Can I Get You a Cup of Coffee?

This is the time of the year when MLB clubs begin to rearrange the deck-chairs, as contenders look to solidify their post-season rosters with a last minute waiver deal or two prior to the August 31st post-season roster eligibility deadline, and clubs that are out of contention bring up players from the minors to get a look at guys who might (or might not) have a future with the club.   

Cubs possible September call-ups and roster additions: 

Luis Valbuena (oblique) will likely be reinstated from the 15-day DL on or about 9/1, but if it turns out Valbuena is unable to return this season, he could be transferred from the 15-day DL to the 60-day DL if a 40-man roster slot is needed for Ryan Sweeney and Scott Baker. Both Sweeney (if he isn't traded by 8/31) and Baker (if he completes his minor league rehab assignment without another setback) could be reinstated from the 60-day DL on or about September 1st (although reinstating Sweeney and Baker would require one player presently on the 40-man roster to be dropped, either by trade, release, or outright assignment to the minors, or by a 60-day DL assignment),

J. C. Boscan (presently on an Optional Assignment at AAA Iowa) is probably a lock to be recalled on September 1st or at the close of the PCL season (clubs almost always add a third catcher in September), as are Justin Grimm, Eduardo Sanchez, Brooks Raley, Mike Olt, and Alberto Cabrera (who will be out of minor league options in 2013 and thus needs to be closely evaluated at the big league level ASAP). Josh Vitters probably would have been another recall (and he still might be), but he's back on the DL at Iowa with hamstring issues.

It's also possible that if an additional 40-man roster slot is at least temporarily available next month due to trades or injuries, that the Cubs could give someone like Iowa closer Brian Schlitter a look. Schlitter has previous big league experience with the Cubs, and he has battled back from TJS and other physical issues. However, if the Cubs were to call-up Schlitter (which would require him to be added to the MLB 40-man roster), he would have to be really impressive to survive. 

There are presently 39 players on the Cubs MLB Reserve List, and another eight on the 60-day DL. (Players on the 60-day DL must be reinstated by 5 PM on the 5th day following the conclusion of the World Series).

Of the 47 (39 on the 40 and eight on ther 60), there are five players who will be Ariticle XX-B MLB free-agents after the conclusion of the 2013 World Series: 

CUBS ARTICLE XX-B MLB FREE-AGENTS POST-2013:
Scott Baker, RHP 
Kevin Gregg, RHP
Matt Guerrier, RHP
Dioner Navarro, C
Ryan Sweeney, OF  

Of the five, Kevin Gregg is probably the most-likely to be traded this month. Most clubs in contention want to cement their bullpen with veteran relievers with closer experience, and Gregg certainly fits that description. The Cubs will likely be building their future bullpen around Pedro Strop and a collection of young arms, so Gregg really has no future with the Cubs (and he just barely has a present). So if the Cubs can pick-up a young arm with potential--even if it's a "lottery" type prospect from the DSL--they probably will move Gregg by the August 31 deadline.    

Dioner Navarro would have value to any contending club looking to simultaneously upgrade their catching depth and their bench. He also actually would have some value to the Cubs over the next two or three years, too, since there isn't much in the way of MLB catching prospects in the Cubs system at this time. As I have mentioned before, I believe Rafael Lopez is probably the one minor league guy who might realistically project as an MLB catcher, but even he would probably be nothing more than a LH-hitting back-up catcher at the big league level. Lopez is already 25 years old (he turns 26 in October) and has yet to play above AA (although he was an all-star at that level this season), and it's not like he'll be big league ready in 2014. (Lopez was a third-baseman at Boston College and at Indian River JC, and then was converted to catcher after he transferred to Florida State... the Cubs drafted him as a 23-year old 5th year senior in 2011, so he won't be Rule 5 eligible until post-2014).   

Ryan Seweney was placed on the 60-Day DL with a rib injury on June 30th, so he is eligible to be reinstated from the 60-day DL on August 29th, just in time to get traded to a contender. Now he will have to prove he is is healthy before the Cubs can place him on Trade Waivers, probably by going on a minor league rehab assignment next week. Then once he proves that he's healthy enough to play, the Cubs could put him on Trade Waivers on August 29th, and he would clear waivers at 1 PM (Eastern) on August 31st. Whether is is claimed or not claimed, the Cubs could trade Sweeney by the midnight deadline on August 31st, but if he is claimed the Cubs would be restricted to trading him to just one club (the club that claims him). 

Scott Baker (April 2012 TJS rehab) just began a second minor league rehab assignment at Daytona this week, and maybe this time he'll get through it without being shut-down. Baker signed a one-year $5.5M deal with the Cubs last off-season, but he has yet to throw an inning at the big league level this year. There has been talk that Baker would like to come back to the Cubs in 2014, but hopefully this time the Cubs will be smart enough not to give him so much guaranteed money. Maybe it would be better to sign him to a minor league contract with an NRI to Spring Training instead of giving him a major league contract and a spot on the 40-man roster, too.

Matt Guerrier underwent season-ending elbow surgery last week, and will likely miss the next nine months. Guerrier has said that he would like to return to the Cubs in 2014, and that is probably a distinct possibility, since he could sign a 2014 minor league contract and spend the first-half of next season rehabbing at the Cubs new Spring Training & minor league facility at Riverview Park in Mesa. The Cubs have done this in the past with their own minor league free-agents who were rehabbing from surgeries, re-signing guys like Justin Berg and Marcos Mateo to minor league contracts for their rehab season. 

So five slots on the 40-man roster should become available post-2013, once Baker, Gregg, Guerrier, Navarro, and Sweeney are declared free-agents on the day after the conclusion of the World Series (if they haven't already been traded).    

In addition to the five post-2013 Article XX-B MLB free-agents, there are also ten Cubs players eligible for salary arbitration post-2013:

CUBS ELIGIBLE FOR SALARY-ARBITRATION POSt-2013:
Darwin Barney, INF - $2.5M?
Darnell McDonald, OF - $1M?
Donnie Murphy, INF - $1M?
Cody Ransom, INF - $1M?
James Russell, LHP - $2M?
Jeff Samardzija, RHP - $7M?
Nate Schierholtz, OF- $4M?
Pedro Strop, RHP ("Super Two") - $1.5M?
Luis Valbuena, INF - $1.5M?
Travis Wood, LHP - $3.5M?

Arbitration-eligibles are usually the guys who get non-tendered in December, either because the club wants the player back in the mix for the next season but ONLY if the player agrees to sign a minor league contract (usually with an NRI to Spring Training), or because the club does not want to risk losing in an arbitration hearing.  

Of the ten post-2013 arbitration-eligibles, Samardzija, Schierholtz, Wood, Barney, Russell, Strop, and Valbuena are likely to be tendered contracts, while McDonald, Murphy, and Ransom are not, although any or all of the latter three could be non-tendered on 12/2 and then offered 2014 minor league contracts (with an NRI to Spring Training)

Among the remaining 32 players players presently on the Cubs 40-man roster or 60-day DL, six are already signed for 2014: 

CUBS PLAYERS SIGNED FOR 2014:
Edwin Jackson, RHP - $11M 
Starlin Castro, SS - $5M
Carlos Villanueva, RHP - $5M
Kyuji Fujikawa, RHP - $4M (plus $2M in potential performance bonuses related to GF)
Jorge Soler, OF - $2M
Anthony Rizzo, 1B - $1.75M (plus $1.25M deferred signing bonus)

Unless Fujikawa (who underwent TJS in May) is outrighted to the minors post-2013 (as an NPB veteran he probably has a "no minor league assignment" clause in his contract) or somebody gets traded, all six of the signed players should remain on the Cubs 40-man roster into the 2014 season.

That leaves 26 players presently on the Cubs 40-man roster or 60-day DL who are not signed for 2014, not eligible to be an Article XX-B MLB free-agent, and not eligible for salary arbitration. These players are the guys who are under club control, where the club essentially can dictate the player's salary (albeit restricted by minimum salary limits):

CUBS PLAYERS PRE-ARBITRATION/AUTO-RENEWAL POSt-2013:
Jake Arrieta, RHP 
Brian Bogusevic, OF
J. C. Boscan, C
Michael Bowden, RHP
Alberto Cabrera, RHP
Welington Castillo, C  
Rafael Dolis, RHP
Cole Gillespie, OF
Justin Grimm, RHP  
Brett Jackson, OF 
Junior Lake, OF
Trey McNutt, RHP 
Thomas Neal, OF
Mike Olt, 3B
Blake Parkjer, RHP
Zach Putnam, RHP 
Brooks Raley, LHP 
Hector Rondon, RHP
Chris Rusin, LHP
Eduardo Sanchez, RHP
Dave Sappelt, OF
Matt Szczur, OF
Christian Villanueva, 3B
Josh Vitters, IF-OF
Arodys Vizcaino, RHP
Logan Watkins, INF 

These are also the players who have a minor league "split salary" in their contract, where the player is paid one salary if he is on the 25-man roster or on an MLB Disabled List (minimum goes up to $500K per year beginning in 2014, pro-rated to the number of days the player spends on an MLB 25-man roster or MLB 15-day, 60-day, or 7-day Disabled List), and a significantly lesser salary if he is on Optional Assignment to the minors (about $40,000 per year pro-rated for players on the 40-man roster for the first time, and about $80,000 per year pro-rated for the others).  

