Saturday, June 09, 2012

Padilla Talks and Other Notes...

Doug Padilla had his chat yeterday so let’s check in on him-
  • The Cubs are extremely interested in Jorge Soler but they have their price and likely will not budge from that much. But given the fact this is the guy they wanted all along and it is the last chance to sign international players without restrictions so the Cubs will not go cheap.
  • Ryan Dempster has 9 more starts before the deadline and has 75% chance he is traded.
  • LaHair has tons of trade value but the Cubs would like to see LaHair and Rizzo in the same lineup full time. The issue should be resolved by July.
  • The Cubs need more production from Ian Stewart.
  • Doug thinks Rizzo will be called up after the All-Star break. I think it will be at the tail end of June.
  • The Cubs are not focusing on 32 year old pitchers who are cashing in on the open market. The formula Theo and Co. are using is building players from within and smart additions through trade and free agency. Much like what Theo did in Boston.
  • Almora’s deal will likely get done but at the wire.
  • The Cubs want to trade players when they are hot but the trade market has not been hot as of yet. So the Cubs clan will likely wait until July unless other teams come knocking sooner.
  • Doug gives the Cubs draft a B and I say that is a little low.
  • Garza and LaHair will be drawing big interest at the deadline.
  • Samardzija could be a 20 game winner next season but don’t expect the Cubs to name him their ace. They are hoping he will be their solid #2 pitcher.
  • With Soriano playing DH it seems Joe Mather will get playing time in RF.
  • Brett Jackson is a likely September call up unless an injury occurs.
  • Soriano’s improved defense can be linked to improved confidence and Dave McKay.
Now some other Notes:
  • Castillo is headed to a rehab stint and Soto is still not there yet.
  • Rudy Jaramillo is not losing sleep over the poor performance of his players. He is in the last year of his three year deal and according to sources maybe finding another job next season.
  • Rhett Wiseman says he is going to Vanderbilt and will not sign with the Cubs.
  • More Obsessive Jorge Soler stuff from Bleacher Nation found here.
  • Cubs Den has their 2012 Draft Review found here.
Until Next Time…

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Cubs Draft: Results, Details, and Projections

