tony campana little buddyTo the devastation of many fans, today the Chicago Cubs designated Tony Campana for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster for recently-signed outfielder Scott Hairston. The Cubs will now have 10 days to trade, release or waive Campana.

Hairston, 32, got a two-year, $5 million deal (with another $1 million in possible incentives), and it was always logical that, if the Cubs had to resort to dumping someone off the roster (rather than a trade), it was going to be an outfielder getting bounced. Campana, for all the fanfare, has a relatively limited skill set. He’s crazy fast, but he doesn’t offer much at the plate, or much on defense (except for that which is granted by the aforementioned speed). If someone had to be bounced, I think the Cubs made the right choice.

What happens now? Well, I still believe that Campana has value to the right team as a 25th man. That game-changing speed would look mighty nice coming off the bench for a competitive team. Perhaps the Cubs will be able to work a minor trade for Campana.

Otherwise, they’ll be forced to waive him, and I’m not convinced he’d clear waivers. Fortunately for the Cubs, right now is a very crowded time on teams’ rosters, so it’s tough to pick up a guy without dumping someone on your own roster. Unfortunately for the Cubs, the right team might be willing to do that for Campana, if he’s a perfect fit. If he does clear, he can be sent to Iowa, where he’ll have to earn playing time in an outfield that could feature Brett Jackson, Jae-Hoon Ha, Josh Vitters (at times), Junior Lake (at times), and Brian Bogusevic (if he doesn’t make the big club). Of course, in the interim, he’d stick around at big league camp and fight for a big league roster spot just like he would have been anyway.

We’ll see how this plays out. I’d obviously rather the Cubs didn’t lose Campana for nothing, but his departure wouldn’t be a crushing blow to the 2013 Cubs or beyond.

  • Timothy Scarbrough

    I’m glad we no longer have Campana on the 40 man. When it comes down to it, Campana is a luxury the Cubs really do not need right now. A one tool guy, who can’t get on base or defend? Maybe if you are a contender with a spot on the 25 man to burn.

    • hansman1982

      Campana is not even a luxury. He is a borderline 5th OF, unless you start giving him 200+ PR appearances a year.

      In that event, you will start giving AB’s away from more productive hitters and any additional R you gain from his speed will be offset pretty quickly.

      • Noah

        One thing that drives me nuts too is when people always point to Dave Roberts on the ’04 Red Sox for how important a guy whose one tool is speed off the bench in a playoff game can be. Dave Roberts had a career .342 OBP and was an above average defender for his career. Becoming Dave Roberts is Tony Campana’s absolute best case scenario.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          Yes, I have brought that up in regards to a few ideas. One is that the FO blew it by not trading Campana last summer, as clearly a contending team would want a fast guy for pinch-running. However, the closest thing to a trade like that in the last 10 years was the Dave Roberts trade: and Roberts was an excellent fielder who was an average-to-slightly-above average OBP guy (he walked 10% of the time and only K’ed about 15% of the time, which made up for his low BA given contact: oh, and he walked about 12+% of the time as a minor leaguer, so he didn’t “learn” how to do it….). Roberts problem was lack of power and being in the Cleveland organization in the late 1990’s: that was a full roster.

          Campana is neither the OBP guy nor the fielder that Roberts was. Roberts not only had speed, but he read the ball off of the bat very well; Campana reads the ball quite poorly, which means late breaks and that he’s chasing the ball rather than intercepting it.

          • hansman1982

            If Roberts had a lack of power does that mean that Campana has negative power?

  • Timmy

    This guy could steal 80 bases if he played a whole year. So we brought in a mediocre hitter with limited power to replace a speedster. Either way we lose. Seems like if we’re doomed to lose 90 games we may as well have a guy who can get into scoring position on a whim.

    • hansman1982

      The problem is that Campana has a hard time getting to the base that is required prior to getting into scoring position.

      Hell, bringing in a Cowboys O-Lineman would be more valuable as long as he had the same OBP but with 10 homers.

    • RickyP024

      Campana couldn’t stick in the lineup last year, so what makes you think that he is all of a sudden going to get on base this year? Speed is only a luxury when you can use it, and he couldn’t figure out a way to get on base.

  • Andrew Bauer

    The reason this move doesn’t make any sense to me is that Campana is both offensively and defensively better than an outfielder we still have on the roster by the name of Nate Schierholtz.

    Offensively: Campana’s average is ten points worse, just the same for on-base percentage. This means that Schierholtz doesn’t draw more walks than Campana. In fact, the only thing offensively he does do better is hit a few homeruns. But a few homeruns (think 9 or 10) doesn’t quite add up to the stolen base numbers Campana brings over a full season (40+).