Of the 26 listed here, I would say six (Bogusevic, Boscan, Gillespie, Neal, Putnam, and Sappelt) are virtual locks to get outrighted to the minors after the season. (Sappelt cannot be a minor league FA post-2013 if he is outrighted, but the others can be either per MLB Rule 55 or Article XX-D of the CBA). Combined with the five MLB Article XX-B free-agents (Baker, Gregg, Guerrier, Navarro, and Sweeney) and the three arbitration-eligibles likely to be non-tendered (McDonald, Murphy, and Ransom), the Cubs should have 33 slots on their 40-man roster commited post-2013. 

That leaves seven slots available for any post-2013 minor league free-agent the Cubs might not want to lose, as well for minor league players eligible for selection in the December 2013 Rule 5 Draft who the Cubs might want to protect:

ARTICLE XX-D CUBS MINOR LEAGUE FREE-AGENTS POST-2013:
Henry Rodriguez, RHP
NOTE: An Article XX-D player can elect free-agency beginning on the day after the conclusion of the MLB regular season up through October 15th, unless the player is added to an MLB 40-man roster prior to electing free-agency  

MLB RULE 55 CUBS MINOR LEAGUE FREE-AGENTS POST-2013
:

NOTE: MLB Rule 55 minor league players are automatically declared free-agents at 5 PM (Eastern) on the 5th day following the conclusion of the World Series, unless the player is added to an MLB 40-man roster prior to that time.


SIX-YEAR MINOR LEAGUE FREE-AGENT
:
Jeffry Antigua, LHP
Kyler Burke, LHP
Alex Burnett, RHP
Yeiper Castillo, RHP
Jaye Chapman, RHP
Johermyn Chavez, RHP (ex-OF)
Dayan Diaz, RHP
Eduardo Figueroa, RHP
Edgar Gonzalez, INF
Marcus Hatley, RHP
Marcos Mateo, RHP
Edwin Maysonet, INF
Jonathon Mota, INF
Brad Nelson, 1B
Nate Samson, IF-OF
Tim Torres, IF-OF
Casey Weathers, RHP
Ty Wright, OF

SECOND-CONTRACT MINOR LEAGUE FREE-AGENT
Michael de la Cruz, RHP (was previously released by TEX)
Carlos Figueroa, INF (player-coach - was previously released by CHC)
Humberto Garcia, INF (was previously released by CHW)
Nate Maldonado, C (player-coach - was previously released by CHC)
Yomar Pacheco, RHP (was previously released by PIT)
Brohiglyn Rivero, RHP (was previously released by TB)
Orbandy Rodriguez, RHP (AKA "Manuel Gil" - was previously released by AZ)
Roberto Vahlis, C (was previously released by TOR)

Of these 27 players (one Article XX-D, 18 6YFA, and eight second-contracts), LHP Kyler Burke is the one most-likely to get added to the Cubs MLB 40-man roster post-2013. Burke might get assigned to the AFL (Mesa Solar Sox) as an audition for inclusion, but I doubt very much that any of the others listed above will be added to the 40. That doesn't mean that some of them won't return to the Cubs organization in 2014 (usually about half of a club's minor league free-agents sign minor league successor contracts), but it becomes a "mutual option" if the player is not added to the club's MLB 40-man roster by the deadline. Also, any minor league free-agent who signs a minor league successor contract prior to the Rule 5 Draft is eligible for selection. BTW, that's how the Cubs ended up with Hector Rondon... he was a 6YFA post-2012, the Indians re-signed him to a successor contract for 2013, and then the Cubs selected him in the Rule 5 Draft. So that's the chance a club takes when it signs (or re-signs) a minor league FA prior to the Rule 5 Draft.       

So if Burke is added to the 40 post-2013, that would leave six slots open.

Next we look at Cubs minor leaguers who are eligible for selection in the December 2013 Rule 5 Draft.  

CUBS ELIGIBLE FOR MLB RULE 5 DRAFT POST-2013:
Arismendy Alcantara, INF
Gioskar Amaya, INF
Frank Batista, RHP
Dallas Beeler, RHP
Julio Borbon, OF
Justin Bour, 1B
Marcelo Carreno, RHP
Lendy Castillo, RHP
Javier Castro, RHP
Zach Cates, RHP
Hunter Cervenka, LHP
Pin-Chieh Chen, OF
Casey Coleman, RHP
Gerardo Concepcion, LHP
Willson Contreras, C
Wes Darvill, INF
Antonio Encarnacion, RHP
Luis Flores, C
Anthony Giansanti, OF
Enyel Gonzalez, RHP
Carlos Gutierrez, RHP
Jae-Hoon Ha, OF
Marco Hernandez, INF
Eric Jokisch, LHP
Austin Kirk, LHP
Matt Loosen, RHP
Jeff Lorick, LHP
Eric Martinez, RHP
A. J. Morris, RHP
Chad Noble, C
Loiger Padron, RHP
Juan Carlos Paniagua, RHP (see NOTE)
Amaury Paulino, RHP
Felix Pena, RHP
Starling Peralta, RHP
Dae-Eun Rhee, RHP
Greg Rohan, INF
Jose Rosario, RHP
Zac Rosscup, LHP
Victor Salazar, RHP
Brian Schlitter, RHP
Ryan Searle, RHP
Elliot Soto, INF,
Nick Struck, RHP
Luis Villalba, LHP
Yao-Lin Wang, RHP
Oliver Zapata, OF
NOTE: Juan Carlos Paniagua signed his first contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks as "Juan Callado" on 5-8-2009 and pitched for the DSL Diamondbacks in the Dominican Summer League in 2009-10, but the contract was "pending" for almost two years and was never officially approved by MLB. The contract was eventually rejected by MLB due to "fraudulent paperwork" and Paniagua (Callado) was suspended for one year and then was declared a free-agent. He signed with the New York Yankees in March 2011 but then was suspended again and that contract was rejected, too, because his birth certificate could not be verified. Paniagua was cleared by MLB in 2012 and he signed with the Cubs on 7-9-2012. Therefore, Paniagua could be eligible for selection in the Rule 5 Draft for the first time in December 2013, since 2009 was his "first season" on the field, and he was 18 on the June 5th immediately preceding the signing of his first contract, or he might not be eligible for selection in the Rule 5 Draft for the first time until December 2015 if 2012 is considered Paniagua's "first season" for Rule 5 eligibility purposes.

So at present there are 47 players eligible for selection (48 if MLB declares Paniagua eligible), and of that group, three or four will likely be added to the Cubs 40-man roster by the November 20th deadline:  

Arismendy Alcantara (virtual lock)
Jae-Hoon Ha (likely)
Zac Rosscup, (likely)
Juan Carlos Paniagua (but only if he is declared eligible for selection by MLB - TBD)

It's possible that the Cubs could decide to add another starting pitcher to the 40 (like maybe Loosen, Jokisch, or Beeler), but that would probably happen only if the pitcher throws "lights out" in the AFL, or in Winter Ball prior to the 11/20 deadline.

So if the Cubs add three or four post-2013 Rule 5 eligibles to their 40-man roster, that would leave two or three slots open for a Rule 5 draft pick and/or an MLB free-agent or two.   

Keep in mind that Rule 5 eligible players (which technically also includes minor league free-agents like Burke) who are added to an MLB 40-man roster after August 15th have "Draft-Excluded Status" and cannot be outrighted back to the minors during most of the off-season, so if additional roster slots are needed for a Rule 5 pick or free-agents signing major league contracts December-January-February, the Cubs would have to either release a Draft-Excluded Player or release or outright a pre-arbitration/auto-renewal guy (like Rafael Dolis, Eduardo Sanchez, Michael Bowden, and/ or Hector Rondon). 

 

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Comments

Phil's knowledge is amazing!

PHIL: I like all of the ???

Personally, I really do not expect the Cubs to keep around all of the the Arb-Eligibles.

Cody Ransom is just terrible.

Darwin Barney is a black hole on offense now. He will get traded to a team that is solid offensively, and just want a solid up-the-middle infield.

Darnell McDonald, OF - $1M? - You gotta be kidding?

Donnie Murphy, INF - $1M? More plausible for the bench. But he is playing "out of his skull" right now.

James Russell, LHP - $2M? - I think they will go to $1.75MM, and also will be looking to trade him.

Jeff Samardzija, RHP - $7M? He is no "ACE". I surely hope they do not pay him like one. The EJax contract already blows. One of those is enough!

Nate Schierholtz, OF- $4M? I am a "Nate" fan and hope they can work out a reasonable deal.

Pedro Strop, RHP ("Super Two") - $1.5M? The "sleeper" of the Feldman trade.

Luis Valbuena, INF - $1.5M? Let him take over for all-glove/no-hit Barney, until Alcantara makes it up to the big club.

Travis Wood, LHP - $3.5M? - The star of the rotation - I hope they sign him to a 3/4-yr deal.

- Edit - I think it woud be great if they could keep Navarro for another year. Sorta like Hank White II with more pop.

270 miles from DC...

amount of WAS games on cable/DTV/Dish all season even with full sports packages: 0

thanks MLB blackout rules.

How about on iPad?

i have the cable MLB EI package, not the internet one.

...though unfortunately i do have an iPad...which, even as a present, i consider a monumental waste of money with a user/data interface created by satan (not being able to directly manage + drag/drop files without going through a piece of software (ITunes, etc) is just sad).

I love being able to watch games on my ipad. The quality of the video is excellent. I haven't found much of a need for drag and drop - I use my laptop for that kind of stuff anyway. i use my ipad more as a reader/video thing.

Oh yeah, it's great so long as you don't live too close to Chicago... apparently 3 1/2 hours is close enough for me to be blacked out. I steal Cubs baseball game video feeds online. *middle finger* MLB. Don't blame me, blame your antiquated blackout insanity.

