Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Opening Day Thought & Tweaking the Lineup

Some thoughts I had from the first game:

 

·         Our defense looks pretty solid.

·         We need an RBI threat in this lineup.

·         Bunting again…I hate bunting.

·         Not worried about guys struggling this early.

·         Shark’s trade value is going to be a lot better this year.

·         No reason not to have Bonifacio play every day.

·         A lot of opening day jitters on both sides.

·         The lineup already needs tweeked (more later).

·         I think our pen might be pretty solid this year.

·         Why does Neil Walker kill us.

 

Now in regards to our lineup.  I hate already questioning Renteria’s first ever lineup but that is exactly what I am going to do.  Here is what I see as a solid lineup against RHP and LHP.

 

Against RHP:

 

1.     Bonifacio CF

2.     Kalish LF

3.     Rizzo 1st

4.     Olt 3b

5.     Castro SS

6.     Schierholtz RF

7.     Valbuena 2b

8.     Castillo C

9.     Pitcher

 

Against LHP:

1.     Bonifacio CF

2.     Castro SS

3.     Olt 3b

4.     Lake LF

5.     Rizzo 1b

6.     Ruggiano RF

7.     Castillo C

8.     Barney

9.     Pitcher

 

This is the lineups I would trot out on a regular basis.  I do realize that other players are going to get more (including Sweeney who is not in either lineup) playing time but it is pretty interchangeable to me.  I believe Bonifacio should always lead off until he needs a day off then I think Kalish should get the leadoff spot those days.  I also think bathing Rizzo 3rd or 4th against a lefty is a mistake.  I would suggest batting him 5th or even 2nd when a lefty is on the mound.  I also love Lake in a RBI spot against a lefty.  In a small sample size Lake is hitting .375 with a .412 OBP in 64 AB.  We have a nice lineup and a nice balance.  It just needs to be tweaked some to get the most production.

 

This just makes sense to me but I would also like to hear your take.

 

Until Next Time..

 

 

 

 

Monday, March 31, 2014

Prediction: Cubs, Awards, and the Playoffs

Cubs Predictions:

 

Cubs record: 77-85

Team MVP: Starlin Castro

Cubs ERA leader: Travis Wood 3.24 ERA

Cubs HR leader: Anthony Rizzo 28 HR

Cubs BA leader: Starlin Castro .315 AVG

Cubs RBI leader: Mike Olt 88 RBI

Cubs SB leader: Emilio Bonifacio 22 SB

5      Bold things:

1.     Cubs will finish ahead of the Cards and Brewers in the NL Central Standings

2.     Mike Olt will hit 25+ HR

3.     Kalish/Bonifacio will steal a total of 40 bags

4.     8 players in the Cubs organization will be traded from the Cubs before the trade deadline

5.     Baez will be called up to the majors on July 25th for the Cardinal series at Wrigley.

 

 

 

Awards

 

AL MVP: Mike Trout

AL Rookie of the Year: Jose Abreu

AL Cy Young: Jon Lester

 

NL MVP: Andrew McCutchen

NL Rookie of the Year: Billy Hamilton

NL Cy Young: Homer Bailey

 

 

Playoffs

 

AL East Division Winner: Boston Red Sox

AL Central Division Winner: Kansas City Royals

AL West Division Winner: LA Angels

Wild Card #1: New York Yankees

Wild Card #2: Detroit Tigers

 

AL Championship: Angels over Yankees

 

NL East Division Winner: Washington Nationals

NL Central Division Winners: Pittsburgh Pirates

NL West Division Winners: LA Dodgers

Wild Card #1: Atlanta Braves

Wild Card #2: Cincinnati Reds

 

NL Championship: Pirates over Nationals

 

World Series: Pirates over Angels

 

Until Next Time…

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Predicting the opening day roster....again

OK, I was just a bit outside as Bob Uecker would say in reference to my first go round with Predicting the 25 man roster.  So here is what I predicted the 25 man roster would be back on February 13th.

