The Cubs Bench Picture Becoming Clearer

Lou started hinting yesterday that Mike Fontenot would get some reps in spring training at shortstop. The idea being that if he can manage to not completely fuck it up, he could keep Andres Blanco off the roster and open up another spot for a legit bat or for Kevin Millar to spin fanciful tales of his World Series days and entertain the press corps.

As it stands now, the assumptions were that the bench would be Koyie Hill, Baker or Fontenot depending on who was starting that day, Andres Blanco, Xavier Nady (or whichever outfielder he's starting for) and then one of Chad Tracy, Micah Hoffpauir, Sam Fuld, Kevin Millar or possibly even Brad Snyder, Bobby Scales or Bryan LaHair. If Fontenot could handle the back-up shortstop duties without being a complete liability, that could open up two spots on the bench and send Blanco back to the minors. Blanco is out of options, so he'd have to go through waivers if that happened, but hardly a loss if someone did decide to give him a 25-man spot.

The other revelation today was that Lou is already ready to give Starlin Castro the shortstop job if Theriot hurts himself.

"If Theriot were to get hurt, which we don't want obviously, we'd just put the kid (Castro) at short and let him play."

Theriot better be sure to always travel in pairs this season.


my god...someone gave livan hernandez a minor league deal...WAS...

it's over, dude. =p

...also from gordon witty's twitter feed...

"Zambrano wearing a headband and Silva wearing spare tire just jogged by. ... 3.7 on the Richter scale."


also ted lilly has missed the last couple days due to fever according to witty...hopefully it's not the valley variety =p

When I heard Randy Bush on Bruce Levine's show, he pretty much said that 23 of 25 spots are locked up due to contracts and "other things".

IF that is true, it will be really interesting to see who numbers 24 and 25 are.

I don't know who that will be, but I sure hope they don't fuck it up.

Nice shortstop you got here. Be a shame if someone were to set fire to him.

That really is a mean but funny picture of Theriot.

Count me in the keep Castro in the minors society.

I also wouldn't like to lose Blanco just yet. I'd like to see if he can hit MLB pitching with some of the power he showed last year.

blanco is a great luxury cuz he can play SS and 2nd on a pretty high level.

i'd like to see some power on the bench besides nady/hoff...though that's a nice 2-piece option to have off the bench.

the cubs have room to move some of these AAAA/bench dudes this spring. if tracy or millar show something it could make it even weirder on who's going/staying.

Really? I mean if he can play defense equal to or slightly better than Theriot, I would be all for letting him play SS and moving Theriot to 2B. It's not like more time with the Cubs stellar minor-league coaching staff will do him a ton of good. Didn't work for Pie... Patterson... etc, etc.

I don't understand the point of movie Theriot to 2nd. Baker and Fountainout have got more offensive upside than Theriot.

Fontenot is barely qualified for AAA. I'm tired of bitching about him... let's get this season started.

Fountainout's EQA = .265
Theriot's = .261


Fat Elvis is a much better nickname for Berkman, some of them I've never even heard of before.

and how could Fukakedome miss the list?

Tito's write in campaign for "Skinny Dick" must not have got it done.

I couldn't decide between that and Fountainout.

Seriously. Give Fukkakedome some credit. He'll just keep on quietly spraying balls all over the face the diamond, though.


Lou either has Alzheimers or a very short memory. He's tried Fontenot and shortstop and Fontenot sucks balls. He has a career fielding percentage of .500 at shortstop. He's handled 4 chances and committed errors on 2 of them. And the other two chances he didn't fuck up were force outs when he stepped on second. He was tremendously fucking awful.

he's put a lot of footwork work in...might as well test it out. he's shown good improvement at 2nd.

it can't hurt and he'll find out for sure if blanco is expendable.

He's put footwork in? shortstop? He should work on becoming an average fielding 2b before he spends time on other positions. AND work on his hitting. All this talk by Lou about not being able to have a bat because Blanco can't hit, he should stop and look at last season's stats. Blanco's hitting was equal or better than Fontenot's. And unlike Fontenot, Blanco can field. I'm not clamoring for Blanco to start anywhere on this team, it's just that his competition is crap and a legitimate fielding SS is a necessity. If Lou and Hendry think they can put together a team with no back up shortstop again, it's just another sign It's The End in 2010 (and not in a good way).

