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I’m still in Texas, visiting my new niece. But, having visited my niece for a number of hours over the past two days, I decided to visit a bar with my brother last night. And another. And another. I got to know them quite well. I am … tired.

  • Dale Sveum will name the Cubs’ Opening Day starter today, and, based on schedules, it’s likely to be Ryan Dempster. If so, Matt Garza – who is the Cubs’ best pitcher – isn’t going to be bummed. “I’m just excited to go play,” Garza said. “If it’s ‘Demp,’ me, [Jeff Samardzija], [Chris Volstad], [Rodrigo Lopez], [Trey] McNutt even, it doesn’t bother me. Crazy stuff can happen. I’m not bashing anyone, but it doesn’t bother me. As long as I’m one of the five and I get the ball in Wrigey, I’m not too concerned about it.” The honor doesn’t really mean a whole lot of anything, and, to me, gets a lot more attention than is really merited.
  • Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio said at least one of the two guys who lose out on a rotation spot (from among Chris Volstad, Randy Wells, and Rodrigo Lopez) will go to the bullpen. The other could also go to the pen, or to Iowa, or to another team.
  • Marcos Mateo is having an MRI on his pitching arm after leaving yesterday’s game early. Mateo missed a huge chunk of time last year with elbow soreness.
  • Baseball America ranked the farm systems, and the Cubs come in at 14th, which is the highest they’ve been in any system-wide rankings.
  • For reasons not yet entirely clear, the Cubs released a number of Minor Leaguers this week, including RHP Yohan Gonzalez, RHP Jordan Latham, SS Rafael Valdes, OF Ben Klafczynski, OF Blair Springfield. Klafcynski was just taken in the 2011 Draft and, although he didn’t play well last year, you wouldn’t expect the Cubs to cut bait quite so quickly. There are new bosses in charge, though, I suppose.
  • Staying in the prospect vein, Keith Law chatted yesterday, and mentioned quite a few Cubs prospects. The highlights: Law says Dan Vogelbach has lost weight but is “still fat,” and has a slow bat; Law likes Jeimer Candelario’s swing; Law thinks Hayden Simpson is pretty much done, because he couldn’t reach 90 on the gun this week; and Law liked what he saw this week from Javier Baez, Shawon Dunston, Jr., and Yasiel Balaguert.
  • A long Q&A with Tom Ricketts. Nothing earth-shattering, but kind of interesting.
  • A long write-up on Dale Sveum. Nothing earth-shattering, but kind of interesting.
  • Andrew

    **lost weight ;)

    I know you’re tired so just helping out another Cubs fan

    • Andrew

      Brett did say that he was “tired,” so you gotta cut him some slack. :)

      • Papi

        Maybe Keith Law was actually saying Vogelbach “lost wait” in his swing and doesn’t hesitate as much as before making contact. Ever thought of that?

    • RoughRiider

      I thought it meant he was less patient at the plate.

      Brett, you have my permission to MESS with Texas.

  • bluestainedivy

    Welcome to Texas Brett! Can I ask where you’re visiting?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Austin. And thank you.

      • hardtop

        lucky. best city in the state! and you just missed SXSW: first time I’ve missed it in 4 years.

      • Doug

        6th street!! Good Times!!!

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          That’s where I was last night…

        • hardtop

          im partial to red river street… great town

  • Stan

    Boy, the comment section does NOT hesitate to point out a typo.

    • TWC

      Heh.  You must be new, Stanley.

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

    No one panic on Vogelbach because Law thinks he has a slow bat.  Keith Law has earned his status as one of the premier minor league analysts in baseball, but his rapid, off-the-cuff analysis needs to be taken with a sizable grain of salt.  It wouldn’t hurt to get some game data and opinions from other scouts before we write the big guy off.  Some experts are already on record praising Vogelbach’s short, quick swing and his advance pitch recognition – both areas where Law knocked him hard.

    • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

      I can never understand the outrage when one of these prospect guru’s makes a negative comment about a Cub prospect. Just because he said Vogelbach looked overmatched, doesn’t mean a dam thing. You don’t think there have been two at bats where Brett Jackson has looked over matched? It doesn’t change any long term outlook on the player.

      • Kyle

        It’s not outrage. It’s distaste for Keith Law.

        I also don’t care that he was impressed with Baez (whom he just happened to see a home run).

        He thinks he’s a scout, and he’s not. He just overreacts to the results of whatever limited exposure he gets to a prospect.

