Diamond Sends Greeting Card to Sori

Thomas Diamond drilled Alfonso Sorianio in the ribs with a fastball, Andres Blanco crushed a Mitch Atkins pitch high & far over the RF fence, and eight Cubs pitchers working in four groups of two threw two innings a piece, as the Cubs continued their pre-Cactus League workouts under sunny skies and a cool north breeze at Fitch Park this morning.



On Field #2, Blake Parker & Jeff Kennard worked their two-inning stints first (about 20 piches each inning), followed by Thomas Diamond & David Patton, with Tyler Colvin, Bryan Lahair, Matt Camp, Janmes Adduci, Starlin Castro, Kosuke Fukudome, Alfonso Soriano, Ryan Theriot, Mike Fontenot, Robinson Chirinos, Koyie Hill, and Josh Vitters taking the ABs.


On Field #3, Mike Parisi worked opposite Jeff Stevens, and then J. R. Mathes alternated with Mitch Atkins, as Sam Fuld, Darwin Barney, Brad Snyder, Bobby Scales, Marlon Byrd, Derrek Lee, Brett Jackson, Kevin Millar, Chad Tracy, Micah Hoffpauir, and Andres Blanco provided the opposition.


Other than the Soriano HBP, Diamond threw the ball very well, as none of the hittrers who faced him got good swings. Mike Parisi also looked good, throwing strikes and mixing up his pitches very well. As a Rule 5 player, Parisi will get a longer look than most of the other pitchers who are "on the bubble."


On the more negative side, Blake Parker and Mitch Atkins were hit hard (especially Parker), as Tyler Colvin continued his hot "live" BP hitting. And David Patton still has major control issues with his curve ball.


James Russell and Marcos Mateo threw in an early morning "live" BP session that preceded the full-squad work-out.


Ted Lilly was on the the field today, participating in PFP and looking chipper. In addition to rehabbing from both shoulder and knee surgery, Lilly has been fighting an infection of some sort the last few days that reportedly had his temperature up to about 103.


The Cubs wore their traditional "home" unis (white with pinstripes and names on the back of the jerseys) today for the first time in 2010. They had been wearing their blue BP jerseys in previous workouts.

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Comments

Thanks for the great updates, Phil. They always make late Feb.-early March a little better here in the cold part of the country.

How do you like the odds of Colvin and Diamond to make the 25-man roster, and what type of contributions should we expect if they do?

Me personally, I doubt Colvin makes the 25 man to start the year. There's very little purpose in having him on the bench over having him getting regular AB's in Iowa. You'd be better off having Sam Fuld as a backup CF and calling Colvin up if someone got hurt.

As for Diamond, I guess there's a chance he wins one of the two final spots, but he still has some command kinks to work out. With so many guys competing, some guys simply have built in advantages (Parisi as a Rule 5, Silva with his contract, and so forth) that a UDFA like Diamond, as intriguing as he is, might have a hard time cracking.

But if he really excels, all bets are off.

Submitted by toonsterwu on Mon, 03/01/2010 - 7:38pm.
Me personally, I doubt Colvin makes the 25 man to start the year. There's very little purpose in having him on the bench over having him getting regular AB's in Iowa. You'd be better off having Sam Fuld as a backup CF and calling Colvin up if someone got hurt.

As for Diamond, I guess there's a chance he wins one of the two final spots, but he still has some command kinks to work out. With so many guys competing, some guys simply have built in advantages (Parisi as a Rule 5, Silva with his contract, and so forth) that a UDFA like Diamond, as intriguing as he is, might have a hard time cracking.

But if he really excels, all bets are off.

===============================================

TOONSTER: I agree with both observations.

Tyler Colvin makes the 25-man roster only if he has an outstanding Cactus League AND Sam Fuld gets hurt. Otherwise, I think Fuld essentially has a bench slot on the 25 going into Spring Training, and Colvin goes to Iowa and plays CF everyday. I also think the Cubs might want Colvin to bat in the lead-off spot at Iowa (with Darwin Barney hitting 2nd) to get him more PAs and to force him to try and be more patient & selective at the plate. I would say that Colvin and Barney are also the two most-likely 2010 trade candidates among position players.