Fontenot: .236/.301/.377
Blanco: .252/.303/.341

fontenot's footwork at 2nd is much improved. that was most of the problem with his D, anyway.

with the info that cubs are gonna go with s.castro when/if injuries occur this makes a long-term middle IF replacement expendable.

if fontenot can show lou he can occasionally handle SS then they no longer have to carry a glove man.

if they didn't want to put castro in the equation blanco's job would probably be safer. besides, fontenot has to prove he can do it before they'll let him.

More proof that Cubs fans have short and fickle memories.

Mike Fountainout EQA .265 = Send him to the minors
Warning Track Baker EQA .266 = Solid major league player

Fontenot .236/.301/.377, 419 PA's
Blanco: .252/.303/.341, 138 PA's

Sample size maybe? Just platoon Baker/Fontenot and move on...

Adam Greenberg has a 1.000 OBP in the majors too...

Too soon!

Yeah, lay off Moonlight. He might still be seeing stars.

As I posted in an earlier thread, Lou saying he's going to give Fontenot time a short in March is becoming a rite of spring. He said exactly the same thing last year.

Just like Freddy Patek without the range. With Fonty playing SS, I would expect this to put even more psych stress on the pitchers. Yuch.

I don't know, I doubt Marmol, for instance worries too much about who is playing shortstop behind him. It's not like our starter is Ozzie Smith or anything.

I just don't have enough faith in Baker's or Blanco's bats to not have Fountainout around.

So you have faith in Fontenaught after last season? You don't think that 2009 could be the aberration?

I think that 2009 and 2010 were both aberrations and that his true level is probably around his career averages: .266 .339 .422, maybe a little less slugging and a little more OBP.

I hope so TRN. Right now, as you know, our LH choices off the bench are pretty thin.

Not only on the bench, but we're planning on starting 9 right handed hitters on some days...

I think an MLB team needs a backup infielder who can actually field. Nothing can cause a team defense to unravel faster than bad middle infielding, except bad catching. If Fontenot had a .900 OPS, I'd say keep him on the grounds that the variance in hitting is greater than the variance in fielding, but as it is, on a real team, I say keep Blanco. If that means there are not enough roster spots for Fontenot, too bad. I say this as a lover of South Louisiana who likes to have as many Cubs as possible to have names ending in "ot."

Wait! Fontenot has a beautiful powerful(for his size) compact swing. And he is all we have left of Sammy Sosa ~~sniff~~. I for one, want to see what Rudy Jaramillo can do with him.

Did you want to see what Leo Mazzone could do with Baltimore's pitching staff?

Mr. White would make a perfect keystone combo with Mr. Castro. He is his translator. I vote for keeping him and breaking up the Cajun scrappy connection. Bueno! Ole!

I find it really interesting how the poster NAVIGATOR who has constantly bashed Tim Wilken since he was hired (at least as far as I can remember), never gives him any credit for what he has been trying to do, nor acknowledges bona fide scouting authorities' take on what is happening in our minor leagues. Nice! Go Internet!

"Baseball America also recognized the improvement made in the Cubs' farm system. The Cubs organization jumped from 27th in baseball to 15th in Baseball America's pre-season talent rankings."

5 Cubs prospects in the BP Top 100. Improvement is at least noted.

Why the snark?

Look, I don't attach much importance to these lists. But lets look at three of the more notable ones that appeared recently.

BA - 5 Cubs
ESPN Keith Law of Scouts Inc. -- 2 Cubs
AOL Fanhouse's Frank Pilliere -- 3 Cubs

3 Lists, Cubs appearing 10 times. That's an average of 3.33 Cubs per Top 100

There are 30 major league teams. 100 top prospects/30 teams = 3.33 prospects per team on average.

If this little exercise has any deep meaning at all, it looks to me like the Cubs are all the way up to average.

I've never seen anyone do a study of how good these lists are, but I've never heard of AOL Fanhouse or Mr Pilliere and Law, besides being a bit of a tool, isn't a prospect guy.

That being said, BA has been pretty crappy at predicting Cubs players. The Cubs have had three RoY candidates including one winnder in the last two years and the highest any of them ranked was 30th (the one who did the worst of the three).

Personal opinion is that any list that doesn't have Lee isn't worth the virtual paper it's printed on anyway.

Sickels, BA and BP are probably the 3 most respected

then you've got, Keith Law, this AOL joker, Project Prospect, Diamond Futures, Rotoworld, etc...

people get a bit wrapped up in the ranking in #15 is really any different than #16 or 73 vs. 78.

I generally appreciate Sickels and Goldstein more because they give out the star rating or letter grades, makes it a little easier to know what to expect.

