Monday, July 28, 2014

5 trades and 5 call-ups

5 Chicago Cubs players that are going to be dealt before the July 31st trade deadline and 5 players that will take their spots on the roster

 

1.     James Russell: He is the most obvious one to me that will be traded before this deadline. He seems to fallen out of the helping this team moving forward group and into the trade discussion.  I was not that convinced that he would net anything substantial until the Hudson Street trade now I am thinking a high-risk raw prospect could be the realistic net for Russell.

 

Taking his spot: Zac Rosscup is the guy that will take Russell’s spot.  The Cubs are going to need a lefty out of the pen and I think he will get the first chance to be a lefty specialist.

 

 

2.     Nate Schierholtz: Here is a guy that Theo and Jed may have misread when it comes to trade value.  It seems the FO may have whiffed on getting max value for Nate last year but he still provides value for a team looking for a defensive left-handed hitting OF with some pop.  To me the Tigers are a perfect fit here as are several other teams looking to strengthen their bench.

 

Taking his spot: Jorge Soler is the guy and I hear the cheers already!  Now there are reports he will be called up in September but how he has been playing and the status of his contract makes him an easy call up after Schierholtz is dealt.

 

 

3.   Emilio Bonifacio: I thought he may have gotten the Cubs some really nice pieces before his injury but now I think he may have right around the same value as Schierholtz or maybe a little more considering speed and versatility.  No way he is not traded by the deadline to a contending team.  Guys like Emilio are at a premium for playoff teams.

 

            Taking his spot: Javier Baez gets the call.  The guy has been hitting about as well as you can be and to me the move to 2nd base has already stated the Cubs front office is ready to give Baez a chance at the ML level this season.

 

 

4.     Wesley Wright: I have to admit I was not a fan of the signing and thought “how could he be a flip able piece?” Well I was wrong and actually think now he could get a better return than James Russell.

 

            Taking his spot: Kyuji Fujikawa is most likely the guy.  He has been working his way back to the majors and the timeline just seems to be perfect.

 

 

5.     Edwin Jackson: Edwin Jackson will be traded before the end of the season but I even think he is moved before the deadline.  With the return the Red Sox got for Peavy it is no doubt that pitching right now is at a premium even for guys that have even struggled this year.  This is good news for Edwin Jackson and the Cubs alike.  Rumors have been circulation that the Yankees still have some interest but other clubs are kicking the tires such as the Orioles and Blue Jays.  The return will be small for Ejax but the spot on the roster combined with the salary relieve maybe enough to get him dealt before July 31st.

 

            Taking his spot: Dan Straily gets the nod.  I think the Cubs have already seen enough Chris Rusin and Dallas Beeler so I think Straily gets a crack at the rotation next.  While he has not pitched well for Iowa I think he is the next logical choice.

 

 

Guys on the rumor mill that will not get traded:

            Travis Wood

            Jake Arreita

            Luis Valbuena

 

Guys who maybe traded after the deadline:

            Ryan Sweeney

            Justin Ruggiano

            Chris Coghlan

            Carlos Villanueva

 

Until Next Time…

 

 

 

 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Cubs Rumor Round-up

We take a look at the most recent trade talk in this Rumor Rundown!

 

·         The trade talk surrounding Junior Lake is increasing with the Mariners being the most aggressive.  Keep an eye on Dustin Ackley in any trade with the Mariners.

·         The Yankees are still looking for pitching and are said to be interested in Edwin Jackson.  There has been some rumors circling a possible Edwin Jackson and Darwin Barney package deal being discussed with the Yankees.

·         The Tigers are looking for a left-handed hitting 4th OF that plays good defense and with a little power to balance out their lineup.  Enter Chris Coghland, Ryan Sweeney, and Nate Schierholtz to Tiger rumors.

·         Many teams are in on relievers but the trade value has increased since Joakim Soria and Hudson Street trades which is good for the Cubs since they are shopping Wesley Wright and James Russell.

·         The Cardinals have scouted the Chicago Cubs relievers recently according to sources.

 

Until Next Time…

 

 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Recapping yesterday's busy day… more to come?

