An Early Peak at the Rotation and the Back of the Bullpen? And Other Bullets

Not a single Cubs Bunt Tourney update yesterday. Unacceptable!

  • Dale Sveum addressed his full squad yesterday, the gist of which address was “we’re a lot better than you might think.” When recounting his remarks to reporters later, however, he may have said just a hair more than he meant to. “[Plus] obviously the pitching staff with [Ryan Dempster], [Matt] Garza, [Paul] Maholm, [Randy] Wells, [Travis] Wood and you go on and on with the bullpen and [Carlos] Marmol and [Kerry] Wood and [Jeff] Samardzija,” Sveum said after explaining how he talked up the position players. Two things obviously jump out: (1) Sveum names only five starting pitchers, none of whom is Chris Volstad, and (2) Sveum includes Jeff Samardzija in the bullpen. Is this a meaningful statement at this point in the Spring? Probably not. Sveum just got done two days ago talking up Volstad and talking about how Samardzija is getting a chance to start. But might the statement hint at how Sveum is leaning, all things equal? Maybe.
  • Tom Ricketts, who also addressed the team, told reporters that “we’re not preaching patience. We’re preaching [to] have expectations. Expect these guys to play hard. Expect them to compete every game. Expect them to have a great season. It’s not about patience. We have a great team, and we’re going to have a great year.” We have expectations, Mr. Ricketts, but, it’s cool – we don’t expect playoffs immediately. Ricketts spoke on a range of topics, from ticket sales, to Wrigley renovations, to a TV deal, to his relationship with Theo Epstein at that previous link and this one.
  • Cubs players react to the Ryan Braun decision, mostly saying that they’re happy for Braun, but can’t offer much more because the facts remain obscured. Sveum, who was Braun’s hitting coach in Milwaukee last year, declined comment.
  • Alfonso Soriano offers a candid take on Springing without Carlos Zambrano: “I think they made very good moves, trading Z, because I don’t know if he wasn’t happy or what here but the things he did here, nobody was happy. I think the team is happy they were able to trade him and I think he’s happy, too, that he’s in Miami now. It worked great for both positions. We won’t miss him.” There’s probably a bit lost in translation there (English is a second language for Soriano), but it still sounds fair.
  • Sveum is already helping Starlin Castro on his defense. From the Tribune: ”It’s not charging the ball, or the dreaded term, ‘Don’t let the ball play you,’ ” Sveum said. “Only God knows when it’s going to take a bad hop. It’s just a matter of understanding when you gain ground on ground balls, you’re going to throw the ball five (fewer) yards, your feet are going to be moving. … It’s a work in progress. There are a lot of things I saw today he definitely needs to work on.”

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

104 responses to “An Early Peak at the Rotation and the Back of the Bullpen? And Other Bullets”

  1. So Ill Cub Fan

    I think Castro simply out hit his defensive learning curve. At his age, he would typically still be in the minors learning to play stortstop.

    1. MichiganGoat

      He has played more games in the major vs the minors so hopefully we see major strides in his skills this year. His fielding range is impressive it’s his throwing that I’ll be watching. Is he more accurate, learning when to rush the throw vs. taking an extra step. Of course I’m sure ESPN will be doing a sunflower watch every game they cover.

      1. JasonB

        It may be muted this year since Bobby Valentine isn’t interviewing for jobs anymore

      2. magilljl

        I think its his range that often times gets him in trouble. Trying to do a bit too much. Sometimes its okay to make a play on the ball and not make that crazy off balanced throw. It all goes back to the original comment, the kid’s very young and has a lot to learn. He’s incredibly exciting though.

        1. Ivy Walls

          situational risks, baseball is about making judgment with the talent you have and then developing it

    2. Kevin

      Brett: I hope that they peak at the World Series this year….
      Not early.

  2. Evolution

    I’ve never thought about it in those terms, So Ill…but, that’s a great point.

    “Out hit his defensive learning curve”…you’re right. Who says that any of our skills develop at the same rate?

    Time will tell…but, good point.

    1. Kyle

      If you look at the great defensive SS’s in history, most of them were making a bajillion errors in the minors at the age of 20 and 21.

