A tour of the latest from the web...
- A rather random rumor that the Cubs may have some interest in A's shortstop Bobby Crosby.He's set to make $5.25M this year, so you know he wouldn't cost much in prospects and the A's would probably have to eat at least half his salary. If he's willing to be a utility guy, he'd be a step up from Aaron Miles. Baseball Prospectus projects Crosby at a .243 EqA versus Miles .232. Defensively, Crosby's been a bit above average (according to UZR) to below average (according to BP) at shortstop but probably has a strong enough arm to handle third base. Of course, he'd be replacing Joey Gathright or Micah Hoffpauir on the roster - unless Lou comes through with a six-man bench - and in that case he'd be replacing Bobby Scales, Jake Fox, Luis Rivas or Corey Koskie, in which we'd finally have an acceptable scenario for acquiring Crosby. That is unless the Cubs wise up quickly on this Aaron Miles fiasco that is about to be unleased upon unsuspecting fans.
- Caption fun with Ted Lilly at Big League Stew. Comment #3 has to be the winner.
- Dave Pinto runs through the Cubs expected offensive output. Marcel Projections and the Lineup Tool come up with 5.15 runs per game with the projected lineup, 5.42 with the optimum lineup. The Cubs scored 5.31 runs per game last year.
UPDATE: One wonderful reader pointed out that the probable lineup has Fukudome batting second which(to steal kmokeefe's line) is improbable (at least to begin the season). Let's try it on our own using the lineup of Soriano, Fontenot, Lee, Bradley, Ramirez, Fukudome, Soto, Theriot and the pitcher as suggested by Lou (actually Lou suggested Aaron Miles batting second, but we'll do that next).
That comes up with 5.29 runs per game. The optimal lineup of Bradley, Soto, Fukudome, Ramirez, Lee, Soriano, Fontenot, Pitcher and Theriot comes up with 5.469 runs per game. Flipping Miles for Fontenot results in: 5.025 runs per game and 5.317 with the computer-generated optimal lineup.
- Lou took on Steve Phillips...Lou will win.
- Baseball Analysts takes a look at the All-Time One Teamers - the best player at each position to play for only one club. I checked on Ryne Sandberg(80.8) and Ernie Banks (80), but both are out-WARP'd by the author's choices of Charlie Gehringer (85.3) and Cal Ripken Jr. (120.7). I was quite surprised to see Lou Whitaker(85.7) with a better career WARP-3 than Sandberg; I think I'll need to add him to my subjective Hall of Fame class.
UPDATE #2: Clearly I need an editor, as it was pointed out that Sandberg played 13 games for the Phillies in 1981.
- The miracles of science. We'll be taking donations for TCR's own $10,000 electrolysis machine in April.
- Split-squad action today, Cubs travel to Goodyear to take on the Indians; Carl Pavano vs. Chad Gaudin to start. Milton Bradley will DH in that game as well. Here's the lineup from Muskat:
CF Joey Gathright, SS Aaron Miles, 1B Derrek Lee, DH Bradley, LF Jason Dubois, RF Brad Snyder, 3B Bobby Scales, 2B Nate Spears.
Jeff Samardzija will lead the team in Las Vegas tonight versus the White Sox. MLB.com shows radio for the Indians game and TV for the White Sox game.
This might be old news but Hammel was on ESPN 1000 and said that he changed his diet and workout routine over the off season and tweaked his delivery so it'd be more repeatable so he'd have a better second half. So...some cause for optimism anyway.
CHILDERS: RHSP Dylan Cease and LHSP Bryan Hudson are probably the top two SP prospects in the organization right now.
LHSP Jose Paulino has electric stuff (91-94 MPH fastball with sinking action and a mid-80's slider), but he also has trouble commanding it.
RHP Jose Albertos (2015 IFA - Mexico - $1.5M bonus) just turned 17 in November, and his fastball already sits at 95-96. He also throws a curve and a change-up, and is fairly advanced for a kid his age.
AZBOBBOP: Most of 2016 draft picks will get assigned to either Eugene or AZL Cubs, but the Opening Day Eugune roster will probably be almost 100% from the Extended Spring Training squad roster (pending the arrival of draft picks).
I think I can probably tell you which pitchers and players at EXST are in contention for roster slots at Eugene and which are in contention for slots with the AZL Cubs - AS THINGS STAND RIGHT NOW - (listed alphabetically):
* bats or throws left
# bats both
Eloy Jimenez atop the leader board for minor-league home runs in the Cub system, with seven. Tied with Balaguert and Vogelbach, two 24-year-olds. Jimenez won't be 20 until late November. Leads the Midwest League in SLG and OPS. Maybe he'll get promoted to the Myrtle Beach squad that visits Woodbridge, VA, in June or Frederick, MD, in August.
Watched two Pelican games at Frederick the other week. Was most impressed by Stinnett and Happ. Happ may swing harder than Javier Baez, though more compactly. (Also got to see Brockmeyer hit a bomb.)
E-MAN: Jose Paniagua isn't a string-bean, but I wouldn't say he necessarily bulked-up during the 2015-16 off-season either, He led the DSL Cubs in HR and doubles in 2014, and he showed XBH power when he arrived in Mesa last year, leading the AZL Cubs in HR, doubles, and RBI in 2015. It's just that he has taken his HR power to a new level this year.
Paniagua displayed plus-HR power in Cactus League Minor League Spring Training games in March, and that got him a slot on the South Bend Opening Day roster. But he was sent to EXST after only six MWL games.
More on the Cub Way.
Martinez is one of my least favorite pitchers in baseball. I'd love to see a game like yesterday's against him.
Send Soler down!
Awesome thanks AZ
Great report, Phil! This organization has so many hitters to be excited about.
Ben Zobrist is very enjoyable to watch!!!!!!
given that he seems to only be throwing low 90s these days rather than the 93-96mph he used to throw, along with his wildness issues this year, he may end up passing through.
i dunno if something is wrong with him physically or his past shoulder issues has rendered him what he currently is, but he's been throwing a lot of sliders he can't control well and his fastball isn't as sharp. even when his slider wasn't working in a game he was still throwing a lot of them.
Any scuttlebutt on where Neil Ramirez gets traded?
He seems better than some of the relievers on competitive teams. He ought to bring more than the waiver fee.
My guess? Toronto.
PHIL: It seems as if Paniagua has always played 1B with the Cubs. At 6'2 and 180#, what is his frame like? String bean? Have you seen him bulk up? Where do you project him? Thanks.
Phil, what's your thoughts on which position players are going to Eugene and who is staying in AZL?
Ahhh...way to bring me down BB.
Still - a win tomorrow will be an acheivement regardless.
Don't mean to spoil your mood, but with tonight's win the are 3-5 on the trip with one to play.
While I'm bringing the room down -- Richard comes in to pitch the 9th with a 12-1 lead...and can't finish the game. Woof.