Ryno Part Deux

This sounds like an article about a Cub fan's primal desire to bring back an old Cub to manage the team next year. Maybe, maybe not. Consider it an invitation to speculate about the next Cub GM and the first few trades the next Cub GM will make. The key to my thinking is that Tom Ricketts said the next GM was coming from outside the organizaton as in: the club management desparately needs a breath of fresh air.

That's where Sandberg comes in. In 1981, new Cub ownership, aka The Chicago Tribune, brought in GM Dallas Green from the Phillies organization only one year after the Phils won the 1980 World Series. Green raided the Phils for players he had some hankering for. His first trade (12-8-81) was sending pitcher Mike Krukow to the Phils for Keith Moreland, pitchers Dickie Noles and Dan Larson. A year later (1-27-82) out went Ivan DeJesus (SS and current 3B coach) and in came oldster, Larry Bowa and youngster, Ryne Sandberg.

If we are to believe the media speculaton about the top GM candidates, we should be looking at the Red Sox, Rangers, Braves, White Sox, Yankees, Rays and Giants for that first trade.

Tom Ricketts in his press conference yesterday listed the main qualities he's looking for:

A commitment to player development.

A strong analytical background, someone who has worked with some of the "new tools" (sabermetrics).

A background in a winning culture and a track record of success.

Fangraphs article lists Rick Hahn (White Sox), Thad Levine (Rangers), John Coppolella (Braves) and Kim Ng (MLB operations, previously Dodgers).

Tribune's Wrongway Phil Rogers gives his kiss of death recommendation to WSox Rick Hahn but also mentions 37 year old Ben Cherington (Red Sox) and former Diamondback GM Josh Byrnes. He also says there is the possibility that Yankees Brian Cashman, Dodgers Ned Colletti (just say no) and Rays Andrew Friedman could become available.

Sun Times Gordon Wittenmeyer's  list of 5 candidates repeats Hahn, Byrnes, Friedman, Colletti and adds Nationals Mike Rizzo.

Baseball America's Will Lingo ranked Top GM Prospects back in March 2010. Rick Hahn was #1 followed by Jerry Dipoto (Dbacks), Dan Jennings (Marlins), David Forst (A's), Tony Lacava (Blue Jays), Bill Geivett (Rockies), Thad Levine (Rangers), Kim Ng (Dodgers and MLB), Logan White (Dodgers) and Damon Oppenheimer (Yankees). The BA links may need a current subscription.

I found a Baseball America ranking of top 10 GM prospects from December 2003 somewhat amusing, listing Tim Wilken, Josh Byrnes, Ned Colletti, Thad Levine and Kim Ng way back then. KC's Dayton Moore was #1 back then coming out of the Atlanta system.

In July, Sports Illustrated.com and former Baseball Prospectus baseball injury guru, Will Carroll tried his hand in ranking his 10 front office assistants in line to become MLB GM's. Rick Hahn was his #1 and Thad Levine as #2 but he had to reach for #10, listing current Cub statman Ari Kaplan. He has some nice detail on the candidates strengths and weaknesses.

As a recent example of that first trade coming from the GM's former organization, last year the Padres raided the Red Sox talent by making Jed Hoyer their GM. Among Hoyer's first trades was to move Adrian Gonzalez and his upcoming mega-contract demands for top Bosox talent, acquiring pitcher Casey Kelly, first baseman Anthony Rizzo and OF Reymond Fuentes.

We all know Tom Ricketts has a man-crush on what Boston has done since owner John Henry took over. I'm sure Ben Cherington will get a close look. Here's a Chicago Now article by John Arguello on Cherington. He indicates Cherington is a line by line match for Ricketts GM criteria.

Bruce Levine on his radio show and blog  has been particularly high on White Sox assistant GM Rick Hahn. He also looks like a Ricketts criteria match, not to mention Hahn grew up in Winnetka as a Cub fan. Hahn has turned down GM offers from the Cardinals and Mets in the past few years. So he's clearly on the threshold of a GM position.

Completing the circle back to Dallas Green, I found this article about Hahn as a 12 year old writing to Cub GM Dallas Green:

In the early 80’s at the age of 12, Hahn wrote letters to Cubs GM
Dallas Green with trade ideas. Hahn recalls, “He was nice enough, or
perhaps foolish enough to write back. Rightfully or wrongly, it
encouraged me to throw different ideas at him, which I did every so
often. Candidly, at that time, I just thought it was pretty cool to get a
letter back in big league stationary.”

So I'm thinking we've got the next Ryne Sandberg coming our way. With a new GM coming,  we should get to speculate on a new manager too. I didn't see anyone predicting the assistant GM of the Phillies, Scott Proefrock. I think I'll add him to the list. He might know of a manager who the young Cubs could grow with as well as some mlb ready talent from Lehigh Valley.

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3.62 era...1.29 whip...6-9 record after 24 games (only 2nd win since June 27)...sigh...garza.

at least it's one less thing to worry about in 2012 since it seems the Z situation is pushing the cubs to pick up 2 SP next year rather than 1 SP.

i still have faith in wells as a back-end rotation guy...i have no faith in casey "broken down maddux" coleman

I have faith enough to believe Cashner deserves another shot at the rotation. That leaves Demp, Garza, Wells and Cashner as set and a fifth spot open (if Z isn't here). I'm not that interested in signing any free agent, but I assume tat is what will happen.

yeah...they have room to let cashner have a false competition with c.coleman for a slot...hope cashner is up to coming through.

Submitted by springs on Sat, 08/20/2011 - 6:43pm.

I have faith enough to believe Cashner deserves another shot at the rotation. That leaves Demp, Garza, Wells and Cashner as set and a fifth spot open (if Z isn't here). I'm not that interested in signing any free agent, but I assume tat is what will happen.