      1. die hard

        This is true and so there is a closing window of opportunity to fix the problem. I wonder if as a kid he wanted to play another position but was told to play SS? His high school coaches may have liked his arm and range in recommending that he do so. But footwork and coordination is the key. He may be too clumsy to play SS. I believe that Barney is more skillful as to hand eye coordination and footwork. Also, Barney has exhibited the willpower to make the transition when he returned from the serious injury last year. I hope the Cubs consider the switch to see what happens. Castro may welcome the change and Barney may play up to the expectations of the new responsibilities. This would be a win-win.

        1. Can't think of a cool name

          Barney does not have the range or arm to play MLB shortstop on a high level for an extended period of time. I think he’d be similar to Ryan Theriot. Just my opinion

          1. die hard

            Maybe or maybe not. Hes a smart player and would be in position more often. He showed good range at 2B going for pop-ups. His footwork is good. Or lets see if any of the kids in the minors are ready to field the position? If so, move Castro to 2B or 3B. Also, as I stated before, he would make a tremendous outfielder and that could be his future. This move allows him to concentrate on being one of the 10 best hitters in the league.

          2. art

            i like the “can’t think of a cool name”.

            IMO Barney has the quickness to play SS, and hands down better than Theriot.

            1. ty

              barney was a shortstop on a college championship team-than single a=double a and triple a–teams that were winners–2nd base all new to him-very athletic at short and would be very consistent for us.. I haveseen Castro play several games at third and seemed fairly comfortable.

          3. bluekoolaidaholic

            He has been a winner at every level he has been at, including college. (Oregon State national champions) He is just an excellent baseball player and has had an excellent start. Give him a break, even Ryno wasn’t over the top his first year.

            1. bluekoolaidaholic

              Geez, did I just agree with Diehard??

              1. Can't think of a cool name

                Now, I don’t know if Castro will get better in the field, but I still hold firm that Barney is not the answer at shortstop. 25 errors in 2009 primarliy as a shortstop and 14 in 2010 as a shortstop, both years in the minors. Is his fielding adequate for a second baseman, yes, 0.1 defensive war iin 2011. I still say he’s Ryan Theriot’s twin.

              2. die hard

                Thats ok. When you are right then stick by your guns. Dont let the others on this board discourage you from your convictions. His college credentials at SS were that of a winner and team leader. I followed him in college and liked what I saw. Old regime pigeon holed him into 2B and this new regime needs to dust off his college tapes to watch how he handled SS.

            2. Can't think of a cool name

              FWIW, Theriot was also won a championship in college.

            3. DocWimsey

              “Give him a break, even Ryno wasn’t over the top his first year.”

              Ryno’s first year was his age 22 year.  Barney’s first year was his age 26 year: and Ryno still posted a higher OPS despite being 4 years younger!  Ryno had an MVP by the time he was Barney’s age.

      2. art

        Jeter made them with the yanks when he came up. yes he’s still young.

  3. Randy

    It is awesome to see a coaching staff that is actually seeing were players can improve and doing things to correct those issues. Last year was a lost year because our coaches just wanted to sit back and let the veterans run the team. Maybe now we have the leadership in place where our rookies don’t have one good season and then they are traded for scraps because they never developed.

    1. Ivy Walls

      Quade was a quack as a manager, had a report the first week how ST was being run

    2. Can't think of a cool name

      Randy, agree. The coaches already seem more involved then Quade’s regime.

      1. cubfan

        You people should not be ripping on Mike Quade what was going on with the cubs was no way his fault in fact the guy did a pretty good job with the control he had he was happy to be given a job and came into a system that was already pathetic
        you cant expect to win as a coach when your “leader”is aramis ramirez. The biggest thing this new regime has brought in is winners and hard workers not guys like ARam who suck when it matters but pat their stats when its all over for the team. Mike Quade never had a shot

  4. oswego chris

    that is an extremely inciteful way to look at Castro’s defense….what I don’t think Cub fans realize, and the league even, is how amazing his offensive success has been at such a young age…that he has been through the league now in two seasons and piled up the hits that he has speaks of his “once in a generation” hitting ability…the power will come, and even if it just gets to 15 HRs a year his 2Bs and 3Bs will be more than enough….

    1. JasonB

      With 15 HRs, 20 SBs and a .300 BA, he’ll look a lot like Derek Jeter.

      1. SirCub

        But with much better defense.

        1. ferrets_bueller

          haha, this.

    2. NL_Cubs

      I think his early career error count has somewhat overshadowed how special this kid is at the plate. With that said, not once did I ever hear “sophomore jinks” when talking about Castro. And why would I…the kid had a pretty damned good second year. He will only get better in all phases of the game.