    Defensively: While only an average defender skills wise Campana does have far above average speed, meaning his actual defense is a little above average when you factor in the amount of balls he can get to compared to other defenders and the fact that he doesn’t make many errors. Schierholtz on the other hand is the definition of league average in the field. He has average speed, an average glove and an average arm. No better than any street free agent.

    Campana is also two years younger, and much cheaper. And interestingly, he probably has just about the same value on the trade market.

    • cubchymyst

      How does 10 homeruns not equal 40 stolen bases? 10 homeruns is equal to 40 bases and 10 runs. 40 steals is equal to 40 extra bases and no runs. Also you are not going to collect any RBIs with a steal.

      • cubchymyst

        Realize you said 40+ steals, but a home run has a lot more offensive value than a steal.

      • hansman1982

        According to Fangraphs, in 2011 here is what each offensive event generated, in terms of runs:

        0.69 – uBB
        0.72 – HBP
        0.89 – 1B
        1.26 – 2B
        1.60 – 3B
        2.08 – HR
        0.25 – SB
        -0.50 – CS

        According to this 8 steals is worth roughly 1 HR. Hell, 40 steals is only barely more productive than 10 singles. You would need an additional 400 steals to be worth more than 100 additional singles.

        SB just aren’t that valuable.

        • cubchymyst

          Those number are coming from the wOBA equation, correct.

          • hansman1982

            ya, I love me some wOBA (I also generally calculate it with SB included (wOBAs, if you will))

            • cubchymyst

              Thanks, just making sure I had that right. wOBA and wRC+ are a big reason I’m excited about Tom Tango consulting with the Cubs.

        • Andrew Bauer

          0.69 – uBB
          0.72 – HBP
          0.89 – 1B
          1.26 – 2B
          1.60 – 3B
          2.08 – HR
          0.25 – SB
          -0.50 – CS

          Okay now lets consider something here. A SB may only occur if the batter is on base. Typically after a walk, single or double. Therefore, the value overall would range from (.69+.25) .94 to (1.26+.25) 1.51. Now I said 40+ SB cautiously. And I think we can agree that that number is really much higher, likely around 60. But let’s take 40 as a base line and agree to average it out as a single (.90+.25) is 1.15. This makes the steals worth (1.15 x 40) 46. The 10 homeruns worth (10 x 2.08) 20.8. You all should reconsider your math.

          • hansman1982

            Then what you are assuming is that Campana is getting on base 40 times more a year than someone without his speed (Player B).

            This would give Player B an OBP of .099 – or 19 times on base (assuming the same number of PA as Campana). Then yes, Tony Campana would have more value than that batter.

            Here is the thing, wOBA looks at all of the batters offensive work.

            Campana has a .300 wOBA vs. Schierholtz’s .314

            This means that over 1000 PA Schierholtz will provide 14 more runs than Campana. Over a full season (650 PA) it’s around 11. That is a full win MORE than Campana.

            • hansman1982

              It’s worse than I thought – Campana had a .295 wOBAs.

              For a fair comparison we will look at guys with more than 150 PA in 2012 with identical OBP as Campana, ergo, they would have reached base the same number of times with equal PA:

              Raul Ibanez and Logan Morrison.

              Raul generated .332 runs per PA
              Logan: .312
              Campana: .295

              Campana had 27 more SB than Ibanez and 29 more than Morrison.
              Ibanez had 19 HR, Morrison 11

              Actually, Morrison appears to be the shining example of what you are trying to say. He gave up nearly all of the SB for 11 HR, yet generated more runs than Campana. For example of how pathetic his power is, Morrison had a triple and Campana did not. Heck, Ibanez had 3.

            • Andrew Bauer

              Good job, I just finished running the full offensive numbers. I was merely making the point that the hit and steal versus homeruns value was a little skewed.

              Now, a full win more offensively according to that formula. But interestingly, other formulas don’t agree. For example, the WAR formula.

              • hansman1982

                I have no clue how WAR is calculated, but yes, WAR says they are essentially similar people.

                From Fangraphs, it appears most of the makeup in lost WAR comes from baserunning.

                • Andrew Bauer

                  Right, but he’s also got an advantage in defensive stats due to his increased range. He gets to balls Schierholtz doesnt even with his poor reads. You can improve reads off the ball, you can’t improve speed (that much).

                  • hansman1982

                    He has, undoubtedly, been playing CF for the better part of 2 decades (at the very least, 15 years). Not sure how much more playing time he needs to develop better reads. His inability to make reads is covered up for by his speed, therefore, his range is lower than what it should be.