A quick run down of what happened yesterday plus the latest from the stove…

 

·         Darwin Barney was designated for assignment and is not likely to remain on the club.  There is a lot of talk that a trade is in the works where the Cubs may end up with a low level minor leaguer or cash.

·         Emilo Bonifacio was activated off the DL yesterday and took Barney’s spot on the roster.

·         Mike Olt was optioned back to Iowa after hitting just .139 in Chicago.  Olt showed good power with 12 homers but he needs to get his confidence up and is likely to see a lot more playing time in Iowa.  He will play primarily 1st base.

·         In a corresponding move Tsuyoshi Wada will be called up today to pitch for the Chicago Cubs as he looks to lock down a spot in the rotation. 

·         Some more big news of the day is that Arismendy Alcantara is remaining with the Chicago Cubs.

·         The biggest and most surprising news is that Jorge Soler who has been tearing the cover off the ball in AA Tenn. was promoted to AAA Iowa.

·         Soler buddy Albert Almora was also moved up and took Soler spot on the Smokies roster.

·         Then there is several media sources including Patrick Mooney that say Jorge Soler will be called up to Chicago in September if he can stay healthy.  It is a big IF but that is some fantastic news for all Cubs fans.

·         I am hearing Javier Baez will be called up to Chicago if and when the Cubs trade Luis Valbuena and/or Emilo Bonifacio.

·         Once Javier Baez is promoted to Chicago expect the corresponding move to be Addison Russell being promoted to Iowa.

·         There is some talk that Bryant could be moved off of 3rd base soon but Jed Hoyer tried to squash the talk by saying he wants more development at 3b for Bryant and already thinks he can handle the OF.  Even reminding us Bryant played CF in college so he could handle RF.  Where as he needs some work defensively at 3b.

·         Soler could actually be moved up to Chicago earlier than Sept. if the Cubs end up dealing two of Lake, Ruggiano, Schierholtz, Coghlan, and Sweeney at the trade deadline or during the waiver period in August.

·         So Schwarber is hitting “just” .296 but has a robust .424 OBP in just 33 PA with Daytona.  I heard from source that Schwarber could be moved up again and relatively soon which means he could be the quickest riser in the system.  This source even alluded to a Baez, Russell, and Schwarber promotion chain reaction.

·         I heard from another source that the Chicago Cubs front office is perfectly fine going into next season with all the prospects they currently have now and signing free agent pitching rather than dealing their young positional talent to get the pitching they desire. I have expressed this could happen and frankly I really want this to be the route they are going.

·         So now as the picture is getting clearer it seems this could be the Chicago Cubs lineup in Sept. Hard not to get excited!

1.     Alcantara CF

2.     Valbuena 3b

3.     Rizzo 1st

4.     Castro SS

5.     Soler RF

6.     Baez 2b

7.     One of the remaining LF

8.     Castillo C

9.     Pitcher

 

Until Next Time

 

 

 

Friday, July 18, 2014

What Does Baez Move to 2b Mean Overall?

So Javier Baez has been moved to 2nd base.  So what does that mean?  Well it can mean a lot of things so lets run down the reasons.

·         The front office is simply seeing if he can handle 2b.

·         He is showcasing he can handle 2b to lessen the idea that the Chicago Cubs front office “has to” trade one of their stud infield prospects.

·         The front office could be showcasing that Baez can handle 2b which shows versatility and increases his trade value as well as his value to the Chicago Cubs.

·         Javier Baez is making the move to 2b because he is getting closer to being called up to the Majors.

·         Baez is being moved to 2nd base to eventually make room for recently required SS prospect Addison Russell.

·         Baez is being moved to 2nd base to decrease the Castro trade chatter.

·         The front office has decided this is his primary position that he will be playing in Chicago so he needs to get comfortable there in Iowa.

 

Truth is it could be a combination of all of these things but the underlying message is the Cubs front office is getting closer to making a move with Javier Baez.  Whether that be a promotion, trade, etc. But before I give you my final thoughts on this impactful decision we must take into consideration what Iowa Cubs manager Marty Pevey had to say about Javier Baez and 2nd base (special thanks to MiLB.com for getting these good quotes):

 

"Everything's backwards, but he's such a good athlete that he won't have any problem with the adjustment," Triple-A Iowa manager Marty Pevey said of moving Baez across the infield. "It's just footwork [that's different]."

