The Kickball team didn’t win for the first time last night. We didn’t lose, either, though. We were up 3-1 going into the top of the final inning, but gave up two runs to blow it (probably shouldn’t have asked Carlos Marmol to close). I led off the bottom of the final inning with a single, but was stranded. Freaking tie.

  • Your final Draft tallies for the Cubs: 42 picks, 22 pitchers (18 righty, 4 lefty) and 20 positional players, but 7 of the first 8 picks were pitchers, and 13 of their first 19. So, don’t let that 22/20 split fool you: this was a pitching-heavy draft for the Cubs. And I’m really pleased. The Cubs took the top player they could in the first round – an uber talented center fielder – and then went heavy on high upside (high risk) pitchers. The Cubs’ farm system currently sports a ton of lower upside, lower risk type pitchers (the kinds who could possibly be 4/5 starters or middle relievers in the bigs), but very few boom-bust types. You need those kids, too, even if the vast majority flame out early. All it takes is for you to really hit on, say, one of five of them, and you did quite well.
  • A nice recap of the Cubs’ Draft from And, if you missed any of it, you can see all the Cubs’ picks, with commentary here at BN, from Day One, Day Two, and Day Three. We won’t actually know whether this Draft was a “success” for years, and we actually can’t even call it good on paper until we know who signs and who doesn’t (the deadline is July 13). But, for now, it looks acceptable, if not overwhelming.
  • The Cubs’ one obvious “overslot” type selection in the later rounds (Round 25, to be precise), high school outfielder Rhett Wiseman, sounds quite enthused to have been selected by the Cubs in the Draft, even if he intends on honoring his commitment to Vanderbilt (we’ll see). “You work your whole life to get drafted as a baseball player,” Wiseman said. “I was so honored, I was so humbled, and the Cubs are a great organization. I’m just so impressed with the people that run the Cubs from behind the scenes and the organization itself. To know that I was drafted by a team like the Cubs — not only a respected organization, but run by very, very respectable people — I was definitely humbled …. I’ll show up to prom pictures with my Cubbies hat on, and it’s going to be tough for anyone to take it off my head tonight, that’s for sure.”
  • Cubs GM Jed Hoyer says that the team has already started taking phone calls about trades, but expects things to really pick up now that the Draft is over. He also says that there aren’t many sellers right now.
  • An interview with Mark Prior about his latest comeback attempt, where he’s been pitching pretty well in the minors for the Red Sox.
  • Matt Szczur hasn’t played in a game in almost a week. By itself, that isn’t really news – guys miss a week here and there for injuries in the minors all the time. But the Daytona Cubs haven’t announced any injury for Szczur, and he isn’t on the disabled list. No seems to know why he’s sitting out, and it’s extremely rare for a top prospect to be sitting out this long with an injury and nobody can find out a thing about it. Further, the DL in the minor leagues is just seven days, so it’s not like it’s clearly just a day-to-day nagging thing where the team is expecting him back any day (don’t get me wrong: that could absolutely be the case – I’m just saying that’s not “obviously” the case). Szczur has also been a relatively active Twitter user, but his last Tweet is from June 2 (though he did retweet someone on June 4). For my part, I’m no journalist, but I’ve tried to find out the answer. I asked around with some folks who might know the story, they know nothing. I’ve put out the question a couple times en masse on Twitter and no one seems to know anything. I even shot an email to the GM of the Daytona Cubs, who hasn’t responded (either because he doesn’t want to comment or because of that whole “I’m no journalist” thing). My conspiratorial-inclined mind screams out that it’s trade-related or something-is-wrong-related, but my formerly-legal mind says there’s almost always a much simpler explanation. I’m not saying there’s anything crazy afoot here – it probably is just a day-to-day injury thing – but I can tell you that, in the years I’ve been writing about the Cubs, this kind of week-long absence with absolutely no word is abnormal. I guess mostly I’m just hoping that, by writing about it here, the right eyes will see this, and we’ll get an answer.
  • UPDATE on Szczur: I just received a response from Daytona Cubs GM Brady Ballard, whom I’d contacted yesterday, pointing me to an overnight Daytona Beach News-Journal article, which notes that “Matt Szczur has been put on the disabled list because of a strained knee. Harper said the Cubs are just being cautious with the outfield prospect. Meanwhile, outfielder Elieser Bonne will be activated from the DL today.” So, it sounds like the delay in DL’ing Szczur was tied to Bonne’s return from the DL. It’s never good to hear about an injury, but this sounds precautionary. Hopefully Szczur will be back soon. Mystery solved. Also: I now suspect that the Daytona Cubs’ GM is a cool dude.
  • cjdubbya

