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The Olympics are over … now what sporting events am I supposed to watch at night, already knowing the outcome? I’d joke that I could watch Cubs games, already knowing that they were going to lose, but the Cubs are playing the Astros this week! The losses are not assured!

  • The plan for 22-year-old third baseman Josh Vitters is becoming a little more clear. While I made my feelings relatively plain when Vitters was platooned – I am never a fan of calling up a hot-hitting young player just so that you can park him on the bench – the Cubs are sticking to their guns. Increasingly, it looks like the Cubs wanted to get Vitters up to work with the big league coaches on his defense, and getting him comfortable in the big league environment. And, then, once he was comfortable, he would start to get more starts. At least, that’s what it looks like the plan is after Dale Sveum yesterday said that he expects Vitters to start at least two, and maybe three, of the games in this week’s series against the Astros (against righty starters). The Cubs have obviously been concerned about Vitters’ defense at the big league level (“defense” is to Vitters as “strikeouts” is to Jackson), and they didn’t want to expose him too quickly to potential failure. But – and I’m sure the coaching staff is really awesome (hell, just look at what Dave McKay has done for Alfonso Soriano) – is a couple weeks of big league instruction going to magically take Vitters from a questionable defender to a capable one? I’m sure it helps, but, at some point, you’ve just got to get the kid out there and see what you have. It looks like that will happen this week.
  • More thoughts from Sveum on Vitters here, and they are pretty complimentary.
  • What did Brooks Raley learn from his first start to his second start that allowed him to pitch much better? Throw strike one and keep the ball down. Those are great tenets to pitch by, but here’s hoping that’s a canned response, and not actually something he had to come to the big leagues to learn.
  • Scouting and Player Development Chief Jason McLeod says the Cubs will consider sending Jorge Soler to the Arizona Fall League (a league where each organization can send a small handful of their top, usually more advanced, prospects) this year, but only if his production compels it. I almost wish McLeod hadn’t said that, because now, if Soler winds up in instructional ball rather than the AFL, we’re going to know the Cubs think he didn’t really look great in his limited action this year (when, to be fair, I wouldn’t have originally thought the AFL was on the table anyway).
  • The Born on Third Blog was at the Peoria game the other night (the one where Jorge Soler hit the grand slam), and has a full run down on the night, with pictures.
  • A fascinating look at the Houston Astros’ 2012 Draft from inside the war room. Given how close the Cubs will be to the top next year, it provides some insight on how certain decisions might be made in the flurry of the Draft. (h/t OV.)
  • The MLBullets at BCB catch up on which teams stand where right now – spolier alert: the Cubs are near the bottom.
  • Cedlandrum

    “What did Brooks Raley learn from his first start to his second start that allowed him to pitch much better? Throw strike one and keep the ball down. Those are great tenets to pitch by, but here’s hoping that’s a canned response, and not actually something he had to come to the big leagues to learn.”

    I think this is somewhat of a canned response, but have watched him start about 3 games and he really is a guy that when he keeps the ball down is a decent pitcher. He tends to over stride at times and then his fastball flattens out. So it isn’t just a cliche or whatever, it is something he is working on. So in a nutshell he didn’t just learn it, but he is working to be more consistent in it.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I know. I was just making light based on his quote about what he’d learned.

      • Cedlandrum

        I know you know, you know. Just trying to add something to the conversation.

    • hansman1982

      I see it as an actual thing that he learned. In the minors you can get away with more mistakes than you could ever hope to dream of in the bigs. Similar to the Dempster saga, I am sure he was told that 100 times but until you actually experience it, you may not learn it.

  • http://bornonthird.mlblogs.com/ George Cotugno

    Wow, thanks so much for the mention Brett, we owe you.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      It was good stuff, George. No need for the thanks. Thanks to you for the pics.

      • http://bornonthird.mlblogs.com/ George Cotugno

        Of course Brett, and more to come. We will be attending the 2012 UA High School All-American game at Wrigley on Saturday. We will have a full report with pictures and video.

  • Dave

    Remember when Aramis was an awful defender? Maturity and instruction (I recall reading that he had worked with Santo) turned him into an ok (if not better) defender when he was actually interested in the game. Hopefully Vitters gets if figured out.

  • Dustin S

    On my way to Wrigley, hopefully the rains clears out by gametime tonight.

  • 5412

    HI,

    I made a post after seeing Soler yesterday. I agree with you. He is a work in progress from what I saw. What I found interesting was how he worked the count well on the two right handed pitchers, then I think he faced a lefty and swung at the first pitch each time.

    regards,
    5412

  • elizarudi15

    Hey Brett. Who do you think they’ll send down when Parker comes off the DL? I’m guessing he’ll probably be back this week.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I’m not sure they’ll bring Parker back to the big club until rosters expand to 40 on September 1 – that way they don’t have to send anyone anywhere.

      • elizarudi15

        Makes sense.

  • BD

    The Cubs needs to get swept so that they can make up some ground on the Astors. #1 draft pool!!

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      The Cubs catching the Astros on the downside is about as unlikely as the Cubs catching the Reds or the Pirates on the upside. The Astros’ roster is simply that bad.

  • Rich

    Do you think the Astros or Appell/Boras would be more inclined to accept a deal as a first round pick this time ?

  • fortyonenorth

    “…you’ve just got to get the kid out there and see what you have”

    Unfortunately, I would think minor league defense is more reflective of “what you have” than minor league offense. Is it fair to say that hitting off AAA pitching is not the same as hitting off MLB pitching whereas, fielding a ground ball is pretty much the same?

    • Cedlandrum

      disagree. Lots of guys improve defensively as they mature and get older. Now range usually won’t improve greatly, but making the routine play should.

      • fortyonenorth

        Agreed. You hope that any guy is going to continue improving once he reaches the bigs. My point was the “jump” between minors/majors, especially with regard to pitching talent.

      • fortyonenorth

        I guess the other way to interpret Dale’s quote is “to see (first hand) what you’ve got” in order to determine if it’s something that’s fixable.

    • David

      Other than field conditions being better in the majors, I think you’re absolutely right. But I do think that there’s some benefit to getting Vitters acclimated to the majors, as well as some time with McKay and the big league coaches. If nothing else, the improvement that we’ve seen in Soriano’s defense has made me a believer in their ability to have an impact.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        There are some other things, too – better players around you make your job slightly easier (including a theoretically better first baseman and shortstop).

  • Leo L

    just got back from vacation. didnt have internet. cool to see the guys brought up. i didnt expect that until september

  • donnie kessinger

    Chomping at the bits to take a bite out of the Ass-tros… we may actually win this series!

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