Cubs Complete Outfield By Signing Dexter Fowler and Shane Victorino

In less than 24 hours, the Cubs have significantly altered their outfield situation for 2016. Yesterday, Dexter Fowler was re-signed to a one-year $8 million contract with a $5 million buyout or $9 million mutal option for 2017, and joined the team in a moment. Fowler will start in CF and lead-off most days, with Jason Heyward now slotted for starting everyday in RF, with the ability to move to CF to give Fowler a dayoff or as part of  late inning double switches. This significantly increases Heyward's value, since he is a strong right-fielder with little experience playing center. Jorge Soler will now back-up both RF and LF, perhaps forming part of a platoon with Kyle Schwarber in LF, playing against lefties. Soler has hit lefties and righties about equally well so far in his career (though with limited PAs to draw conclusions from). Though again in limited PAs, Schwarber has struggled aginst lefties, posting an OPS nearly 500 points lower than against righties. Similarly, Heyward has posted an OPS nearly 200 points lower against lefties than righties over his career.

To make room for Fowler on the roster, the versatile Chris Coghlan was traded to the Oakland Athletics for AAA starting pitcher , who has not produced much at the big league level, but is stretched out as starter, has minor league options left, keeps his walks down, and is cheap. This will be his age 26 season, so he still has some time to click, and presumably the Cubs at least saw some potential in him.

Today, the Cubs made their latest move by signing to a minor league contract worth $1 million with an additional $1 million possible in incentives. Victorino struggled badly the last two years while battling a number of injuries, including some back issues. He had just 133 PAs with the Red Sox in 2014 and 204 PAs split between the Red Sox and Angels in 2015, and posted and OPS of just .635 combined over that time. He also abandoned switch hitting over those two seasons, hitting only right-handed because hitting left-handed aggrevated his injuries. This will also be his age 35 season, so it is not clear how much he has left in the tank. He claims he is healthy--but all free agents typically do that during the off-season--and there were rumors that he was back to switch-hitting, though we'll see if that materializes in spring training. If he is indeed healthy, then of course the upside potential is high. In 2013, before injuries set in, he put up an 801 OPS, was 21 for 24 in stolen bases, won a gold glove playing mostly RF, and had a WAR of 6.1. That was a career year though, and a repeat shouldn't be expected. Still, if healthy, he could bat .260 with some occasional pop, steal some bases at a high percentage, and back-up all three outfield spots with a strong arm. In addition, he has over 250 post-season at bats across 6 seasons, and has two World Series rings. And all of that is not bad for $1 million. If he really struggles or gets injuried again, he'll be cut in camp. But if he survives and plays at all decently he will almost certainly make the opening day roster, relegating Matt Szczur to AAA. With both Javy Baez and Ben Zobrist able to play OF if needed, the team now has sufficient abilty to cover those three positions and do a lot of defensive switching and playing matchups, which Joe Maddon likes to do.

With those two signings, that makes the opening day position player part of the roster essentially set, barring injury: Miguel Montero, David Ross, Anthony Rizzo, Ben Zobrist, Tommy La Stella, Addison Russell, Javy Baez, Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber, Jorge Soler, Shane Victorino, Dexter Fowler, and Jason Heyward. That would then leave 12 slots for pitchers. Assuming a rotation of Jake Arietta, Jon Lester, John Lackey, Jason Hammel, and Kyle Hendricks, that leaves a stiff competition for the final 7 bullpen spots between at least these 9 players, with injuries likely making the decision for the team to start the season:

Hector Rondon (R)
Pedro Strop (R)
Justin Grimm (R)
Neil Ramirez (R)
Rex Brothers (L)
Trevor Cahill (R)
Adam Warren (R)
Travis Wood (L)
Clayton Richard (L)

Comments

I was checking out pitch per plate appearance stats from last year to look at Fowler's ranking (he was 10th in the NL) and I didn't realize Addison Russell was 7th in the NL. I think he is someone not to forget in this lineup considering he was so young last year. We know he has stellar defense and I think of anyone he's the most poised to take a big step forward with his bat.

Dude hasn't even scratched the surface yet.

Big Victorino fan (pre-injury. of course). As WISC says, not a bad thing IF he is healthy and performs respectably for 200 ABs or less, and his nice late-inning glove potential. $1MM this year is the equivilent of 5 innings of one Cardinals summer game if you include advertising, concessions, gate receipts, rooftops, and legacy billboards now. It ain't shit. IIRC his Playoff OPS is respectable @750+. putting him smack dab between average and above-average according to fangraphs regular season (probably a little better than that for playoffs performance).

AZ Phil, is Manny Ramirez still with the Cubs? Is he in camp?

HAGSAG: Manny Ramirez works with the Cubs minor leaguers, usually on a special assignment with certain players with whom he has developed a positive relationship (like Javy Baez and Jorge Soler in 2014).

ManRam's most-recent student was Eloy Jimenez, and I wouldn't be surprised if he works with Eddy Julio Martinez in 2016, although I can't confirm that will happen. 

Another one for you Az Phil. Late last season Montero said he would tutor Schwarber on the finer points of catching in Arizona during the off-season. Did that ever take place? Thanks in advance.

HOOK: Other than both being members of the 2016 Cubs Catching Corps, I am not aware of any special mentor-student relationship between Miguel Montero and Kyle Schwarber. 

I do know that Cubs Minor League Field Coordinator & Catching Coordinator Tim Cossnns (he is such a good catching instructor that he does both jobs) has worked extensively with Schwarber, both during the off-season and at Iowa before Schwarber got called up to Chicago last season. 

And the Cubs do indeed very much continue to project Schwarber as an MLB catcher, although his development was interrupted last season after he got called up to Chicago and was inserted into the lineup as the every-day LF. 

BTW, Schwarber really loves being a catcher. I doubt that he would want to give it up  But as long as David Ross and Miguel Montero are still around, I can't see Schwarber getting a lot of game reps behind the plate. Maybe he'll get a start once every couple of weeks, or he'll go behind the plate late in a game as the result of lineup double-switches or something like that. 

