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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Non Roster Invitees

God Damn I'm Ready for Baseball Season

Non Roster Invitees. Every year each team releases a list of players who'll head to spring training in hopes of making the big league club. Some are young prospects with little chance of breaking camp with the parent team who are just in to face some live major league pitching, while others are fading veterans hoping for one more chance at sticking around in the show. Some notable non-roster invitees for the Cubs over the years have been Scott McClain, the AAA and Japanese League Babe Ruth who wowed us in the spring of '04 and '05 and dominated pitching at Iowa, Marquis Grissom in 2006, who terrified us with the prospect of getting at least 300 AB's under Dusty's leadership before mercifully retiring, and Shingo Takatsu last year, who should have been an omen that the Cubs can't judge Japanese talent, and Alex Cintron, who gave us all a preview of Ronny Cedeno's future. Today the Cubs released the names of 21 of their invitees, and since we don't want you spending all spring going "who the f&%k is that guy?" here's your introduction to all 21!

The Pitchers:

Edward Campusano, Age 26
Height: 6'4'' Weight: 175
Bats: Left Throws: Left

Ed Campusano first signed with the Cubs in 2002 and has languished in the minors ever since. Ed's one chance at making the big leagues came when he was snapped up by the Tigers in the Rule V Draft in 2007, but he blew his arm out before the season and was sold back to the Cubs, where he spent the entire season on the DL. Last year Campusano split time between the Class A Daytona Cubs and the AA Tennessee Smokies, where he went 5-3 with a 4.98 ERA in 43 games, all in relief.

Esmailin Caridad, Age 25
Height: 5'10'' Weight: 195
Bats: Right Throws: Right

A prospect from the Dominican Republic who signed with the Cubs after spending a few years in developmental leagues in Japan, Esmailin impressed in his first year as a starter in American professional baseball. In 28 games (27 starts) for Daytona and Tennessee, Caridad was 13-7 with a 3.73 ERA, and a 1.11 WHIP. He bears watching this spring, mostly since our farm system is nearly devoid of talent.

Andrew Cashner, age 22
Height: 6'6'' Weight: 185
Bats: Right Throws Right

Cashner, the Cubs top pick in this year's draft, received an invite to spring training as part of his contract. The hard thrower from Texas Christian University played in 8 games last year for the Boise Hawks and Daytona Cubs and was 1-2 with a 5.85 ERA and only 19 strikeouts against 23 walks. Obviously he has a long way to go before making it to the bigs, but it'll be fun to watch him this spring.

Chad Fox, age 38
Height: 6'3'' Weight: 175 lb
Throws: Right Bats: Right

You know, I can kind of understand why 38 year old Chad Fox is reluctant to retire. Thanks to the two Tommy John surgeries, the ulnar neuritis he's suffered on multiple occasions, and Dusty Baker, he's only pitched 227.7 innings in his 9 year career, an average of 25.3 innings per year, or only 25.3 innings more than Mark Prior pitches per year. Its understandable that he still feels like he hasn't actually Played enough major league baseball to give it up. But seriously, why would this hack seriously keep attempting to make the roster? Well, probably because the Cubs keep letting him, but other than that there's no real reason for it. Even when "healthy," and that's a relative term for him, he's managed just two good seasons since the 90s, if you take a look at his ERA and WHIP every year since 2001 (he was injured all of 2000): '01- 1.89/1.200, '02- 5.79/2.357, '03-3.12/1.523, '04-6.75/1.594, '05- 6.75/2.000, '08- 5.40/1.5000. There's really nothing other than the 2001 season (the 2003 season seems to have been mostly luck, a 3.12 ERA is highly suspect with such a middling WHIP as 1.523) that suggests he's even talented enough to be a major league pitcher, let alone one who can be effective at 38 years old. If he makes the team, I may just shoot someone. But not him, the poor guy's been hurt enough.

Ken Kadokura, age 35
Height: 6-4 Weight: 200
Bats: Right Throws: Right

Where was this picture taken? Whatever you want to know about Ken Kadokura can pretty much be found here. If you don't want to read (and why would you, reading is for p*ssies), the round up is this: Ken is a righty. He sucked badly enough in Japan that he was sent down to the minors. Most major league officials consider Japanese Professional Baseball to be equivalent in talent to AAA or slightly above, so do you own math as to how the competition in Japan's minor leagues translates to MLB. The most important thing, though, is that he was once a teammate of Kosuke Fukudome, and the Cubs seem intent on giving Kosuke a Japanese "buddy" to help him deal with the rigors of big mean American baseball, and this is evidenced by the rumors about Ken Takahashi and the signing of So Taguchi. So if either of these guys (God forbid Both) make the team, then you'd better hope they provide Kosuke with this ridiculous "lift," because otherwise its just 2 (or 3) worthless Japanese players on the roster.

J.R. Mathes, age 27
Height: 6'3'' Weight: 205
Bats: Left Throws: Left

Mathes, a former Boise State standout, was drafted by the Cubs in the 16th round of the 2004 draft, and has been a workhorse in the minors ever since, making at least 24 starts every year from 2005-2008. Last year Mathes represented the Iowa Cubs in the AAA All Star Game, and finished the season 9-5 with a 4.29 ERA and a 1.39 WHIP. While he doesn't draw much attention as a future major leaguer (I've seen him in person, his stuff's not overwhelming, I'll just say that), he is an innings eater and will probably make a few starts this spring, and is, sadly, a candidate should enough injuries eat at our starting rotation.

Rocky Roquet, Age 26
Height: 6'2'' Weight: 215
Bats: Right Throws Right

Now somewhere in the back hills of Tennessee there lived a young boy named Rocky Roquet....who hit 97 on the gun, had a 2:1 K's to BB ration last year, and might be a guy worth watching.

Matt Smith, age 29
Height: 6'4'' Weight: 215
Bats: Left Throws: Left

The good: Matt Smith is a former Yankee and Phillie with a career 2.55 ERA in 35 games.
The bad: He's only pitched 24.2 innings, none since 2007, when he had an 11.75 ERA. Also, he has a god awful strike out to walk ratio of 0.96 to 1 (22 K's, 23 BB's)
The good: Could he really be worse than Neal Cotts?

Mike Stanton, age 41
Height: 6'1'' Weight: 215
Bats: Left Throws: Left

Yikes, the left handed Chad Fox is 41 years old, didn't pitch in the majors in 2008, and blew (5.93 ERA, 1.61 WHIP) in his 69 games for Cinncinnati in 2007. But hey, he's still not Neal Cotts.

Jason Waddell, age 27
Height: 6'2'' Weight: 200
Bats: Right Throws: Left

Waddell, a southpaw, spent the last 8 seasons in the Giants farm system, going 18-18 with a 3.63 ERA and a 1.35 WHIP, mostly out of the bullpen. This place said he had a "Mike Stanton build," so, there's something they can talk about.

Bill White, age 30
Height: 6'3'' Weight: 225
Bats: Left Throws: Left

A product of the Diamondbacks organization who's seen some action for the Rangers the last two years, White has a 9.45 ERA and a 2.48 WHIP in 17 major league games. In the minors, he's 17-20 with a 4.46 ERA and a 1.50 WHIP. Nothing to see here, folks.

Tomorrow: The position players (are you ready for So Taguchi?)

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