I believe Piniella when he says there is open competition for spots on the Cubs pitching staff, especially in the bullpen. Thomas Diamond is a younger version of Brad Penny, but I suspect he probably will enter MLB as a middle reliever and maybe get an opportunity to win a job in the starting rotation somewhere down the line.

It is also interesting that Piniella mentions Andrew Cashner as being in the mix for an MLB bullpen slot, because Cash was the #1 closer in college baseball (at TCU) in 2008, and his plus power stuff (96-98 MPH fastball and wipe-out slider) profile better for bullpen work (set-up or closer) than it does for the starting rotation (he also adds about 2-3 MPH to his fastball when he knows he is working just one inning).

I think Cashner would indeed have a good chance to make the Cubs Opening Day 25-man roster if he is used as a one-inning guy in Spring Training, AS LONG AS he throws strikes in Cactus League games. Also, remember that if Cashner makes the Cubs 25-man roster (and 40-man roster) at any point in 2010 and then gets sent back to the minors prior to the end of the season, he will get a 4th minor league option year because he has completed only one full season through the 2009 season. Same goes for Starlin Castro, BTW.

I also can tell you that Cubs minor leaguers are very aware that Ricketts has put a priority on player development as a way to build the Cubs. Previously, there has always been an understanding that players were being developed primarily to use in trades for more-established players. Now players are being specifically developed and projected to fill specific positions, lineup slots, and roles on the big club, and I think everybody (Cubs minor league managers, coaches, and players) are excited about that. Morale is very high right now.

Do you think that Darwin Barney gets the Iowa SS job over Castro? Even if Barney is "further along" Castro has basically been given the 2011 SS job in Wrigley. I'd just assume that he gets all the AAA bats he can to be as ready as possible next year. JMHO

Submitted by Dr. aaron b on Tue, 03/02/2010 - 10:03am.
Do you think that Darwin Barney gets the Iowa SS job over Castro? Even if Barney is "further along" Castro has basically been given the 2011 SS job in Wrigley. I'd just assume that he gets all the AAA bats he can to be as ready as possible next year. JMHO

=================================================

DR AARON B: The Cubs have worked Darwin Barney exclusively at 2B with the "B" Squad on Field #2 so far this Spring. That tells me they project Barney as a utility guy if he remains in the organization (and I suspect he will get traded), and it also means the Cubs can assign Castro to either Iowa or Tennessee, whichever seems appropriate when the assignment is made.

I doubt that the Cubs care a whole lot whether Castro gets his every-day playing time at AA or AAA, but Barney will not block Castro. However, Barney is a natural shortstop, and he does not have to be moved to another position.

Thanks,

That was sort of what I was getting at. Barney projects as a utility guy, where Castro is tabbed as a future every day SS. Likely by 2011.

Just seems weird that they Cubs wouldn't put Castro in the highest level possible to get ready for 2011.

Other than Jerome Walton 21 years ago. I can't think of a single player that jumped from AA to the Bigs and didn't have to go back to AAA to work on their games?

Cubs player? Prior and Wood didn't need AAA, but they made token appearances there.

Pujols and Furcal both skipped AA and AAA if memory serves - so did the junkie in Texas.

Matt Murton essentially did it. Only 34 AAA ABs by the end of 2005 (when he also logged 140 MLB ABs) and then spent the whole of 2006 in the majors and managed an .809 OPS. Of course, he's in Japan now. And the Cubs were awful in 2006, so there would've been very little reason to send Murton bag to Iowa--they had only Bynum and Pagan to make room for.

Too bad about Parker, I was hoping he could be a guy who can step into an inevitable bullpen hole. Hopefully he gets it going here shortly.

I figured Parker was Iowa bound regardless. Having been just added to the 40-man he will have ample time to work out his issues.

My take on Colvin is that he is, at best, a 5th OF/AAAA kind of guy.

I root for Parker, I want to continue our streak of turning catchers into pitchers

Andres Blanco playing well early on... That ought to annoy TCR

haha! Isn't that the truth, Ryno!

Lol...yeah I am freaked ot about Blanco!! He hit a BP HR off of a fringe 5th starter/AAA pitcher....

Lol...

"participating in PFP and looking chipper"

ha. at least someone likes it.

sorry if 3/44
http://blogs.suntimes.com/cubs/2010/03/cubs_c...

