Jon Lester

Lester Goes Six on the Backfields and Ademan Belts Solo HR

Tyler Durna singled twice, doubled, scored a run, knocked-in a run with a sacrifice fly, and stole a base, D. J. Artis reached base three times (a single and two walks) and scored a run, Dalton Hurd smacked an RBI triple and a single and scored a run, Josue Huma ripped a two-run triple, and SP Cam Sanders tossed three innings of no run/no hit ball, leading the South Bend Cubs (Lo-A affiliate of the Cubs) to a 4-1 victory over the Asheville Tourists (Colorado Rockies Lo-A affiliate) on Field #5, and Aramis Ademan belted a HR leading off the bottom of the 1st inning, singled, walked and scored, Miguel Amaya roped an RBI double into the LF corner and scored, Jimmy Herron drilled an RBI single, reached base on an HBP, and stole a base, and Jon Lester hurled six innings (87 pitches) of two-run ball (five hits, two walks, seven strikeouts, and a wild pitch) and combined with Bryan Hudson to fan 13, as the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Cubs Hi-A affiliate) edged the Lancaster JetHawks (Rockies Hi-A affiliate) 3-2 on Field #6, in Cactus League Minor League Spring Training game action Monday afternoon at the Riverview Baseball Complex on John Arguello Way in Mesa, AZ. 

The rest of the Cubs MLB squad had the day off, but Victor Caratini came over to the Riverview backfields to catch Lester, and he had one AB in each of the first six innings (while he and Lester were in the game), going 1-5 with a double and a walk.  

In Cubs Minor League Camp news, OF Jamie Galazin (Cubs 2018 22nd round draft pick - St. John's) is being converted to a RHP. He was drafted by the Cubs as an outfielder, but he did pitch a bit in college (10 games), so he is at least somewhat familiar with the pitching thing. Whether Galazin will be used strictly as a pitcher or possibly as the now popular "two-way player" remains to be seen, but in either case he will be remaining at Extended Spring Training while he proceeds forward with the mound conversion.  

Here are the abridged box scores from the games (Cubs players only): 

Baez Owns Lester, Apparently

Jeffrey Baez belted a solo home run leading off the game and contributed two RBI doubles later in the contest (all three run-scoring hits coming off Jon Lester), but it wasn't enough as Carlos Penalver drilled a solo HR leading off the bottom of the 1st inning, Wladmir Galindo smacked a solo shot onto the freeway berm beyond the left field fence in the bottom of the 6th, and Jonathan Sierra belted a two-run home run in the bottom of the 7th, helping the Iowa Cubs (AAA affiliate of the Chicago Cubs) rally to tie the Tennessee Smokies (Cubs AA affiliate) 7-7 on Field #6, and Carlos Sepulveda singled, doubled, and tripled, scored two runs, and drove-in two more, Trent Giambrone belted a three-run HR, walked, stole a base, and scored two runs, Connor Myers doubled, walked, stole two bases, and scored a run, and RHSP Thomas Hatch (Cubs 2016 3rd round draft pick - Oklahoma State) hurled three innings of shutout ball with five strikeouts, leading the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Cubs Hi-A affiliate) to a 9-1 victory over the South Bend Cubs (Lo-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs) on Field #5, in Minor League Camp intrasquad doubleheader game action this morning at the Riverview Baseball Complex in Mesa, AZ.   

Chicago Cubs ace LHSP Jon Lester came over to Minor League Camp to get his scheduled game work, but the Tennessee Smokies were ready for him, hammering him to the tune of six runs on nine hits (including three doubles, two triples, and a home run). Lester eventually recorded 12 outs (including three strikeouts) and did not issue any walks, but he left the game with his team trailing 6-3.  

Willson Conteras was Lester's catcher, and he batted five times in six innings, going 1-4 with a single and a walk, and two strikeouts. He also was thrown out attempting to steal a base. Defensively he was 0-1 CS.

Sometimes called the "Other Baez" by those who follow the Cubs farm system, Jeffey Baez was signed by the Cubs previous regime as a 16-year old International Free-Agent out of Venezuela in July 2010. Now 23, the "other Baez" has moved somewhat slowly (fits & starts) through the Cubs system over the past six years, only occasionally showing the five-tool package the Cubs thought they had when they signed him. But he does have skills (plus-arm, plus-power, plus-speed), and he was MVP of Cubs Extended Spring Training in both 2013 and 2014 (he led the EXST Cubs in home runs both seasons), and he tied for the league lead in stolen bases in the Carolina League in 2016 (built like an NFL running back, Baez is an excellent base stealer). But 2017 is a make-or-break year for the Jeffrey Baez Cub connection, because he is eligible to be an MLB Rule 55 six-year minor league free-agent post-2017, and so the Cubs must decide by 5 PM (Eastern) five days after the final game of the World Series whether to add him to their MLB 40-man roster, or let him walk away as a minor league free-agent (or possibly trade him before he hits free-agency). He is projected to be the starting RF at AA Tennessee in 2017 (although he can play all three outfield positions), so we will just have to wait and see how Baez performs at the AA level, and what the Cubs will choose to do with him post-2017. I'm not sure the Cubs will want to let a talent like Jeffrey Baez just walk away after investing so much time and effort in his development.

