NL Central Is Going to Be Awesome
Not much going on in Cubsland, but the Reds are done putting the finishing touches on their 2009 World Series team. Today, they added Cubs scraps Jacque Jones and Daryle Ward on minor league deals. They'll join Arthur Rhodes's neck, Willy Taveras at the top of the lineup (snicker) and Ramon Hernandez. This was the plan to overcome a 280 run difference and 23 games.
As for the Brewers, Ben Sheets is going to have surgery on a partially torn flexor tendon that will keep him out 4-6 months. Why don't we just just go ahead and count out 2009 in its entirety? The Brewers were counting on two draft picks from a team signing Sheets and already got screwed on a first round pick when the Yankees signed Mark Teixeira, which forced the Brewers to take the Yanks second round pick for signing Sabathia. I'm not sure of the rules on free agent compensation if Sheets doesn't sign until mid-season or possibly next offseason (but I'm sure Arizona Phil does). They also recently announced they were done for the offseason and perfectly content with a rotation of Yovani Gallardo, Dave Bush, Jeff Suppan and whomever else they can pull out of line from a brewery tour.
The Astros big moves were to add Jason Michaels, Aaron Boone and Mike Hampton and cut ties with one of their better hitters from last year - Ty Wigginton. Ed Wade, you're a sly one.
The Pirates added...fuck, who cares....
The Cardinals added some relievers and Khalil Greene. Troy Glaus is likely to miss some part of the beginning of the season after shoulder surgery in January. If Chris Carpenter is healthy and back to form, well they could be interesting. They were a pretty good offense last year, added Greene to it and tried to address some bullpen woes. Carpenter would only make them better, but his health is one helluva of an if.
So while many lament about the Cubs taking a few steps back this offseason or just treading water; (I'm in the treading water camp and when you won 97 games, that's perfectly acceptable. Also, after all these years of online chatting, I often find myself wanting to invoke parenthesis in the middle of an actual conversation with a live human being. But I fear they don't share my same addiction to chatting with anonymous online people...plus drawing parenthesis with my hands in the air looks weird) the rest of the NL Central seems to have accepted the Cubs as their dark overlords.
Also, our twitter page that I mentioned yesterday should now get automatically updated with the title of the post and a link back to the story. I also moved and added some things to the menu bar up top, should hopefully make things a little easier to find. TCR Junk Drawer is gone and has been replaced by Wiklifield and Arizona Phil's Corner. If anyone has a better name than "TCR Social" for links to our RSS info, facebook and twitter pages, I'm all ears. Finally, with the addition of an RSS feed to comments, you can now read comments from our mobile site. I'm hoping for a more functional mobile site by the end of the year, but at least it's something.
Jake Arrieta gives up first inning run
For the first time in a year, 33 starts.
Old news, sorry if it's 3/44-
J-Hey being classy by repaying an old teammate:
With Paredes moving to 3B, how do you see playing time shaking out between him and Galindo? Do you think Galindo gets starts at 1B? Galindo is more of a prospect than Paniagua, right?
Phil, your knowledge of the Cubs Minor League system is unbelievable.
This kid would be a key piece in a trade for a pitcher, imo.
This might be old news but Hammel was on ESPN 1000 and said that he changed his diet and workout routine over the off season and tweaked his delivery so it'd be more repeatable so he'd have a better second half. So...some cause for optimism anyway.
CHILDERS: RHSP Dylan Cease and LHSP Bryan Hudson are probably the top two SP prospects in the organization right now.
LHSP Jose Paulino has electric stuff (91-94 MPH fastball with sinking action and a mid-80's slider), but he also has trouble commanding it.
RHP Jose Albertos (2015 IFA - Mexico - $1.5M bonus) just turned 17 in November, and his fastball already sits at 95-96. He also throws a curve and a change-up, and is fairly advanced for a kid his age.
AZBOBBOP: Most of 2016 draft picks will get assigned to either Eugene or AZL Cubs, but the Opening Day Eugune roster will probably be almost 100% from the Extended Spring Training squad roster (pending the arrival of draft picks).
I think I can probably tell you which pitchers and players at EXST are in contention for roster slots at Eugene and which are in contention for slots with the AZL Cubs - AS THINGS STAND RIGHT NOW - (listed alphabetically):
* bats or throws left
# bats both
Eloy Jimenez atop the leader board for minor-league home runs in the Cub system, with seven. Tied with Balaguert and Vogelbach, two 24-year-olds. Jimenez won't be 20 until late November. Leads the Midwest League in SLG and OPS. Maybe he'll get promoted to the Myrtle Beach squad that visits Woodbridge, VA, in June or Frederick, MD, in August.
Watched two Pelican games at Frederick the other week. Was most impressed by Stinnett and Happ. Happ may swing harder than Javier Baez, though more compactly. (Also got to see Brockmeyer hit a bomb.)
E-MAN: Jose Paniagua isn't a string-bean, but I wouldn't say he necessarily bulked-up during the 2015-16 off-season either, He led the DSL Cubs in HR and doubles in 2014, and he showed XBH power when he arrived in Mesa last year, leading the AZL Cubs in HR, doubles, and RBI in 2015. It's just that he has taken his HR power to a new level this year.
Paniagua displayed plus-HR power in Cactus League Minor League Spring Training games in March, and that got him a slot on the South Bend Opening Day roster. But he was sent to EXST after only six MWL games.
More on the Cub Way.
Martinez is one of my least favorite pitchers in baseball. I'd love to see a game like yesterday's against him.
Send Soler down!
Awesome thanks AZ
Great report, Phil! This organization has so many hitters to be excited about.
Ben Zobrist is very enjoyable to watch!!!!!!