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SPRINGS: If the Cubs have to fix their pitching from within (given how hard it is to trade for a #1 or #2 starter and how much it would cost to sign one), the best bet would be to move Sean Marshall and Andrew Cashner to the starting rotation at Spring Training next year, and then re-construct the bullpen with some combination of Marmol, Samardzija, Russell, Carpenter, Mateo, Maine, Dolis, Beliveau, Chen, Gaub, Roderick, Kurcz, and/or Zych (TBD).

It's generally much easier to find bullpen arms and build a bullpen from scratch than it is to find Top-of-the-Rotation (TOR) and Middle-of-the-Rotation (MOR) starters, and Garza and Cashner have the potential to be TOR guys and Marshall should be at the very least a MOR #3, if not a #2.

could be wrong, but it seems a given that k.wood is going to get a multi-year contract as part of the pen...unless wood really wants to get paid and this year was just a gift to the cubs while building his FA value.

Submitted by crunch on Sat, 08/20/2011 - 7:28pm.

could be wrong, but it seems a given that k.wood is going to get a multi-year contract as part of the pen...unless wood really wants to get paid and this year was just a gift to the cubs while building his FA value.

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CRUNCH: Although it does seem a bit odd that Kerry Wood would accept a one-year $1.5M contract (albeit with incentives) for 2011 when he could have gotten more money and more years elsewhere, the Cubs could have just given him a back-loaded two or three year deal ($1.5M-$6M-$6M) if the intention was to keep him beyond this season and there wasn't enough money left in the 2011 payroll budget to pay him more than a $1.5M base salary.

I do think he was probably promised a job with the Cubs when he retires, though, and it's certainly not inconceivable that the Cubs will re-sign him to an extension, or at least offer him salary arbitration (which he would probably accept if it was offered).

It's fairly obvious that he can still pitch effectively in the big leagues, and he really seems to truly love playing for the Cubs.

AP, glad you chimed in.

Marshall, any concern about his career 'splits' starting vs. relieving? He's been great the last couple years, but any previous attempts at the rotation have not gone... well.

Also, what do we collectively think (realistically) the chances are on ditching Dempster and/or Z this year? I'm afraid the Z thing will 'blow over' yet again, and while I think Demp has been more than serviceable in his time here, that arm has to be getting tired, especially as evidenced by his performance this year. I'd love to believe that his personality and sense of humor would drive him to perform better if the team as a whole was less dysfunctional, but I just don't think he has much left in the tank.

As for Z, I'd like to think his time here has passed, and we will look back on someone (I've cried this for years) who wasn't an Ace but was paid like one and asked to perform like one simply for being good but not great and the last man standing in the rotation from the 'Big 3' that weren't.

But I'm afraid the Cubs as an organization may not be that smart.

I would think common sense would dictate that based on this year's standings in starters' ERA, etc, that the rotation badly needs to be addressed/overhauled, and I'm pretty unhappy with thoughts of even 4/5 of it returning (even if Cashner breaks out, which seems unlikely in his first full season in the bigs).

Best dream is something like Garza-Cashner-Marshall-Wells-Dempster, with Dempster becoming the wily veteran fifth starter. I don't think that's realistic.

Thoughts?? (I'm more or less babbling here, but I'm concerned about the rotation options as they stand...)

Z pretty much has to go...he's already been buried and hendry did the dirty work as his exit. that's one instance where hendry probably did consult others besides the manager before making a roster move.

i like Z. i dunno if the cubs do, anymore. dumpster seems sick of it, and though people stick up for Z the pitcher and Z the person...Z the teammate isn't getting much love. these days he doesn't seem physically violent when he loses control of his emotions...and his damage control after all this has been classy, imo...but he's still got issues dealing with his emotions.

he's young, he can still throw low 90s, and the cubs are probably willing to suck up more money than they were a month+ ago for the guy.

TONY: Sean Marshall is a different (better) pitcher now than when he was a full-time or part-time starter in 2007-08, so I don't think the starter/reliever splits matter.

And I would be surprised if Carlos Zambrano ever pitches again for the Cubs, although it is not inconceivable that he could return. The thing with Zambrano that did not apply to the Milton Bradley Affair is that Zambrano has a full "no trade," so he could force the Cubs to decide between allowing him to return to the team versus releasing him and eating the entire $22M in remaining salary, just by refusing to OK any trade offers the Cubs might get for him (presuming they do get any offers).

But there certainly are some bad contracts out there that could be exchanged for Zambrano, in case the Cubs don't want to eat the contract, and presuming Zambrano approves the deal.

AZ Phil,

I like Marshall a whole lot and I would also like to see a return to the rotation for him. However, I wonder if he wouldn't continue to be a "different (better) pitcher" if he had to start again. He's pitched backwards pretty dramatically as a reliever (using his secondary stuff to get ahead and in counts where hitters will expect fastballs) and I wonder whether his success doing that is possible as a starter. I wonder what you think about that. (I'd still love to see him do that, but I kind of doubt that Cubs management is willing to move a guy who is doing so well in his current role.)

Traditionally guys add about one run to their ERA when they become a starter. He is a better pitcher than he was back then (he didn't stand out immediately when he went to the bullpen, you may recall. He is likely to need a third pitch, again though. Facing a guy three or four times in a day is going to give them a pretty good idea about that curveball.

I've been watching Marshall more closely lately and he has three distinct pitches, a high-70s curve, a high-80's slider or slurve (or cutter?) and a fastball at 92-93. Hitters have trouble with all three.

I've become a fan. I think Marshall could start, and he could also close.

