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Friday, March 18, 2005

The Spare Parts Factory

On today's theme of Cub manic depression, Cub Town vents a bit about former Cub top prospect Andy Sisco and his still-pretty-nifty spring training line of


Sisco, in case you didn't know, got hisself exposed to the Rule 5 draft, and summarily found himself working for the Kansas City Royals. In all, a fairly astute pickup by the Royals, but -- here's what I'm wondering: the Angels have done pretty well converting starters who can't hack it in that role into relievers. With such a glaring, obvious need, why didn't the Cubs pick up Sisco on the 25-man roster, and have him replace some of Kyle "Fire Starter" Farnsworth's innings? The Angels have been doing this for years -- maybe a tad too much, as they can't seem to produce any actual starters from their minor league system -- but it's a strategy that's paid off with one of the best bullpens in the majors.

The Cubs throw out guys like Sisco, but hold on to overpriced and decreasingly effective veterans like Remlinger, pray and duct tape Joe Borowski, and keep all their fingers and toes crossed on rolls of the dice like Ryan Dempster. Sisco, moreover, represents the lack of attention to depth that has so often unhinged the Cubs in the past. With great starting players like Sosa, Alou, Lee, Wood, Prior, and Zambrano, and better-than-average guys like Cory Patterson and Aramis Ramirez, the Cubs had a great starting lineup.

This year, they're relying on castoffs like Todd Hollandsworth and Jeromy Burnitz to man key corner outfield positions. Hendry gets props trading for Nomar Garciaparra, but a bench with Neifi Perez on it and $1.25 will get you a cup of coffee. Henry Blanco as a reserve catcher? Ooh. It's one thing to know you have a problem. It's another to do something totally, completely ineffective about it. Getting back to Sisco, about the only saving grace Hendry has here is the chance the Royals might have to offer Sisco back to the Cubs. According to Jim Callis at Baseball America, it's a real possibility:

 Q:  Ozzie from Chicago asks:
Can you tell me the likelihood of the Cubs getting Andy Sisco back after they lost him in the Rule 5 draft?

Jim Callis: I don't think Sisco is anywhere close to belonging in the majors, and there are a lot of questions about his maturity, so it's possible the Royals could offer him back. But Kansas City is also bad enough that it could be worth the club's while to try to keep Sisco all year and hope his stuff bounces back to where it was in 2003.

So Sisco's lack of coverage by the Cubs might be a calculated gamble by Hendry. But given how ineffective his bench signings have been, I'm more inclined to think it's a neglected detail. Farm systems are supposed to be spare parts factories for your big club, not the team down the highway.

I don't see any way the Royals give up on Sisco. Biard must expect to lose 100+ games heading into this season, so it would be hard to justify giving up on him for any reason. Otherwise what are "rebuilding" years for?

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