I leave for Chicago later this morning, and I’ll be at the game tomorrow with some friends from the long-standing Cubs message board, Sons of Ivy. Posting should be normal, but my usual Chicago trip caveat applies: I might be in the comments less, and on Twitter/Facebook less, than usual.

  • On Tuesday, Ian Stewart had “successful” wrist surgery. The surgery was partly exploratory, so hopefully that means they actually found, and were able to correct, the problem. Obviously there’s no time table yet for a return, which Stewart hopes will be late this season. I’m sure the Cubs hope that, too, given that they’ll have a tender decision (like, tender-a-contract, not soft and sweet) to make on Stewart this Winter. He’s arbitration-eligible for the third time in 2013 (out of four times total), but the Cubs may not want to commit $2 to $2.5 million to Stewart if they haven’t seen him in game action looking healthy, and hopefully, improved.
  • Keith Law released his midseason top 50 prospect ranking, and the Cubs landed three on there – Javier Baez at 35, Albert Almora at 47, and Jorge Soler at 50. At first, you might see it as a negative that, in a league of 30 teams, the Cubs’ top prospect doesn’t show up until number 35, but there are two things to consider: (1) Anthony Rizzo easily would have been in the top 20 if he’d still been eligible (and, as a 22-year-old who just got called up, he’s a lot more like a prospect than an established player); and (2) don’t think of it as one in the top 35, think of it as three in the top 50. Do the math on that, and you see that teams are expected to have just 1.67 prospects in the top 50. The Cubs have almost twice that amount.
  • Patrick Mooney talks to Darwin Barney about his performance this year, about trade rumors, and about the team’s overall results. Barney is a good interview, that much is clear.
  • The Cubs are likely to be busy in the next few weeks, says Carrie Muskat, starting with the possible departure of Ryan Dempster, who starts at Wrigley Field tomorrow. Paul Sullivan similarly talks about the changes expected on the horizon. There hasn’t been a Cubs game in five days, so this is to be expected.
  • A write-up on former first round pick Hayden Simpson, which will probably bum you out as much as it makes you hopeful. I still wish this guy could find a way to succeed, not only for the Cubs, but for himself.
  • The Onion slays the Cubs once again …
  • The MLBullets at BCB look at Justin Upton’s response to trade rumors.
  • Aaron

    The gripe I had about the first not showing up unitl 35 is that we don’t really have any true ML ready prospects waiting in the wings like a lot of other teams have. This could be a leftover from the Hendry era trades, obviously.

    Hopefully, the Garza and Dempster trades can net us a few impact guys.

    • Jack Weiland

      I mean, Brett Jackson is as ready as a guy can get while still being not ready. And a month ago Anthony Rizzo would have fit the bill. This seems like a ridiculously cherry picked gripe to me.

      • Aaron

        Yeah, maybe you’re right. Our farm system is SO awesome, who am I kidding?

        • The Man. The Legend. The RBI King: Hack Wilson

          let’s see…..

          the farm system produced castro and barney. it produced cashner which became rizzo. it produced marshall which became t wood. it produced smardzjia. it produced tyler colvin who should NOT of been traded for stewart; who should NEVER be seen again in blue pinstripes. it has baez-vogelbach-maples-dunston jr-devoss from last year’s JH draft. it produced archer and lee which got garza which could get more prospects. it produced vitters who is a AAA all-star. it produced bjax; a future starting OF.

          from what i can tell; the majority of the assets for the future came from or came via the farm system that are on the team now.

          • Aaron

            It’s really not that hard to look at our current system and see how shallow we are. You make good points, about what the system has produced. One thing the system hasn’t produced in many years? A team that can get to the playoffs and avoid being swept out of the first round.

            We are getting there now, because the FO we have now knows how to stock and build an elite system. I for one am excited for the future.

            • http://www.worldseriesdreaming.com dabynsky

              I don’t get the shallow comment. I guess it is shallow if you are talking about blue chip prospects, but the system actually has a lot of guys with upside. I want to say it was Callis that mentioned the Cubs might have the best set of prospects in the 20-30 range of any organization in baseball. There are certainly holes in the system (pitching, pitching, and pitching), but the system is pretty deep actually.

