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giants celebrationThe San Francisco Giants and Tim Hudson have reportedly agreed to terms on a two-year, $23 million deal.

The signing is relevant to the Chicago Cubs’ offseason plans in a number of respects. First, and most plainly, it takes Hudson off of the market, though the Cubs hadn’t been connected to him, and, given his age (38), he wasn’t likely to be interested in signing with the Cubs anyway. Second, the deal probably takes the Giants out of the market for another starting pitcher. They’d been connected to Bronson Arroyo, among others, and seemed like a natural fit for Phil Hughes. The Cubs have been connected to Arroyo and Hughes, the latter of which has always intrigued me (at 27 and coming off a down year with interesting peripherals, shouldn’t his agent be steering him to a one-year deal with a team like the Cubs? He could see his value rebound, and get traded midseason, thus eliminating the possibility that he could be dragged down by draft pick compensation after 2014.).

Third, and most broadly, the Hudson deal is the first indicator – other than the Tim Lincecum deal, which was bizarre for many reasons (wow, both early deals are for pitchers named Tim by the Giants!) – we have on the second tier starting pitching market. The top tier arms – Masahiro Tanaka, Matt Garza, Ervin Santana, and to a lesser extent Ricky Nolasco and Hiroki Kuroda – won’t really have their value set by external forces like a Tim Hudson signing.

The next tier, however – the Ubaldo Jimenez, Scott Feldman, Bartolo Colon, Bronson Arroyo, Dan Haren, Josh Johnson, Phil Hughes, etc. types – could be impacted, at least in part, by the price the Giants just set on Hudson. None are direct correlatives, but you can use the Hudson deal is a starting point for conversations about value. “If Hudson, at his age and with his injury – but with his performance and consistency – is worth $23 million over two years, Player X has gotta be worth at least $Y million over Z years.” The Cubs have been connected, at least by the thinnest of threads, to Jimenez, Arroyo, Johnson and Hughes. Jimenez will almost certainly get another year or two on his deal, while Arroyo will probably be in the same ballpark (pass). Johnson and Hughes are odd birds, thanks to Johnson’s arm troubles (but super high upside) and Hughes’ potentially unique contract situation (as discussed above). If Hughes would take a two or three-year deal guided by Hudson’s signing, however, I’d hope the Cubs would be interested. If Hudson is at two years and $23 million, perhaps Hughes’ value is somewhere around two years and $15 million? Or three years and $21 million? (Once again, though, if I’m Hughes, I’m looking for the best-paying one-year deal I can find in a spacious ballpark (or with a pitching coach like Chris Bosio) on a team that is likely to trade me. How about the Cubs offer him one year and $7 to $9 million?)

I tend to think the Hudson deal is solid for both sides, by the way. Hudson gets two more guaranteed years before he’s 40, and another big-ish score despite that gruesome ankle injury. The Giants, who presumably will thoroughly check that ankle, get a guy who is consistently above average without relying on velocity, and they get it for a short-term, low-risk (relatively speaking) deal.

  • MightyBear

    How come Tim Hudson can pitch with a 90 mph fastball but no one thinks Kyle Hendricks can? Splain this to me Lucy.

    • Kyle

      a) Tim Hudson’s fastball averaged 89.7 MPH last season. We’ll find out when he gets here, but I think Hendricks’ is going to come in a tick below that in the majors.

      b) Tim Hudson has much, much, much better offspeed stuff than Kyle Hendricks does

      • wvcubsfan

        Because I’ve never seen him pitch, what kind of off speed stuff and command does Hendricks have?

        I know with below average velocity he’ll be forced to pitch “backwards” and control will be an absolute must if he is to succeed at the MLB level.

        • Edwin

          I’ve heard he has a decent change-up, a cutter, and slurve. I can’t find the link, but I know Baseball America (I think) had a write-up about Hendricks around the time he was traded to the Cubs.

          http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/prospect-stock-watch-kyle-hendricks/

          • wvcubsfan

            I’d take that projection right now and call it good (an innings eating #4)

          • MightyBear

            My understanding is he didn’t develop the slurve until he came to the Cubs.

        • Kyle

          The scouting reports I’ve read all have his offspeed stuff in the vicinity of average, and his command as good but not as amazing as his minor league numbers suggest.