 

Pitchers

 

Jeff Samardzija

Travis Wood

Jake Arrieta

Edwin Jackson

Jason Hammel

Jose Veras

James Russell

Arodys Vizcaino

Carlos Villanueva

Zac Rosscup

Wesley Wright

Pedro Strop

 

Position Players

 

Welington Castillo

Anthony Rizzo

Darwin Barney

Starlin Castro

Mike Olt

Junior Lake

Ryan Sweeny

Nate Schierholtz

Justin Ruggiano

Donnie Murphy

Luis Valbeuna

George Kottaras

Josh Vitters

 

Ok I had 4 bad calls which included Josh Vitters, Zac Rosscup, Jake Arreita, and Aroydis Vizcaino.  But not too bad for playing the guessing game back in Feb.

 

Now here is my prediction for the 25-man roster including the starting lineup for Opening Day.

 

Starting Pitchers: (note the starters may not be in rotation order)

1.     Jeff Smardzija

2.     Travis Wood

3.     Edwin Jackson

4.     Chris Rusin

5.     Jason Hammel

 

Bullpen

6.     Jose Veras CL

7.     James Russell

8.     Pedros Strop

9.     Carlos Villanueva

10.   Wesley Wright

11.   Alberto Cabrera

12.   Hector Rondon

 

Starting Lineup

1.     Emilio Bonifacio 2b

2.     Starlin Castro SS

3.     Anthony Rizzo 1st

4.     Mike Olt 3b

5.     Nate Schierholtz RF

6.     Junior Lake LF

7.     Welington Castillo C

8.     Ryan Sweeney CF

 

Bench

9.     George Kottaras C

10.   Justin Ruggiano OF

11.   Donnie Murphy IF/OF

12.   Luis Valbuena IF

13.   Ryan Kalish OF

 

Notes from my new 25 man roster prediction:

-       I still think it is possible that Nate Schierholtz and Darwin Barney both get traded but I think Barney being traded is a give in.  There are several teams looking for depth, upgrade, or a replacement in the middle infield.  Barney will not be on the Chicago Cubs roster by Opening Day.

-       Chris Rusin wins a rotation spot.  They guys has been effective from last year to this spring.  This could also build his trade value plus most managers love to have at least two lefties in the rotation.

-       Bonifacio starting?  Oh yeah he is a legit leadoff guy the Cubs want and he bring something special to this team.

-       Olt wins the 3rd base job.  He will not get the playing time he needs at Iowa with Christian Villanueva starting there.  Keep in mind Olt could play 1stin Iowa but that does not help him get reps at 3b that the Cubs want.  He will get those reps in Chicago plus his bat will keep him on this team.

-       Ryan Kalish is the surprise this spring and he will nail down the 5th outfielder spot.

-       Hector Rondon and Alberto Cabrera win a bullpen spot over Justin Grimm and others.  Grimm has options and Cabrera does not.  I also think Rondon nails down a spot.

 

Now let’s see how close I am to being correct.

 

Until Next Time…

 

 

 

 

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Bring the DH to the NL

The DH has been passionately discussed over the past years. So I want to say that I come out completely in favor of having the DH in the both leagues. Here is why-

· Having a DH protects your pitchers.
The last thing you want is your pitcher who is getting paid to pitch to get hurt while batting or running the bases. The pitcher does not get paid to hit; they get paid to pitch.

· Adding a DH brings bat the balance of power among the two leagues.
Right now in interleague play and the World Series the AL has a huge advantage in their ballpark. While teams in the AL have players like David Ortiz, Jim Thome, Travis Hafner, etc.. for their DH; teams in the NL get to put out utility players and 4th outfielders in that spot. The balance of power needs to be more equal and adding the DH to the NL does that.

· Balancing the “perks” of signing a player to a big contract favors having a DH.
Right now the NL is at a huge disadvantage because a team in the AL can hand out mega deals to the best hitters in the game regardless of defense and age. If a dynamic hitter in the American League can no longer play the field in year 3 of a 7 year deal it is not an issue because they can still plug that player in the DH spot. Where as in the NL you are stuck to either trading, releasing, benching, or letting the player play the field even though he is a defensive liability.

· Making the game more exciting.
So many pitchers get off the hook with the pitcher hitting. It is essentially a free spot for the opposing team when that pitcher comes up to bat. By adding an actual hitter to the lineup you have more big opportunities in a game which makes the game more exciting.


