The Indians, Twins, and Rockies are all just two games better than the Cubs in the loss column. Just pointing that out.

  • Cubs manager Dale Sveum offered a half-hearted defense of new starter Jason Berken’s rough debut yesterday. “He was a victim of a couple errors as well, it could have been a decent little outing,” Sveum said, per Sahadev Sharma. “Probably would’ve went five innings, gotten into the fifth giving up only two. But a couple errors cost him pitches and the ability to go five or six today. It wasn’t too bad, he didn’t really have a breaking ball to go with anything, but his changeup was halfway decent. So that was a decent little pitch he had working for him there.” Hooray! Halfway decent! (I kid, but, like, the Cubs obviously would have been far better this year if everyone was “halfway decent.”)
  • Dale Sveum said it earlier this year, and he’s sticking by it: “Besides Alfonso Soriano, Shawn Camp probably has been our MVP. If we don’t fill that void [at the back end of the bullpen] with him, it would have been even tougher times.” Camp is hoping to return to the Cubs next year, and obviously he’ll get support from Sveum on that. Whether he’d come back for the minimum (or close to it), however, remains to be seen. It’s hard to justify giving Camp, however successful he’s been, multiple years or multiple millions when the 2013 club is not expected to be a playoff contender, and will be FULL of young relievers waiting for a chance.
  • Jorge Soler got the Wrigley Field treatment yesterday, including batting practice with the team, during which he gave writers another excuse to use the unbelievably tired “Soler power” line. He hit five homers, including two out onto Waveland. Various big wigs were in attendance, and Soler said folks made him feel like he fit right in.
  • Darwin Barney on yet another incredible catch yesterday, per Carrie Muskat: “I was worried that [right fielder Dave Sappelt] was going to run me over. You’re all ears and waiting to hear if he says anything, and I didn’t, so I committed to it …. You have to trust your outfielder, and trust that if he’s not going to slide, he’s going to say something …. [Sappelt] thought he had an opportunity to make that catch. He followed protocol perfectly. If the guy doesn’t say anything, he’s going to go low. Infielders are always taught to go high when they’re going backwards. Luckily for the both of us, he did it the right way, and so did I.”
  • You can tell Barney, yourself, what a great catch it was – he’ll be at the 11 S. State Street Target from 10am to noon tomorrow.
  • Here’s the catch, in case you missed it:

  • LifePainter

    What’s the other half of “half way decent”? Sveum needs some facial hair, the Uncle Fester look just isn’t him.

  • cubspong

    I’m not sure if you wrote about this already, Brett, but I just noticed that Christian Villanueva is now the 7th prospect on the Cubs according to

    • Assman22

      Villanueva was a great last minute pickup for Dempster. Not nearly the prospect that Delgado was/is but he was certainly a nice find. Cubs top 6 on that list are solid, but after that there’s quite a few question marks including Villanueva given he’s only at A+. It will be interesting to see what they do with Lake, whether he’s traded or moved to a different position. If he has a good ST, McNutt could be in Chicago’s bullpen on April 1st.

    • Brett

      Thanks. Kind of thought his omission had to be a mistake.

  • daveyrosello

    I wish we still had Archer and Lee instead of Garza.

  • hansman1982

    Why? Archer will be on his third year on a prospect top-100 list (which generally means his likelihood of succeeding in the bigs decreases) and has issues with issuing walks and Lee will be on a prospect list for the third season in a row (and probably will be there after next year as well)…

    Considering bust rates we did ok with the Garza trade and are sitting in good shape to get a couple guys back who are at least as good.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      HJ Lee was not exactly overwhelming in AA this year, either. He needs at least one more year in the minors and I’d be surprised if he’s a particularly highly touted rookie in 2014 at this point.

      • Ben (BG2383)

        HJ Lee has incredible defensive ability but his bat seems light for a future “first-division regular” I watched him play a handful of times this year. He is on Montgomery Biscuits and I live in Montgomery.

    • JR

      I would gladly do Archer straight up for Garza at this point. Garza’s value is probably 25% of what it was before the injury. This is the 2nd yr in a row he’s had a weird elbow injury, he’s not cheap at all (probably be around $14 mill next yr), and the comp pick won’t be there unless a team takes a shot in the dark for him before the season. Archer is by no means a can’t miss guy, but he has great stuff and I like what I have seen from him this year.

    • The Dude Abides

      Always take a proven young MLB player over suspects, you never know who is going to work out I imagine you are going to see Theo moving a couple of our “can’t miss draft picks” for some already proven players in the near future as he figures out what/where he can get value.

  • Deez

    Looking at what we could get for a healthy Garza as well as how those prospects panned out, the Garza deal was a good deal.

  • Mat B

    Archer has a few games under his belt this year, and has pitched well. Lee is Tampa’s #1 prospect and the fans in Tampa would revolt if they were to trade Sam Fuld. I really don’t see the Cubs getting the haul everyone else thinks for Garza, and we have not really benefited from having Garza anyway. I think it was a trade that looked decent at first, but has turned into a bust. Go ahead everyone, take your shots. I know they’re coming.