 

"He looked like an All-Star shortstop playing second base. You can put an All-Star shortstop anywhere in the infield," Pevey said. "He had the most range of anybody I've seen at second base in a long time."

 

"I'm working with [Baez] there over the next several days," Pevey said. "We'll see him mainly at second base at least over the next several days."

 

So after those comments it seems more clear that this may turn into a permanent thing.

 

With everything I laid out above I believe that Javier Baez will be called up to the Chicago Cubs sometime in early August.  I believe this front office sees great strides in Baez plate approach and production from the dish recently to have him earn a Big League call up within a month.  For example; Arismendy Alcantara logged 11 games in CF before being called up and the front office always suggested positional movement would be in late stages of the minor league player development process for any prospect.  So Javi being moved to 2nd base tells me that he is in getting closer to being called up to the majors.  What it is also saying with the move to 2b is this front office believes his best value to the Chicago Cubs is at 2b because if his best value was at SS then he would remain there; same thing goes with 3b or OF.  I have always said that the only two places Javier Baez would play is 2nd or 3rd base for the Chicago Cubs because his bat plays well at both positions and Castro would remain at SS. I also am pretty confident that when Baez is moved to the parent club that Addison Russell will be moved to Iowa and start off playing SS (I think he ultimately ends up at 3b with Bryant in the OF). Now I feel we have a good snippet of what the Chicago Cubs front office is going to toward 2015 which is Javier Baez at 2b and Arismendy Alcantara in CF.  And for us patient fans waiting for this rebuild to materialize this is gold!

 

Until Next Time…

 

 

 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Why Can't The Cubs Keep All Their Top Prospects?

That is my question.

 

Why can’t the Chicago Cubs keep all their top positional prospects?

 

(Side note:  I consider Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Albert Almora, Addison Russell, and Jorge Soler their top 6 positional prospects.  I got mad love for Alcantara but do not think he has the ceiling that these 5 players do thus not making my top 5.)

 

The media, writers, bloggers, and many others have stated that the Chicago Cubs cannot keep all their top positional prospects.  Well I am here to say they can and I think they will.  There is going to be at least 5 valid rebuttals to my statement so lets review those first.

 

Rebuttal #1:  Prospect Flame Out

 

A sad but true point.  Prospect flame out or PFO is a part of baseball.  We have been several top prospects (unfortunately several with the Chicago Cubs) flame out before or during their time in the big leagues.  Yes it is a part of the game and yes it does happen but with the way teams are using a wide array of tools and data it seems prospects that have flamed out is on the decline especially when you talk about top prospects such as the Chicago Cubs front office has drafted in the past few years.  Top 10 draft picks are guys you have to be right on and thus carry the most weight when drafting them.  I think because of this; and the tools that our front office and scouts have, PFOs are not going to be as common on the north-side of Chicago.  Now, do I think the numbers Kris Bryant is putting up with translate to MLB pitching? Not likely but he does not have to hit .350 with a .440 OBP and 50 bombs to be successful in the Majors.  I would be thrilled with a .270 average with a .350 OBP and 30 homeruns a year from Kris Bryant and so would the scouts and player developers in the Cubs system.  All I am stating is that I do not think one of the top 5 positional prospects currently in the Cubs system will be a bust.  They might not all be Hall of Famers and All-Stars but I think all will be solid Major League players for the Chicago Cubs.

 

Rebuttal #2: Trade Prospects

 

Trades are a part of baseball. Thinking the Cubs front office is going to trade one of their top 5 prospects to address other needs (like pitching) is an easy thing to assume and frankly see.  The Cubs front office is stocking themselves with the most demanded goods in baseball; young controllable hitters.  To make things even more appealing they are stock piling young controllable players in the infield which just adds to the value.  Because they are adding so much depth to the infield it is easy to see why the speculation is on the uptick about them dealing from that depth.  But they are not going to do it.  The value of something like young controllable hitters is so high it may not be as high as it is for the Cubs.  The idea that they can have an cost effective infield combining to make under $20M is more valuable to the Cubs long-term success than it is to trade away.  Because the cost effectiveness of keeping these players is so high and valuable it lets this Cubs front office allocate resources to the other needs (which currently is pitching) and lets them keep the young controllable hitters.  They are not losing anything in terms of talent by keeping their prospects and spending on Free Agency to address other areas.  It is a win/win by just adding valuable talent without taking any away.  So trades of the top 5 positional prospects is not going to happen.