· Veterans/Hitters have more places to play and more options.
There is the potential of 15 more spots for aging veteran ball players or players that simply can hit but not play the field. Players like Jim Thome, Vladimir Guerrero, Carlos Lee, etc.. who are still free agents would likely be a part of the MLB right now if the DH existed in the National League. Not only that but players coming up through the minors (Dan Vogelbach) who are good hitters but maybe blocked by an All-Star at their position have more of an opportunity to stay with that team because of the DH option. Furthermore it would allow all players access to all 30 teams through free agency. Because lets be honest a player like Adam Dunn does not have 30 options for several reason but not having a DH in both leagues should not be one of them. Fact is Adam Dunn wanted to sign with the Cubs at a discounted when he was a free agent. It went even as far as hearing speculation that he may accept a one year deal to play for the Cubbies. But because the Cubs were so worried about his defense at 1st and did not have a spot in the outfield they passed on him. If the Cubs had the DH he would have been signed by the them. I have a feeling this is the not a rare occurrence either, we just don’t hear about it.

All in all I am not sure how you argue against the Designated Hitter at this point. The game basics are the same but baseball overall has dramatically changed over time. The average fan likes the long ball, 8 to 7 final scores, and offense overall. Hardcore and traditional fans do love the strategy and tidbits of the game which I respect (and do not discount) but most average fans do not understand that portion of the game. I have evolved on this issue and now firmly support the National League adopting the Designated Hitter. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

14 Predictions for Spring Training 2014... Cubs Style!

Here are my 14 predictions for Spring Training 2014




1. Mike Olt will win the 3rd base starting job.

I have stated this before but I feel he will take the job in Spring Training and prove to a lot of his doubters he still has top prospect upside and can transform that this year into a good season with the Chicago Cubs.




2. Darwin Barney will be traded before Opening Day.

With Mike Olt getting the starting job as in prediction 1 this makes it easier for the Cubs to deal Barney who oddly enough still has trade value because of his defense.  Dodgers are one team looking for middle infield help and Barney could provide that. With other decent defensive and superior offensive players on the roster that can play 2nd moving Barney is a no brainer.




3. Arodys Vizcaino will nail down the setup man role.

A guy coming off injury has the stuff to be a starter or a dominate reliever will finally prove healthy and cement him in one strong areas of the Cubs this year the bullpen.  He is going to blow us all away.




4. Josh Vitters will become a utility player/power bat off the bench for the Cubs.

The Cubs need power on this team and with the likeness of the Bryant and Baez still remaining in the minors to start 2014 the Cubs can get that in the form of Josh Vitters.  I think he proves this year he belongs on this Chicago Cubs team even if it is as a bench player.




5. Jake Arrieta will start the year on the DL.

The arm issues are troubling and him getting a late start is even more so.  I think to protect him he will start the season on the DL showing once again why pitching depth is needed.




6. Starlin Castro will return to form.

I think during this ST training we will see the Castro of old because of the new coaching staff.




7. Bonifacio will make the 25 man roster.

I just think this guys has something the Cubs need and he will impress and give Renteria a lot more options on a daily basis.




8. Anthony Rizzo will be an All-Star because of Bill Mueller in Spring Training.

I think just working with Bill Mueller will help a lot of players on this team but none more than Rizzo.  I think his addition to the team is the single biggest improvement from 2013 to 2014.  He will make Rizzo a more complete hitter getting him All-Star status.




9. The Cubs will go with 3 lefties in the pen.

I think Renteria and his staff will go balance in the pen this year with at least 3 lefties which bodes well for Russell, Wright, Rusin, Rosscup, Jokish, Sanchez, Wada, and Hottovy.




10. Not one top prospect will start the season on the 25 man roster.

This should go without saying but neither Alacantra, Baez, Bryant, Almora, Soler, or any others will start the season with he parent club.




11. The rooftop saga will end on a positive note.

I think the renovation saga will conclude during ST and even allow the Cubs to do some "light construction" before and during the 2014 season.  I think it will eventually end with the Ricketts family buying out one rooftop just like Tom Loxas has stated recently finally concluding the drama.