Overall the Cubs draft was a “success” but I use that word loosely because we will not know how good the draft was for some years to come. From a directional stand point the Cubs took several guys who are easy signs and also some that are over the top, hard to sign, high risk guys. They also addressed their main need early and often in the first two days of the draft using 11 of their first 15 picks on pitchers. So without further ado the Cubs draft picks-
Day 1
  • Albert Almora, OF: He was the Cubs pick all along and even if the Cubs had the first overall pick they would have taken him according to sources. IF and when he signs he will be the best prospect in the Cubs system maybe behind Baez and Rizzo. He is a genuine 5 tool player with such good defensive skills he can play CF right now in the ML. He has been compared to Adam Jones, Ryan Braun, and Carlos Beltran which is nice to hear. One scout said he would not be shocked to see Almora start for the Chicago Cubs as early as 2015.
  • Pierce Johnson, RHP: Injury issues knocked him out of the top 20 picks but this guy has 3 great pitches including a fastball that touches 95 MPH. One thing that is nice to hear is the guy is a strong competitor and throws strikes (unusual for a younger guy). He is thought of a number 3 starter at the highest level and the Cubs got a steal at number 43 for him. He is likely to sign.
  • Paul Blackburn, RHP: A guy that is going to be a tough sign because of his strong commitment to Arizona State. He is a good pitcher with decent stuff that has his fastball around 92 MPH throughout a game. He offers a nasty curveball and his change is really consistent. Projected as possible number 2 pitcher in the majors.
Day 2
  • Duane Underwood, RHP: One of the youngest pitchers in the draft is extremely raw but has good upside. He is a nice size kid at 205 lbs and standing at 6’2”. He has a nice low 90’s fastball and his other pitches are un-polished but his curve has the makings of a dynamic pitch in the majors with its 12-to-6 break. He is very inconsistent but should grow into his body and become a nice back of the rotation pitcher in the majors.
  • Ryan McNeil, RHP: He is your regular big kid who throws hard and he actually worked out for the Cubs so they must have liked him. He is an example of a unknown guy with good stuff that is likely to sign early.
  • Josh Conway, RHP: A former two way player who just had Tommy John surgery so he could be an easy sign as well for stability. He is pretty small for a pitcher but has three decent pitches that include a fastball, slider, and change up. He has the chance to be a Roy Oswalt type pitcher before his injury according to some scouts.
  • Anthony Prieto, LHP: The first lefty in the draft for the Cubs. This is a head-scratching pick to me because he barely made Baseball America’s top 500 and he is really undersized at 6 foot 170 lbs. The only thing that would make sense to pick him this high is he is expected to draft under slot.
  • Trey Lang, RHP: Why scouts and other sources are not excited about this guy I do not know. Lang actually hit 98 MPH in a couple games for Gateway Community College and he is a top 200 draft prospect. Not only that but he has a cutter he has been working on and is unpolished as an pitcher so he has a “young” arm. This is a guy I think will surprise everyone in the Cubs system.
  • Michael Heesch, LHP: He is a local kid who is a college senior so he is almost a lock to sign. Not much to say besides his slider is really nice he is 6’5” 220 lbs so he is not small by any means. Not a high risk or high reward guy so he diverts the Theo plan thus far in the draft.
  • Chad Kist, C: This guys is a “depth” signing and will likely not be a major league catcher. If I have one beef with this draft it is this pick because there were several good players on the board the Cubs should have taken here. Guys like Joe Bircher, Grady Wood, or even Joel Hutter.
  • Chad Martin, RHP: A reliever and starter but not really all that impressive. Just like Kist, I don’t like this pick.
  • Rashad Crawford, CF: Now this pick is nice because he is a high school kid who has a commitment to Tallahassee Community College so he is still likely to sign given he is taken in the 11th round. He has been compared to Lorenzo Cain and Angel Pagan so he has that.
  • Justin Amlung, RHP: He has decent stuff but the Cubs are taking a gamble given he has a year left at the University of Louisville. There are several scouts that say he reminds them of a young Bobby Howry.
  • Bijan Rademacher, OF: Hard to find much on him but he kind of small at 6 foot and 190 lbs and gives you the vibe of a Sam Fuld/Reed Johnson type of player. He is a senior year in High School he hit .435 with 6 homers and 33 RBI so he seems like a good pick in round 13.
  • Corbin Hoffner, RHP: A college draftee at 18 years old so he is a nice pick for the Cubs. Has great numbers (71 IP, 73 SO, and a 2.52 ERA) and is tall at 6’5”. He is only going to get better at the ripe age of 18.
  • Carlos Escobar, C: He is not going to blow you away with his offensive numbers but this is another nice pick for the Cubs. What is impressive is his pick off were at 6 which were 2nd most in the WAC and he caught 19 runners stealing which lead the conference in 2011. So he looks nice defensively.
Day 3
  • Michael Hamann, RHP: Not really good numbers but is relatively tall at 6’3” but nothing really special stands out.
  • Nathan Dorris, LHP: I like this guy as a reliever striking out 80 in 82 innings but did post a big ERA at 4.17 so he has work to do.
  • David Bote, SS: Small middle infielder. For more information see David Eckstein or Ryan Theriot.
  • Damek Tomscha, 3B: Hard not to drool at this kid who has great raw bat speed, nice calm stance, with the ball jumping off the bat. He is very underrated and should sign with the Cubs and move up quickly within their system.
  • Blake Hickman, C: Another catcher/pitcher taken out of high school in Illinois. He is ranked 212 nationally and 21st nationally by position. He is labeled at one of the top catching prospects in the Midwest and has big time potential according to scouts. He maybe better than the first two catchers taken by the Cubs. Tough sign because his draft stock can only go up as he gets more polished.
  • Stephen Perakslis, RHP: Short pitcher with OK stuff. Nothing special.
  • Eduardo Orozoco, RHP: Heard talk he could be a Juan Cruz type once he develops more pitches.
  • Jake Drossner, LHP: Decent lefty which decent stuff.
  • Jameson Fisher, C: Again this guy could have been taken in the 2nd round but fell to the Cubs in the third round. A high school catcher and maybe hard to sign just like Hickman.
  • Rhett Wiseman, CF: He fell far because of his strong commitment to Vanderbilt (did it when he was just 15 years old) but he was labeled the 136th best prospect in the draft. He will stay in CF his entire career because of his build and athleticism. He is highly unlikely to sign with the Cubs given he is likely a first round pick next season.
  • Jasvir Rakkar, RHP: Nice big reliever.
  • Tyler Bremer, RHP: Drafted by the Cubs two years ago this time he may stick.
  • Lance Rymel, C: He hit .318 last years but is otherwise unspectacular.
  • Austin Pentecost, RHP: A senior that has nice size and put up OK numbers.
  • Izaac Garsez, OF: Big bat senior outfielder from Idaho who hit .389 and a .467 OBP.
  • Bryan Bonnell, RHP: Not likely to sign with the Cubs because he is just out of high school and is NV top prospect list. If the Cubs can nab him and Wiseman it will be a miracle.
  • Timothy Saunders, SS: He is a college senior who can hit the crap out of the ball. He hit at an average of .441 and a .512 OBP.
  • Thomas Pannone, OF: There is really nothing on this guy.
  • Christian Botnick, RHP: A 17 year old pitcher. Good for the Cubs.
  • Ben Carhart, 3B: Not good numbers on offense or defense.
  • Sly Edwards, CF: The Cubs like high school outfielders I guess.
  • Clayton Crum, RHP: Throws hard and has an attitude. I see comparisons to Kyle Farnsworth.
  • Hassan Evans, CF: Juco CF with not much on him.
  • Rustin Sveum, 3B: He is Dale’s son and will be going to college.
  • Jacob Rogers, 1B: Yes the Cubs took a first baseman with Dan Voglebach numbers in 54 games he hit .392 with 17 homers 60 RBI and 13 SB.
That concludes the 2012 draft for the Chicago Cubs and it looks like they have some nice young talent. We will have to keep an eye out on these names to see if they do in fact sign but especially guys like Wiseman, Hickman, Tomscha, Lang, and Hoffner. Not to mention the big three of Almora, Johnson, and Blackburn.
Until Next Time….