However, once Ross retires (post-2016) and Montero's contract expires (post-2017), I would expect Schwarber to get more work as a catcher (albeit not necessarily as the #1 guy), although I think he will very likely play other positions as well (probably LF-1B-DH) to keep his bat in the lineup when he is not behnd the plate

Ross will indeed retire after 2016, but I expect most of his innings to go to Contreras at that time if things go according to "Plan."

the problem is contreras (while he does have a good arm and is a good receiver) isn't much for holding runners...which is one of the major roles d.ross serves for j.lester since expecting lester to do so is like asking bill gates to clean his own gutters. *scoff* that could get interesting...or frightening...or the team carries 3 catchers with contreras playing spot 3rd/1st/corner-OF, too...or maybe contreras's D gets even better and it's not an issue. either way, montero's got 2 more seasons (pending trade) and hopefully contreras can fill his role as the regular duty catcher. hope his bat translates to AAA/MLB going forward...

yanks are having s.castro play 3rd in addition to 2nd (expected to start there) and SS this spring...because whatever who cares. we've seen him throw...that should be interesting.

The reasons why Castro is good at 2B and meh at SS lead me to believe he will be horrible at 3B. Only one way to find out.

MIKE OLT: Would not be the 35th man on this team. Even in September. FREE MIKE OLT!

http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2016/02/27/levine... soler article... padres/indians/rays inquired about him at some point this offseason... “I really cannot worry about my playing time,” Soler said through translator -coach Frank Font. “I will get my opportunity and chance. I will do my job and try to help the team.”

spring training games start tuesday on MLB Network (no cubs MLB telecast on tuesday). http://m.mlb.com/network/shows/?id=mlbn_sprin... Fri, Mar 4 - 4:00 PM - Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim @ Chicago Cubs* Sun, Mar 6 - 4:00 PM - Chicago Cubs* @ Arizona Diamondbacks Fri, Mar 11 - 12:00 AM - Chicago Cubs* @ Seattle Mariners Sun, Mar 13 - 3:00 AM - Chicago White Sox @ Chicago Cubs (split squad) Tue, Mar 15 - 10:00 PM - Chicago Cubs* @ San Diego Padres Thu, Mar 17 - 9:00 AM - Chicago Cubs @ Kansas City Royals* Fri, Mar 18 - 4:00 PM - LIVE: Chicago Cubs @ Chicago White Sox Mon, Mar 21 - 9:00 AM - Kansas City Royals* @ Chicago Cubs Sat, Mar 26 - 6:00 AM - Milwaukee Brewers* @ Chicago Cubs Sat, Mar 26 - 4:00 PM - LIVE: San Francisco Giants* @ Chicago Cubs Sun, Mar 27 - 11:00 PM - Seattle Mariners* @ Chicago Cubs Tue, Mar 29 - 4:00 PM - LIVE: Oakland Athletics* @ Chicago Cubs Thu, Mar 31 - 10:00 PM - LIVE: Chicago Cubs @ New York Mets* Sat, Apr 2 - 10:00 AM - Chicago Cubs @ New York Mets* Sun, Apr 3 - 3:00 PM - LIVE: Chicago Cubs* @ Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim An asterisk (*) indicates the game is available on MLB Network in that club's home market Times are EST - Games listed are just those on MLB Network, there will be other broadcasts on other channels also, for those of us with mlb.tv (online streaming) none of this matters unless you're in a commie nazi blackout area because streaming access for nearly all televised spring training games is full-on go.

CRUNCH: Does "LIVE" refer to on their network - cable TV? Thanks!

yeah, mlb network shows a lot of spring training tape delay games...some by only 30m-1h, some by many hours.

If you are any kind of sports fan, Steph Currey is mandatory viewing. /my Larry King moment

JACOS: Funny you mentioned that. Was at our go-to restaurant/bar last night, game was on with no volume. He put on an amazing show. It looks so effortless - and "elegant" if I can say that here. His behind the back 25-footer nothing but net, was high-octane. What we had hoped for with DRose will never be, and the Bulls will be rebuilding again always left with sloppy FA seconds. BTW - for something fun, Google Steph Curry plays Del in Horse. Pretty funny.

Same situation for me last night

It is rare that I say things out loud when watching sports by myself. I watched the 4th quarter and OT of last night's game, and Curry had me going off. Simply amazing. It's a good thing he wasn't on my high school team -- coach would have sat him down for taking those shots.

Desmond signs with TEX. That means billybucks has to share his trophy with Robert Marciano--unless Fowler decides to sign with the Padres.

CT Steve=Casey Close?

"Dewey defeats Truman." Sigh.

another victim of turning down a QO...and his value probably won't improve going forward since they seem to want to use him in the OF.

CT STEVE: Anyway you can turn CRNCH's list into a link on one of the Tabs on the top Nav bar? And maybe include a "media feed" schedule for the upcoming season? Or, does every game broadcast info have to be manually entered (too much work)? Thanks!

We could use another menu item for important items that we generate--or at least links to things that we make heavy use of. I'll see what I can do without blowing the place up.

Thanks CT Steve, and thanks as well for the great support of this forum to continue!