 

Rebuttal #3: Trade Current Big Leaguers

 

So if the Cubs are not going to trade any of their top 5 positional prospects then that means a guy like Castro is going to be traded right?  Again I say no.  Another common mistake is trading young proven commodities like Castro (or even Rizzo who some suggested move which is CRAZY) that have a team friendly contract.  Going back to the PFO where you do run the risk of one of the guys flaming out in the big leagues.  If you trade a guy like Castro and then Baez, Russell, or Bryant does not live up to expectations then you may have a hole in one of your infield positions leaving the Cubs to wait for another prospect to develop or addressing the need via free agency.  Both could further delay the competing process.  So I am also saying yes you are going to keep Rizzo and Castro.

 

Rebuttal #4: Pitching

 

But what about pitching?  The Cubs need pitching!  Well I agree they do need pitching but please lets not forget that there are young pitchers in the Cubs farm system that may not be elite but they are not slouches either.  Dallas Beeler, Kyle Hendricks, Arodys Vizcaino, Armando Rivero, and Paul Blackburn are some examples.  Plus let us not forget that a guy like Neil Ramirez could also get a chance to start for the Cubs.  Add a guy or two from those names to Travis Wood and Jake Arrieta (EJax is not likely to be a part of the rotation next season) and then you are looking at adding maybe 1 or 2 more starters not the 3 or 4 like some of you are suggesting.  Now as you stated the Cubs do need pitching and it just so happens the next free agent class has some pretty dynamic names on it that the Cubs could even “overpay” for with all the money they plan on saving by keeping their top positional prospects.  Those names are Jon Lester, Justin Masterson, Brett Anderson, Francisco Liriano, James Shields, Hisashi Iwakuma, and Max Scherzer.  The Cubs chances of landing one of those pitchers is very good especially when they have the money to do spend.  So yes I agree the Cubs need pitching but I think they just go the free agency route to compound talent and cost effectiveness.

 

Rebuttal #5: Where will they all play?

 

Please view my post on this found here.

 

 

Thoughts and Conclusion

 

Whether the Chicago Cubs front office goes the route I laid out or not remains to be seen.  But please don’t forget that this front office has been on the cutting edge of advanced statistics, talent analysis, front office construction, and player development.  What is to say that fielding a team internally with top positional prospects to control cost while maximizing talent which in turn allows you to spend abundantly on other needs is not the next big thing in baseball?  To me I think it is the next big thing and I think once again Theo and Jed will be on the cutting edge of things.

 

 

Until Next Time…

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Cubs Rumors Getting Warmer

Here is a round up for rumors I have came across and are currently hearing:

-       Luis Valbuena name is coming up more and more but the Cubs are not simply going to give him away.  Ken Rosenthal said the A’s have interest and could come back to get him.  Tom Loxas from Chicago Insider tweets that the A’s acquiring Valbuena could net the Cubs a better PTBNL.  And then adds the name Raul Alcantara; so where do I sign up for that trade?

-       A couple of other teams that are  interested in Luis Valbuena are the Blue Jays and Tigers.

-       I am told that the Braves, Cardinals,  Angels, and Astros are both “in” on James Russell.

-       Wesley Wright is gaining the most interest from the Angels and Cardinals.

-       According to Ken Rosenthal the Dodgers talked to the Cubs about Samardzija but it never got serious considering they did not want to part with Joc Pederson or Corey Seagar.

-       Rockies owner Dick Monofort said in Patrick Saunders transcriptthat the Rockies had interest in acquiring Jeff Samardzija but the asking price was Eddie Butler and some other stuff.