Castro may leadoff on Thursday

"I'm anxious to see the kid myself," Piniella said. "He handles himself very professionally for a young kid out here, he really does. He's calm. He's not awed by being here. He's relaxed. He's not starry-eyed. If you didn't know he was 19 years old, you couldn't guess he was 19."

Soriano won't play until Saturday
Soto had the flu, missed today
Nady to DH for the time being.

wtf is going on with Cubs and the flu? There's no flu in Arizona. (take a look:
http://www.azdhs.gov/phs/oids/epi/flu/pdf/wee... )

Of course, traditionally "the flu" = "hungover" during ST.

they're (well, most) not from ARZ...they're bringing their collective germs from all over the western hemisphere.

Could be Norovirus or something going around. Most of the time people just refer to it as stomach flu, but it's not technically influenza.

...and what crunch said.

as long as it's not that or "valley flu/valley fever" (which is caused by a fungus or something like that anyway) everyone should be fine soon enough unless they rush it...

helluva hangover for Lilly to be out 3 days...

one guy gets it and everyone is else is pretty much on notice...or has a built in excuse for drinking.

Those 103 degree hangovers are a bitch.

David Haugh thinks that Castro at short in the first spring lineup might be significant.

they're obviously going to rush castro...he's already been tabbed as coming up as an injury replacement if anyone goes down by hendry (i think it was hendry...it was someone in the org).

as quickly as the guy gets the bat through the zone the dude's upside right now is pretty boring.

we're not getting a lineup changer even under many positive projections for the guy.

I think it was Lou, actually.

If the majority of TCR posters get their wish we will lose our .288 career hitting, .350ish OBP, average defensive SS and replace him with a guy who will more than likely bat .200 with a .250 OBP, but is pretty slick in the field.

Color me not excited in the slightest with the prospect of Starlin Castro seeing the majors at any point in the next 2 years. He is 19 years old, let him develop.

If he can play big-league SS, I don't really care if he hits in the 210-220 range. I was a Ceasar Izturis fan, in fact. Of course, once Izturis started playing mediocre defense along with piss-poor offense... that's when I got off the Izturis bandwagon.

Holy crap...lol..
.210-.220? The kid will get crucified if he comes up here and hits that, regardless of his play in the field. The Cubs have question marks in the lineup at C, 2B, RF, and CF. Can they really afford to add to that?

"I was a the Ceasar Izturis fan..."

Sadly, not true as another frequent poster was ecstatic about the Izturis trade.

IF he lived up to the reputation of being a wizard on the field, it would have been fine. I don't care about a 210-hitting SS. The problem was Izturis' defense is all hype.

The Real Neal, as I recall, was the poster you refer to. Actually, I may be incorrect here (if so, sorry NEAL). It was a poster named CHAD, who was a big proponent of IZZY, and saw him plentty as he was/is a CA resident. CHAD is no longer with us (posting here, that is!)

Chad left? When did that happen?

Can he play SS? Can he play it at a higher level than Theriot? Does he have good 'baseball sense'? These questions are far more important than if he hits .300, so that's what I'll be watching for this spring.

When he does struggle (and he'll struggle eventually), how does he handle himself? One of the most impressive things about Gordon Beckham for the White Sox last year was when he started to struggle, he didn't fall apart. He tweaked his swing a little, kept a cool head and bounced back.

Actually, he is a lineup changer, since he solves the problem of who bats second. Fukudome is fine if you like walks and don't care about speed on the bases.

I prefer speed, and, luckily for my argument, so does Lou.

Who bats second, by the way, when Nady is in right field? Fontenot and Baker are not top-of-the-order hitters. Neither one should be a starter anyway. Castro solves that problem, too.

Luckily for your argument, and unluckily for the Win-Loss record ; )

So you think Castro could outhit both Fontenot and Baker in 2010 at the major league level?

The only reason we are at all excited about Castro is that he is so young. Let him play in the minors. He should start the season at AA, move up to AAA with progress, and then be considered for a job (not handed one) in 2011.

First of all, he's league-age twenty this year, not nineteen. Send him a birthday card on the 24th.

I don't think he'll outhit Fontenot or Baker, but he'll be a better #2 hitter than either of them, who aren't suited to that role.

Two speed guys at the top of the order for the first time since Soriano started limping--I will consider that an improved lineup.