Well the concerns about keeping Christian Villaneuva on the roster have been solved. He fractured his fibula (ankle) today. Injury is usually 8 weeks (more with an expected max rehab assignment) so this might be the 2nd player to hit the 60 day DL (Zach Rosscup already on it). I don't think they used the 60 day DL last year (although they had a few candidates such as Jacob Turner). Per Rotoworld
Villanueva suffered the injury on Sunday when he landed awkwardly after jumping for high chopper. He's expected to be sidelined for multiple months.
per Jesse Rogers tweet...
Broken right fibula for prospect Christian Villanueva. Happened during infield drills. Out for months not weeks obviously

CUBSTER: As you said, in a weird way the Cubs dodged a bullet (unfortunate for Christian).

http://www.thecubreporter.com/book/export/htm... Arizona Phil's treatise on all things professional baseball. If you search, for "disabled list" he outlines all guidelines applicable to use of the DL. (The above link is also known as AZ Phil Rules!) here are a couple of snippets on rules wrt the 60 day DL. Apparently, players on the 60 day DL can be traded, so C. Villaneuva going to that limbo gives Theo/Jed a significantly longer timeline to include him in a trade package rather than just losing him at the end of spring training if he didn't make the 25 man roster. Also, C. Villaneuva will now accrue MLB service time if he is put on the 60 day DL.
A player placed on the Emergency Disabled List (60-day DL) does not count against his club's Active List or Reserve List. A player can be placed on the MLB Emergency Disabled List (60-day DL) during Spring Training or anytime during the MLB regular season (a minor league player can be placed on a minor league club's 60-day DL only during the regular season), and a player can be transferred from the MLB 15-day DL to the MLB 60-day DL (or minor league 7-day DL to minor league 60-day DL). However, a player cannot be moved back to the MLB 15-day DL (and a minor league player cannot be moved back to the 7-day DL) once he is placed on the 60-day DL, and a player cannot be placed on the 60-day DL or transferred to the 60-day DL from the MLB 15-day DL (or minor league 7-day DL) unless his club's Reserve List is full.
In most cases a player on a disabled list can be traded, even if the player is not eligible to be reinstated and/or healthy enough to play. The one exception is if Trade Assignment Waivers must be secured before the player can be traded. In that case (only), the player must be eligible to be reinstated from the Disabled List AND healthy enough to play before the player can be placed on waivers. Otherwise the disabled player would have to remain a "Player to Be Named Later" until the conclusion of the MLB regular season.
If a player on a disabled list is traded, the player can be transferred directly from his former club's 7-day, 15-day, or 60-day DL to the corresponding DL of his new club. Time spent on a 7-day, 15-day, or 60-day DL prior to the trade counts toward the minimum number of days required before the player is eligible to be reinstated.
I also noted something about C. Villaneuva having some contract restrictions, so AZ Phil might need to clarify some of the subtitles here. MLB RULE 55-ELIGIBLE (can be a free agent after 6 years in the minors) PLAYER - CAN BE OUTRIGHTED ONLY IF CONTRACT RESTRICTIONS MET (last updated 11-2-2015): Christian Villanueva, INF

CUBSTER: Although injured players on an MLB Reserve List (40-man roster) normally can be sent outright to the minors only during the period of time extending from the day after the conclusion of the MLB regular season up until reserve lists are filed on November 20th, there is an exception, and Villanueva fits that exception: 

Any player who has not yet accrued three years of MLB Service Time, and who has not been outrighted to the minors previously in his career, did not accrue any MLB Service Time the previous season, and was not selected in the previous Rule 5 Draft, can be sent outright to the minors EVEN IF HE IS INJURED up until the 15th day prior to MLB Opening Day. 

However, it's unlikely that the Cubs would attempt to outright Villanueva to the minors at this time (even though they can) , since #1) he would probably get claimed off waivers, and #2) the Cubs can just place him on the 60-day DL if his slot on the Cubs MLB 40-m,an roster is needed. 

The following also applies to Villanueva (and it also applies to Alcantara, Rosscup, Ramirez, and Szczur, too, and it applied to Olmos when he was outrighted): 


A player on an MLB 40-man roster who would have been eligible to be an MLB Rule 55 minor league free-agent (a so-called minor league "six-year free-agent") if he had been on a minor league roster at 5 PM (Eastern) on the 5th day following the last game of the World Series cannot be sent outright to the minors beginning at 5 PM (Eastern) on the 5th day following the last game of the World Series unless & until the player has either signed a major league contract for the following season, or had his previous season's contract unilaterally renewed (which cannot happen until March 1st), or agrees in advance to sign a minor league contract (if the outright assignment is contemplated prior to major league contracts being tendered on December 2nd). 

Something else to keep in mind (in general) about DL assignments made during Spring Training is that only the last nine days of Spring Training can be applied to the number of days a player must spend on a DL before he is eligible to be reinstated. So the only reason to place a player on the 60-day DL earlier than nine days prior to MLB Opening Day is if the player's 40-man roster slot is needed during Spring Training (which was the case with Zac Rosscup). Seven MLB players have been placed on the 60-day DL since the start of Spring Training on February 18th, and in each case, the injured player's 40-man roster slot was needed for another player (either a free-agent signing or waiver claim). Zac Rosscup was placed on the Cubs 60-day DL on 2/25 to make room on the 40-man roster for Dexter Fowler, but since only the last nine days of Spring Training (3/25-4/2 in 2016) are applied toward the 60 days Rosscup must spend on the 60, he can't be reinstated from the 60-day DL any earlier than May 24th (the 52nd say of the 2016 MLB regular season) even though he was placed on the 60-day DL on 2/25. The only reason the Cubs placed Rosscup on the 60-day DL when they did was because they needed his 40-man roster slot, not because it will make him eligible to be reinstated any earlier than if they had waited until the end of Spring Training to put him on the DL Likewise, a player cannot be placed on the 15-day DL any earlier than nine days prior to MLB Opening Day (3/25 in 2016), and a DL assignment cannot be backdated further back than nine days prior to MLB Opening Day, even though a DL assignment can be backdated up to ten days back during the MLB regular season (as long as the player did not appear in a game during that period). And as far as minor league rehab assignments are concerned, a pitcher on a 15-day or 60-day DL can spend up to thirty days on a minor league rehab assignment (and the rehab assignment can start no earlier than 30 days prior to the date the pitcher is eligible to be reinstated from the DL), while a position player can spend no more than 21 days on a minor league rehab assignment (and the minor league rehab assignment can commence no earlier than 21 days prior to the date the position player is eligible to be reinstated from the DL). Time spent at Extended Spring Training is NOT considered to be part of any minor league rehab assignment, so Zac Rosscup can participate in Extended Spring Training (and pitch in EXST games to his heart's content) and then go on a 30-day minor league rehab assignment once he gets within thirty days of the date he is eligible to be reinstated from the 60-day DL (presuming he's healthy enough to pitch).

