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I always like to caveat these things with some variation of, “The Cubs’ front office and coaching staff has eyes on things that are obscured to fans, so they have more data to make these decisions than we do.”

But, like, what?

If Kottaras is placed on release waivers – having gone unclaimed on the outright waiver wire (dude makes just $1.08 million) – he’s very likely to be out of the organization, in addition to being off of the 40-man roster. That means either the Cubs are so enamored by John Baker or so disappointed with Kottaras (or both) that they prefer to keep Baker as Welington Castillo’s backup over Kottaras, and they’re willing to put another dent in their non-existent catching depth.

I’m really scratching my head here.

I guess we’ll see what happens when this shakes out. Of course, if no team was willing to take Kottaras for just his salary, then we’ll know a little something is up with him, as far as baseball evaluators are concerned. I’ll gladly volunteer that I’m no scout, and I just liked what a saw in Kottaras’s recent numbers at the plate (as far as backup catchers go). Obviously I’m seeing something that wasn’t there.

UPDATE: Multiple reports confirm that Kottaras is indeed on release waivers, and he’ll be moseying on out of the organization (unless he sticks around on some kind of re-negotiated minor league deal). As an arbitration contract, Kottaras’s deal was likely not entirely guaranteed, so the Cubs may have saved a few hundred thousand here with this maneuver. But still. What’s so wrong with the Greek Dog of Walks?

With Kottaras and Donnie Murphy off of the 40-man, and with Kyuji Fujikawa like to hit the 60-day DL, the Cubs will have three 40-man roster spots to play with. One will go to Emilio Bonifacio, and one will likely go to John Baker, assuming he wins the backup job (Eli Whiteside hasn’t had a great Spring). The third could go to one of Ryan Kalish and Ryan Roberts.

And a reminder to myself and others:

  • theHuch

    Yes! A spot for Koyie Hill has now opened up!

    • Fishin Phil

      Bite your tongue!

      • MattyNomad

        Is it wierd that I real all your comments in Walters voice? On another note, what am I gonna do with with my autographed george Kottaras bat from this years CubsCon?!

        • JM

          Re-evaluate who is “bat worthy”.

          • Fishin Phil

            Maybe he could trade it for a sponge.

          • MattyNomad

            It was a mini bat…I should have stated that more clearly lol Like a $10 investment. You think I could sell it on ebay for $9 to someone who hasnt gotten the news yet? lol

            • Picklenose

              Get Koyie Hill to sign it as well. It could become the bat of failed Cub catchers!

    • KHRSS

      Seeing Koyie Hill in a cubs uniform again would be horrible.

  • The one who knocks

    What happened to Eli Whiteside?

  • Javier Bryant

    Definitely caught me off guard and I have no idea why they decided to get rid of him

    • CubFan Paul

      He sucks.

  • Jim

    [img]http://jinxiesworld.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/minion-what.jpg[/img]

  • WernerT

    Twitter makes this sound like Donnie Ballgame and Saint George have been shipped off to make space on 40-man. Would that make this make sense?

    • J. L.

      In Kottaras’s case, that would make sense if they had a better option for backup catcher, which doesn’t look to be the case.

      Something must be wrong with him.

      • Spoda17

        I agree… I think something is up. Murphy, no brainer, but Kattaras… I’m scratching my head… even if he sucks… there are no other options out there.

  • Funn Dave

    The FO knows something we don’t. I wonder if they’re just dropping these players so the Rangers can pick them up–trying to earn some goodwill with a team that may be bitter?

    • cking6178

      That certainly seems plausible…this may very well have future implications with these two teams…

      • MattyNomad

        These are professionals..Even if the entirety of the Rangers organization regrets that trade [and im sure they do], goodwill only gets you so far. There HAS to be something in the bigger picture here.