-       A source told me the Orioles have been sending a scout “to just about every game” the Cubs have played recently.  The Orioles are looking for help at 2b, the rotation, and bullpen. 

-       Edwin Jackson is getting just mild interest right now but the Yankees, Marlins, and Rockies are potential suitors.

-       I am told the Cubs are still very much interested in Dustin Ackley but also have interest in 24 year old struggling pitcher Erasmo Ramirez of the Mariners.

-       So a surprising name that teams are interested in… Junior Lake.  Not sure if the Cubs would deal him but he has teams interested in him regardless.

 

Until Next Time….

 

 

 


Sunday, July 06, 2014

Prospect Shuffle: How Things Are Going to Shake Out?

Now I can tell you that unless your God himself or have a time machine you are not sure what is in store for the Chicago Cubs and their prospects.  But that is not going to prevent me from talking about how this prospect shuffle will shake out.  So here we go!

Promotions

Promotional timing is key in the development and decision making process of this front office.  You first need to have the player succeed, MLB timing factors, space on the roster, etc.  It can be a tricky situation with that alone but then add in the positions the Cubs have a girth of talent at and you have a real good problem.

Arismendy Alcantara: The first major prospect that will be called up this season is Arismendy Alcantara.  He has spent the most time successfully in AAA Iowa batting .309 with a .351 OBP 21 SB and 10 HR.  He has been killing it of late hitting .415 with a .455 OBP 1.040 OPS in the last 10 games.  Also during that 10 games he has 3 steals, a homer, and 6 RBI while mainly hitting leadoff.  Besides the Cubs FO basically eluding to him being called up soon; he has been seeing time in CF which suggest the FO is looking to make sure he can get consistent ABs at the ML.  He has done tremendously well in the OF so they only thing holding him back is space on the 25 man roster. That space will likely be cleared up before the July 31st trade deadline when a guy like Nate Schierholtz, Darwin Barney, or even Luis Valbuena is traded.  I look at AA to be called up late July or early August. 

Addison Russell: He will not spend much time in AA playing for the Smokies.  Russell will be on the fast track to the Chicago Cubs much like Kris Bryant.  In fact after Alcantara is promoted to Chicago the corresponding move will be to call up Baseball America's top 10 prospect Russell to the Iowa Cubs.  I honestly think he has a real shot at making his way onto the Chicago Cubs 25 man roster in 2015.

Albert Almora:  Almora has been on a tear recently hitting .442 with a .478 OBP with only 2 SO and 3 walks.  Almora can play CF right now for the Cubs defensively and the only thing holding him back is the development of his approach and his hitting.  I think he has a cup of coffee this season in  AA Tennessee if he continues what he has been doing lately. 

Kyle Schwarber:  The guys can just hit and I think he ends up in Daytona or maybe even with the Smokies by seasons end. 

Kyle Hendricks:  Not one of the "Sexy 7" (thanks for that Brett) but still a prospect and a darn good one.  I think he actually gets the call to Chicago before Alcantara. (Looks like today!)


Staying Put

Unfortunately guys like Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, and Jorge Soler are not going to see any promotions this season.  There is clock issues with Bryant, Javier Baez still needs some more development at Iowa, and Jorge Soler needs to prove he is healthy.  I think Baez and Bryant both have a shot of making the team out of Spring Training in 2015 and I can see Soler starting in Iowa next season if (and that is a big IF) he can stay healthy.


Moving Around the Diamond

A big question is where are all these prospects going to play and well things like this kind of work themselves out.  First off I can see some of these prospects being dealt for impact bats or pitching.  I can also see the Cubs keeping all of these guys for a while considering the developmental stages of each player varies and you are not likely to run into a situation where 3 infielders are all ready for the ML at the same time.  Things happen like injuries, set backs, and trades.  But having said that here is what I think we are likely to see.

Arismendy Alcantara:  He is going to primarily play CF for the Cubs with also seeing some time at 2b and spelling Castro at SS once in a while. In 2015 he could end up in a super utility role with his primary position being CF.

Javier Baez:  After Alcantara gets promoted to Chicago, Javier Baez will then start seeing time at 2b and 3b.  I think his full-time position will end up being 2b in Chicago but I also think the Cubs will want to see how he does at 3B. 