Carrie Muskat ‏@CarrieMuskat #Cubs bench just got better. @ShaneVictorino is going to resume switch hitting. Says his back is better and can do it

The Cubs have released five minor leaguers from their Dominican Academy squad: 

Jesus Arias, RHP 
Harrinson Bermudez, RHP 
Jose Morel, RHP 
Miguel Ruiz, INF 
Mauro Vides, RHP 

Arias and Bermudez had already accrued four seasons in the DSL and/or VSL and so they were no longer eligible to play in a foreign rookie league. Arias was a second-contract player (previously released by CLE). 

AZ Phil At the DR academy, do the kids also get schooling there? Would it be equivalent to HS education? /if you know //thanks

JACOS: There are classes at the Dominican Academy, but other than English classes, they are mostly baseball-related (what the Cubs call "Mental Skills"). 

Nick Cafardo/Boston Globe Sunday notes, Cub related... http://www.bostonglobe.com/sports/2016/02/27/...
If Andrew Friedman had gone with analytics over the advice of his top scout with the Rays, he would have wound up with failed prospect Chris Carpenter over Chris Archer. Friedman’s top scout at the time was Jeff McAvoy, who is now the Marlins scouting director. Friedman was going to make a deal with the Cubs, and analytics showed that Carpenter was a better prospect than Archer. McAvoy insisted that Archer would be the better choice in the long run. And so the Cubs traded Archer, Robinson Chirinos, Sam Fuld, Brandon Guyer, and Hak-Ju Lee to the Rays for Matt Garza, Fernando Perez, and Zac Rosscup prior to the 2011 season.
and all Cub fans thought it was Trey McNutt that was the alternative decision (on the Cubs side at least) in that Garza deal with Tampa. The Red Sox still got Carpenter as compensation for Theo. and the usual Soler chatter:
9. Jorge Soler, OF, Cubs — He was once penciled in as the Cubs’ right fielder, with Jason Heyward in center. But with Fowler back in the fold, Heyward goes to right. So what happens to Soler? He could start in the minors or come off the bench. Kyle Schwarber is expected to be in left but could also catch once a week. Soler could share left with Schwarber. The Cubs could always deal him because there’s a lot of interest. Stay tuned.

a lot of people seem to forget about archer's command/control issues when he was dealt. there was a lot of talk about how he may not be able to pull 5+ inning work regularly because of how quickly he ran into pitch count issues. there was also a lot of talk at the time about him being a possible closer of the future as much as being a starter...so it's not like he was considered junk. he really pulled it together in spectacular fashion. david price also gets a ton of under-the-radar credit for archer's work ethic and attitude both on and off the field (though it's not like archer had problems there).

Suddenly there's a lot of chatter about how the Red Sox are reversing and going away from metrics. I kind of doubt they are doing that. At the prospect level there are lots of considerations beyond metrics. I think what has been making Theo and friends successful is that they've mixed gut feelings (Schwarber) with metrics. At the MLB level, metrics are pretty important. I can't imagine the Red Sox reversing course there, but if they do, good for them. It's one less team to compete with.

much like over-reacting and over-bearing ron paul fans...or bernie sanders fans...yeah, it's overblown and they're not reversing from advanced metrics. bill f'n james is an adviser to the team. they're obviously not done with advanced stats. the shift in philosophy doesn't seem to be as big of a shift as some are painting it to be. the rsox front office (john henry, specifically) made a couple of comments about how they've relied a bit too much advanced metrics for projections compared to how they can use their money as a tool...and some people have started the "all or nothing" baby/bathwather throwing arguments. “A lot of our advantage was purely financial,” Henry said. “We were never as far toward analytics as people thought we were.” MAN THE LIFEBOATS! SABERMETRICS ARE NO LONGER IN USE! LET'S BANG ROCKS TOGETHER AND GRUNT WHILE TRYING TO MAKE FIRE! sigh... that said, money is a tool and the rsox have obviously used it...also listening to pure advanced stats and punting would have cost them a world series victory a few years ago...and KC last year... it is very possible to have more than 1 tool in the toolbox and to favor the use of 1 tool over another without ignoring the other tools.

Eleven players originally signed by the Cubs are on the rosters of independent league teams going into the 2016 season: Hunter Ackerman, LHP (2010 4th round) - Evansville (Frontier) Wes Darvill, INF (2009 4th round) - Winnipeg (American Association) Frank del Valle, LHP (2011 IFA) - Joplin (American Association) Dustin Geiger, 3B (2009 24th round) - Wichita (American Association) Jon Hunton, RHP (2004 11th round) - Somerset (Atlantic) Matt Iannazzo, LHP (2012 NDFA) - York (Atlantic) Justin Marra, C (2011 15th round) - Winnipeg (American Association) Sheldon McDonald, LHP (2011 33rd round) - Quebec (CanAm) Jake Opitz, INF (2008 12th round) - Southern Maryland (Atlantic) Charlie White, OF (2014 21st round) - Joliet (Frontier) Al Yevoli, LHP (2013 NDFA) - Lancaster (Atlantic)

AZ Phil, have you heard anything about Jae-Hoon Ha? He had what seemed like a pretty successful first season pitching, and I'm a little surprised he wasn't re-signed by the Cubs. Did he go back to Korea?

BRADSBEARD: I talked to a coach at Instructs last fall, and he said that Jae-Hoon Has was hoping to play for Team Korea in the 2017 WBC and that he probably would not be returning to the Cubs in 2016. Whether that means he will play in the KBO in 2016, I don't know. 

