No News is Good News...I Guess
It certainly has been a rather drama free first week of camp, which doesn't give me much to react to...but I'll do my best.
- A Dave Kaplan tweet says Dale Sveum would bat Starlin Casto third if the season started today. I have no problem with that. I do have a problem with that leading to Darwin Barney probably batting second. Hopefully the front office can talk some sense into him or he'll set a record for losing the benefit of the doubt by fans like me rather quickly. If that is the case, I presume the lineup could look like this against righties: DeJesus, Barney (gag), Castro, LaHair, Soriano, Stewart, Byrd, Soto.
I'd prefer Castro batting second, but if Sveum insists on him batting third, I'd rather see: DeJesus, Byrd, Castro, LaHair, Soriano, Stewart, Soto, Barney.
- An article on Ryan Flaherty's chances of sticking with the Baltimore Orioles.
- Sveum on what he's looking for in a back-up catcher, "[Handedness] matters, but it’s not the final piece of the puzzle,” Sveum said. “The guy who will work and be able to handle pitchers is the biggest thing when it comes down to it.”
That should be one of the spring training battles which from what I can tell come down to the following:
Back-up Catcher: Steve Clevenger, Welington Castillo and Jason Jaramillo
4th/5th Starter: Figure Garza, Dempster and Maholm are locked in leaving Chris Volstad, Travis Wood, Randy Wells, Andy Sonnastine and Jeff Samardzija fighting for 2 spots.
5th OF: Soriano, Byrd, DeJesus, Johnson take up the first four with Tony Campana, Dave Sappelt and Joe Mather battling for a spot.
Back-up Middle Infielder: LaHair, Barney, Castro, Stewart and Baker seem locked in leaving Adrian Cardenas, Blake DeWitt, Matt Tolbert, Edgar Gonzalez and even Bobby Scales fighting it out.
Bullpen: I suspect Marmol, Wood, Russell and Samardzija are locked in. That leaves 3 spots open for the likes of Scott Maine, Jeff Beliveau, John Gaub, Trever Miller, Marcus Mateo, Manny Corpas, Rodrigo Lopez, Casey Coleman, Lendy Castillo and whomever loses out on the starter jobs if they don't get optioned, traded or released.
Obviously a spot on the 40-man gives a player the edge and then it'll be a mix of how they look in spring training versus what Sveum and his coaches feel the team needs and what the player needs (more development time, major league experience, speed, handedness, etc).
If I had to guess today: Jaramillo, Volstad and T. Wood, Campana, Cardenas and Maine, Corpas and either Lopez, Sonnastine or Wells for the swingman job (in order of likelihood).
- The Cubs are half way through the second round of the bunting tourney, here are the 8 that have advanced with 8 more second round match-ups to go.
(1) Beliveau vs. (12) McNutt
(2) Coleman vs. (14) Rusin
(4) Lalli vs. (9) Cardenas
(3) W. Castillo vs. (10) Clevenger
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!!!!!!
given that he seems to only be throwing low 90s these days rather than the 93-96mph he used to throw, along with his wildness issues this year, he may end up passing through.
i dunno if something is wrong with him physically or his past shoulder issues has rendered him what he currently is, but he's been throwing a lot of sliders he can't control well and his fastball isn't as sharp. even when his slider wasn't working in a game he was still throwing a lot of them.
Any scuttlebutt on where Neil Ramirez gets traded?
He seems better than some of the relievers on competitive teams. He ought to bring more than the waiver fee.
My guess? Toronto.