Second Maddux Stint Ends In Chicago

The first time Greg Maddux left the Cubs, he was at the peak of his powers as a free agent in 1992. Now, Maddux has left the friendly confines of Wrigley Field again, this time as a past-his-prime, back-of-the-rotation starter. He went to the Dodgers on Monday in exchange for deluxe defender Cesar Izturis. Chicago also contributed $2 million toward the remainder of Maddux’ salary.

Maddux, 40, is a sure-fire Hall of Famer with 327 career victories. However, after starting 2006 by going 5-0, he has just four wins since and is 9-11, 4.69 overall in 22 starts. His stuff isn’t what it once was, but Maddux uses movement and location to get by with a mid-80s fastball and pedestrian secondary pitches (curveball, changeup). He’s quite hittable (.284 opponent average, 14 homers) but throws strikes (81-23 K-BB ratio in 136 innings) and gets groundballs (2-1 ground-fly ratio). Maddux is making $9 million in the final year of a three-year, $24 million deal.

Izturis, 26 and the brother of Angels infielder Maicer Izturis, is one of the harder players in the major leagues to evaluate. Scouts say the switch-hitter has a swing that can make him an average offensive player, but the results say otherwise. He’s hitting .252/.302/.353 with one homer and 12 RBIs in 32 games this year as he comes back from Tommy John surgery. Izturis’ defense’”he has well-above-average range, hands and arm strength’”got him to the majors ahead of schedule, and he has produced at the plate only in 2004, when he hit .288 with 45 extra-base hits and 25 steals. He also won a Gold Glove that season, and made the National League all-star team in 2005 despite slumping at the plate. He likely will take over at shortstop in Chicago, shifting rookie Ronnie Cedeno to second base and mercifully cutting into Neifi Perez’ playing time. Izturis makes $3.1 million this year as part of a three-year, $9.9 million contract that calls for a $4.15 million salary in 2007 and either a $5.45 million club option or a $300,000 buyout in 2008. He’s a career .260/.295/.339 hitter with 11 homers, 185 RBIs and 59 steals in 636 games.

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