        • http://www.casualcubsfan.com hansman1982

          Its the fart joke and loud noises style of sports journalism that he and Goldstein seem to subscribe to. Answer every tweet and email you get in the public and make sure to make statements that, while accurate, are worded to polarize people and get extra clicks.

          There is a reason I come here.

          • Smitty

            Could not agree more, Hansman. I read their stuff, knowing full well that what they are going to say is worded to get more clicks so they can get more money.

        • djriz

          Agree, Kyle.

          If Keith Law is so good, why isn’t he running a scouting department for some team?
          His top 100 lists always look like a compilation of others that come out before his. Hmmmm…..

          Does anyone know if he suggested any great draft picks when he was an ‘adviser’ for the Blue Jays?

          • DocWimsey

            Isn’t it possible that Law prefers working at ESPN? He has frequently talked about how frustrating it was to influence management during his advising days. In some ways, what he gets to do is more cool than just running one scouting department.

            And as for his Top 100 lists looking like others, that is hardly surprising. Every year, I compile multiple top prospects lists for a keeper fantasy league that I run. Surprise, surprise: the lists are highly correlated with each other! It’s almost like, I dunno, they are all looking at the same general data or something…. Law was ahead of the curve on at least one player: he was one of the few who said at that time that the Cubs were making a huge mistake trading HY Lee.

      • http://www.casualcubsfan.com hansman1982

        Agree, all of this should be taken, not with a grain of salt but rather with a sodium atom. This is his first spring training and he is what, 19? Hell, I am 1000% positive you could find 2 at bats where Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, Ty Cobb, etc… looked lost and overmatched.

        For what it’s worth, Ruth had some major “flaws” in his swing, at least to modern standards.

      • King Jeff

        All I need to know about Law is he said that Junior Lake looked like he had zero instincts at the plate or in the field. I’ve seen Lake play and he looks like a pretty good prospect with a nice swing and a good plate approach, he also looked very smooth in the field for an oversized shortstop.

        • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

          Junior Lake with a good plate approach?
          Your definition of plate approach must be the exact opposite of mine.
          And Law isn’t the only one, as Brett posted here before:
          http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/chicago-cubs-junior-lake-fangraphs-baseball-scouting-report-video/

        • DocWimsey

          I have read several places that Lake is all tools and no skills. His low walk rate suggests that his plate approach is not particularly good and his high K rate indicates that he’s not great with contact.

          Again, this is the sort of player that Hendry liked to sign (“toolsy”) but not the sort of player that Epstein & Hoyer will sign.

    • subtle

      Thanks for this comment. I was about to panic.

      Of course, this means Law may never think highly of Vogelbach because he is often unrelenting in first impressions.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        If Law stays true to form, it pretty much guarantees it.

        • Noah

          Aside from the fact that Law thought the Angels drafting Mike Trout was a reach, and then once he saw Trout play made him his number 1 prospect.

          Look, Dan Vogelbach isn’t going to be on anyone’s Top 100 lists (nor should he be) until he is at least at AA. An unathletic first baseman needs to hit so well to have above average value in the majors, it’s impossible to project at this low level.

          I think a lot of Cub fans dislike Law because of his views on Brett Jackson. But this is how the conversation goes:

          Cubs fan: See Keith Law! Brett Jackson just moved up a level and is hitting well against that league too.

          Keith Law: That’s great, but my one complaint against Jackson is that he strikes out too much to project him to be an above average major leaguer. And guess what, he’s still striking out in 25% of his plate appearances. So that doesn’t really change my view about what kind of major leaguer he’s going to be.

          Cubs fan: You’re a biased jerk, Keith Law!

          I also think Law is a bit low on Jackson. But I understand his methodology.

          • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

            And aside from the fact that Law was higher on Vitters than anyone else and calls him his biggest miss…
            People dislike the snark. That’s understandable. But that dislike seems to turn pretty irrational rather quick.

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

              When Law takes the time to watch players for awhile, he’s a pretty good analyst.

              When he makes snap judgments on extremely limited exposure and presents them in nearly identical fashion to his more carefully considered opinions, he isn’t as good.

              The problem is figuring out which opinions fall into which category.  If you can put them in context, you can learn a lot from them.  If you don’t have that context, proceed with extreme caution.

              • DocWimsey

                A big part of it is the nature of his job. In a way, ESPN needs what a good MLB team needs: a scouting department rather than a guy reporting on scouting.