12. The Cubs Opening Day starter will be Travis Wood.

With all the problems recently toward Shark and his contract neg. through the media.  Not to mention him not completely being on board with the rebuild and other things Travis Wood gets the Opening Day nod.




13. James McDonald will start the season in the Chicago Cubs rotation.

It is not hard to see that if I have Arrieta starting the season on the DL then McDonald would fill his spot but that is not the only reason...




14. Jeff Samardzija is traded before Opening Day.

With all the BS surrounding Shark with the rebuild, contract negotiations, wanting Ace money, supporting Hendry, and really just not being a team player; the Cubs finally pull the trigger and trade Shark. They trade him to a team that either ends up paying the Cubs high asking price because of an injury. Or maybe a team that finally realizes they do not think they have a team to make the playoffs :cough: Blue Jays :cough:




Those are my 14 prediction for the 2014 season!  Until Next Time...

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Predicting the Cubs 25-man roster

Time for my Pre-Spring Chicago Cubs 25-man roster prediction.

 

Starting Pitchers

 

Jeff Samardzija

Travis Wood

Jake Arrieta

Edwin Jackson

Jason Hammel

 

The starters are pretty set in stone unless Shark gets traded before Opening Day.  Not a great but a solid rotation for the Cubs in 2014.

 

Bullpen

 

Jose Veras

James Russell

Pedro Strop

Arodys Vizcaino

Carlos Villanueva

Zac Rosscup

Wesley Wright

 

Bullpen has some question marks and some guys you can flip around but I think this year the Cubs going with a more balanced pen will be key. By adding Rosscup and Wright with Russell it provides them with better situation pitching.  I also feel Vizcaino will make the team out of ST and be the CL in the wings if Veras can’t hold the role all year.  Add in the long man and great teammate Villanueva plus surprise from 2013 Pedro Strop and the pen looks pretty tough.  Especially considering the depth they will have in the minors as well.

 

Starters

 

Welington Castillo

Anthony Rizzo

Darwin Barney

Starlin Castro

Mike Olt

Junior Lake

Ryan Sweeney

Nate Schierholtz

 

Again as long as Barney or an outfielder is not traded this looks the Opening Day lineup for the Cubs.  I feel pretty confident that Olt will take the 3rd base job before ST is over with leaving Valbuena and Murphy coming off the bench.  Plus the Cubs need Olt to produce because they need a power bat in this lineup.

 

Bench

 

Justin Ruggiano

Donnie Murphy

Luis Valbeuna

George Kottaras

Josh Vitters

 

The only surprise here is Josh Vitters.  I think Ryan Kalish is a strong possibility to maybe take Vitters spot but Vitters has more power and can play 1st and 3rd in a pinch.  He is no longer in the “make sure he gets playing time” protection status that he was in when he was a top prospect.  They will now utilize his strength which is his bat off the bench in Chicago.

 

 

 

Until Next Time…

 

 

 

 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Leave Your Cult: Buy Into The Cubs Vision

It has been a while since I wrote a blog post and the reason being I have been swamped with other things.  Like welcoming our 3rd boy to the family on New Year’s Day.  We are truly blessed to have another Cubs fan under the roof!  So the post for today is to support and go off a tweet I sent in earlier about the Cubs spending money and the direction of the team.  So here we go!

 

First off let me say losing out on Tanaka hurt me and so many other fans bad.  The Cubs had a chance to capitalize on a 25 year old righty in his prime years and lost out to the evil empire.  But I am not mad they are not spending money I am mad that they lost out on spending money on a player that can not only help now but in the future.  That is a major difference with a certain fan populous of the Chicago Cubs.  There is a certain fan base that wants the Cubs to spend money like a big market team because they are one.  Spend money to just spend money.  They like the old regime that saw a large spending spree take them to back to back playoff appearances just to fall short of the promise land.  They want action no matter who the player or what the cost.  They want the Chicago Dodgers or the Chicago Yankees but that is not what the majority of the fan base wants.  In fact that is not what Tom Ricketts, Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, or any other person wants currently in the organization.  The front office has a vision and a clear one that seems to just boggle and confuse the average “buy now, win now” fan.  But I am going to try to correct that thought and have them leave this cult that has rendered them thoughtless.