      • James Smith

        Tim Hudson does have better stuff seeing as hes just a tat bit older, you need to calm it down on the Hendricks hate he put up good numbers in the minors lets see were he goes from there there can be success even if he doesn’t throw 95 plus I would prefer him not throw that hard power arm pitchers have greater health risks if you can be crafty you can have success Jaime Moyer pitched into his late forties how hard did he throw?

        • Hee Seop Chode

          that was a really long run on sentence.

    • Edwin

      Tim Hudson averaged 90-91 with his fastball. Plus, it’s one of the better sinking fastballs in the game. From what I hear, Hendricks pitches closer to the 88 MPH.

      • MightyBear

        Hendricks pitches 87-89. According to Fangraphs, Hudson pitches 89-90. Hendricks fastball sinks as well. Hudson has tremendous breaking pitches but my understanding is Hendricks slurve has been outstanding since he combined his slider and curve coming over to the Cubs. Since then, all he has done is get guys out. Hudson is a one, Hendricks is projected as 5 despite being runner up to minor league pitcher of the year.

        • Kyle

          Hudson’s not remotely a one, he threw a bit harder back in the days when he might have been arguably a one, and if Hendricks’ slurve really is “outstanding” then I guess we’ll see.

          • MightyBear

            He was the Braves opening day starter and their slotted number one. Whether you think it or not, the Braves did.

            • Kyle

              OK, we have to have this discussion again.

              In baseball terms, a “one” “two” “three” “four” or “five” starting pitcher have well-defined meanings that are only tangentially attached to where a pitcher slots in his actual team’s rotation.

              A “one”, for example, is generally defined so highly that there are only 8-12 in baseball at any given time, regardless of the fact that 30 teams must have a first starter in their rotation.

              • Kyle

                Maybe “well” defined is overstating it, but they are at least defined.

                Here’s an article that goes over it:

                http://www.minorleagueball.com/2012/8/7/3226335/defining-1-2-3-4-5-starters

                • Chad

                  If Hendricks ends up a good 4/5 then I would be happy with that.

                • MightyBear

                  Well that’s dandy and I can see where there was a disconnect between your argument and mine. I also think this is a bunch of bullshit. Greinke’s a 2? WTF? Thanks Kyle, I will no longer argue who’s a 1-5 because its a bunch of horseshit. I could argue based on his performance this year and the criteria in this article, Travis Wood is a 1 although I never thought of him as a 1. This is a load of crap.

                  • Patrick W.

                    You could argue that about Wood, but might get fairly well beaten down if you think he has “Plus/Plus” command.

                    • MightyBear

                      Command is the one area where I think he’s obviously plus plus. If he misses his spots, he gets pounded.

                    • Patrick W.

                      Travis Wood walks 3 per game. That’s just not Plus/Plus.

                    • Patrick W.

                      That is 3 per 9 innings.

                    • MightyBear

                      Well then I would argue that walks aren’t the only component of command. Roger Clemens walked 3 per game, he must not have had plus plus command, hence he couldn’t have been a 1. No wonder he took steroids.

                    • Patrick W.

                      His K/BB ranked 71st for pitchers who pitched 160 innings. Just not Plus/Plus. 71st out of 82 pitchers who pitched 160 innings.

                    • MightyBear

                      Nolan Ryan walked almost 5 per game (9 innings). He must have been wild. He was probably a 4 on this system. Despite being the greatest right handed pitcher ever.

                    • Patrick W.

                      Yes, the other side to Clemens was he struck a few guys out.

                    • MightyBear

                      Funny, I didn’t see that in the criteria. I still think this system sucks. I’m out.

                  • Jason P

                    “I could argue based on his performance this year and the criteria in this article, Travis Wood is a 1″ — not really. Criteria 1: 2 plus pitches – Wood doesn’t even have 1. Maybe, maybe his cutter if you want to stretch it, but certainly not 2. Criteria 2: average 3rd pitch – he’s got this one, but it’s irrelevant since he doesn’t meet the first criteria. Criteria 3: plus/plus command – nope. His 2.97 BB/9 was tied for 59th in MLB. Criteria 4: plus makeup – I guess? Tough to truly judge his makeup.

                    • MightyBear

                      2 plus pitches – curve, slider

                      average 3rd pitch – cutter

                      plus plus command – see above

                      plus plus makeup – pitched for a team that couldn’t score any runs for him and still dealt all year long

                      He’s a 1. Travis ask for more money.