Submitted by Charlie on Sun, 08/21/2011 - 10:05am.
AZ Phil,

I like Marshall a whole lot and I would also like to see a return to the rotation for him. However, I wonder if he wouldn't continue to be a "different (better) pitcher" if he had to start again. He's pitched backwards pretty dramatically as a reliever (using his secondary stuff to get ahead and in counts where hitters will expect fastballs) and I wonder whether his success doing that is possible as a starter. I wonder what you think about that. (I'd still love to see him do that, but I kind of doubt that Cubs management is willing to move a guy who is doing so well in his current role.)

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CHARLIE: I don't think moving Marshall (back) to the starting rotation would cause problems for him. And I would suspect that he would be thrilled with the oppportunity, since he can be a free-agent after next season, and FA starting pitchers generally make more $$$ and get more years than do relievers (even good ones like Marshall).

Marshall has developed an effective slider to go along with his plus-curve (without losing anything off the curve, BTW), and he also has a solid two-seam sinker and a four-seam cutter. The lack of a decent change-up was a problem for Marshall a few years ago, but I think he could thrive as a starter just by mixing the four pitches he now has in his repertoire.

As for stamina issues, he has been a starter before in his career (and he wasn't bad), and so he should know how to get himself ready to throw 100+ pitches and go deep into games.

But best of all, after working as an 8th inning set-up guy and occasional closer, he is not going to wet his pants and disintegrate if he gets into a jam. Being a late-inning reliever has helped his mental toughness.

BTW, I would not want to see him moved to the rotation this year. I think it should be done in Spring Training 2012. Same goes for Andrew Cashner.

If Marshall did well would he stand a chance of reaching at least type B free agency. I believe that it takes a couple years into account - not sure how they would blend his time as a reliever/starter.

I don't know how they would handle the starter/reliever thing. But currently he is one of the higher ranked type A's as a reliever (with a year for changes to occur.)

If he raised his ERA enough as a starter he might reach B status, or if he kept his ERA low enough he might be an interesting enough free agent for other teams to pursue despite the A status.

I look forward to a GM that accumulates compensation picks. The Cubs spent about $20M on the draft and international signings this year, much more than in previous years. If we could pick up a few extra picks here and there that would be exciting, even if it means we lose players like Marshall.

Agreed

Speaking of a transition to starting, why isn't there more concern about Cashner's longevity? If the guy has electric stuff and top-of-the-rotation potential, then why wasn't he a starter in college? I have to think that, given his injury shortly after becoming a starter, there was some kind of worry about his longevity. Clearly I don't know much about his college career other than the position he pitched in, but would the Cubs be acting recklessly with his arm by moving him to the rotation and having him throw starter innings?

Kind of been my thinking on Cashner as well. He hasn't thrown 100 innings on any level before. Not sure what the Cubs expected a 200 inning workload was supposed to do for him?

Best dream is something like Garza-Cashner-Marshall-Wells-Dempster, with Dempster becoming the wily veteran fifth starter. I don't think that's realistic.

Pretty sure Dempster is the number 2 in that rotation.

They need to make some plan for Wells, either he gets his missing 3 MPH back, or he goes to Iowa to be an insurance policy.

I would be all for Wells starting next year in Iowa, much like Cashner should have started last season in Iowa while Silva did his best to impersonate the 2010 Silva.

Not sure who would fill out the 3-5 slots if Zambrano is actually gone, even if Marshall converted to starter we'd still have a couple spots to fill.

Aaron Heilman released by DBacks a month ago now released by the Phils.

Another bad idea on the Hendry +/- list.

Memo to JH: Aaron works better in baseball as a last name.

It's too bad Hahn would have zero talent to steal from the Sux. It's moot anyhow as we have nothing to trade them either.

brett jax 3-3

And its only thru 4 innings.

Next year, BJax and Castro should be a fun watch.

bjax in RF (or moving byrd to RF) for 2012 would make me puke.

hell, bjax at this point projects as byrd with a more speed...and a whole lot more Ks.

i don't mind him if they should happen to shift byrd, though i dunno if the lockerroom's mood can handle losing a legit veteran with his kind of mood and attitude.

i wouldn't mind seeing him as an occasional/injury callup in 2012...pretty much expect to see him in CF in 2013 full time.

"bjax at this point projects as byrd with a more speed...and a whole lot more Ks."

If you look at walks, home runs, runs scored and RBI, Jackson is much closer to Pena than to Byrd. So which is it--or does he remind you of both of them? This is a little like the confusion between Theriot and Barney.

Check out YouTube for some of those Sesame Street tutorials on "same and different."

yeah, im not giving him much credit for his walks, but i sure as hell won't give him that much credit for power.

i think you're giving minor league numbers a lot of mlb-world weight when it comes to a bjax...i wouldn't expect 90 walks a year out of the guy....maybe 2/3rd of that.

Probably later in his career he gets 90 walk seasons, if he hangs around, but next year, I'd expect about 60-65 to go with 160 to 180 K's, if he plays every day for us. To me, he's got the strength to be a 25-30 HR guy, but it will probably be a while before he learns to do that.

Brett Jackson is like Carlos Pena in the sense that he is a very patient hitter who is willing to go deep into the count and take a walk (or get called out on strikes), but he is not like Pena in that he is a fast & aggressive baserunner who steals bases and who can score from 1st on a double and advance from 1st to 3rd or score from 2nd on a single to the outfield. B-Jax is also more of a slash/spray hitter than dead-pull, and he plays a "crash & burn" style of CF defense like Reed Johnson or Sam Fuld.

I've actually been quite pleased with Pena on the bases. He's not a burner, or anything, but he doesn't do a lot of stupid things and he can run.

I agree, he runs quite well. So does Byrd, for that matter. Cub fans have seen a lot of over-thirty players lose their speed: Soriano, obviously, but also Lee and Fukudome and others. I suspect that Pena and Byrd work very hard to keep their legs under them. It's nice to see guys working for their millions!

