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chicago cubs logoAmidst the clamor of the final few hours of the Winter Meetings, including an outfielder trade, the Chicago Cubs picked up a couple of minor leaguers, providing some much-needed depth.

First, in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 Draft, the Cubs grabbed 27-year-old catcher Charles Cutler from the Pirates’ organization. Because it was the minor league phase, the Cubs get Cutler free and clear, and he’s instantly the favorite for starts at AAA Iowa this year. Right now, he’ll be competing with Eli Whiteside, and will fall in the top four on the depth chart overall, which is kind of amazing for a minor league phase draftee.

Cutler has caught at AA for the past four years, failing to advance to AAA in the relatively catching-rich Pirates’ system in the latter two of those years (he originated in the Cardinals’ system). He’s 27, which makes his production unimpressive, especially considering the level repeating. But it’s really good production: .295/.388/.408 over 856 plate appearances at AA. He’s got a lefty bat, and he takes a ton of walks: in his career, he’s walked 172 times against just 179 strikeouts. I can’t find too much on his skills as a catcher, but I’ve got to assume they’re lagging. Otherwise, it’s very hard to figure out why a guy who’s been so solid with the bat has stalled out at AA. Hell, he’s never even really been given a starting job in the minors.

The Cubs also signed pitcher Tommy Hottovy to a minor league deal, according to Chris Cotillo. Hottovy, who was also invited to Spring Training, is a 32-year-old lefty who has never really gotten a shot in the bigs. He was a long-time Boston farmhand, so there’s the obvious connection there. The numbers aren’t overwhelming, though the K rate ticked up quite a bit when he switched over a relief role in the upper minors. There’s no risk here, since it’s a minor league deal, but I don’t see a ton of upside unless something changed and the scouts are suddenly raving about him.

  • Jon

    As one Cutler is getting ready to leave Chicago, another arrives.

    • FarmerTanColin

      The continual trickle of getting OBP into the system. These moves are minor but the message is clear. As for the sidearming lefty maybe there’s hidden value, if not he’s cut at spring training to continue his own path.

  • EATON BEAVUR

    START PRINTING THE WORLD SERIES TIX!

    • ClevelandCubsFan

      A) Do you think you’re really original, or
      B) are you trying to be “that guy” before “that guy” actually has a chance to post, a sort of ironical take on irony, or
      C) are you just a troll?

      I’m hoping for “B”…. but the handle suggests I could be wrong….

      • EATON BEAVUR

        GO CUBS!

    • TWC

      Which are you prouder of: this dumb joke that’s made every time the Cubs make the minarets of minor-league moves or your juvenile screen name?

      • TWC

        Minarets? That’s an odd autocorrect…

      • DarthHater

        Personally, I’m more a fan of juvenile screen names.

        • ssckelley

          I agree, nothing beats EATON BEAVUR.

          • Colonel Angus

            Agreed.

          • Jon

            Depends on your taste, I suppose.

        • Patrick W.

          I’m becoming a big fan of alternate screen names.

      • NORMA STITZ

        GO CUBS!

    • Chandler

      Every time the Cubs make a minor acquisition there is always some sarcastic unoriginal attention whore who says that.

  • macpete22

    In before everyone complains about how the Cubs are the only organization who signs minor league free agents

  • C. Steadman

    wonder how Cutlers arm behind the plate is…could be a good #3 C for depth in case of injury

    • Jon

      Strong arm, but half of his throws get intercepted.

      • C. Steadman

        i knew i’d be walking into a trap with that one..haha, too lazy to type charles…oops just contradicted myself there

      • Spriggs

        First good laugh I’ve had in a few days! Easy, but a good one.

    • itzscott

      Define what you consider “good” to be.

      • C. Steadman

        better than JC Boscan…

  • cubsfan08

    I had a thought…a certain faction of the Cubs’ fan base is freaking out (this is obvious). The question is why? In a panic for something to complain about – and honestly that’s really what the Chicago Media promotes (bitching) – they have fallen to the old standby…Ownership and the Front Office.

    In the past couple years, anytime the Cubs struggled it was – “That bum Soriano is making $20 mil a year to swing at pitches in the dirt” or “Marmol sucks, if he pitches in the 9th I’m gonna…” type of complaining.

