Monday Funnies. Think Spring. Lose the Pothole Eye.

 

Next time you're driving in Chicago, take your eyes away from the road for just a moment and look in the mirror.
See that big eye in the middle of your forehead?
Pothole Eye.


Took my wife to a movie Saturday night.
It was snowing again.
I swerved to miss a small canyon that you could just barely see the top of a Suburban sticking out of.
She goes, "Even though you look hideous, I'm glad for Pothole Eye."
Yeah, well I'm sick of it.
And the only way to escape it is to take your mind somewhere sunny.
Where young Cubs are chuckin' baseballs at each other.
If you concentrate really hard, you can do it now even though Pitchers and Catchers Report Day isn't til Thursday.
I'm doing it right now.

Go Spring!
Go Cubs!
Go Away Pothole Eye!

PS: I've felt nothing but guilt ever since putting up an A-Rod post. Don't know what got into me. It's SPRING, DAMMIT!

Comments

Samardzija comp, looks like the Nats value their setup guy Tyler Clippard a bit more? ...both are 29 yrs old and controllable thru 2015.

...Shark avoids arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $5.345 million deal. Samardzija had filed for $6.2MM and the Cubs had proposed $4.4MM

The Nationals and setup ace Tyler Clippard have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year deal worth $5.875MM, per Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (on Twitter).

He filed for a $6.35MM, while the Nationals countered at $4.45MM. His ultimate salary falls north of the $5.4MM midpoint.

Is that Twilight Zone or Outer Limits?
Or just a guy who got his picture taken in Chicago during the original Daley winter?

Twilight Zone or the guy behind the counter at the Billy Goat Tavern

http://myrottingbrain.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/...

http://twilightzoneproject.blogspot.com/2007/07/22...

Do you remember that big old guy at the BG?
In the wise guys corner? His bloody mary was a shot and a glass of tomato juice?
I took a woman from New Zealand there (her idea) way back then, and to that guy she said these exact words (imagine her accent too): "I'd like something tall and cool and refreshing. Have you any Pimms?"
He gave her a can of Old Style.

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

Before they were Pros.

(subscription) Very Complementary BP article featuring 4 Cub prospects: Baez, Almora, CJ Edwards and Vogelbomb.

Also 3 Brewers, 3 Pirates (Taillon), 3 Reds (Hamilton) and 4 Cardinal (Wong) prospects

FanGraphs Top 100 Prospects 2014:
Baez (4), Bryant (6), Almora (21), Soler (49), Alcantara (52), Johnson (77), Edwards (78)
Cubs tied for first with BOS and PIT for most guys (7)

http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/2014-top-100-prospe...

Whenever I start getting too excited about these recent prospect lists I visit the handy-dandy wiklifield and look at 2001 and 2002 list of Cubs in Baseball America's top 100 prospects for a little dose of prospect reality.

PS: thanks to everyone who contributed to wiklifield.

Well...Corey Patterson had a decent career...Scott Downs has been a very good reliever...Zambrano was very good until his ego exploded...Hinske was a decent player for a few seasons...Bobby Hill helped us get aramis Ramirez, and Hee Seop Choi was traded in a package for Derrek Lee. Juan Cruz has been a decent reliever for some time.

I think it's nice to see players now getting on the lists, not because of just 1 decent season, like Ben Christenson for 17 decent starts between A-AA in 2000, but for 2+ seasons. Ok, except for Bryant. Lol

I would like to think that scouting has evolved light years ahead of how evaluation was being done in 2001-02.

I have a feeling Corey Patterson had a "good baseball face" and "a cute girfriend" to help his scouting done back in the day.

/Moneyball'd

yes and no, you're still drafting and signing about the same number of players with the same number of MLB roster spots, so overall "success" rate is probably not gonna change much across the league. Maybe they look for a few different things now and not look at other things, but the hit/miss rate isn't going to change much.

Now there will always be people in the league that are just better at it and I would certainly put my money on TheJedi and McLeod Co, as being some of the best in the game at scouting and developing talent.

Their tracks records in Boston and (staring to show) in San Diego are pretty damn outstanding. Now we'll soon find out, especially with what they did in Boston, how much was gaming the system by collecting more draft picks and being able to blow the roof off bonuses, but they seem to find a lot of hidden gems along the way.

glad you like, need to update the 2014 lists, site was down for awhile.

"Korean right-hander Suk-Min Yoon tweeted a picture Tuesday night with him wearing an Orioles cap."

he was linked to the cubs for a minute or 2 a week+ ago before the strength of the link got shot down by local chicago media.

Derek Jeter announces retirement after 2014 season, jealous of Mariano Rivera's rocking chair.

 

Reds claim former Yankee Brett Marshall from Cubs. Brooks Raley claimed off waivers by Twins. Clearly Rusin was the better performing control lefty. Opens up roster spots for Hammel and McDonald.

