Cubs Playing Musical Chairs - Some Affiliates Hear "Go Cubs, Go" Ringing in their Ears

After 14 seasons, the Cubs have apparently decided to leave Boise, and so they will now be looking for a new advanced Short Season (SS-A) affiliate in the Northwest League (NWL) to replace the Hawks. Salem-Keizer and Eugene would be their two most-likely destinations (presuming the Cubs opt to remain in the NWL), since both have an expiring Player Development Contract (PDC) with their current MLB partner. (The Cubs had a PDC with Eugene prior to moving to Boise). 

The Cubs have already renewed their PDC with the AA Tennessee Smokies through the 2018 season, and their PDC with AAA Iowa extends through 2016. But there are three Cubs PDCs set to expire after the 2014 season: 


Daytona
Kane County 
Boise 

(The Cubs own their AZL Cubs, DSL Cubs, and VSL Cubs affilates). 

There was talk last month that the Cubs were mulling over the possibility of moving their affiliate in the Midwest League (MWL) from Kane County to either South Bend (new playing surface) or Fort Wayne (best stadium in the MWL), but recently announced plans to make improvements/upgrades at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark in Geneva should mean the Cubs will renew their PDC with Kane County. 

But the relationship between Cubs and their "Hi-A" Daytona affiliate in the Florida State League (FSL) is another matter. 

The Cubs have had their Hi-A affiliate in Daytona for 22 seasons, but because of the high number or postponed games (rainouts) in the FSL, the Cubs had been making plans to move therir Hi-A affiliate from the FSL to the California League back when Oneri Fleita was the Cubs Player Development Director. But probably because of the change in ownership and the hiring of Theo Epstein & his people, the PDC with Daytona was renewed for another two years in 2012. However, this time I would expect the Cubs to make their move.

Back when Theo was GM of the Boston Red Sox, the BoSox moved their Hi-A affiliate (Sarasota) from the FSL to the Carolina League (Wilmington, NC) and then to the California League (Lancaster), before eventually purchasing an affiliate (Salem, VA) in the Carolina League. While some minor league affiliates are owned outright by MLB clubs (the Braves all of their minor league affilates except one), it is fairly rare. But since Theo was involved in the Red Sox purchase of the Salem club, I think it's plausible that the Cubs will attempt to do the same (if possible). 

Prior to moving to Daytona in 1993, the Cubs Hi-A affiliate was in Winston-Salem, NC, so the Cubs (like the Red Sox) do have a history in the Carolina League. 

At present it would appear that there are no plans to expand either the California League or the Carolina League beyond each league's present number of affiliates, so the Cubs would probably be restricted to taking over a Carolina League or California League affilate from another MLB organization where the PDC is set to expire after this season.

If the Braves relocate their Carolina League affiliate from Lynchburg, VA,  back to Myrtle Beach, SC, the Cubs and Rangers (who are presently in Myrtle Beach) could compete to replace the Braves in Lynchburg, with the chance to possibly move the Lynchburg club to a new ballpark in Wilmington in 2016 when the Royals PDC with Wilmington is set to expire.  

Another possibility would be for the Cubs to move their Hi-A affiliate temporarily to Lancaster, CA (the same place the Red Sox moved their Hi-A affiliate when they left Wilmington, before eventually purchasing the Salem club), and then try and work out a deal to purchase a Carolina League club (Wilmington?) in 2016 if they can't get it done this year. (The Houston Astros presently have their Hi-A affiliate in Lancaster, but they are the only Florida Spring Training team with a Hi-A affiliate in the California League, so it would make sense for Houston to move their Hi-A affiliate from the California League to the FSL). 

One other issue the Cubs have with their minor league affiliates is that they probablty could benefit from another short-season team in the U. S. 

Fully 1/3 of the 30 MLB clubs (AZ, HOU, KC, NYM, NYY, PIT, STL, SEA, TB, and TOR) have three short-season affiliates in the U. S., but the Cubs have only two. (The Cubs are one of 12 MLB clubs with two affiliates in Latin America). The Cubs had about a half-dozen pitchers signed after being selected in this year's Rule 4 Draft who couldn't be activated right away because there was no room on the AZL Cubs or Boise rosters (35 player roster limit at AZL Cubs and 30 player roster limit at Boise). With 70+ players on the rosters of their two affiliates in Latin America (DSL Cubs and VSL Cubs), the Cubs have twice the number of players on their two Latin American teams as was the case when they had just the one Latin American affiliate (DSL Cubs) pre-2008, so that some of the players have to be left in the DSL or VSL for an additional year only because there is no room for them on the AZL Cubs roster. 

Prior to leaving the Cubs, Player Development Director Oneri Fleita had supposedly proposed that the Cubs add a second team in the AZL (AZL Cubs #2), but the plan was rejected. The Yankees are the only MLB organization with two teams in the same league outside the two Latin American leagues (GCL Yankees #1 and GCL Yankees #2 in the Gulf Coast League - Florida's version of the AZL), so while having two teams from the same organization in the AZL would be a first for the AZL, it really would be no different than the Yanks fielding two teams in the GCL. Like the Cubs, the Yankees have two Latin American teams (DSL Yankees #1 and DSL Yankees #2), and the two Yankee DSL teams (70 players) feed players to their two GCL teams (also 70 players). The Yankees also have a short-season team in the more-advanced New York-Pennsylvania League (NYPL). 

Another option would be for the Cubs to place a short season affiliate in either the Pioneer League (with teams in Montana-Idaho-Colorado-Utah), the Appalachian League (with teams in Virginia-West Virginia-North Carolina-Tennessee), or the NYPL (with teams in New York-Pennsylvania-Ohio-Connecticut-Massachusetts-Vermont), thereby providing a third U. S.-based short season affiliate in addition to their affiliates in the NWL and the AZL. (Both the Pioneer League and the Appalachian League are considered "Rookie" leagues like the AZL and GCL, while the NYPL is equivalent to the NWL). Both Orem, UT, and Great Falls, MT, have expiring PDCs with their MLB partners post-2014, should the Cubs opt to establish a third U. S. short-season affiliate in the Pioneer League.  

