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Each of the two divisional series that played yesterday evened up, with the Orioles beating the Yankees and the Cardinals beating the Nats. Those series are tied at 1-1, while the Reds lead the Giants 2-0, and the Tigers lead the A’s 2-0. Those series resume play today at 4:30pm CT and 9pm CT, respectively.

  • The 2012 Cubs season in quotes from CSN Chicago. My favorites? Crap show, The Twitter, I’ll pitch on the freakin’ moon, eye-ballin’ our dugout, and nap during the Sox game. Missing from the CSN list: “I mean … golly!” and “Cat’s pajamas.” Do yourself a favor, by the way, and don’t read the quotes from Ryan Dempster. It’ll just bring it all back.
  • Patrick Mooney takes an early look ahead to 2013, discussing the Cubs’ offseason plans, minor league progress, Dale Sveum’s future, etc. It’s a video, by the way.
  • The Daily Herald has Len Kasper’s thoughts on the postseason, the past season, and the Cubs’ window for competitiveness. On the latter: “If everything hits just right, I wouldn’t rule out competing next year. Realistically, I would say 2014 possibly and for sure by 2015. By that point, some of the young prospects we are just starting to hear about could be wearing a big league uniform.” Sounds about right.
  • Paul Sullivan’s positional review/preview series continues with first base, where Anthony Rizzo is locked into the spot for many years to come, hopefully.
  • Doug Padilla reviews the Cubs’ starting pitching in 2012, but somehow doesn’t mention the parade of fill-ins later in the year (Rusin, Raley, Berken – not even Germano).
  • Baseball autographs go digital, featuring Kerry Wood (who donates his fee to charity, it should be noted). The personalized bit is definitely awesome, but don’t you want like, a picture or a ball you can hold in your hands? Did I just turn 80?
  • The Cubs didn’t land any prospects on Baseball America’s top Florida State League list (that’s where the High-A Daytona Cubs play), which is a bit of a kick in the grapes. Among those who were considered are Matt Szczur (whom BA had previously strongly supported), Ronald Torreyes, Arismendy Alcantara, Matt Loosen, Austin Kirk, and others. The list is loaded with top talent (I actually didn’t know how loaded the FSL was this year), so the absence of any Cubs isn’t totally shocking or insulting. There are also 12 organizations represented in the FSL, so each would be expected to place just 1.67 players on the list, so, again, it’s not like this is a nightmare. But after the AZL, NWL, and MWL lists looked so nice for the Cubs, we’re starting to see that whole “problems in the upper levels” thing. And there are still two steps above High-A…
  • BluBlud

    My Free Agent Wish List

    Melky Cabrera
    Kevin Youkilis
    Brandon League
    Kyle Lohse
    Edwin Jackson

    • terencem

      I’m a little worried about Lohse. He’s doing a great Ryan Dempster impersonation but I wonder when the magic wears off.

    • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

      1. Hell No (He wasn’t worth a damn before the juice)
      2. Hell No (Shortsighted)
      3-4. No upside unless cheap
      5. I wouldn’t mind him if cheap.

    • Evan

      I like the idea of a possible Cabrera signing. He has never really been that terrible except for the time he spent in Atlanta. I donl’t know how much you can contribute that to the PEDs (obvisously some). But I like the fact that we can get him cheap on a one yr deal and be a stop gate in left if we deal Soriano until the next offseason when Ellsbury becomes a FA. Given his durability concerns I would rather have Ellsbury play left rather then center. Youkilis would be a good sign if we can get him rather cheap and on a short term deal (like 2 yrs) it would allow Viiter and Baez to get more time to develope. League wouldn’t be bad, although most good bullpens are built from within rather then through free agency. Not sold on Lohse he hasn’t had a real good track record. I love the possibility of sign Jackson though. He is number one on my free agen wishlist.

  • Kyle

    Alcantara was apparently BA’s favorite and closest to making the list. Torreyes would have been mine. I’m still fascinated by that hit tool.

    It’s not surprising to see the tide start to turn on Szczur. BA has a history of going off-board with the back end of their top-100 and trying to guess which toolsy guys will break out, and that’s how Szczur made that list. Now he’s 23, failed to slug .400 for the season, and the hit tool has been merely adequate so far, and has a hideous swing that doesn’t look like it will translate well up the ladder. He wouldn’t be in my top-10 Cubs prospects.

    Apparently, not a single Cubs pitcher was mentioned as a candidate by anyone they talked to for the list, and I expect that to be a theme as we move up the minors. Ick.

    • jt

      Matt Szczur
      year PA AB BB SO OPS XBaseHits
      2011 480 447 26 48 0.758 35
      2012 510 438 61 79 0.758 38
      Late promotion to A+ PA 182 OPS 0.694
      Late promotion to AA PA 158 OPS 0.641
      —————–
      Large 2012 increase in both bb and k’s indicate going deeper in the count.
      Fewer 2012 PA fewer HR but more xbasehits indicates attempt to use gaps instead of fenses.
      The above indicates a change of approach. That change seemed to have some success.

      • Kyle

        The approach changed, the results didn’t. Everything he gained in BBs, he gave back elsewhere.