Thanks! Hate to see him go.

according to G. Wittenmeyer, Christian Villaneuva might need surgery on his fractured fibula. http://chicago.suntimes.com/sports/7/71/13597... If he does need surgery, it means the fibula fracture is significantly offset (displaced) and/or the ankle mortise (symmetry around the joint) is widened. The talus is the bottom bone around which the tibia (medial and distal)/fibula (lateral) form a hinge joint. The fibula at the ankle is often referred to as the lateral malleolus. The bone that the medial/deltoid ligament attaches to is referred to as the medial malleolus (which is a part of the tibia). The ankle joint widening often comes because the medial (inside, deltoid) ligament is also injured/stretched even if no medial fracture is present with a lateral/fibular fracture. Fixing the fibula usually involves a plate and screws to hold the bone in anatomic alignment while it heals. If that restores the alignment of the mortise (and fixes the widening), the medial ligament injury can heal without surgical intervention otherwise it too can be repaired with suture techniques. http://uwmsk.org/RadAnat/images/AnkleMortiseL... http://medapparatus.com/Gallery/Images/Ortho/... If he does need surgery, he will be out at least 3 months.

rub some dirt on it, take a salt tablet, and walk it off.

duplicate post, meh. go cubs. whatever, etc.

"Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune writes that "there's some talk" of Kyle Schwarber being Kyle Hendricks' personal catcher." uhh...okay.

I like the idea of Schwarber's catcher development being attached to one pitcher. Of course it'd be nice if that pitcher didn't also need development and could, you know, stay in the rotation.

Hendricks is a #3-4 starter based on performance and projections. He'll be in someone's rotation for sure.

Hendricks had consistently solid peripherals last year, except for the jump in HR/9, and Fangraphs' Steamer projects him to be .5 WAR better than Hammel (and projects them to put up 24 and 23 starts respectively). My only real concern with Hendricks is the jump to 180 IP last year. If he can avoid any side effects from the increased use, he seems like a good bet to take his start every fifth day.

This is actually a pretty interesting idea, because Hendricks has great control and is really smart and essentially calls his own game. AND he only pitches about 5-6 innings. So Schwarber gets regular reps with someone easy to catch and then gets removed from the game or moved to left for the final 3 innings if they have the lead.

I find Hendricks fascinating to watch--how he gets people out--so I probably watched more of his half-innings last season than the other starters combined. One thing I noticed was that he shook off Montero quite a bit. There seemed to be a number of standoffs where neither one would yield, until finally Montero had to waste more time visiting the mound. The inexperienced Schwarber would probably be less stubborn and would allow Hendricks to do what he wanted.

Hendrick's #s as a 5th starter are pretty darn good. Just a cursory look at projected 5th starters from here: http://www.rotoworld.com/teams/depth-charts/m... has him behind only the Cardinals' and Marlins' 5th starters in terms of ERA last season with room for improvement. I'll gladly take it. This article by the way is a very interesting look at the important of 5th starters, if a bit depressing trip down memory lane when Zambrano was a ridiculously good 5th starter for us: http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/a-new-approach...

AZPhil, when do minor league players report?

AZBOBBOP: Some minor league players have already arrived at the Under Armour Performance Center (and the early arrivals are the ones who get to play in the first Cactus League games), but the official reporting date for pitchers & catchers is this coming weekend, and then the position players mandatory reporting date is four days later. 

I'm ready for baseballs.

Oh god me too. I still have a few questions and concerns about the team and all the hype is just making me more nervous. I just want to see the team play.

If you need a laugh today check this out. http://deadspin.com/brewers-minor-leaguer-can...

This could be the highlight of the Brewers 2016 season.

Yeah, well, Bernie the Brewer thinks that a vast majority of the talent in MLB is controlled by a handful of teams...

I'm conflicted because the Cubs are now the 1%.

some fans are a little salty about this...even though it's not even march...and none of this matters yet... not every stunt he pulls works out as designed...not many, and moreso with TB than CHC so far...but the band is back together after a long winter break and some new guys are getting a taste. it looks like it went off as planned and was appreciated by everyone.

"some fans..." read: "crunch"? No fans that I know of really care at all. They will if the team plays badly, becasue then they will look for something to blame, but if the team plays well then Maddon can pull a rabbit out of Rizzo's ass every day of the week that ends in "y" and no one will care a bit.

What "stunts" did not "work out as designed"? Did anything he's done in this regard have a negative impact?

the seminole medicine man one didn't go over as smoothly as designed, for a start... ultimately, no players have been pissed with this kind of stuff that i know of and no players have blamed a side show on anything...that's what really matters. some fans will get pissed about anything that's not 1950s chaw tobaccy real men acts and non-stop practice outside of what's going on the field during play.

I had no idea what this was about, so I Googled it. Not a single article said anything negative about it, apart from the fact that they lost the game that day.

my god...just drop this shit. twitter, comments on news articles about it...fuck. some people aren't happy about anything because they're too busy looking to get mad about something. i don't know what mental gymnastics you did to get "it's crunch and only crunch with his passive aggressive stuff because screw what he actually wrote" out of what i typed. it's about time to let this go. i don't mind clarifying anything, or taking some heat when i earn it, but c'mon...

LOL. I wrote one comment in repsonse to your comment. That's it. So I haven't really even picked anything up yet to actually be able to "drop" it and "let it go"! 

If anyone had "dress as a hippie and drive a van onto the field" in the Predictions Game, you just scored three points.

A better view of the Milwaukee laugher http://m.mlb.com/video/topic/69972428/v544929...

Aroldis Chapman suspended 30 games Domestic abuse policy violation, no appeal

Kinda makes you wish for another line drive to the face.

$1.7m worth of violence... nice to see he got punished even though the "other side" didn't press charges. it sends a message that the aggressor can't buy or otherwise bargain with your victim out of getting a punishment. jose reyes and y.puig are up next.

Anyone want to try @ottoneu fantasy baseball? I have an A.W.O.L. owner. Pretty solid roster.

In shocking news, Arrieta named Opening Day starter: http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/14876681/ch...

WTF?! How did they make that choice?! Ugh! Season doomed! In other developments, ROB G. should actually be able to see his team beat his wife's team in Cali for once. Go ROB G!

that is the plan....