McDonald was a minor league deal.

So the 40 man roster is 39? Something else brewing?

be 38 once they put Fujikawa on the 60-day, probably just leaving room now for some NRI's to grab some spots.

Poor Ryne Sandberg, who will inevitably be fired for the Phillies front office's failures.

And I still hate the damn Cardinals.

seems the beat writers are saying it's for McDonald and Hammel as you said Cubster, maybe the initial report on signing McDonald was incorrect.

Yeah, last I read, Hammel plus McDonald = back to 40.

 

Decent article on FanGraphs about reasons to wait on trading Samardzija.  I may be woefully out of the loop, but I hadn't heard that we were asking for either Upton (edit: the Good Upton) or Heyward from the Braves, or Stroman and Sanchez and More from the Jays.

Today (Thursday 2/13) is the first day most MLB clubs can place players on the 60-day DL (Spring Training officially starts 45 days prior to MLB Opening Day), although the Dodgers and Diamondbacks were allowed to place players on the 60-day DL a week earlier than the other 28 clubs this season (only), because the Dodgers and D'backs open the 2014 season in Australia a week before everybody else. 

Only the last nine days of Spring Tranining can count toward a DL stint, even if the player is placed on the 60-day DL in mid-February, So because official MLB 2014 Opening Day is Sunday 3/30 (at least for all teams except Arizona and the Dodgers), the earliest date a player placed on the 60-day DL in February can be reinstated is 5/20 (the 52nd day of the MLB regular season). 

So while the Cubs could have placed Kyuji Fujikawa on the 60-day DL to make room for either Jason Hammel or James McDonald, the fact that they didn't probably means that Fujikawa (and/or his agent) convinced the Cubs that he will be ready to pitch by MLB Opening Day (3/30), or at least sometime a lot sooner than May 20th.

Of course it also might be more a matter of Fujikawa having $2M in potential performamce bonuses tied to Games Finished (GF) sitting on the table, a goal that would likely be harder to reach if he doesn't get reinstated from the DL until 5/20. So even if he isn't necessarily ready to pitch in MLB games on Opening Day, taking the position where he maintains that he thinks he will be ready to pitch in games well before 5/20 is probably why the Cubs did not place him on the 60-day DL (at this time).

And I could see the Cubs being wary of a potential grievance that Team Fujikawa could file if the Cubs were to place him on the 60-DL at the start of Spring Training without first giving him a chance to prove he is (or is not) healthy enough to pitch in games, when (reportedly) he has been throwing since October, (apparently) passed his physical, and (probably) claims he will be ready to pitch by Opening Day or sometime soon thereafter (as a reliever he only has to get to the point where he can throw a 30-pitch inning and/or throw two days in a row--it's not like he has to be able to pitch five innings or throw 100 pitches to be considered ready for game action).

If a grievance were to be filed, the Cubs could conceivably be on the hook for Fujikawa's entire 2014 salary ($4M guaranteed plus the $2M in performance bonuses) plus the $5.5M vesting option and $500K in potential performance bonuses for 2015, and the Cubs probably just didn't want to take that $12M gamble, especially if Fujikawa would also probably be declared a free-agent to boot (if he were to win a grievance). So the price to avoid that posibility was not placing Fujikawa on the 60-day DL (at this time) and risking the loss of Brooks Raley or Brett Marshall.

As for why Marshall and Raley were placed on waivers when they were, the Cubs were obviously hoping that the two pitchers could get through waivers without being claimed. 

Because most clubs have their 40-man rosters pretty much set going into Spring Training, and because MLB clubs (other than LAD and AZ) can't place injured or rehabbing players on the 60-Dal DL until today (2/13), and because a player claimed off waivers must be added to the claiming club's MLB Reserve List (40-man roster) immediately, the Cubs were playing the percentrages that by placing Marshall and Raley on waivers on Monday and having the waivers clear on Wednesday, that they would have a better of chance of getting the two pitchers through waivers without being claimed since any claiming club would have HAD to add the pitcher to their MLB 40-man roster on Wednesday, but a club (other than AZ or LAD) would not be able to use the 60-day DL to clear a 40-man roster slot before Thursday. Unfortunately (for the Cubs), it didn't work out that way, because obviously CIN and MIN valued the two pitchers enough where finding room on their respective 40-man rosters was worth the trouble. 

What is significant about both Marshall and Raley is that if the Cubs had been able to secure waivers, neither was eligible to elect free-agency if outrighted, and (if outrighted) both would have been under club control through the 2015 season (since neither would have been eligible to be a minor league 6YFA until post-2015), although they both would have been eligible for selection in the December 2014 Rule 5 Draft if not added back to the MLB 40-man roster prior to that time. So you can see why the Cubs chose those two in particular when deciding which players on the 40-man roster to expose to waivers. 

