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Team .PCT GB
1. D'Backs .395 --
3. Rangers .400 0.5
4. Rockies .405 3.0
5. Twins .426 4.5
6. Red Sox .436 6.0
7. Astros .442 7.0
8. Cubs .442 7.0
9. Phillies .458 9.0
10. White Sox .458 9.5
11. Reds .462 10.0
12. Marlins .477 12.5
13. Padres .477 12.5

Updated through 9/21/14 - 6 games left for Cubs.

It's been quite a run by the D'Backs and Rangers over the last week and now the D'Backs hold the top spot in next year's draft with a week of games left. As for the Cubs, they're currently tied for the 6th worst record, but Astros own the tiebreaker there, so pushes the Cubs back to 7th and pushed back another spot with the Astros owning the 2nd pick in the draft for failing to sign Brady Aiken. 

It seems the most reasonable options for Cubs in terms of a draft pick next year, is either falling to the 5th worst record (6th pick) and overcoming the World Champs, whom they trail by one game and own the tiebreaker over. Or staying where they are and picking at #8, although they have less teams between them if they go on a win streak and the Phillies, White Sox or Reds go on a losing streak.

They're pretty close to clinching a protected pick with a 5.5 game lead there over Miami and San Diego. Miami has the tiebreaker over the Cubs, while the Cubs have the tiebreaker over the Padres. The Cubs have 6 games left, Miami and San Diego have 7 each. A Cubs loss or Padres win would clinch no worse than a tie between those two clubs and the aforementioned tiebreaker going the Cubs way, the Cubs couldn't do better than them this season. The Cubs need to lose tonight and the Marlins win or some magic number combination of the two before the season runs out and a protected pick will be the Cubs.

Time for a new thread but got some work to get done this morning...but the comments in the last thread had some interesting "Why isn't Olt starting talk?" So here's some numbers to assist in the discussion.

Olt since being called back on Sept 5.

11 G, 8 GS, 250/382/357 29.4 K%

Valaika since Sept 5

10 G, 8 GS 290/333/355 27.2 K%

Of course Valaika's started the last 2 games and Olt hasn't started any of the 3 games since Rizzo returned, so that's where the angst is directed. But unfortunately for Olt, I think the real reason behind all this, is that the Cubs just like Luis Valbuena more and don't want to move him off third base or think he's just a disaster at second base. Olt's a third basemen or a first basemen and with Valbuena (who's had quite a fine season) and Rizzo manning the corners, the at-bats just aren't there.* I'd certainly like to see Olt get some more playing time, but I can understand why he's behind Valbuena at third base. Valbuena has been 6th in overall WAR and 5th in offensive WAR among NL 3rd basemen this year and that definitely deserves a starting spot in the lineup. At just 28, I don't think we can just assume Valbuena is having a career year, he could be very capable of this and with the ability to hit from the left side, have quite a bit of value going forward for this club that looks to be very right-handed over the next few years. And once again, while I'd love to see what Olt has, hard to imagine he'd much better than the 5th best third basemen in the NL. The obvious solution is to move Valbuena to second base right now and play Olt at third base, but for whatever reasons that haven't been revealed to the viewing public, the Cubs seem hesistant to do so. It doesn't mean the reasons aren't valid (or hogwash), it's just that we don't know, which can be of course quite frustrating for us fans.

*Yes, I know that Watkins and Ride of the Valkyries started on Tuesday and Rizzo and Olt didn't. Maybe Capt. Happy just doesn't like Olt, maybe he's still shell-shocked from Olt's previous K happy ways and thought the matchup against Cueto was a bad idea. Maybe it was just one game...

Tags: 

Cubs finish up their north of the border series versus the Blue Jays and attempt to end a 5-game slide. With Kyle Hendricks on the mound, it seems possible. Although not in the lineup, Anthony Rizzo was spotted taking BP and might be ready to return sometime this weekend.

In non-depressing news of the day, it's is the opening of the Midwest League Finals. Kane County takes on Lake County (Indians affiliate).  Jen-Ho Tseng gets the start and the lineup for the Cougars will be: Dunston Jr. LF, Zagunis DH, Candelario 3B, Balaguert RF, Rogers 1B, Brockmeyer C, Penalver SS, Martin SS. I presume Clint Frazier is Lake County's biggest prospect name if you're looking for such things.