New cleanup hitter gets a 3 run bomb. Lake infield deflected double, Barney bunt/advances Lake, Navarro walk...the n Schierholtz.

new #2 hitter is old/failed #2 hitter...

...which is probably why he was bunting with 0 outs in the 1st inning.

Phil - we traded DeJesus for a PTBNL. Can you tell us the rules for a PTBNL? Do they have to be on the 40 man roster?

http://www.thecubreporter.com/restrictions-trading-players

6. If a "Player to Be Named Later" (PTBNL) is part of a trade, the PTBNL cannot be on an MLB 25-man roster (MLB Active List) at any time starting when the trade is executed up until the PTBNL is announced. Clubs have six months to agree on a PTBNL. A cash payment (typically $50,000 for trades involving players on the 40-man roster) can be substituted for a PTBNL if no agreement can be reached within six months.

up in the navigation bar under AZ Phil's Corner->MLB Roster Rules: you can find most of that sort of stuff...it's quite thorough.

j.lake...quit bunting. k, thnx.

sureholds 2HR night...18 on the year...along with 25 doubles...in 346 ab.

wonder how much he's gonna cost next year...

murph with 2HR, too...cuz why not.

6hr in 44ab.

Four batters in your lineup go 0-4, still score 11 runs...

Castro, McDonald, Ransom, Samardzija were:
0-16, 5 K, 0 BB

The rest of the lineup:
9-16, 2 K, 3 BB, 5 HR

olt 1-3 (single), 1bb 1k

rosscup 0.1ip 1h 2bb 0k, 1r/0er

Az Phil

What are the odds Theo makes a offer to Jacob Ellsbary as a free agent.

Pretty sure TheJedi have a policy of no deals over 4/5 years and I'm sure Boras will be looking for much more.

Also, 2011 Ellsbury isn't walking through that door, 30-year old Ellsbury isn't going to be anywhere near worth a 6/100 deal or whatever he foolishly ends up getting from the Arte Moreno :)

Actually not sure who the big spenders are going to be for an outfielder, Red Sox want him back I'm sure but at a far more reasonable number. Be surprised if  Dodgers, Angels or Tigers would have much interest. Maybe Giants...maybe Yanks if they part ways with Granderson.

My feeling is the Cubs aren't interested in blocking any youngsters at this point with vets on long contracts, but you never know.

Here's a list of potential FA's btw

http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2012/02/2014-mlb-free-agents.html

this is shaping up to be one of the weakest FA classes in years...which has me concerned about where theocorp will actually spend their free'd up money.

this horrible pen needs help...it's a 2-man pen right now (russell/strop) and strop hasn't shown signs of being worth a damn aside from raw stuff until he was traded to the NL. ...well, fuji was promising, but last i heard he probably won't be ready until mid-2014.

ninja/t.wood/ejax/arrieta/???-rusin-coleman-grimm-???...i imagine they'll try to fill the 5 slot in the offseason (hopefully with more than #5 slot talent) unless rusin keeps doing whatever the hell he's doing that keeps being somehow effective.

the bats market is weak as hell aside from cano (which i doubt will happen) and choo + ellsbury (which has a better chance of happening). i'd actually be surprised to see cano make it to the FA market...and given how much CIN has invested in their team along with where they're at with their pitching, i'd be surprised to see choo make it to the FA market, too.

ultimately, i doubt they'll pick up choo or ellsbury...or cano...even if they make the FA market.

i'm looking forward a lot more to what theo/jed may do in the trade market this offseason over the FA market when it comes to possible impact bats (if they even get involved in looking for one). i await g.stanton's arrival in 2014... =p

It's also *possible* Scott Baker is in the mix next year. Not probable by any means AND if he is successful in coming all the way back from TJS, he might just be another trade deadline minnow.

I like Choo a lot, especially as a RF, but if I was the Cubs, I wouldn't go more than 4 years, while I think some other win-now teams (like the Reds) probably will. A couple months ago I would have thought that the better plan is a 1-year deal for Beltran. Unfortunately, his BB% is down big-time, his OBP is only being sustained right now by an elevated BABIP, and UZR absolutely hates his defense this year, so the cliff might have finally arrived.

Whatever they do, I hope they take some money to spread around 4-6 relievers and hopefully get useful performance out of 2 of the 3. Al/BCB did an interesting article a month or two ago about the 16 or 17 in-system guys who the Cubs will look at for the pen next year, and if you let your imagination run wild, it's conceivable the team could build a successful in-house bullpen.

you learned nothing from Howry, Eyre, Hawkins? It so rarely works to spend money on set-up men...

You're talking about buying stocks. I'm talking about buying lottery tickets.

"this is shaping up to be one of the weakest FA classes in years...which has me concerned about where theocorp will actually spend their free'd up money."

Rennovations? Lawyers? :)

How much does a hitman cost these days? I'm kind of out of the loop.......Beth Murphy.

A hit person (let's be politically correct about this, women are certainly capable partners in this endeavor) will cost you anywhere from $1,000 to $2 million, depending on the target and the reputation of the hit person. You see? There is no information that is not available on TCR.

Shit. I'm in the wrong line of work.

P.S. Dear NSA "meta-information" web crawling algorithms: The above comment is sarcasm. Further investigation/wiretapping not necessary.

What's sad is that I actually considered the NSA thing before writing that, and realized all they'll find is Weiner-type selfies, so I'm good!!

ROKFISH: I don't think the Cubs will go after Ellsbury or any high-profile FA position-player post-2013. 


Javier Baez, Jorge Soler, Mike Olt, Arismemdy Alcantara, Christian Villanueva, and possibly Kris Bryant will likely be arriving in Chicago sometime next season, and I just don't think the Cubs are going to make any multi-year commitments to high-profile position-player free-agents until they can sort out the prospects and how the pieces fit together, andf it might take a year or two to do that. 


I would say post-2015 is when the Cubs might start to look at signing a FA position-player.


That said, I would expect the Cubs to continue to pursue under-30 FA starting pitchers after this season and after next season, as they did with Anibal Sanchez and Edwin Jackson last off-season.  


I've mentioned this before, but the one position player I think the Cubs could comfortably re-sign for two or three years is Dioner Navarro. Other than MAYBE Rafael Lopez, there just isn't any catching prospect in the system who projects to play in the big leagues over the next three seasons, and so I think a Castillo-Navarro combo behind the plate would be a good thing to keep together for two or three more years. BTW, Navarro is only 29 years old.


One other thing...


If the Cubs do not sign any free-agents during the off-season, as things stand right now the Cubs 2014 MLB payroll (including players with "split contracts" on optional assigmment to the minors, the second installment of Rizzo's signing bonus, and the $13M Soriano "legacy" payment) will be AT MOST $75M.

"Javier Baez, Jorge Soler, Mike Olt, Arismemdy Alcantara, Christian Villanueva, and possibly Kris Bryant will likely be arriving in Chicago sometime next season."

I highly doubt this. Really, what are the chances that SIX prospects are going to advance that much to make their way to the majors? Especially since Olt is struggling terrible, Soler has played only 50 games this year due to an injury, Bryant will have just a half season this year of professional experience, and Alcantara and Villanueva are hitting in the .260s at AA.

This is the regime that made Rizzo play a full half-season at AAA before calling him up and he was hitting .342 / .405 / .696 at the time!

Those guys are all going to get consistent minor league reps next year and there is no point in losing years of club control in a lost season like next year.

If Olt rebounds in spring training, he will certainly be given a shot, because he has already played in the majors and others at his position are pushing him. And if Baez has a half season at AAA next year like he has had a AA this year he will be called up. We might see another get a late season call-up depending on who gets traded or injured, etc. But that would be about all that I would guess.

Another season of Darwin Barney at @bb Vs Alcantara...discuss...

I'm a big Alcantara fan, and not big on Barney. But Alcantara is hitting .268 at AA has a decent but not outstanding OBP, has surprising pop for a little guy but is not a real power hitter, and has decent speed but is not an elite base stealer. And while most like his defense, he's not likely to out defend Barney right now. I agree with Phil and the rest that he should start at AAA next season.

I'd love to see him make a bit more contact while maintaining the BB% and SLG. Won't turn 22 until Oct. 29.

How much will Barney make next season? $2.5 million+?

BOB R: Darwin Barney is arbitration eligible for the first time post-2013 so his 2014 salary is TBD, but I would predict it to be $2.5M.

The thing about Barney is that if he remains with the Cubs, he will probably very soon morph into a utility infielder. And he would be making too much money for that job, and it would be very difficult to cut him without non-tendering him post-2014, and once he's non-tendered, he could just sign with another club where he might have a chance to get more playing time and/or more money. 

So I would expect Barney to be moved at the trade deadline next July, or else non-tendered post-2014. 

d.barney is barely worth $1.5m...but given that he's been an everyday player with great D he probably will see $2.5m...which should be avoided at all cost (no pun).

I would agree. I'm sure there are better and/or cheaper options for 2B next season.

the fact he Ks 1/4 his ABs in AA isn't promising...but he's only 21 so it's hard to handicap that vs where he projects, especially with the power he's flashing.

i see him as more of a 2015+ option, myself.

i'd like to see a bit of d.murphy at 2nd here on out...even with the need at 3rd pressing his use there.

I dunno... Murphy K's in 1/4 of his atbats... Lol. I kid...

yeah, but he's on pace for 85+ HRs!

screw you bonds.

I think AZ Phil is mostly right here--though with Villanueva at Iowa next spring, Olt will probably drop to Tennessee and have to climb back up. It's unpredictable how fast the Cubs will promote Bryant and Almora, both of whom may be the rare ones (like Castro) who just find the minor leagues too remedial. Soler we know almost nothing about. He has played fewer than 100 games even if you include Arizona.