    • KCubsfan

      I have seen Vogelbache on many occasions and a Slow bat is something he doesnt have. No good scout bases their opinion on one game. There are exception of course, but just because a player has a bad game you dont write him off. As a counter point just because a player has a good game doesnt mean he is the greatest thing since sliced bread.

    • ty

      Mr. Keith Law–did you miss the mammoth homerun that Vogh hit on my neighbors house across 7th st–homeruns into the street occur but in my 12 yrs. I had never seen one hit across the street -over our stone wall and on top of a tiled roof. This occured last week in a game. That being witnessed I do not even have a good guess on this guys future but he will get one heck of a look. Power like that is rare in the minors.

  • Ron

    Glamour shots Brett? Aren’t you a little old for that?

    • CubFan Paul

      I remember when my mom had Glamour Shots done. Disturbing.

  • Don

    I agree with Law’s assessment of Baez and Dunston Jr. Both looked good at the plate.

  • AnnoDomini

    I was seriously hoping that title was for real. That would be a classic ST moment if Sveum named the starter Bachelor style.

  • Packman711

    Tequila again?

    I’m curious, what matchups are we talking here that dictates the starters?

  • JulioZuleta

    No problem with Klafcynski being released. WIth our depth at the lower levels, there’s not a lot of room for guys who will turn 24 this year and whose ceilings are 4th outfielders. At least they cut him young; now he’ll have a chance to make a name for himself in another organization and still be a semi-prospect.

  • cubbylair

    The most difficult aspect of Ben Klafczynski is how to spell his name. On a more serious note I am puzzled why he was released nine months after drafted. No he isn’t one of the top prospects in the system but he did enough to continue on. Started with Boise and was promoted. While a .243 average wouldn’t jump off the page it should be enough to warrant a return to Peoria. Hopefully there will be a followup on this.

    • JulioZuleta

      He was drafted by an entirely different front office. He’s a good player, but his age relative to level and (lack of) production didn’t warrant a valuable starting spot in the lineup.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Peoria is going to get very crowded with some fairly high end talent this year.  I’m nearly certain the starting outfield will contain Reggie Golden and Pin-Chieh Chen (both who are much better prospects than Klafczynski).  There are a couple of candidates for that third slot, but Ben K. would likely have been coming off the bench at best… and I’m not sure of that.

      He could easily catch on in a system with less low-minors depth.  If not, he should have no trouble landing an independent league contract.  The indy leagues are regularly scouted, so if he plays well there he will be picked back up by a major league organization and given a shot to work his way into the majors.

    • Kyle

      I don’t know if I’d call a 22-year-old hitting .236/.296/.293 in short-season and then getting moved to low-A a “promotion.” It seems more like organizational filler being shuffled around.

      20th round pick put up a .589 OPS as a pro. I’m surprised there’s any controversy to this cut.

      • JulioZuleta

        Yeah, I think it’s just unusual to cut a draft pick 9 months after the draft. I like that the organization is trimming some fat. He’ll turn 24 at the end of the season, he had no future with the Cubs. I’m sure every player hates to get cut, but I think they did him a favor.

        • Kyle

          Fairly certain the Cubs signed and cut a draft pick on consecutive days this offseason.

          You bring in 30-40 new prospects every year. A lot of guys are going to get cut fairly quickly.

        • Pat

          It’s not really all that unusual. You add thirty guys every year in the draft. Maybe one or two get promoted from your farm system to the majors. There is a lot of room that needs to be made every year.

          And while there is a new front office, at this point it’s more or less the same people running the minors. The players are all sent home for the winter with two homework assignments, so to speak. Either gain or lose a significant amount of weight (I’m still puzzed why the club thinks this makes some huge difference) and usually one game related aspect to work on. Those that they see the least progress from get released.

          • Konk

            15 lbs of muscle added, and raking

            that 2 for 2, 1.000 in any language

            • Pat

              The question iis though, did he do the baseball related part they asked? I know you said he was raking, but if they wanted him to (for example) work on hitting the opposite way, and he was hitting well but still pulling everything then I wouldn’t be at all surprised they released him anyway.