And don't be surprised if Marshall and/or Raley go back on waivers again before Opening Day, if the Reds and/or the Twins find they need a 40-man roster slot for an NRI player who makes the 25-man Opening Day roster. 

 

If reports regarding James McDonald's contract are correct (non-guaranteed contract, and a $1M salary plus a performance bonus), if the Cubs were to release McDonald within 15 days of Opening Day they would owe him 45 days salary (about $250K), and if they release him more than 15 days prior to Opening Day they would owe him only 30 days salary (about $167K). 

The advantage McDonald has with a major league contract (even one that is not guaranteed) is that if he passes his physical and then is injured during Spring Training (even if it relates to a pre-existing problem), he cannot be released without the Cubs having to pay him his entire 2014 salary (plus possibly some or all of the performance bonus if a grievance is filed and McDonald wins).

Conversely, a player signed to a minor league contract who is injured during Spring Training or anytime up through the 14th day of the minor league club's regular season can be released with the club only obligated to pay the player two weeks salary as termination pay. Also, a minor league contract cannot include a performance bonus in addition to the player's salary. So that's probably why McDonald insisted on a major league contract.  

Unfortunately for the Cubs, signing a player to a major league contract requires the club to add the player to its MLB 40-man roster.


McDonald deal is for $1M, but non-guaranteed...some performance bonuses.

TheJedi speak...

Baez will be exposed to 2B and 3b in spring training, Castro staying at SS

Aroyds Vizcaino will be headed to bullpen once he's ready

Arrietta with a bum shoulder, week behind the rest of the group

Carlos Villanueva will be stretched out to start, Grimm will focus on being a reliever

Rusin in the mix for rotation spot

Valbuena/Murphy current 3b platoon, Olt has to take it from them

Theo said they will focus on pitching in this draft, not necessarily with first pick though.

https://twitter.com/ESPNChiCubs

https://twitter.com/CarrieMuskat

I'm unhappy about a surprising amount of this. The season must be on its way.

"Valbuena/Murphy current 3b platoon, Olt has to take it from them"

While I am sure this is true, I believe if he shows anything this spring he will get the job.

Like a pulse...or the ability to hit .250...

Olt batting .250 would be vastly more valuable than either of the other two. He's walked a ton in the minors and has significant power. Frankly, I think Olt probably only has to hit about .220-.230 to be a better hitter than Valbuena.

Thank God I have two pitchers playing college baseball to watch rather than another season of Valbuena/Murphy. I'll check back when Baez, Bryant, et al get here later this summer.

Pics of new spring training facility

http://galleries.apps.chicagotribune.com/chi-photos-cubs-new-facility-in...

it's purdy...

Geez Tim: You are totally channeling Linda Barry with this dude -

http://fatherofcalcium.blogspot.com/2010/09/lynda-...

got this link from CCO...some discussion that this is the reason Ha was left available to the rule 5 draft

GSI ‏@GSIntegration Feb 12
#Cubs prospect OF, Jae-Hoon Ha recently underwent wrist surgery on his left hand. Currently rehabbing in AZ. Aiming to return by June.

http://www.aaronsmart.com/08/news/html/players/pla...

more info...still not sure of the date of Ha's surgery, but it looks like they knew about the wrist problem 6-30-13 even though initial reports said he had a bruised wrist.

looks like he had surgery on a fractured Hamate (same as Almora's surgery last year).

07/03/2013 Injured on 06/30/2013, (eventually) diagnosed with a broken hamate bone in his wrist, will miss 2-3 months.

http://www.adjustedstats.com/sbl/reports/teams/tea...

Ha played in Iowa after that supposed injury date, albeit he didn't hit well going .176 in his final 10 games, including 0-4 on Sept 2nd. (.241 overall in Iowa).

http://www.milb.com/milb/stats/stats.jsp?pos=&sid=...

There has got to be more to this story as Almora's injury was diagnosed quickly and his surgery followed almost immediately after the diagnosis was made.

CUBSTER: www.aaronsmart.com is a simulation program. It has nothing to do with reality.

Jae-Hoon Ha's 2013 stats & injury info listed there are totally bogus, including the surgery for a broken hamate bone.

You should really check out a site called The Cub Reporter. There is some idiot there called Arizona Phil who covers Extended Spring Training like a glove, and he reported last Spring that JH Ha was at Fitch Park for most of May and June rehabbing from a lower back strain (which did not require surgery). 

Phil, the glove does fit!

Hi AZ Phil: I did look at your reports from last May when Ha hurt his back. This seemed to come later, end of June. I didn't realize there was a black market for fake wrist surgery. Maybe they are perpetrators of insurance fraud. Did the surgeon get paid for the operation too? I'll check his website out.

The odd thing is that nobody gave a date of surgery when I tried to comp it to what Almora went through.

Paint me as just one more sucker, scammed.

seems you found a player page for a game called Out of the Park Baseball, I think people run their own leagues

http://www.ootpdevelopments.com/out-of-the-park-baseball/

This is the strangest thread I've seen on TCR in a while.

