Gathright Gone, Wells Up...Cubs Interested in Freel
The Cubs needed to make a roster move with Randy Wells getting the call-up for today's start. With MIlton Bradley's ridiculous 2-day suspension loooming and Derrek Lee in injury limbo - too hurt to play, not to hurt to be put on the DL - the Cubs are going to ask Joey Gathright to go the minors. WIth 5+ years of service time under his belt, Gathright can refuse the assignment, but then he forfeits the remainder of his $800K contract and has to hope another team will pick him up. And him getting picked up is an unlikely scenario with a .214 batting average, being a putz in the outfield and getting caught twice stealing to just one successful attempt for a guy whose speed is suppose to be his main tool. Enjoy Iowa Gathright, I hear it's lovely this time of year. Say hi to Jeff Samardzija...and your mother.
On the rumor front (hat tip to VA Phil for the find), the Cubs are interested in utility-man Ryan Freel who seems upset with the Baltimore Orioles. Freel is owed whatever is left on his $3.3M contract this year and can play all three outfield positions along with second and third base. Once an easy bet to steal 30 bases, it looks like he's lost a step but will at least take a walk although he brings almost no power. As an added bonus, Freel also brings his imaginary friend Farney with him....fun on bus rides or when you've accidentally killed a hooker.
"Farney, what have you done?"
So those that had Jake Fox to the Orioles in your trade pools, I think the odds just went up.
In day old news (that high priest and ruler of all men "The Joe" uncovered for us after hours of laboring), Luis Vizcaino will sign a minor league deal with the Cleveland Indians.
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.
For some reason