  • Dan

    When was the last time you’ve heard of a player having unsuccessful surgery?

    • Edward

      Peyton Manning?

    • hansman1982

      You hear that occasionally, where a guy has surgery and they were unable to find and/or fix the problem. The thing is, when you are a surgeon that MLB teams turn to, you are pretty good at what you do.

      Also, the failure rate overall on surgeries is incredibly low.

  • Cheryl

    Thanks for the info on Simpsom. Too ba he didn’t stay out additional time bafore he tried to come back the following Spring. Reading the article makes you wonder how he was even able to do that. Hope he makes it.

  • hansman1982

    One interesting thing to take away from the 3 in the top 50 discussion is that all three of these guys have been acquired in the past year (add in Rizzo and that is 3/4 by Theo). Had we been adding prospects like this for the past 5 years we would have a guy or two in the top ten and this mess would look far differently.

    • Featherstone

      I thought the exact same thing. Theo/Jed is firmly responsible for 3 out of the 4 top prospects in the span of under a year. It really feels like the FO is following through on their plan to restock the farm and build from within for a team of sustainable success.

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

    Dave Rosario is, I think, underrated as a pitching coach. If anyone is going to get Simpson turned around, it will be the trio of Rosario, Tim Buss (the Cubs strength and condition coordinator), and Burger King.

    • MightyBear

      That’s my point. Simpson is 23 now. He should be putting on weight just from getting older. If the Cubs strength and conditioning personnel are working with him, he should be getting bigger and stronger. Can’t they send him to Camp Colvin/Buss or whatever it’s called now? Somebody help me with that one please.

  • Jackalope

    Never seen those “Pardon the Interruption” spoof videos on the Onion before. They’re pretty great. The one guys voice is a pretty close match to Michael Wilbon.

    • Tim

      Another thing that i have found interesting is that Soler and Almora have yet to play a game in the minor leagues. Where will they be rated after this season is over? Also, i would say we could get 3 top prospects between Dempster and Garza. could we have 6 in the top 50?

      • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

        Keith Law just had an updated top 50 and had Almora at (I think) 47, and Soler at 50. Baez was at 35.
        SIX in the Top 50? No. 3 at best.

        • TonyP

          Tim is referring to after trades happen.

        • hansman1982

          if we get three prospects that are in the top 50 already from Garza and Dempster (more likely to get 2) then we would have 6 (3+3=6).

          Again, this is dependent on Soler and Almora performing well once they get placed on their respective teams in August. If Jackson slashes his strikeouts in the 2nd half he could easily be back in the top-50 and that would put us with possibly 7 in the top 50.

          • TonyP

            Who on the list has been mentioned in the current trade rumors?

          • The Man. The Legend. The RBI King: Hack Wilson

            you won’t get 3 for garza. maybe not even 1 in the top 50 for dempster.
            bjaz and vitters would be top 50 for mlb ready. considering baez has less than 100 at-bats and the other 2 NONE, this list is highly pre-judiced to “the future based on high school or foregin stats”……..like soler and almora. i would think vogelbach will make it once he gets to A ball.

      • Andoalex

        It should be noted that Law’s Top 50 were guys with the highest ceiling, not closest to MLB ready, etc. That is why guys like Jackson and Vitters aren’t on there because their “flaws” have been exposed. After looking through the entire list it is mostly comprised of guys at Double A or (usually) lower. With several that haven’t played at all.

  • Stinky Pete

    As far as Stewart and his contract, can’t they offer the contract and still cut him before regular season games start?

    • TonyP

      I believe they can and pay a portion of the contract.

  • Chef

    I would fully expect that Ian Stewart will be non-tendered this off season. Wrist injuries take time to recover from, and I doubt that even if the surgery was deemed completely successful, that he’ll be back at full strength with his swing before the 2014 season. I really like the guy for his plus defense, and yes, his fan interaction level on twitter. Maybe, just maybe the Cubs take a flier on him and sign for 2013 while he rehabs if they think he really has 25+ HR power in there.