 

The Cubs are and will be more willing to spend once their current prospects prove or disprove that their hype is real.  Not all prospects make it and in fact more often than not many fail.  We have seen that first hand on the north-side with guys like David Kelton, Felix Pie, Jason Dubois, Corey Patterson, and so many others.  But we have also seen prospects like Mike Trout, Starlin Marte, David Price, Jason Heyward, Buster Posey, Joe Mauer, etc… truly excel and become above average to superstar players in the MLB.  Not let us forget that for every prospect bust there is a surprise out of the bunch.  Guys like Robinson Cano and even Greg Maddux were not expect to do anything significant in the ML and look at them now.  The fact is being a prospect and depending on them is somewhat of a crapshoot but with technology and techniques in scouting used today is far superior to anything used even 5 years ago.  Plus it also helps that the Cubs have a girth of talent in the minor leagues which brings the old saying “some of them have to work out!” ring true.  Nothing supports that saying more than the release of MLB’s top 100 prospect this year that nets the Cubs 7 in the top 100 with several knocking on the door.  So once these prospects fate is known or the front office has an idea where things will shake out they will then know what hole they need to fill either through free agency, trade, or even the draft. 

 

The next question that is usually asked is “when are these prospects going to be ready?  And why don’t they give them a shot now!?”  Well, every prospects develops differently.  Some prospects get stuck like Vitters and Brett Jackson.  Some are slowed to the show because of injury which could be stated for Almora and Soler (both should be near the level of Bryant and Baez).  Some develop quickly like Bryant and Baez who could see time in 2014.  The fact is it seems to be an educated guess when they will be called up to the show.  Many suggest including myself that 2014 we could see a trickle, 2015 a lot more, and 2016 if everything goes the way it should we could see all 7 prospects in the top 100 on the Chicago Cubs roster.  So once the prospects establish themselves and if things go how most of us see them then you can expect the Cubs to start spending money on some impact free agents on the 2015 season and then spending a lot (and I mean A LOT more) before the start of the 2016 season.  This is how I see it and the direction the front office is guiding us to believe and buy into.  And I got to say it is brilliant.

 

Another thing people say that you HAVE TO sign the impact players when they are available and I tend to agree when it is a player like Tanaka.  The Cubs currently do not have a #1 on their staff and the minor leagues is weaker in the SP department.  Hence why I suggested they go to 8 years $180M offer if they had to but that is one area the FO and I disagreed but let me say it is not my money I am spending.  Tanaka was the exception and anyone like Tanaka would be an exception on this year’s team because it still falls in the vision set forth.  The Cubs have a need right now and in the future for a starting pitcher, they have the assets to acquire that pitcher, and he young.  He checked all the boxes for a player like that you do have to spend money.  A player like Robinson Cano the Cubs cannot and should not sign him.  How does signing a guy like Cano, Pujols, Hamilton, etc make sense when you possibly have a better, younger, and cheaper version of the same player knocking on the door of the major leagues?  It just does not make sense.  You only sign players to fill the holes that are not filled by young impact prospects that have good success in the Major Leagues.  This keeps the Cubs overall cost on the roster low and makes more money available for those prized free agents that will fill the needed holes in the Chicago Cubs roster.  Once again this is a brilliant vision.

 

Here is where a lot of things come together when the Cubs.  The Cubs have an outside shot to compete in 2015 and a more likely chance to compete in 2016.  Starting in 2015 I see the Cubs spending a little bit more money while in 2016 I expect them to sign impact free agents to fill those positions not filled by their current rising prospects.  Here is a peak at the potential free agents of 2015 and 2016.  Please note it is likely some of these player will sign long term extensions, get injured, or regress but just like with prospects you will have those ups and downs.  Here is the list and you be the judge why 2015/2016 look so bright.