              • Konk

                best suggestion would be Googs

                that is what I did after and there is tons of stuff out there related to your question

                just a little searching and its more of a head-scratcher decision than normal

                and my 3 days in Mesa including game play says pole-2-pole

                just google it!

                moot anyways, the kid should get an opp somewhere

    • JohnZ

      Elcier Bonne, age 25 IFA signed 2011 huge bonus-Cuban
      Mayke Reyes, age 24, IFA signed 2011 huge bonus-Cuban

      Both of the older signs were parked in the DSL in 2011, and they both
      appear on the depth chart for Daytona/Tenn

      Baseball is a business where money spent plays first

      Hope the kid hooks up, too much pedigree dating back to high school and college

  • Steve

    I am on the Volgelbach ban wagon and will get off only when it officially derails. It’s hard not to root for a chubby guy that hustles.

    • CubFan Paul

      ‘It’s hard not to root for a chubby guy that hustles’

      i’ve heard it all now.

    • DocWimsey

      Alright! Another way in which I clearly am awesome!

      • Bric

        Doc I always appreciate your modesty.

        • DocWimsey

          Have you seen that someplace? I posted fliers asking if anybody could return it…. (And those were great posters, let me tell you…)

  • mul21

    The biggest reason people hate Law is his insistence that Szczur and Juan Pierre are the same guy. Just dumb.

  • Dumpgobbler

    I’m not ready to give up on Simpson just yet. He came in with mono which put him behind to begin with. He was pitching with an arm issue last year as well. Idiotic to try to pitch through what I believe was a bad forearm issue. Hopefully he can show us why he was drafted in the first.

  • Konk

    Ben K just turned 23 and would be 23 the entire 2012 season.

    I was in Mesa as stated in another thread.

    From what I saw, and was told. The kid came to ST raking and 215lbs versus 200 previously listed. Forget the 2011 slow start, He did hit .321 in August. Maybe he started slow after a long college season and metal bat transition, anyways, what I saw was a standout player and hitter.

    Simple story. Oh geez, this guy can’t take a Daytona OF spot over a bonus player. That is basically the buzz. The kid will play somewhere, too good a hitter.

    • Kyle

      I will bet 8 million imaginary internet dollars that you are somehow close to him or at least people who know him?

  • Konk

    if you call having a friend whose son is a pitcher in the organization

    • Kyle

      The kid was a 20th round pick. That means every team in baseball had 19 chances to pick him and passed, because they didn’t think enough of his talent.

      Which means that nobody thought he was very much of a prospect anyway. Then, at Boise and Peoria, he was playing against leagues of players that were mostly younger than him, and he still managed to hit terribly.

      It’s great that you saw the kid in Mesa and took a liking to him, but it’s silly to keep accusing the Cubs organization of only caring about “bonus babies” and cutting him for office politics. The kid is simply not talented enough to have a future as a professional baseball player. There’s nothing more to it than that.

      • Konk

        When Robnett started falling out of favor in the A’s organization, and even when he was traded from Oakland to the Cubs prior to the start of the 2009 season, he got an even better understanding of the impact that both the draft and the bonuses that players receive have on the game.

        “The draft comes every year, so you’ve got guys with high draft status and they might have received big signing bonuses. Well, when teams do that, that’s their investment and they’ve got to protect their investment,” he said.

        “A lot of times, regardless of how badly one of their big prospects is doing, he’s got to play because that’s who they put their money into. Even if somebody’s on the bench and does well, well he can’t play today because we don’t have anything invested in him. That’s where the whole business side of it comes into it. I’ve seen in my career where guys would even get released or sent down from a team because they’re outplaying the prospects and they don’t want that embarrassment and stuff like that, they don’t like that at all. I’ve seen situations like that before. But I think it’s really huge. Baseball is a business, and I understand from the business aspect, you’ve got to protect your investment.”

        http://thunderbaseball.wordpress.com/2010/08/15/minor-league-baseball-investing-in-the-future/

        • Kyle

          Oh yeah, that’s totally convincing. You found another failed prospect to come up with the same complaints that this failed prospect had. Of *course* they see it the same way. They don’t want to deal with the fact that they aren’t or weren’t good enough, so they convince themselves it must have been office politics or whatnot.

          It’s completely absurd. There are many, many cases of late-round, low-bonus prospects thriving in the minors and being promoted all the way to the big leagues. If teams wanted to “protect” their prospects, that wouldn’t be happening.

          Now, occasionally, you will see a team cut an older player who is “better” than a younger prospect, because the younger prospect has more long-term potential.

          But in the case of this outfielder who has apparently decided to have all his friends and family post on message boards to plead his case, that wasn’t even what happened The kid was a very borderline prospect who was *terrible* as a pro, so he got cut.

          You don’t want them to cut you in favor of the bonus babies? Hit better than .230.