The Cubs had an SS-A team in the NYPL (first in Geneva, NY, and then in Williamsport, PA) prior to moving to the NWL (Eugene) in 1999, so moving their SS-A affiliate from the NWL (Boise) to the NYPL (Hudson Valley?) would not be that much of a surprise. 

 

Comments

From Witty this morning

Of course, Samardzija and Hammel are gone. Wada, who turns 34 next spring, won’t have his $5 million option picked up and likely will seek greener offers as opposed to a bargain renegotiation.

 

didn't know wada had a $5m option...yow. still, i wouldn't be surprised to see that option picked up. they've sunk more money into similar or worse talent on the hope of upside for a 1-year deal.

BA's Classification All-Stars

http://www.baseballamerica.com/minors/2014-mi...

AAA - Hendricks (SP)

AA - Bryant (3B)

Short Season A - Zagunis (C)

No Soler this weekend...baby time.

Unless Rizzo is back, yowch, this offense.

Baez and Olt will step up...they'll only K 3 times each game.

#2015 Pick 6 Fever! #Catch It!

@CubsNoHitStreak is probably already popping heartburn meds.

In 78 games this year Olt has had 4 games were he K'd 3 times and 0 Golden Sombreros! He's just VERY consistent with his 1.8 strikeouts per game!!!

In 78 games this year Olt has had 4 games were he K'd 3 times and 0 Golden Sombreros!

that's only because Capt. Happy wouldn't let him get 4 AB's in a game. :)

No Soler this weekend...baby time. --- the baby pulled a hamstring?

http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/2015-mlb-draft...

early 2015 draft preview

Alex Bregman ranked #12, SS/2B and college bat...seems like a slam dunk for Cubs :)

Seems Aiken, Matuella and Brendan Rogers are the big names, the rest is quite fluid.

Here's my pick... I can see JD having his entire season based on discussing his pitching motion. What's not to like? 10. Kyle Funkhouser, RHP, Louisville: The 6’2/220 righty sits 92-94 and bumps 96 mph with a plus slider and a solid-average changeup, but his command (is a bit funky) and still comes and goes at times.

Bonus for having a name like an 80s movie troublemaker. I can totally hear a principal/dean/grouchy neighbor yelling "FUNK-HOOOOOOOUUUUSEERRRRRR!"

Dansby Swanson #7, college SS from Vanderbilt, just so I can say "Ohh Dansby" in a Gone With The Wind southern drawl.

*shivers*

"Ohhh Dansby, why must you strike out when thare seems to be runnas in scorin' position."

c.davis (BAL) suspended...yet another adderall victim

Yes, victim. Poor guy.

fun facts...

Davis had a Adderall exemption last year, didn't bother to get it renewed this year.

Adderall is undetectable in your system after 8 hours

i wasn't sympathizing with him, but the word choice was poor...especially when i refer to kids getting popped in the minors for weed and getting PED suspensions as victims, too.

I don't have much of a problem with amphetamines either, but when millionaire athlete gets caught for disobeying the rules, I don't have much sympathy. If it's a silly rule (and with weed it is) they should change it, but otherwise, get your highs off of being insanely rich.

Baez 1AB 1K Olt 1AB 1K Funfight at AllK Corral is ON!

7 hits off Wada so far, 6 singles...3.85 FIP probably worth mentioning on why he's likely to not get $5M from Cubs.

If a guy can throw 180 innings of 3.85 FIP, he's easily worth $5 million. My concern is that he looks more hittable every time out as the league figures him out.

don't know why anyone would bet on 180 innings from Wada though..

also: Arrieta, Wood, Jackson, Hendricks, Strailly, Turner, Doubront, Jokisch, Beeler, Rusin, Edwards and hopefully/possibly a Scherzer or Lester.

Think Cubs would be okay not committing that $5M, rather spend it on bringing Hammel back if anything.

Baez Bash #8

Cole left a breaking ball over the plate

I like that Baez doesn't have any celebration or prayer when he touches home plate.

Ryno actually has an interesting perspective on HBP

http://hardballtalk.nbcsports.com/2014/09/12/...

and the numbers in the article seemingly back up his point...

Velocity and strikeouts (and specialists) are way up in today's era. He can argue players are more comfy in the box, but pitchers seem to be doing just fine.

Just agreeing with the observation that it seems hitters don't try to get out of the way as much as they use to or know how to get hit (turn your back into pitch). 

Abracadabra HR #9

 

Boston wins, Cubs lose, good news for the draft pick

How's the draft look this year? I haven't been paying much attention. I'm hoping the list isn't topped by pitchers again, since I sort of consider them a waste of a top pick (although to be fair I have never really looked at a statistical success rate of first round pitching, as easy as that probably is to do)

I was thinking about this -- I believe with all the press around the cubs loading up on position players that there may be a relative run on them and this might be a good year for the cubs to nab a top pitcher with a slightly lower pick. I don't believe the cubs set out to pick position players as an initial strategy - it just made sense (and pitchers ARE more risky). But anyway my prediction is cubs pick a pitcher first.

It could very well be there will be a sheep mentality. I think if a Strasburg type had been in a recent draft TheoCorp may have pulled the trigger on that instead of a position player, so there's always that variable. I have no idea what this draft class looks like and probably won't pay much attention to it until about 24 hours before draft day.

there's a link above from fangraphs with a current top 50 preview...seemingly a pretty weak draft class, but guys emerge in the spring a lot of times.

cool thanks

From Tweets on left sidebar, Aug 26, from Keith Law: “@hurricanept: @keithlaw Keith, how do you see the 2015 draft class overall? Strong, weak, average?” Average. HS bats and college arms.

more AL Cubbery (or as Ronnie would say, our excellent relief pitcher: AL Fonseca)...
The A's have not only lost three straight, 12 of their last 15 and 22 of 31, but they're down yet another catcher, too, after Geovany Soto exited Friday's game in the bottom of the third inning because of back spasms.

It's really only the epic teams that don't have a significant losing streak - although this one is particularly nasty, but this sure is a lousy time of year to have one.

Bruce Miles with a nice article on KC's Jacob Rogers as a team leader. He was the Cubs 40th round pick in 2012 draft. Some click throughs to see the article. http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20140909/s...

baez with another side-arm flinging throwing error. he should at least wait until rizzo gets back to keep doing that.

another baez HR. he should keep doing that even after rizzo gets back.