  • DocPeterWimsey

    fans in Tampa would revolt if they were to trade Sam Fuld.

    A small troop of moderately disciplined Boy Scouts could put down a revolt by Tampa Bay fans…..

    • Frank

      or a large group of completely undisciplined Cub Scouts?

    • Dan

      Tampon Bay itself alone is pretty revolting

      • DocPeterWimsey

        Hmm, true: during a riot, they’d probably steal more boxes of Depends than TV sets….

  • Jeff1969

    @ Matt B, I agree. Archer has the best shot of being decent, Lee, like other can’t miss types the scouts rave about until they’re wrong, probably isn’t going to be a great hitter in the bigs, Guyer, he’s like a 5th OF type, the kind that stars in AAA, the catcher Robinson C. hasn’t done anything, Fuld, um yeah, Fuld. This is how so many trades work. This is what happens to “prospects”. Garza has been a decent pitcher on a bad team. Trading him just didn’t work out this year. Imagine if we had traded him & then he got hurt the next week…my guess is that he’ll return to previous form, pitch well, and then get traded by the deadline. I doubt they get the hug haul everyone has been claiming though. imo.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Lee, like other can’t miss types the scouts rave about until they’re wrong, probably isn’t going to be a great hitter in the bigs

      Actually, scouts have been very divided about HJ Lee. Basically, one group loves him and another group thinks that he’s utility infielder material.

      I’d note that that was prior to this season. HJLee’s mediocre AA season might shift a few into the latter camp.

  • Brick Thompson

    I want to know why the Cubs gave up a young starting pitcher with great potential in Cashner, for a 1st baseman in Rizzo. We have Vogelbach in the minors and he’ll probably end up traded in a few yrs unless the NL gets a DH. Seems odd since Cashner could have been a MOR starter

    • Tommy

      Because they thought that Rizzo’s upside was higher than Cashner’s?

      Rizzo is younger and to date, this trade looks to be in favor of the Cubs…by a long shot.

    • ssckelley

      So you pass on a good defensive, power hitting, first baseman because you have a 19 year old hitting well in the low minors? Are you out of your flippin mind? Vogelbach had a grand total of 27 plate appearances in Rookie ball before they made that deal. Even after seeing the season he has had, again in low A ball, I would still make that deal. Vogelbach has a long ways to go defensively and still has a number of levels to pass in the minors before he will ever put on a Cubs uniform at the big league level.

      • phoenix0401

        In addition to all your points (which are valid), right now the trade is so one sided it borders on outright theft. Theo could flip Rizzo for a better pitcher than Andrew Cashner if he wanted to. (He doesn’t.)

        • ssckelley

          Excellent point!

    • tim

      Vogelbach may be big league ready in 4 years. Rizzo will be a middle-of-the-lineup hitter with a glove for a decade. If you want pitching (like I want pitching), Ryne Stanek from Arkansas will probably be available with the second pick. Though probably not the third. He would help soon.

      • phoenix0401

        Yeah, it looks like we lose the Ryne Stanek lottery. Which might be the worst thing to come out of this lost season.

        • hansman1982

          ya…unless he gets injured, is ineffective, someone else outplays him, the Cubs like someone else better anyway, the world ends, MLB closes the franchise for whatever reason, the Mayans were right…

          Don’t get too worried about the WHOM just yet…a whole nother season of amateur ball to be played.

        • tim

          That Rockies series will loom large. Hopefully our best SP misses the series due to pitching the game before. Who is our ace now, again? Wood?

    • Chris

      It’s not like they wanted to give up Cashner. Jed talked about how he had to convince Theo before he could make the deal. This was about Jed wanting Rizzo, whatever the cost. He had a ton invested in the kid from Boston to San Diego, and there was a need on the ML club for a first baseman. You can’t bank on a kid who hadn’t even played yet, and still hasn’t played a game above SS-A. And they were right to be skeptical on LaHair. They made the determination that Cashner wasn’t going to be more than a closer on the Cubs in the future, based on his inability to stay healthy when starting. A closer is always worth a young power hitting starting 1B in trade. Cashner may turn out to be a good pitcher, but it’ll probably be in the bullpen, long-term. Rizzo looks to be the real deal, and a potential leader on this club for a long time.

  • Jeff1969

    Well Doc, you must be privy to a larger stack of scouting reports than me because until the middle of this season, I hadn’t heard much of anything about Lee being anything but a fabulous prospect who was a near can’t miss. There were reports here & there about his ability to be a top of the order hitter, but most of what had been said was future all-star. Keith Law has him ranked #7 near the end of 2011, and he was Top 25 all over the charts. To me it just shows how unreliable the “science” of scouting is. They’re like weathermen, though probably less accurate. Whatever, go ahead & criticize, you don’t really know either.

    • Cedlandrum

      I think a near can’t miss is an overstatement. I have never heard anyone say that about him. I have heard great glove, but needed to add some pop to keep defenses honest. He is a slap hitter with great speed, so hitting .261 in AA isn’t good at all. He has skills but still needs polish. With his speed though and his defense a team like the Rays could afford to have him hit 9th and play great d.