Baseball Toaster Cub Town
The Silent Pain of Polytheism
2006-01-26 08:27
by Derek Smart

This was a minor thing that went down late yesterday, but I almost missed it. The Cubs purchased the contract of an outfielder from the Mets' system named Angel Pagan, and added him to the 40-man roster. Not begin much of a prospect guy, I turned to my handy-dandy 2005 version of John Sickels' Prospect Book for some insight.

Pagan is a switch-hitter with good speed. He doesn't have much power, and his on-base abilities are inconsistent. His walk rate is mediocre, leaving his OBP highly dependent on his batting average. I think he projects as a reserve outfielder.

A quick look at his stat lines confirms that assessment, and the fact mentioned in the piece linked above, that he managed to commit nine errors while playing all three outfield positions last season, implies that he's not much use defensively, either (I know, errors are misleading, but nine miscues in one season is a lot for an outfielder).

In other words, beyond any snickers that can be had from the implication that the Cubs have gotten so desperate that they've finally turned to Paganism to eradicate their curse, there's little to be interested in here, and far more to question.

Why use your last available roster spot on a player like this? Why use this roster spot this way when there's a decent chance you'll want to add Cleanliver Goodbody by the end of the spring? Why fill your 40-man at the end of January when you have a pitcher you've just signed to a deal that guarantees them a spot on said roster by Opening Day?

To be honest, I'm not sure what this move implies, or why it was made. I suppose it could be a favor to the Mets, but since there's only cash involved it seems like a small favor at best. The Cubs aren't in tremendous need of outfield depth, so that doesn't fly with me, either.

What's very clear is that certainly one, and probably two, players will need to depart the club's roster by the time the season opens, and while it was likely going to happen anyway, I'd guess that this addition only increases the internal pressure to trade Todd Walker, and now, to do it for non-roster minor leaguers, or in a package deal with other denizens of the 40-man for fewer roster players in return.

Perhaps I'm missing something (alright, it's a near certainty), but I'm really scratching my head here. I'd like to think that there's a solid reason and a good idea here, but hell if I can find it. Help me out, folks. What's going on?

2006-01-26 09:20:42
1.   Ken Arneson
Well, maybe they don't really intend to keep him on the 40-man roster, but they would like him in AAA. So they nab him now, and then hope to sneak him through waivers later. That's easier to do when he's on your roster instead of someone else's.

The A's have done this twice with John Baker this winter. During the winter meetings, they tried to take him off the 40-man roster and sneak him through waivers down to AAA, but the Marlins claimed him. Later, the Marlins had a roster crunch, and tried to sneak Baker through waivers down to AAA, but the A's had an open spot on the 40-man at the time, and the A's snagged him back. Then yesterday, the A's signed Frank Thomas, and now they're trying to send Baker through waivers back down to AAA again. Poor Baker probably has no idea where he's going to end up next year. That's life being the 40.5th man on the roster, I guess.

2006-01-26 09:34:55
2.   Derek Smart
Good point. Especially about it being easier to sneak him through waivers to your AAA club when he's on your roster. ;)

Your scenario seems perfectly reasonable, actually. I think I've got my conspiracy/incompetency theory hackles up of late.

2006-01-26 10:48:48
3.   Ivy Walls
Minor moves are just that but like Miller, Hendry is preparing his stable for a bigger move(s) before March 1st.

Pagan represents AAA player who provides insurance. Does this portend that someone already in that area might be part of package? Could be. He is of little risk since if he is waived little chance he will be picked up and placed on a 40-man roster or 25-man unless he has a great spring. He is Macias-lite a nice talent to have in the organization if the team bus has an accident.

His position is CF, is that a clue? Pie is on the 40-man and the depth chart as CF. So is Hairston Jr. as backup to Pierre.

We will see what this portends but if Pagan and Pie play at Iowa, who plays CF?

2006-01-27 18:12:06
4.   shawndgoldman
Ivy Walls,

I've been thinking along similar lines. If Pagan is OF/CF insurance it might mean that Hairston is on his way out of the CF spot in Chicago. That could mean that he's moving back to the IF and Walker's on the way out.

Of course, it could mean nothing and Pagan could be insurance for Cleanliver Goodbody (btw Derek, i still chuckle every time i read that), or just be a AAA signing as Ken points out.

2006-02-05 13:45:09
5.   Rick Houston TX
Pagan was probably acquired to fill out the Iowa Cubs roster. Former Iowa Cub outfielders David Kelton and Ben Grieve are non-roster invitees of the Braves and White Sox, respectively. The Iowa Cubs outfielders might be Felix Pie, Adam Greenberg, Michael Restovich and Pagan.

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