    • Mick

      I was thinking the opposite actually. Have you looked at the most recent list of 2013 FA third basemen? If not, here’s the list:

      David Wright
      Kevin Youkilis
      Mark Reynolds
      Chipper Jones
      Placido Polanco
      Scott Rolen
      Ty Wigginton
      Brandon Inge

      I don’t think there’s any way we won’t offer Stewart arbitration. Is Stewart bounces back healthy in 2013, we could start the year with him at 3B, call up Vitters in June and trade Stewart in July, or platoon him, or waive him.

      After this trade deadline, we’re going to be so depleted on MLB players it’s going to be silly. Free agency is going to be interesting too because teams keep extending every potential free agent, we’re probably not going to be able to replenish our roster then either. I also see us offering Soto arbitration as well. Volstad…well that’s another story.

  • dabynsky

    Ian Stewart was saying on twitter pretty recently that he is done for the year. I am guessing that he is a non tender and resign type of deal depending on if Vitters gets a look and how he does in September.

  • oswego chris

    Am I the only one who thinks that if the Cubs can get the package they want for Dempster, they may not trade Garza…yet…THEOretically you may never get more for him than now, but if clubs aren’t “wowing” the Cubs…keep him, and you will have a piece next year…I know he would be a 2 month rental and all that, but the Cubs have the leverage with teams regarding Garza…not as much with Dempster…

    bottom line….if you trade them both you better get 3 to 4 real quality pitching prospects…

    • Mick

      Whoever trades for Garza is also getting a 1st round supplemental pick if he doesn’t re-sign after the 2013 season so after factoring that into the equation, we don’t NEED to trade Garza right now. We could wait until the off-season or next year’s trade deadline and still get the same type of haul. I believe that gives us a bit of leverage and patience when it comes to finding an over-whelming offer.

      • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

        They won’t get that draft pick if Garza is traded at next years deadline.
        His value is higher now than it will be this offseason. Teams will get him for TWO playoff runs instead of 1.

        • Mick

          I’m not familiar with that rule. A player has to be on a roster for a full season in order to offered a compensatory pick?

          • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

            New in the latest CBA.
            Player has to be on the team for the full season in order to get the pick…something like that.
            Like Dempster, Greinke, or Hamels…if any of them are traded this month, the acquiring team will not get draft pick compensation if they lose him in the offseason.

            • Mick

              Thanks, that’s good to know. Garza for 2 playoff runs and a 1st round compensatory pick has to carry a ton of value. The compensatory pick alone should net the Cubs a top-10 prospect add in that a top 5 prospect for each playoff run and we’d get back almost what we gave up to get Garza from the Rays.

              • Edwin

                Garza doesn’t carry a ton of value. He’s an above average pitcher who’s being paid 9 million this season, and 12 million next season. He’ll be 29 next year, so odds are he’s probably already reached his peak value.

                I’d say he’s pretty similar to what Lilly was worth in 2010. Lilly was a better pitcher, but also cost 3M more. But Lilly also let the team that traded for him become eligible for arbitration, so it probably works out with the two being fairly equal in value.

                • Mick

                  That’s fair, we’re all entitled to our own opinions. We’ll let the market settle this debate. You’re saying we’ll get someone comparable to Blake DeWitt (what we got for Lilly) and I’m saying we’ll get 3 top-10 prospects.

                  • Edwin

                    The Cubs weren’t able to get 3 top ten picks during the offseason for Garza. Why would he be worth more now as opposed to then/

                    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                      We don’t know what the Cubs were or weren’t able to get, but the argument would be, he’s more valuable now because more teams are interested now (a number of teams are in contention who may not have seen themselves as even possibly being buyers; and a number of teams have had serious rotation injuries). I’m not sure if I buy it, but that’s the argument.

                • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                  “Garza doesn’t carry a ton of value.”

                  I have no clue how you’re coming to this conclusion. Just last week, Heyman surveyed execs who said Garza has the most trade value of any pitcher on the market right now, including Hamels or Greinke. That’s a ton of value, even if it is largely because of his contract.