Flaherty and LeMahieu getting acclimated to Iowa. Last 10

Flaherty 361/400/556/956
LeMahieu 342/372/447/819

For that matter, BJax 356/408/533/941

Damn, last 10 for Junior Lake 314/385/629/1013

Has 35 steals on the season to only 6 CS. A big guy at 6'3/215. I'm not sure you could be an average speed crafty baserunner and have that kind of efficiency.

I think I read somewhere that a lot of those SB's were delayed steals for Lake. Did anyone else see that? It's been a few weeks.

QuietMan - You're right regarding the delayed steals, at least that was Lake's MO in the FSL before getting promoted to Tenn. Too lazy to look it up in the TCR archives, but an article was linked to that stat around the time of the FSL All-Star game.

I think it was a Baseball America comment from one of the prospect guys, and it was a very high percentage, like 70% of his steals were on delays - which obviously won't translate to the bigs. It does show he's got some brains though.

Lake has 6 HRs at Tennessee now, 12 including Daytona. Not too shabby for a 21-year-old shortstop.

It's an interesting question, to me at least, who's a better third-base prospect right now, Vitters or Lake. They're on the same team, although Lake spent half the season at Daytona. Lake is about 8 mos. younger. Both have 12 home runs. Again allowing for the Daytona component of Lake's numbers, both are hitting .280 with an SLG around .440. Both have a lot to learn as hitters. Lake much better on defense and on the bases, and could play any infield position.

Submitted by VirginiaPhil on Sun, 08/21/2011 - 9:02am.
Lake has 6 HRs at Tennessee now, 12 including Daytona. Not too shabby for a 21-year-old shortstop.

It's an interesting question, to me at least, who's a better third-base prospect right now, Vitters or Lake. They're on the same team, although Lake spent half the season at Daytona. Lake is about 8 mos. younger. Both have 12 home runs. Again allowing for the Daytona component of Lake's numbers, both are hitting .280 with an SLG around .440. Both have a lot to learn as hitters. Lake much better on defense and on the bases, and could play any infield position.

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VA PHIL: I would say Junior Lake is the better 3B prospect of the two, but I say that only because I believe Josh Vitters is best-suited to play corner OF and should be moved to either LF or RF. Actually Lake probably profiles as an offensive-first supersub.

Lake has a plus-arm, plus-range, plus-speed, HR power, and the ability to steal bases, but has always been EXTREMELY aggressive at the plate and lacking the ball-handling skills you would want to see in a middle-infielder (basically the exact same skill-set as Shawon Dunston, Sr).

If it wasn't that the Cubs already have a bevy of CF prospects (Brett Jackson, Jae-Hoon Ha, Matt Szczur, Taiwan Easterling, and Pin-Chieh Chen), I would say Lake should be moved to CF to take advantage of his speed, range, arm, and athleticism, because he plays SS with the touch of a bull in a china shop.

Back in 2008, the Cubs had Starlin Castro, Junior Lake, Marwin Gonzalez, and Gian Guzman together at Extended Spring Training, and to get them all enough playing time, the quartet was moved around to different positions, with Castro playing SS-2B-3B (best positions were 2B #1 and SS #2), Lake playing SS-2B-3B-CF (best positions were 3B #1 and CF #2), M. Gonzalez playing 3B-SS-2B-1B-LF (best positions were 3B #1 and SS #2), and Guzman playing 3B-SS (best position was 3B).

No question Lake had the best natural tools of the four. He also was the most erratic (in the field, on the bases, and at the plate, making lots of errors, running into outs, and striking out with regularity). But three years later it appears that Lake might possibly be finally putting it together, and could be about ready to realize his enormous potential.

While Castro is the better hitter, the better SS, and the better student of the two, Lake is faster, has more power, more range, and a stronger arm. If he played football, Lake would probably be a free safety.

Muskat seems to think that Baez is heading straight over to Mesa,and getting straight to work... Do you think that's right, AZ Phil? I know you were saying that you didn't think the late signing would do anything until the AZ Instructs...

if he's going to do anything he's got about 2 weeks to do it before the regular minor league season ends.

Submitted by Jace on Sat, 08/20/2011 - 8:35pm.

Muskat seems to think that Baez is heading straight over to Mesa,and getting straight to work... Do you think that's right, AZ Phil? I know you were saying that you didn't think the late signing would do anything until the AZ Instructs...

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JACE: While it's possible that he could get into an AZL Cubs game next week, the AZL season ends a week from tomorrow and Instructs starts on 9/15, so I would think Javier Baez will be at Fitch Park getting into playing shape for Instructs.

The Boise Hawks season runs a week beyond the AZL, so it's possible that some of the guys who signed late (like Baez) could go there for a few days if the Cubs want to get them some game action but they can't get ready in time to play for the AZL Cubs.

The pitchers who signed at the deadline will almost certainly be held back until Instructs, though. That's what happened last year with Ben Wells, Kevin Rhoderick, Casey Harman, and Brian Smith.

Consider it an invitation to speculate about the next Cub GM

1. I don't want to have to choose between 'new school' and 'old school'. I want a GM that makes smart baseball decisions and doesn't live and die by the spreadsheet.
2. I want to see a productive farm system. One that teaches plate discipline and defense.

Less trying to win the world series and more trying to build an organization that we Cub fans can be proud of.

I totally agree with point 1. On point 2, I agree that we need to focus on better situational baseball, knowing when/how to work counts, defense, etc.

I also think that more drafts (and draft strategy) like this year will help building the talent base (and hopefully we will see that we can sign some prospects who have fallen and will take more next year). Once we build this base, then your analysis about improving player development becomes even more important.

didnt have the game today...Fox decided i needed to watch the mets.