AZ Phil,
Do you know the report date for the minor leaguers this spring?

HAGSAG: I don't know the exact mandatory reporting dates for Minor League Camp, but the Cubs minor league pitchers & catchers probably report on or about March 2nd, position players probably report on or about March 8th, and the first Cactus League minor league games are probably on or about March 14th.

However, several Cubs minor leaguer position players are already at Riverview, and there will likely be a few more reporting in advance of the mandatory reporting date. The players who report early to Minor League Camp are the ones who will get a chance to play in an MLB Cactus League game or two.

I did up a little Flipboard thingy to get Cubs news on my iPad.

This is still the only worthwhile place to look for what's really going on.

Can't logon from home laptop, just spins once I hit login with my info.

Any ideas?

how did you post something if you can't login?

work computer.

I have Mozilla on my laptop at home,does that make a differnce?

shouldn't, does it say log-in or logout in the menu bar under the logo?

Possible you logged in but page didn't refresh or go where it was suppose to...and when you go back, you'll be logged in.

Otherwise try things like clearing your cache, restarting the browser, trying another browser (safari, chrome, firefox all work the same) or restarting your computer.

But if it works on another computer for you and seems to be working for others, then it's most likely something on your end unfortunately and difficult for me to troubleshoot.

all good

He look kinda old for 33.

cubs spring training broadcast schedule...Eastern Time...

Thursday, February 27 vs. Arizona 4:05 PM - WGN
Saturday, March 15 vs. NY Mets 4:05 PM - WGN
Sunday, March 16 vs. Cleveland 4:05 PM - CSN
Monday, March 17 vs. LA Angels 4:05 PM - CSN
Thursday, March 20 vs. Seattle 4:05 PM - CSN
Saturday, March 22 vs. Cincinnati 4:05 PM - WGN
Sunday, March 23 @Oakland 4:05 PM - WGN
Tuesday, March 25 vs. LA Angels 4:05 PM - CSN
Friday, March 28 @Arizona 9:40 PM - CSN
Saturday, March 29 @Arizona 4:10 PM - CSN
Monday, March 31 @Pittsburgh 1:05 PM - ESPN

MLB Network:

Tue., Feb. 26 1:00 a.m. Chicago Cubs@ Los Angeles Dodgers
Mon., March 4 9:30 a.m. Chicago Cubs Split Squad @ Los Angeles Angels
Sat., March 16 (LIVE) 4:00 p.m. Texas Rangers Split Squad @ Chicago Cubs Split Squad
Sun., March 17 9:00 a.m. Kansas City Royals @ Chicago Cubs Split Squad
Fri., March 22 1:00 a.m. Chicago Cubs Split Squad @ Seattle Mariners
Mon., March 25 7:00 a.m. Chicago Cubs @ Cleveland Indians
Tue., March 26 7:00 a.m. San Francisco Giants @ Chicago Cubs
Thu., March 28 2:00 a.m. Chicago Cubs @ Kansas City Royals Split Squad
Fri., March 29 7:00 a.m. Seattle Mariners @ Chicago Cubs

MLB Network is shafting the cubs coverage yet again...lot of AM replays and only 1 live game.

Cubs sign Emilio Bonifacio to a minor league deal.

http://espn.go.com/chicago/mlb/story/_/id/10460824...

I think the Royals are still paying him $3.5M, and the Cubs just pay him the minimum if he makes the team?

JOHN B: Because Bonifacio had a non-guaranteed contract ($3.5M salary) and because the Royals released him when they did, they only had to pay him 30 days salary (about $575K) as termination pay.

If he had a guaranteed contract and then was released, the Royals would be on the hook for the entire $3.5M minus whatever he got when he signed with another club (presumably the MLB minimum salary, which is $500K in 2014). But since his contract was not guaranteed, if and when Bonifacio signs which another club (as he apparently has), the Royals don't owe him anything additional beyond the $575K (30 days salary) they paid him when he was released. 

Therefore, I doubt that he would settle for the MLB minimum salary when he signs with the Cubs. He's probably going to want something close to the difference between his original $3.5M 2014 salary and the $575K he received as termination pay from KC (the difference being about $2.925M). 

BTW, if the Cubs had claimed Bonifacio off Release Waivers, it would only cost a buck (the Release Waiver price is $1), but then they would have assumed the entire $3.5M salary, which is why players making more than the MLB minimum salary are rarely claimed off Release Waivers.  

 

as AZ Phil said. Heyman tweets to confirm specifics. per mlbtr...

Bonifacio will make $2.5MM, plus a possible $425K in incentives, if he makes the Cubs out of spring training, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman tweets. Bonifacio therefore will not make a league-minimum salary, as had previously been reported. Including the $574K Bonifacio will receive in termination pay from the Royals, his Cubs deal could pay him up to the $3.5MM he orginally would have received had he stuck with Kansas City.

