Damn You Cubs
The Cubs win two of three over the weekend,and are going the wrong way in terms of earning a better draft pick. There's some blame for this that can fall on Q-Ball, who says he'll mostly play the veterans and try to win as much as he can, but I expect the latter from any manager or team, and considering the way the Cubs played most of the year, the former is probably a better environment for the Cubs to lose some games.
I watched about two innings of last night's game and I finally got to see a Bryan LaHair at-bat. You hate to read too much into these things, but he did seem to have a nice, compact swing and obviously he has some power in that bat. The Cubs certainly shouldn't be passing up on Pujols or Fielders for him, but he might deserve a tryout in left field during spring training with Tyler Colvin. Oh you say, we have Alfonso Soriano there for the next year, which I say, Soriano should be nothing more than the short side of a platoon. I presume as well, and it could be a faulty presumption, that LaHair doesn't have the arm for right that anyone would be willing to put out there. At worst, he certainly deserves a look at a bench spot.
Otherwise, news is light around Cubsville. Daytona won the Florida State League Championship by sweeping the St. Lucie Mets. It was their first championship since 2008. Tennessee swept their first round series and await tonight's winner between Birmingham (White Sox affiliate) and Mobile (DBacks affiliate). It's Tennesee's third straight trip to the finals, losing the last two to Jacksonville (Marlins affiliate).
Baseball Prospectus and ESPN Insider take a look at what the Cubs could do in 2012. Goldstein talks about what no one with the Cubs or many fans want to hear. Rebuilding with the farm system is great and all, if there's quality there to rebuild with.
The Cubs have a strange minor league system. It's more deep than star-studded, with plenty of potential big leaguers but few who can actually help turn around a moribund franchise. The most likely player to help in 2012 is center fielder Brett Jackson, the club's 2009 first-round pick who hit .274 with 20 home runs in 23 stolen bases in 115 games split between Double- and Triple-A. He'll fight for a job next spring and likely have one by midseason, and although he's an outstanding athlete with above-average power and speed, his alarming strikeout rate (138 in 431 at-bats this year) prevents scouts from seeing him as a true impact player in the big leagues. (Kevin Goldstein)
Cubs venture into Dustyville tonight with Rodrigo Lopez getting the start.
Jake Arrieta gives up first inning run
For the first time in a year, 33 starts.
Old news, sorry if it's 3/44-
J-Hey being classy by repaying an old teammate:
With Paredes moving to 3B, how do you see playing time shaking out between him and Galindo? Do you think Galindo gets starts at 1B? Galindo is more of a prospect than Paniagua, right?
Phil, your knowledge of the Cubs Minor League system is unbelievable.
This kid would be a key piece in a trade for a pitcher, imo.
This might be old news but Hammel was on ESPN 1000 and said that he changed his diet and workout routine over the off season and tweaked his delivery so it'd be more repeatable so he'd have a better second half. So...some cause for optimism anyway.
CHILDERS: RHSP Dylan Cease and LHSP Bryan Hudson are probably the top two SP prospects in the organization right now.
LHSP Jose Paulino has electric stuff (91-94 MPH fastball with sinking action and a mid-80's slider), but he also has trouble commanding it.
RHP Jose Albertos (2015 IFA - Mexico - $1.5M bonus) just turned 17 in November, and his fastball already sits at 95-96. He also throws a curve and a change-up, and is fairly advanced for a kid his age.
AZBOBBOP: Most of 2016 draft picks will get assigned to either Eugene or AZL Cubs, but the Opening Day Eugune roster will probably be almost 100% from the Extended Spring Training squad roster (pending the arrival of draft picks).
I think I can probably tell you which pitchers and players at EXST are in contention for roster slots at Eugene and which are in contention for slots with the AZL Cubs - AS THINGS STAND RIGHT NOW - (listed alphabetically):
* bats or throws left
# bats both
Eloy Jimenez atop the leader board for minor-league home runs in the Cub system, with seven. Tied with Balaguert and Vogelbach, two 24-year-olds. Jimenez won't be 20 until late November. Leads the Midwest League in SLG and OPS. Maybe he'll get promoted to the Myrtle Beach squad that visits Woodbridge, VA, in June or Frederick, MD, in August.
Watched two Pelican games at Frederick the other week. Was most impressed by Stinnett and Happ. Happ may swing harder than Javier Baez, though more compactly. (Also got to see Brockmeyer hit a bomb.)
E-MAN: Jose Paniagua isn't a string-bean, but I wouldn't say he necessarily bulked-up during the 2015-16 off-season either, He led the DSL Cubs in HR and doubles in 2014, and he showed XBH power when he arrived in Mesa last year, leading the AZL Cubs in HR, doubles, and RBI in 2015. It's just that he has taken his HR power to a new level this year.
Paniagua displayed plus-HR power in Cactus League Minor League Spring Training games in March, and that got him a slot on the South Bend Opening Day roster. But he was sent to EXST after only six MWL games.
More on the Cub Way.
Martinez is one of my least favorite pitchers in baseball. I'd love to see a game like yesterday's against him.
Send Soler down!
Awesome thanks AZ
Great report, Phil! This organization has so many hitters to be excited about.
Ben Zobrist is very enjoyable to watch!!!!!!