriano.

  • Jeff1969

    Think about this before condemning it out of hand. The White Sox have two lefties, Jose Quintana & Hector Santiago, that I know they like a lot, that are young, but with mostly a full season under their belts that I think one or both could be had and would be worth a gamble. The Sox have a very weak farm system right now, and outside of a few pitchers, an OF and last year’s draft it’s barren. I know this is totally my creation but a package of guys like Junior Lake & Gioskar Amaya might be able to get the Cubs Jose Quintana. I know he had a crappy Sept., but he’s 23, this was the first year he threw more than 90 innings in a season, he looks like he knows how to pitch in the majors, and he’s the type of under the radar pitcher that can be poached before he’s totally proven. I’m thinking the Sox might try Lake at 1B (he’s played 2 games there, I know, but he’s not good at 3B or SS so much), and Amaya if he made it to the majors could displace Beckham & team with their little up & coming SS Sanchez to form a pesky little team in the middle IF. I don’t know, it’s late, but I’m trying.

    • BWA

      I don’t think Quintana is any better than Travis Wood. Wouldn’t want to give up Amaya or Lake for him right now. Just my opinion though

      • Pat

        Had to look him up. ERA plus of 115 as a rookie is similar, the difference is Wood has sucked since. I’d probably make that trade. Leftys with team control seem to hold value pretty well regardless of performance.

      • fortyonenorth

        I’ve seen Quintana pitch four or five times. He is going to be a very good pitcher. When he’s on, he has laser control and can be dominating. I’ve read the Sox may be willing to deal from their pitching depth to add in other areas, so yes, it may be worth exploring. Haven’t seen Santiago more than once or twice, so I’m not as familiar with him.

    • baldtaxguy

      I’d try and find a way to pay a little (just) less, but Quintana would be interesting.

  • daveyrosello

    What’s the story with Matsuzaka, have heard nothing about him this winter. Permanent injury case and finished? If he’s healthy, he’s gotta be worth a flyer from Theo, given all the other deadbeats and washouts he’s brought in to the Cubs. Again, if healthy, he couldn’t be worse than T Wood.

  • Rizzo44

    Can Theo and Jed start spending some money soon? Idk, heres a couple names, just choose one. Edwin Jackson, Kyle Loshe, Carlos Villaneuva, Jia Jurrgens, Shaun Marcum, Brian Wilson, Francisco Liriano, or maybe even Micael Bourn? Please? Anyone!

    • MichiganGoat

      So basically you saying we should just spend/buy something regardless of any actual plan? I think we tried that plan before, but relax there is still plenty of time we don’t want to just throw money because we have money or is that your plan.

      • Kyle

        I’m saying that every time I hear Cubs fans talk praisingly of the plan, I’m reminded of Heath Ledger’s Joker observing that people will accept anything, no matter how horrible, so long as someone can convince them it’s all part of a plan.

        • MichiganGoat

          In the same comic metaphor there are always people that just want to add chaos into the world. So are you saying you’re the Joker?

          • Kyle

            If I’m going to define myself as a character in my native culture of nerdery, I’ll go with Spike when he was the only one who could tell the very important fact (in his case it was Glory and Ben’s shared body, in my case it’s our front office’s mistakes taking us further away from winning the World Series), but his attempts to explain it to other people are played for comic relief because of their futility.

        • Frank

          Kyle, you’ve never been one, at least that I’ve seen, to insult others’ intelligence here. Because people believe in what the FO is doing and are willing to give it time doesn’t mean that they’re Lemmings. What you argue should’ve been done is just as much a plan as the one that’s being undertaken–a different one, no doubt, but still a plan.

          • MichiganGoat

            Well except when publicly mocked Ian Stewart on twitter and started a website called FireTheoEpstein.

            • Kyle

              And the time I made fun of that one guy’s mom. I’ve never claimed the moral high ground.

              • cjdubbya

                Some men just want to watch the world burn…

          • Kyle

            I don’t think it’s insulting to argue, even in semi-seriousness with a reference to a comic-book movie, that people are under the influence of essential human nature. People are people, it’s essentially tautological, and people have quirks.

          • Rizzo44

            Im with everyone on the 2015 plan and all, all im saying is spend a little bit of money on some decent pitchers, not a 37 year old with 2 tommy john surgeries, 27 year old that prob wont work out, and Scott Feldman for 6MIL…

      • Peter

        Have you not heard money grows on trees? But I do think Liriano is somebody we must get on a one year, maybe two year cheap deal, if we can.