It was a "bullpen day" for both the South Bend Cubs and Tennessee Smokies, with a number of pitchers battling for pen jobs getting an inning of work. The best performance of the day among the relievers who threw in the two games was turned-in by Iowa Cubs RHRP Daniel Corcino, who threw high-octane gas past three Smokies hitters while striking out the side1-2-3  in the 7th. Tennessee RHRP Scott Effross also struck out the side 1-2-3 in his one inning of work.

Here are the box scores from the two games:

Lester Goes One-for-Four at Minor League Camp

Cubs #1 prospect Gleyber Torres belted an RBI double and a single and scored a run, and side-armin' RHP Preston Morrison (Cubs 2015 8th round draft pick - TCU) tossed 3.2 IP of no-hit/no-run relief, helping the iowa Cubs edge the Tennessee Smokies 2-1 in Minor League Camp game action this morning on Field #1 at the Riverview Baseball Complex in Mesa, AZ. 

The game was called after six innings of play. 

Jon Lester got the start for the Smokies (pitching against Iowa) and threw five innings (68 pitches - 78% strikes), allowing two runs (both earned) on six hits (five singles and a double) and no walks, with five strikeouts (two swinging) and 8/0 GO/AO. He made three errant pick-off attempts at 1st base (with the baserunner advancing to 2nd each time), but he did pick-off Dan Vogelbach. Lester also one-hopped SS Carlos Penalver on a 1-6 FC, and Penalver made a nice play just to keep the ball from bounding into CF. 

Matt Murton saw his first game action of the Spring after undergoing an emergency appendectomy on February 26th, working as a DH for the Iowa squad and batting four times. He went 2-4 with a single, a double, a 6-3 GO, and a called third strike (all four PA versus Lester). He was running the bases full-tilt, and looks to be very close to 100%.      

David Ross was Lester's catcher (natch), and he went 0-4 (three fly outs and a 6-4-3 DP), batting once in each of the first four innings. He also threw out a runner trying to steal 3rd. Ross left the game when Lester did. 

The game also featured the first game action for RHRP Jose Rosario since 2014 (he missed the 2015 season after undergoing TJS last April), and he worked a scoreless inning. The 25-year old Rosario was signed by the Cubs as a 17-year old IFA out of the Dominican Republic in 2008, and although he was eligible to be a minor league 6YFA post-2015, he opted to return to the Cubs organization in 2016. Rosario shares a similar background with Cubs 3B prospect Jeimer Candelario, in that both were born in New York City, but moved to the Dominican Republic when they were children.  

Four players were added to the Iowa roster for the game, with RHP Preston Morrison moving up from the Tennessee group, SS Gleyber Torres and 2B Ian Happ moving up from the Myrtle Beach squad, and 3B Wladimir Galindo moving up from the South Bend group.


 (updated daily)

Here is the box score frrom the game: 

Lester is Terrible at Containing the Running Game, and It Doesn't Seem to Matter

Jon Lester has already given up 30 stolen bases this year, eight more than his career high of 22 set in 2010. His inability to throw to first has been much maligned in the media and by fans. But how much does it matter? It turns out, not really that much. Sure, it would be better if Lester held runners closer and gave up fewer stolen bases, no one is arguing otherwise, but the facts demonstrate that the failure to contain the running game has had a negligible effect on Lester and the Cubs’ overall performance. Moreover, it appears that opposing teams are becoming too aggressive and running into outs—Lester already has more runners caught stealing (6) so far this year than all of last year (5).

The game-by-game breakdown below shows that only 5 runners the entire season who stole bases off Lester eventually scored. Most notably, Billy Hamilton has scored 3 times after stealing off Lester. But Hamilton, who leads the majors by a wide margin with 47 stolen bases already, tends to do that to everyone—and on one he stole 3B and would have scored from 2B on the following hit anyway. Charlie Blackmon, who is 4th in the majors with 27 steals, also scored following a stolen base in the game yesterday. Finally, Jason Heyward (15 stolen bases on the year) stole 2B to get himself into scoring position and later scored on July 6, though he should not have been on base anyway since he reached on an error. In other words, in 132.2 IP, Lester has given up just 4 earned runs that can be partially attributed to stolen bases—three to Hamilton and one to Blackmon, players who had a good chance of stealing those bases even if Lester were good at holding runners (and that counts the Hamilton steal of 3B where he would have scored from 2B anyway). Finally, of the 6 runners caught stealing, at least 4 likely cost the opposing teams runs, including Jimmy Rollins caught inexplicably trying to steal 3B with runners on 1st and 2nd to the end the 2nd inning on June 25th.

Overall, the effect of the running game on runs given up by Lester appears very normal. Jake Arrieta, for example, has given up 14 stolen bases on the year, including 3 in one game twice. And while I am not going to do a full breakdown of all of his games, runners who stole bases in both of those 3-stolen base games scored. Full game-by-game breakdown for Lester after the break.