Beginning today, MLB clubs can unilaterally renew the contracts of unsigned players on the club's MLB Reserve List (40-man roster) who are not yet subject to salary arbitration. The player's salary must be at least equal to the MLB minimum salary ($507,500 in 2016), and must be at least 80% of the player's previous season's salary (maximum 20% cut). NOTE: The minimum minor league "split" salary a pre-arbitration player receives while on Optional Assignment to the minors in 2016 is $82,700 (or $41,400 for players on an MLB 40-man roster for the first time), and the player's minor league "split" salary must be at least 60% of what the player was paid the previous season.  

Clubs (usually the Assistant GM) will negotiate with a pre-arbitration ("auto-renewal") player up to a point, but ultimately the player must accept the club's offer or just not play.  The one time when this can be a problem for a club is when the auto-renewal involves a talented player (like maybe a Rookie of the Year) with a high ceiling and a savvy agent. (Like Kris Bryant and Scott Boras, for instance). So hopefully there won't be a problem for the Cubs signing Bryant, because an auto-renewal can poison the waters for as long as the player is with the club. 

A few years, ago, the Milwaukee Brewers unilaterally renewed the contract of 2006 Rookie of the Year Prince Fielder not once but twice (after his first and second seasons), and Fielder never forgot what he believed was the Brewers being disrespectful. But sometimes it's hard for a club to explain to a pre-arb player who hits the ground running from the gitgo that no matter how well he plays, he is still going to get paid pretty much the same as the other pre-arbitration players with similar MLB Service Time (at least until the player becomes eligible for salary arbitration). 

 

there's baseball on tv...and im watching it...and i don't care that it's an already-over tape delay game that i know the final score already. btw, cubs start on thursday (radio feed only) and their first TV game is friday...both day games.

crunch---The Cubs are on TV this Friday?

Early yesterday the first televised game was a week or two off, but now they are showing MLB.TV games both Friday and Sunday:

http://chicago.cubs.mlb.com/schedule/broadcas...

 

TB to play the cuban national team in havana on march 22nd...hope it's televised. obama may attend since it's during his visit to cuba on the 21st/22nd.

Matt Murton apparently recovering from Appendectomy. News reports didn't state how long ago. Is he doing any baseball activities?

If he used Bulls doctors he will be out for 3-4 months

CASTRO WATCH: Batting 2nd and playing 2nd for the Yanks today.

Today's Lineup https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CcjiledVIAA4Y0i.jpg I have a little critique I would like to make... /just kidding

That's the worst lineup ever made! Fire Madden!

tomorrow's lineup... baez in CF...sweet. also, i keep forgetting this team signed rex brothers.

Major announcement from the Cards coming in minutes. Is it too soon to concede the division?

The Cards have extended their Wong. Meh...

I am not excited...

The Cubs have purchased the contract of 27-year old OF Ryan Kalish from Sioux City (American Association). He has been assigned to AAA Iowa, but he has apparently not received an NRI to big league camp (at least not so far).  

Kalish was the 9th round pick of the Boston Red Sox in 2006 out of Red Bank Catholic HS in Red Bank, NJ, and quickly emerged as one of the Red Sox Top 10 prospects 2007-2009, and he was a Baseball America Top 100 prospect, too. He made his MLB debut in 2010, but suffered a season-ending (and what turned out to be a career-limiting) shoulder injury when he crashed into a wall while playing for AAA Pawtucket in 2011. 

Kalish was non-tendered by the Red Sox in December 2013, and signed a 2014 minor league contract  with the Cubs later that month. He bounced back & forth between Chicago and Des Moines in 2014, and then he elected free-agency after being outrighted to the minors post-2014. 

He signed a 2015 minor league contract with the Toronto Blue Jays after electing free-agency, but the contract was voided after he failed his physical. 

If healthy, Kalish is a decent player (4th OF type), but obviously his career has not exactly been on the come lately. 

Kalish is the third player acquired by the Cubs from independent league teams this off season. Previously the Cubs purchased the contracts of RHP Dale Brocker from Normal (Frontier) and RHP Tommy Nance from Windy City (Frontier). 

we're doing this again, eh? alright then. hopefully he still has enough legs to cover CF as well as the corners.

Doubtful, since he was pretty limited to the corners in 2015 when he had a shot with the Cubs. Kind of weird that what might be one of the deepest OF situations in baseball now has also become a ground for guys like Victorino, Murton, and Kalish to audition for a bench job or a minor league shot. But with Kalish, I assume this is just a chance to get back into pro ball. I'm guessing that Victorino is the only one with any shot to make the team, and that if Baez proves competent in CF even Victorino's shot will be dependent on him proving he's 100% and can hit. Kind of curious if Murton is considering getting into coaching. There's very little path to any major league job for him, except as a bench bat on a team very thin in LF, 1B, and DH and with need for a short-side platoon guy.

either way, the AAA OF is gonna be slammed even if they decide to keep almora in AA. also, i hope j.andreoli doesn't lose much time to it. sure andreoli is a 4th/5th OF'r at best, but if things go as planned it's all the team's gonna need for a few years. he's finally healthy and he's a decent 3-slot OF'r option. i like him more than szczur, anyway.

I heard Buster Olney today. He said Victorino is in fantastic shape. It could be interesting if Fowler gets in a prolonged slump, or Caesar is injured.

Wood gives up a first inning run. Cubs season is already over. Cue another rebuild.

Rough, rough start for Baez.

Back up the truck.

cubs 2020!

Cubs suck /that was quick!

this team is collectively, literally, worse than hitler.

Hitler's WAR was one for the record books.

*golf clap*

6th inning...full replacement of MLB starters...total B-teaming it. woo, spring.

reminder for those tracking games via statcast/gamecast/live-boxscores/etc this spring... more than a few of these reporting tools will give Ks and BBs as 0-3 for K and 4-0 for a BB. it's not the real count they earned the K/BB with, it's just how the reporting tool is giving out the count since some reporting tools aren't counting the real batter's count, just the result. just a head's up...since that still seems to be a thing.

mark grace on Intentional Talk (MLB Network) :D man, i miss him calling AZ games...as doofy as he was at it. they showed his 1st hit as a cub, him giving up a homer to d.ross (ross's 1st HR)... ...it was awesome...recommended watch if you're a grace fan.