Baez sure sucks is good. Damn I don't know. I'm just happy that all my eggs aren't in the one-prospect basket. I'm too sick to make a joke about my eggs. Someone else can do it for me.

I was gonna do a joke about your basket ...

Fair game...

It's weird, almost, not having just the one prospect that we have to hope makes it. I guess one reason I am really hoping he does make it is I would love to see that crazy power harnessed on a regular basis. That guy dropped a changeup over the plate and it looked like it got shot out of a cannon.

Looks like PNC Park staff tried to get Szczur's first HR ball back for him and that kid's mom and him put the whole idea on shutdown. Et tu, fatte?

And the ump intervenes to save the day ... only to have kid's mom try to start a round of applause for her son. What a tool.

What happened there?

Szczur's HR was thrown back onto the field. Snider threw the ball to a ball girl on the left field foul line, but instead of sending it along toward the dugout, she gave it to a kid. I'm bad with kids' ages, but he was maybe 8. He was with his mother. Then a security guard and a member of the ballpark staff came over and tried to get the ball to give to Szczur and offered the kid a different ball. The mother essentially shut down the whole situation, she said something that looked bitchy and those two went away. They were laughing about it, so I'm guessing she got pretty defensive about the situation. Finally, at the end of the half-inning, the third base ump walked up the line and basically told the kid to cough it up, which he finally did. They gave him another ball anyways.

I hope they offered him some sort of autographed merchandise--fans are not used to being told they have to give back souvenirs, especially kid fans.

Cougars win 7-2, championship -- check.

Had to go down as one of the most dominant seasons of MiLb on any level? Very interesting. Anyway congrat's KC!!

Bring 'em up!!!!!

“This week is [about] proving people wrong,” Briggs said, per Mark Potash of Suntimes.com. “A lot of people don't think we can stop the run. But when we turn the [game] tape on, it’s a very different outlook than what everybody else sees.” Do tell.

They wear 3D glasses when they watch the game tape.

Rose colored 3D

CCO reviews the Bruce Levine radio show interview with Chris Bosio. Bosio is pretty awesome. http://chicagocubsonline.com/archives/2014/09... Bos clearly answers the question that Grimm and Neil Ramirez will be in the bullpen next year. The tone of the interview implies that Kyle Hendricks will basically take a spot in 2015 and Wada, not so much as he's looked at as an 18 out pitcher. He loves what Hector Rondon (Ronny) has accomplished. 2015 bullpen needs include another lefty and one more power arm (no mention, but I assume Arodys Vizcaiono or Armando Rivero will get looks for that spot). Wesley Wright is on a one yr deal, so it sounds like they may move on. Too bad that Rosscup has not looked that good in his call up.
Because our bullpen, what we feel is getting better, has a chance to be a very powerful bullpen moving forward with [Hector] Rondon and [Pedro] Strop and Ramirez and Grimm, they want to keep those guys there, maybe add another piece so we don’t have to try to find an arm to replace Ramirez because arms like that are just not easy to find to put in to the seventh or eighth inning. What I mean by that is Grimm, Ramirez and Strop are all interchangeable parts that can pitch in that seventh or eighth and if [Hector] Rondon is down we can use Ramirez to close. Not a lot of clubs in baseball can do that. The clubs that you can find that can do that are the playoff teams. So we feel like right now our bullpen is pretty close to where we want it. If we can add one more legitimate lefty and another power arm we are really going to have something special.”
on Rondon...
Once we started to get the fastball command, tweaked his delivery a little bit, now we start seeing the results of velocity touching 97-98. Once we got the command we knew the slider would come and the shape of the slider and speed of the slider has gotten progressively better. He’s trusted it. We’ve got him to use it in weak counts 2-1, 1-0, counts where he can still have some flexibility and get back to a cutter or a heater, but becoming a pitcher as a closer not a dead-brain heaver as a closer. Rondon has run with this. He’s a smart kid. He’s a strong kid, but he wants it bad. He really does. Out of all my years as a pitching coach this is probably one of the most gratifying guys I’ve worked with because of how far he’s come.

Sunday's Reverse MLB Standings...after ending a 7 game losing streak: 1. Texas 56-92 2. Rockies 59-89 3. Arizona 60-88 4. Minnesota 62-86 5. Boston 65-84 6. Houston 65-83 7. Cubs 65-83 8. White Sox 68-80 9. San Diego 68-79 10. Phillies 69-79 edit: Thanks Rob, adjusted for Astros having a tiebreaker vs Cubs

Astros ahead of Cubs on tiebreaker btw

Paul Blackburn on Twitter: "Best group of guys I've every played with!!!" And all my former teammates can eat it! *muttering* Assholes.

Alcantara cf Baez ss Coghlan lf Valbuena 3b Valaika 2b Olt 1b Szczur rf Baker c Turner p coghlan - valbuena - valaika as a 3/4/5...wow. also, fwiw...i dont see valbuena surviving the offseason without getting traded and i get the feeling valaika is being groomed for a valbuena-like role, only as a super-sub bench type rather than a starter.

This team has featured some of the weakest 3-5 hitters I've ever seen. Rizzo, Castro, Soler, and Bryant can't get back/here soon enough. Hell, add Ruggiano and Sweeney to that list.

yeah, that 3-4-5 finally sunk in how awful it was shortly after i posted it. they need rizzo back badly...castro would be nice, too. it's think it's rather safe to assume val's only playing so much out of necessity and to get a good look at him as a bench/super-sub next season.

VAL x 2 baby!!!! It's on!

I think whether Valbuena stays or goes depends on whether or not Olt stays. If Olt stays, Valbuena stays, so that Cpt Happy can sit Olt in favor of Valbuena whenever possible. If Olt goes, then Valbuena will be packaged with him in the trade. That's just one scenario, of course.

baez walks in the 1st... he's taken 7 walks in his past 11 games. he has 11 walks in 39 games overall (39th in progress). he went 13 games in a row without a walk before he got a walk 11 games ago.

I thought he'd been walking more lately. He's been taking a lot of strikes, too. I really don't mind seeing Baez take called third strikes. I think he's studying. Could still be a very scary dude at the plate.