  • jdblades7

    You folks are always bitching and moaning about the FA signings and non signings are ridiculous. Be patient, it’s not like the FO can sign just anybody. They have to be willing to sign with the Cubs,ex. An. Sanchez. We would have had a better record last year but we were looking to the future and traded away most of our vets st the deadline. I see one more year of a losing team, because we will trade again at the deadline,and then respectable the next, and a top five team after that and so on.

    • DarthHater

      But if the free agents are not willing to sign with the Cubs, it’s because the FO has not made the Cubs attractive enough, which is another reason for bitching and moaning. 😉

      • Kyle

        Always somebody else’s fault for Epstein’s failures. Someday all the Lucchino’s and Hendrys and mean agents and press leaks will run out and he’ll be judged on his successes and failures here.

        • MichiganGoat

          Yeah like those 2 WS rings – such a failure. Time to restart I guess he’s such a pathetic loser.

          • Kyle

            How many years is he going to live off those rings?

            He inherited a great team and found some market inefficiencies. Good for him. The results have been slipping, and he’s showing little to say that he can repeat the success that is getting further and further into the past.

        • DarthHater

          Always somebody else’s fault for Epstein’s failures.

          Yea, because that’s exactly what I said, Kyle. Guess this is another example of the fair-minded and respectful baseball analysis for which you are so renowned, eh?

          • MichiganGoat

            That’s Kyle for you

            • DarthHater

              No, Goat. Be fair. We all personalize this shit and Kyle does not do it more than the rest of us, quite possibly less.

          • Kyle

            Fair-minded analysis is exhausting. Cheap shots are easier and just as emotionally rewarding. I’m just being utilitarian about it.

            • DarthHater

              Well, in that case:


              • DarthHater

                Sorry. I just couldn’t resist . . .

  • http://bleachernation ferris

    ever watch the movie major league? the part where the owner wanted the team to be so bad they had to move…..the cubs arent going anywhere we know that, but it reminds me of this so far……my favorite line was when the coaches are talking bout the spring training invitees and looking over the list… guys says ” this guys dead”…the owner replies..”well then scratch him off”….lol..i know we will get better and i think sooner rather than later but it just struck me funny.

  • jdblades7

    It’s been one year and almost all of the bad contacts are finally coming of the books, a depleted farm system. They aren’t God give them a break and atleast give it some time and this time next year if it still looks bleak, well I will join everybody else in calling for their heads.

  • lou brock lives

    Since a lot of people are saying all the premium free agents have already signed & next year’s crop of FA’s is woeful, is there any MLB rule against buying out bad contracts (like Nolasco at Miami for 11.5 million in 2013) & demanding a top 10 system minor league player as well in the trade – like LHP Justin Nicolino ? It is one way to get around not being able to spend money in the draft the way teams could 2 years ago or spending unlimited amounts on Latin youngsters.
    I’m sure there are still owners like Lauria who do not want to spend any money on huge salaries compared to teams like the Yanks, Dodgers, Angels. There are still lots of bad contracts teams are looking to get out from under & maybe would throw in a very good prospect to do so. Of course , besides the dollars the Cubs would have to send players back in return with the cash but it could be guys like single A players who really have no chance of ever making a big league roster.

    • DarthHater

      I don’t think there’s a rule against it, but I also don’t think teams are often willing to give up a top prospect just in order to unload a bad contract. The phrase “throwing good money after bad” comes to mind.

      • Kyle

        That basically covers it.

        If there’s nothing to spend money on, why would other teams give you good prospects in exchange for freeing up money for them. Money that they’d then have nothing to spend on.

  • mudge

    I don’t buy the scarcity principle. There will be great players to be had, one way or another. Most likely another. There is also better coaching up and down the organization. A lot of time and energy has gone into this, which will make for more skilled players. And even some money! Imagine.

  • Curt

    I’m still giving the fo their 2-3 yrs of chance but 1st impressions are that this fo is looking like a sports agent, they throw enough crap to the media and some will stick , theo and company pick up enough crap players some of them will stick. And the scouring of ghe hospitals and trash heaps continues.

  • DCF

    Seems like an OK signing. Low risk, without wasting a roster spot is fine with me.
    Anyway I’m kinda puzzled why Theo/Jed keep signing relievers.
    Obviously our bullpen sucks, but having a decent bullpen is hardly a priority when youre rotation and your offense suck as bad as expected for the 2013 Cubs.
    This kind of signing seems to be based purely on the possible flipability. I’d prefer to see some scrap heap starters signed to see if they stick. If they do, you have gained a valuable piece that might help going forward. If they don’t, you’ve at least got new fodder for the bullpen cannon.