Addison Russell:  Once he is moved up to Iowa this season I think you will see him play primarily SS but with Castro strongly entrenched into SS his eventual position will be 3rd base.  There has already been talk that because of his size and bat he can project well playing 3rd base.  Think Manny Machado.

Kris Bryant:  We may very well see Bryant make the transition to OF sometime soon especially with the amount of infield prospects the Cubs have.  Besides Baez, Bryant is the only infielder on the list that profiles well for a corner OF spot.  Honestly unless Russell or Baez is traded I see Bryant ending up in RF for the Chicago Cubs.

Jorge Soler:  Some scouts recently said his defense might not be good enough to play RF in the Major Leagues let along Wrigley Field.  Many think he could handle RF on a part time basis and his bat fits well there but LF will likely be his home.  Now whether it is in Chicago is another story.

Kyle Schwarber:  His bat will not let him stay at catcher but the Cubs may be in a position to slow him down and see if he can stay there.  There is no rushing Schwarber especially if Theo and Jed plan on keeping the prospects I listed above.  You only have so many spots on the diamond so seeing if Schwarber can stick at catcher might be the best route to take.  Having said all that I think he still ends up in the OF.


Current Young Chicago Cubs Future Status:

Mike Olt:  While I am not giving up on Mike Olt I think he may end up seeing full playing time in Iowa very soon where he could develop into a super-utility guy that can play all over the diamond and be a big bat off the bench.

Junior Lake:  He may suffer the same fate as Mike Olt but I still think he stays in the Majors but I honestly do not see him as a core piece going forward.


Lineup, Rotation, and Conclusion

I have been going back and forth on whether I think this front office should and will trade some of these young top prospects I listed above for other area needs like pitching and/or a proven young dynamic OF bat.  I now believe that Theo and Jed will hold onto the "sexy seven" and use the money they save by keeping these players to spend on free agent pitching (that is not to say they won't trade some of the "other" prospects because I think that is a forgone conclusion).  The market next season for free agent pitching is not fantastic but it is solid with guys like Brett Anderson, Yovani Gallardo, Hisashi Iwakuma, Francisco Liriano, Jon Lester, Justin Masterson, Max Scherzer, James Shields, and Brandon Morrow. If the Cubs go into next season looking to spend on just two of these pitchers and a veteran clubhouse guy (I like Kevin Gallo Tori Hunter idea) to go along with their young talent then things are looking pretty good. 

With all that said this is what I think the Chicago Cubs lineup will look like at some point in 2015.

1. Alcantara CF
2. Russell 3B
3. Rizzo 1st
4. Bryant RF
5. Baez 2b
6. Castro SS
7. Hunter LF
8. Castillo C
9. Pitcher 

How about the rotation?  Well I think the Cubs finally spend (maybe even overspend) for pitching.

1. Jon Lester
2. Jake Arrieta
3. Travis Wood
4. Justin Masterson
5. Kyle Hendricks

(Oh, PS.... No way Edwin Jackson is on this team in 2015)

Hey why not 2016 too....

1. Almora CF
2. Russell 3B
3. Rizzo 1st
4. Bryant RF
5. Schwarber DH
6. Baez 2b
7. Soler LF
8. Castro SS
9. Castillo C

(And yes... I believe the National League will have a DH starting in 2016 if not before)

Until Next Time...

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Cubs Trade Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to the A's

If you are just tuning in the Chicago Cubs let of some high powered fireworks tonight by trading both Jason Hammel and Jeff Samardzija to the Oakland A's for SS Addison Russell, P Dan Straily, OF Billy McKinney, and a PTBNL.

Oakland Receives:

The Oakland A's just added more solid win now players to an already solid team.  Both Shark and Jason will slide right into that rotation making them an even stronger favorite to make it deep into the playoffs.

Cubs Receive:

Addison Russell

Yep, the Cubs just got the #7 best prospect in Baseball Prospectus pre-2014 rankings.  I have not seen a ranking worse than #15 before the season started and Jason Parks suggested he would now rank Russell #6 overall in his new prospect rankings which is pretty impressive.  The thing that makes Russell so appealing is he is a true SS which makes his value even higher when you see in just 723 minor league plate appearances he has hit .302 with a .390 OBP and a .909 OPS.  Here is a nice prospect video to wet your whistle!