    We literally have ZERO of those type of situations/contracts on this team. NONE…and people are left with nothing else to blame the lack of success on. It was always “those guys are holding us back” but there really wasn’t any answer to how that would fix the MLB team after that initial thinking. And now they are panicking wanting the front office / ownership to put us into the same damn situation over the next few years.

    Need to step from the W/L record, and focus on the players and their growth. Enjoy it, embrace it, take a different approach. Cubs lose 5-3, sucks I know, but smile afterward knowing that Rizzo went 2-2 with 2 HR’s and 2 walks. We don’t know what Junior Lake will look like in 2 years. We have an idea, but don’t KNOW. If he sucks, he won’t be here…we will never be “stuck” with him. However, we certainly know what a 37 year old Choo will look like making $20 mil a year, and it’s not pretty…

    • Idaho Razorback

      Thank You cubsfan08!

    • Randy

      So Cubs Fan 08 to someone who may not have many years left and has always been a loyal supporter I disagree with you wholeheartedly.
      Remembers Theo’s words, (every season is sacred), or maybe I just misunderstood. I am not going to sit around and watch loss after loss and go well its OK you know a few years down the line, hey who knows. That is bull crap you get from small market clubs. The Cubs are not a small market team and are one of the wealthiest teams in MLB.
      Give me a break.

      • Jon

        Tom Ricketts sold Theo a bad bill of goods when he recruited him. Theo was under the impression there would be much more $$ available for major league payroll, he even admitted so in an interview.

        • Randy

          agree Jon and Doc

      • TheRiot2

        Is that you Mr. Boras?

      • Cyranojoe

        OK. Put your money where your mouth is. WHO DO WE BUY TO WIN THE WORLD SERIES? You can complain all you want, but the epic free agents aren’t out there. There’s no Babe Ruth who’s *willing* to come to the Cubs for an enormous payday. Those guys are already wrapped up in contracts right now. Or do you wish the Cubs had hung themselves with the Pujols contract for the next decade? If you’re drooling over Trout or Trumbo or the like, guess how you get those kids? DEVELOPMENT. Please please please tell me how the Cubs could put together a no-brainer post-season team with the free agents who were available the last two years. And convince me they’d be willing to come to Chicago, too, because money doesn’t *always* talk (it usually does, but this is the Cubs we’re talking about). I’ll even spot you one: assuming we spent enough $$, we coulda had Yu Darvish. I can believe that. What does he bring us? Five, ten wins?

        Don’t sneak any trades in there, unless it’s for somebody who was actually traded in the last two years. All other trade scenarios are b.s. magic unicorns.

        • Pat

          There is never going to be one offseason where we can go from sixty some wins to the World Series, so no point waiting for that. Improve the team. If they can’t do that, they don’t really deserve their jobs.

          Sustained success is the Fairy Tale here (bs magic unicorns). That requires a whole lot of luck in addition to a good organization. Sustained failure, on the other hand, seems to be much easier to achieve.

      • itzscott

        Randy –

        Totally feel your pain…..

        Going on 62 years old here and have planted myself in front of the TV watching Cubs games since I was 6 years old. You can argue that I was raised on Banks and Brickhouse. I died a bit in ’69, ’84, ’89, Bartman, etc and came to the conclusion that, just like my father, it just ain’t gonna happen in my lifetime either.

        So I chose for the Cubs NOT to be as big a part of my life as they were. I now sit back, watch the tap dancing and charade being put on by Ricketts, Epstein & Hoyer…. just shake my head, smile and say to myself “These guys really DO take fans for morons!”. No different than The Tribune Co. or Wm. Wrigley did.

        And I find the whole thing to be amusing and meaningless in the scheme of things.

        Until Cub fans stop the Rah-Rah fanboy stuff and start holding Ricketts, Epstein & Hoyer accountable and demand more from this organization, only the law of averages will change things briefly.

        Witnessing the Cubs win a WS is definitely on my bucket list, but if it doesn’t happen my life will be no less meaningful and fulfilling than it’s actually been…. and I’m okay with that now.

    • Dr. Leroy Quackenbush

      To me the disappointment, is that Theo espoused that every season is sacred. The Cubs price their tickets as if every season is sacred. The fan experience of trying to get to Wrigley and all associated costs, implies that every season is sacred. The lack of creativity in putting together a line-up to at least be competitive is disappointing. There are moves that could be made that might make the Cubs a little more competitive. They need more consistent offense in the 1, 3, 4 or 5 hole and they need to improve the bullpen. There are moves that could be made and they are sitting on their hands. I believe that the Cubs will try to address these open items but they will do it on their terms. Which is okay but it makes it painful to watch.