        • cking6178

          Matty, that was kind of my point about future implications…Cubs may have “greased the skids” of the waiver wire to ensure Kottaras would clear waivers outright…You are correct though, these ppl are professionals, but professionals don’t try to fleece other professionals (obviously the Cubs didn’t intentionally fleece Texas, but the deal has worked heavily in Cubs favor and if we want to make bigger deals in the future, we have to make sure the relationship is there) and often extend “favors” to ensure an amicable future working relationship…

          • MattyNomad

            Agreed. I guess the variance in my mind is, as large of a shift as this trade had made in favor of the Cubs….each team that entered the bidding war knew what they were shooting for. The Rangers offered Olt [eye issues], Grimm [Lost some stock due to being pushed to early], Ramirez [Believed to have shoulder issues], and Edwards [the nice piece], because they were comfortable doing so.

            On the flip side, what if Olt never recovered, Ramirez did indeed have reoccuring shoulder issues, and Grimm just never hit that ceiling they saw him having….would the Cubs get our back scratched this offseason? I dont think they’d do the same. 99% of these FO’s would say we knew what we were trading for.

            I do get the importance of keeping good relations for the future, but with that in mind, these ‘favors of good faith’ better keep the Rangers revolving door open.

  • IA_Colin

    But but…he is..Moneyball!

    • C. Steadman

      Don’t worry John Baker still carries a 10-11% BBrate, he’s still moneyball

  • brains

    i think this decision is pretty in line with the rest of our losing on purpose decisions. in fact anything but this would be a surprise. the next non surprises will be trading our #1 pitchers and hitters.

    • mjhurdle

      Theo: “how can we squeeze another 5 losses out of this team?”
      Jed: “well, we could move Rizzo”
      Theo: “no, too obvious”
      Jed: “Castro?
      Theo “No, and im not trading Sweeney either”
      Jed: “well, there is that backup catcher, Kotter or something like that. If we trade him that is almost a 1/10th of a loss more when we replace him with another backup catcher”
      Theo: “Genius!! no one will ever recognize our brilliant idea to purposely lose by dropping 0.1 wins from our backup catcher position *evil chuckle*”

      Theo wasn’t counting on Brains being here and seeing through such a clever ruse.

      • Fishin Phil

        Well played sir.

        • Funn Dave

          Yes. I like Brains, but that was funny.

      • InTheoWeTrust

        Awesome

      • brains

        i liked this very much – but i will point out that we’ll probably trade shark and castro. so your thought process parody might be frighteningly close to reality, minus the hyperbole caricature.

  • Fishin Phil

    Maybe his dog bit Theo.

    • MattyNomad

      Brett, is Bleachernation ever gonna incorporate its own version of a ‘LIKE’ button? I has a sad when I have to pass posts like these and just brofist my monitor.

      • Funn Dave

        I just brofisted my monitor. It was surprisingly satisfying.

        • MattyNomad

          *returned brofist but made explosion sound and motion while pulling away*

      • lnfihDeL

        I think it should, that way we can down vote all of Die Hard’s trolls.

      • cking6178

        Agreed…in fact, Brett I think instead of “Like” the button should be “brofist”…being that it’s a sports blog, it fits…Well played Matty, well played

        • MattyNomad

          *brofist*

          See what I did there? Yup..Im making it a thing now.

    • mjhurdle

      [img]http://s16.postimg.org/wldhnp211/internet_high_five.jpg[/img]

      • DarthHater

        [img]https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-okC5OfJnByc/Tw_K3x2vxQI/AAAAAAAAd4M/KmYpVjwQUdk/w254/takeme.jpg[/img]

    • DarthHater

      Theo and Mrs. Theo were are scrolling through Kottaras’s Instagram. Mrs. Theo swooned. Kottaras got released.

  • ssckelley

    Blackhawks must be celebrating!

  • terencemann

    Baker seems to be really well respected around MLB. I’m not really surprised the Cubs held onto him in spite of the fact that he’s not a very good player.

  • Rebuilding

    Seems pretty simple. You’re talking about two, fringy, replacement value (if you’re lucky) guys making more $ than replacement level and taking up 40 man spots. Their combined addition to WAR this year would have prob been about 1 (and even that’s likely replaceable). I bet if you watch the transaction wire over the next few days you’ll see every other team in MLB make the same kind of moves

  • terencemann

    I guess this means Bonifacio will make the team?