                    • Patrick W.
                    • Patrick W.

                      Travis Wood is a very good pitcher. He qualifies (if we just look at last year) as a #2 based on that article’s criteria.

                      Greg Maddux didn’t become a #1 until he developed his command, which he did about the age Travis Wood is right now. You can argue he has a shot at becoming a #1 if he develops plus/plus command, but you can’t argue he is already there.

                    • Jason P

                      Not only is his curveball not plus-plus, it’s below average. He threw the pitch a whopping 1.9% of the time last year. His slider is strictly average.

                      He threw the 2 pitches you claim are “plus-plus” a combined 12% of the time. Don’t you think if they were even close to as good as you claim they are he’d be throwing them a hell of a lot more than his 88 mph fastball, which he threw 45% of the time?

                      There is absolutely nothing you presented that would indicate would has plus-plus command. The K/BB stinks. The BB/9 isn’t much better.

                      Clemens is the outlier. He could get by with only okay command because he struck guys out at a clip that Hendricks could never approach, even in the minors. Clearly there is some flexibility in the starter numbering system (i.e. if a guy has 2 plus-plus pitches, rather than just 2 plus pitches, as Roger Clemens did, then he doesn’t need the superior command to still be considered a number 1). Travis Wood doesn’t have two plus-plus offerings, and he doesn’t even have two plus offerings, so his command/control statistics would have to be squarely within the top-10 in the league for him to be in the ace conversation. They are not.

                    • Jason P

                      And I don’t want it to sounds like I’m completely bashing on Wood because I’m not — I just think he’s a 3/4 long term.

                    • jt

                      Clemens ages 30 – 33 was out of shape and not a great pitcher. The RS let him go for a reason. Those were the years his BB/9 were high.

              • jt

                So, Edwin Jackson has value as a 4/5, not because of any one game or short series of games, but because his inconsistency predominately measures on the side of good.

        • Jason P

          Here’s a scouting report from fangraphs on Hendricks posted this past August:

          “The California native received swinging strikeouts on both his changeup — which showed plus potential — and on his cutter. His curveball was just fringe-average on this day and did not result in many swings and misses — most were fouled off.”

          • MightyBear

            Here’s two write ups from ESPN and Baseball Prospect Nation. While I like Fangraphs, I think the writer was just regurgitating what was previously said. I think this because he mentions that Henricks has 4 pitches. He really doesn’t now. He has three.

            Hendricks sits at 88-91 mph with his fastball, has a developing slider and a plus changeup. Hendricks won’t blow a hitter away with his stuff, so his ability to execute his pitches and being able to exploit a hitter’s weaknesses are the reasons he has been able to consistently deliver strong performances. Hendricks’ tendency to pitch to the corners, keep the ball down and rarely miss over the plate — he allowed only five home runs on the year — has led to his extreme success at the minor league level. ESPN

            Hendricks is a control artist that relies heavily on his ability to locate his entire arsenal. His fastball previously sat in the 87-89 range and touched 90 mph but he’s bumped that up a bit this year and has been flashing some low-90s four-seamers that reach 94 mph on occasion. His two-seamer shows excellent movement in the lower levels of that velocity range, inducing easy weak contact. He is an intelligent pitcher – as you might expect from a Dartmouth kid – and he rarely gives in to walk hitters. His slider has improved and he mixes in a solid change-up as well. He may not profile as more than a number five starter, but he could get to the big leagues quickly. Baseball Prospect Nation

            These were in September and August respectively. The both mention his slider but it’s really a slurve.

            Hendricks attributed part of his success to a new slurve he adopted this season. Last year, he threw a slider and a curveball, but neither had much success, so he combined them this year and has a lot of confidence in the pitch, effectively keeping hitters off balance. CSN Chicago August 2013

            • Jason P

              Both of those seem fair, but notice how they refer to his breaking ball: developing and improved. “Improved” from below average is just average.

              Bottom line: without a plus breaking ball, a pitcher who throws high 80’s-90 isn’t going to be more than a borderline 3 at best. It’s not like that’s a bad thing, though — every team needs dependable back-of-the-rotation types.

            • Edwin

              The article from Baseball Prospect Nation is from August 2012.

              Also, all of those scouting reports say basically the same thing: A pitcher with good control, who projects as a “back of rotation” pitcher.

              • MightyBear

                You’re right. August 2012. I thought it said 2013. My bad.