 

Notable 2015 free agents

Hanley Ramirez

Chase Headly

Pablo Sandoval

Max Scherzer

Jon Lester

Yovani Gallardo

Justin Masterson

Colby Rasmus

Homer Bailey

 

Notable 2016 free agents

Matt Wieters

Miguel Cabrera

Justin Upton

Jason Heyward

Yoenis Cespedes

Chris Davis

Austin Jackson

David Price

Doug Fister

Mat Latos

Johnny Cueto

Brandon Morrow

Chad Billingsly

Alex Avila

Rick Procello

Sean Marshall

Jordan Zimmerman

 

So another words if pitching is what the Cubs need they can spend all their money in 2015 on a guy like Max Scherzer, Justin Masterson, or Homer Bailey.  Or if an infield does not work out in 2015 how about spending the money on a guy like Hanley Ramirez?  In 2016 let’s say the Cubs need multiple holes filled like a catcher, OF, and pitching.  How about filling those holes with Matt Weiters, Jason Heyward, and David Price?  The fact is 2015 and 2016 looms large for the Chicago Cubs as an organization.  It seems like the turning point and always has to many of us. 

 

The vision is clear, the movement is near perfection, and the process will sustain success for years to come.  The sooner you leave your “Buy Now, Win Now!” cult and accept this amazing and beautiful direction the Chicago Cubs front office is taking the team and showing us;  the sooner you can stop being upset, frustrated, and confused.

 

Until Next Time…

 

 

Friday, December 06, 2013

Hit and Run: Signees, Non-Tenders, and Trades! Oh My!

It has been a while so….

 

·         The Cubs signed Wesley Wright to an one year $1.425M deal. BleacherNation does a great job running down what he is and what he brings to the Cubs.

·         The Cubs named Eric Hinske their 1st base coach.

·         The Cubs traded cash considerations for George Kottaras who on Monday inked an one-year 1.075M deal with them.

·         There has been a ton of talk about the Tanaka saga and posting system.  The deal includes a cap of $20 in which those who make the high cap bid all have the right to negotiate with the postee which in this case is Tanaka.  The only way this works out better for the Cubs is if the posting cap went higher than $20M.  Hard to complain about the new rules if you’re the MLB.

·         There has been plenty of weight thrown around by our friends to the east saying they may decide not to post Tanaka after all.

·         The Cubs are expected to big major players on Tanaka regardless of posting price or contract. This has been widely spread across other media outlets outside Chicago.

·         Archie Bradley is off limits to everyone for just about every player including David Price so he is not likely in Chicago.

·         Looking at the recent non-tender list I feel John AxfordAndrew Bailey,Ronald BelisarioTommy Hanson andRyan Webb would all make solid additions to the Cubs current roster.

·         There are 5 serious suitors I see for Jeff Samardzija and below are the deals I feel are the most fair and probable for him.

1.     Blue Jays: I would love to get Aaron Sanchez but I don’t see that happening.  The deal I see is Marcus Stroman, Sean Nolin, Kyle Drabek, and Anthony Gose.  It could be a little more or a little less depending if it is just for Shark or if the Cubs throw in another piece or two.

2.     Dbacks: Forget getting Archie Bradly because it won’t happen.  I feel the Cubs could likely expand this deal to a guy like Schierholtz so I am keeping that in mind as well.  The deal I see is Tyler Skaggs, Andrew Chaffin, and Jake Barrett. If Schierholtz is involved I could see they including an Eaton or Pollock.

3.     Dodgers:  Puig is not coming and Kemp not likely either.  The deal I see is Zach Lee, Joc Pederson, and Chris Reed.  I got to admit this deal does a lot for me and it seems like something the Dodgers would pull the trigger on.

4.     Orioles: I do not see Bundy being dealt but he is not as “off-limits” as everyone thinks.  Honestly I think the Orioles deal will include Gausman as the headliner and followed by Mike Wright.  After that it drops off quite a bit.

5.     Braves:  The Braves/Shark chatter is getting louder and I am being told they are going to be major players and actually have been but it has been very much under the radar.  The Braves farm is not as good as it once was but they can certainly compete with the other 4 teams on this list.  For the Braves to be involved they will need to include Lucas Sims or Christain Bethancourt.  I am going Bethancourt because the Cubs obvious need for catching depth in the minors.  After that the Braves have some impressive arms and also keep in mind it seems like the Braves always overpay in trades (example Paul Maholm and rumored Delgado/Dempster deal).  So the deal I see is Christian Bethancourt, David Hale, Tommy La Stella, and Sean Gillmartin.  Would love this package if I was the Cubs front office.