Castro stole 39 bases last year at Daytona, Tennessee and Mesa (AFL) and including 2 SBs in 8 games in the DR.

He's going to be a rookie, and have rookie problems, at some point, so the sooner the better, if they think he can handle it. Once over that hump, he improves every year for eight or ten years. Cub fans should try to get their minds around the idea that you break in a young player, you actually get to watch him grow instead of deteriorate like many free agents.

You're also improving your defense at short and at second.

Another bonus: pushed over to second, Theriot's halfway out the door.

most folks consider Castro to have average speed(for a middle infielder) and a poor basestealer. He stole less or about the same bases than Theriot in the minors at about the same rate (discounting the AFL and DR since Theriot didn't play in those)

Two speed guys at the top of the order for the first time since Soriano started limping--I will consider that an improved lineup.

you and Dusty...

Maybe we can bring Neifi back so we have left handedness to go along with a .250 OBP in the #2 spot.

Neato!!!

Submitted by Rob G. on Tue, 03/02/2010 - 1:17pm.
most folks consider Castro to have average speed(for a middle infielder) and a poor basestealer. He stole less or about the same bases than Theriot in the minors at about the same rate (discounting the AFL and DR since Theriot didn't play in those)

=============================================

ROB G: I don't see Starlin Castro as a lead-off hitter. I would say he projects as a #2 hitter (best-case) or #8 hitter. Hak-Ju Lee is more of a lead-off hitter type.

Not really disagreeing that Castro could be a #2 hitter, but it's no so much his speed as his apparent ability to hit to all fields and make a lot of contact. He'll need to keep up a .300 average though, as it doesn't look like walks will be a big part of his game.

I'm not, but you should be fine with Fukudome at #2, then. He hits to all fields, makes a lot of contact, draws plenty of walks. You're all set.

Bradley would have been great, too. Fukudome and Bradley, #1 and #2. Who needs speed? Just me and Dusty.

Another bonus: pushed over to second, Theriot's halfway out the door.

BONUS?!!~

Theriot's the most successful (not that he's really any good) position player the Cubs minor league system has produced in Hendry's 15 years messing with the Cubs. And you want to chuck him away like he's some typically worthless free agent pickup.

He's averaged 150 games the last three years. That's right. He actually shows up and plays every day. When was the last time a Cub prospect did that???

Submitted by navigator on Tue, 03/02/2010 - 1:37pm.
Another bonus: pushed over to second, Theriot's halfway out the door.

BONUS?!!~

Theriot's the most successful (not that he's really any good) position player the Cubs minor league system has produced in Hendry's 15 years messing with the Cubs. And you want to chuck him away like he's some typically worthless free agent pickup.

He's averaged 150 games the last three years. That's right. He actually shows up and plays every day. When was the last time a Cub prospect did that???

==============================

NAVIGATOR: I suspect the Cubs 2011 Master Plan is to move Theriot to 2B and hit him lead-off, and play Castro at SS and bat him 2nd in the order, with perhaps Fukudome hitting 3rd (presuming D-Lee is not brought back).

Does that lead us to suspect the Cubs will win 70-75 games?

Fukudome hitting 3rd-

dear God!

He's going to be a rookie, and have rookie problems, at some point, so the sooner the better, if they think he can handle it.

Actually not really. Because of the way baseball compensation works, what you want to do is get the best possible six years out of Castro (or any player) before they reach free agency. So if by keeping him in the minors in 2010 will make him a better rookie in 2011 than he would be in 2010 (and a better player over his first six years) then that's what you should do.

TRN..I bust your chops a lot...and you bust mine, but that's a great point..hell, maybe the most important point. It makes no sense to rush this kid, with only 150 some atbats at AAA, into the majors this season.

Waiting to start the service clock is a good point, but it matters less to a big-market team like the Cubs. They're not the sort of team that's likely to let great players leave after 3 years renewal and 3 years of arbitration. And if Castro doesn't turn into a great player, then arbitration costs aren't that burdensome anyway and you don't care if he leaves.

Whole other story if this were The Pirate Reporter, though.

All that said, I agree with giving him every chance to be great at the MLB level. That means promotions following success. Let him do well in AA this year. No need to rush the kid.

