Were these the Cubs of old, I’d likely be equating the revolving door of waiver claims to rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. I can just see Jim Hendry spreading his arms and declaring himself the king of the world as the ship on which he stood sailed swiftly to its doom.
But Jim Hendry isn’t around anymore and this ain’t the Titanic. And for all you smart-asses out there (and I know you because I’m one myself), it’s not the Concordia or the Lusitania or any other ill-fated water vessel whose name may or may not end in “ia.”
No, Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer seem far more capable leaders of a team on the rise than what Cubs fans have seen with previous leadership. Then again, it’s not as though moves like the one they made on Tuesday to acquire lefty Mike Kickham off waivers from San Francisco are the type to determine the fate of a franchise.
Remember Friday, when people were getting excited about what the future might hold for Shane Peterson and Ryan Lavarnway? I was so high on these guys that I actually had to look back at the posts I wrote about them to remember their names. Well, the Cubs have DFA’ed both of them, so now the respective fanbases of the Brewers and the Orioles can get all hot and bothered.
While PETA and the Illinois Pork Producers Association probably aren’t very happy with the move, maybe Kickham can be the kind of under-the-radar play that really does make a difference. Like the odd little puzzle piece that doesn’t seem to have purpose until you fit it in to complete the picture.
A sixth-round pick (198th overall) by the Giants in 2010, Kickham has appeared 99 minor league games and 14 big league contests over the past 5 seasons. The MiLB stats are a bit spotty, but what’s there isn’t necessarily indicative of greatness. Control appears to be a concern, as he’s averaged well over 3 BB/9 innings for his career.
The strikeout numbers aren’t too bad though, as the 26-year-old lefty has averaged more than 7K/9 at each of his stops in the minors. In just over 30 IP with the big club, he’s compiled a 10.98 ERA, 6.02 FIP, 8.9 K/9 and 3.26 BB/9.
I could try to wax intelligent about how the Cubs saw some spark of genius in the guy, but I don’t think this is much more than a flyer on someone who could amount to a passable bullpen arm or just general MiLB depth.
When you get down to it, this is like my wife shopping at Goodwill and letting the kids each pick out a toy. Since they already have too many, they’re forced to donate a toy they already have back to Goodwill, which is likely where said toy came from in the first place. My home is like a self-sustaining cottage industry.
So too, the Cubs will churn through waiver claims in search of the right mix of fringe talent to stock the pools of the best minor league system in baseball. And like I said, one of these guys could eventually end up being that last, pain-in-the-ass puzzle piece that you never knew you needed until it was the only one left.