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Lester Throws in Intrasquad Game at Riverview

John Andreoli and Ryan Dent slugged solo home runs and Rubi Silva drilled a two-run single, leading the Iowa Cubs to a 4-3 victory over the Tennessee Smokies in a five-inning Spring Training minor league intrasquad game played on Field #1 at Mesa CubTown at Riverview Park this morning. 

Victor Caratini belted a two-run double and drew a walk and Kevin Brown singled, doubled, and scored a run for the Smokies. 

Jon Lester got the start for the I-Cubs, and threw 84 pitches (62 strikes) while facing 20 hitters. He allowed eight hits (two doubles, a triple, and five singles) and no walks (but two wild pitches), and he struck out four (two looking and two swinging), with a 1/6 GO/FO. Lester threw 81 pitches through four innings and and it looked like his day might be over, but then he went back out to the mound and faced one batter (Jeffrey Baez) in the top of the 5th, who rifled a triple on an 0-2 pitch. At that point, Lester was relieved.  

Lester looked VERY hittable today as the young Smokies hitters consistently squared his offerings up and made lots of hard contact. If the Cubs want to get Lester another minor league start before he faces MLB hitters, they could put him on the 15-day DL retroactive to last Friday (nine days prior to MLB Opening Day being the furthest back a DL stint can be backdated during Spring Training), and maybe have him start a minor league game this coming Sunday (the last day of Cactus League Minor League Spring Training games), and then he would be eligible to be reinstated from the DL on Saturday April 11th. (NOTE: MLB Cactus League and Grapefruit League Spring Training games are considered "official" games, so players on the DL cannot play in these games, and a DL stint cannot be backdated past the last time the player appeared in an official MLB Spring Training game; but pitching or playing in a minor league Spring Training game or in an intrasquad game does not affect DL eligiblity as far as backdating the DL stint is concerned, and a player on the DL can play in a minor league Spring Training game and/or in an intrasquad game without restriction). 

Despite being sent down by the Cubs on Monday, Javy Baez, Kris Bryant, and Addison Russell have yet to take the field at Minor League Camp. None of the three played in the Futures Game last night at Sloan Park (and the Cubs sure could have used them, too), none of the three participated in work-outs (fielding practice, baserunning drills, and BP) with the Iowa squad this morning, and none of the three played in the Lester intrasquad game (and they were not on the bench, either). So it's very possible that Baez, Bryant, and Russell are still with the big club, despite being technically on the Iowa roster.   

The game was called with two outs in the top of the 5th inning. 

Here is the box score from this morning's intrasquad game: 

2014 Winter Meetings Day 3

4:54: PM CST: Break out the salt shakers, but..."". So the tweet comes from Jason Goff, who seems to host an afternoon Sirius radio show and I think he's talking to enemy of the state, Will Carroll, who I believe is the one saying the above. It would't completely surprise me, but it would be surprising in a way. I would think that after being able to sign Lester and a high draft pick next year, Cubs would prefer to have one more big draft class opportunity, but I could be wrong.

2:35 PM CST: Well, I suppose

1:49 PM CST: says Cubs are looking for a LF power bat.


My final take on this Jon Lester business. Yes, of course, it's too much money for too many years (aka big ticket free agency) and the full no-trade clause puts a bit of a damper on the deal, but with that much competition on Lester, it was probably necessary. It seems there is a $30 million signing bonus involved, with $20 million being paid to Lester right now and the other $10 million being spread out over the life of the contract. If that is how it works out, that's $135M over 6 years, which would be $22.5M per year. Let's say I'm a big fan if that is the case, using the savings from the last few years to make the contract slightly more manageable in the future. There is a 7th year option worth $25M that automatically vests if Lester throws 200 innings in 2020 or 400 total innings between 2019 and 2020. I haven't seen if that's a club, player or mutual option, but I would guess player. I'm not sure if there's a buyout involved. I'm also not sure what numbers I'm missing because the report is that it would be a total of $170M over 7 years if the option vests, but I get $180M ($155+25M), so there's something not adding up, but I'm sure it'll get figured out soon enough.  Lester also gets 25 hours a year of private air travel paid for by the Cubs.

In the end, the Cubs got the guy they wanted...the guy with the ability and make-up that they craved, the guy with 2 rings to show off to the youngsters. And there is some success in left-handers in their mid to late 30's (Lilly and Pettite come to mind) that the Cubs will still get something out of Lester on the backend of the deal. In itself, it's not enough to put them in playoff contention next year, but it's enough to start them down the path. And well, you never know, maybe the youngsters all come out hitting like they did in the minors and next year the magic begins.

More rumoring after the break...

The Cubs Get Their Man

Yes, that man...Jon Lester. Joel Sherman and Ken Rosenthal have both tweeted that Lester has informed Red Sox he won't be signing with them.

More to come...


UPDATE #1: The

UPDATE #2: Red Sox offer was 6/135, Giants were willing to go 7/168 according to Jeff Passan.