Sunday, October 26, 2014

HSC has moved!

Great news! Hot Stove Cubbies is no longer a blog. It now has his own website at!

Go there for all the latest Cubs rumors and news.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

HSC Taking Time Off

The Hot Stove Cubbies blog is going to be taking some much needed time off for various things including exploring other avenues and possible updating.  Unless some breaking news that requires me to utilize Hot Stove Cubbies there will be no updates from now until the start of free agency this coming offseason.  But the good news is @HotStoveCubbies on Twitter will still be going strong and providing you with insight, rumors, and news in 140 characters or less.  So please give me a follow for everything Cubs.








Friday, August 08, 2014

Cubs Trade for Jacob Turner

The Chicago Cubs acquired a pitcher today not named Cole Hamels.  The Cubs received former top prospect Jacob Turner from the Marlins for Kane County RP Tyler Bremer and his teammate RP Jose Arias.  Both are pretty much non-prospects and both are kind of oldish for low A ball but both have had some success there.  It is no surprise the Marlins had their hand forced when they place Jacob Turner on revocable waivers so getting two lower level minor leaguers is the best they could hope for.


Now on the Cubs side they bought low on a 23 year old right-handed pitcher without options who use to be an UBER prospect according to most scouting report.  Turner; who was the lead piece in the Anibal Sanchez trade with the Tigers, has struggled for some consistency since the Fish acquired him.  In 2013 Jacob Turner posted a 3.74 ERA in 20 games started while putting a mediocre 5.9 SO9 and a bad 4.1 BB9 so somewhat of a mixed bag for Turner.  This season his K’s (6.2 SO9) and BB (2.6 BB9) are better but he is getting hit averaging 12 hits per 9 innings and posting a 5.97 ERA between starting and relieving.  One of the reasons the consistency is not there this season is because he has been bounced between the pen and rotation.  Another thing that does not help (and why he is out of options) is that while he has played in the majors since 2012 quite a bit he has also logged 178 innings in the minors since 2012.  Hard for a guy to have consistency and success when he is being bounced between being a RP to a SP alone. But then being moved from the minors to the majors as both a SP and RP?  That is borderline insanity when looking for consistency. 


Many of you can look at his numbers and know that he has struggled but please do not forget that back before the 2012 season he was rated the 22nd best prospect and the 15th best prospect by Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus. But lets not just scout the stat line; here is what John Sickles had tosay about him in 2012 and an interesting take on Jacob Turner from Fishstripes.   


In the end the Cubs got a great deal for a 23 year old former top prospect.  They bought low and could be catching lightning in a bottle by combining Jacob Turner’s upside with their pitching wizard Chris Bosio. 


In a corresponding move the Cubs have designated Ryan Kalish for Assignment and added Jacob Turner to the 40 man roster.  We will wait to see who gets bumped for the 25 man roster since Turner is out of options and has to be on the big league club. 


Until Next Time…





Thursday, August 07, 2014

Unlikely; But How a Trade For Hamels Could Work

OK so Brett from @BleacherNation pretty much beat everyone to the punch when it comes to his Cole Hamels write up and it of course as always it is a great read (find here).  But instead of writing essential the same piece because honestly I feel he is 100% right on I am going to analyze what a possible trade could look like.


Trading with the Phillies tidbits


·         The Phillies are going to want the Cubs to take on Hamels entire salary.

·         The Phillies are going to want top prospects and are not likely to take less than their trade deadline asking price.

·         The Cubs are not going to trade someone like Edwin Jackson to the Phillies.

·         The Phillies are highly unlikely to acquire guys like Castro, Baez, Alcantara, Soler, Rizzo, Wood, Arrieta, Olt, etc.. because they are on the 40 man roster and are subject to waivers as well.  All those guys would likely be claimed by the Rockies or Dbacks before the Phillies had a chance to claim them in a potential deal.

·         The Cubs are not going to trade Kris Bryant for Cole Hamels.  They are also unlikely to give up a uber prospect for him.

·         The Phillies are unlikely to deal Cole Hamels unless they get exactly what they want.

·         The window to strike a deal is small and so is the list of players which again makes this deal unlikely but still possible.


What the Phillies are looking for


·         Outfielders:  Possibly the Phillies biggest need is young outfielders and is rumored they were seeking them in trade talks that included Marlon Byrd and yes… Cole Hamels.

·         Catcher:  The Phillies have no catching depth in the minors so acquiring at catcher might be the best thing for them.

·         Starting Pitching:  You have an aging Cliff Lee plus if the Cubs do deal for Hamels they are going to need to fill up that rotation with someone.

·         First baseman: Someone is going to have to eventually replace Ryan Howard and it maybe sooner than later.