What want to avoid is a situation where he scuffles his first two (ie very cheap) years in the majors and then busts out as he becomes arbitration eligible. $10 million is $10 million, regardless of whether you're big market or small marekt. See the Red Sox for an example on how to handle this.

What want to avoid is a situation where he scuffles his first two (ie very cheap) years in the majors and then busts out as he becomes arbitration eligible.

I hear that. But I think that will work itself out. If he scuffles through his option years, he probably won't stay on the MLB roster anyway. Especially with all the other SS options coming up from the farm.

And $10 mil is definitely a lot of cash, but it's a much higher payroll percentage to other teams than it is to the Cubs, RSox and Yanks.

But you're not just talking about whether the Cubs can pay him more. Look at Ryan Theriot. The Cubs can afford to pay him 2.3 million or whatever, but his value as a player was actually higher when he was cheaper. He was more tradeable and he allowed the club to take on more expensive players at other positions.

You're either confused or contradicting yourself. Theriot wasn't 20 when he hit the majors, keeping him in the minors wasn't going to make him a better player.

Didn't mean for him as an example of keeping a guy in the minors intentionally, just a recent example of a guy who became less valuable as the organization was forced to pay him more.

As TRN said, Theriot wasn't as young.

But your other point is also valid. Players that are more valuable than their checks are great things to have. And if Castro is valuable and playing well, then great--we'll have that. But if he isn't playing well, he'll be in the minors, not accruing MLB service time. So no problem.

It's a luxury of a high payroll not to have to micromanage these guys. Start him in the minors. If he does well, promote him. The Cubs payroll means they don't have to overthink it.

Thank you for being articulate. That's what I was going for.

If you guys recall, the Cubs MiLB idiots decided to make TheRiot a SH, when he was not.

Probably, he would have gotten to the "show" earlier than he did.

The guy played on the NCAA Championship team against very high-caliber players/pitching, and was successful.

So, I do not buy the, "well he was older" argument.

he's just a singles hitting little shit...he didn't project for much but a bench player until he got his chance after following up a string of SS failures.

i've never minded him too much, but he's never been anything but a singles hitting middle IF'r without slick D.

i DO think theriot should be the SS this year...they can figure out his role later, but right now he still seems like the best option out there to me.

But that's what the majority of the average SS's are CRUNCH. A singles-hitting-little shit. And, many have made a 15-yr+ career out of it! No one is claiming he is anything but that. However, he would have made it to the major leagues earlier had they not fucked with him in their infinite wisdom.

well, we already have one in theriot.

that's all i'm saying.

not only do i not see castro as a game changer at this point in his career...unless theriot's singles-hitting luck runs out i don't even see an impact in replacing one with the other over the course of 2010.

given how quick castro's wrists are i wouldnt be surprised to see him be a 15+HR guy, but not only is he still a kid, but he don't have that kind of stroke yet.

Picture a player's career as a series of extra wins that he gives his team.

Say he has a 10 year career and it works out to by year 1,1,2,3,4,4,3,3,2,1.

If you're going to have that player for six years, which six do you want? The first six? No, you want years 3-8 (or 4-9). The issue with Castro is that he's in year one right now. Theriot was in year 3 when he was a rookie.

Do you want to get 4 wins for $2 million or 9 wins for $2 million?

The luxury of a big market team is that they can afford ALL the wins.

The Cubs aren't the A's. They don't have to pick and choose and play the maximize value game.

Luckily the current front office never maximizes value on or for anything.

No team can afford all the wins. You may have noticed but the Cubs had to pass on players they want this off-season.

We're not talking about free agents. We're talking about a farm kid. The Cubs can certainly afford to pay for every win Starlin Castro can offer them.

It all comes from the same pool of money. If you get less production from your arb and pre-arb players, guess what? You need to spend more on FA players to make your team competitive.

If you waste $7 million dollars over three years on Starlin Castro, that's $7 million less you have to spend on other players.

Oh come on, man. They're going to wast 7 million on Castro?

I think you're overreacting.

If the kid is good, he'll get paid as he should.TheCubs' problem hasnot been overpaying their own farm products.

Carlos Zambrano and Kerry Wood disagree.

Technically in the example they'll spend an extra $7 million on other players to compensate for calling him up too early. The numbers are abitrary, the logic is not. Call it the "Dustin Pedroia" theory.