First, Bryant takes home the minor league HR crown over his buddy Joey Gallo...for that he got a trophy and $200 per home run. Then USA Today named him the minor league player of the year, thanks in part to that HR crown and an eye-poppin 325/438/661 slash line with 78 total extra-base hits in less than 600 PA's between AA and AAA. And then Baseball America placed him on their 2014 Minor League All-Star team. It's been a helluva nice run for fans with Alcantara, Hendricks, Baez and Soler coming up, but the two best are very likely still awaiting their phone call and bus ticket.

So while 2015 looks like a year of hope instead of despair, the end of 2014 has been a pleasant surprise. The Cubs have played .500 ball over their last 100 games and there's little reason to believe they won't be able to at least match that next season and hopefully surpass it. I have to believe they're firmly entrenched in the spoiler role for the remaining games and as the "team no one wants to play." It would be even more fun if Anthony Rizzo wasn't out for a good time (possibly the rest of the season) or however long Castro will be out, but seeing what the kids can do without the pressure of September is going to make this last month of games fun to follow.

- In minor league news, Daytona trashed Dunedin last night 11-1, Vogelbach and Schwarber hit home runs and the team combined for 7 extra-base hits. Rob Zastryzny went 6 innings, giving up just a run on 4 K's, 1 BB and 5 hits. Boise lost their opener to Hillsboro though, 5-2, thanks in large part to 4 errors. Jake Stinnett started and went 5 innings with 8 K's, 0 BB's, 2 H and just one unearned run. Alex Tomasovich had the lone extra-base hit, a home run, but also contributed one of the errors that lead to one of Hillsboro's runs. All 3 playoff teams go tonight, Daytona goes with Tayler Scott, Kane County throws out Jen-Ho Tseng and Boise begins with Jeremy Null.

- Well, the Cubs let someone else hand out the stupid contract and the Red Sox are the winner. 6/72.5M for Rusney Castillo...a little over $12M per which isn't terrible for a Shane Victorino comp, but I don't think the Cubs had a spot for him for 6 years (or even 3) and certainly not at a price higher than what Jose Abreu or Yasiel Puig got.

- Javier Baez watch: 5 Home Runs, 3 Golden Sombreros

I was curious, so maybe someone else was as well, but the starting pitcher in those golden sombrero games were Chris Archer, Mike Fiers and Madison Bumgarner. Welcome to the Show, Meat!

- Say hi to the new Cubs clubhouse manager (inspired by this story).

- The next wave went a combined 3/23 (Bryant, Soler, Almora, Russell, Schwarber & McKinney) in last night's games with Schwarber having the best day at 1/2 with a HR and 2 BB's. Soler and McKinney had the other hits. MLB Farm is my new best friend.

- Orioles and Cubs for the weekend, Orioles get to see old friends Arrieta and Wada on Friday and Sunday with Maddux-lite going on Saturday, trying to continue his late season Rookie of the Year push. Speaking of the Orioles, it'll be interesting if teams follow their lead in future years. They've done an incredible job of scalping talent at the end of the offseason and off the bottom of the barrel (think Chris Davis). Cubs and many other teams are already doing the bottom of the barrel scraping, but how patient can an organization be? And if everyone is that patient, is the advantage lost?

The Cubs seem to be intent to on playing Monopoly with the entirety of future position prospects as rumors from Buster Olney indicate they may be in the lead to acquire Cuban outfielder/infielder Rusney Castillo. Own the entire board and they'll have to come to you and pay overmarket prices for your property.

I can't say I gave much credence to the Castillo rumors and I certainly wouldn't be surprised by the Red Sox, Yankees, Dodgers or mystery team swooping in when all is said and done, but it sure would fit with the philosophy of acquiring assets to build the club. Anyway, you can find some good info on Castillo from Baseball America or this SB Nation article, but here's the Cliff Note's version.

He's Cuban, he's 27 years old, hits from the right side. He's just 5'9" and weighs in at 205 pounds, but word is he added about 20 pounds of muscle recently and can hit a few over the fence now, although he's pegged as a line drive doubles hitter. Most envision him as a center fielder, although he played right field as well. He did play the infield a few years back and a select few think he might be able to stick at second base, but that's definitely not going to be his position with the Cubs. The speed is there, grading anywhere from 60-80 with a 50 arm and he seems to have some on-base skills with a 319/383/516 slash line (51 home runs and 76 stolen bases) in 360 games in the Cuban league, although no idea how that'll translate here. If they do, he could be the top of the order threat that the system seems to be missing. He's at the right age to play now and the Cubs, while seemingly bursting with prospects, do have some wiggle room in the outfield the next season or two depending on who pans out and stays healthy.

