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And we're back at it today...with their first two picks Cubs picked Kris Bryant out of San Diego and then LHP Rob Zastryzny out of Missourri, the latter certainly being a signability pick to save some money to help secure the junior Bryant, who will have Boras and leverage in his corner.

The Cubs round 3 pick is CF Jacob Hannemann out of Brigham Young, a lefty at the plate and with the arm, the 22-year old is just a freshman, but that's because he took a few years off on a Mormom mission.

The MLB.com scouting report is below the fold.

Tags: 

The Cubs just took 2 of 3 from the Nationals including winning games started by Strasburg and Gio.  Their starting pitching has put up the third best ERA in the senior circuit without their best pitcher. 'Mo Gregg is locking down games in the 9th, and Anthony Rizzo is the left-handed power hitting droid you've been looking for...what's not to love?

(clicks on Yahoo MLB Standings...quickly clicks off Yahoo MLB standings)

Back to the positive....let's talk the Anthony Rizzo deal...7/$41M with option years.

Once a novelty in the league, these pre-arbitration deals are fast becoming the norm. I'm sure someone's studied it more thoroughly than me, but it seems rare that they don't work out for the organization. Safe to say, he'll be a Cub for a long time though...unless he's not and they trade him away with Castro for all the good players in the league.

The other interesting tidbit I read over the weekend, was this report/presumption that Scott "2.53 ERA" Feldman could be the odd man out of the rotation once Matt Garza returns to showcase himself to a contender every 5 days. According to the Patrick Mooney tweet, Dale Sveum says Samardzija, Jackson and Travis Wood will stay in the rotation and they're not willing to try EXTREME 6-man style. That leaves Carlos Villanueva and Scott Feldman as the logical goats, although both have pitched better (by ERA at least) than Samardzija and Jackson. First, I don't get why they wouldn't try a 6-man until a deal can be made, the Cubs aren't contending for anything and showcasing these pitchers in the starter role isn't the worst thing they can do. But if I had to choose between demotion options, I think Edwin and Villanueva would be the more logical choices. Villanueva seems to be pitching over his head a little more than Feldman right now and I think we all expected he was set for the swing-man role when he was signed and that's probably the role that would interest other teams. Now Edwin signed the big deal, and that usually takes precedence over the quality of the pitching, but since the Cubs are all about flipping short-term assets for long-term assets, then it would make sense to showcase Feldman until a trade could be made, while Edwin dives into his pool of gold for a few weeks (or months) waiting to be put back into the rotation.

The Cubs today will make some roster moves including the return of everyone's least favorite closer since Mel Rojas.

According to Twitter, the moves will be Darwin Barney being reinstated from the disabled list to begin his 2013 scrappy campaign. He'll be joined by 37-year-old Cody Ransom, which will give Barney a nice peak into his MLB future while also rescuing us fans from anymore Brent Lillibridge at-bats(he's been DFA'd). Throw in Steve Clevenger's move to the 60-day disabled list and there are your position player updates.

C: Castillo, Navarro

INF: Rizzo, Barney, Castro, Valbuena, Gonzalez, Ransom

OF: Soriano, DeJesus, Schierholtz, Hairston, Sappelt

On the pitching side, Kameron Loe and Kevin Gregg join the team, they'll take the roster spots of Hisanori Takahashi(DFA'd) and Rafael Dolis(optioned). At the going rate, Loe or Gregg will either be closing or on the disabled list by the end of the week.

SP: Samardzija, Jackson, Wood, Villanueva, Feldman

RP: Camp, Russell, Marmol, Loe, Gregg, Bowden, Rondon

Barney gets the start tonight versus lefty Derek Holland, with Travis Wood taking the mound for the Cubs. Sappelt 8/Castro 6/Rizzo 3/Soriano 7/Hairston 9/Castillo 2/Barney 4/Gonzalez 5/Wood 1 are your starting 9.

The Internet ate my homework...let's try that again.

Game 1: Cubs @ Pirates 12:35 PM CST

vs. AJ Burnett

2012: 3.51 ERA/3.52 FIP

vs. Jeff Samardzija

2012: 3.81 ERA/3.55 FIP

*D. DeJesus, CF S. Marte, LF
S. Castro, SS * G. Jones, RF
*A. Rizzo, 1B A. McCutchen, CF
A. Soriano, LF *P. Alvarez, 3B
*N. Schierholtz, RF G. Sanchez, 1B
W. Castillo, C #N. Walker, 2B
*L. Valbuena, 3B R. Martin, C
B. Lillibridge, 2B C. Barmes, SS
J. Samardzija, P A.J. Burnett, SP

The weather is around 40 degrees in Pittsburgh and all the MLB Network cutaways to the park show it snowing. Yet, the weather forecast says it should pass by game time, although I imagine a delay is possibility. If the game does get in, join me(and hopefully others)in Parachat to pass the time.

Before the game, Darwin Barney was indeed placed on the disabled list and he'll join Matt Garza, Ian Stewart, Scott Baker and Arodys Vizcaino to start the season. Alberto Gonzalez will get the active roster spot and pitcher Robert Whitenack was the 40-man casualty as he was DFA'd. Doubtful in my opinion that he'll get claimed by anyone unless the Astros are feeling frisky.