It all comes frome the same pool

Translation: I drink your milkshake!

II'm actuallyvery much on TRN's side here. I just can't help myself.

http://www.chicagobreakingsports.com/2010/03/...

Minor leagues moving towards a ban.

Az Phil, do the minor leaguers report this weekend? Thanks.

Sun-Times article about Byrd's defense

http://www.suntimes.com/sports/baseball/cubs/...

Interesting article.

Does playing shallow mean that you're essentially giving up a double or triple here or there so that the fielder can pick off a lot more singles? I don't necessarily understand the value of inherently preferring a more shallow fielding position.

I imagine everyone is different, but some guys find it easier to go back on a ball and are more easily fooled by pop-ups and line drives that are shallow. You'll see a lot of guys whose first instinct is to take a step back...if you're playing shallow, that won't cost you as much.

What happened? Did he beat up another girl friend?

Can I assume that the Cubs will play some intra-squad games before the Cactus League games start Thursday?

http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/article/der...

nothing special, takes a guess at his market next offseason...

"I think it's going to come down to a philosophical decision more so than a performance decision," Riggleman said. "We anticipate that he is going to throw great. I think it's going to come down to, what is going to be best for Stephen Strasburg as an organization."

one month or so in the minors = one more year of club control, why the posturing?

One word: Ticket Sales.

"One word: Ticket Sales."

That's two words.

I feel like I've been watching Disney's Hercules.

Joke
-------
Joe's head.

This was the same situation that the Cubs (and Riggleman) went through with Wood when he was ready to come up. The Cubs were insistent that he start in the minors and people across the league were incredulous. I think another GM or pitching coach said something like, "If the Cubs have 5 better starters than Kerry Wood, they are going to be unstoppable."

cuz TB owning up to it led to a shitpie.

mmmm shitpie.

...i still don't know how anyone could be excited about castro right now.

yes, he's a hot prospect, but right now...even with positive scouting reports...his bat is barely in the 'above average' scouting scale.

he's mature and gets his wrists through the zone really quick, but that's a building block not a finished product when you're 19 and don't have a lick of power.

hell, unless he develops some power with that swing he's not looking all that great. it's not like his D is steady yet even if he can pick and range better than some of his peers.

My response to most of this is a resounding thank you.

The talk of him going to the majors this year without some sort of incredible AAA performance needs to stop. If he dominates Iowa, then I'll change my tune, but right now he's mostly upside and a decent batting average. That does not a major league ready player make.

Glad you guys are all agreed.

Of course, you said the same thing last year when they let Castro skip over Peoria. Why the rush?

Now we'll never see what Castro would have done at Peoria. And I'd hate to have him miss the part of his education that only the DesMoines experience can provide.

Sarcasm aside, he never did Boise, either. He basically accomplished four minor-league levels--five if you include the AFL--in one year. That's why the Cubs think he's special. He seems to be telling them, it doesn't matter what level you put me at, it's always the same result.

Now if he skips one level, he's in the majors. If the Cubs want to let him go for it, I think that's great.

yeah, the outrage over castro skipping peoria was an epic 300-post thread.

i don't think many/any cared or knew he existed.

I don't know. It is all guesswork. Brendan Ryan, who at age 21 spent seven years in the minors, did this in four AAA years:

.252 .303 .341 .644

Does this mean, at age 19, or 20, that Castro with being allowed to "mellow more" in the minors, will do better or worse than this, at a much younger age. I would have to agree with PHIL that unless there is an unforeseen injury, CRUNCH, you will not have to worry about Castro getting to the bigs until September call-ups.

I have said this before, but I was at Cedeno's first game at Wrigley and was thrilled that I was watching the beginning of a long career.

Needless to say, I didn't know it would be a crappy one!

Hopefully, everything will work out the way its supposed to.

This is to continue to the discussion I was having with TRN about the value of trying to match Castro's best production with his service years. My browser ran out of room on the side, so if anyone's still interested, here's what I think are the salient points.