                  • Edwin

                    I don’t put much stock in the survey. GM’s say a lot of things. How many of those GM’s are actually trying to trade for Garza, and if they were, why would they bargain against themselves?

                    I’m basing my my conclusion on how much value I think Garza is worth compared to how much he’ll reasonably be paid.

                    • Mick

                      Mr. Edwin, what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

                    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                      I disagree not only with your conclusion (given the dearth of available trade talent on the market, you’re way over-crediting the impact Garza’s salary has on his trade value; teams just want to have control of him, and they’re willing to pay handsomely in prospects just to have that control, whatever his salary – I think we’re going to find that’s one of the things that has changed in the post-new-CBA-post-two-Wild-Card era (that whole surplus value concept, I mean)), but also with the idea that anonymous GMs would have any reason to try and raise Garza’s value, rather than, for example, Hamels’. Each is as likely to be traded as the other, so the incentives to try and drive up the price on one or the other is evenly spread among all teams, and between the two players. In other words, they were being honest, because being dishonest is just as likely to hurt their position in any number of trades as it is to help it.

                      If Garza is traded, I think you will find that you are mistaken. But he, of course, might not be traded, and we can keep on debating. I’m not saying Garza is worth, for example, Castellanos AND Turner (he’s not), but he’s definitely worth a whole heck of a lot more than you’re making it sound.

                    • hansman1982

                      I bet if Theo were to bring that up in trade discussions, every GM in the world would say one of two things:

                      1. I voted for Hamels/Grienke/my prospect
                      2. Heyman never called me but I would have (see #1)

                      The benefit of Garza or Hamels and Greinke is that next year the GM can trade him away to recover some of the lost prospects or hold on to him and recover 1 lost prospect in the draft. With the other two you just hope that you can sign them to an extension or you win it all this year.

                      I bet if you polled executives 28 out of 30 value prospects more than cash. (the two no’s would be the Rays and White Sox)

                • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

                  Most people are overrating Garza, but I think this is a bit of an underrating. He’s a solid #2/3 pitcher that will affect two playoff runs and get the team a draft pick.

                  • Edwin

                    When I say Garza “isn’t worth a ton” I don’t mean that he isn’t worth anything. He should bring back a decent prospect if the Cubs eat his remaining salary. But he probably won’t be worth the King’s Ransom some people seem to think he is.

                  • gutshot5820

                    I know its not worth much but ESPN just recently rated Garza as the #22 best pitcher in baseball. I’m sure they are taking into account his whole career track record and not just this past season. That would squarely put him in the bottom of #1 but a certainly a strong #2 for any team. That has to have quite a lot of value.

                • Ben

                  Really? He’s younger than Hamels, is controlled for next season, and has a similar xFIP (3.69 to 3.20). I’m not saying Garza is equal to Hamels, but to say he doesn’t have similar value doesn’t make sense to me. I think you are underestimating the compensation part of this equation. The team acquiring Garza may be able to get draft picks at the end of next year. The team acquiring Hamels, Greinke, or Dempster is out of luck if they sign elsewhere.

                  • Edwin

                    Garza is older than Hamels, I believe. Garza also has a career xFIP of 4.06. Hamels’s is 3.40. Garza may be under team control for next season, but he’ll probably be paid 12 million, which is less than he’s worth, but not by much.

                    • Noah

                      Garza is one month older than Hamels.

                      You’re underrating Garza’s value for the next two years based on a couple of issues:

                      (1) You’re oversimplifying the compensation issue. Yes, Garza will make about $12 million next year, which is likely fairly close to the value you would presume he provides. Let’s say he’s a 3-4 WAR pitcher, then he’s worth $15-$20 million. The advantage with Garza is that you acquire him with a clear time period of control, and over none of that time do you have to overpay him. If you get Hamels and want to keep him for next year, you have to sign him to the sort of contract that puts you at great risk of overpaying for him in, say, 2017-2019. Also, if you trade from Hamels and he walks in the offseason, you get nothing in return. If you trade for Garza but will not be re-signing him after 2013, you can either trade him next season to try to recoup some value or you’re very likely to get draft pick compensation in the 2014 draft.