Rumor Bag: Garza, Upton, Soler, Dempster, and More...

  • The Cubs have said that they will try to sign Matt Garza but many baseball execs believe he will be traded at the deadline.
  • The Cubs were one of several teams that watched Jorge Soler’s workout. Jed Hoyer said the Cubs have done their homework on Soler and plan to be involved. Sources indicate the Cubs are the likely landing spot for Soler.
  • The landslide of rumors that happened after I heard from a source that the Cubs and Dbacks were discussing a trade that involved Justin Upton were in fact true. I confirmed the talk with two other sources late last night that the Cubs and Dbacks have had early talks about Justin Upton but the Diamondbacks are not looking at pitching as the main piece in return. The other source said another team is likely involved but it was not confirmed. It is still unknown what players would be involved but I can confirm that talks between Cubs management and Dbacks management did take place in the past week about Justin Upton.
  • Other tidbits that fueled the Upton trade talk is the fact the owner of the Dbacks Ken Kendrick said a mouthful found here and Upton has not played since June 4th.
  • I am guessing that trade targets for the Dbacks are likely Matt Garza (even if they deny they need pitching), Brett Jackson, Junior Lake, Josh Vitters, Darwin Barney, Javier Baez, and/or maybe Starlin Castro (not gonna happen).
  • Hey, Concepcion is doing better. His last start he pitched five and two third innings, struck out four, walked four, and allowed two hits.
  • Today is the deadline for submit you bid for Soler and we should know something soon after (at least I hope).
  • The Cubs took 18 right-handed pitchers, 4 lefty pitchers, and 20 position players in the draft. Their mission was obvious to take high upside and high risk pitchers. More on the draft in my draft post later.
  • Jed Hoyer says that the team has already started taking phone calls about trades and expects the calls to really pick up now that the draft is over. He says there is a lack of sellers. This helps the Cubs trememdously.
  • All the Matt Szczur speculation was ended yesterday with the news that he is on the DL with a strained knee.
  • Want the most obsessive Jorge Soler watch ever?!?!?!? Check out Bleacher Nation.
  • Manny Corpas looked good in his Cubs debut pitching an inning with 2 strike outs.
  • Ryan Dempster is open to a trade according to ESPNChicago (which Cubs Den said more than a week ago).
  • Until Next Time..