So who (singular or plural) is most likely squeezed by the Bonaficio acquisition, assuming he makes the 25 man roster at the end of the spring.

1) Barney
2) Valbuena
3) D. Murphy
4) and poor ol' Logan Watkins.
5) and what if Olt wins the 3B job?

certainly this keeps Alcantara/Baez/Villaneuva in Iowa for the time being although few would have expected any of the young-uns to make the team out of Mesa.

Best case scenario, Barney and Bonifacio are both trade bait come July with Olt sticking at 3B and someone emerging as a decent enough 2B (Alcantara, Watkins, Baez, or even Valbuena/Murphy) to take that spot over. Most likely this seals Watkins and Kalish both starting the season in AAA and puts additional pressure on Valbuena and Murphy to hit and out-defend Bonifacio (and Olt) if they want to keep their jobs and relegate Bonifacio to a 5th-outfielder/speedster role.

I kind of just don't get Bonifacio on the Cubs, except that he's maybe the only speedster on the roster now assuming we don't believe Lake is going to learn a trick other than the delayed steal.

Vitters and Brett Jackson slide even further into the background.

from the department of "it could be worse"...

"Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said Saturday that Scott Feldman is the only Astros hurler with a rotation spot locked up."

looks like the mulder comeback has hit a major roadblock...

"Mark Mulder suffered a ruptured left Achilles while doing agility drills, Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports."

yahoo fantasy baseball is open, fwiw...never received notification of it, but it's there and drafts are going.

Hey crunch!
Where have you been?

here...not much to complain talk about lately.

This went under the radar, so to speak. 50 years ago, yesterday...a sad day in Cubs history.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ken_Hubbs

Ryan Dempster breaking news...He's not saying he's retiring but he's not pitching in 2014, per Ken Rosenthal.

https://twitter.com/Ken_Rosenthal/status/435074894...

“I don’t feel like I am capable of performing to the ability and standard that I am accustomed to,” Dempster told Rosenthal. “I feel it’s in the best interest of both the club but most importantly myself to step away from playing baseball at this time. The time is right. I’m not saying retirement but I definitely won’t be playing this season.”

Dempster signed a two-year, $26.5 million free agent contract with the Red Sox last winter. He’ll be placed on the restricted list and won’t get the $13.25 million salary that he stood to earn in 2014.

http://hardballtalk.nbcsports.com/2014/02/16/ryan-...

some speculation that his frees up Boston money for either resigning S. Drew (no draft pick attached to him for Boston) or maybe Ubaldo Jimenez or I. Santana (not sure about their concern about giving up a draft pick with the pitchers)

https://twitter.com/alexspeier/status/435081933228...

supposedly Dempster's neck problems lead to this decision

I hope it's "just" his neck, and not something with his daughter's medical situation taking a turn for the worse... :(    The whole thing seems to suggest there's more going on than what's being said. 

and Bravos give Kimbrel $42/4 and a $13M option for year 5... with incentives to earn up to $58.5M total.

Top 4 College Pitchers (or so) in the 2014 Draft and their first starts...

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

Nick Cafardo's Sunday article...

Ranks managers, naturally Farrell is 1st and the newbies are all at the bottom and Renteria is 30 of 30.

Bottom...

23. Robin Ventura, White Sox — Tough job having to manage an ever-changing landscape.

24. Ryne Sandberg, Phillies — Always difficult to manage a transitioning team with older, broken players and a few newbies.

25. Lloyd McClendon, Mariners — A good man who deserved a second chance.

26. Bo Porter, Astros — Who can tell?

27. Bryan Price, Reds — The latest pitching coach-turned-manager.

28. Brad Ausmus, Tigers — All signs point to success.

29. Matt Williams, Nationals — After Davey Johnson, the younger Williams could motivate the players.

30. Rick Renteria, Cubs — Theo Epstein wanted a bilingual manager to get through to his growing Latin roster and tabbed Renteria.

Like a hungover teacher popping in a video.

from Cafardo's Apropos of Nothing section:

Fascinating survey on baseball conducted by Repucom, a sports marketing firm. Here are some of the findings: Major league baseball has the second-largest fan base of the major sports, behind only the NFL. It is second in the number of avid fans as well, with 47 percent of their overall fan base. This is higher than NBA and right behind the NFL . . . The top five teams in terms of fan base size are the Yankees (11.9 percent of baseball fans), Red Sox (6.8 percent), Braves (6.8 percent), Cubs (5.2 percent), and Tigers (4.9 percent) . . . Baseball fans love to attend games, with 21 percent saying they have attended at least one game in the last 12 months. This is more than both the NBA and NFL . . . Baseball fans are less active on social media than NBA or NFL fans.

and Cafardo ends with this...