    Wait a minute. Are you tying? Tying? THERE’S NO TYING IN KICKBALL!

    • MXC

      That cracked me up!

    • Wilbur

      There are either a large number of witty respondents to this blog, or just a lot of people who have the same stupid sense of humor my wife and kids accuse me of. Please keep it up all of you!

    • Cubbie Blues

      Unless it is an All-Star game.

  • Luke

    I can’t imagine it is trade related.  A one game or two game absence, sure.  Five games?  Without a hint of a trade rumor?  That is harder to buy into.

    • Brett

      Oh, I know. And it’s six games now. In abnormal situations like this, the mind runs wild.

    • Brett

      Just got an email from the D-Cubs’ GM. Updating now.

  • B_Scwared

    One of my takeaways from the draft is that even though there has been so much talk about left handed pitching being a focus, they are going to look for #1 or 2 type starters no matter what hand they pitch with, and I’m assuming 3-5 is where you may see a bigger focus on left hand pitchers.

  • butlerdawgs

    Nice to see Wiseman’s comments, especially about the front office. That was one of the things that was talked about when Theo and Jed came into town. Players wanting to play for great baseball minds like theirs, but it’s really cool to see a player actually say it. I’d still be surprised if he signed though.

  • florida Al

    brett according to a tweet i found it is a knee strain for szczur…

    • Brett

      Thanks, Al. Looks like word spread this morning.

  • PKJ

    Szczur? I know exactly where he is. He’s in the middle of VRS, or “vowel replacement surgery.” He’ll be adding extra vowels to his name.

    • JMack4568

      I presume that’s to treat Irritable Vowel Syndrome?

      • BFiddy

        …and JMack wins the thread!!

      • cooper

        Irritable vowel syndrome leads to inconsonants.

  • Edwin

    I think it’s interesting how many “future Cubs teams” are comprised of prospects drafted almost excluselivey under the Jim Hendry era. I don’t care about people’s opinoins about Hendry. I just find it interesting that in one breath people talk about how terrible Hendry is, and in the next they’re talking about a future outfield of Jackson, Ha, Szczur, or Campana, and an infield of Baez, Lake, Castro, and Rizzo.

    • bt

      And don’t forget what a jackass Hendry was for signing Samardzija.

    • K Rock

      You can’t count Rizzo with Hendry………And I think the horrible contracts Theo is left to deal with, along with the lack of talent (other than who you mentioned, we lack impact prospects overall in the system) are the reason we are all glad Hendry is gone……..If you dont agree, just search through the arms in the minors and try to find a 1…….or some legit 2’s……….not much there at all

    • AB

      Outside of Castro and Rizzo, the chances are that only 1-2 of the guys will actually pan out as fulltime starters, let alone stars.

      Look through BA’s projected 2008 cubs lineup from like 2002

      Pie-Nick Jackson-Dubois – Kelton-Bobby Hill – Heep Sop Choi

      Choi probably had the best mlb career out of those guys and he had maybe 3 good years. The unheralded guys (Theriot, Soto, Brendan Harris) are the ones who had the best careers.

      • The Show

        You never know, look at the Rangers, they have a lot of home grown talent on the big league club.

  • mark

    Kudos for digging on the Szczur story. It was a story and perhaps your digging will encourage a bit more openness. In this internet age, fans have access to more information and can follow minor league systems nearly as closely as the parent club. Minor league clubs need to get used to that rather than feeding speculation and rumor.