    Tuesday, June 05, 2012

    Levine Latest and Teams Love Garza?

    The latest from Levine-
    • The Cubs are going hard after Soler and would like to end the draft with a strong international signing like Jorge Soler.
    • The Cubs may move to bench Castro to give him so mental time off given the gaffe he made yesterday.
    • It is very possible that Javier Baez is in Double A by the end of the year.
    • The Cubs may not view Garza as a number one so Levine says a 5 year deal worth 80-90 million may not work.
    • Almora will likely start in rookie ball regardless of his hype.
    • Epstein is willing to listen to trade offers on Castro but it is not likely given how the Cubs feel about Castro and his asking price. (I heard that Theo wants 4-5 young near ML ready players for Castro. Something like Hanley Ramirez, “Mike” Stanton, Logan Morrison, and a top prospect from the Marlins if they were interested.).
    • The Cubs will not call up Rizzo this week and will likely wait until after the June 23rd another year benefit deadline. Although Levine says that does not worry Theo and Jed as much as others think.
    • He would be shocked if the Cubs don’t come up with the best bid when final bids are taken on the international players.
    • Bruce thinks Samardzija is swell.
    • He thinks DeJesus is the Cubs best off-season signing and thinks the Cubs benefit from him more on the team than trade bait.
    • If Soler is signed he may start in High A or Daytona but there is not rush for a guy who is 19.
    • He does not know if BJax or Vitters will end up in Chicago this year but September call-ups are a possibility. He says Jackson and Vitters both need 500 Abs in AAA before they are called up.
    • The Cubs will likely not spend money on the big league team unless it benefits the future. Which means the Cubs will not balk at signing or trading for a 25, 26, or 27 year old.
    • The Cubs are not ready to win anytime soon with Theo and Co. new approach but it will benefit in the end.
    The one non-Levine update I have today is from dependable Rotoworld saying the Jays along with the Orioles and Tigers have interest in Matt Garza. Now the Jays and Tigers we have heard about along with the Phillies, Red Sox, and Yankees but the Orioles are new. The O’s have several interesting prospects such as Dylan Bundy, Manny Machado, Glynn Davis, and Sebastian Vader. But they still come in a distant third behind the Jays and Tigers farm system.
    I will have a new draft only post when the draft concludes. I will be giving my take on entire draft as a whole and the players the Cubs took and missed out on.
    Until Next Time…

    Monday, June 04, 2012

    Trade Talk, Draft Talk, and More....