"Why the snark?"

Did Time Wilkens poss in your cereal? Why the grudge? What basis is there for your "Teflon Tim" rants when there is objective evidence that he is moving the talent into the right direction?

Excuse me, "AOL Fanhouse"??? Since when does ANYTHING with AOL on it have any significance?! About as much significance as their stock. Ask Time-Warner.

Its not just the lists. It is your perception of not knowing what the minors are for, apparently, which is to get players to the Major League Level, and 2., develop players for use in-trade. Whether they become "Stars" or "Key Players" is just gravy. 650 players roughly out of ALL the various baseball levels get to have the chance. Out of that number, only a tiny percentage become Albert Pujols.

The Cubs have a serious defect in drafting and coaching positional talent. They go after the toolsy players and skip over the baseball players. The Cubs are in love with drafting the jack of all trade player but master of nothing.

Its a sad state of affairs when the best and most successful positional talent since Mark Grace is Ryan Theriot. I am not even counting Soto as all he has proven is that he is a one year wonder to date.

Go back and look at the drafts of the last 20 years and you will see the Cubs picking their awesome 1st rounder and the next pick or picks is the All-Star/ Hall of Famer. Its not like the Cubs were finishing 1st place every year, even a blind squirrel could luck into one of those organization defining players.

The Cubs as an organization DOES NOT DRAFT OR DEVELOP positional talent AT ALL.

I will defend Ryan Theriot for who he is, he is the best option over the last 3 years for SS for this franchise. He isn't the best in the world, but that should send shivers down your spine about how crappy our system has been for decades. That and watching Bobby Scales being our best option for the OF should make you want to slit your wrists.

Starlin Castro is the savior now at age 19, and no OF or any other positional talent who could ever be considered to seriously to take over a MLB job remotely ready.

The way i see it we don't have shit to help this team over the next 3-5 years from our minors. Thats how bad it is.

3-5 years is a bit harsh. we probably won't get an aram/dlee out of the minors any time soon (unless vitters pumps it up), though.

it's weird. the cubs have no organizational philosophy or an owner calling the shots on what kind of player should be drafted, but they've struck out a lot...a whole lot.

"The Cubs are in love with drafting the jack of all trade player"

...yes they are. i dont mind it when they do it with a guy like colvin, but when they do it with highschool kid who's got a lot of everything, but still very raw as a complete package...meh...

Ah, but what you do not see, my friend, is the value of a new owner. That is at least a +1.5 added to the prospect er, prospectus.

2000-oh-10 will be a miracle year...(well, at least a contract year for several Cubbies and the GM and the manager).

It's gonna happen!

personally think him and Baker would make a pretty decent platoon myself, at least better than just one getting the job.

think Fontenot has a nice swing, but looks overmatched against guys that bring good heat, also looks like he's a bit of a guess hitter as he takes some odd swings and odd takes.

I can agree with that, but he didn't have that problem in 2009, so maybe it was a combination of mechanical and mental. I think he and Bradley are the guys who pressed the most with Aram's injury.

We've confused 2009 and 2010 with 2008 and 2009, right? Cause he did have that issue in 2009, but not as much in 2008.

Typo, but yeah, I meant 2008.

well to be clear, I thought he was a guess hitter who got overmatched at times in 2008 as well, he just did a better job of it. Nothing wrong with being a guess hitter, DeRosa admitted to it essentially and with enough video watching, I imagine you could get quite good at it.

wow...matt stairs has dropped 32lbs. this offseason.

that's soto-style impressive. too bad stairs didn't do it oh, 10 years ago.

btw...pablo sandoval showed up to camp STUPID huge. he's still got youth, though.

I read on Rotoworld via SFChron that Sandoval was actually 11 pounds lighter this year, but that was all the weight he lost in November when the stories came out about his weight loss plans. After that, it said he stalled.

Pablo Sandoval is the greatest athlete in the history of the world. He'll be fine.

what, does he technically count as his own planet now? i can believe it and all...i just didn't hear about it.

He does actually create his own gravitational pull, but I think he's technically only a planetoid.

doesn't bite on Milton Bradley baiting by reporters

''I would love for people to actually go out and have dinner with him and then come back and tell me about him. Anything that has Milton in a negative light, I can't see it because I'm friends with him. I can't see it.''


I'm heading to ST game next Friday with my two sons (10&8), any key places or times to get a chance for a Cubs autograph?

We're sitting out in the grass behind the outfield.