Also, “Yankees outfielder Alfonso Soriano is the Cubs’ highest-paid player with Chicago paying $13 million of his $18 million salary.”

http://www.bostonglobe.com/sports/2014/02/16/annua...

Brett Jackson, in the best shape of his life...

All wry skepticism aside, if he has found happiness in playing baseball again, then good for him.

Jackson's problem isn't that he isn't in good shape every year.

"Carrie Muskat @CarrieMuskat
#Cubs Renteria looking at Starlin Castro as leadoff man"

if d.barney is hitting 2nd i hope they do a more intense manager search next go-around.

that said, while i think castro should hit 2nd in a best case scenario, it's hard to figure say who fits anywhere in the lineup aside from rizzo hitting 3rd or 4th anyway. there's a lot of "meh" all over the lineup.

i would think lake/sweeney would have been (or will be) #1 hitting contenders with castro 2nd and rizzo 3rd if i had to venture a guess.

i'm ready for 2015...i think.

Mustkat will never be confused for a rigorous thinker, but this blurb from the mlb.com article made me do a double take:

 

"Castro has a career .300 average batting first, but overall he also has a career .322 on-base percentage, which would not put in him [sic] the top 25 in the National League."


Indeed. Going to FanGraphs and sorting NL players from 2010-2013, his .322 OBP is 98th.  Which indeed does not put him in the top 25....

Heh, and by that same filter, ranked 94th at .324 it's.... it's.... Anthony Rizzo.

 

 

Wondering if she meant by SS only?

Ahh, good call, it likely is that.

i'm ready for 2015...i think.
---
Alcantara leads off in 2015.

ZIPS projected 2014 OBP/OPS for likely starting-job contenders:
Castro 319/732
Rizzo 336/800
Castillo 323/716
Valbuena 325/701
Ruggiano 310/737
Barney 299/648
Olt 299/682
Schierholtz 312/765
Sweeney 321/729
Murphy 291/709
Lake 295/675
Bonifacio 315/654

There's no wrong answer to the lineup at this point, mostly because there's no right answer. But trying to use some type of optimization, and without having the power to actually change who goes into/out of the lineup, I guess I'd go (v RH) Sweeney, Schierholtz, Rizzo, Castro, Castillo, Valbuena, Lake, Bonifacio; and (v LH) Castro, Ruggiano, Rizzo, Castillo, Schierholtz, Murphy, Lake, Barney.

Then there are these:
Alcantara 307/712 (better than Barney, par with Murphy, almost as good as Valbuena)
Baez 295/781 (OPS better than all Cubs except Rizzo despite that ugly OBP)
Szczur 309/654 (AAAA)
Villanueva 294/706 (the Donnie Murphy era is drawing to a close)
Olt 299/682 (the hourglass is low)
Soler 303/699 (maybe could be the short side of Schier's RF platoon pretty soon)

Hmmm...not sure how many spots they'll platoon, but I wouldn't be surprised if our only true every day players are Rizzo/Castro/Castillo.

vs RH/vs LH
8 Sweeney/Bonifacio?
6 Castro
3 Rizzo
2 Castillo
9 Schierholtz/Ruggiano
5 Valbuena/Olt
7 Lake
4 Bonifacio/Barney

the idea of bon playing 2nd makes me a little sick to my stomach...and that's even factoring in d.barney actually getting to play there as the alternative. he's clumbsy there. even if you take fielding out the equation (of which he's average at best, and that's generous) his arm is meh and his footwork + instincts have historically been beyond meh. CF/LF...sure...2nd...only in a pinch. that said, i wouldn't be up in arms if he saw a lot of work there in spring, both to show what he's currently got and to actually get some work there even if he's expected to play there as a 3rd string backup.

i'd rather see valbuena or d.murphy get barney's ABs. pending a "barney comeback" i wouldn't be surprised to see valbuena take over at 2nd for a good chunk of ABs if a 3rd baseman emerges from the pile.

How many times have you seen Bonifacio play? Honestly curious.

dozens of times (mlb EI is a religion that my wife tolerates...thankfully...and thank you Kindle).

last year in TOR really formed a lot of this opinion on him and his play at 2nd, though.

Because he was likely "on the bubble" as far as being a non-tender candidate in December, and because he almost certainly signed a non-guaranteed contract for 2014, the Cubs could release Darwin Barney prior to Opening Day and pay him only 45 days salary as termination pay (about $575K).   

So I don't think it's too much of a stretch to think that Luis Valbuena or Emilio Bonifacio (or maybe even Logan Watkins if he has a strong Cactus League performance) could end up being the Cubs Opening Day 2B, although I do think Bonifacio was probably signed to be the "super-sub" bench guy, and Valbuena moving to 2B would only happen if Mike Olt wins the 3B job by proving he's 100% healthy and has a Gary Scott-like Cactus League at the plate. 