          • Bric

            Look, brothers, let’s just all admit that drafting is a crap shoot. Just ask Mark Pawalek, Ryan Harvey, Corey Patterson, etc. etc. Anybody that’s followed the Cubs or any other team in any sport knows that’s true. Anybody who claims that it’s not true about their specific team is lying to themselves or just had a nice string of prospects that all panned out in order to make them think they’re better than any other team. But that string never lasts.

            Unfortunately the scouts and blogging “experts” like Keith Law do. Stop listening to these guys and just use your own eyes and you’ll be much more satisfied with the results and less prompted to needless arguing on the internet. -Signed Richie Robnett’s cousin.

        • http://casualcubsfan.blogger.com hansman1982

          Here’s the thing – the kids who get drafted high and receive giant bonuses generally have loads of talent meaning that even if they are performing poorly, something in what they do screams “I CAN MAKE IT AS A BIG LEAGUER”. This is why teams have them start after a 3-30 string and cut a guy drafted in the 20th round at one of the deeper spots in the Cubs minors.

          How about this, as God as my witness if Kerplunkel ever gets a hit in the big leagues I will send you a $100 bill.

          • Kyle

            There’s an interesting little wrinkle in human perception called the “fundamental attribution bias.”

            Essentially, we tend to describe things that happen to other people in terms of their innate qualities that caused them to happen. But we tend to describe things that happen to ourselves in terms of external circumstances. That guy is late because he’s irresponsible (innate quality). I’m late because traffic was unfortunately awful (external circumstances).

            So in this example, we see a player who got cut because he wasn’t good enough (innate qualities). The player sees a biased system that didn’t want a non-bonus-baby prospect to succeed (external circumstances).

            • DocWimsey

              This was pretty well-documented a some years ago. Person A thinks of typically thinks of himself as hard-working. However, he see many of his co-workers as slackers. Nevertheless, Person A assumes that his co-workers see him as hard-working and a role model. After all, they all know that if he’s late, then there must be something wrong. Person B undoubtedly is late because he’s irresponsible. Of course, most Person A’s are perceived by their co-workers as… (wait for it….) slackers!

  • hardtop

    just heard demp named number one not that any of that matters after the first five games, but thats what i heard

  • JohnZ

    I Googled the Polish outfielder, wow, athleticism, what a leap, and some old hitting vids and also found pedigree back from high school, then a great college career

    Two words come to mind

    Railroaded and Blindsided

    Cubs farm must be great if your dump guys like this

    Kyle, you need to lighten up a little

    Take a web tour and assemble some facts

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      You can find similar plays any night at any independent league ballpark.

      Edit: By the way, he’s not polish.  He was born in Ohio.

      • TWC

        racist

        • Bric

          Weather Channel! That wasn’t racist, but this- you know the only problem with Polish outfielders? They stand on the the wrong side of the outfield wall. ba-da-bing!
          BTW- to any individuals who feel that that was truly in bad taste, I appologize. It was just a joke and please feel free to respond with any German jokes you want. We’re all Cub fans here.

      • hardtop

        Just because he’s from Ohio doesn’t mean he’s any different than the rest of us, Luke. No reason to point that out at all… he’s just a man like any other (except that he may be a little inferior, intellectually ;)

        • SirCub

          Yea, those Ohio-ans are not the sharpest tools in the shed. :)

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            You, but, wha, I … hey, wait a minute.

    • Kyle

      “Kyle, you need to lighten up a little”

      Never.

      • ThereWillBeCubs

        Kyle, completely agree on this one. Seems like this kid’s friends and family are now the campaign committee. If he’s legit he’ll get a shot someplace. Baseball teams burn shit tons of money playing the “crap shoot.” If he never makes it there’s probably a simple reason why…

  • JohnZ

    Kyle, sometimes you have look past a small sample size and also research
    about a person before you spew a momma’s basement type comment.

    If you take the time and read a little about how and where prospects come from, and the differing paths many take, you would get a better understanding of professional baseball. Take a deep look at MLB rosters. They are NOT ALL 1st rounders.

    I don’t care if a player is drafted 1st or 1500th. BOTH deserve more than 1/2 short-season to take their shot. Really take a look at what this released player has accomplished from high school and thru D1 baseball, and you may be shocked by the Company he was included with.

    This release was a sham, but you won’t do the homework, instead you will post an immature bash, and when you do, you will tell the internet world that you really do reside in your momma’s basement

    creepy

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