      • cubsfan08

        But isn’t it a supply and demand issue? I have faith that any piece they deem worthy they will bring in. Ellsbury, Choo, etc…they will bring them in if the terms of the contract “fit.” This issue most likely isn’t so much money, its the years. If Choo would sign a 4 year contract at 15-20mil/year – I think it would be done. But the players won’t do that because they can get more somewhere else. There aren’t enough players that fit our need on the market. Can we trade for them, yes, but then we sacrifice a lot in the future and they don’t want to do that – and neither do I. Tanaka is the only piece that makes sense, and we will see how that shakes out.

        From the perspective of an older Cubs’ fan – I agree. That is tough to swallow. Not really a good answer for your concerns either. But I’m pretty sure you want a World Series, not just a competitive team that sneaks into the Wild Card and gets thumped. There is the problem the organization faces. They want a World Series. We have already experienced playoff failure…and if that continued I’m sure you would still be just as unsatisfied as you are with this process.

        I respect your stance – but I want this organization to be something like the Blackhawks…built from within and in the position to just fill pieces in. What would really be devastating is being a team that “almost” gets there, then misses their very short window with nothing in house to fix it, and then have to start all over. That is my biggest fear and what I consider a monumental waste of time/years.

    • Cyranojoe

      Couldn’t agree with you more, Cubsfan08. Good points.

  • TheRiot2

    Ah the voice of reason. A good post that brings me back to reality. Yes I know we’re not going to bring in a core piece to add to the Cubbie kids these next few years,but just the same we still need that bat added (in 2014). It’s still going to be Welly , Rizzo and Castro as the core pieces and the outcome seems to be more of empty seats again.

  • AD

    Any word from Assman?

    • Pat

      Someone send out the ass-signal

  • Randy

    Whatever you do don’t complain about it as those still drinking the Ricketts Koolaid will bash you. Bottom line you can rebuild and spend money. This isn’t KC or Tampa. This is supposed to be a huge market that now seems like a minor market team.

    • C. Steadman

      and those who choose not to complain are labeled Koolaid drinkers?

    • ari gold

      so who would you have signed this offseason?

      • cubsfan08

        Exactly – there are 2 pieces to every signing. Money and Contract Length. The way some make it sound is that the Yankees and Dodgers have won every single World Series the past 15 years. They spend, and spend, and spend…yet the results haven’t been guaranteed. There is always a budget. Doesn’t matter if its 100 million or 500 million. If you go crazy it will get used up and you will get stuck.

        Cubs could sign EVERY SINGLE free agent this year and next. All of them. Would the team be better this year. Yup. Would they win the World Series – most likely not. But guess what, can’t just get a do over next year. Still have to pay the guys the money and now you can’t do anything to get better. You’ll just get worse as the roster gets older. That sounds like a blast…

        • Edwin

          I think the Yankees will be just fine.

      • Dr. Leroy Quackenbush

        Trade for Brandon Phillips (@ 12M per for a gold glove 3 hole guy; 4 years left on agreement)
        Sign a closer (reasonable price, to compete with Strop)
        Sign Carlos Beltran (3 year @15M per year)

        Done.

        • Sandberg

          Brandon Phillips sucks and was not better than Barney in the field.

          • Jon

            Brandon Phillips certainly doesn’t suck

          • http://bleachernation.com woody

            You certainly are an informed fan.

        • cubsfan08

          You would have to base these on actual transactions.

          We have no idea what it would cost to trade for Phillips – would it cost too much from the farm (its more than just about money)

          What closer, whats reasonable, who?

          Beltran hasn’t signed yet so it would be the same as me saying lets sign Ellsbury for 4 years @ 20M per – impossible

          • C. Steadman

            beltran got nabbed by the Yanks for 3/45

            • cubsfan08

              Facepalm! My bad, I knew that but not sure what I was thinking.

              Yea but Beltran Sucks :) (kidding) – it is still early and I have confidence they are still kicking the tires on affordable pieces like that. I’m really just holding out on Tanaka as frustrating as that whole situation is getting.