Watching the game live now. When Victorino came to back the announcers confirmed that he is back to switch hitting this year.

Listening on radio but really interested in hearing how Baez looks at 1st. Don't feel we'll need him much in the outfield and really hoping Rizzo can get more rest this year do hoping Baez can stick it as the backup there.

shouldn t be hard for him, Zobrist could play there too, yes?

Yes as could Bryant. Baez is just the official backup and as the supersub who Madden seems to love defensively most likely to be the one spelling Rizzo. But yeah there are options just hope Madden utilizes them.

He had one nice scoop on a tough long hop from a throw from Zobrist who was moving to his left and spun and threw while fading away. And Baez looked pumped when he pulled it out.

Hell of a play by Ross. Dove to get a popped-up bunt in fall territory then threw to second to get the runner tagging from first. Great scoop and tag by Russell to nail him for the DP.

Javy: LONG swings.

Then he shortens up a bit for a single, then a stolen base. Atta boy.

it's a real "spring training strike zone" today...if it's anywhere close it's gonna be called. someone has an afternoon tee time.

ADDISON HR-USSELL!

A little bit of nerves for Pierce Johnson - but he got out of the 1st with men on 2nd/3rd and 1 out. Plus a nasty cutter. Hello to AZ PHIL out at the park no doubt!

Barney Fife channeling a little Jason Motte with his beard and heater.

who is this clark dude playing 1st? ...also, he's not good at it in this limited sample size. it's matt clark...an age-challenged minor league lefty batting, righty fielding 1st...interesting combo there. http://www.baseball-reference.com/register/pl... it's spring training for everyone.

cubs set a new sloan park attendance record...and all-time cactus league attendance record...both set last year by the cubs, too.

I just noticed this from yesterday: "Arodys Vizcaino just punched out the side for the Braves and hit 100 on the gun. That'll work!" Jayson Stark

most of us are busy trying to pretend that trade didn't happen it wasn't horribly lopsided or anything like that...lastella just quickly became a need that didn't exist while viz was tearing it up with ATL last season.

Before or after steroid suspension?

before...celebration...after...buyer's remorse. i'm pretty sure 10 out of 10 cubs fans would do a reverse on that trade at this point given that lastella is penciled in as the bench 2nd/3rd who would probably slot behind baez, or at least platoon, if zobrist got injured. actually, cubs fans can get weird...make that 8.27 fans out of 10.

I don't think he "tore it up" with a high 3 xFIP in 17 innings or so. But the high upside - as well the career-ending injury are always there.

i think you're checking out his 2011 season, not his 2015 season. 36 games last year for 33.2ip and he gave up runs (earned and unearned) in only 4 games...2 of them back to back for 0.2ip combined...and it's really hard to put a ball over the fence off him...and that whole 97+mph with a controlled curveball thing. sure, he's probably not a "true" 1.60era guy, but he's good at stranding guys without letting them cash in (small sample size warning). lastella's not trash...he just became a bit of an expendable luxury as soon as he became useful with the quick emergence of a.russell and j.baez working his way back onto the team...and then zobrist happened.

True...true. Maddon really likes him so he must see something in day-to-day activities that makes him valuable.

And a few years ago everyone was complaining how we essentially got nothing for Maholm from the Braves when we acquired Vizcaino the first time and how we'd like to have that trade back! It takes many years to be able to look back on a trade and truly evaluate it. Too early to tell on this one. La Stella could be a key bench piece for the team this year (I really like his at-bats) and Vizcaino could get suspended or injured or just plain suck and then the pendulum swings back in our favor.

Was Neil Ramirez healthy when that trade was made? Sure would be a bonus if he could return to 2014 health/form. I like what LaStella brings off the bench

Maddon also likes La Stella off the bench. Good article on him today: http://espn.go.com/blog/chicago/cubs/post/_/i...

 

schwarb takes over at catcher...and a throwing error letting the baserunner score...and then a CS on another runner. woo, spring training.

Montero making an early bid for Cactus League MVP. Funny how junkballers pretty much dominate the first couple weeks of spring training. Have fun, Cahill. I'm already tired of spring training. Bring on April.

most awesome spring training thing ive seen so far is wilmer flores coming into a game yesterday to pinch hit at the mets spring training complex and getting an insanely large pop + standing ovation. it was arguably bigger than the one they gave cespedes. he's become one hell of a folk hero to mets fans after "there is crying in baseball trade-gate." he walked, btw...gritty.

Screw the regular season. Is it October yet?

j.degrom (NYM) is refusing to sign his contract for 2016, protesting his assigned salary...only getting a 50K raise. technically, there's nothing he can do about it...it's only symbolic...he'll play for the mets. g.cole (PIT) allegedly threatened to do the same recently, but signed while making a vocal protest about only getting a 10K raise. the kids are getting a bit uppity. *spit*

Try Not To Suck

Word.

mlb web TV cast today. 2-2 into bottom of 2, Corbin vs Warren. Fun to see Cubs on TV even if it's a road broadcast. Brenly is still an easy listen. or listen to Ron Coomer and Len on WSCR but the webcast has about a 20 second delay so it's like listening to the future (or watching the past). MLB game day seems live matching the radio broadcast. Fowler LONG HR! Woo, spring baseball. 3-2 Cubs.

Amen to this. Been listening on the radio all the other games but finally being able to watch it is heaven. Even if spring training has no effect on anything. /edit Of course 4 wild pitches, a throwing error and a hit batsman in the same inning lessens the joy somewhat

wtf rex brothers...get your shit together. i'm watching this on tape delay because i have nothing better to do and didn't get home until 30m ago...just started bottom 3rd with patton. i can't wait to see this awesomeness.

considering it's spring it wasn't that horrible...though not good. ross maybe could have stopped/blocked 2-3 of those if given another chance or more time to warm up to being back at work. 91-93mph fastballs, almost exclusively. ...that lastella throw from 3rd was horrific, though...but...yeah...it's march 6th.