My single favorite thing about the 2014 Cubs was management's decision to bring him up and get his awkward adjustment phase out of the way this year damn the arbitration clock. It shows me that they are in fact serious about competing next year.

Olt and Baez. It's a walk-off: http://youtu.be/iPYv0GFV_T8

Cubs loss with Red Sox and Astros wins puts Cubs back with the 6th pick

Well I assume everyone is out getting drunk because the Cubs were mathematically eliminated today. Condolences...

Cubs fans getting drunk? Is it opening day already?

My man crush on Brandon Marshall has officially become a threat to my marriage.

I'm looking forward to your man crush on Kris Bryant officially becoming a threat to your man crush on Brandon Marshall.

*hastily exits room to write first draft of Kris Bryant/Brandon Marshall fan-fic*

Bryant named by Cubs as Minor League Player of the Year, Tseng as pitcher

Baez, Rizzo, Soler in lineup tonite Almost there Glad I waited until this Wed for my first game of the year Baby Maddux pitching too!

Article supposedly claims Renteria in game strategy has been questioned by people inside and outside the org, and that he has had daily freedom to make his own moves (if this article is to be believed) within certain guidelines regarding relief pitchers and some first year players: http://www.suntimes.com/sports/baseball/cubs/...

if this team is going to go through managers like tissues, at least they're not paying them millions of dollars. the multi-million dollar manager era seems to be over across almost all of MLB in recent years. it took long enough to happen. also, renteria has an annoying as hell quick hook with starting pitchers.

I thought you liked managers to have big contracts...

I too am frightened and confused by this new development.

Maybe the Xs and Os haven't been perfect, but overall the team has played good, sound fundamental baseball and he lorded over Rizzo and Castro getting back on track. That to me is a successful season.

I've been in that camp at times this year, but the more I think about it that's being pretty generous. Bosio has overseen the pitching every year and it's always great. Rizzo and Castro might have just been left alone and gravitated back to the mean, and they're underachieving for their run differential. I think he's gone by the serious playoff runs in 2016 2017 etc.

There's a very good chance he's in a caretaker role, I'll grant you that.

It seems to me there have been two types of managers in recent Cubs history...fully-formed and set-in-their-ways guys (Riggleman, Baylor, Baker, Piniella), and bumbling newcomers who got let go before we could see if they learned from their mistakes (Quade, Sveum). Maybe Riggleman moved from the newcomer to established mode with the Cubs but that was long enough ago I can't remember it very well. Ricky R fits the newcomer who does some bumbling mode, I think it will be interesting to see if/how he develops over the next couple of seasons and how much grace he gets from Theo and Jed. I expect them to give Ricky another season to improve his X's and O's while keeping some continuity as Bryant joins the team and we see how Baez develops and see if Rizzo and Castro continue their upward arcs. Then next offseason Theo and Jed will decide whether Ricky is a playoff-caliber field manager or not and keep him or launch him based on that.

To be fair, Baker was a fully-formed set-in-his-bumbling way type of manager.

Jacob deGrom with 7 K's...first 7 hitters.

first 8

twitter says it tied modern record with our pal Jim Deshaies, who did it in 1986 vs. Dodgers

http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/HOU/H...

pitcher gets a single off him and then Yelich grounds out

42 pitches through 3, 8 K's

 

12 K through 5 for deGrom, 74 pitches so far...

13 through 6 for deGrom, 88 pitches

Reds lineup is something...

Hamilton, Negron, Frazier, Mesorasco, Y. Rodriguez, J. Bourgeois, R. Santiago, J. Elmore, A. Simon

good day for Travis to find himself.

I did some math and it turns out without Mike Olt's stats this year the league wide K numbers would have been right around average.

Everyday I pop out of bed and thank god for Luis Valbuena. He's like the Tony Gwynn of players who totally suck.

WELCOME BACK RIZZO! cubs win!

Castillo looked like he was gonna wrench Rizzo's back to hell coming out of the home plate scrum!

The RIZZOmeter just went up to 10!! Boom!

Tony Four Sacks

Mark Gonzales/Trib mentions that the Myrtle Beach Pelicans are a likely landing spot to replace Daytona.
"According to a source, the Cubs could be looking to switch from Daytona to Myrtle Beach as their high-A affiliate."
Myrtle Beach, SC is in the Carolina League, Southern division. This is compatible with what Arizona Phil has been predicting for some time now. http://www.milb.com/standings/index.jsp?lid=1...

hopefully a little less rain there

It rains golf balls.

Two Carolina League teams in the DC area, so I could get a glimpse of those Cougars-turned-Pelicans when they visit.

Myrtle Beach had three rain-outs in 2014 (all home games), while Daytona had 18 (12 home and six road). 

per Mark Gonzalez/Trib tweets, with some Theo quotes:
Theo on switch from Daytona to Myrtle Beach: "We just had a lot of weather issues and that was really the crux of it." Theo praised Daytona but said Myrtle was looking for national brand. “The Carolina League, in our opinion, is the best high-A League for developmental purposes. These are tough decisions." "In the end, it comes back to what’s best for our players."

Giancarlo Stanton car crash pics

http://www.sbnation.com/mlb/2014/9/16/6234807...

not for the squeamish...

Genius. Oh yes

CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reports that the Blue Jays plan to make a qualifying offer to impending free agent Melky Cabrera.

A qualifying offer is expected to be somewhere in the range of $15-16 million. According to Heyman, the Blue Jays are hopeful that it will lead to another multi-year agreement. Cabrera batted .301/.351/.458 with 16 home runs and 73 RBI prior to undergoing season-ending surgery earlier this month to repair a broken right pinkie finger.

guess Olney feels slighted...that's what you get for writing behind a paywall

10m

Wrote Sept. 8 about the Jays giving a qualifying offer to Melky Cabrera: A slam dunk.

ejax returns friday

On edge of seat with anticipation...

it is remarkable how a guy with the stuff he has is so ineffective with it. it's also remarkable how many times he'll pound sliders on anyone once he gets 2 strikes even if he has to throw a dozen in a row. ejax, you're not mariano rivera and your slider isn't his cutter.