But Baez, Alcantara and Villanueva will see Wrigley next season, barring the unforeseen. Look at Junior Lake this year: out injured half the season, 40 games total at Iowa, promoted with an .803 OPS. Alcantara is .787 this year, Villanueva .791. Villanueva has more upward mobility than most people realize. The Cubs love the glove (plus the not-infrequent pop) at third.

I do think we'll see a lot of Vitters in left field next year, possibly out of spring training. And Szczur and Andreoli will also start the year at Iowa and could get promoted, especially to a team that needs a leadoff hitter, as AZ Phil has pointed out.

unless olt has a crap spring i'd be very surprised to not find him up with the big club. his 3rd D is solid, his arm is good, and he's got power when he can actually make contact.

valbuena/d.murphy should be around providing backup/support...val (3rd/2nd) murph (3rd/SS/2nd) being the "insurance" + regular bench dudes anyway so it's not like they'll be uselessly eating roster spots.

hell, if murphy keeps hitting and olt does well in spring it may be d.barney providing the backup/support off the bench.

"d.barney providing the backup/support off the bench." sounds like a misnomer.

Olt will be with the big league club to start the year. His eyes are still messed up, that's pretty clear (no pun intended). They'll either get fixed, or not. But other than that, most reports I've read say he's major league ready.

WISCGRAD: I disagree.  


I fully expect the Cubs will give Mike Olt a Big Chance to win the starting 3B job in Spring Training, and at the very least he will likely platoon with Luis Valbuena. Olt needs to show something right away, though (he'll probably have about a year to do it), hecause Villanueva and Bryant are coming up fast from behind, and so if Olt struggles (as he has this year), he will just get pushed aside. In fact even if he doesn't struggle, his time as a Cub might be limited.  


Christian Villanueva (who BTW is hitting 294/351/521 with four HR and 15 doubles in his last 32 games at AA) and Jorge Soler are already on the 40-man roster and Arismendy Alcantara will be by 11/20. Villanueva and Alcantara will both very likely be at AAA next season (Villanueva at 3B and Alcantara at 2B), and Soler will be getting a full season at AA, so (barring injury) I would expect all three to get a call-up in September 2014. It's possible (but not likely) that any of the three will get a call-up before September. Alcantara could if the Cubs trade Barney at the trade deadline, or Villanuieva could if Olt flames out, or Soler could just because there should be openings in the outfield throughout next seasoin. And of course an injury could give any of them a shot. Just like Junior Lake this year.  

Soler will get a 4th minor league option in 2015, but then he will be out of options in 2016, so the Cubs can't take too much time with him. He's also making $2M in 2014 & 2015.

Javier Baez is a different case because he does not need to be protected/rostered until post-2015, but I think it's likely that he will begin the 2014 season at AAA, and so he could just simply play himself into the big leagues by September (if not earlier) if he hits at AAA as he has at AA. 


Kris Bryant is less likely to see Chicago in 2014 because while I think he will start the season at AA, he is not on the 40-man roster and there are other options at 3B (Olt and Villanueva) that the Cubs might want to check out before Bryant arrives. Also, the Cubs might end up moving Bryant to LF, and if that were to happen they might want him to get some reps there in the minors and/or in the AFL or winter ball first.  


 

It would be interesting if Olt makes the majors without having to hit .200, or even .150, in the minors. Brett Jackson would take an interest in that precedent. Barring a big winter-league turnaround, I really don't see Olt in Chicago at the start of next season. Epstein-Hoyer are on record as not wanting players to earn promotions in ST.

Maybe it's his eyes. Olt was called up to Texas in August 2012, prior to his beaning, and he was no Junior Lake.

Yeah, you and I normally disagree on these issues. I think you have great insights and knowledge, and I respect your opinion, but I feel as though you are generally too optimistic about prospects. I've seen too many similar posts about the Felix Pie's and Ronny Cedeno's of the world--even Brett Jackson for that matter. I think it is easy to project and see steady development, breakout seasons, injury avoidance, and major league success, but I think we are more likely to see set-backs, time needed for adjustments, injuries, and as a result only true major league success in a few of these cases. And if that happens, the Cubs will be doing better than most teams. For example, we can surely find lots of posts from Rangers' fans about Mike Olt that would not match up with what has actually happened with him.

what olt is doing right now will mean very little compared to what olt will show next spring.

if he blows it...he may very well end up back in AAA with murphy/valbuena filling the void.

if he's average or excels...he'll probably break with the club.

his D is there, his arm is there...even an average showing in spring will probably win him the job.

what's going on in AAA is concerning, but it ultimately doesn't matter unless it continues into next spring.

I am guilty of over valuing our prospects during the Hendry era for sure. It has crossed my mind once or twice if Castro is Ronny Cedeno II. God I hope not.

I happen to feel that Brett Jackson is going to be a bust. The strike out pattern has been with him for a while at every level and just is not getting any better. If you cannot hit, or at least hit for power like a corner IF, you just are not gonna make it on a team where there are now others coming up fast behind him.

I hope I am wrong, but not a good trend...

"The strike out pattern has been with [Brett Jackson] for a while at every level and just is not getting any better."

I'm not going to defend Jackson, E-Man, but you are not giving an accurate picture of his career trajectory. He was basically fine, both in double- and triple-A, in 2011. Sure, he struck out a lot, but his srikeouts were always about two-to-one to his walks. It was a lot of strikeouts but also a lot of walks--and a lot of OBP (around .380) and a lot of OPS. Some good hitters are closer to three K's for every walk: see Matt Kemp and Adam Jones and, of course, Soriano.

The Cubs were all over Jackson in 2012, beginning in ST, I think trying to get him to swing earlier in the count. And now we have this wreck of a former #1 prospect. If Jackson could match his 2011 minor-league numbers today, the Cubs would be glad to have him in their outfield.

I'm not saying he would be great or even good enough, but he would be better than THIS, just like Castro and Barney used to be better hitters before they crossed paths with Sveum and Rowson. It may just be that you can't teach a guy to hit at the ML level. If you don't like his approach, trade him while you can and let someone else tinker with him.

He was basically fine, both in double- and triple-A, in 2011. Sure, he struck out a lot...

You confirmed my point. He struck out a lot, it was never fixed, and other batting areas have gotten worse.

Jackson did not/does not have the power aplomb of the other hitters you mention, and not a corner OF as I state.

I don't think you or I know what the Cubs were trying to do, and to blame Sveum and Rowson is short-sided indeed. You forget that Sveum was a hitting instructor and from what I have read, well-respected in this area.

Sometimes we have to stop blaming the coaches and come to a realization that the player, for whatever reason, cannot recover from failure. They are not used to it on their ascent to the big leagues, have had incredible success all the way to this point. And, as others have pointed out (such as WISCGRAD in this thread) some just bust out.

I can think of a hundred examples with no problems. Some drafted already by Tim Wilken.

I hope the guy can get it together as I said, but his chances are diminishing.

It's a truism in golf that you have to break your swing before you can fix it. I agree that ball players have to recover from failure and/or well-intentioned advice. I hope that Jackson, Castro and Barney--all of whom have had their swings/approaches tampered with at the ML level--can get back to where they were before and maybe even beyond where they were (which was the point of the tampering).

I suppose the problem goes away when all Cub prospects/acquisitions come pre-approved by McLeod and there's not as much to fix. The question I'm asking, though, is this: how much value has Jackson lost the last two seasons? How much value have Barney and Castro lost this season? Will the Cubs ever recover the value that Castro has lost just this season while turning himself into a sub-.250 hitter?

Why didn't they just trade these guys if they didn't like them?

These are excellent questions, although my golf swing seems always broken.

I know that Theo stated he made a mistake trading Colvin (DJ is the more valuable now maybe), and it appears as if TheoJed are pretty calculated in their trading of players.

So maybe they feel the players are just still "young". However, as I said, others are going to be coming up quickly now behind them.

They are still young and we can hope that they recover from this season. I'm less worried about Barney and Castro, since they have experienced success in the majors. Jackson, not so much. It doesn't help that unlike in the case of Junior Lake, who was swinging the bat well at Iowa, Jackson was brought up last year precisely BECAUSE he was struggling! Remember Sveum saying he needed to see Jackson up close so he could figure out what he was doing wrong?

I'm really disappointed about Jackson. Soriano is gone, DeJesus is gone, there's that whole wide, green outfield expanse that is more-or-less unspoken for--and our best OF prospect of the last several years is broken. It isn't anybody's fault but there are still some what-if's, for me at least.

I think the sad truth is that our best OF prospect of the last several years wasn't really much of a prospect. The good news is that the new shinny prospects are much better.

Or the shiny prospects too!

WISCGRAD: Fortunately Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, Keith Law, Professor Parks, mlb.com, et al, are accurate in their prospect prognostications and rankings. 


But seriously, all I was saying in the particular post to which you responded is that certain Cubs top prospects (Alcantara, Villanueva, Soler, Baez, and maybe Bryant) will likely get called ip next season, some probably not until September. and that (for better or worse) the third-base job would probably be Mike Olt's to lose in Spring Trtaining, although he could end up in a platoon with Luis Valbuena. I don't think I said that any of the Cubs top prospects would get called up and then go directly into the Hall of Fame, and as a matter of fact I have no idea whether any of them will be successful at the MLB level. I have never claimed that ability, probably because nobody can know that.