Related to Castro, TRN earlier suggested a hypothetical series of WAR numbers and then advocates trying to match a player's big-league pre-free agent production to the best of those numbers. This is a fine actuarial exercise and something very valuable to small-market or cheap teams like the A's or Pirates. I contend it's not meaningful for a big-market team like the Cubs, who have the ability to afford playing their best player at any position. The points:

1. Castro will only be a burden on the payroll if he's good. And if he's good, then he really isn't a burden.

Let's say he's great. And he makes $450K, $600K, and $900K his first 3 years. Then arbitration comes along and his first year he goes all Ryan Howard on us and makes $9-$10 mil or something. If he's as good as Ryan Howard, this is perfectly fine. Then the arb values go up thereafter, but if he's great, who can complain?

In fact, TRN's scenario (matching his best years to his service time) all but guarantees the highest possible arbitration price in year 4.

The only way for his salary to not be a burden come arbitration is if he's not particularly good beforehand. But who wants that? In that case, the Cubs may not even play him or have him on the roster.

2. If he's particularly good, he'll probably get a longer-term deal because he's playing for a big market.

The Cubs are 3rd in payroll and have been successful as a high-spending, big-market team. They can afford to lock up good players before they go through all their arbitration years and buy out some of their free agent years.

3. Guessing at what years a player is going to be successful is sort of nonsense.

We have no crystal ball to say when Castro will play his best. But the Cubs don't need to try to guess. They're big-market enough to afford a star if Castro becomes one. And if he doesn't become one, then they'll never have to pay him like one.

The Cubs can apply the only rule that makes sense: play the best available player at every position.

Now, I don't contend that Castro is the best available player right now. But if he shows to be better than Therio, he will get his shot as he should.

4. Mis-managing Castro's service time will not affect the rest of the payroll

TRN thinks it's possible to waste $7mil on Castro and not have that money available for the rest of the team--that if Castro doesn't play well, then the Cubs need to pay others to make up for it. And he's sort of right.

But why would Castro be making lots of money if he weren't playing well? Again, we're talking about a player in his first 6 years of service. By definition, he cannot make a lot of money until arbitration. And only then if he plays well. So, say he's a super two or something, and in his first year of arbitration he starts to suck? Then yes, the Cubs need to find someone else, but they can release him the next year if it's that drastic as they would have no future obligations.

Different story for a long-term contract, of course, but that's not related to the service time argument here.

And again, if you try to manipulate his service time to get his best years pre-arb, he's going to be as expensive as possible through arbitration.

Last point. This isn't rocket science for a big market club. They don't have to play guessing games. They just have to play the best players available to them. The Cubs owe it to their fans to put the best product on the field possible. And they owe to their books, because it lets them charge more for a more compelling and competitive product. Budgets are choices in baseball--there's no cap. Adjust as needed if a great player presents himself.

I think the general point was that when a player isn't rushed to the majors, he is more likely to find immediate success than if he skips levels. Learning at the MLB level doesn't produce the same quality of numbers and therefore is a relative waste of money to allowing the player to become ready.

A separate point is that the Cubs should be able to afford overpaying for the years after club control. This is somewhat true, but when you're paying Soriano $18MM per year, Fukudome $12MM, Carlos Silva $6MM then its little cost in comparison to pay a club control player a year early.

Here's where we're differing I think:

"Last point. This isn't rocket science for a big market club. They don't have to play guessing games. They just have to play the best players available to them. The Cubs owe it to their fans to put the best product on the field possible. And they owe to their books, because it lets them charge more for a more compelling and competitive product. Budgets are choices in baseball--there's no cap. Adjust as needed if a great player presents himself."

Here is the list of people who think Castro is likely to be a great player in 2010.

Regardless of what you say, budgets are finite. Also rosters and playing time is finite. You only get to add the contribution of your 25 guys, who contribute unequal shares to what adds up to how many games you're going to win. In 2014 will it be better to pay Castro $1 million or $4 million? Just this off-season we saw that the team had to pass on a guy (Capps) because it didn't have $3 million dollars.

You're looking at it like a single decision. It's not a single decision, it is a decision that impacts the who else is going to be on the roster.

Thanks. Good feedback. I offer you these:

"In 2014 will it be better to pay Castro $1 million or $4 million?"

This entirely depends on what Castro is worth. If Castro is worth 6 million, say, then I'm fine with the Cubs paying him 4 million. And that's how a big-market club should think. Get good value out of your players, but most importantly, put the best player you have at each position. Again, I tend to think a lot of this will work itself out through Castro's performance.

"Regardless of what you say, budgets are finite."