I guess the info must be on fangraphs or somewherez but isn't he always behind in the count?

Tonight's lineup. Wow. For the record Valaika is now ahead of Olt on the depth chart. He bats ahead of him as well when they are in lineup together and tonight Rizzo and Alcantara sit etc. See O&B I was wishing Olt was left on DL to finish season. All I know is Renteria or whoever better be damn sure he's the piece of shit they are treating him like. Since day 1 of this season. Someone is gonna say - hey dude be yourself and he's gonna play a badass 3B and do some damage at the plate for someone, but apparently not the Cubs. Fucking wow.

valaika getting so much consistent playing time is only as odd as baez hitting 2nd to me...and i hope both have nothing to do with anything besides getting them high opportunity looks for next season. they seem to be grooming valaika for a supersub role...though if he's the main backup 1st baseman then something is wrong with the 2015 cubs.

It's mysterious. Valaika's got nothing as far as I can see. I don't know if Olt is going to do some damage for another team or not, but the window to find out how he might do for the Cubs is just about closed, and so is any chance of getting anything worthwhile for him in a trade. It's bizarre not to see what you have there. You can't be playing Valbuena at third to showcase him, and you sure as shit aren't playing Valaika to showcase him, or even figure out what he can do. He's just a 4A guy.

There's not much that separates a 4A guy from a player who can draw a major-league salary for three or four years and maybe make the investment of ten years of the prime of his youth something like a wash, at least. Either you like ballplayers or you don't. If you do, then you want to deliver on your promise to give a Valbuena or a Ruggiano or a Coghlan or a Valaika a shot. If you don't like down-on-their-luck 28-year-old ballplayers, you probably shouldn't be a GM. I think Epstein has compassion or at least respect for these guys and also for Kalish and Sweeney, who weren't quite able to find the playing time they needed. Valbuena and Coghlan and Ruggiano, meanwhile, have gotten a nice career boost from the opportunities given them this year, and might even bring something back in a trade. Olt is in a different situation. He will get several opportunities if he needs them before he is 28, including, I hope, with the Cubs.

LOL. It is not about compassion or "ballplayers" (whatever that means). Baseball is a business and if you don't understand that you definitely shouldn't be a GM.

Most people in the baseball "business" spend their twenties learning a difficult occupation which doesn't pay much, from which they will be forced to retire at twenty-eight or twenty-nine. Many GMs but certainly most managers and coaches are aware, from personal experience, of the situation that these "ballplayers" are in. Look at the playing careers of, say, Renteria, or Sveum, or any number of their peers. I said "compassion or at least respect." I think these older guys deserve a little respect, or at least a spot on the depth chart that they can hold onto. Valaika did well at Iowa and was called up in early August. On the depth chart, he's behind Rizzo and Valbuena and Baez and ahead of Watkins and Olt. Olt didn't get a call-up until the rosters expanded. It's called seniority, and organizations typically practice it. It's why the NFC's defensive player of the week would have continued to sit on the bench if an older player hadn't gotten injured. I've given you my theory as to why Olt isn't playing. Feel free to spin your own, but please, don't blame it on Renteria. He doesn't pull those strings. He does the lineup, not the depth chart.

I respectfully disagree with everything you've said here. I think that in general the pressure to succeed and win games across the league has made this type of thinking obsolete if it ever was prominent. More to the point, I think our particular executive team is very cutthroat and do whatever they want to get a competitive edge. In short if there is a seniority caste it would be Renteria who would impose it not theo and Jed. But moreso the system just doesn't make sense with the Cubs and doesn't apply to other young players with less seniority than Valaika. AND frankly nothing else the Cubs do delays their already slow timeline for success so there is no way he's playing out of compassion. He's probably playing because Renteria wants him to, which is the simplest answer and probably the right one. I think Renteria is a go with his gut type old school guy at times, which I'd really like to NOT see in our next manager. I personally would like a bit more intellectual approach, that's the wrong word, but an analytical manager who is not trying to be analytical - but who it comes naturally to. I believe analytics come naturally to theo and Jed and Renteria is trying to learn it.

Valaika can move around the field and play a number of positions it seems, but if they're showcasing him I don't see the point. You're not gonna get much for him no matter how many positions he can play, unless he can relieve, too, and you're taking at bats away from Olt. So basically you're trying to "showcase" a guy that will bring back a mid level prospect at best, at the cost of not finding out what you have in Olt, who could be a terrible hitter but really has just as good a chance at being a substantial power hitter. By not playing him every day, you're losing the opportunity to find out. That opportunity does not come back next season unless Bryant goes to the outfield, and it doesn't look like that is happening. I think both you guys are right. I think there is some compassion involved in Theo's decision making process, and I think Renteria is calling the shots on Olt and will until Theo gets on the phone and tells him to play him. That apparently hasn't happened, either.

I don't think Epstein is cut-throat, and Hoyer even less so. Brutally frank might be a better description. When Epstein or Hoyer signs one of these 4A types to a contract and promises to let him earn a shot, he tries to deliver on it. Valaika goes on the baseball scrapheap for good if he doesn't make some noise with the bat pretty soon, or if he hasn't impressed another team already. I still say that a ballplayer-wannabe like Epstein (or you or I) understands this and thinks about it. My guess is, again, that Renteria makes lineup and in-game decisions based on a depth chart that is provided by the front office, the people who design and build the team. An asset like Olt might not be too important to be jerked around--even Bryant has been feeling jerked-around lately--but not by the manager (at least not by this manager).

Cool. Thanks for explaining it further, I see some of what you are saying. Not sure I agree with all of it but I think you are most likely right that there is a decision hierarchy between Theo/Jed and what Rick can do. Also agree that Valaika deserves a shot before being thrown on scrapheap. Personally I think he is a backup versatile NONsupersub ceiling and that he should get PH opportunities and sit for days between playing and see how he can do under the circumstances he might eventually play in a real competitive season.

there has to be front office meddling...or the manager needs to be fired for batting baez 2nd so much. that said, i think vala is being groomed for a bench super-sub role...the type of guy who gets 300+PA a year playing all over the place (especially 2nd/3rd). it's the role valbeuna would ideally have in 2015, but he's good enough to play 3rd everyday for more than just a few teams. i expect to see valbuena traded and vala taking his downgraded place.