 

No one is very accurate in their prospect rankings and prognostications. Because A) it is difficult to project, and B) those who work on prospect rankings and prognostications tend to overvalue prospects. They have to say that some of the prospects will develop into impact players or people will not be excited and stop reading what they write. In addition, because they generally focus only on studying prospects they tend to see them as more important than they probably are (which is normal when people specialize in all fields).

And yes, in this particular post you were just making predictions about call-ups, but don't pretend that you never make statements about the potential major league success of prospects. You do that all of the time. And your view is very respected on here, so when you say things like "I see player X as developing into a solid major league 4th outfielder that can play all 3 outfield spots and hit for power" people on here assume that is what you think WILL happen not you just giving us potential scenarios of what COULD happen. Heck, you give projected lineups for the Cubs in future years! How does this not indicate your view that someone will be successful? At least successful enough to become and remain a starting position player at the major league level. And I have been on here for 7+ years now and have seen many projected lineups and most all of them have not occurred. So I am naturally skeptical.

But, anyway, on this issue, I still disagree that 5-6 of those 6 players will see big league time in 2014. And of course I hope I am wrong and they all make it and all flourish. Fingers crossed. And with that, I'll let this go. Because again, to reiterate, I appreciate your knowledge and insight, even if I do not always agree with your views on the potential for Cubs prospects.

I don't read AZ Phil's accounts as being all that rose-tinted. I think he's usually pretty clear when he's describing the type or player or type of skill-set a player has that causes him to, for example, project someone as a 4th or 5th outfielder. And those of us who have been following baseball closely should all know that when someone projects a lineup with all homegrown talent what they are really demonstrating is the depth and breadth of the farm system and the potential ceilings of the prospects, not a likelihood. I think that because we have a relatively knowledgeable crowd here, AZ Phil probably knows he doesn't have to post a flashing disclaimer in front of those posts.

WISCGRAD: You say "don't pretend that you never make statements about the potential major league success of prospects. You do that all of the time." And then you say "And with that, I'll let this go." 

You can't get away with making a comment like that and then say "with that I'll let this go." 

When have I ever "pretended" that I don't make statements about the potential major league success of prospects? Show me an example.  

If what you were trying to say is that sometimes I give my opinion about a particular prospect and you find these observations, evaluations, opinions, predictions, and/or prognostications to be frequently inaccurate and so therefore you're skeptical when I offer my opinon about a player, and that other times I merely list possible scenarios of what could happen regarding a particular prospect  without mentioning what I think the player will do in the future (as I did in the comment above), and that (for some inexplicable reason) it's difficult for you to comprehend the difference, you would be correct, but that's not what you said. 

But I don't "pretend" that I never make statements about the potential major league success of prospects.    

As for my being too optimistic about Cub prospects, Oneri Fleita once asked me if I was really a Cubs fan, because my observations and evaluations of Cubs prospects was (in his opinion) consistently too negative.

Sorry for offending you. Let's move on.

My delicate fan psyche has been fucked with. To be safe I think we should just not post about any minor league players. I will assume it is the truth every time without context. Also, my view is that this site is fortunate to have Phil posting so I tend to not crack wise about his comments, but rather absorb them as part of my baseball diet, which includes many other opinions as well.

Just as an aside, there are a number of reasons why a highly-regarded prospect might not reach his potential, which is why making prognostications and predictions is very difficult:   

1. A career limiting injury or injuries;

2. Bad coaching:

3. Unable to make necessary adjustments as the player moves to a higher level;

4. Distractions (bad marriage, breaking up with girlfriend, illness or death in family)

5. Personal demons (alcohol, drugs, anger management issues)

Now observations and evaluations are another matter, and I think I do that fairly well. I am certainly not a scout (and I don't pretend to be one), but I have been playing baseball for 50+ years, I watch a LOT of Cubs minor league baseball, I talk to coaches and scouts from other organizations, and I stayed in a Holiday Inn Express last night.


 

AZ Phil, you've been playing baseball for 50-plus years? Just how old are you?

Never ask an ex-cabbie his age!

"3. Unable to make necessary adjustments as the player moves to a higher level; "

Picking up the thread from yesterday, I would just point out that moving to a higher level was never really a problem for Brett Jackson. In 215 PAs at Iowa in 2011, he had the same OPS (.939) that he had at Daytona the year before (.937) and at Peoria the year before that (.927).

It would have been interesting if Jackson had started 2012 with the big team. Then we would have seen if he was in over his head. But the new Cub FO was being extra careful with him, perhaps because of 138 K's the year before (which doesn't seem like that many now, does it?). They sent him back to Iowa to work on something. It's not entirely clear what that was, but Jim Callis wrote in November '11 that "Chicago would like to see him get a little more aggressive and attack more often early in the count."

In other words, they wanted to change his approach--which, I would argue, in his case was already rather finely calibrated. Jackson has never recovered the ability to put the bat on the ball.

Is this an example of what happens when you try to fix something that isn't broken? He was always a high on-base guy. Isn't that what they said they wanted?

they asked him to revamp his whole swing btw, it had a Hee Seop Choi size hole in it

For now on can we just call it a Hee Seop Hole and you can trademark it? It explains many things perfectly!

The timeline is important here. (At least it's what I'm trying to call attention to.)

When ST ended in 2012, Sveum called BJax the best prospect he had seen in nine years of ML coaching. He didn't say anything about a hole in his swing, because the hole (if it existed) had not manifested itself yet, or at least had not prevented him from performing creditably at Iowa (.297/.388/.551/.939) in 48 games.

Jackson was taught the new swing late in the 2012 season or just following it, after performing terribly throughout 2012 at Iowa and Chicago.

whatever he was doing in Aug/Sept 2012 in the bigs was just awful...almost literally (59/120) K'ing 1/2 his ABs.

the reason he got so many walks was because no one was throwing him anything close to the zone because most of the time he'd swing at it and the odds of it all gave him a decent amount of walks. he wasn't getting "caught looking" very much. at the rate he was going he would have walked 100+ times in a full season...mixed with 300 Ks. his decent walk rate was clouded by how he was consistently pitched, not because he had a good eye mixed with the Ks. adam dunn he is not.

Jackson has a strikeout rate of 25% or higher in every minor league season, the hole(s) in his swing have always been there. Starting off well in a new league and then having the league adjust and start performing significantly worse is the opposite of what you want to happen (the opposite of Baez for example).

Dale Sveum thinks Junior Lake is the only major leaguer that has come up through the Cubs farm system over the last 2 years. So maybe ingest everything he says with a healthy dose of salt.

fwiw, the stupid Cubs coaches worked on A. Rizzo's swing as well...he's not supplanting Joey Votto just yet, it seems to have gotten him in the majors to stay.

Jackson started his new swing in the offseason in 2012 with his Dad btw...not sure if that's available in a media report or not, but I assure you that is the case. He still strikes out a ton and now isn't hitting. Might as well go back to the old swing at this point, but he'll still be a disaster in the majors with that K rate.

anway, here's Keith Law's take on his swing fix...in which he felt it wasn't going to help much.

http://www.bleachernation.com/2013/03/05/keith-law-analyzes-brett-jackso...

VA PHIL: Brett Jackson appeared to have mastered AAA when he was recalled at the trade deadline last year, so even if he struggled at the MLB level (which he did), he should have been able to go back to AAA in 2013 and play well. He certainly shouldn't be struggling to hit in AA.


If the Cubs were trying to get him to be more aggressive and that's not his game and that's not what got him to AAA, then that's bad coaching, because you are asking a player to be something he can't be and still be successful. And then you take the chance that the player can't get back at least to where he was before you tried to change him. 


Sometimes it's better just to acceot a player the way he is and live with the warts, especially once the player makes it to AAA and has success there. (Evan moreso with somebody like Starlin Castro, who had already proven himself at the MLB level).   


The thing is, if Brett Jackson had continued to develop along the line he had been traveling pre 2013 (high-K, high-BB, XBH+, SB+, plus-OF defense), he could have fit as the Cubs eventual lead-off hitter and left-fielder (or at least a platoon guy in that slot), something the Cubs will actually probably need.


 

yeah, must have been the Cubs coaching that ruined Jackson and not Jackson's unacceptable and absurd minor league strikeout rate.

you can't be a a major leaguer if you strike out like Jackson unless you hit home runs like Adam Dunn.

ROB G: So they took a guy who was successful at AAA and turned him into somebody who can't even hit at AA? How is that good coaching?

IN 215 AAA games (about exactly 1-1/2 AAA seasons) 2011-12, Jackson had 31 HR, 42 doubles, 17 triples, 96 walks, and 40 SB. He did sttrike outr 1/3 of the time, too, but he's a high-K guy. 

Jackson was already struggling in AAA in 2012 and somewhat in AA in 2011. Don't be so quick to blame the coaching and not the obvious deficiency in the players skills.

How is that good coaching?

because anyone paying attention knows that strikeout rates above 30% in the minors don't last long in the majors unless you have plus-plus power, which Jackson doesn't. If he didn't change he wasn't going to have much of a career. Plus Jackson has to be a wiling participant in said swing change. He's probably adjusting to his swing and that's affecting him mentally for sure. Problem is that is hasn't helped his strikeout rate at all.

There was a reason McLeod said they passed on Jackson in Boston (or maybe it was San Diego) in the draft because of the swing and miss in his game.

Also, Jackson wasn't really tearing up AAA in 2012 with the old swing, actually he hasn't torn up the minors all that much anway once he started reaching the higher levels, his career minor league OPS is .826...that's barely gonna be an .800 OPS in the majors if all things stay the same and with that strikeout rate, it wasn't going to stay the same. Major league pitchers aren't gonna miss on 3-2 counts nearly as much as minor leaguers. All the flaws were there, he masked them well by willingly taking a walk and putting a few over the fence, but that stuff gets exposed the higher you go. He's pretty much the Hee Seop Choi of this decade. Good numbers...obvious flaws.