  • So the Yankees really want Matt Garza and are willing to outbid the Red Sox for him according to numerous sources. The Yankees are not the best match farm wise with the Cubs but they do have some good prospects such as Dellin Betances (struggling), Manny Banuelos (struggling), Gary Sanchez (mashing), and Mason Williams. But they also have some ML ready talent to offer such as Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova.
  • The Yankees like Ryan Dempster but prefer Garza because he is AL East battle tested.
  • I have talked to 3 MLB execs that say if the Red Sox want Dempster or Garza; Will Middlebrooks has to be involved.
  • The Cubs signed lefty reliever Hong-Chih Kuo to a minor league deal and will report to extended Spring Training. Kuo was an all-star reliever for the Dodgers in 2010.
  • Soriano sounded like he would waive his NTC according to his quote in the Sun-Times-
  • I’m 36 years old, so, yeah, I would like to have the opportunity to … if they want to trade me, I hope it is to a team that’s a contender because it’s about trying to go for that ring,” Soriano said before the Cubs’ third consecutive loss. “You want to feel good, feel like maybe you got a chance for that if we don’t have a chance here. But like I said, it depends on them. I don’t control the situation.”
    • Javier Baez looks like the real deal. If you don’t believe me then read what CubsDen wrote.
    • Ryan Dempster is gaining interest from the Braves according to sources.
    • The Phillies have been scouting Bryan LaHair as a possible backup plan for Ryan Howard.
    • It is widely expected for the Cubs to take either Albert Almora or Carlos Correa with the 6th overall pick in the draft. I still think there is an outside chance that Kevin Gausman falls to them at 6th.
    • The Cubs have two picks in the sandwich round and here are 6 players to watch for those picks at 43 and 56.
    =Ty Buttrey RHP from Providence High School
    =Mitch Gueller RHP from WF West High School
    =Shane Watson RHP from Lakewood High School – If the Cubs somehow get him along with Almora, Correa, or Gausman then mark this as a win for the Cubs draft.
    =Lance McCullers RHP from Jesuit High School
    =Nolan Sanburn RHP from Arkansas
    =Freddy Avis RHP from Menlo High School
    Until Next Time….

    Sunday, June 03, 2012

    Time to Catch Up

    • Jorge Soler is officially a free agent and his agent Barry Praver is requesting all offers to be submitted by Thursday.  The Cubs are the favorite to land the young outfielder.
    • The Cubs also have a lot of interest in 23 year old righty Armando Rivero who is also an International Free Agent.
    • The Cubs DFA Michael Bowden to make room for newly required Jairo Asencio from the Indians.
    • Matt Garza is available for the right offer but the Cubs are more interested in signing him to an extension.
    • Starlin Castro is not available or being discussed in any trade talks according to everyone.
    • The Yankees, Blue Jays, Phillies, O's, Angels, and Red Sox all have interest in Matt Garza.  It also should be noted those same teams also have interest in Ryan Dempster.
    • My source is getting the feeling that not only will Dempster and Garza get traded but so will Bryan LaHair, David DeJesus, and Carlos Marmol.
    • Alfonso Soriano's interest in gaining among a National League team and 3 American League teams according to sources.
    • The Dodgers have joined the Ryan Dempster race according to Danny Knobler.
    • The Tigers have more interest in Jeff Baker than Darwin Barney because of the asking compared asking price.
    • If the Red Sox want in on Garza then Will Middlebrooks will have to be involved unless the Cubs can get Ellsbury.  The Red Sox maybe willing to deal Middlebrooks if they can get a near ready young 3rd baseman in return.  The Red Sox also maybe willing to deal Middlebrooks and overpay for Garza to keep him out of NY.
    • The Phillies have emerged in the starting pitching market and have Garza and Dempster on their list.
    • Theo and Co. want a stable defensive, young third baseman with power and they could move for one at the trade deadline.
    • Vitters could be in a deal that nets them a young third baseman because the Cubs are not too thrilled at his progress (until recently).
    • The Indians could be one of the AL teams that like Soriano but will have a tough time paying any of his contract.
    • Junior Lake keeps hitting and could be called up to Iowa when Rizzo gets called up to Chicago.  Lake actually could win the 3rd base job out of spring next year if he continues his success and the Cubs don't land a more ready player for 3rd.
    • Despite injury, Ian Stewart is gaining interest from many clubs with the White Sox being the most notable.
    • Jon Morosi say Soriano will be playing elsewhere by July.
    • 3 mock drafts have the Cubs taking outfielder Albert Almora with the 6th overall pick.  This would be a good pick for the Cubs but I think a shake up will take place and the Cubs will end up with Kevin Gausman.
    Until Next Time....