And Olt on bench again. Thinking it's something personal between him and Cpt Happy . Going to my first game of season tonite got Baez, Rizzo, Soler and baby Maddux but no Oltimate Warrior. I will survive.

Enjoy the game jacos. No absinthe until you are home tho!!

My son is 13 He can drive

How can you set such a bad example for your son, everyone knows you should take public transportation.

I know Coming from deep Sw suburbs was not feasible this time

http://www.csnchicago.com/cubs/cubs-moving-cl...

es official, Cubs Hi-A moves to Myrtle Beach

Cubs are moving their MWL affiliate from Kane County to South Bend. 

PDC is through 2018 (mirroring the PDCs with Tennessee and Iowa). 

The South Bend owner is personally paying for a new grass turf field (replacing the old artificial turf) and will also be constructing an enclosed training complex (hitting cages, pitching mounds, et al).  

Still waiting on NWL affiliate news... move to Eugene (sharing facility with U. of Oregon) or to Tri-Cities, or maybe back to Boise (albeit only for two more years)? 

Cueto vs Arrieta tonight, neat.

Rizzo plan is to play every other day? That's just bizarre. Is he hurt or not?

He probably aggravated the injury when Castillo put that idiotic move on him in the scrum.

No reason to push him this time of year.

Obviously. But have you ever heard of playing a player every other day? It's more romper room crap. If you have heard of it I'd love to know who the player was. It's not a big deal, but if his back is tender, shut him down. If he's healthy then why the tentative schedule?

he wasn't suppose to come back, soo shrugs

hahaaha

Niiice

Since the minor league seasons are over, they are treating these major league games like rehab starts.

Arrieta looking quite good through 5, faced the minimum, walked Hamilton but he was caught stealing.

66 pitches thru 6.

no hitter through 7

7 1/3 no hit, double by philipps good job jake!

nice seeing o's clinch

Soler hr

And he shall thusly be dubbed THE BEAST!!

2 things: Phillips flipped the bat and jogged, thought it was gone. Such a hotdog. Wasn't even close. Szczur TOTALLY laid it all out trying to catch it. No idea if he got close but THAT was the real deal as far as dives go ...

What a dick move by Phillips -- stands and watches a ball that lands on the warning track. I think he knew it wasn't gone -- he was just rubbing it in that he broke up the no-no. More like Soler, please.

Brandon Phillips all class

Be interesting to see if one of our power relievers puts one between his shoulder blades tomorrow.

Agreed. And frickin Jake - unbelievable. What a pitcher ...

Seriously considering relabeling the file in my hard drive currently titled "Arrieta Porn" to just "Porn." Seems redundant now. (It's full of animated gifs and short video clips...)

Hahaha! And it's awesome because he basically looks like nobody. The trimmed beard, athletic build, really unique dude.

Kyle Schwarber video from Wrigley and a PSully article...(not sure if they block it without subscription, idiots) http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/baseball... "With his make-up, aptitude and work habits, we are going to give him every chance to stay behind the plate," President Theo Epstein said. "I wouldn't bet against him." "He impressed immediately with his big personality, genuine nature, advanced understanding of hitting, passion for the game, leadership qualities and blue-collar work ethic," Epstein said. "He's a really good player who other players want to be around. It was easy to project him being not only in the middle of our lineup someday, but also in the middle of our clubhouse dynamic."

26 games LF, 9 games DH, 9 games C. his career arc defensively should be interesting next season.

what exactly is a blue collar work ethic? I know lots of programmers who work 23 hour days. That's a smart move, the instructional league. They're gonna have themselves a left handed hitting Buster Posey.

Since being called back up Olt is batting .259 with OBP of .394 -- K 30% 3 doubles.

I wonder if he aggravated his hammy. There's gotta be some kind of rationalization out there somewhere for not playing him.

I don't think so. We'd have heard about it. There's something else up - Valaika has batted ahead of him in all games they've played together as well. There's either a major personality conflict going on behind the scenes or Olt is just accepting his fate gracefully. But there's a completely consistent pattern by Renteria of playing him as little as possible. He doesn't think he's any good. Period. I cannot f'ing believe I am watching Valaika. He's a non-prospect 4A scrub who was brought up when he was to be a warm body. And Renteria ... whatever.

Olt healthy as fuck. Just crushed a ball to 3B and raced down 1st base line. Great play by 3Bman. Olt. He'll never be a Valaika. Hasn't got what it takes.

Renteria claims Olt is going to get some at bats at third. He didn't indicate for which team that would happen.

He keeps saying shit like that. Why even say that stuff? That's like promising your own aging guide dog a steak dinner on its deathbed after starving it to death. And he doesn't realize the one he's screwing over is himself. Moron. I bet he's fired before most people think. If they keep him until end of next year it'd be for theo to save face.

Olt ranks #11 (edit) in number of at bats, ahead of guys like Valakia, Kalish, Sweeny, Baez, Barney and is second to last in batting average for position players, ranking ahead of only Eli Whiteside. At some point we'll have to let go of the idea that Olt might be the Cub's secret weapon and accept that he's a bust.

Here's a list of Cubs starting pitchers who have a better batting average: Travis Wood Jeff Samardzija Edwin Jackson Jake Arrieta Here's a list of regular MLB 3B players with an OPS lower than Olt:

Thank you Ryno for facts. The cult of Olt is becoming increasingly annoying. It's no longer 2011/2012 and Olt is no longer (if ever) an elite prospect.

He's batting pretty well an his OBP is up near .400 since returning. He's our best defensive 3B and he currently stands at 4th on the team in HR despite batting less than 1/2 of what the others ahead of him have regarding AB. He only trails Rizzo for HR per AB. He hasn't been given the chance to play every day like the other prospects. And the cult is very small as far as I can tell. Talk to me in 2 years.

I'm not going to comment on the rest, you know where I stand on all of this, but I will say the "he has a lot of home runs" argument is not your best angle. Bryan LaHair--All-Star Bryan LaHair!--was second on the team in home runs in 2012 and never played in the majors again. Tyler Colvin was third on the team in 2010 and everyone complained about his playing time in 2011 and cried when he put up decent numbers with Colorado in 2012--but the last two season he has been a AAAA back-up outfielder and no loss for the Cubs. I am not saying that's Olt's destiny, just that hitting home runs doesn't mean all that much.