                      2) This is in part a question, but I don’t think xFIP is adjusted to show that Garza played in the toughest division in baseball until 2011 while Hamels played in one of the weakest periods in recent memory in the NL East, aside from the league average home run rate.

                      I’m not saying Garza is as good of a pitcher as Hamels. He’s not. Hamels is a superior pitcher. But there’s a strong and reasonable argument that Garza for 1.5 years + that period because under arbitration + the ability to recoup some of the prospects given up via either a later trade or draft compensation is more valuable than Hamels for half a season.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

            It’s part of the new CBA. If a player acquires a player during the season, they cannot receive draft pick compensation for that player following that season even if they make the qualifying offer.

            If Garza is traded before the 2013 season, the team that trades for him can receive draft pick compensation if they make the qualifying offer.

            If Garza is traded during the 2013 season, there is no compensation available.

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

              Read that second sentence as “If a team acquires a player…”

  • RoughRiider

    I realize it’s a big if but, Hayden Simpson is learning to pitch instead of throw because he can’t throw with the velocity he had before the Mono. He still hasn’t gained the weight and muscle mass that he had before. If he learns to pitch and gets his stamina, mid 90s fastball and control back he’s a good candidate for the rotation a couple of years down the road. I’m pulling for him. I know what Mono can do to you.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      This is basically what Oneri Fleita was saying last fall. He likes that Simpson was forced to move away from his fastball. Long term, if they can get his velocity back, that’s going to pay off.

      And I hope it does. Right now I continue to view Simpson about the same as a guy who is trying to recover from a high risk injury. Once he shows us he is back to full strength, then I’ll worry about how he ranks and what his future looks like.

      • dabynsky

        I understand how severe his case of mono was, but what are the odds of the velocity coming back if it hasn’t already? I’m pulling for the kid because we need impact arms in the system desperately. I am just skeptical of the velocity returning.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

          He was no where near full strength last year, and he’s not quite back there this year. The velocity is coming back though. I think matters have been greatly slowed by the Cubs rushing him into a full season league in 2011.

          • dabynsky

            Has he been hitting 90 again because everything I have read has him in the mid to high 80s still?

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

              He hit 90 fairly regularly for Daytona and has been clocked as high as 92 in Boise.

              By comparison, he only hit 90 in his first game for Peoria in 2011. By the end of the year he was way, way down from that.

              • dabynsky

                Hmm, that is promising to hear because the early word was that was still in the mid to high 80s while in Daytona to start the year. Haven’t been paying attention since he got demoted.

  • RoughRiider

    Luke and or Brett,
    With about 6 hours left to sign draft picks, has there been any talk or rumors of futher signings ?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Nothing significant. There are some rumblings around Hickman, but he is just about the only semi–significant name that is still plausible.

  • Kevin

    How about trading Ricketts for Cuban?

  • King Jeff

    I wish that Stewart would have looked into having this surgery a month or so ago. It’s obviously been bothering him, and he could have returned for a decent amount of games at the end of the year.

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

    Keith Law is going to be sad. Heaney just signed with the Marlins for $2.6 million. Now Law can’t push the ‘Heaney should sue because Miami didn’t over him full slot’ argument anymore.

    • Featherstone

      Interesting, that means Heaney did end up signing for the 200k under slot that he was holding out for.

  • Cub Gone Wild

    I dont care what Keith Law writes. He is no authority on Baseball. Brett Jackson isnt Ready

  • MightyBear

    I do hope Simpson comes back. It would be a great story and you have to remember, the kid is only 23, he has time. I hope the Cubs can sign Hickman. I am still very optimistic about the Cubs future. I see good things happening and soon.

  • http://bleachernation.com someday…2015?

    With 3 prospects in the top 50 + two 22 year old studs at the major league level + Prospects the Cubs will get back in trades, that has to = The Best farm system/up and coming young talent.