      1. Toosh

        It’s spelled jinx.

      2. die hard

        He is special at the plate which is why the Cubs should consider relieving some pressure of playing SS to allow him to achieve full potential at the plate. Remember Bill Madlock? This kid could hit anything and when he started showing some power he was great. Maybe he was playing out of position at 3B which is why things eventually didnt work out. Playing under Ron Santo’s shadow is not easy.

        1. art

          agree, he should play 2B or OF. then again he may become a great SS. he’s got tons of talent.

  5. kevin

    I think it will be interesting to see what the rotation looks like. I think randy wells and maholm have the most to be concerned about. I think the Sean Marshall replacements in the pen are scary at best. I wouldn’t mind seeing volstad win a spot in the rotation and letting maholm try out for the Marshall roll, or Travis Wood could as well we shall see. Either way I am excited for the season to start. I am looking forward to a young team competing and growing together as opposed to a Jim hendry veteran band aid job team.

    1. Ivy Walls

      actually don’t get caught up in the names, that is an old parlor game, get caught up in the results. I for one would like to see 2 (two, two) lefties starting and three power right-hander’s starting, all who can get us regularly to the 7th or 8th inning.

      In the pen, I would like to see 3 lefties, that is three, and be able to put pressure on clubs situational-AB’s at the end of the game.

      1. mb1.0.2

        I’d like to see ANY pitcher, left or right handed, routinely get us to the 7th and 8th innings…it feels as if that hasn’t happened in a long time on the North Side, although I don’t have any stats to back that up…just how “good” were the starters for the Cubs in getting to at least the 7th inning the last few years?

        If that could become a regular occurrence, it immediately takes pressure off your bullpen and makes them stronger/more efficient! Here’s hoping.

        1. art

          managers today have the specialist for the 7th, 8th, and closer roles. back in the day pitchers got paid for going 9. now they get paid more for going 6. oh well, as long as we get to the WS

    2. CubFan Paul

      The&co. didn’t acquire maholm or travis wood to be relievers. Maholm is the 3rd starter for sure leaving the 4th&5th spots for wood&volstad

      Hopefully sveum mentioning Wells was a brainfart or gamesmanship to raise his trade value because volstad has none.

      1. Andrew

        I agree with Wood and maholm getting spots, but I dont think Volstad will have his spot locked down at all. I think Sveum will give Volstad, Samardzija and Wells all an equal shot at that 5th spot and let the best man win. Personally I hope Samardzija turns a corner and develops into a great starter, volstad is in the pen, and Wells is traded for a decent package maybe a secondbaseman.

        1. die hard

          If Smardzjia does not work out as starter i would not be shocked if hes traded for a starter or that the Cubs sign Oswalt. They need another reliable starter and Wells may not be the answer.

          1. Cubbiecop

            Smardzjia is too valuable out of the pen to be traded IMO. I would also like to see Volstad trotted out there in an effort to get him right then to spend money on Oswalt. I’m hoping that Bosio can work some magic on this kid, he is a beast! Kind of reminds me of a young Randy Johnson when he is on. Don’t think that he will have that kind of success but i’d take 3/4 of Randy Johnson’s production and I think he will be capable of that with proper coaching. Remember that he was brought up at 21 and is still young.

        2. Frank

          I agree–I think T. Wood and Maholm would have to lose the spots in ST, and the others will compete for #5. I know Samardzija wants to start, but if Marmol pukes out, I think he could be a closer. I don’t think they go for Oswalt though–I think he wants to be with a team that’ll contend now.

          1. die hard

            That closer in KC, Soria, had a bad season too in 2011. I believe hes on the block and hes still young.

  6. Serio

    Am I the only retard that listens to Rosenbloom on Sat mornings? That guys a turd right?

    1. ferrets_bueller

      Absolutely. He is the epitome of ‘turd.’

    2. JasonB

      You will never get those 60 minutes of your life back, you know.

    3. Frank

      He’s SO whiny–I just can’t listen to him.

  7. kevin

    Wow a lot of “I thinks” and “I”. Sorry just woke up. Reading my morning fix of Bleacher Nation in bed.

  8. kevin


    Rosenbloom is THE worst. I can’t stand him. Hence he is on air Saturday mornings. There aren’t too many fans of him. I’m sorry to be mean, but I can’t help it.

