Looking at hits and misses by Epstein, Hoyer
When Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer came to town in the fall of 2011, it was fashionable to criticize the player acquisitions of the previous regime.
There were some doozies to be sure. Milton Bradley probably tops the list of bad signings by former general manager Jim Hendry. And the deals given to bring Alfonso Soriano to Chicago and to keep players such as Carlos Zambrano and Carlos Marmol still elicit shakes of the head (and fists).
Hendry brought in some good players, too: Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez, Mark DeRosa and Ted Lilly, to name a few.
So it goes with every front office.
The Cubs are now 11⁄3 seasons into the Epstein-Hoyer regime, and I understand some of the grades go down as "incomplete" for players brought in.
Let's take a look at the good, the bad and one special "to be determined."
Anthony Rizzo: The trade with San Diego that sent pitcher Andrew Cashner to the Padres for first baseman Rizzo is the best of the bunch.
The 23-year-old Rizzo has a hitting line of .256/.322/.493, and he leads the Cubs in home runs (10) and RBI (36).
He has not homered since May 18, but he has shown the ability to make adjustments. In the field, he looks to be a future Gold Glover.
Travis Wood: Epstein and Hoyer took some heat for trading popular reliever Sean Marshall to the Reds for lefty Wood, outfielder Dave Sappelt and infielder Ronald Torreyes at Christmas of 2011.
After spending some time in the minor leagues last year, Wood has the best ERA this year among Cubs starters (2.75) to go with a 5-3 record.
The hidden value of this deal came with the emergence of James Russell, a left-handed reliever. He has done the job as effectively as Marshall, but at a fraction of the cost.
David DeJesus: When DeJesus comes to the plate, his at-bats stand out because he's one of the few Cubs who sees pitches. Entering Monday, he ranked seventh in the National League with 4.17 pitches per plate appearances.
His on-base percentage of .342 is second among Cubs regulars. He plays a solid center field and sets a good example with his work ethic. He's a candidate to be traded if the Cubs have another sell-off in July.
Honorable-mention candidates are third baseman Luis Valbuena, who leads regulars in OBP (362) and walks (21). He was a waiver claim before the 2012 season started. Pitcher Scott Feldman, signed last winter as a free agent, is 5-4 with a 2.82 ERA. He also could be a trade candidate.
Kyuji Fujikawa: Epstein and Hoyer are proving they can get nothing for their money as well as any front office in baseball.
The signing of Fujikawa to a two-year, $9.5 million contract last December raised questions from the start. First, Fujikawa will be 33 on July 21, and the Cubs had talked of signing free agents "on the right side of 30." Older than 30 is not "the right side."
Second, why did the Cubs need Fujikawa when they weren't going to contend for a couple more years anyway?
Fujikawa is awaiting Tommy John surgery after pitching in just 12 games. It's possible he may never pitch another game for the Cubs.
Ian Stewart: The Cubs have swung and missed multiple times with Stewart, whom they acquired in December 2011 in a trade that sent young players Tyler Colvin and DJ LeMahieu to Colorado.
Wrist surgery limited Stewart to 55 games last year, and the Cubs were disappointed he wasn't around the team more during his rehab.
Epstein and Hoyer walked away once by not tendering Stewart a contract last December. They brought him back for $2 million. A quad injury derailed his spring training, and the Cubs became disillusioned again when Stewart took 72 hours to report to Class AAA Iowa after being optioned following his rehab.
Now, Stewart is off the 40-man roster and getting paid as a minor-league player. Colvin is in the minor leagues, but LeMahieu is up with the Rockies and may have a bright future as a do-it-all infielder.
Epstein and Hoyer can only blame themselves for this one.
Edwin Jackson: The grade tends toward incomplete, but signing Jackson to a four-year, $52 million contract in January is another head-scratcher.
He's 1-8 with a 6.29 ERA and a WHIP of 1.67. Manager Dale Sveum has chalked up some of Jackson's woes to bad luck. It's not a total stretch, as Jackson's batting average on balls in play (BABIP) is .358 while his fielding-independent pitching (FIP) is 3.65.
But, as is the case with Fujikawa, it's hard to reconcile the need to sign Jackson for four years when the Cubs aren't going to contend right away and his lifetime record entering this year was 70-71 with a 4.40 ERA with seven teams.
The Cubs also haven't received a return on pitcher Scott Baker and his one-year, $5.5 million deal. Baker had Tommy John surgery and he suffered a setback in his only spring training start.
To be determined:
The Cubs looked to have a nice bargain last year in lefty Paul Maholm, a relatively young pitcher they signed to a two-year deal.
But at the trading deadline, Epstein and Hoyer sent Maholm and outfielder Reed Johnson to Atlanta for pitching prospect Arodys Vizcaino and reliever Jaye Chapman.
Vizcaino was key to the deal, but he was coming off Tommy John surgery. He suffered a setback recently when he needed a calcium buildup removed from the elbow.
If Vizcaino doesn't pan out, the Cubs will have only memories of Maholm, who is 7-4 with a 3.68 ERA for the first-place Braves.
Cubs scouting reportCubs vs. Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium
TV: WGN Tuesday; Comcast SportsNet Wednesday
Radio: WGN 720-AM
Pitching matchups: The Cubs' Scott Feldman (5-4) vs. Jered Weaver (1-1) Tuesday at 9:05 p.m.; Matt Garza (1-0) vs. Jason Vargas (5-3) Wednesday at 6:05 p.m.
At a glance: This will be the first of two series the Cubs play with the Angels. They'll meet for two games at Wrigley Field July 9-10. The Angels are a major disappointment. They took a 25-32 record into Monday night's game against Houston. Mark Trumbo leads the offense with a hitting line of .271/.343/.511 with 13 homers and 38 RBI. Albert Pujols was at .248/.320/.416 with 8 homers, and Josh Hamilton was at .216/.277/.380, also with 8 homers. The Angels ranked 10th in the AL in ERA (4.32) while the Cubs entered Monday seventh in the NL (3.83). L.A. was eighth in on-base percentage while the Cubs were 12th in NL in OBP.
Next: Pittsburgh Pirates at Wrigley Field, Friday-Sunday
-- Bruce Miles