Top 1st: St. Louis
- J. Jay doubled to shallow left center
- A. Craig grounded out to shortstop
- A. Pujols intentionally walked

...really? IBB pujols in the f'n 1st? ...with berkman up next? (who walked, btw)...man. have some f'n faith.

for those that want more info to handicap the situation further, jay stayed stranded at 2nd after the craig groundout.

Garza went 3-0 on Pujols. Then the bench told him to just put him on. He was pissed about it.

He may have been having a tough time focusing with the Air Force buzzing the field (Air & Water Show.)

Josh Lewin and Mark Grace had the call. Should have just listened to Pat & Keith.

gotcha...that makes sense.

i thought it was a straight up IBB.

also, ha on grace...i love listening to him, but his best skill seems to be not creating dead air...he says a lot of stupid/weird/awkward stuff, but he occasionally gets into a gem of a rant.

-edit-

just saw the video of it...ha...garza was not happy at all. also of interest...12 of aram's 24 homers are on the 1st pitch. neat-o etc.

After Garza walked Berkman to load the bases, Quade came storming out for a pep talk. Grace suddenly starts complementing Quade for doing such a great job this year.

No to hahn and coletti

The only problem with all this speculation about assistant general managers is that at least one mainstream reporter is suggesting Ricketts wants a proven GM:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/baseball...

I wouldn't necessarily put a huge amount of stock in an article like that because it could be simply a reporter reading too much into a comment like:

Asked if he would interview current assistant general managers, Ricketts replied, "I'm not sure yet.

"There's obviously some good (ones) out there," he said. "If one of those candidates would have interest, then we would speak to him but …"

That last quote shows some possible manipulation for the article's sake, since the reporter doesn't say what he said after "but..."

could have something to do with not being able to interview guys already with organizations.

it's not uncommon for clubs to give permission to guys to interview elsewhere, even if under contract...but it's tricky when the season is still going on.

Not to mention, that the guys we want are mostly competing for playoff spots.

Buster Onley said Cubs and Astros will look for Friedman.

Probably the Rays, too?

Zeke DeVoss is showing crazy patience at Boise: .273 average with a .446 OBP, 21 BB: 15 Ks in only 101 PAs. That's a 20.8% walk rate and a 14.9% K rate. He collected 4 BBs last night and also on August 13.

He really needs to be moved up at this point, although there may be some service time issues that would stem from moving to a full season league. I like the kid - I just hope he can continue to be patient as he moves up and become passable at 2B instead of just CF.

There's no point, really in moving him up with such a short amount of time left in the season. You're not going to find out what you want to know about him because he's not going to face the same pitchers twice.

He'd probably have to show some pop to have much value as a CF, or he'd have to continue to steal a lot of bases. At this point we have no idea what he can do, but it is nice to see a few minor leaguers in the Cubs system that value patience and will take a walk (B. Jackson, Zeke DeVoss, Matthew Cerda, and even Paul Hoilman), even if they don't all have a ton of other skills that stand out.

Center field and second base are pretty close on the "defensive spectrum", though right now, for whatever reason center fielders are pretty good hitters (better than left fielders actually). I think Kemp, Ellsbury and Granderson are ruining the curve.

I am putting my money (what little I have left) on current Rays Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman as the next Cubs GM.

Friedman and Ricketts come from the same background (investment banking) and would seem to be a baseball philosophical match, too.

If you haven't seen this yet, here is a short but somewhat interesting interview with Friedman from a few years ago (just after Tim Wilken left the Rays to join the Cubs as Scouting Director).

Of particular note is Friedman's explanation of the power-sharing approach the Rays took in their front office with Friedman and Gary Hunsicker. It sounds like Hunsicker is to Friedman as Oneri Flieta was to Jim Hendry, which could mean that Friedman would be OK with retaining both Fleita (Player Development & International Scouting) & Wilken (Amateur & Professional Scouting) if he were to be hired as Cubs GM.

BTW, I doubt that Fleita or Wilken would leave voluntarily (resign) just because Hendry got fired, unless Hendry gets another GM job (which is unlikely). It's far more likely that Hendry will be hired as a Special Assistant to a GM (good bet would be Hendry ending up in Detroit with old buddy Dave Dombrowski) or as a scout, and if that happens, Fleita and Wilken aren't going to follow.

Based on that interview, I am not sure if he's qualified to fill the role that Hendry did. It sounds like Hunsicker did the majority of the "minors" stuff.... he sure took Hendry to the wood shed last January, though. This is the first time the Cubs made a splash in the draft since the Prior signing. Was it just the ownership's lack of committing resources to signing bonuses that's been the system's problem, or were Fieta and/or Wilkens the problem? It would be interesting to know what Ricketts thinks about that.

Submitted by The Real Neal on Sun, 08/21/2011 - 1:21pm.
Based on that interview, I am not sure if he's qualified to fill the role that Hendry did. It sounds like Hunsicker did the majority of the "minors" stuff.... he sure took Hendry to the wood shed last January, though. This is the first time the Cubs made a splash in the draft since the Prior signing. Was it just the ownership's lack of committing resources to signing bonuses that's been the system's problem, or were Fieta and/or Wilkens the problem? It would be interesting to know what Ricketts thinks about that.

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TRN: One thing I have noticed about the Cubs Player Development Dept that does not reflect favorably on Oneri Fleita is the apparent disinterest in using technology to help assess player development.

For example, most every other team out here has a qualified tech-geek in charge of video-recording the pitchers and the hitters at Minor League Camp, Extended Spring Training, AZL, and Instructs, but the Cubs only do it occasionally (they were video-recording Hayden Simpson a couple of weeks ago), and when they do employ video, it's usually done by one of the minor league pitchers equipped with a camera phone.

A coach from one of the other teams thought that was a real hoot.

Also, several teams out here use a system where the pitcher "charting" the game from behind home plate inputs the pitch-by-pitch information (type of pitch, velocity, outcome) directly into a lap-top using software that is specifically designed to analyze the pitcher's outing, and the Player Development staff can immediately access the info from anywhere in the world.