  9. rcleven

    I really don’t see how Sveum can name his starters at the back end or relivers yet. Some of kids may really step up or really suck. A decision shouldn’t be made until the end of spring.

  10. ferrets_bueller

    My dreams of Randy Wells as a long reliever or someone else’s 5th starter just took a slight hit. Come on, Volstad! Turn into the pitcher you can be!

    1. rcleven

      per muscat:

      On Friday during his speech to the team, Sveum mentioned five starters in Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza, Paul Maholm, Randy Wells and Travis Wood. Does that mean the Cubs rotation is set? No, Sveum said.

      1. Bric

        Obviously none of these guys have even pitched a spring training inning, but barring injury, trade, or crazy performance (either really good or really bad) I’d imagine these guys are our starting five. And it’s about what we can expect from the team as a whole- nothing special but the potential to win some games.

  11. die hard

    Finally, someone agrees with me that Castro should not be playing SS today. I never thought it would be the Cubs manager though! Seriously, these flaws being still apparent means he likely didnt work on anything over the winter. This coincides with my prior venting that he lacks the drive to be a top tier SS. Somebody needs to kindle this fire and soon. Also, this is not going to be corrected in spring training as there is not enough time and too much to work on also. Also, its impossible to improve ones fielding during the pressure of the season. So, the question facing the Cubs today is do they move him now to another and easier position for 2012 and make sure next winter he is playing everyday under a tutor so he reports 2013 ready to play major league SS?

    1. ferrets_bueller

      the only way he’s going to become a better SS is….

      by playing SS!!!

      your argument is absurd. All of his problems come from lack of experience. To get experience….he has to play SS.

      1. die hard

        Agreed. But time to get that experience was in winter ball playing 50 games. To come to camp with same flaws as he showed in 2011 reflects on him and management. And the reflection is not pretty. Why should the team suffer through another year of him learning the position? is that fair to the other players?

        1. ferrets_bueller

          No, it doesn’t. Nearly every young SS has the same problems. Nearly every single one takes years to work it out.

          1. Frank

            True–they all have these problems–especially at his age. I do recall though that the Cubs actually envisioned him at second and Hak-Ju Lee at short before the trade for Garza.

            1. Luke

              Not quite. Cub writers envisioned that, because Lee projects as the better defensive shortstop (but only slightly), but the Cubs themselves (to my knowledge) made no comment on the subject.

              And in fact, if Castro were to be moved due to another shortstop (unlikely), he would probably go to third. His arm would be absolutely wasted at second base.

          2. die hard

            Well, some come up already polished and others never learn the position. Castro is somewhere in between and the point I am making is by Sveum’s comments he is obviously disappointed in what hes seen so far. Why hasnt Castro shown better? What did he work on over the winter? What did management tell him to work on over the winter? Even if not told anything, dont you think he would have realized that he is far from polished and needs to ramp up his game? It appears that its groundhog day at Cubs camp as to Castro which is very discouraging. And taking “years” to work out kinks doesnt cut it because neither the team nor Castro can afford to take this long. There are more polished kids coming up which could be weighing on him. Also, who’s that Marlins SS forced to move to 3B? If hes not happy, maybe the Cubs should take a look.

            1. Luke

              Who are these kids who are more polished at shortstop who are coming and could push Castro out of the position? Covering the Cubs minor leagues is what I do and I have no idea who you are talking about. Right now, the two best shortstops in the minors, other than Lake who is expected to move to third, would probably be Marco Hernandez (Rookie ball last year, extremely raw) and Elliot Soto (made it to High A, good hands but has nothing approaching Castro’s range or arm). Logan Watkins has played short, but looks more like a second baseman to me; he should be in Double A. Javier Baez is the very definition of unpolished and probably can’t stay at the position anyhow. So… who exactly are you talking about?

              Castro, today, is a better shortstop than Hanley Ramirez ever was. There is no conceivable scenario in which the Cubs would acquire Ramirez and move Castro in favor of him.

              1. ty

                Luke==value your opinions! What do you see in the Wes Darvill youngster. He has been here all off season working out with TonyC and has really grown. Canadian shortstop signed at 18.Do you agree with me that fans who will see Lake on t.v. this spring are going to be plesantly surprised.