Adam Warren makes the Wall Street Journal. Hmmmm...too bad I don't subscribe. I'm thinking, he was under appreciated is the drift of it. http://www.wsj.com/articles/with-adam-warren-...

according to Len in post-game update: Frank Bautista left the game with unspecified leg injury. minor league pitching depth.

he came down funny after a pitch on his leg/ankle...had to be helped off the field limping a bit. either way he's of very little importance to the MLB team, even on the immediate-need-callup-types minor league depth chart. Carrie Muskat ‏@CarrieMuskat #Cubs pitching prospect Frank Batista tweaked his left quad falling awkwardly off mound in 5th

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  • Charlie 3 hours 15 min ago (view)

    Yeah, it seems like I lean more toward overvaluing Bryant than most commenters here. Also, I completely stopped following prospect lists once the Cubs were good again, so I'm out of the loop on Pache especially. I had imagined that the Cubs would be looking more for immediate major league value rather than a projectable prospect, but I guess if you really like Pache you don't mind waiting a couple years.

     

  • K Dub 9 hours 59 min ago (view)

    PHIL: Excellent breakdown, Phil. Thanks. 

    I'm sure you heard. QO value was set at $17.8 million the day after you made your post.

     

  • K Dub 10 hours 7 min ago (view)

    Pache, Wright, Muller and Riley feels light to you, Charlie? I respect your opinion, but I would jump at it. I highly doubt the Braves would do it, though. Were talking 2 years of Bryant at what could be 18 million and 28-30 million in his last year of arbitration. 

    The Cubs would be hurting their chances next year and building for 2021 in a deal like that, but that's rebuilding/retooling in one fell swoop. 

     

  • Arizona Phil 2 days 14 hours ago (view)

    CHARLIE: Austin Riley is actually a third-baseman but he had to play LF for the Braves in 2019 because he was blocked by Josh Donaldson, and Cristian Pache is considered to be the best defensive centerfielder in the minors and his bat has improved enough over the past year or two to where he is now rated in or just outside the top ten overall prospects in MLB.

    So a package that includes Riley and Pache and one of the Braves young MLB or MLB-ready SP would probably be more than enough to get the Cubs to bite.

     

  • Dolorous Jon Lester 2 days 17 hours ago (view)

    Max Fried or Bryse Wilson

     

  • crunch 2 days 17 hours ago (view)

    https://www.espn.com/espn/otl/story/_/id/27828247/...

    t.skaggs story keeps getting deeper.

    allegations the team knew about skagg's drug abuse (also his family).  teams are required to report this to MLB.

     

  • Charlie 2 days 20 hours ago (view)

    Except for the headline, the linked post reads more like a trade hypothetical than a trade rumor. I like the idea of looking at this package as a discussion point for expected return for Bryant. I would say it feels a little light to me. It's deep, with two decent outfield prospects with upside and two OK pitching prospects. But Riley doesn't help the team solve the CF problem right now, so he's either redundant to Bote or sort of a Schwarber replacement. Muller's inflated BB% at AA this year worries me a bit too.

     

  • Cubster 3 days 3 hours ago (view)

    I might have missed something and it's been talked about regarding a KB trade rumor from about 10-9-19. 

    https://apple.news/AJUMyEWodQ2GX1cj1gE4ENQ 

    Braves receive: 3B Kris Bryant 

     

  • crunch 4 days 16 hours ago (view)

    they get 3 guys and the cubs get 1 guy.  sounds like a slam dunk for the angels.  pencil trout in the cubs lineup.  he's got upside.

     

  • Jackstraw 4 days 18 hours ago (view)

    I'd hate to part with both Kemp and Chatwood, but if it will bring that Trout guy back, we could even throw in Almora.

     

  • crunch 4 days 21 hours ago (view)

    the ricketts got a brazillian dollar tax break...they need to trickle that down and flex on the entire league.

    we gonna get grandal, rendon, castellanos, g.cole, strasburg, ryu, a.chapman...maybe sign bumgarner and odorizzi to work the pen.

     

  • Arizona Phil 4 days 22 hours ago (view)

    CHARLIE: If the Cubs trade Quintana and his new club pays 100% of his 2020 salary his new club assumes 100% of his salary AAV liability, but if the Cubs agree to pay a portion of Quintana's 2020 salary as part of the trade, whatever portion of Quintana's 2020 salary that is paid by the Cubs would count against the Cubs 2020 AAV. 

     

  • Charlie 4 days 23 hours ago (view)

    PHIL: Thanks for that Boston context--I hadn't realized the trend there. If the Cubs did decide to pick up Quintana's option and then trade him (assuming the Cubs would not agree to pay part of the contract as part of the trade), do they have to do that by a certain date in order for Quintana's contract not to count against them for the CBT? I haven't been able to find any dates attached to the CBT in a quick internet search.

     

  • Arizona Phil 4 days 23 hours ago (view)

    My presumption in the Cubs declining Jose Quintana's 2020 club option as well as declining the club options on the veteran relievers who have one and non-tendering Addison Russell (and this also applies to Joe Maddon not returning as manager in 2020) is that after the monumental late-September collapse of 2019 on the heels of the 2018 Game #163 and Wild Card game defeats Ricketts will no longer accept the Cubs payroll going over the CBT threshold ($208M AAV in 2020) or extending a manager making $5M a year.   

     

  • crunch 5 days 5 hours ago (view)

    i actually like ATL the team...the fans and the 3+ hours of tommy hawk chawpin' non-stop is beyond annoying before even getting into how messed up it is they're still doing that in 2019.  it's all they do, just that 1 single thing...for hours...

    fans were so upset about not getting foam hatchets pre-game yesterday (that was the club's way to "dial it back") they were busy letting the "PC police" know they're here to chant and chop as loud as they could before the first pitch was even thrown.

    it took about 10 runs to shut them up.

     

  • Dolorous Jon Lester 5 days 18 hours ago (view)

    Damn. Atlanta was the only team in the NL I was hoping would advance. I don’t know what I was hoping in LA vs WAS series. Cataclysmic event? (Side note, I live in the DC area, what a dreadful group of fans. They deserve nothing good ever.)