Where's Banks When You Need Him?


Baseball here, baseball there; baseball, baseball everywhere…

Friday night I got home from work as quick as I’m able, changed outfits and headed to the ballpark, arriving in the second inning of game one as the I-Cubs dug into the first of four games with the Nashville Sounds in barely 24 hours.

We went with a group of friends and sat at one of the picnic tables in the leftfield corner so I had neither my usual vantage point nor perspective. On the first pass of the cart-mounted mortar we scored an I-Cubs t-shirt. While Rodrigo Lopez labored to preserve the bullpen I worked my way through a lineup of hot dog, nachos, peanuts, soda and lemonade, looking up only at the crack of Tony Rizzo’s bat to watch #18 jump the center field wall. I seem to recall him later singling in the middle of a game-winning seventh (i.e., last) inning rally that first tied and ultimately won the first episode of the weekend marathon. It would not have been a good thing had the opener of the quad-stacker extended into extras.

Game two opened with me indigested, Corey Patterson penciled in as the Sounds’ leftfielder (batting seventh) and Rafael Dolis flirting with a pair of blondes along the short bullpen wall. While I fasted the Sounds cruised to a split of twinbill numero uno. Rafael went unscored upon later in the evening but I wonder if the same could be said for the two blondes.

I stayed away from the ballpark Saturday, opting instead for a day at the races; even dropping a couple of bucks I bet to show on a longshot named “Big Z” in the eighth race. Meanwhile, back at the ballpark, Iowa and Nashville split again with the I-Cubs taking the opener behind a complete-game 1-0 shutout authored by Brooks Raley before dropping the nightcap, 3-2. I was afraid the teams might be reduced to playing tee-ball at some point in their fourth game in two days but thanks to pretty sturdy starters both pitching staffs survived.

Yesterday I took a daytrip to Target Field to watch the big club become a 20-game winner. Try to think of their winning percentage as a batting average.

The Twins’ playground has already depreciated into just another with all the obnoxious bells and whistles that ensure a start-to-finish sensory bombardment whenever you dig deep enough to finance an outing to a big league venue. When they posted the lineups on the skyscraping Jumbotron before the game the Cubs’ struck me as a list of MLB’s Nine Least Wanted when I saw the names on that scale. Heart of the order = DeJesus, Soriano, Baker. Ye gods...

Dempster didn’t disappoint, outpitching Liriano to enable a rare win over an opposing southpaw. Castro seemed hobbled in scoring his third run of the day but he gamely shuffled back out to man his position and finish the game. Maybe he’s just tired. I know I am. Remember the flip side of the Meat Loaf hit: One Outta Three Ain't Good.

While the Cubs were salvaging the finale in Minneapolis the same stout breeze that was at our backs driving north was escorting Rizzo’s 19th and 20th over and out back home in Des Moines. Brett Jackson tagged one, too, operating out of the two-hole I noticed, just ahead of Rizzo. He’s been batting sixth against lefties of late while staying in his customary leadoff spot versus righties. Yesterday’s starter for Nashville was a right-hander. Jackson also swiped his 12th base. His 80 whiffs lead the PCL.

Tonight the I-Cubs open a series at home against the division-leading Omaha Storm Chasers, hoping to close the ten-game gap that separates the two clubs.




Joel Sherman tweet:

I hear the ‪#Cubs‬ won out for Jorge Soler. ‪#Yankees‬ tried, but didn't get him.


Goldstein: Source told me last night that he didn't think the Cubs had a ''choke point" on Soler, and would one-up any bid until he was theirs.

fwiw, Goldstein's scouting report on him.

Jorge Soler is a RF profile guy. BIG power, big arm, ok fielder, holes in swing. He's not historic and he's seen as ready for Low-A.

Rosenthal confirms signing.


The 2016 Cubs are gonna be fucking awesome!!!!

Potential middle of Cubs 2016 lineup:

3- Starlin Castro SS
4- Anthony Rizzo 1B
5- Javier Baez 2B
6 - Jorge Soler RF
7- Jeimer Candelerio 3B

depending on the actual MLB abilities of the infielders involved. In other words, maybe Castro at second, blah blah

EDIT: Or, this being the Cubs, trade all those names in for journeymen.

who's ready to pay $15m+ for castro?

not only can i not believe reyes got the deal he got with MIA, i'm blown away by how many people were calling it awesome.

yeah, he's great for a SS...for a SS...for a SS...but he got slugger money.

it's not as bad as theo's folly of paying a LF'r with leadoff skills like he's a 40hr 120rbi guy, but it's still a lot of money to pay just for position scarcity and i hope theocorp is done with that.