Spring training is about to wind down...thankfully...unbearable as it ends up being by the end, it was doubly so with the World Baseball Classic extension. The only real goal of spring training is to leave camp healthy and the Cubs failed at that much like they do at winning baseball games. As you can see, I expect little from the Cubs this season, which is rare from me, as I'm always overly optimistic this time of year. Maybe that's a good sign for the year, the biggest surprises come when you expect the least.

Last week, the Cubs outrighted Tony Campana off thier 40-man to make room for Scott Hairston. Today, the Diamondbacks agreed to give up two pitchers for the speedster...RHP Erick Leal and RHP Jesus Castillo. Judging by the quality going out, I wouldn't expect much on the quality coming in, but maybe the Cubs unearth one of those diamonds in the rough. Leal, a 6'3" righty out of Venezuela, will be playing his age 18 season and Castillo is a 6'2" righty also out of Venezuela and will be playing his age 17 season. In both cases, plenty of time for them to learn the "Cubs Way." Nick Piecoro had both of them in a write-up on some of the D'Backs international signings from back in late 2011 that you can view here and see some video. Here are the quotes from the D'Backs international scouting director Carlos Gomez at the time:

Re: Castillo ($250K signing bonus)

“He’s about 6-2, 165, 170 pounds. He’s long, lean and all kinds of projectable. He has a loose, cool rhythm about him, really free and easy. His fastball ranges from 82-89 mph, but he pitches 85-86 right now. I think he has a chance to throw a lot harder. His best secondary pitch is his changeup and the breaking ball isn’t bad. The spin is there, but it needs work and consistency. He gets really good extension, almost jumps off the mound. We think he can start; we see starter’s arm action and delivery from him.”

Re: Leal ($75K signing bonus)

“He’s 6-3, 180 pounds. He has a nice delivery, a nice arm action, and the highlight again is the breaking ball. He’s a kid who can spin it. It’s 74-76 mph already and his fastball is 86-88. He has the physical size, the delivery, a breaking ball and a present, useable fastball for his age. He’s one of those guys who looks like he might have slipped through the cracks. A lot of that same type of guy was going for more earlier in the year. His delivery is pretty balanced, but he drives pretty aggressively out front; he really gets over his front side well. You can tell the extra breaking ball spin he gets is a function of his finish.”

Something is better than nothing and Crazy Legs was always a lot closer to nothing in my in opinion.

So the Cubs are going to sign Scott Hairston, but since the deal isn't official we don't really have comments from TheJedi on his exact purpose. Chances are though, he'll platoon with DeJesus and Schierholtz and be the thunder off the bench late in games. And if they happen to trade Alfonso Soriano at some point, he might just be the starting left fielder. The 33-year old usually puts up OPS numbers around the mid 700's, most of it playing in pitching friendly parks like Oakland, San Diego and Citi Field, although he did start out his career in Arizona. The deal at 2/$5M with up to $1.25M in perfomance bonuses each season is reasonable enough in today's baseball economics, there's also something about another extra $1M being tacked on per year as well. It's probably bad news for Dave Sappelt's hopes of making the Opening Day roster, but doubtful the outfield will stay healthy all season, so he'll probably get his chance. If you're looking for 2 good reasons to like the deal, it's a career .825 OPS versus lefties(.867 last year) and that for his career he sees 3.85 pitches per plate appearance (closer to 4 the last 2 seasons). So another efficient, if not spectacular move by TheJedi.

And then the great 40-man mystery has been solved, although another is awaiting once they deal with Hairston's spot. But last year's Rule 5 pick-up Lendy Castillo has been DFA'd to make room for Carlos Villanueva. If no other team wishes to use up a 40-man spot on him, and he pitched rather poorly this winter, he'll likely be outrighted and wander the Cubs's farm system this season.

The Bears get their new coach in Marc Trestman, his last gig was with the CFL Montreal Alouettes...who knew Moises Alou was so popular in Canada. Trestman has been out of the NFL for 8 years, coaching in the CFL and college, but has plenty of NFL experience. He's considered some sort of QB guru starting his career coaching Bernie Kosar at the University of Miami and then successful runs with Steve Young, Rich Gannon, Jake Plummer and Scott Mitchell, although I don't recall anything successful about Scott Mitchell in the NFL.

And if that's not enough good news, he's going to hire Aaron Kromer as his offensive coordinator/offensive line coach ending the Mike Tice era. Kromer comes way of the New Orleans Saints where he's been there the last 5 years including filling in as interim head coach for the first 6 games of last season while Sean Payton and Joe Vitt served suspensions.

Word is that they would like to keep Rod Marinelli as defensive coordinator which I doubt anyone will complain about.  Special teams coach Dave Toub left to take a job with Kansas City so there's a vacancy there.

Anyway, only time will tell if this is a good move. The Bears are obviously moving to an offensive mindset and while the change is welcome, they're way behind the curve and it's always hard to lead when you're following. But I appreciate the out-of-the-box thinking in hiring a guy from the CFL, hopefully he'll bring some fresh ideas, something the Bears have been sorely short on for a long time.

According to Patrick Mooney of CSN, the Cubs added OF Brett Lillibridge and OF Darnell McDonald on minor league deals today with spring training invites. They also agreed to a $930K contract with Luis Valbuena, thus avoiding arbitration.

 

Check out the left sidebar for some of the other NRI's to spring training courtesy of Arizona Awesome.

 

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