                • Edwin

                  It’s not that I’m down on Hendricks. I’m actually excited to see what he can do. It’s just that with his scouting makeup, I’m not expecting great things from him. I’m expecting something similar to Dave Bush.

        • Edwin

          Rich Hill also had an amazing curveball, and got a ton of guys out in AAA (his 2006 numbers, for Iowa? Wow.) It didn’t translate.

          It’s not just people like Kyle and I who are down on this guy. Even scouts and prospect evaluators are giving Hendricks the “4th or 5th starter” label, which is a polite way of saying it’s doubtful he turns into anything special. If Kyle (the pitcher, not the commenter) comes up and proves everyone wrong, then great. But until then, his scouting report leaves a lot to be desired.

          • MightyBear

            And what was Hill’s problem by making the trip from Iowa to Chicago? Command and walks. He couldn’t hit his spots in the bigs and walked too many guys. I will say this, if Hendricks comes up from Iowa and starts walking guys, he’ll be gone in a heartbeat. I’m hoping that doesn’t happen.

            • Edwin

              The Hill reference was more to the point that a pitcher can put up great numbers in Iowa, and “all he’s done is get people out” but struggle in the majors. I don’t think Hendricks will struggle due to control, I think he’ll struggle to get enough strikeouts/groundballs/prevent hard hit balls.

              • MightyBear

                I don’t think goundballs will be a problem but strikeouts and hard hit balls ie home runs could be an issue. Strikeouts are over rated.

                “Strike outs are fascist. Groundballs are more democratic.” – Crash Davis

                • Edwin

                  How are strikeouts “overrated”? They matter. A lot. A pitcher doesn’t “need” to get strikeouts, but if a pitcher can’t get strikeouts, then it puts a lot more pressure on their other skills.

                  Crazy as this sounds, quotes from baseball movies don’t actually have anything to do with actual baseball.

                  • MightyBear

                    “Lighten up Francis” – Sergeant Hulka

                    The quote was a joke.

                    I didn’t say strikeouts aren’t important. I said strikeouts are over rated. I’d rather see more guys pitching to contact and getting guys out and keeping their pitch count down than see someone strike out 15 and be out at the end of the 5th inning because they threw 120 pitches to get the 15Ks. Think Shark.

                    • Edwin

                      15 K’s in 5 innings means the pitcher has struck out the first 15 batter’s he’s faced.

                      But I get your point. Strikeouts aren’t the only thing. And depending on a pitcher’s skillset, a pitcher might want to try and trade off some K’s for fewer BB’s and more GB’s. But that doens’t mean that we can ignore strikeouts, or should not be concerned with low K rates in the minors.

                    • Kyle

                      You can’t pitch to contact in the major leagues and get guys out consistently. If you are putting it where they can hit it, you are putting it where they can hit it hard.

                    • jt

                      In just the NL
                      K/9 < 7 and ERA 165:
                      Arroyo,Lohse, Leake, Chacin, Stults, De La Rosa, Peralta, Gee, Wood, Cashner, Zimmermann, Locke

              • jt

                Rich Hill had 294 IP over 2 seasons at ages 26 and 27 in which his ERA was just about 4.00
                At age 28 he couldn’t get the ball down which indicates he could not reach is release point. At age 28 the body changes. Good pitchers adapt by either working harder to stay in shape or by becoming cleaver. It could be that Hill did neither.

          • cub2014

            Didnt Rich Hill get hurt? His last year in
            minors (2006)he was very good and his rookie
            year with the Cubs (2007)he was good. After
            2007 he only pitches a few innings a year.

            By the way Hill’s career numbers were or are
            similiar to Samardijza’s. In regards to Hendricks
            stuff doesnt determine success, it only means
            it could be more likely.

            • jt

              After a poor 4 awful starts in May of 2006 Hill was sent down. He was then recalled for a start on July 27, 2006. That start and along with his next 12 yielded a run of 80 IP and an ERA of 2.93.
              2007 was solid as his 32 starts resulted in 195 IP and an ERA of 3.93.
              He came into ST in 2008 needing a seeing eye dog to find home plate. All the reports that I read said that he could not get the ball down.
              I figure that he could get the ball down but would lose velocity and movement in doing so.
              Maybe he was just lucky for those 275 consecutive IP. Maybe he forgot how to pitch. Maybe he developed the yips. I don’t know. It did happen at age 28 when an athletes body starts to change.