·         Hey folks!  Our friends at CubsDenhave a awesome Winter Meeting thread going.  Check it out!

·         So Arodys Vizcaino is doing more than well in instruction league hitting 98 MPH on the guy, throwing free and easy, and with great control according to Theo Epstein.  DROOL!!

·         The Cubs are likely to make a couple of moves at the Winter Meetings but no major free agent signings because of the stage of the rebuild they are in.

·         Javier Baez will stay at SS for now reports all the Chicago media outlets but he is likely to see time at numerous positions in the Spring.

·         Moving Baez to 2b would be an easy transition says Theo if it comes to that.

·         Lots of speculation that Baez could make his Wrigley debut sometime in June.

·         No impact prospect will break the team out of Spring Training.  That prospect list does not include Mike Olt who is likely to compete for the starting job at 3rd.

·         The Cubs radio gig is down to Ron Coomer and Todd Hollandsworth.  I really hope Hollandsworth gets the job, I am a big fan!

• The Cubs are in on both John Axford and Joba Chamberlin.

 

Until Next Time…

 

 

 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Two Trades & One Choice

The title pretty much explains it.  I am going to lay out 2 trade options for the Chicago Cubs based on recent rumors and talk. I will pick the one out I feel it the better of the two.  I would like to hear what you would pick (if any) and why.

Pick one of the trade choices:

Option #1

Cubs Get: Matt Wieters and Kevin Gausman
Orioles Get: Jeff Samardzija and Welington Castillo

This has been debated and talked about a lot throughout the Cubs blogs and websites the recent weeks.  It is until recently I have been really sold on this trade (thanks to @chistyle82) and it fills two needs the front office is looking for in one trade.  The Cubs are looking to get more balanced and obviously more power at the plate.  Matt Wieters definitely provides that power with popping 22 or more homers the last 3 years.  The other huge plus with Wieters is he bats from the left side of the plate and is a very solid backstop having caught 33% of base stealers in 5 seasons.  The other thing he has going is he is only 27 years old and made $5.5M last season and two years away from free agency.  The bad with Wieters is he is two years away from free agency which is the exact time the Cubs will be likely competing for the playoffs although getting him could speed up that process. The reason you can't assume (just like most would be FA) that he would sign extension it is somewhat of a risk especially with Scott Boras as his agent.  But to me the good outweigh the bad when it comes to Wieters.

The other major player in this deal is potential number 1 starter Kevin Gausman.  This guy is a game changer just check out his scouting report from Baseball Prospectus here.  That pretty much says it all and it is rumored the O's would trade Gausman for a guy like Shark.

The O's get a replacement for Wieters who has a bright future ahead of him and is cost effective which allows them some good payroll flexibility to maybe sign Shark to an extension. The O's also get a potential #2 pitcher in Jeff to really beef up their rotation.

Option #2

Cubs Get: Kyle Drabek, Sean Nolin, and Anthony Gose
Jays get: Jeff Samardzija

The Blue Jays have come out of nowhere as serious suitors for Jeff Samardzija.  Bruce Levine recently tweeted that the Jays are putting together a package of young talent for Shark.  The above trade is something that I could see the Cubs getting for in return for Shark.  I am sure the Cubs will ask for Aaron Sanchez but it is unlikely the Jays would part ways with him plus more and the Cubs need to capitalize on any Samardzija trade with near ML ready talent where Sanchez is still two years away.  So with the Jays likely unwillingness to deal Sanchez and the Cubs wanting near ML ready talent with him that does not match up.  Two other big possibilities that could replace Sean Nolin and/or Kyle Drabek is Marcus Stroman and/or Drew Hutchison. Both are quality pitchers that could easily interchange with Nolin and/or Drabek.  The reason I pick Drabek because he reminds me a lot of two other guys currently on the Cubs roster with Travis Wood and Jake Arrieta.  Guys who were former highly regarded prospects who faltered on reason or another but turned it around when given another chance.  Drabek is this guy to me.  He is 25 years old and a former top 30 prospect in 2010 and 2011 but injuries have sidelined him.  Seems like a buy low high reward guy the Cubs could really capitalize on. 