    • Fishin Phil

      I had already assumed that.

    • ssckelley

      That seems to be a given, is he taking Murphy’s spot?

  • theHuch

    Are there any other catchers that may be waived or released that the Cubs could be looking at?

  • lnfihDeL

    This makes no sense.

    Something we don’t know is the answer.

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  • WernerT

    Ahhhh brains. Keep pushing that stone up the hill. One day you will make it and also find that Caps button on your keyboard.

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    My view for the last month has been that Murphy was the odd man out in that infield situation. I will bet that Olt is the starting 3rd baseman opening day. I think this was more about freeing up roster spots and saving some money, more than anything. I agree with Funn Dave that it may have been a goodwill gesture considering that Daniels had recently admitted that he got fleeced by Theo.

  • Rebuilding

    There are likely to be some nice potential arms hit the waiver wire in the next few days. The more 40 man spots open, the better

  • Kyle

    I liked Kottaras, but shrug, whatevs.

  • Funn Dave

    I figured it out: Epstein got rid of Kotteras just to piss Brett off.

  • Jim

    I have 10 internets that another move is coming here..

  • Cheese Chad

    Bonifacio, convert to catcher!

  • ssckelley

    Is it possible since they knew the Rangers wanted Kottaras that they released him as a favor to the player so he could negotiate his own deal with them?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Yes, absolutely possible. But still means that no other team wanted him at his cheap salary and a 40-man spot, which is surprising to me.

      • ssckelley

        Ok, I missed the part of you saying he passed through waivers first. If that is the case then and the Rangers did not claim him then he may not get as much.

    • C. Steadman

      He might get less money than his original deal though or else the Rangers would’ve just claimed him at 1.1M. This could be a disservice to Kottaras.

  • JCubs79

    Meh. Don’t really see the downgrade here. Castillo will get the majority of the time anyway.

  • candyland07

    MoneyBall ? gotta laugh like a unicorn searching for a rainbow all cute and…. Whatever!

    Kottaras is gone ! plus 1 Murphy gone hmm plus 1 Ian Stewart gone plus 25 wait that was last year!

  • Napercal

    Way too much hand-wringing over a not-very-good back-up catcher. All of the positives I’ve seen on his is that he’s left-handed and takes a few walks. While that may excite the stats geeks, the guy still has to be able to play the game of baseball well. He doesn’t. Wring your hands when the Cubs make a move that will impact 2015 and beyond.

    • Kyle

      His replacement hasn’t had an OPS above .590 or hit a home run since 2009.

      • CubFan Paul

        Small sample size..

      • Napercal

        Your point being that the Cubs are replacing a bad catcher with an even worse catcher? Either way if Castillo goes down it’s a problem. But since 2014 is another lost season, unless it impacts 2015 and beyond – why worry?

        • CubFan Paul

          “why worry?”

          Pitcher development.

        • Kyle

          The fact that you aren’t a serious enough fan to care about small difference in the immediately upcoming season doesn’t mean you should ask the rest of us why we do.

          • Napercal

            Ouch! We’ve already suffered through two years of rebuilding. We have one more to go. I just don’t understand the freak out.

            • Funn Dave

              One more to go? I think I hear an echo from last year. And the year before that.

              • CubFan Paul

                The Front Office has told us 2016 through Mooney & Nightengale.

                • Brocktoon

                  After previously telling us 2014

                  • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                    I’d love to see that quote.

                    • Brocktoon

                      Did they hold a press conference to say “attention we won’t be trying until 2014?” No, but in the same way Mooney has mentioned 2016, it was fairly widespread to be 2014 previously.

                    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                      Seems like I would have noticed something like that. I tend to pay attention to these things a little bit.

                    • mjhurdle

                      by “fairly widespread”, do you mean to people that wanted to think that?
                      Because I have followed the Cubs fairly closely for many years, and I don’t think I ever heard (implied or otherwise) that they would be competing for the division in 2014. I held out hope that, with a few lucky moves, maybe staying in contention for the wild card later into the season. But not that 2014 was the year everything came together.