The Cubs pitchers keep pitching charts by hand (pencil & paper).

Why would you want to invest $600 into a camcorder to help get the most out of your million dollar investments?

Maybe you should point it out to Ricketts if he ever does his "minor league tour" in the Arizona leagues.

This is sickening news when you consider that Tom Ricketts gives Fleita an A+.

As I write, any amateur golfer with three hundred bucks to spare can get his swing analyzed by high tech video programs at swing centers all across the country.

But the Cubs seem to believe baseball is all art and magic.

As I write, any amateur golfer with three hundred bucks to spare can get his swing analyzed by high tech video programs at swing centers all across the country.

MAYBE navigator, but you still shank the ball and lose them in the water, so what good are they? ;)

"I doubt that Fleita or Wilken would leave voluntarily (resign) just because Hendry got fired, unless Hendry gets another GM job (which is unlikely)."

Interesting that you bring this up since so many in the Chicago media used Wilken and Fleita leaving if Hendry was fired as a reason not to fire fatso. Wilken was hired by Chuck LaMarr who was soon after dumped in 2005 when Sternberg cleaned house and made Friedman GM, although he wasn't given that title. However, if Wilken can be believed, he wasn't fired by Friedman but left TB voluntarily after all around him were canned by the new owner. So, it's not clear what will happen with Wilken should Friedman get the Cubs GM job. If he in fact did fire Wilken it's not likely he'll keep him now with the Cubs. And if Wilken did indeed leave on his own when Friedman took over, what are the chances he'll stay now? And why would Friedman want him because as we all should know by now, baseball organizations run on trust.

Submitted by navigator on Sun, 08/21/2011 - 1:44pm.
"I doubt that Fleita or Wilken would leave voluntarily (resign) just because Hendry got fired, unless Hendry gets another GM job (which is unlikely)."

Interesting that you bring this up since so many in the Chicago media used Wilken and Fleita leaving if Hendry was fired as a reason not to fire fatso. However, if Wilken can be believed, he wasn't fired by Friedman but left TB voluntarily after all around him were canned by the new owner. So, it's not clear what will happen with Wilken should Friedman get the Cubs GM job. If he in fact did fire Wilken it's not likely he'll keep him now with the Cubs. And if Wilken did indeed leave on his own when Friedman took over, what are the chances he'll stay now? And why would Friedman want him because as we all should know by now, baseball organizations run on trust.

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

NAVI: I think what Friedman said in that interview is what probably happened...

The Cubs Scouting Director job opened up when John Stockstill left to join Andy MacPail in Balimore (Stockstill's brother was also there), Hendry and Wilken were HS buddies back in Dunedin and Hendry likes to surround himself with familiar faces, and the Rays did not object when Hendry asked for permission to hire Wilken.

That doesn't mean Friedman (if hired) would want to retain Wilken as Scouting Director, but it also doesn't mean that Wilken (or Fleita) would necessarily get the boot, either. By all accounts Ricketts is satisfied with the Cubs scouting and minor league operations, and might not want to disturb that by bringing in a new Scouting & Player Development team. It's also possible that Fleita could be reassigned exclusively to run the Cubs International Scouting, with a new Player Development Director brought on board to run the minor leagues.

"By all accounts Ricketts is satisfied with the Cubs scouting and minor league operations"

I wonder if that's true with Angelos over in Baltimore?

The rumblings out of Baltimore are that MacPhail is out on the way and I just noticed that President of Baseball Operations MacPhail has Baltimore set up with a very small front office similar to the way things were when he ran the Cubs. John Stockstill is head of International Scouting, brother Dave is Director of Player Development. Lee MacPhail IV is Director of Professional Scouting.

At any rate, wouldn't it be ironic if Baltimore replaced MacPhail with Hendry? He's buddies with almost everyone there.

"Hendry and Wilken were HS buddies"

I didn't know that. I always assumed that when Hendry hired Wilken, he used good judgment for once.

Apparently Darwin Barney is now the face of the 2011 Cubs.

http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6188/606620687...

That's from ESPN here in the UK, they make some very strange choices. Last Sunday night baseball they had Spilborghs (-1.7WAR) v Theriot (-0.2WAR)

http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6061/606620645...

Quade just streamlined Buster Olney's name into "Bust" in an interview. His nickname efficiency is unrivalled.

he should just call everyone "skippy"

butt slaps for everyone!

Cashner threw in the bullpen Sunday and will board a plane Monday to join the Cubs’ Class AA Tennessee farm club to begin a minor-league rehab assignment.

The 24-year-old right-hander said he hopes “to start a couple games” for Tennessee and maybe finish his rehab at Class AAA Iowa before rejoining the Cubs in early September in a bullpen role. Cashner is scheduled to start Tuesday night for Tennessee.

Read more: http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20110821/s...

ESPN announcers were ripping on Castro for his lack of focus in the field during the Sunday night game vs. the Cardinals, and the visuals along with the commentary were pretty convincing. Thoughts from anyone? I wonder if AZ Phil has anything to say about Castro's focus between pitches or his tendency to get lost in his own thoughts on the field (if he does indeed have that tendency).

From the comments in Bruce Miles' Blog:

The Twitter world was atwitter tonight as TV watchers heard ESPN analyst Bobby Valentine criticize Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro for what he thought was inattentive play. Mike Quade said he was not aware of the alleged transgressions. We'll follow up tomorrow to see if Quade had a chance to see the tape.

"Did he screw up?" Quade asked. "I can't watch everything. I certainly try to. I'll have to talk to Zeus (coach Ivan DeJesus) and Pat (bench coach Listach) about that. I didn't recognize any of that.