"There was a reason McLeod said they passed on Jackson in Boston (or maybe it was San Diego) in the draft because of the swing and miss in his game."

I'm glad you mention McLeod, because this is more about him than about Jackson, anyway. Why would McLeod, or anyone else in the Cub FO, be talking publicly about the swing-and-miss in Jackson's game? He was the Cubs' #1 prospect going into 2012. If they didn't like him, well, he had real value to someone else (especially compared to today). The Cards had their own Brett, Brett Wallace, who was their #1. Instead of going public with what they didn't like about him, why he didn't fit into their plans, they traded him for Matt Holliday!

I know what McLeod thought of Junior Lake, too, and he wasn't even in the draft. McLeod referred to both Jackson and Lake as "risky." And I know exactly what Sveum thinks of Castro. He used to call him a "hit-chaser"--which happens to be an apt description of Castro that captures perfectly why he may not reach his potential. The problem is, it would be somewhat convenient this winter if the Cubs could fetch a high price for Castro, but that won't be possible until Castro's head clears from all the public discussion about him and all the advice he's been receiving.

As I said earlier, I guess the problem goes away when every prospect has McLeod's imprimatur.

for all you know, somebody on the Cardinals said something about something Brett Wallace needed to improve, I'm guessing you don't follow them nearly as closely. Also, Wallace's K rates in the minors were nothing compared to Jackson's.

I'll never find the article now, but if I recall, someone asked McLeod about Jackson's strikeouts and he after saying the standard P.R. speak, there was some throwaway line about when he was coming out of the draft, they were concerned about that aspect of his game. Anyone can look at a stat sheet and see the same thing, so it's doubtful it did much in de-valuing Jackson.

He was the Cubs' #1 prospect going into 2012. If they didn't like him, well, he had real value to someone else (especially compared to today).

Why the leap from saying a player has to improve upon an aspect of his game to the Cubs didn't like him and wanted to trade him. Baez needs(needed) to work on his pitch recognition and working counts, does that mean they're ready to move him?

Nothing wrong with being candid about what a player needs to work on, I'm sure McLeod wants and hopes that Jackson figures it out. It only helps the club. Other organizations have plenty of scouts that can all see the same things we see and read about. You're not gonna fool to many with press quotes.

speaking of Jackson, recent interview with him

http://www.csnchicago.com/cubs/cubs-brett-jackson-still-trying-find-his-way

seems to be handling the struggles well...

Nice kid. Can't be stupid if he went to Berkeley, either. But it hasn't changed my mind he is a bust-out candidate if he doesn't get his shit together soon. Too many other prospects coming up and the guy is 25 already. Good Luck BJax.

Is there really no room in this discussion to acknowledge the flaws in both player and staff? Jackson is a guy who has problems with striking out, and the Cubs' coaching staff has failed to do anything (so far) to improve him.

you new to this? don't be so reasonable :)

I would have to say that this is the first year since I've been reading AZ - and that's been awhile - that I've been excited about Cubs prospects, and that has little to do with anything he's said. Theo has signed Bryant, which I liked the idea of, and Baez has gone a little crazy. If anything AZ seems to typically put a damper on my hopes, but I still want to usually want to see the Cubs bring them up anyway, because the major league roster is usually such a joke. I'll have to end that schtick soon tho, because the origination of it was that I figured anybody playing in the minors was better than watching a bunch of journeymen, a practice TheoCorp seems to be trying to end.

As I read it, Phil said that they were likely to come up to the majors in 2014. He made no comments on how successful each one will be.

With the exception of Bryant, I think it is almost certain (barring injury)that all of the others will be playing in the majors before 2014 ends. It is equally certain that some, if not all, will do poorly. Most prospects do poorly in their first call up.

Olt will probably be playing 3B sooner rather than later. My interpretation of what's happening is this- He was brought in because Theo values defense and Olt is one of the better defensive 3B. I really don't have any problem with it- It's still true that pitching and defense win games. Still, before he is called up, I hope he learns how to work the count and take some walks.

Well, that is certainly valid. But isn't 3B traditionally one that has some pop? Can the team, based on Sveum's RISP woes, afford another offensive black hole in 2014?

Olt will likely not hit for high average, but should take some walks and hit for power. I wouldn't call him an offensive black hole. Of course, I expect him to bounce back from his performance this season at least partially.

Also, the other options are Valbuena, Ransom, Murphy, Vitters, and Villanueva.

Is "Scott Rolen Lite" fair characterization or too kind to Olt?

If he doesn't get the eye situation straightened out, he'll be Ian Stewart Lite

Depends on your definition of what "lite" is.

If its defense, L. Valbuena has a FP of .973 this year. League average is .955

An .OPS of .702

Rolen in 17 seasons has a career FP of .968

And, and OPS of .855

It would be hopeful that he could be somewhere in-between.

personally...i'm looking at a .250/.320 avg/ob% with 25 HR, a ton of Ks (150-area), and good D/arm.

basically, m.trumbo-ish with a touch less power that can actually play 3rd without a question of when he's going to be moved to the corner OF.

Before this year probably very fair. His D will never be a concern, but his offense would be very lite if last year is not a pure aberration.

he might just be another trade deadline minnow.
----
http://tinyurl.com/2r6e64

Hhaha! Yes . . . That looks about right. Well done sir.

AzPhil- Any opinion on John Andreoli? Could he become a kind of DeJesus-Lite player?
I see he's 23, but .307/.380/.407 with36/41 steals between Daytona and Tennessee is still pretty interesting isn't it?
Anyone else of course, feel free to chime in.

DUSTY B: I have mentioned this before, but I see Joihn Andreoli as a RH version of Jim Adduci, but without Adduci's plus-arm.


If Andreoli makes it to the big leagues, it would probably be as a "5th outfielder" (not a 4th oF), the type of player you use as a PR late in a game, or as a PH leading off an inning, or as a defensive replacement in LF if your left-fielder is defensevily challenged.


That said, I think Andreoli might have a chance to get more of a shot and maybe even regular playing time in another organization, one that doesn't have the minor league prospects the Cubs have. 


Jae-Hoon Ha, Matt Szczur, and Zeke DeVoss are three others who probably project as a "5th OF" at the big league level with the Cubs (although they might project to get more regular playing time in another organization). Again, we're not talking about a "4th OF" (a guy who can play all three OF positions and functions almost like a 6th man in basketrball or a 3rd down player in football, probably what Junior Lake will be eventually). although Ha does have the defensive skills to play all three OF positions equally well (Andreoli is more of a LF only, and Szczur and DeVoss are limited to CF-LF).


BTW, Tony Campana and Julio Borbon would be two recent examples of a "5th OF." 


 

Well that sucks. LMAO....
I was excited to see a player with some speed (that translated into steals), and OBP skills coming through the system

DUSTY B: One thing guys like Andrreoli, Szczur, and DeVoss have going for them is that none of the Cubs elite prospects project as lead-off hitters. 


Albert Almora is an outstanding pure hitter (and he will win Gold Gloves in CF) but his OBP is mostly hit-driven, and Arismendy Alcantara could hit lead-off except he will probably be the #1 utility infielder if Bryant-Baez-Castro play 3B-SS-2B (which is what I suspect will happen).  


So there could possibly be an eventual opening for an Andreoli, Szczur, or DeVoss in LF, if one of them can hit lead-off and put up an off-the-chart OBP.

Almora is awfully young, though. His walk ratio may jump up significantly by the time he gets to the bigs.

Which one of these call ups listed do you expect to take place before September 2014?

BOB R: I think Mike Olt will be given every opportiunity to win the starting 3B job in Spring Training, and at the very least will probably platoon at 3B with Luis Valbuena.


I would expect Javier Baez (SS), Arismendy Alcantara (2B), and Christian Villanueva (3B) to be together at AAA, and any one of them could get called up at any time next season IF they can get regular playing time. They won't be called up to be back-up guys.


Jorge Soler and Kris Bryant should begin the 2014 season together at AA, and while Soler could come up at any time (he's already on the 40-man roster and he's making $2M next season), I think Bryant would only be called up if Olt falls flat (as he has this season) and Villanueva doesn't take the 3B job. Otherwise, I wouldn't expect to see Bryant until sometime in 2015. 


Albert Almora should begin the 2014 season at Daytona, and he probably won't surface in the big leagues until sometime in 2016.


BTW, I think the Cubs are still hoping that Brett Jackson can get back to where he was in 2011 when he was the #1 prospect in the organization, because if he can, B-Jax would project as the Cubs LF and lead-off hitter. As is, if the Cubs top position-player prospects all develop into major leaguers, the lineup will be VERY right-handed:


1. TBD, LF (Jackson, DeVoss, Szczur, Alcantara, Lake, or ?) 
2. Almora, CF
3, Baez, SS
4. Bryant, 3B
5. Rizzo, 1B
6. Soler, RF
7. Castro, 2B
8. Castillo,C


 

Castillo may end up being the veteran of the group in the not to distant future. If Castro ever hits .275 again, he will be on the first bus out of town. Rizzo is on a slightly longer leash, but the Cubs are going to dump these contracts for pitching the first chance that they get, and I do think they will sign David Price if they get a chance. Bryant will be in LF next year (~June 21st). Cubs will hold on to Barney as long he makes less then $4M.