                    If you gave his speed to Almora, you would have a defender that is light years better than Campana. (Some have said you would have Mike Trout)

                    Much like speed, ability to draw walks, hit for power or make contact, throw a 95 MPH fastball or a sweeping 12-6 curve, you either have it or you dont.

        • RickyP024

          great stats, thanks man.

    • DB Kyle

      OK, so let’s say for a moment that the 10 HRs and the 40 SBs even out.

      Schierholtz also averages about 20 more 2bs per full season’s worth of plate appearances.

  • John (the other one)

    schierholtz does not have an average arm. and he can hit the ball out of the infield.

  • md8232

    Our long National nightmare is over!

  • steve

    Myself I don’t see the love people have for Capana. He has great speed, however he can’t hit, so that nullifies his speed advantage. I don’t think anyone will claim him, and he’ll be sitting at Iowa, where he can get the time he’ll need to try to improve his hitting. With the kids we have there his at bats will be limited, but he’ll get a lot more at bats than he would in the majors. It’s the only way I can see him improving his skill, and ability at the plate to become a viable player.

  • cubchymyst

    Looking at Campana’s stats he he had 7 sacrifice bunts, which is 4 more than Barney (the next closest position player) and Barney had 3 times the number of PA. I’ve always felt Campana average was slightly elevated due to his added sacrifices. So I added 5 of those sacrifices back into Campana at bats and found his BA and OBP both dropped 8 points down to 0.257 and 0.300, respectively.

  • MightyBear

    Campana will clear waivers. No one is going to pick him up now. That’s why the Cubs DFA’d him now. He’ll be a Cub in spring and Iowa.

    • King Jeff

      I wonder if the uprising will die out if he clears waivers? If none of the other MLB teams think he is roster-worthy at this time, will the cries of the disenfranchised Campy fans continue?

      • Brett

        Nah. Then the anger will just change to: “he needs to make the roster!”

        • hansman1982

          I can’t wait for the first recap where he goes 2-4 and steals 2 bases.

          • Andrew Bauer

            He’s already proven he can hit in the minors, so that won’t be a surprise really.

    • DB Kyle

      This. The number of teams who even have open 40-man spots at this time of year has got to be in the single digits. This is the best time of year to clear anybody through waivers, let alone Tony Campana.

  • MichiganGoat

    If anyone doubted the power of Scrappy Love just look at this article- 200+ comments with deep statistical conversations all over a player that is a marginal 25th man. I hope now that he is gone we can spend this much passion and research on a player that will actually contribute. Campana has been talked about more than Rizzo and Castro combined this offseason- consider that and you will see the (cue Huey Lewis) The Power of Scrappy Love.

  • wiscubfan

    good-bye lou !!!! oh I mean Campy

    • hansman1982

      Please tell me you are NOT comparing Campana to Lou Brock…the same Lou Brock that, at the age of 26 had 48 home runs and a 107 OPS+.


  • 5412


    For those of you who really like Campana, for his sake not ours, you should hope he does clear waivers.

    In the offseason, the first year for Theo, they had a conference call for season ticket holders to ask questions. I asked him how it was possible for a kid like Campana to make it through a farm system, with his speed and not be able to consistently drag bunt. He should have been hitting leadoff in the minor leagues from day one with instructions to bunt at least once a game. That was a failing of the previous management, they were not getting kids ready for the major leagues.

    It is now a year later, and it still has not happened. Personally I felt that he knew what he had to do. Theo made it pretty clear he agreed with me on the call. Campana was given his shot and did not produce. If he clears waivers and they put him back in Iowa; hopefully it will give him a wakeup call. They should keep him there until he does like Rizzo did, improves his skills until he warrants another shot. That does not mean home runs. It means he turns himself into a great bunter and slap hitter where he will find a hole and get on base. Then he can use his speed.

    The only other time he has value is after September 1st as a pinch runner where you can use his speed when someone else gets on base.

    Until then, I would hope a lot of other outfielders in the minor leagues move ahead of him and get their shot.


  • Mush

    If Campana was so good, he would be playing. He is overmatched by the fastball, terrible reading the ball off the bat, and has rag arm. The only thing he does well is run. Last I checked, you can’t steal first base.

  • cjdubbya

    Why is everyone so up in arms over this roster move? I believe Eleanor Roosevelt nailed it way back in 1936: “America is all about speed. Hot, nasty, bad ass speed.”

    • Katie

      I really need the “like” button. Hot and Nasty Eleanor. Good stuff.

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