Cubs shake up bench, 'pen, add Ransom, Loe, Gregg
Lillibridge, Takahashi designated for assignment as club turns to veterans
CHICAGO -- Recognizing that they've "underperformed" two weeks into the season, the Cubs made a flurry of roster moves on Tuesday -- claiming Cody Ransom off waivers, designating Brent Lillibridge and Hisanori Takahashi for assignment, and adding Kameron Loe and former closer Kevin Gregg to the bullpen.
Loe and Gregg take the place of Takahashi and Rafael Dolis, who was optioned to Triple-A Iowa on Sunday.
"It's been frustrating with the results," general manager Jed Hoyer said, pointing to the recent series against the Giants in which the Cubs lost three of four but could have fared much better against the defending World Series champions. "The wins and losses, they are what they are, and that's our record, but given some of the production, we should have more wins than we do."
Hoyer said they added Gregg and Loe because they wanted more experience at the back end of the bullpen. The team has been trying to find a good combination since the start of the season. Carlos Marmol was removed from the closer's role after five games, and his replacement, Kyuji Fujikawa, made two appearances, and then had to be placed on the disabled list.
"That's definitely what I've done in the past," Gregg said of the opportunity to move in as the closer. "Talking to these guys, it was just a matter of just bringing in some experience -- I have experience in the back end -- to be able to help out with that."
Takahashi was considered more of a long reliever, while Loe now also gives the Cubs a sinkerball-style pitcher, which they didn't have. Loe is 33-41 over a nine-year career that includes five seasons in Texas, one in Seattle and three in Milwaukee. The first two of his seasons in Milwaukee coincided with Cubs manager Dale Sveum's tenure with the Brewers.
"Whatever happens in the game, who's going to close the game -- nothing's changed there," Sveum said. "But those kind of guys, Kevin can add a live fastball with his split and obviously Kameron with his sinker and slider. We'll just mix and match like we have been."
Ransom, 37, a career .215 hitter, can help at third base as the Cubs try to find a bat while Ian Stewart rehabs from a strained left quad.
"Even when Stewart comes back, we need someone who can hit right-handed [pitching]," Hoyer said of Ransom. "He's a good athlete, can play a little bit of shortstop and has had success in his past hitting left-handed pitching."
Lillibridge was 1-for-24 so far, and Hoyer said it's too small a sample to judge.
"If you start making decisions based on 12 games, then you're probably making a lot of bad decisions," Hoyer said. "We felt the versatility and defense Ransom brings, it's an upgrade."
Ransom has spent all or part of 11 Major League seasons with San Francisco (2001-04), Houston (2007), the New York Yankees (2008-09), Philadelphia (2010), Arizona (2011-12), Milwaukee ('12) and San Diego ('13). He has seen big league action at all four infield positions, including 146 games at shortstop, 84 games at third base, 34 games at second and 24 games at first.
He split last season between the D-backs and Brewers, batting .220. He began this year hitless in 11 at-bats for the Padres before being designated for assignment on April 12.