No way Barney makes $2.3M per year as a utility infielder (his probable eventual future). 

 

Surprising, AZ Phil. You used to be something of a Barney booster. Your oft-repeated "not chopped liver" claim--well, repeated often by me, in any case--was in reference to Barney.

I like Barney. He'll make someone (but not the Cubs) a good shortstop some day. Right now, along with a couple of other players who came into contact with Dale Sveum at a sensitive moment in their offensive careers, he's recovering from an attempted makeover.

VA PHIL: My boosting Darwin Barney was back when he played SS, because I think he has more value there than he does at 2B or as a utility infielder. I still believe Barney can be a decent MLB SS on a team that doesn't have one. For instance, he would have been a good fit at SS with the Cardinals in 2013. 

As I mentioned, I do think there is a fair chance that the Cubs will release Barney before Opening Day, like if Logan Watkins has a hot Cactus League at the plate and proves he can hit lead-off and that he can handle the routine plays at 2B, or if Mike Olt wins the 3B job and Luis Valbuena is moved to 2B (his "natural" position), or if the Cubs decide they want to get Emilio Bonifacio's speed into the lineup every day at 2B (even though they would be sacrificing some defense to do that). 

Again, I'm not saying that Barney will positively get released before Opening Day, but I do believe that if he loses the starting 2B job before Opening Day he will be released. Because if he isn't the starting 2B, $2.3M is just too much to pay for a utility infielder with Barney's particular skill-set.

And even if he does survive Spring Training. I doubt very much that Barney will still be with the Cubs this time next year. I think the Cubs will want more offense from 2B going forward. 

I am surprised they offered him arbitration. It seems like they have many other cheaper and maybe better options for second. I can only assume that they think he has trade value.

Trade value gamble on the Gold Glove defensive rep and hopes of a rebound in batting average making him appealing to a contender/fringe contender with a 2B or even SS injury is my guess.

brendan ryan...who just signed 2/4m with the yanks...hasn't hit above .200/.280 avg/ob% in 2 season (hit .197/.255 last year) and possesses no power to go with that slash line.

pure D, no bat. there's a team somewhere for barney and his glove, especially if he can still play SS well.

Fingers crossed that someone will over pay for him.

I see that Barney's future is not with the Cubs; but they'll play him and build him up--that's Renteria's job--and try to trade him advantageously in July, even though he's a starter. He's really a placeholder for Alcantara.

Same with Castro, who's a placeholder for Baez.

Shortstops lose value when they move to second. The way the Cub organization commoditizes players these days, I don't see Baez or Castro moving, except to another city.

Hopefully the prospects coming up will push them into making some choices. That is what is going to be interesting to watch this season.

Here's a Jim Caple story on Olympic bobsledding. I have the flu, so I thought I was hallucinating Cubs stuff:

http://espn.go.com/olympics/winter/2014/bobsled/story/_/id/10471877/2014...

Mat Gamels blows out same knee for 3rd year in a row, Braves release him since it happened during workout before spring training.

 

There's a very particular kind of sympathy/pity I feel for notoriously oft-injured baseball players (Gamel, Mulder, Prior, Wood, etc). Maybe it's because they lay bare the futility of human effort and passion. Or something.

-edited/deleted- repeat post about gamel 20 seconds late.

umm...go cubs...or something.

Surprised you didn't take the opportunity to abbreviate the player's name: "Gam"?

Was that cause it's under 6 letters?

there is no method to my madness.

i'm gonna call him "g-dawg mckneepain" from now on.

Gat Mammal

The Trib's David Haugh writes that "Rizzo is at a career crossroads."
Now, I am too cheap to pay to read the trib online, but I wonder how a second year player, who is 24 yrs old, can be at a crossroads?

How? When an idiot like David Haugh writes it.

Print media is dead.

here it is
http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/baseball/cubs...

This is his second "career crossroads" other being sent to minors at San Diego.

Big baseball guy, Haugh is.

I give Haugh a little bit of slack, only because he's a generalist who's not a prick like Mariotti, plus I do find him to be a good, thoughtful writer. (I have not read this article, though.) My guess is he's saying that if Rizzo has another season like last year, or worse, there are going to be a lot of people wondering, right or wrong, if he's already hit his ceiling. Crossroad might be too strong.

Ricketts tells media he thinks "this team can go to the playoffs."

Ugh

i have a feeling the ever-shrinking line to get his autograph and picture taken might be at an all-time low this year.

"Carlos Ruiz has received an exemption to use Adderall in 2014."

almost 10% of MLB has ADHD...amazing.

they really need to "fix" that issue with minor leaguers getting screwed over by smoking weed. yes, it can be argued that they shouldn't be doing it in the first place with a known penalty hanging over them...but treating it the same way they treat speed + roids with the same suspensions misses the point of "performance enhancing" cheating and the scale of danger to the player's health.