Okay, well, not exactly something to do cartwheels about, but at least its another prospect to watch in the Boise/Peoria box scores. It does feel good to beat out the Yankees, regardless of what it is. What is the over/under on his ACTUAL age? I put it at 23...

Jorge Soler is a RF profile guy. BIG power, big arm, ok fielder, holes in swing.

sounds like a young sam sosa...

Jim Bowden tweets a scouting grade; " 50 RUN, 65 ARM 65 PWR 45 HIT 55 FLD"

Heyman says 9 yrs/$30M.

I just got a phone alert and did a double take on the 9 years.

9 years is great, no rush to promote him and you basically have him for the bulk of his better years.

He'll be 29/30 when the deal is done.

We'll have to see what the structure is and if there any outs or options in there, but sounds great if he works out.

Not so great if he's a bust of course.

no surprise, but Keith Law saying Soler can opt out at some point and go through regular arbitration process.

If I'm giving $30M to a 20 year-old "ready for Low-A," I'd want to have him for 9 years as well.

i hope that's a current grade and not a projection grade.

Albert Almora has to feel a little pissed about the system.


While the focus on the Cubs system is firmly on the Triple-A team and the prospects that will arrive in Wrigley this year, Alcantara has turned into a pop-up guy in the system. With five hits over the weekend, the 20-year-old Dominican is now batting .291/.315/.417 in 60 games this season. There are some holes in his game, in particular an overly-aggressive plate approach and sloppy throwing mechanics that have contributed to 22 errors, but he's a line drive hitter with a quick bat, plus speed, and the tools to remain at short. Scouts see Alcantara as a good utility player, at the very least, and many give him a chance to be an everyday player if he continues to progress.

Prior struck out four batters on Friday, and in three appearances for the PawSox, he has now recorded 10 whiffs over 4 2/3 innings while allowing three hits and two walks. His fastball has gotten up to 93 mph, and one insider noted its deception as well; hitters are clearly having a difficult time picking the ball up out of his hand. He's 31 years old, however, and hasn't pitched in the big leagues since 2006. Prior could have easily hung them up years ago without any guilt, but there he is, in Rhode Island and missing bats. I don't think there's a player in the minors I'm rooting for more.


On a scouting level, Soler has a classic right-field profile. He's athletic, with at least average speed, and has decent instincts in center, which should serve him well in right, as well as a plus or better arm. His calling card offensively is raw power that has earned 70+ scores from scouts, but opinions are his pure hit tool are quite varied. There is clearly some swing and miss in his game, but he's shows the ability to make adjustments in international play. There is some stiffness to his swing, but it clearly has worked for him so far.

In the 2011 draft, Soler could have been a top ten pick. In the 2012 draft, he certainly would have been among the top eight, and likely top five.


Levine says he can opt out each year he is arb eligible essentially being able to weigh his guaranteed money vs. potential arb money.

That is not terrible... if he performs well enough to get more money through arbitration, he should be well worth the money.

So how many years before he becomes arb eligible? I have read AZ Phil's breakdowns of these things enough times that i should know the answer, but I'm afraid I don't....

Depends when he starts playing in the majors. But it's usually 3 years of service time, some players are eligible just shy of 3 years, aka Super 2's.

Well, he will not ecome arb eligible until he starts on the 40-man I believe. Thats gonna take some time.

Then, it is the following:

Player with less than 6 yrs service time is eligible
1. Witout a contract coming up
2. hes been tendered an offer by his xurrent team by the tender deadline, and he cannot...
3. agree with the current team on a new deal AND
4. meets this:
- has been on a roster or on the DL for at least 3yrs
- 2 yrs mlb service time (but less than 3), Has to be among top 17% for cumulative playing time in majors among his peers, and on a mlb roster for at LEAST 86 days in the previous season.

he actually got a deal that didn't put him on the 40-man?

about time and good job, theocorp...even though he'll probably have to be added after the season to protect him.

it's a major league deal, he'll be put on the 40-man immediately.