                1. Luke

                  In a farm system stuffed to the gills with undersized middle infielders, Darvill stands out by being 6’2″.  I like his BB%, but this K% concerns me.  I’m hoping he gets a chance in Peoria this summer, and I’m looking forward to seeing how he does.  I don’t have great expectations of him, but I am keeping an eye on him.

                  I hope I’m pleasantly surprised on Lake when I see him on TV.  That guy has as much potential as anyone in the farm system, but if he can’t cut back on the strikeouts he’ll be ticketed for Japan.  Supposedly he made significant progress in the AFL last fall (and videos I saw of his swing in the AFL did look smoother than footage from the FSL), but I want to see that repeated over the course of the spring and turn into some better numbers in Double A this summer.  Long term, I think he’s got 25+ HR power and 45+ SB speed; the question is his bat.  If he can hit better than .260 in the majors he’ll be around for awhile.  If he can hit better than .280 he’ll be in some All-Star games. If he can’t hit better than .220 he’ll be calling up Matt Murton to ask about life in the Far East.  Regardless, I don’t think he stays at short.  Third base or right field is most likely destination.

              2. JasonB

                He doesn’t know – that’s his problem.  It’s the same tired argument from him, which is why I choose to ignore him.  My life is better as a result…

              3. die hard

                You havent convincingly refuted moving Barney. His baseball IQ and footwork is better than Castro’s. Your discounting of Hernanadez surprising this spring shows how much of an informed expert your are on this topic. Hes more polished than Castro and Cubs can carry his inexperienced bat if he saves a run a game at SS. He sticks and move Castro to 2B and Barney backs up both.

            2. ferrets_bueller

              Hanley Ramirez? Oh, god no. He makes Aramis and Soriano look like Pete Rose.

              1. die hard

                Thats quite a comment given hes always been a top 10 player. I would love his bat in the lineup. Would improve everyone else. Same is true as to Cabrera whose move to 3B is not going to work either. Watch neither starting at 3B by end of spring because neither have that reflex first step like Santo had to make the play. Ramirez could hold down SS for 3 years until Hernandez ready. The team cannot win with Castro at SS even if he hits .350 and drives in 125, neither of which will happen anyway.

                1. MichiganGoat

                  Um Hanley was not top ten last year and has been a clubhouse problem for years. Not to mention the Marlins will want a haul. And as far as Cabera regardless of his defense the Tigers are not going to get rid of a top 3 hitter while they are going for a WS. I’m sure Theo would rather look for a upcoming player than trade a trade the farm for either.

                  1. DocWimsey

                    Last year was a fluke, though: he was seriously limited by injuries.  Moreover, I don’t buy a word of this “HRam is a clubhouse problem” nonsense: the problem in Miami’s clubhouse is the management.  HRam is far from the only player to publicly criticize a lot of their inane rules.  However, HRam has been a clubhouse leader in doing so.

                    That being said, yes, the Marlns will ask for the moon for this guy: and well they should!

                    1. die hard

                      Garza for Ramirez

    2. SignedEpsteinsMother

      I believe they will give Starlin another year at SS. It’s a rebuilding year whether anyone wants to admit it or not. And if he can make the turn he would be a monster there. That said, Ryno, if memory serves, played SS, then 3rd and finally HOF 2cnd base.

      1. DocWimsey

        Unless Castro’s fielding or bat both go far south in a hurry, then the Cubs will keep him at short.  He’s not costing the Cubs anywhere near as many runs as Jeter used to cost (and still costs) the Yanks, and he (like Jeter) is a net gain because he’s a good MLB bat at a position where an average MLB bat is difficult to obtain.

  12. die hard

    On the Major League Baseball hot stove last night it was reported that a poll shows the Cubs have a 6% chance of winning the division. I dont know who was polled, but Mr. Ricketts is right in saying that it is expected that this team do better than last year and to make a run for it. One never knows what type of spark could ignite the cohesion needed to push the team ahead of the favored Cards, Brewers and Reds. But, hey, a few key injuries on those teams coupled with a good leadoff man in DeJesus could be enough to do so.

    1. Mrp

      I agree and I honestly believe that the Cubs will be better this year (call me crazy). Although you could say that improving over last season isn’t really saying much. Since the division is going to be down this year compared to last, they could do some damage if some of the new additions bounce back.

      1. art

        ok, i’ll call you crazy.

        crazy, i tend to agree with you, i’ve always been a believer that anything is possible. now you can call me crazy.