"I probaby tend to focus when there's a situation I expect him to be involved in (such as when Castro and pitcher Rodrigo Lopez worked a successful pickoff play). I'll have to ask those guys about that or maybe call Bobby to see what he said."

Posted by Bruce on Sun, 08/21/2011 - 21:59
http://blogs.dailyherald.com/node/6171#new

This was just painful to listen to. Some of it may have been legit, but it went on for the entire half inning. Then Castro came to the plate and it continued. I realize that the game is 3 hours plus and they need to fill that air, but I am very disappointed that they chose to rag on Castro. There was one clip where he wasn't watching when the ball was pitched, which is of course unacceptable. Then Valentine went on to rip Castro for taking his glove off in between pitches. Then he said that Castro wasn't positioned properly between pitches and didn't make instinctive enough breaks on the ball. He moved on to Castro eating sunflower seeds as another sign of his lack of focus. The whole time the camera is zoomed in on Castro's face, while he cracked and spit sunflower seeds obliviously. There is no graceful way to eat sunflower seeds with no hands, and the ESPN crew seemed fine with painting a sloppy picture of Castro. I had to fast forward through some of it. Had I been watching in real time the mute button was coming fast.

I generally agree. I thought Bobby's points were mostly valid, but overstated. He had the right tone as far as Castro not facing the plate when the pitch was delivered, but the rest of the stuff could be stated softly as lead-by-example put-yourself-in-the-right-state-of-mind-on-the-field stuff--kind of like body language for pitchers.

They caught Castro facing in the direction of the dugout or the Cub bullpen on one Russell pitch, and they went on about it for a half hour. Except for the one incident, what they were saying was mostly bogus. For example, they showed Castro holding his glove in his right hand until just before the pitch was thrown; and they compared Castro unfavorably to Barney in terms of being ready on the pitch. So then Barney does the same thing--holds the glove in his other hand until just before the pitch--and they don't mention it. They started using a lot of behind-the-plate shots so you could see both middle infielders and the pitcher, and I thought Castro and Barney were both leaning forward on their toes at the right time. Castro is always going to look a little more relaxed than Barney, because he is.

Video for those who haven't seen it:

http://www.twitvid.com/JMV4B

I need to be out there and do what I do for my 5-year old daughter during t-ball... "Watch the ball... keep your eye on the ball... keep watching the ball... where's the ball?"

That said... ESPN went way overboard here.

Well, heck, Castro has such outstanding role models in Soriano and Ramirez. I mean the way they always hustle in the field and sprint down to first on all ground balls because they just know that Q-less would bench them too if they didn't. Right?

Matt Szczur hit two homeruns tonight to raise his total for the year to 9 in 434 plate appearances and his first full season of pro ball. If he turns into a 15-20 HR center fielder, coupled with his ability to put the bat on the ball, run the bases, and get after it in the field, he could be very valuable. Certainly seems like a strong enough kid to drive the ball a bit.

It's hard not to be pleased with Caesar given that he's just now fully devoted to baseball. I think all evaluations agree that he has a plus hit tool, and we all know he has plus speed that should help his defense. If he can get the power tool to at least average or above average that would be very nice.

I wonder if Jackson can handle RF defensively. He should have plenty of range, but his arm is just average as far as I've heard. That could make for an outstanding defensive outfield, even if we have a Flaherty/Vitters type in LF.

Looks like his time with the Cubs hitting instructors is starting to take a toll on his penchant for walking, though. In high A, he's walking about half as often as he did last year. Hopefully he gets that back on track.

I optimistically am just chalking that up to adapting to a slightly higher level and a fairly small sample size. We'll see though.

the whole idea of "teaaching" patience is a joke, anyway.

if a kid sees something he thinks he can hit he swings...the only fix to that is the kid realizing he shouldn't swing at certain things. if the kid can actually do that they already have a skill you can't teach and it's a matter of getting the kid to listen and situationally apply his skill.

Although AZ Phil confirms the Cubs Player Development people haven't joined the 21st century in technology, a new GM could change that. There's plenty of software programs out them that could use 'Pitch Trax' data to show a prospect the pitches he shouldn't be swinging at. A real hitting coach could then throw soft toss to that hitter and work on when he should/should not swing. I agree totally with your point, and the sad part is that Cubs minor league coaches have let this go on for years.

Jackson doesn't have enough arm to be an ideal defensive RF, but by the time Szczur is ready, Soriano likely won't be in LF anymore, so you could see Jackson in LF and Szczur in CF with someone else in RF. Vitters has enough arm for RF, so if he could track fly balls, he'd probably be okay out there. I don't know about Flaherty, but he'd probably be subbing/starting on the infield mostly anyway.

The Cubs played a lot of Floyd and Murton and Ward in RF in 2007 and generally got away with it, so I'm sure they could live with Jackson out there if it mattered.

Looks like a misprint, but I don't think it is: Jackson has 8 outfield assists in 34 games in CF for Iowa.

Guess who has the most outfield assists in the organization?

Anybody guess Giansanti? (Anybody ever hear of Giansanti?) Peoria right fielder, 20 assists, 14 from right field, 6 from left. Not a good hitter so far but some pop.

Jackson has 11 assists overall, Burgess 10, Perez and Ha 9, Snyder 8.

I think BA rated his arm the best in the organization, or maybe best outfield arm

I mentioned it the other day, but he was either rated by BA or voted by the Midwest League managers as the best arm in the league.

.694 OPS in Daytona is a bit troubling for Szczur. Blake DeWitt has an identical .694 OPS in Chicago this summer. And we know how much people love Blake DeWitt.

This is Szczur's first full season of baseball. I'm willing to be a little patient with him. Now if it's say....summer of 2014 and he's shuttling from Tennessee to Iowa with a sub.700 OPS, I'd be disappointed then.