Dan Straily

A decent sized 25 year old right-handed pitcher that has seen 41 big league starts since 2012.  Over 230 innings in the majors with Oakland he has posted a 4.11 ERA with a 7.4 SO/9 and 3.4 BB/9.  Straily works with 3 above average pitches and is able to stay around the plate. His fastball stays in the low 90s but can hit 95 at times.  Although Straily is nothing "dominate" he could be the diamond in the rough in this deal. Here is a nice little video of Dan Straily.

Billy McKinney

He was selected in the first round of the 2013 draft and is getting some decent buzz for the tools he has. While his stats don't jump off the page they are pretty solid even if it is just high A ball.  he has hit .277 with a .354 OBP in 505 AB since joining the team in 2013.  Bleacher Report has a nice scouting report on McKinney so check that out. 

PTBNL

Many media reports suggest this is not that significant but others are not so sure.  We will likely have this leaked sometime soon but until we do some names to keep an eye on are Raul Alcantara, Nolan Sanburn, Bobby Wahl, and Dillon Overton.

Thoughtful Reactions:

 Theo and Jed pulled a fantastic trade tonight.  Not because they addressed a need but they just acquired the best prospects regardless of position.  Something that many of my followers have suggested in the past. Yes the Cubs did not address their biggest need which was pitching but they might as well have.  The Chicago Cubs now have the #3, #5, #6, and #18 best prospect in the BP Top 50 according the Jason Parks.  Because of that the Cubs can now deal some of their surplus of prospect for other impact talent.  So what I am saying is that we are not done.  I feel the Cubs could and will and still deal guys like Wesley Wright, Darwin Barney, James Russell, and Nate Schierholtz and also think we might see the Cubs make another blockbuster before the trade deadline.  In the end I give this trade a solid B+ because of the overall talent the Cubs received but also feel they did not directly receive the impact TOR pitcher that has been rumored all along.  But to sum this up right now the Cubs have a strong enough farm system to trade for guys like Giancarlo Stanton or David Price and not completely deplete their system.

Until Next Time...

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Source: Cubs & Mariners Discussing Dustin Ackley Trade

A source tells me Chicago Cubs front office have had discussions about acquiring 26 year old current utility man Dustin Ackley.  He went on further to say that the Cubs and Mariners have discussed a trade involving the Mariners getting a player, IFA Bonus Pool money, or both.  The Mariners have been linked to both Jason Hammel and Jeff Samardzija but this seems smaller move than that said the source. 

 

Dustin Ackley’s time in Seattle seems to be drawing to a close as he continues to struggle at the plate.  In 1567 PA within 4 seasons Ackley has posted a .241 average with a .309 OBP and just a .350 SLG.  He has been moved around in the lineup and in the field a lot which could be a factor why he has struggled at the plate.  He has played 281 games at 2b, 125 games in the outfield, and 18 games at 1st.  His natural position seems to be 2b but he handles the OF pretty well.  To me it seems like a guy who needs a change of scenery after having some struggles at the big league level. 

 

So you may ask what makes Ackley so interesting?  Well before the 2011 season Baseball America put Dustin Ackley as its 12th best prospect in baseball while Baseball Prospectus put him at #25 in that same year.  In his minor league career over 1044 PA Ackley has a .290 average with a .397 OBP and a .840 OPS.  He had 149 BB to 131 SO during that span.  There is something not transitioning to the ML level.  We have seen this front office and coaching staff get the most out of its players whether it be Rizzo climb toward stardom, Luis Valbuena’s emergence as a solid Major Leaguer, Arrieta’s ascension to ACE status, etc… We have seen them take players like this and cash in. A move that would send bonus money to the Mariners (who have been linked to big $ IFA) for Dustin Ackley has Theo and Jed written all over it.  This front office seems to take other teams unwanted players or guys their current team has just given up on and breathe new life into them.  And if my source is correct then they think they can do the same with Dustin Ackley.

 

I guess we will find out soon.