                    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                      For my part, back in 2012, I said I could see 2014 being the year that the Cubs come into Spring Training looking like a “maybe” team (i.e., at least .500 on paper). By late 2013, I’d changed my tune.

                      But that was just me thinking out loud.

                    • Brocktoon

                      I don’t know what to tell you.

                    • Brocktoon

                      From the beginning of this past offseason:

                      http://www.bleachernation.com/2013/11/18/there-are-increasing-signals-that-2014-and-2015-could-be-ugly/

                      “And then Patrick Mooney reported this: “Where the Cubs had internally viewed 2015 as a breakthrough year last winter, now they are focusing more on 2016 in the big picture.”

                      So we’re both wrong? Although that was how they felt after the 2012 season, they may have thought differently prior to that abomination.

    • candyland07

      That is the point Kottaras is a terrible player his bat ,his arm, his game calling stinks, HE can walk upright to first base but that is about it. Small victories.

      • Napercal

        If that is the standard, God help us all.

  • C. Steadman

    For all of you who think Kottaras sucks, last year he was the 31st best C in terms of WAR among those who had 120+ PA…Hypothetically there are 30 teams so the 1-30 catchers would be the “starters” and 31-60 would be the “backups” so he is actually a very good backup catcher

    • CubFan Paul

      “so he is actually a very good backup catcher”

      According to WAR(?).

      • C. Steadman

        WAR also gives value to defense(which most backups are more defense orientated) so it is a good comparison tool. If you are asking which WAR I used, it’d be fangraphs version.

        • Napercal

          In games in which Kottaras caught last year, the pitchers allowed .35 more earned runs than the league average. He threw out base runners at the rate of 18% as opposed to the league rate of 27%. Lest you think that Kottaras numbers are skewed by an underperforming pitching staff, the Royals starter, Salvador Perez, threw out base runners at a rate of 35%. In games in which Perez caught, the Royals pitching staff allowed .30 fewer runs per game. He does not play the position of catcher very well. The Cubs have not gotten rid of someone like Henry Blanco who was a very good back-up catcher and helped the pitching staff.

          • C. Steadman

            I know Kottaras’ value comes from his power and OBP, never said he was good defensively, just that I used WAR so it could bump up the Jose Molina’s and Henry Blanco’s in relation to Kottaras.

    • Napercal

      So we should have kept him because he was the best of a very bad group of players. For the kind of money he would make, I’ll pass.

      • Edwin

        Yeah, that $1MM was really holding them back.

      • C. Steadman

        1.1M isn’t that much money, even for a backup catcher, and Baker isn’t going to be league minimum, he made 930k last year and will probably be around 600k-800k since he signed a minor league deal to come to spring

  • JulioZuleta

    Backup catcher should be a defense-first guy. Especially when the starter/guy of the future is Castillo. Perfectly fine with Baker over Kottaras.

  • jp3

    And then the white sox beat us to this???? Damn that looks amazing, at least they’re offering something good at their games.

    • jp3
      • Picklenose

        Holy cow! 3 lbs of ice cream is more than half a gallon.

        • Napercal

          Have you ever seen a real live White Sox fan? That’s like maybe two bites to one.

    • ChrisFChi

      The Rangers win with that bacon stick. Not too sold on the frozen beer thou.

      • MattyNomad

        I thought that was the D’backs? Unfortunately no MLB team is yet willing to commit to the 4ft hotdog that they had in Austraila. Man up Mr. Ricketts!!

        • ChrisFChi

          Opening day ice cream in a waiver wire waffle bowl. Get on it Cubs 😊

    • MattyNomad

      They can have their ice cream…I want my $40 italian sausage nachos in a helmet. Btw, I hope every Sox fan gets really cold hands from that and it makes them uncomfortable.

      On another note, I heard the Reds and Cardinals are doing the same thing, but instead filling it with their own farts. Their fan base is so smug is seemed like the only thing to fill it with. Yes, Cinci and Loui fans love the smell of their own farts…no surprise there.

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