I definitely hear you. (Also if true baez is in trouble. Ha!)

Yes, Baez may be in trouble. At some point I hope he asks for help- because he's not going to have a long, successful career doing what he's doing now.

That might be part of the plan. And I agree with the notion in this thread that his mechanics make him a committed swinger way too often. But it's also baseball intelligence. Who knows. Many think he is an extraordinary talent who will magically figure it out. The cool thing is the the Cubs org is not about one prospect, especially at SS. I just hope he's ready or benched by the time the games matter.

It's not a Cult of Olt, it's just stupid to not provide him 30 at bats in a row to see what he can do. No matter how you count the at bats, they've never all come at once. He hits, he sits. It is asinine. There is most likely no future for him on this team, but to call him a bust is awfully premature. See what he can do and at least try to get some value for him.

I've got a completely opposite set of stats that have to do with his power and RBI, his being the best defensive player at 3B in the organization, how few AB he has gotten per game vs his peers, etc. I think you are in the minority calling him a 'bust' he just turned 26, and there have been mitigating factors. I get it, I respect your opinion and I completely disagree. I suppose in 2-3 years one of us can point back at this post and say I told you so. For now I am less worried about Olt and more worried about our decision making at the major league level and what the handling of Olt says about it. I won't go into it now but I think I am more incensed at why he wasn't investigated as a prospect in the same manner as Baez Soler Alcantara etc. no I don't think he is the same as those players but that's what I expect when I see a (formerly highly regarded prospect hit the majors on a rebuilding team). I guess the things I am concerned about will only be under the acid test when the games matter and we see Renteria or whoever our manager is, trying to win games at all cost. What decisions and lineups are made will tell they story. But your stats are completely besides the point of what I and maybe a few others are saying. But Olt a BUST after what we've seen this year seems rash.

I was partially being snarky- I know as well as you do that you can make stats say anything you want. The thing that bothers me is this piling on Renteria because, and here I'm not being snarky I'm being completely serious- Renteria isn't in the batters box when Olt is up to bat. Olt is putting together a track record that isn't good, and it isn't Renteria's or anybody else's fault. The point you make about him being better since coming up the second time is valid, he has. But the Cubs fans tend to pick a guy they love and cheer him on well beyond the point that he deserves cheering. Matt Murton comes to mind. I don't want Olt to become another mediocre piece of the puzzle that the Cubs keep around because it makes the fans warm and fuzzy. F-that. I'd rather see results. If Olt wants regular playing time, drop the bat on the ball and earn it.

Yes. And he is batting much better and now he's sitting in favor of Valaika. Also we both know the answer to this, but why doesn't the put the bat to the ball litmus test apply to Baez, Alcantara, or even Valbuena when he was slumping. Because the manager believed in them. No matter how hot Olt gets Renteria jumps at the first chance to sit him and THAT is what puzzles me.

 "much better" is a bit much...

it's 11 G and his K's are down a bit, but so has gone his power.

It's not hard to be much better than .139 rob!!! :)

I get what you are saying and see the facts, but there is a pedigree there and extenuating circumstances. He's a first round pick and had an eye injury that I believe lingered into this year. He's showing patience his second time around. He should not be losing time to a 29 year old Marlin wash out.

There is a difference between a bust and no longer being considered a top prospect. Look at the last 2 years worth of performance and most talent evaluators no longer have him as a top prospect.

Quite possibly worst rendition of Natinal Anthem I ever heard

She is a friend if Laura Rickett /no joke

And Javy starts off by K-ing on a wild pitch. Last night, 2-2 count, and I said to Javy on TV -- "everyone knows it's going to be a slider low and away -- don't swing!". Slider, low and away. Swing and a miss. Another K. His baseball IQ is really beginning to concern me. It obvious he's not going to see a fastball with 2 strikes (possibly with a full count) -- yet he swings and swings and swings...

I'm cringing through most of his atbats. I really don't think this is helping him. So hard to watch. He watches the low fastball strikes and waves at the sliders. Completely out of his mind lost. Do you think mngmt is trying to humble him? I don't, but it's possible.

I'm sure they tried that on him in the minors. But the pitching isn't as good so a lot of times they probably weren't able to throw them with such precision out of the zone, and he is definitely able to get wood on on a low slider around the strike zone. So when they missed that spot low and away, it was lights out. It's habit and he's probably been able to beat that kind of pitching all his life. Not in the majors though. Up there, these guys can aim for a spot low and away, even with a sharp slider. And if it's a bit of a wild pitch, no big deal, Javy will probably swing at it and the catcher can go to the backstop and throw him out at first if it's a third strike. Still, that's pretty much just one thing he has to conquer. If he keeps swinging at those high fastballs, his career won't end because there aren't enough guys who can blow one by up in the zone, although late innings will be tough on him. I wouldn't throw the towel in on him just yet. It's just one thing, really. I've seen him handle change ups, and I've seen him get beat by them, so he seems about league average there. If he can beat the low slider out of the zone thing, he's gonna be ok. I get the impatience, but that's why they brought him up and blew off the service time. Let him take his lumps.

Maybe I have on rose colored glasses, but the more I watch Baez the more encouraged I am. To me it seems his problems are more machanical than a lack of strike zone awareness. He just needs to start his swing so early he is basically a guess hitter, especially with two strikes. While I am not a scout or a hitting instructor, his pre-swing looks like it has similar issues to Rizzo’s before he lowered and quieted his hands. Assuming Baez can make a similar adjustment, without losing too much of his power/bat speed, he should be fine. I seem to remember they asked Baez to adjust his swing at Dayton and he said he didn’t want to mess with it then. I expect he will be more willing to make some minor changes after facing major league pitchers. What do those of you who are more knowledgeable about swing mechanics think?

I'm no expert either but he will need to stop swinging at those low and away things. No amount of swing mechanics adjustment can result in those pitches being hittable. Watching Rizzo this year has been fun. If he gets a pitch he doesn't like low in the zone but is afraid it's a strike on a 2 strike count, it seems he is fouling a lot of them off with a shorter swing. I never have understood how good hitters can do that. I have a hard time picturing Baez ever getting there with his current Wild Thing swing, but who knows?