    • Brett

      Thanks, Mark. And thank you for bringing it up several times and keeping it in the discussion.

  • MaxM1908

    Never say that you are not a journalist, Brett. You’re much more competent at information gathering and analysis than the corporate media. The blog age reminds me a lot of the muckraker phenomenon of the early 20th century. When mainstream media fails, true journalists, like you, will take up the mantle. (Granted, we are talking about sports and not failing social conditions, but the sentiment is still the same.)

    • butlerdawgs

      Always funny to me how everyone criticizes journalists yet don’t know what they have to go through.

      • Brett

        Mad respect from me.

        • butlerdawgs

          I know, Brett, and I appreciate the work you do as I have said to you in person and messages.

      • MaxM1908

        I don’t criticize journalists as much as I do their employers. There is something inherently wrong about making journalism a profit industry. Journalism, like education, fire fighting, police work, etc. is a public service. Inherently, there should be no profit in it, and any profit that is made should go to the benefit of the journalists and the advancement of their craft rather than to the shareholders or corporate executives. When we allowed media to become corporatized, we destroyed the essence of its function. Now, journalists report for the shareholders rather than for the public good. Brett’s comment about how he likes the freedom of the blogging medium is exactly what I’m talking about. He’s not constrained by corporate interests. To me, that is closer to the ideal of a what a journalist ought to be, and hence why he should feel free to call himself a journalist.

      • Jim L.

        Not to hijack this into a political thread, but journalists for major media outlets are no longer journalists in the traditional sense but puppets for the corporations that own them.

        ** Just read Max’s response, and I agree wholeheartedly with his take.

        • Kyle

          That’s completely untrue. It’s easy to take shots at people’s character when you can be anonymous, but I’ve never known a journalist who didn’t take his ethical obligations very seriously. And I’ve never, ever, ever met one who gave two cents about what his corporate ownership thought.

          • MaxM1908

            You mean, you’ve never known a journalist to have received direction from his or her superiors? Everything they want to write gets published without editing from above? They’ve never been strongly encouraged to add or subtract information from articles? I’m not saying that journalists don’t have integrity (although I’m certain some lack it as is true in all professions). I’m saying the primary purpose of their work is to make money for entities which do not necessarily have the same journalistic integrity that they do. And, if everyone wants to keep their jobs, they better keep that entity happy. That creates a tension/conflict which undoubtedly results in less freedom than one would have in independent media.

            • Kyle

              I’m saying it’s never come from corporate ownership. Ever. Not once. I’ve been a journalist, I’ve been in a lot of newsrooms, and my extended friendship and professional circle is almost entirely journalists of various caliber and mediums.

              Not one of them has ever, once, talked about being forced to make an editorial decision differently by ownership.

              Yes, they are edited, but they are edited by other journalists. There’s a clear distinction in the business. There are “editorial” employees (journalists) and non-editorial employees (the business side). Occasionally, someone from the non-editorial side does try to influence decisions. Every journalist I know, and I know plenty of them, reacts the same way: Politely telling them to mind their own business the first time, and subsequent requests are treated less and less politely until they get the idea.

              • MaxM1908

                I sincerely hope you’re right, Kyle, but I’m cynical that this is the industry-wide practice. One only has to look at the way Rupert Murdoch runs his media empire to see that the ideals of journalistic integrity are giving way to the ruthless tactics of corporate interests. I hope more journalists like you and your friends have the will and the strength to fight back the tide.

                • Kyle

                  That’s what I figured you were talking about. When people complain about “Journalism these days”, what they almost always mean is cable news networks.

                  Journalism is a big, wide world. Not only is cable news not the entirety of it, it’s not really journalism at all.