...also, h.bailey (CIN) 6/105...2014-2019. 7th year contains a 25m option or 5m buyout.

Good lord...Homer Bailey gets $105 mill....$17.5 per or so?
Wow...

the online community is trolling the hell out of MLB TV's "Face of MLB" online voting.

eric sogard moves into the 3rd round after a second round win over tulo (1st round win was vs rizzo)...winning 67% of the vote.

b.posey up next.

"Japhet Amador may not report to the Astros due to a family emergency in Mexico."

awww...i was looking forward to seeing him compete and maybe make the team out of spring training. dude is huge...as in "can he even run to 1st if he had to?" kind of huge. big time power hitter in the mexican league for a few seasons, but his conditioning (lack of it) has scared teams away for years.

Is it possible he ate his family?

BP ranks Baez top minor leaguer for power tool. Bryant, Sano, Moya and Taveras get honorable mentions. Stanton is current major leagues top power tool. All time: Mickey Mantle. They also to a similar hit tool ranking (MiLB: Oscar Taveras. Current: Miggy, All-time: Tony Gwynn).

Top Power Tool in the Minor Leagues: Javier Baez (Chicago Cubs)
Among the prospects in the game with elite raw power, Baez takes the cake because of his ability to translate that power to game situations. Despite being an ultra-aggressive hitter, Baez’s ability to consistently make contact allows him to tap into his raw power and could lead to him dropping 35-40 bombs a year in the majors. Elite raw power is rare, but the ability to bring that type of raw from batting practice into games is even rarer. Of the players considered for this list, Baez is clearly the best bet to actualize his top-of-the-scale raw power, and he could begin doing that as soon as this summer.

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

Another day of "live" BP at Riverview Park, with Edwin Jackson, Dallas Beeler, Eric Jokisch, Jason Hammel, Wesley Wright, Blake Parker, Carlos Pimentel,and Jonathan Sanchez throwing "one inning" (30 pitches) each. Signed as a minor league 6YFA post-2013, Pimentel (ex-TEX) was named Pitcher of the Year in the Dominican Winter League

Javier Baez, Mike Olt, Arismendy Alcantara, Josh Vitters, and George Kottaras hit together in one group, and Kris Bryant, Albert Almora, Jeudy Valdez, and Rafael Lopez hit together in another.After the eight pitchers who were scheduled to throw "live" BP finished their work, Baez and Olt put on a power display worthy of Mike Schmidt vs Dave Kingman in another BP session on Field #5 (with a coach throwing). 

FWIW, Olt worked-out at 1B (not 3B) during pre-BP infield practice, so if Olt does make the Opening Day 25-man roster, he will almost certainly be the back-up 1B (although 3B is his natural position, he has played some 1B previosly in his career).

One time Red Sox top prospect CF Ryan Kalish (cervical fusion surgery rehab) looks fine and is swinging the bat without any restriction. (Kalish had the same surgery last Summer that Peyton Manning had a couple of years ago). I don't know if his arm is OK, though, because he is also rehabbing from a torn labrum in his shoulder. He might need to spend some time at Extended Spring Training to get al of his repaired body parts back to 100% playing shape.

 

jed hoyer on mlb network...

blah blah young players...blah blah more young players coming...blah blah lot of talent...not one guy is finished developing yet and no one is gonna be rushed...new manager great way about him while being stern and players respond to him...ninja part of the future, could be leader, lots of conversations about extensions, hopeful to find right value on both sides...castro looks great, worked hard this winter

beyond the usual above, there was more than a few hints that if guys who aren't on the MLB level start tearing up AA/AAA it's doubtful they're going to have their MLB clocks started "early".

...basically more confirmation of the obvious that this is a punt development year before game 1 starts.

long live jumbotrons, advertising bridges that don't carry any human traffic, more billboard ads, and lawyers for arguing with your neighbors.

2014 Chicago Cubs - Litigate the Fever (tm)

*disclaimer* dems just jokes...don't get bent out of shape. i am well aware of what some people assume is "the plan."

The slogan landed. I LOL'd.

You know, Wittenmeyer has reached the "I'm a whiny, singing the same-Cubs/Ricketts-won't-buy-any-free-agents, pocketing-$50,000,000-in-payroll" broken record reporter status.

Really, Gordon? Have you not seen what the Braves have done this winter? The Dodgers with Kershaw? Giants with Posey?

There aren't any FA's worth signing unless you want to overpay for past results to players at or past their prime. Seen that movie as have Theo/Jed; know how it ends.

IF.....IF (and yes it is still a big if), Baez, Bryant, Almora, Soler, and Edwards turn out similar to Teheran, Kimbrel, & Simmons.....then I would not be surprised to see the Cubs do the same thing.

This is the "new free agency" model so pay attention Gordon and anyone else upset with Cubs payroll and roster signings. Welcome to the New World.

He has definitely reached Sullivan-level of disgust with his job.

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