What do you think is an acceptable OPS for a major league backup infielder? For a developmental CF in high A?

I'd like to see it in the mid 800's if he's the prospect people are hyping him to be.

You do realize that there are not a great number of qualified major league hitters with an OPS over 800, right? I looked it up a while back and there were only 60-some in all of baseball.

The minors are all about players being challenged and adjusting in order to continue to move up. Few prospects never struggle in the minors.

Hence, it is not reasonable for you to complain about him having a low OPS. Mainly I'm just tired of seeing your posts complaining about prospect X because of their OPS when you don't seem to have a grasp of what a good OPS is these days.

I'm not saying I don't like the kid. I'm not saying he won't ever me a major league player. I just think the hype on him is completely unwarranted at this point.

Not his fault its the case. If our system was better then it probably wouldn't be the case.

The hype, in large part is based on his athleticism... OPS doesn't take fielding or baserunning into account, and it's pretty much understood that because he's big and strong that he'll hit for more power with more experience.

There's probably 10 middle infielders and center fielders in the minors with an 850 OPS.

There's probably 10 middle infielders and center fielders in the minors with an 850 OPS.
======
Thank you. This is my point in continually asking what an acceptable OPS would be for Szczur

There are 25 qualifiers at CF who have a better MLB OPS than Szczur has in A ball.

Maybe the kid develops and becomes something worthwhile? However at some point it needs to translate to some actual usable production. Haven't we all been watching the same franchise value "intangibles and tools" over the guy who hits time and time again.

Agreed..I mean, it IS Szczur's first full season concentrating on baseball. I mean, if he hasn't shown anything by now, he probably won't...time to cut him loose I suppose....

If intangibles means your head is in the game, I can't think of a Cub prospect who had intangibles AND tools.

Theriot had no tools; Patterson and Pie were not very aware of their surroundings.

"Intangibles and tools" would be a powerful combo.

Patterson and Pie were not very aware of their surroundings.

Are you talking about Corey Patterson? Because I have never heard that criticism of K-Pat.

fwiw, via rotoworld...via j.heyman (sup dude)

"When asked on ESPN if he was open to Carlos Zambano pitching for the Cubs again, owner Tom Ricketts said, "I have a hard time imagining that.""

I was watching this last night and just assumed that Ricketts would give the typical PR type answer. "He's on the roster and until he isn't we're going to plan on him being with us" etc. I suppose there's no point in trying to fool the rest of baseball into thinking that he's an angel or that there's no way he'd be traded, but I really don't see the value in showing your hand. It is refreshing to hear a straight answer though.

Immediately after the interview the cameras showed Ricketts chumming around with fans in the upper deck, giving a baseball to a kid. The only problem was a guy in a Brewers shirt standing behind Ricketts. He held his shirt up repeatedly as ESPN continued to keep the guy in frame.

Brewers fans are so stupid that they cannot even figure out when they're team is playing. I see that sometimes here in Houston as well... I don't get it. Also the guy wearing the Ulracher jersey to the Cubs game here had me a bit curious.

thanks for the article btw, Dr. Hecht, good read.

+1

Can anyone tell me WTF Phil Bourbon Rogers is trying to say about Sandberg?

http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/baseball...

seemed to be saying Sandberg would be a good choice for the next GM to deflect attention away from the GM, or something like that.

also, with a pretty big turnover in roster expected, not like they need to hire someone (not that they needed to in the first place) to appease some of the veterans.

In fact, his addition might be so popular that it would re-engage fans who otherwise could be screaming about the team’s unwillingness to invest in Prince Fielder or Albert Pujols (consider the Cubs a huge long shot in both cases).

in other words, the Cubs will definitely be signing one of them now.

"in other words, the Cubs will definitely be signing one of them now."

lulz.

some minor league moves...

The Chiefs welcome back Dallas Beeler, also add RHP Yoanner Negrin. Frank Del Valle promoted to Daytona, Daniel Berlind to Iowa.

and this...

#BoiseHawks 1B Ryan Cuneo Northwest League Player of the Week. .375/.444/1.042 in 7 G. 9-for-24 with 4 2B, 4 HR, 11 RBI, 5 R, 2 BB, 8 BB.

Is that a total of 10 BB's?

typo on their part I'm sure...

not sure what their week entails, but appears it was 2 BB, 8 K

Rick Hahn has a clause that lets him interview with Cubs (and a select few other teams), I assume without the formalities of asking the WSox for permission and such.

http://espn.go.com/chicago/mlb/story/_/id/688...

I would imagine they ask, or at least notify the Sox regardless. I am sure it's happened, but anyone know what's the penalty for not seeking (and obtaining) permission? Is it a fine? Draft pick?

forced to listen to a Michael Bolton mix tape on a 24 hour loop

Pena finally goes on trade waivers today, see if everyone is scared away by the $5M payment for next year.

Dbags

I wonder how the salary works if someone claims him? I'd imagine the deferred signing bonus would transfer along with Pena?

if he's claimed and Cubs just let him go, the claiming team would take on his contract and be on the hook for the remainder of his salary (whatever he's owed the rest of the year and the deferred money due Jan 1st I believe).

that's why no one will likely claim him, leaving the Cubs the chance to trade him to anybody and likely having to assume some part of his salary to get anything decent in return.

more castro fallout from last night...

PWSullivan Paul Sullivan
Castro on the bench tonight after looking focus-challenged on Sunday night.

CarrieMuskat Carrie Muskat
No Castro in #Cubs lineup for Monday. It's either a day off or a day to get schooled after criticism during Sunday night game

Barney SS
DeWitt 2B
Ramirez 3B
Pena 1B
Byrd CF
Soriano LF
Colvin RF
Hill C
Dempster P

This may achieve Q-Ball's goal of denying Castro a 200 hit season. That's about all.

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