Castillo, C
Vogel, 1B
Barney, 2B
Villenueva, 3B
Baez, SS
Bryant, LF
Amora, CF,
Soler, RF
and a whole bunch of pitching

as I somewhat guessed, seems Nats got stuck with DeJesus, possibly putting in a claim to block Braves and Cubs decided they just wanted to be rid of the contract. Looks like he's back on waivers again...

http://www.washingtontimes.com/blog/nationals-watch/2013/aug/20/david-de...

Either way it seems like a good move for the Cubs. They get to save some money now, and can sign him back in the off season for a reduced contract if he is willing.

Of course, Wrongway tweeted the Nats are likely to pick up his option.

Someone explain this to me then: why the player to be named later? If this is the case that the Cubs put him on waivers and the Nationals just claimed him to block him, and they didn't want him, then wouldn't we just see this as the Nationals claiming him and waivers and the Cubs letting him go? Or maybe I don't understand something about these types of waiver deals.

Clubs put all of their players on waivers this time of year so perhaps the Nationals are just trying to put him through because then if they continue to slide the next week or two they could trade him to any team they want.

WAS claims...cubs don't revoke waiver claim by WAS and enter negociations...since WAS probably didn't want him they make a low-ball PTBN/cash offer (probably someone not worth a damn) and since the cubs decide they want to save money they take the deal anyway.

chances are quite high the PTBN is of little value.

WAS could actually come out of this with a better prospect if they trade him again to one of the teams they were trying to block and agree to cover a little bit of money...or they could be stuck with him.

I could be off, but usually embarrassing when a GM makes a claim and just gets stuck with a player they didn't want...the PTBNL COULD have just been a bone thrown to make it seem like it was what the Nats wanted and maintain an image of value for DeJesus. TheJedi, much like Hendry, are certainly not opposed to keeping good will amongst their GM circles and they already made 2 previous deals with him. If the Nats can trade DeJesus again in the next 2 weeks and save the $50K they'll likely pay the Cubs and some of the $2.5M they'll being paying him, then the PTBNL will be a wash.

I agree that just putting him back on waivers isn't necessarily the smoking gun, but if you read the article, Davey Johnson pretty much had no idea what he was going to do with DeJesus. Also find it odd that they'd be willing to take on that much cash for a 4th/5th outfielder at this point of the season.

I freely admit that it could be all a conspiracy theory on my part as well.

Not as embarrassing as it is for the player everybody is saying the embarrassed GM is stuck with.

dumpster gets a 5 game suspension...lulz.

That's really going to hurt the Red Sox unless reality happens.

Dempster suspended... A-Rod plays on.

Hooray for justice.

Look I might in the minority here, but I'm standing behind Demp 100% on this. The only way it could have ended better is if it were a fastball to the helmet.

a lot of people hate it helped cost runs, and probably the game.

a lot of people love that it happened...even those that hate that it helped cost runs, and probably the game.

i'm surprised he only got 5 games. it was a pure message HBP...1st time up, situation didn't favor it happening.

a lot more people agree with this one than b.harper getting his "welcome to the bigs, kid" HBP from c.hamels...as far as stuff like this goes.

I'm the Dad of two college pitchers so I'm probably a little biased. This Dempster foolishness aside, I feel hitters bring this on themselves by posturing when a guy has the audacity to throw on the inner half, spends ten seconds admiring his HR, and/or adjusting his batting gloves 8-9 times an AB. Plus we don't hear all the banter on the field or between dugouts.

I'm a big fan of using the inner six inches of the plate and the black and maybe another inch or so. It's hard to pull your hands in and hit a two-seamer without grounding out or popping up on those pitches. If some ass-hat batter wants play offended that he's being thrown at - Great! The pitcher just got in his head.

The best pitcher I ever saw was Bob Gibson who in many of these cases would throw behind a hitters head so when he backed up the ball would still hit him. Somewhere between Gibson and Dempster lies a happy medium.

Good stuff. I think pitchers these days are just as ridiculous tho. I've seen more guys thrown at this year for supposedly flipping the bat and watching a homerun. And when I watch the replay I can barely tell if the guy was just finishing his follow thru. It's absurd to think that hitters have gotten cocky, but pitchers have maintained their honor (tell me you wouldn't be pissed if Rodney struck you out and shot a faux arrow into the sky? I'd wanna send a line drive at his skull next time I batted). I also watched Gibson as a kid, but we are i would hope a little less barbaric these days. The fact of the matter is these are different times, more money, players have cushier lives and more to protect, etc. pitching inside is essential, but at the head is dangerous. I certainly don't mind a little cat and mouse, but I personally would never advocate for a Gibson skull buzzer. Anyway it definitely goes both ways, the pitchers are no more mature than the hitters in many cases. All that said I AM tired of the home plate hands to the heavens after a home run, and all the choreographed celebrations from the plate thru to the back of the dugout. In retrospect you are right, hitters might be a little bigger ass hats than pitchers. But the pitchers have their issues too. And Dempster, who the hell knows what goes on in his head. But it ain't pure nobility, there was NO CLASS in what he did. Two people making a mockery of the sport is just twice as crappy. I think a classy dude just knows he's better than a-rod and exploits his atrophied pitiful muscles, retiring a-rod confidently. But hitting him, lighting a fire under your bitter rivals, then giving up a home run to a-rod en route to a solid loss? That's some bush league shit.

I have a LHP and a RHP and love them both. I really enjoy watching the lefty work though. He's all business, rarely shows any emotion but you can see the fire in his belly in his face. He uses every inch of the plate especially the inner one third to saw off someone's hands with his cutter. He's not afraid to hit someone crowding the plate and doesn't apologize when he does. He doesn't show up hitters in any way but he'll let
them know there's a price for disrespect. If money is what changes pro ball then that's too bad.

dumpster put a rather "me/us before the team" display on that HBP. i get the feeling he may have mentioned he was going to do it to the players and more than a few were "hell yeah" about it. lackey, in particular, was laying into arod rather well leading up to the game in the press. i highly doubt the manager/coaches were in on it...and it may have been dumpster on his own.

either way, it was obviously a "hitman" job...from the first pitch thrown behind arod, to the 4th pitch that actually hit him...the fact he got it in his very 1st ab, too. it screamed hitjob.

some say it's fine because he didn't throw at his head...some say a team trying to stay in contention shouldn't be putting guys on, period, especially that early in the game (even with a 2 run lead)...some say it's total bullshit because whatever dumpster/BOS may think of arod, the dude did not directly pull any crap with BOS that warranted a HBP. it didn't rally the team, the management, and the fans who were feeling the rush had "buyer's remorse" once arod crossed the plate later in the inning to score a run.

that said, if bud selig/MLB wants to send a message about this kind of thing...a 5 game suspension isn't going to do it...it's gotta be 10+ games and/or a hefty fine...not just an extra day of rest in his rotation slot without any $$ hit.

btw, the double-dick-suck about this whole thing is giradi actually got fined by MLB for talking crap about the situation and the umps not warning/tossing dumpster both when he threw behind arod, and especially when he ended up hitting him.

On the other hand, I think the Stasburg stuff in protecting Bryce Harper was all good. Harper has turned out not to be as bad as some of the press he got coming in. That kid plays hard and I like his style of play, and the way teams throw at him just for being a bit brash is B.S. It would really suck if baseball lost this kid to an eye or head injury. They need to knock it off.

That is pretty cool - TWO? Do they ever face each other? That could be like the Harbaugh's for you! haha

You and I (and others here) remember that in the 70's and before it was part of the game - rather an expected and accepted part of the game, to throw inside and "if hit, you shall be hit".

The Barry Bonds/Sosa/McGuire era put the showboat into the HR.

Something tells me that Ted Williams would have beat the shit out of some of these HR admirers. Maybe I am wrong - but humility was more part of the fabric of pro sports until sports became the 100 billion $$ industry it is.

E-MAN: Unfortunately not this coming season as they're both on the same team. They have thru the years of travel ball and the smack talk got intense!

more puig issues...showed up 35 minutes before pre-game stretching/workouts...hours after the rest of the team arrived.

...immediately called into mattingly's office for a "talk" as well as fined for being late

fwiw, he was given a night off from tonight's game before the whole "tardy" thing

he's starting to become a "too regular" fixture in the LA clubbing nightlife scene...amongst other things...such as his "fuck the media" outburst yesterday.

Good old fashioned prima donna. Guys like him are nothing new. You take the good with the bad with guys like that.

speaking of the fun in guessing which prospects will be playing where...has anyone seen a 20-80 grade on arms for Bryant vs. Soler?

genuinely curious which one will actually has the leg up on right field vs. left field of the two.

Didn't someone say Soler doesn't always get the best jumps or run the best routes on balls hit his way?

Rob, FWIW.....MLB.com in the Cubs Top 20 rates Soler and Bryant arms a 60. I saw Soler in a couple of ST games and he has a rifle.....good routes to the ball for the most part. If all these guys can prove they have what it takes to play in the show, why move 3-4 guys? I'd put Castro back to his natural position (2b), Baez (SS), Bryant (3b), and leave Soler in RF. Maybe Lake can hold a CF position and then move to LF when/if Almora comes up. Lots of assumptions here that these guys graduate from prospects but I'm not a fan of moving 2-3 guys to new positions when they've had some success, albeit in MiLB, at a position. If Alcantara proves to have what it takes, then he makes trading Castro an option or would make a good backup at 2B/SS.

Maybe this happened in the last 20 years but I don't remember the Cubs ever having 4 position prospects in multiple analysts' Top 50 prospects.