You named your sons "10" and "8"? That's more jacked than naming them all Jacos.

Show up really early and try to get them as they're finishing their drills.

HoHoKam is a pretty bad place for autographs, there's other parks where the players litterally walk out of the field after the game... but I can't remember which parks.

"You named your sons "10" and "8"?"

I named after Dave Kingman and Barry Foote.

Their real names are Leslie and Meriweather.

Thanks for the info.

NP good luck. The Park that the Padres used to share with.. the Brewers mabye was the best for getting after-game autographs, but I've lost track of which parks are which nowadays.

I always liked "Kong" for Kingman. I thought "The Baby-Faced Assassin" was okay for Danny Graves before he became "Danny Graves Blows Saves."

"Hey Asshole" was always appropriate for Larry "Chipper" Jones.

Unrelated and probably 3/44, but I was watching a clip of the "Brian Westbrook" ESPN interview and someone directed me to this "Steve Bartman" interview. Not sure how I missed this at the time, but...

According to this site, translated by someone whose Spanish is sharper than mine, the Cubs are in on defective Cuban Juan Yasser Serrano (via mlbtraderumors)

"I can move around -- that's the only thing I'm doing 100 percent, is the fielding, and I don't feel any pain at all," he said. "No problem."

Soriano on testing his knee in the field. He needs to figure out how to go 100% in the field during the season.

C'mon, he goes all out on the "hop".

on getting advanced statistics into the mainstream on broadcasts...

MLB Network...forget which show, i think it's "Hot Stove," has been highlighting a "SABR-style" stat nightly debating their worth and what they show...along with poking holes in some of them.

it's a mix of intelligence, ignorance, and personal opinions.

the editing and Jim Bowden makes it tough to watch, but if anyone has any doubts that the advanced stats aren't invading front offices (well except the Cubs).

"but if anyone has any doubts that the advanced stats aren't invading front offices (well except the Cubs)"

is it 1995 or something? damn flux capacitor.

There was also a thing on mlbtraderumors today about Epstein dismissing Ellsbury's UZR score from last year based on their own statistics.

yet they still moved him to LF and signed Cameron to play center.

Glanville's wife is a friend of a friend, and I met them both at a party not long ago. As you might expect, he's a really nice guy. He and his wife just had their second kid.

Happy Birthday Ron Santo!

Guzman shut down with mild shoulder discomfort, no MRI for now.

Z will be Opening Day starter as well...duh.

Theriot hit on left wrist by Rafael Dolis during BP, says he's okay.

Trib is quoting Piniella that Caridad is on the team unless he pitches himself off...

that stuff caridad does is called pitching these days? hehe...

i wonder what j. van buren is up to? =p

yeah, caridad is a much better pitcher than jvb, but he's got some interesting motion on the mound.

btw...yes, i like caridad. i just think he's funky. he throws that mid-90s fastball on a plane with a little bit of side/side movement, but it rarely breaks much if at all. should be interesting if he can keep his control.

Caridad was fun to watch last year.

"Theriot hit on left wrist by Rafael Dolis during BP, says he's okay"

I'm guessing Dolis is on Team Castro.

Might want to take that Theriot target picture down.


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  • 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.

    johann 1 hour 2 min ago view
  • 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.   

    Arizona Phil 1 hour 10 min ago view
  • 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

    Arizona Phil 1 hour 38 min ago view
  • 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.)

    VirginiaPhil 2 hours 38 sec ago view
  • 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.  

    Arizona Phil 2 hours 6 min ago view
  • Rob Richardson 2 hours 35 min ago view
  • 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!

    Old and Blue 3 hours 29 min ago view
  • Awesome thanks AZ

    Old and Blue 3 hours 32 min ago view
  • Great report, Phil! This organization has so many hitters to be excited about.

    John Beasley 4 hours 21 min ago view
  • Ben Zobrist is very enjoyable to watch!!!!!!

    Hagsag 7 hours 9 min ago view
  • 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.

    crunch 8 hours 22 min ago view
  • 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.

    tim815 8 hours 46 min ago view
  • 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.

    The E-Man 8 hours 51 min ago view
  • Phil, what's your thoughts on which position players are going to Eugene and who is staying in AZL?

    azbobbop 12 hours 51 min ago view
  • Ahhh...way to bring me down BB.

    Still - a win tomorrow will be an acheivement regardless.

    The E-Man 13 hours 38 min ago view
  • 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.

    billybucks 14 hours 12 min ago view