What the Cubs have to offer


·         Outfielders: All the sudden it seems like the Cubs could have a lot of outfielders especially if they sign R. Castillo, keep Alcantara in CF, move Bryant to RF, and put Soler in LF.  This of course if not even factoring in prospects Kyle Schwarber and Albert Almora.  So the Cubs have the outfielders the Phillies drool over but the Phillies will not be receiving Alcantara or Soler because they are on the 40 man.  Plus I have heard Bryant is basically off limits.  Kyle Schwarber to me could be a candidate but he hits left-handed which is something that the Cubs sorely need in their system.  That leaves us with former 1st round pick Albert Almora.  Almora seems right now to be the odd man out.  His struggles do not help but like many fans and scouts I think he turns it around.  He has the intangibles every team looks for which includes his off the charts character and leadership ratings.  But in the grand scheme of things I think if you had to deal a top outfield prospect for Hamels he is the one you deal.

·         Catcher:  The Cubs do not have top catching depth and Castillo is not going anywhere so the chances of the Cubs and Phillies being a match here are slim.

·         Starting Pitching:  Again the Cubs do not have a lot of top pitching but there could be a match if they decided to include guys like Pierce Johnson, Paul Blackburn, Rob Zastryzny, etc… Like catching I do not seem pitching as a primary piece in a deal for Hamels.

·         First baseman:  Former prospects Rock Shoulders or Dustin Geiger could be of interest to the Phillies but Dan Vogelbach takes the cake here.  The Philles GM Amaro loves big boppers and Dan fits the profile he is looking for.  Dan has bounced back here of late hitting .269 with a .359 OBP and 12 homers.  He is starting to look like a guy who could get called up to AA soon.




Although a deal for Cole Hamels does not look likely from either team I think there is the slight possibility a deal could get done.  After what is said above I think this is a deal worth considering for both teams.


Phillies Receive: Albert Almora, Dan Vogelbach, and a guy like Jeimer Candelario/Jacob Hammemann (top 20ish prospect who does not have a spot on the team).


Cubs Receive: Cole Hamels (and pays his entire salary)


In this deal the Phillies shore up two spots for the future with Almora in CF and Vogelbach at 1st base.  They then get another guy who could also fit on their roster in the next two years.  Almora is not ranked lower than 35thon baseball prospect list and Vogelbach is ranked just out of the top 100.  The Phillies should be intrigued by the chance to not only unload that huge salary which would make them players for this great crop of starting pitchers in free agency next season but they get a top 35 prospect in all of baseball as well?  That is intriguing, very intriguing to them.


The Cubs would get their Jason Werth (thanks Tom Loxas) and they deal from their surplus of talent to get him so the loss of Almora and Vogelbach does not hurt as bad because of that depth.  This will allow the Cubs also to concentrate on only acquiring one FA pitching this offseason which is far more likely to happen than trying to sign two FA pitchers which has been eluded to here and other sites.


But like I said and what many have said as well; a deal is unlikely to happen but to me a deal like I laid out could make it a little more probable than originally thought.


Until Next Time…



Tuesday, August 05, 2014

My Top 5 Off-Season Outfield Targets

The Chicago Cubs prospects are getting closer and closer to making their impact on the Major League roster especially with the call-up of Javier Baez who joined Arismendy Alcantara in Chicago.  Then you have Jorge Soler who is likely to make his Major League debut when rosters expand in September.  Then around May of next season there is the anticipation of Kris Bryant being called up to the show.  Now a lot of things can happen between now and then such as injuries, trades, players regressing/improving, etc… but if everything goes as planned (like I tweeted last night) this could be the Chicago Cubs roster sometime in May of next season.


1.     Alcantara CF

2.     Castro SS

3.     Rizzo 1st

4.     Bryant 3b

5.     Baez 2b

6.     Soler RF/LF

7.     ?????RF/LF

8.     Castillo C

9.     Pitcher


Now the Cubs could go into next season with a Coghlan/Ruggiano platoon in either RF or LF depending on where Soler ends up (I would be totally cool with that).  But in the end I do not believe Lake or Sweeney are going to cut it on this roster.  I also do not feel Brett Jackson, Matt Szczur, or Josh Vitters fits what the Cubs FO is looking for in their OF.  So to me that leaves free agency and trades to acquire an outfielder.  Here is a list of 5 guys who I think would fit nicely into the Chicago Cubs outfield next season.


1.     Dustin Ackley: Everyone knows how fond of this guy I am.  It could be that he is a former top prospect who bats lefty and can play multiple positions.  Or it could be that he has a career .290 avg with .397 OBP and a 840 OPS in 1044 PA in the minors which has not translated to the majors making him a low risk/high reward guys that Theo and Jed love.  To me it sounds like he needs a change of scenery and I think the Chicago Cubs are the perfect place for him.

2.     Nick Markakis: The dude has a team option for next season but the O’s are not sure if they will pick it up or not.  Now Markakis is not your tradition power hitting corner OF but with the power that is currently on its way to Wrigley I think the Cubs need a guy to get on base for those power guys;  Markakis can do just that! In the tough AL East Nick owns a .359 OBP which would be nice to have in the 2 hole in the lineup.  He also will add some pop hitting 10+ homers in every season since his 2006 debut.  I really like me some Markakis but he could command more than the Cubs want in terms of a contract.