Cue the wailing and gnashing of teeth about the 40 man and losing the ryan flaherty's of the world.

No need to lose any more Ryan Flaherty's. We've got Johnson, Baker, Mather, Camp, etc.

he'd have to be protected after this season anyway.

...and the 40-man roster management has been...interesting.

no matter what anyone thinks of r.flaherty he instantly became the #1 bat target in the Rule 5 as soon as he wasn't protected...and that showed itself to be true. that's what was wierding out most people.

he probably still belongs in AAA, but that's BAL's issue now. at least the cubs took casey weathers off the 40-man because he had no business there to begin with.

Until they prove otherwise, I'll defer to the current front office about the 40 man roster and who to keep on and leave off as it's impacted by the signing of the Solers and Concepcions of the world. Because while there are the occassional Abreus and Santanas to be found, they're more typically largely fungible "assets" that have minimal impact. Or in other words, is there really a difference between Flaherty and Cardenas?

some of us believe there was plenty of fat to be cut off the 40-man before getting flaherty involved. two names have already been mentioned...there's more to some of us.

we're talking about a 2nd/3rd backup anyway...a guy that's good for 200-300ab's.

there's also the g.concepcion business...the money was weird, the 40-man assignment was weird...both of them together was "really?"

Am I gonna miss Blake Lalli?

Won't we all?


SB record for each minor league level

a virtual who's who of Hall of Famers*

*No Hall of Famers

unless they're playing SS or 2nd it's going to be hard to have a burner make the HOF without some good supporting stats on the bats. they usually flame out by their early-mid 30s, anyway.

also, lulz esnix snead...he's going to make the mets awesome in 2003!


Junior Lake obliterated a baseball on May 30th...

I assume he goes to Mesa for a couple of weeks and then reports to Boise or Peoria. This means AZ Phil will be seeing him every day for the next few weeks and I will be very interested in reading your thoughts Phil. Also, once the details of the contract become little more public I would like to see your thoughts on this arbitration thing and when the free agent clock starts ticking. A very interesting day for our Cubs.

Phil, my mind is working after this 9 year deal. Could this be the loophole in the new agreement. I realize there are no Major League contracts on the new deal, but is to prevent the boys from saying to Boras, here's the deal. You realize we can only give you the maximum for the slot, but how about if at the end of 2013' if you meet minimum goals we agree to sign you to a Major League deal at much higher money. I would be nterestedin knowing if that is doable under the new deal.

Mon, 06/11/2012 - 4:01pm — Rogers

Phil, my mind is working after this 9 year deal. Could this be the loophole in the new agreement. I realize there are no Major League contracts on the new deal, but is to prevent the boys from saying to Boras, here's the deal. You realize we can only give you the maximum for the slot, but how about if at the end of 2013' if you meet minimum goals we agree to sign you to a Major League deal at much higher money. I would be nterestedin knowing if that is doable under the new deal.


ROGER: First-year international players (that is, players from outside the U. S. and Canada who have not previously signed a minor league or MLB contract) can be signed to a major league contract through July 1st.

Starting on July 2nd, first-year international free-agents can be signed only to minor league contracts, unless the player is at least 23 years old and has spent all or parts of at least five separate seasons in a recognized foreign "major" league (but only a minimum of three years in a foreign "major" league for Cuban players age 23 and older).

So as long as he signs by July 1st, the Cubs can sign Soler to a major league contract, and the bonus and salary do not count against the International Signing Bonus Pool (ISBP) that goes into effect on July 2.

rotowurld blurb

"Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that Derrek Lee is still open to playing this season in the "right opportunity.""

I-Cubs just tied the score 7-7 in the bottom 7th...

BJax (batting 2nd) 1-4, 1 run, 1K
Rizzo 3-4, 2runs, 4rbi, 1K, TWO HR's including a 3 run HR in the 5th and a ground rule double down the RF line that bounced over the wall.
Vitters 2-3, 1 run, 1rbi, including a double and an intentional walk.

Geo Soto caught 5 innings, 0-2 but scored on the 3 run blast by Rizzo.

JJax pitching himself out of the last embers of prospect status: 3.2 IP, 11H, 7R (all earned), 3BB, 5K

Just putting this in here for archival purposes. It's sure to come up again in 5 years.