  13. farmerjon

    there was another asian pitcher that had been discussed on here when the obsessive yu darvish watch was going on.  a lefty, younger than darvish, korean or taiwanese perhaps?  does anyone have a name for me? did he sign with someone? anyone? bueller?

    1. CubFan Paul

      Chen is his name. He signed with Baltimore for some reason.

  14. loyal100more

    ya know soriano should kinda pipe down about trades and guys that the club would like to see gone. i mean… sori we love you, but we would love to see you leave. if were talking strickly contract against on the field performance,against opening roster spots for younger players, and finally saying good bye to the old way of doing things… i think sori would be at the top of the list of guys you would like to see removed from the club. sad but true. sori… stay away from making comments about who should and shouldnt be traded, its a sore subject with fans and you are the main attraction!

  15. John Holmes Castro

    If Castro can some how work on his consistancy and timing defensively he does have the tools. But man he does have a ways to go, because he was rediculously bad defensively much of last year.

  16. Luke

    Campana upset by Clevenger in today’s bunt tourney.  Didn’t see that coming.  Catchers typically aren’t known for their bunting, but I think three Cub catching prospects advanced today.

    1. Turn Two

      I agree catchers aren’t known for their bunting, however I have wondered from the start why Campana was a favorite in this tournament. Its about placing bunts on point spots, Campana specializes in butning for basehits which is a totally different role. Not to mention, everyone has said the reason why Campana is not a serious contender to start is that he is all in all a poor bunter.

      1. MichiganGoat

        Expect he isn’t a bunting specialist at all, he is fast and can bunt for a base hit but he must actually make a bunt. I would hope someone who is expected to bunt can also place a bunt. I know this whole bunt tourney is a silly, PR, fan, type of event but someone that the fans are drooling to be a starter should have seen this as an opportunity to build his scrappy reputation to a whole new level.

        1. ty

          this bunting contest is like playing pool. Bunting a lobbed baseball is not a good measure of skill. I stood for awhile at the fence and it is so boring that what few peopleare here today are at the four full=sized fields. It is fun for the guys espec. since they have all bet on the outcome.

      2. die hard

        Campana can crack the lineup in a LF platoon role if he bunts or puts one over pulled in infield for a hit and walks once or twice a game and steals a base or two a game. Put him the 8th spot and he will be on base twice a game ahead of the top of the lineup going through a second time. He could score a run a game this way which is higher than average. The team needs speed and unless they find an olympic sprinter in the minors, Campana is all they have as of today.

        1. DocWimsey

          In other words, if Campana becomes someone other than Campana!

          1. Turn Two

            He does not need to become someone he isn’t, he just needed to develop that area of his game. Why does everyone think all of these other players can get comfortable and develop and that possibility is ruled out for Campana? He was hitting well in triple a in his last stint, if he settles in, why is it so implausible that he get better? I understand the pros are different than triple a. I do not understand why for power hitters everyone says there is an adjustment period, yet whenever anyone says Campana could get better in certain areas, it is mocked.

            1. DocWimsey

              It’s implausible because it never almost happens with guys in their mid-20′s!  (I actually cannot think of any examples, but I’m sure there has been one or two in baseball history.)  Seriously, who has gone from Campana’s miLB numbers to being anything like the player in that post?

            2. MichiganGoat

              True but the issue I have with Campana is that everyone is overly in love with him because he is fast not because he has shown anything else worth getting excited about. If he was a super fast, kid-looking underdog. He has not shown an ability to hit, bunt consistently, take walks, or play excellent defense. He is a great pinch runner but nothing else he has shown should justify the level of expectations he has received. It is a pure case of scrappy love. Let’s get back to reality.

        2. MichiganGoat

          Lots of ifs in that hope a little reality.

  17. Big Joe

    Soriano: “We wont miss him (Zambrano)”. Nothing lost in translation there. I expect to hear a lot more honesty from other players as the spring moves forward…and I love it.

    1. WGNstatic

      I also like this comment. Even going back to last summer, Soriano’s comments regarding Z were probably tougher than anyone else’s.

      No question, Alfonso has some real weaknesses in his game. That said, he really does seem like an outstanding clubhouse guy. He often talks about learning how to play the game from guys like Jeter and Bernie Williams. I can’t stand the Yankees, but those are two guys who embody “the right way” to play the game.