Maybe, but the Ricketts have already said they'll stretch the budget to trade for talent if the Cubs are in contention at the deadline. I think teams will stretch a budget for star players as well. And if a player is a star, then other positions don't need to be as expensive.

"playing time is finite"

Very true. That's why I'm pushing for the Cubs to think big and worry more about the best performance than the best possible contract situation.

"You're looking at it like a single decision...it is a decision that impacts the who else is going to be on the roster."

You're right--I'm guilty of this to an extent. But, and I think this is important, if Castro becomes a star player, he becomes very valuable and you make roster decisions around him. And if he stinks, then he stinks. He's traded away like Patterson or PIe, and we move on to the next overhyped rookie.

I really don't think we fundamentally disagree. We both want the Cubs to get the most value out of their roster. You're trying to be smart and creative within the confines of a restricted budget. I'm saying the simpler and bolder move is to just play the best player and let the budget work itself out, and expand if needed.

We'll see how the Ricketts play this one out.

I've only got two small things to add here, and mostly this has been an interesting and productive conversation:

1. Regardless of what Castro is worth in 2014, it is better for the Cubs to only have to pay him $1 million rather than $4 million.

2. We would not be discussing the service clock here (because, you're right, the Cubs are a big market team) if it were clear that Castro improves the team today by being on the 25-man roster. I believe this conversation really started in response to someone suggesting that the Cubs get Castro to the majors now just so that he can get big-league experience (theory as I understood it was he'd get over his rookie and sophomore lumps by 22 and then that would make him a better major league player than spending another year in the majors would). TRN and I are approaching this with the idea that Castro need not be called up until he can actually produce better overall value than Ryan Theriot. (In the meantime, Darwin Barney and Andres Blanco are the best callup options in case of injury, in my opinion.)

I don't think there's much chance that Castro becomes a star player. But I am not just looking at one player. You're right, just on Castro it's not that big of a deal (though, it may mean that we start a season with no proven closer as I've mentioned before). But when you add up Castro and Jackson and Lee and Cashner and J Jackson and Carpenter and you make the incorrect decision on all of them, then it does add up to a lot of money.

Just on Castro, if the Cubs thought they were likely to win more games with him at short rather than Theriot, he'd probably play this year. I 'think' they've got the right plan (Pinhead's comments aside), which is to let him have a year to consolidate in AA/AAA then hit the NL as a serious RoY candidate in 2011, while we jettison Theriot and his $4 million contract.

List of people who think Pablo Sandoval was a pretty good player in 2009:

[It's a very long list, Neal, and you're on it.]

Sandoval had 175 at-bats in AA, and no AAA. Castro has 111 AA at bats. It doesn't show up on his stats page, but Castro also had 32 playoff at bats (10 for 32 = .303). So that's 143 AA at bats, 18 in a championship series. Sandoval's 2008 team (Connecticut) didn't make the postseason.

So play him, maybe he'll be great.

You want to find out as much as you can about him as quickly as possible, if for no other reason that there are three guys coming up behind him (two of them rather quickly) who also have their sights on Theriot's position. If they still look good a year from now, at some point you're going to have to give them ML tryouts.

That the Cubs squeeze every possible win out of the 2010 season is, to tell you the truth, more important to Piniella than it is to me. I'd rather see them build something solid, from the ground up.

The idea, by the way (not yours), that the Cubs are short of cash because they overpay their homegrown players--like Zambrano and Wood--is hilarious.

Zambrano isn't overpaid. If Hendry announced that he was trading Zambrano for players, with no cash returned, first thing tomorrow, GMs would fly in tonight and be at Hendry's office door bright and early. Imagine the same announcement regarding Soriano, Fukudome or the gone-but-not-forgotten MB. Not only would there be no takers, but the pot would have to be sweetened by $15-20 million for Fukudome and at least $65 million for Soriano. That's where the money is squandered.

Pablo Sandoval. You said the magic words to summon me.

Of course, Pablo Sandoval in AA:
.337/.364/.549, 8 HR, 37 RBI, 13 doubles in 184 PA's.

Castro in AA: .288/.347/.396, 0 HR, 14 RBI.

Now, Sandoval is a different type of player than Castro, so he'll have more HR's and RBI's, of course.
But let's compare apples to apples here. Castro < Sandoval right now.

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