Sean Nolin to me could be the eventually the prize of this deal. While he did not fair well in his first experience in the ML he is still only 23 year old and put up beautiful minor league numbers.  Not a top 100 prospect but maybe just outside that top 100 status.  Let's not forget he is a lefty which is always a plus.

The 3rd bonus item in this deal is Anthony Gose who himself was a top 50 prospect in 2012 and seems to be putting stuff together. His glove and arm in CF is major league ready and he brings speed to a lineup that is much needed posting 126 steals in the past 3 season in the minors.  He brings in the coveted helps the now and the future at only being 23 as well.

The Jays are always looking to get better and their GM has a history for flare in trades so getting a guy like Jeff Samardzija to his rotation makes a lot of sense.  The Jays are in win now mode and cannot wait to see if the guys they are trading will work out or not.


My Pick:  These two trades are very different but that is what makes them so appealing to me.  One trade has the Cubs getting a potential #1 pitcher in Gausman and a solid ML tested and proven backstop in Wieters.  The Orioles trade is more of a speed up process trade but the quantity of return is down plus the Cubs could risk losing Wieters in two years when they start competing.  The trade with the Jays does not have a clear cut #1 pitcher in the mix but the potential is there.  They do get quantity I this trade which stacks the farm again.  In the end I do the trade with the Orioles because it gives the Cubs the left-handed power bat behind the plate plus a potential ACE that could be the opening day starter next season in Gausman.

So what would you pick and why?

Special Shout Out to @Chistyle82 on twitter.  Give him a follow for good Cubs talk!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Cubs Hit & Run

Early morning quick hits-

-  The Cubs have signed Walter Ibarra, Eli Whiteside, and Aaron Cunningham to minor league deals.
-  The Cubs have interest in bringing in an experienced back up catcher to mentor Castillo.  They have been linked to Kurt Suzuki, Jose Molina, and Humberto Quintero.  There has been chatter about John Buck as well.
-  Jim Bowden says the Cubs are shopping Edwin Jackson because of the crazy priced pitching market and Edwin Jackson's now nice looking front loaded contract.  The Cubs could trade both Shark and Jackson during the Winter Meetings.
-  The Cubs have various degrees of interest in pitchers Josh Johnson, Phil Hughes, and Scott Kazmir.
-  CubsDen.com is saying the Cubs could target Logan Morrison from the Marlins.  Fantastic idea in a buy low player with a high ceiling. 
-  Another player that is being tossed around is Nate McClouth.
-  Some bounced back guys (or lower tier) that the Cubs have had internal discussions about are Roy Halladay, Kevin Youkilis, Jeff Baker, CF Chris Young, and Grady Sizemore.
-  Curtis Granderson recently said he has interest in coming home to Chicago. If the price is right a reunion is possible.
-  Kris Bryant was named AFL MVP.
-  Renteria coaching staff should be announced early next week with Mariano Duncan, Bill Mueller, Henry Blanco, Alex Cora, Mike Borzello, Gary Jones, and Bruce Fields rumored as possiable coaches. 
-  The Cubs are already expected to bring back Bosio and Strode.
-  The Diamondbacks interest in Nate  Schierholtz is significant I am told.  They could part with Eaton or Pollock in an even swap.  Parra looks to be off the board.
-  The Pirates remain interested in Schierholtz but only as a back up option because they may trade for a big bat.
-  The Dodgers have interest in Starlin Castro.  They could dangle Zach Lee and Joc Pederson in a deal for him.
-  Jeff Samardzija will be shopped aggressively between now until the start of the season unless they can work out an extension.  The Cubs remain interested in signing him long term but a major sticking point is the NTC.  The FO will not give those out.
-  The Cubs could check on Corey Hart if his market remains weak.
-  There is still mutual interest between Scott Baker and the Cubs.

Until Next Time...