When you're almost 30 games under .500, you start looking for talent in just about any location you can think of. This time of year, the waiver wire is a good place to start. The Chicago Cubs (47-76) are in such a position, and, for the second time in the last couple of weeks, have claimed another pitcher off the wire --Miguel Socolovich, formerly of the Baltimore Orioles.
As has been the case with the Cubs both last offseason as well as the regular season, the name of the game is just throwing as many names into the talent pool as possible and see who comes out with some viable returns. Theo Epstein and company did it in the offseason by bringing in a plethora of pitchers to compete for just a couple of spots, and subsequently used some --Paul Maholm-- as trade bait. Here in August, the Cubs are continuing the practice, this time via the waiver wire.
Picking players off of waivers is a little like dumpster diving --you're rummaging through your neighbor's trash. Usually, the player is usually struggling, or has an ugly contract that the team is desperate to unload. Socolovich falls into the former category. Following Socolovich giving up eight runs in 10 1/3 innings over six games with the Orioles, good for a 6.97 ERA, Baltimore had seen enough and designated the pitcher for assignment.
At its most basic, the hope with waiver wire acquisitions is that one man's trash is another man's treasure. Despite his struggles at the major league level, Socolovich has had some success in the minors. For Triple-A Norfolk, Socolovich made the all-star team and posted a 1.90 ERA with 52 strikeouts in 52 innings, limiting opponents to a .179 average. He only gave up 33 hits and 14 walks in those 52 innings. It's not surprising that the Cubs optioned Socolovich to Triple-A Iowa immediately after the claim.
The Cubs are looking for contributors --big and small. I suspect we will continue to see the Cubs' brass stockpiling players in the hopes of uncovering some modest talent to help contribute next season while they continue to look for major building blocks for the long term.
Brian is a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan, having lived in Illinois his entire life and having followed Major League Baseball throughout.