Peter Gammons‏@pgammo
The Braves were right there with the Cubs @$30M on Jorge Soler, with the White Sox and Yankes between $25M and the Cubs @ $30M

Recent comments

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  • That was good!

  • Well said. On one hand, I thought the HBP was a bad baseball play -- down 4 runs, put a runner on for a red-hot Fowler. On the other hand, they needed to do something -- I hadn't thought about the warning/pitching inside point. Is Hurdle that smart? He does not strike me that way. By the way -- not clear which fan base you are referring to in your "first" 3rd point.

  • My unsolicited opinions on topics covered in this thread:
    1. I hate the fact that after 162 games, a team could be out after 1 game. However, I think the system is pretty close to perfect right now. 2 of 3 isn't feasible unless they shorten the regular season, and it ices the division winners for way too long. This creates excitement, and rewards the division winners.

  • Personally, I think the game could have had a very different look had the Pirates held onto the ball and tagged Fowler out on the steal in the first. Cole was clearly frazzled, but if they took that runner off the base, it could have relaxed him a lot.

  • Football games are played once a week. There are 16 games a year. I'm not even remotely following at all how you can compare the two leagues and playoff systems. It is physically impossible to play a home and away series. The idea of not having any road games in baseball playoffs is certainly a head scratcher.

    How is not having the first and last game at home a benefit for the division winners and team with the best record? How is it not an incentive to win the division when a WC team has to blow their top pitcher?

    Call me lost.

  • Two 97+ win teams in a do-or-die, great bullpens, overpowering starters, plenty of pop--hard to believe that game wouldn't be tense. A 4-0 lead is not a blowout, especially in that situation and with the Cubs' young bullpen. Not only would a defensive play here or there make a difference, but you get the win there also on the home plate umps strike zone (generous strike calls for Arrieta, including a couple Ks), and on Schwarber sitting on the right pitch at the right time.

  • Unbeleivable Dodgers:
    I just noticed the Dodger's payroll today. It is just absurd. $300,000,000+!!
    Here is where just some of their money is for 2015:


    Some "Highlights"
    Carl Crawford $20MM
    Brandon McCarthy $17MM
    Bronson Arroyo $3.5MM
    Darwin B $2.2MM
    Dan Haren $10MM
    Matt Kemp $18MM
    Brian Wilson $10MM
    Ryan Webb $2.2MM
    Dee Gordon $2.5MM

  • So I think tomorrow will be the most important test of how far we can go. We can win it all with two pitchers since Arietta has shown he can carry over his success to the post season. If Lester can be dominant also then I think we can go far no matter how Hendricks or Hammel do.


    And in terms of pitching just went through to see how we could maximize Lester and Arietta and came up with this (Lester would be going on 4 days rest three times and Arietta twice):

  • i still can't believe that crawford contract (7/142). all that loot and years for a LF'r who's entire hitting game revolves around his legs and line-drive power. those triples that raised his value are deceptive as hell to his true power, but it helped him get paid.

    there's also pause about a guy who's ob% is almost totally driven by hits rather than walks. BOS got lucky unloading that crap deal.

  • I think the Cubs take Berry and Soler off playoff roster and add Hammel & Ramirez. Believe Maddon will find Denorfia & Jackson defense too hard to lose.

  • O & B: I like the one-game Wild Card heart attack game, but I'd actually like to see a best two-out-of-three LDS played in the home parks of the two division winners with the best records, and then the LCS as a best two-out-of-three in the home park of the division winner left standing with the best record, and then let's get to the World Series already. 

  • I...don't know. If chanting would help the Cubs beat the Cardinals in the next series or ultimately the World Series I think I'd be ok with it lol. I'm not supportive of saying insulting things to opposing fans or throwing things but loud noise and chanting seems appropriate to me.

    I also grew up in France though and that kind of thing is par for the course at soccer and rugby matches and I love it. I find crowds too passive here.

  • Er, they won the first one. My bad. Carry on.

  • With last night's win in Pittsburgh, the Cubs have tied the Pirates with 98 wins, and are only 2-1/2 games behind the Cardinals. No reason why the Cubs can't finish the post-season with the best winning percentage in baseball (regular season & post-season combined).