 

Until Next Time… 

 

Friday, June 27, 2014

Samardzija a Perfect Fit for Cardinals

So I left the Cards off the Samardzija sweepstakes series because I felt trades within the division are pretty dicey and unlikely especially when impact players like Shark are involved but that was before 2 Cardinal pitchers went down with injury and the Shark chatter increased.  Then you start seeing the Cards scouting Jeff Samardzija starts and then multiple media members labeling St. Louis as a suitor for Jeff.  So after going over this several times I have come to unique conclusion.  The Cardinals are a perfect landing spot for Jeff Samardzija.

Reasoning

First off lets address something.  I am not and will never be a Jeff Samardzija fan.  Ever since his comments about wanting to be on a "winner", throwing ownership and the front office under the bus, not understanding the direction of the front office, turning down 2 reasonable extensions, and then trashing those players who signed team friendly extensions (although he did not name them but it was implied he was talking about the likes of Rizzo, Castro, Longoria, etc.).  I respect the competitor and the talent Shark is but I do not care for his antics and constant venting/communicating through the media.  So having Jeff Samardzija dress in that Cards red would be an easy transition for me because I just do not like the guy.

The 2nd reason I think this trade works is both clubs have to take a great leap of faith when it comes to this deal.  The Cards are going to have to give up more than one quality prospect; prospects that could torment them for years to come. While the Cubs have to deal with the idea of Shark (who is developing into an Ace) pitching against them for at least the next year and a half; possibly more. It is a give and take where both have the opportunity to win or lose the trade which is why the appeal to get over on your division rival makes this trade possible.

The 3rd reason is both have the resources to get this done.  The Cardinals want a top on the rotation pitcher to help them this year and next which is why they are targeting David Price and Jeff Samardzija.  The Cubs want impact prospects either ready or near ready.  The Cards can deal multiple impact prospects and still not deplete their farm system which puts them in the front when talking about other suitors for Shark.

Players that could be dealt

The Cubs Side:  Well obviously you are talking about Jeff Samardzija but the Cards need bullpen help which the Cubs can help.  Schlitter, Wright, Russell, and Carlos Villanueva all could be dealt at the deadline and all could help the pitch hungry Cardinals.  The Cardinals are ranked 17th in bullpen ERA while the Cubs are ranked 7th so obviously the need is there.  Plus the Cubs will also be targeting pitching so they may need to give more pitching to get pitching back in the deal.

The Cardinals Side:  I would start off by saying Oscar Taveras is off-limits but now I am not so sure especially after reading this article from Mike at Cubs Den.  Obviously he would be the main target giving he is let-handed, only 22, MLB ready, hits for power and average, good OBP, and plays the corner spots in the OF (see his stats here).  Honestly an Oscar Taveras for Jeff Samardzija might be realistic from both sides.  It might come down to if the FO values pitching more or if it just comes down to quality.  Taveras=Quality.  If Theo and Co. do want pitching then the first guy on their list would be Carlos Martinez.  The Cards are using Martinez currently in the rotation but he has done most of his work in the bullpen this year.  If the Cubs did get him in a deal for Shark then they will likely have to include a reliever (like I stated above).  Martinez is going to be a #1 starter in the ML,  He gets the nickname baby Pedro after Pedro Martinez and the profile is so similar it is scary. You can see his stats here or his impressive minor league stats  here. Of course the Cards could get Shark even without including those two but they will have to give up more in the terms of quantity.  Guys like Stephen Piscotty, Marco Gonzales, Rob Kaminsky, Tim Cooney, Zach Petrick, etc.  The fact is the Cards system is stacked with quality talent and they have the goods to get the deal done. 

Conclusion

In the end I think the Cardinals as a destination for Jeff Samardzija is a legit one.  When laying everything out above I honestly believe a deal could happen.  I think the chances dramatically increase if the Rays end up pulling back David Price or their asking price increases to something like Taveras plus some or Martinez plus some which I believe it will get that high.  There is no doubt in my mind a deal can be hammered out by the Cubs and Cardinals especially if the Cards get desperate enough and include Oscar Taveras or Carlos Martinez.

Until Next Time...