We'll see how this works out and what money he gets, but he seems to offer some skills that the major league team could use the next couple of years (legit center field skills, speed, lack of strikeouts, on-base skills). Now whether those translate is another question of course, but that's the game of risk vs. reward they play everyday.

There's not much in Cubs news or even anecdotes to pass on at this time. Rosenthal had a video report that Jon Lester's Boston teammates believe he'll sign with the Cubs, but that'll have as much weight as a feather this offseason. The Tigers may be down another pitcher in Justin Verlander, and I wonder if Edwin Jackson would be of any interest. The Cubs would probably have to pay a lot of salary and get little in return, but worth a phone call probably. As for the current team, Operation Draft Pick is moving along nicely...currently in the 4th spot (which will actually be the 5th spot in the draft because of the Astros extra pick). It's a tight race with 45 games to go and with Alcantara, Hendricks and Baez out there with something to prove, I expect them to drift farther back than closer to a #1 pick.

The Cubs worked out a deal with the Miami Marlins for the aforementioned former top prospect Jacob Turner. In return, minor league relievers Tyler Bremer and Jose Arias will go to the Marlins. Turner's a work-in-progress, work that will have to be done at the major league level and in the offseason since he's out of options. But the "stuff" still seems to be there, now it's up to Bosio and Turner of course to try and figure out the command issues and an out pitch.

Speaking of former top prospects, Chris Archer is back in town and about ready to pitch against the Cubs. He's having quite the nice season with a 3.45 ERA (3.25 FIP), with a 8 K/9 rate and a miniscule 0.41 HR/9 rate. The walks are up a bit at 3.45 BB/9, but that's actually quite good for Archer. At the time of the deal for Garza, I thought the Cubs paid a bit too high a price, but understood the logic behind the deal. And it was quite the divide at the time in the comments and over the years. In hindsight, the Cubs obviously whiffed on the deal and if I knew how much of a dick Matt Garza was, I would have even more against it, but old Internet arguments need not ever be settled. All I know is that Archer sure would look good going forward for the next 4 years on this team.

Well my browser crashed in midst of typing out something longer, but here's the quick version.

- Javier Baez debut was very Javier Baez. Lots of K's, lots of power and lots of swinging.

- Cubs activate Kyuji Fujikawa and put Nate Sureouts to rest, DFA'ing him.

- Cubs put in claim for RHP Jacob Turner, former Tigers top prospect and recently put on waivers by the Marlins. He is out of options already at age 23 which will make keeping him tough, but probably worth the chance. While he's sporting an ugly 5.97 ERA this year, the FIP is 4.00 and the velocity seems to be staying consistent. He can't seem to stay healthy, but which pitchers can at this point in the game? The K rates aren't very exciting and whatever made him the #26, #22 and #21 prospect in baseball according to Baseball America in 2010, 2011 and 2012 may not still be there, but might as well let Bosio take a crack at fixing him. He'll get a chance until the end of the year, a winter of work and next spring before Cubs really have to make a decision with him. Between him, Doubront, Wood, Jackson, Hendricks, Strailly and whatever other scrap heaps the Cubs muster, the back-end of the rotation and depth seem to be in good hands. Maybe the Cubs will pony up a ridiculous deal for Lester, Scherzer or Shields afterall.

Of course, I should mention the Cubs and Marlins actually have to work out a deal for Turner in the first place, but considering his $1M salary and the Cubs most likely willingness to take most, if not all of it on, I don't expect that to be an issue.

Cubs 47-63 Rockies 44-67
#Alcantara, CF *Blackmon, LF
Baez, 2B #Adames, SS
*Rizzo, 1B Arenado, 3B
Castro, SS *Morneau, 1B
Ruggiano, RF Stubbs, CF
*Valbuena, 3B Rosario, C
Castillo, C Barnes, RF
Lake, LF LeMahieu, 2B
Wood, P *Anderson, P

It's not only Javier Baez day, but a battle for draft pick status!!! I only have one prediction for tonight, at some point Javier Baez will swing out of his shoes trying to launch one over the mountains. Should be fun...

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