3.     Tori Hunter:  A guy who does not really jump off the page as a guy Theo and Jed would go after but he provides something very few do; fantastic veteran leadership!  He has constantly been named as one of the best clubhouse guys in baseball and frankly the Cubs need that veteran leader on the team.  But lets not forget Hunter is no slouch either owning a career .278 avg with a .334 OBP and 300 career homers plus lets not forget 9 gold gloves. Hunter provides so much both on the field and off he is extremely intriguing to me.

4.     Michael Cuddyer: Another aging vet that may have been rejuvenated by the high altitude of Colorado buyt has been on the shelf with a left shoulder fracture.  He could be a buy low candidate given his age and injury risk which is right up the FO ally.  The other thing that is intriguing is he can play 1st, 3rd, and RF decently and owns a .346 OBP in his 14 year career.  He also would look mighty nice in that two hold ahead of Rizzo.

5.     Jason Heyward: My favorite trade target is Jason Heyward!  He will only be 25 in August and will be a free agent in 2016.  Rumors have the Braves shopping him this winter which should be no surprise considering he was linked to a possible Jeff Samardzija deal last year.  The big lefty is best suited for LF or RF but can play center.  He is a very streaky hitter but that has not stopped him from putting up good numbers in his short 5 year career.  He has a .261 avg with a .352 OBP with some up and down power numbers in his career but get him at Wrigley and I see a consistent 20 HR guy.  He will likely cost some decent prospects but I think the Cubs could get him without trading one of the “sexy 7”


All in all I believe the Cubs need to add an outfielder this offseason.  While getting an outfielder is not as important as lets sayPITCHING. I think adding the right guy can be as important as landing a front line starter.


Until Next Time….





Friday, August 01, 2014

Trade Deadline Winners & Losers


Trade Deadline Winners


·         Tigers: Just adding David Price makes them a winner but doing so by just shipping out Drew Smyly, Austin Jackson, and Willy Adames is amazing for Dave Domrowski.  The Tigers now have 3 Cy Young award winners in their rotation.

·         Athletics: The A’s turn Yoenis Cespedes, Tommy Milone, and a comp pick for Jon Lester, Jonny Gomes, and Sam Fuld which alone is a decent haul for Billy Beane but then add in the fact they got Jason Hammel and Jeff Samardzija on the 4th of July; WOW! 

·         Cardinals: As it pains me to say this they had a great deadline by giving up Joe Kelly and struggling Allen Craig to get John Lackey and Corey Littrell.  Add this to their awesome buy low acquisition of Justin Masterson the day before and you can argue they had as good as a deadline as any team not named the Tigers or A’s.

·         Red Sox: Honestly the moves they made throughout the trade season rivaled what the A’s did getting Lester and Samardzija.  On deadline day they acquire the power hitting young OF to damage their short porch in LF with Yoenis Cespedes. They also get more young pitching with Joe Kelly and a struggling hitter but good rebound candidate in Allen Craig for a year of John Lackey and minor leaguer Corey Littrell. Then they move top notch reliever Andrew Miller for lefty Eduardo Rodriquez who was their #3 prospect at the start of the season according to John Sickels.  Then to top it off they saved 5 million bucks by shipping Stephen Drew to the Yanks for Kelly Johnson.  The BoSox were a winner at the deadline but again you take that and add that they also acquired Edwin Escobar and Heath Hembree for Jake Peavy who has similar number to Edwin Jackson… that blows me away.

·         Mariners: The M’s needed hitters so they got some with Chris Denorfia and Austin Jackson.  They did have to pay a hefty price with Nick Franklin, Abraham Almonte, and Stephen Kohlscheen but overall I think the pieces they acquired are far superior to the pieces they gave up.


Trade Deadline Losers


·         Pirates:  The Bucs did nothing during the deadline to improve their team and they watch the Cardinals just load up on pitching.  Big time losers are the Pirates for not landing Price or Lester especially giving the cost of both.

·         Phillies:  How do you not trade anybody on a team full of aging veterans.  They need to start over but opted to hold high priced old vets in Lee, Byrd, Rollins, Howard, and Utley.  While their best trade chip Hamels is also staying put.  Very disappointing for the Phils.

·         Blue Jays:  Again they had several needs including a hitter and a top line pitcher but opted to stay put while the Yankees and O’s bought in.  Even the Red Sox got better in my book and at least the Rays did something by acquiring some decent prospects for Price (although the Price deal still baffles me).

·         White Sox:  Again!  A team that should have sold off some of their pieces remain stubborn and hold on to guys who are get less valuable by the day.

·         Rangers:  Failing to trade Alex Rios is beyond excusable since hitters were at a premium at the deadline giving the lack of them available.  Inexcusable.


The others


Teams like the Cubs, Braves, Nationals, Orioles, Dodgers, Reds, etc… did not impress or disappoint with their moves or non-moves.  The teams above are clearly defined as winners or losers by the moves they made.




Until Next time





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 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!


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...