  18. MightyBear

    Is there any offensive player in the entire organization that when someone makes an evaluation of him, they DON’T say “I worry about his K%.”? I would like to see just one. I hope cutting down on strikeouts as a hitter is in the Cubs manual on the first page. Cutting down on walks and throwing strikes in the pitchers manual.

    1. Kyle

      Castro, Barney, Vitters off the top of my head.

  19. Jay Anderson Jr

    Guess Big V ain’t cutting.

  20. Roughriider


    I agree and disagree with your statements. I’ll let you figure which applies to which.

  21. doc

    I sure hope this new organizaton is about teaching. There has always been so little taught in baseball. There are so few truly good teachers. If the cubs way manual is a book of specific fundamentals, and how to teach them, we are in for sustained success. If it is a book of what we want the player to look like, without teaching him how to look that way, our success is going to have to come from Thoe-jed-jason getting better players than the other teams

    1. DocWimsey

      We can look to the Sox organization for what to expect, as Theo had such a strong hand in sculpting it.  Moreover, I would look to it to be a statement about what the fundamentals actually are, and it will be a big departure from Hendry’s old school beliefs.  Here is how the Sox play and how their instructors preach ball throughout their entire system:

      1. Treat every AB the same: attack a pitch that you can drive, lay off of the others;
      2. Make every pitch a different strike from the prior pitch;
      3. Don’t worry about the X ways to drive home a guy from 3rd: worry about the Y ways that you can score that inning.
      4. “Throw strikes” ≠ “pitch to contact”: it means throwing a pitch that the ump would have called a strike after the batter swung through it.
      5. Outs are bad;
      6. Anyone with the basic tools for a position can become a competent fielder.

      There is redundancy here, obviously: but Theo knows that this is for both players and sports media, neither of whom are renowned for connecting dots!

      Do not expect a lot of instruction about “how to play baseball” from Theo’s Cubs.  Hendry’s Cubs drafted a lot of “toolsy” guys who were good athletes but not good baseball players.  However, a lot of talents for playing football or basketball are as relevant to playing baseball as talents for playing a violin.  Instead, expect Theo’s Cubs (like Theo’s Sox) to draft baseball players.

  22. die hard

    From Barney’s bio page: 2010

    Former Oregon State shortstop Darwin Barney has been named to the College World Series Legends Team as a utility player, the NCAA announced Thursday morning.

    The 28 members of the Legends Team, pared down from an original list of 95 nominees, were selected after more than 100,000 votes were cast by college baseball fans, college baseball writers and Division I head baseball coaches. The members of the Legends Team are former student-athletes and coaches who had the best CWS performances throughout the 60 years the event has been played at Rosenblatt Stadium.

    Voting for the team was based solely on the former student-athletes’ performance when they were competing in the NCAA College World Series, and not for any regular season or post-collegiate performances.

    Barney was a big part of Casey’s and the program’s success and was one of 10 shortstops available to be voted upon.

    A native of Portland, Barney collected 52 assists during his three trips to Omaha, and that mark is the second-most among all players who have appeared at Rosenblatt Stadium in the College World Series. Barney was selected to the All-College World Series Team in 2007 after he batted .350 with a double, home run and five RBI while posting a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage.

    In his three years at Rosenblatt, he batted .298 (17-for-57) with two doubles, a home run and eight RBI. But as indicated above, with his 52 assists, Barney symbolizes the Oregon State defense that played nearly flawless during its three trips to Omaha.

    As a team, the Beavers committed just 10 errors over those 15 games in Omaha, finishing with a fielding percentage of .983. Barney, meanwhile, manned shortstop for all 15 of those games and posted a fielding percentage of .963.

  23. Getting Geeked About Defense and Baserunning | Bleacher Nation | Chicago Cubs News, Rumors, and Commentary

    [...] is at an age where most future ML regular shortstops are kicking up dirt in the minors. As recently, and succinctly, put by BN’er, he out-hit his defensive development. There is still plenty of time – and visible upside [...]

  24. ferrets_bueller


    obvious troll is obvious.

  25. John Holmes Castro

    The biggest thing with Castro defensively is timing and consistancy. He has no mental clock at all on when to rush his throw or take his time. He makes the great plays but botches the easy ones. I do think this is something that can be addressed, but man he’s got a long way to go.

  26. ty

    Bueller–we only remember seeing you at one ballgame and Soriano did not play!

  27. ferrets_bueller

    haha, I love that my post now looks completely random, with the one it was in reply to having been deleted.