Jeff Samardzija

The Cubs are thinking about putting Jeff Samardzija in the 2012 rotation


For the past several years, the name Jeff Samardzija has been synonymous with “Oh my god, what a disaster! Really, avert your eyes, everyone avert your eyes!”  No, it’s not a synonym that comes in handy for writers all that often, but any shorthand can be useful.

Useful has not been something Samardzija has been, putting up ERAs of 7.53 and 8.38 in 2009 and 2010, respectively.  But this year he has turned things around. In 69 relief appearances he has more than doubled his strikeouts per nine innings, dramatically cut his walk rate and reduced the number of hits he’s allowed.  He is sporting an ERA of 3.12 and a 1.279 WHIP which, while not All-Star material for a short reliever is really good and is especially good for a guy like Samardzija.

Gordon Wittenmyer of the Sun-Times reports that, as a result of this great leap forward, the Cubs are having internal discussions about moving Samardzija to the rotation for 2012.

“We’ll evaluate where we’re at this winter, and who the [front office] might go get,’’ [pitching coach Mark] Riggins said. ‘‘But you’ve got to look from within first. And of the guys that we have who could possibly do that, he’s one you’ve got to think about.’’

Coming in to 2011, it looked like the Cubs’ rotation would be a strength. That notion has gone the way of many a man’s best laid plans, so the Cubs need to be creative.  With a new general manager on the way and no sense yet of what direction the team may take in terms of spending. rebuilding, etc., it makes all the sense in the world to put Samardzija on a program that will get him ready to start games next spring. Flexibility is the key.

Now, if I could only convince myself that 2009 and 2010 were the aberrations and 2011 was what we could expect to see for the rest of his career …

Marlins have begun extension talks with Dee Gordon

Dee Gordon
AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald wrote three weeks ago that the Marlins were probably going to explore an extension this winter with second baseman Dee Gordon. And it sounds like those talks are underway.

Via beat writer Joe Frisaro of

As a guest on MLB Network’s “Hot Stove” show Wednesday morning, Gordon confirmed his camp has been in talks with the Marlins regarding a multiyear deal. A source told that the discussions are preliminary and have just recently started.

“My agent is doing the talking,” Gordon said on the show. “They’re just keeping me in the loop. I think it’s going pretty well right now. We’ll see how that goes. I’m just playing the waiting game. We’re going to do the right thing.”

The 27-year-old carries three more seasons of salary arbitration, so there’s no real rush to get something done before next spring. Gordon carries quite a bit of leverage after posting a career-best .333/.359/.418 slash line in 145 games this past season for the Fish. He led all major leaguers in hits (205) and stolen bases (58).

Braves sign Bud Norris to one-year contract

Bud Norris

Bud Norris has found a home for his attempt at a bounceback season, signing a one-year deal with the Braves. Jon Heyman of says it’s worth $2.5 million, which is a huge cut from his $8.8 million salary this year.

Norris had established himself as a solid mid-rotation starter from 2009-2014, but had a brutal 2015 season split between the Orioles and Padres with a 6.72 ERA in 83 innings and a late-season move to the bullpen.

In announcing the signing the Braves referred to Norris as a starting pitcher, so joining the rotation for a rebuilding team gives him a chance to get his career back on track with an eye on hitting the open market as a free agent again next offseason. And if he fares well, the Braves could use him to add a prospect or two at the trade deadline.

The Cubs acquire Rex Brothers from the Rockies

Rex Brothers Rockies

The number of people who, if you held a gun to their head, would say that “Rex Brothers” was a game show host and/or local TV news personality from the late 1970s or early 80s is not insignificant. But if you’re a Rockies fan or if spend all day thinking about baseball you know that he’s a reliever who has played in Colorado for the past five years. Now you know him as a reliever for the Cubs:

Brothers — a former Best Shape of His Life All-Star — was pretty good until he hit a brick wall in 2014 and spent most of 2015 in Triple-A. He had something of a bounceback after being called up when rosters expanded in September, but that’s not the sort of thing to excite anyone. He could be useful for the Cubs or just spring training cannon fodder and organizational depth.

Cabrera just turned 18 a couple of weeks ago and pitched a grand total of 14 games in the Dominican Summer League. He’s young and was a $250,000 signee from the Dominican as a 16-year-old so, by definition, he’s a project. Worth giving up Rex Brothers for him if you’re the Rockies, worth risking for some depth in the pen if you’re the Cubs.

Diamondbacks hire Dave Magadan as hitting coach

Dave Magadan Rangers
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Steve Gilbert of reports that the Diamondbacks’ new hitting coach is Dave Magadan, who “parted ways” with the Rangers last month after three years filling the same role in Texas.

Magadan also previously was the Red Sox’s hitting coach and his teams have generally done pretty well, including the Rangers scoring the third-most runs in the league this year.

He’ll have plenty of talent to work with in Arizona, as the Diamondbacks scored the second-most runs in the league led by Paul Goldschmidt, A.J. Pollock, and David Peralta. Turner Ward, who had been Arizona’s hitting coach, chose to leave the team two weeks ago.