I was sitting along first base line and one at bat he swung from his heels three times and k'd. Next time up hitched his swing and dumped it into right. Hopefully he figures it out. Maybe he should spend the winter with the Cubs' Don, Tony Four Sacks.

The question is why does he swing at pitches low and away. I'm proposing that because he needs to start his swing early he must guess at what the pitcher going to throw before he really sees the pitch. If he can adjust his swing so that he can start it later it will give him time to read and react. If he still swings are balls out of the zone, well then we have a problem. I am not a believer that you can teach strike zone awareness very much. For example, Rizzo was considered to have a slider speed bat particularly on fastballs inside. They lowered his hands to shorten his swing and had him crowd the plate. The results speak for themselves. My hope is that adjustments to Baez will also create positive results.

I think what you say makes sense to me. Luckily they don't pay me to figure this stuff out. If they did, we'd at least have the first draft choice every year.

Why did Soriano and Sandberg swing at pitches low and away? Sandberg figured it out, Sori not so much. I think it's manageable based on how he's adjusted to each league at a young age. He was able to hit a couple of those pitches(ala Vlad) which doesn't help the matter either.

This is clearly an issue. If the problem is not mechanical but instead is a lack of strike zone awareness, it is a much harder problem to solve.

Maybe Renteria signed a pact with the devil that he has to play all players who were born in 1985 and first three letters of their names are V-A-L. Most breakout seasons happen after age 29 from journeymen don't ya know.

s.doolittle blows an awesome piece of 8-inning pitching by ninja out in OAK. just like old times.

Edwin Jackson looks forward to making his first start since Aug. 20 Friday against the Dodgers' formidable left-hander Clayton Kershaw. "It's always fun going against guys like Kershaw," said Jackson. "It makes the game interesting."
Interesting is one way we'll all be putting it when it happens, I guess.

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  • crunch 14 hours 49 min ago (view)

    marvin miller and ted simmons are part of the next HOF class.

    long time coming for miller.

     

  • crunch 19 hours 27 min ago (view)

    things that are important to good on-field play like buying up all the property around wrigley field, from rooftops to acerage, isn't going to monetize itself.

    i know some people would love to have a top tier pitcher, but i'm looking forward to more control of rooftop advertising and an open air beer garden near the team owned hotel and resturant complexes.

    i know some people want a solid leadoff man, but i'm looking forward to seeing 10-20 concerts on off-days destroying the playing field so that extra revenue can help a polician in Nebraska or Iowa get some ad buys.

     

  • Hagsag 20 hours 33 min ago (view)

    Their friend Donald will come through for them.

     

  • crunch 20 hours 56 min ago (view)

    remember when the billionaire owners got a huge double digit tax cut?

    maybe the city should do them a favor and give them more tax savings help to let them buy and build another 2-3 revenue projects outside of the park.  that might help these struggling heroes find some extra loot.

    i know this rant isn't fair, but my "dan winkler got a MLB contract fever" is dying down a bit.

     

  • crunch 21 hours 3 min ago (view)

    f'real.  i don't even know why they're going to bother playing games.  i'm over here printing Cubs 2020 World Series Champs banners while others are sleeping on reality.

     

  • Dolorous Jon Lester 22 hours 9 min ago (view)

    Just saw a fun report that the Cubs are telling even budget type free agents they can't currently negotiate until they clear some payroll. So that's a fun start to the winter meetings.

     

  • Dolorous Jon Lester 22 hours 13 min ago (view)

    I'm with you 100% on that. Minor league retreads are fine and all but we don't need to be paying premiums for middle relief.

     

  • JustSayin' 23 hours 53 min ago (view)

    The Cubs have 15-20 extra pitchers in their minor league system due to unbalanced drafting over the last few years.  I am ready to see them err on the side of giving the internal guys too many chances as compared to signing AAA players who had short stints in the big leagues which didn't go too well.  We don't know it the Cubs organization is just that bad at developing pitching, or has too many guys trying to prove themselves in a fixed number of minor league innings.  Bad scouting/development or self-inflicted bottleneck?

     

  • Dolorous Jon Lester 1 day 4 hours ago (view)

    Dan Winkler and Jharel Cotton wasn't enough for you? Tough crowd.

     

  • Hagsag 1 day 17 hours ago (view)

    I think we all are ready for some action.

     

  • crunch 1 day 18 hours ago (view)

    winter meetings start tomorrow...guys got into town friday/today.

    the cubs are supposedly looking to tap the trade market for their major moves.  this is the place where it gets done or seeds get planted.

    also, the modern day HOF class will be announced.  marvin miller will most likely get in.  lou whitaker and ted simmons should have some heat, too.

     

  • crunch 2 days 8 hours ago (view)

    semi-interesting winter league note...

    trey mcnutt (yes, that guy) is having a hell of a winter league in mexico (one of the less talented winter leagues) so far as a closer.  15.2ip 8h 4bb 24k, 0.57 era.

    giants signed him to a minor league deal a couple weeks ago.  he never went anywhere.  he's been consistently playing ball in the minors and indie league ball since he was last a noteworthy player.  last season he played in the OAK minor league system.  30 years old now...

     

  • jdrnym 2 days 15 hours ago (view)

    Brad Brach signs with the Mets for $850K but the Cubs are paying $500K, per Ken Rosenthal. Wasn't his 2020 club only supposed to be on the hook for league minimum?

     

  • crunch 2 days 15 hours ago (view)

    when he got to the mets he suddenly learned how to throw with control (small sample size etc).  last year was not a fun bullpen year...

     

  • crunch 2 days 18 hours ago (view)

    Yeah, I've made myself familiar with a lot of the changes, but AZP's posts have both added more information and cleared up stuff I didn't fully grasp.  I appreciate the hell out of it.  Thanks Phil, thanks TCR.

     

  • bradsbeard 2 days 19 hours ago (view)

    Looks like Savant has his breaking pitch classified as a curve while Fangraphs calls it a slider. Suppose by ST he could have made everything over in the pitching lab, so who knows!