          • Dr. Leroy Quackenbush

            Beltran has signed for $15M for 3 years to the Yankees
            Phillips and a top pitching prospect for Shark and Alcantara or Barney
            There a few closers out there for 6 to 8M range. (Rodney, Benoit)

            All I am saying is that there are few players out there that could make us competitive now, without blocking too many of our upcoming prospects that would not break the bank.

            Brandon Phillips may suck but his 103 RBIs from last year would look pretty good in our line-up.

            • C. Steadman

              those 103 RBIs would drop to 80 in our lineup…

              • C. Steadman

                RBIs need people on base when Philips gets hits…he had Choo in front of him to be on base…Cubs one of the worst teams in that stat

                • Dr. Leroy Quackenbush

                  That 80 is still 40 better than Barney’s last year.

                  • C. Steadman

                    well if barney didnt hit in the 8 hole i bet barneys RBI would be better too…RBI is a nice stat but it is too reliant on other players skillsets to fully judge the actual players skill on who’s RBI we are talking about

                    • CubFan Paul

                      “well if barney didnt hit in the 8 hole i bet barneys RBI would be better too”

                      Keep dreamin’ kid.

                    • C. Steadman

                      you dont think Barney’s RBI total would be better if he hit in the 3 hole instead of the 8 hole?…bc thats a fact jack! might be only 55 RBI instead of 41 but thats still better

    • Cyranojoe

      Label Kool-Aid drinkers those who appreciate logic and use reason when considering the players available. If it were as easy as spending money to get to the World Series, wouldn’t the Angels have gotten there last year? The Dodgers? The Yankees didn’t, but they do regularly — but as the *only* team that does so consistently while blowing a ton of money, I’d consider them statistical outliers more than a viable model to follow.

      • Edwin

        I’d love to hear you break down the Cubs current plan in terms of logic and reason.

  • Dale Jr

    Tell that to the owner,when he’s at the next
    Home game!

  • Blackhawks1963

    Now were cookin’ with peanut oil. Hottovy and Cutler, to go with Wright and Kottaras. $75 million payroll. Woo, wee !!!

    • Chad

      Could you post more often around 10 pm please? The more and more posts of yours I read the more I yawn. I could use that around 10 or so. Thanks in advance.

    • Cyranojoe

      How creative. You’re right, no other teams sign minor league deals. A real baseball team like the Rangers wouldn’t grab Russel Wilson’s minor league contract — you know, the current starting QB for the Seattle Seahawks? No way.

  • http://thenewenthusiast.com dw8

    I think the 2014 Mets are a pretty good example of the process that some here are interested in. Their 2013 run differential was 22 runs better than the 2013 Cubs and they have 2014 spending that includes:
    Granderson @ 13. million
    C. Young @ 7.25 million
    Colon @ 10 million

    The offseason isn’t over but this is something I’m going to be looking at in terms of an alternative process.

    • Dr. Leroy Quackenbush

      +1 We will get an interesting comparison. Without any additions to the offense, I just don’t see how we can be competitive.

  • Jason (Thundermug)

    Here is something interesting ! Kendall Rogers on Twitter

    Reported on this a while back, @NCAA appeal denied. #Houston RHP Daniel Poncedeleon is ineligible for the 2014 season
    Basically, this is a situation where Poncedeleon signed a commitment to sign with #Cubs, but backed off. #NCAA called that exchanging hands.

    • beerhelps

      I wonder what he can do now….

    • jj

      Poncedeleon didn’t just “back off” – the agreement was void when he failed his physical. Reportedly MLB and the Cubs submitted paperwork in support of his appeal.

  • Stevie B

    What are you fools going to say in a few years when we are pushing the luxury tax and are a solid, stacked organization?

    Quit fucking complaining.

  • Die hard

    When do playoff tkts go on sale?

    • http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/653cc0c5f0eded621ab13b4f631de7da.png Cizzle

      #playedout

  • Eric

    Joba to the Tigers…

  • http://www.backingthepack.com Rynomite

    Cutler’s a Cal-Berkeley guy, so he’s probably pretty smart about calling games/working with young pitchers. He also has an OPS well north of .800 v. RHP in two of the last 3 years. Good guy to have help along young prospects and probably wouldn’t embarrass in a brief stint as a platoon mate for Castillo if Kot struggles or gets hurt. Not a big difference maker, to be sure, but a smart move.

  • Bobbosbox

    The most interesting thing here is that some seem convinced that every prospect at A and AA will become a difference maker. Good luck to all of us fans.

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