Castro moving to second base isn't going to happen anytime soon unless Baez gives them a real good reason with his glove and despite some great range, he seems to have all the same issues with routine plays as Castro. The incumbent rarely moves unless the prospect is that much better (talking defense only here) and Baez's glovework doesn't appear all that much better at this point.

On the other hand his bat is proving tough to keep down in the minors...he won't start with the team in 2014, but wouldn't be suprised in the least if he ends up there in May (Cubs won't care much about Super Two, he'll get his extension before it comes to that).

Soler's a bit behind, although I'm sure he can catch up quickly, but i have doubts he'll be near the major league roster next year. Bryant and Baez could make a push though. If Olt can't get it together, then you obviously keep Bryant at third base and try Baez at 2b or the outfield, he's young enough, athletic enough that they should be able to move him.

If by magic, Olt, Baez, Castro, Bryant and Soler are all starters in 2015 or 2016 (2016 seems about the earliest we'd see Almora I'm guessing, more likely 2017), then Olt at 3b, Baez at 2b, Castro at SS, Bryant in LF and Soler in RF would be my guess.

As for moving guys around, if Olt doesn't pan out, the only one to really worry about is Baez or Castro or trade one of them.

 

 

"I think the biggest thing we have to figure out is offensively," he said. "We do some things pretty well. Our slugging percentage has been pretty good this year. But we've got to get to the bottom of the runners-in-scoring-position issue.

"We haven't been the worst batting-average team in baseball in the National League for two years, but we've been the worst in scoring position. The fact that those two things don't line up is a frustration.

"We have to get on base more, period.

"There's a team offensive element that I don't think we're all that good at. I think we're last in the league in sacrifice bunts, last in sacrifice flies. We have to get better at all those elements.

"We're going to take a pretty hard look at our offense this off-season, for sure, and going forward. We have a lot of young offensive talent coming, but we can't just rely on the young guys. We have to figure out how we can be a more efficient offensive team."

http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20130819/sports/708199601/?fb_comment...

nice ellsbury/choo pre-warming there.

no comment on the "sac bunts/sac flies" thing...if hendry would have said it i would be post #20-30 on this comment rather than the first, though. =p

I'm kinda glad the Cubs didn't sign Pujols to a 10 year contract, or whatever it was. Just saying.

Kinda?

Damn. Rizzo just does not have mch of a clue at the plate. Like I have been saying...that loopy swing with over analyzing every pitch.

I hope he can put together a nce streak to end the year at least.

His swing is fine. His watching the pitch come into the strike zone is embarrassing. You can see his head move as he watches it come in, as if he is shocked, SHOCKED, that it was a strike.

daytona with a rare rain cancelled game.

^^Facetious font.

d.murphy HR...7 HR in 48ab.

pee into the cup

If only the Cubs had given him 600 ABs this year, he would have hit 87.5 home runs!

the failure of taking shortcuts....

The Angels...beyond some of those ridiculous contracts, they traded P. Corbin and T. Skaggs to D'Backs for Haren, traded J. Segura for Z. Greinke, traded Napoli away for V. Wells, traded T. Chatwood for C. Iannetta, traded E. Santana for B. Sisk, traded J. Walden for T. Hanson.

That's a lot of facepalms. There are a few trades that weren't terrible (Morales for Vargas, spare parts for S. Kazmir), but damn.

Sad ROB G wife.

Indeed she is...Mike Trout in the meantime.

You don't think the Angels would trade Trout for Rizzo, do you?

Is Albert Pujols dead in this scenario?

How drunk is Jerry DiPoto?

How many limbs has Mike Trout lost at this point?

Trout/Angels situation is interesting though. They screwed him over this year on auto-renewal, well they didn't screw him over but they gave him the bare minimum which they certainly could do. They can do it again this offseason again if they want.

But...

will Trout hold it against them, refuse to even discuss a long term deal and just take them to arbitration and cash in big time (albeit it with risk)? Can the Angels even afford a long term deal for Trout with all that other money on the books? I can't ever imagine them entertaining trading him, but imagine the windfall of prospects if they did.

ESPN Jon Greenberg/Hoyer on Rizzo - discussing his "mechanics" (read - loopy/slow swing underlining my point) and pitch recognition for O&B and others...

http://espn.go.com/chicago/mlb/story/_/id/9587235/...

If by loopy/slow swing you mean he's trying to pull the ball too much and not going with the pitch like he did last season, I won't disagree. When I see somebody say "loopy swing" to me it means there is something mechanically wrong with the swing, and I don't think there is in Rizzo's case. He's just not taking a good approach to the plate. He's not taking what the pitchers give him, in most cases, and is trying to drive the ball too much. To me, that's why it looks like he has a "loopy" swing sometimes. So I guess, in that sense, he does have a loopy swing, but that's because he isn't reaching down and knocking a low outside slider into left field. Instead, he's watching it, and it barely hits the strike zone, or sometimes doesn't but the ump calls it anyway. Then, he gets an inside fastball and tries to drive it, and looks bad (loopy?) doing it.

I honestly think he'll be okay. This is a good season to struggle. The team sucks. I'd like to see him put together a nice final four weeks though.

This is a good season to struggle. The team sucks. I'd like to see him put together a nice final four weeks though.

Amen, brother!

He's clearly been reading our posts.

Teams expect Japan's premier pitcher, Masahiro Tanaka, to jump to MLB.

http://www.baseballamerica.com/majors/as-teams-sco...

In the video you can see he's topping out at about 151...

Felix Pie called up Pirates, batting lead off tonite.

Good luck, Felix.

Watched Pie bat twice tonight. Watched him take strike three twice. Jesus dude, you get called up and do that? Cubbery momentum ...

(Apparently he had a hit in his first at bat, but was caught trying to steal 2nd. Then the two at bats I saw. So apparently he took the bat off his shoulder in the first inning. )

interesting lineup...

Castro ss, Riz 1b, Lake cf, Schierholtz rf, Murphy 3b, Bogusevic lf, Barney 2b, Castillo c, Arrieta p

Welcome to the THUNDERDOOOOOOOOOME! Boom!

Errr. I mean could be fun to watch . . .

BP article, Minor League update from 8/20...

Arismendy Alcantara, 2B, Cubs (Double-A Tennessee): 2-5, 2B, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, 2 K. Alcantara has moved over to second base defensively, and most scouts believe that’s where he will ultimately land. He offers major-league bat speed with the potential for solid-average power. Alcantara is a plus runner and should add value with his speed. The Cubs future infield situation is crowded, but I believe he finds an everyday spot in Wrigley at some point; .232/.313/.348 with 8 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR in last 112 at-bats.

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?arti...

bleachers packed to capacity and the seats are barely (if at all) half full...jim anixter (or substitute pink hat seat filler) isn't even in his seats.

len/bob calling the game from the bleachers packs them in.

rizzo's 1st homer since Aug 6th...solo shot

2nd homer of the night in the 5th...huuuuuuuuge 2r moonshot...out of the park onto waveland.
6-3, bottom 5th.

Ill be the dick to point out it went out on Sheffield.

I went to look on mlb.com for the big oppo homer and settled for the bomb to right. :-)

same thing.

...it's not?

whatever, screw you guy.

*pops collar*

not arrieta's night...6-1, top 3, 0 outs.

Good jake, good jake, BAD JAKE.

There's that command struggle you've been talking about.

2nd pitch in the 4th...just wow.

daytona postponed (rain) for back to back games.

maybe vogel/bryant should be sent back down in order to actually play in games.

Smokies on Radio‏@SmokiesonRadio
Javier Baez clobbers a three-run home run over the fence in left field. His 32nd home run this season and 69th extra-base hit. 4-1 Smokies.

Smokies on Radio‏@SmokiesonRadio
Baez singles with one out in the top of the fifth inning. He is 3-for-3 now in the game as he average climbs over .300 to .303.

Smokies on Radio‏@SmokiesonRadio
Javier Baez hammers his second home run of the night, another bomb out to left field! He is 4-for-4 tonight.

villa just threw some 57mph "something" for a strike...looping curve/change/fosh thing.

it was awesome.

J.LAKE...QUIT BUNTING.

holy crap...is there anyone around who tries...and fails...to bunt for a base hit more than lake?

...at least this one went foul.

...and at least he recovers with a single to right.

is there anyone around who tries...and fails...to bunt for a base hit more than lake?

former Cub, Juan Pee-Air? (not a Moises Alou reference)

Soriano with a game winning HR for yanks tonight.

What are these flat low fast hits called where the players all move one base? So weird ...

TIE GAME! woos.

between JD's Cub Helmet filled with Chili Nachos and Len's malt cup...they won't fit back in the booth when they return from the Bleachers

Javier Baez solo HR in the 7th (his 2nd HR of the game). 4-4 so far on the night.

Smokies on Radio‏@SmokiesonRadio
Javier Baez drives in his fifth run of the game with a sacrifice fly to Walker in center field. Smokies back on top 7-6.

s.hariston 3r HR...top 7th...thanks ex-cub.

why was russell pitching there...who knows...

J. Baez with a SF to left-center scoring Szczur who had doubled and went to third on a single by Alcantara. Gives the Smokies the lead again 7-6 in the 9th.

then baseball symmetry occurs (Nats 9-6 over the Cubs)...9-6 Smokies. Christian Villaneuva hits a 2 run double, his 39th of the year.

then it just becomes a random score, Smokies 10-6 after Mota singles in Villaneuva. On to the bottom of the 9th.

news flash: h.rondon still sucks.

he hasn't gone back to back games without giving up a run since june 11/13...15 games since, 9 where he's given up runs, 13 runs total...sitting on a 5.86/1.58 era/whip on the season in 43 innings.

Baez: 33 HR, 100 RBI

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