                  • MaxM1908

                    Rupert Murdoch doesn’t just own cable news networks. He has a whole network of print, internet, and television assets. In the U.S. he has the Wall Street Journal, which is one of the most influential journalism sources in the nation. All of his scandals in Britain are print-related, not network. People may associate him with Fox News in the U.S., but I think of him as the face of corporate media in all its forms, on an international scale. He controls information across platforms, and to me, that is a scary position for any one person to hold.

              • butlerdawgs

                Love all the comments Kyle. I, too, work for a newspaper and find it comical how everyone thinks we are told what to write by our advertisers. The newspaper I work for has written poorly about some of our advertisers when they do something controversial. Did we lose their advertising, yes. Did we sell more papers because people wanted to read about it, absolutely. Ultimately, journalists write about what people want to read about, not what advertisers or owners dictate. People don’t understand that a newsroom is divided, strongly, into the editorial and advertising side. The editorial has no control over advertising, and advertising has no control over editorial. People falsely think that owners give marching orders to the journalists, when that does not happen and has never happened to me or the newspaper for which I work.

                • Cheryl

                  I once worked for a newspaper too and disagree with you in regard to advertising influence. Its there. But usually it comes in the way of subtle and sometimes not so subtle suggestions. However normally I was able to write independently.The bad part was we had no control over what type of advertising might appear on the same page with a story. Sometimes in the religion section there would be an advertisement with a very well-endowed woman next to a story on a Christmas festival.

                  • butlerdawgs

                    Sad to hear that, but I have never seen it (other than asking the ad department if there are any new businesses in town); nor have any of my friends that are journalists seen it. As far as the placing of advertising one of the first things we learned in our 100 level class was don’t put an airplane crash story on the same page as an airplane story.

    • Brett

      I appreciate the sentiment of your comment, because it’s mighty kind. But when I say I’m not a journalist, I mean it as both a constricting thing, and a freeing thing. I don’t have the training of a journo, or the access. And I don’t think I could do what they do (report just the facts, get the quotes, embed with the team, etc.). But I also don’t think I’d want to do what they do. There are certain freedoms afforded by the blogging medium, and I sure do like them (open fandom, inserting opinion, humor, no fear of reprisal from players or management when you speak your mind, etc.).

  • Edwin

    I liked the interview with Prior. Thanks for posting that Brett.

    • Brett

      No prob. I liked it, too, which surprised me.

  • Noah

    My only knowledge of this is through playing Out of the Park Baseball, and I don’t know if they’re accurate on this (but they’re pretty darn accurate on most things), but does Szczur’s status on the 40 man mean that he’s subject to Major League DL rules, not the minor league rules?

    • Brett

      That would be news to me, but it absolutely could be true.

  • JB88

    I’m actually glad to hear it was an injury. My first thought was that he was contemplating giving up baseball for football again and the Cubs were trying to talk him out of that decision.

    • RoughRiider

      I was thinking it might be related to the Bone Marrow Transplant he did and that he was doing it again but wanted to keep it quiet.

  • Tim Mo
  • Brian

    Szczur put on DL with soreness in knee per Daytona Cubs twitter feed. EDIT: Sorry, didn’t see the update.

  • The Dude Abides

    Anyone know the breakdown on tough to deal with agents out of our picks? Hopefully Theo opens up the checkbook to get these guys signed and on the field.

  • North Side Irish

    Keith Law says Almora will immediately become the Cubs top prospect…he’s got an article on ESPN Insider about where each team’s top pick ranks in their system.

    “Alora immediately becomes the Cubs’ best prospect, even over Anthony Rizzo.”

  • Alex’s Jonathan Mayo has the Cubs as one of the draft winners this week.

    The rebuilding begins!

  • JulioZuleta

    Great article on Blackburn. Sounds like a good bet to go underslot, which would be fantastic.…ke-a-dream.htm

    Underwood too:–five-others-leads-local-draft-crop?instance=secondary_story_left_column

  • Ari Gold

    Keith Law wrote an article of where the top picks would rank in each organization. He ranked Almora 1st, even ahead of Rizzo. Rizzo was ranked 19 in all of baseball, so that’s pretty high praise!

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