    • Jon

      Are you really comparing Kyle Hendricks to a pitcher with a lifetime career WAR of 48?
      Really?

      • wvcubsfan

        I think he was comparing styles and velocity, not the players themselves. At least that’s how I took it.

      • MightyBear

        Well yeah. That’s what everyone does with minor leaguers. Hence, Baez is comparable to Sheffield. Bryant is comparable to Werth, etc. I’m not saying Hendricks is going to have a lifetime 48 WAR or Baez is going to hit like Sheffield. That’s just what is done.

    • Jason P

      In addition to Hendricks’ velocity (sits 87-91 with the fastball, slightly lower than Hudson), his breaking ball isn’t really anything special either. His control/command is very, very good for a prospect, but it probably won’t immediately be Hudson good — Hudson was throwing 91-92 when he first got to the bigs, and he gradually sharpened his command over time as his velocity decreased.

      I do think Hendricks will be a 4 or 5 starter, but his upside is limited.

  • wvcubsfan

    Because one pitches for the Cubs and one doesn’t’

  • http://Bleachernation Lou Brock

    Thinking out of the box I would approach Hughes with the idea of becoming a closer. He is a strikeout pitcher and has good K/BB numbers. Tell him he can prove himself on a one year deal and be the highest paid closer in next years closer free agent listings.

    • abe

      The Yankees made him a reliever a few years ago and he was light out. Everyone was saying he can replace Maroino Revera. Then they made him into a started and he never really panned out. Kind of like the Bard situation..

  • Chad

    There is nothing wrong with Hendricks being a 4 or 5 starter if he is a decent one at his role. Because every team needs a 4th or 5th starter as well as a 1,2, and 3. I think everyone is down on the kid because he’s not the next ace for the cubs, but I doubt the cubs have ever envisioned him in that role anyway.

  • Blublud

    I wonder if they envisioned Travis Wood as an Ace. Well, right now, he is our best pitcher. Hendricks will be just fine. He may not be Hudson, but does he really have to be.

    • GP1

      Blublud,
      Yes he will be just fine. All he has ever done is Win!! All you Cub fans are used to looooosing.
      Scouts live and die on that radar gun. Remember ,pitching is about getting outs.

      We shall see!!!

  • ottoCub

    So, in order to field a major league quality team in 2014, it seems to me like the Cubs need to sign the following players:

    1. an outfielder
    preferably right-handed with power, or
    a high OBP top-of-the-order guy
    2. a back-up catcher
    3. a starting pitcher (or two)
    4. a left-handed relief pitcher

    I realize this list represents the bare-minimum needs the Cubs have, and that these signings aren’t going to necessarily make the team good. But they are needs that must be addressed to make the team serviceable.

    What are best guesses at who fills each of these 4?

    • ottoCub

      My guesses:
      1. Nelson Cruz or Domonic Brown
      2. Kurt Suzuki
      3. Scott Baker and/or Phil Hughes
      4. Anybody’s guess?

  • YourResidentJag

    Brian Kenny’s evaluation of Choo as a better hitter than Ellsbury (Yeah, yeah I know.):Brian Kenny ‏@MrBrianKenny 4m
    Choo: bb%, contract rate going up. O-swing%, K% going down. 5th best hitter in NL last yr.
    Bonus metric:
    Vs LHP in Sept: .500/.538.

  • ChicagoMike702

    This is the Giants’ 3rd overpay this off-season. Let’s not get carried away about Tim Hudson setting the market.

  • Senor Cub

    Brett has got some wicked math skills….
    “…Player X has gotta be worth at least $Y million over Z years.”

  • Curt

    It does make me wonder Brett all we seem to hear us the cubs signing pitchers so they can trade them if they perform well, when do the cubs start signing pitchers r position players with the intent on competing and speaking of which how did Edwin Jackson get 4 years from this fo. And in yr opinion is he worth it.

  • Moises Canchola

    Did the Cubs ever even look into getting Hudson cuz i think 2 years 20+ mil is a marvelous number. Yes his speed isnt all that but def worth it. He still knows how to pitch and id rather have him than edwin jackson any day of the week

    • Chad

      1. The cubs are stuck with EJax
      2. Hudson would not come to the cubs on that kind of deal because they are not ready to compete and he wants to be on a winner.

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