        And seeing as his status as a prospect is based on the idea that his skills may break out in a big way at some point, merely holding the same level of performance is not an improvement for him.

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

    A lot of the Cub prospects in the FSL had a rough year. If Torreyes had put together a first half as good as his second half, he’d be on the list. I doubt Alcantara missed by much.

    The Cubs had no potentially elite starters in Daytona (and very few in the system), but they did have some quality potential back of the rotation / bullpen guys worth keeping an eye on. Those may not be the most exciting prospects in the system, but every team needs a handful of them in the majors or in Triple A as injury insurance.

    • Chris

      Luke, is there a recent update on Alcantara’s injury? That seemed to get lost in the shuffle, and once Baez made it to Daytona nobody even bothered to talk about Alcantara.

    • The Dude Abides

      So we have been focusing on stockpiling low minor league talent for a year and we have no one in top twenty for high A ball but we “may” have a couple of AAA/MLB releivers or back of the rotation pitchers, a 23 yr old that everyone has been talking about not on the list at all? Not that surprising I guess but having one player would have been nice as a carrot for the season we just put up with. Szczur is 23 isn’t that a little old for this level and how long has he been in the Cub’s system now?

      • cubchymyst

        Szczur age has to be a concern. Baseball age curve has been brought up a few time when comparing younger players to older ones who producing the same. There is more project ability with younger guys. Since Szczur started late maybe he has a little more projection compared to someone his age who has been playing longer. I think he has been in the system for 2 years, and if he keeps up with his current pace makes a big league debut at the end of the 2014 season.

        • jt

          Is Szczur too old?
          Soriano 61 PA through age 24 (OPS sub 0.600)
          Byrd 36 PA through age 24
          Tony Campana debut age 25
          Reed Johnson debut age 26
          David DeJesus 10 PA age 23; 413 PA age 24 (first 100 PA OPS 0.493)
          LaHair….well, LaHair!

          • Kyle

            He’s not too old to debut. He’s too old to be taken seriously as a top prospect given his performance and level to date.

            He’s not a non-prospect either, though, and a career like Campana’s seems reasonable. Reed Johnson in reach.

    • When the Music’s Over

      “….but they did have some quality potential back of the rotation / bullpen guys worth keeping an eye on. ”

      Isn’t this the case for every MLB team? Meaning, shouldn’t every single farm system be expected to have a number of these guys floating around their minor league system, and therefore not warrant mentioning, as least in terms of a positive. I feel like the Cubs minor league pitching is so far behind that we’re grasping onto the bare minimum baseline and trying to spin it as a positive just in terms of our system. Same would apply for utility players.

      • AB

        I agree with this.

        Remember in 2009 when Jay Jackson, Carpenter, and Cashner were all doing well as starters?? they were projected anywhere from TOR to MOR guys, although I remember scouts were never high on Jay Jackson. Now maybe one of those guys has a career as a reliable bullpen arm.

        Also, if the Cubs hadn’t made the wrong choice (so far) between McNutt and Archer in the Garza trade, this wouldn’t be much of an issue

  • JulioZuleta

    Definitely shouldn’t have read the Dempster quotes..It was like ripping off a scab (which, ironically, I also tend to do often).

  • JulioZuleta

    How about “Nobody’s perfect…” -Volstad talking about his winless streak that would hit 24 straight starts. Hah

  • baldtaxguy

    The quotes were a good read. I had forgotten that Epstein was the party who disclosed that Demp was listening to the Dodgers discussions.

  • Fastball

    I think this is an indicator that we have a lot of average talent in the organization. Nothing wrong with average talent. As Theo continues to draft and sign IFA’s you hope that talent level improves. In the Cubs case they need to fill rosters at each level in the minors and they can’t just put players in above their development level. 90% of these players will never make it to AAA. Especially when they are just average players. Maybe a couple will develop and become average ML players. But when a kid gets to be 23 and he isn’t anything more than average it’s probably time to look at making a different living. Hopefully they graduated from college or negotiated their college tuition into their deal.

    • AB

      Does anyone know service time required to get an MLB pension?? does it only include guys that have been on the 40-man or 25-man, or do you have to be on the 40-man or 25-man for a specific period of time?? does it include minor league service time?? Is it tiered for the amount of time you spend at each level??

      I’ve always wondered about this.

      • cubsin

        MLB players must play 43 days in the majors to earn a minimum $34,000 annual pension plan. Just one day in the majors gets them lifetime healthcare coverage. After 10 years in the big leagues, benefits grow to $100,000 annually.

        Read more: http://articles.businessinsider.com/2011-01-26/sports/29955208_1_nfl-players-lifetime-healthcare-major-leagues#ixzz28otikjGz

        That’s why we have search engines…

        • TWC

          So, not to be crass here, but does this do anything to further Adam Greenberg’s desire to get his “one at-bat”? Or does a PA count as “one day in the majors”?

          • Kyle

            He was on the roster for the PA, so it should count as service time regardless of whether he appeared in the game or got an AB.

          • Cubbie Blues

            I think the damage has already been done on that one. :P

  • Fastball

    I think many Cubs supporters tend to over value some of these minor league players. I doubt we have really moved into the Top 10 farm systems in baseball in one year. I know we picked up some real good players this past year. However, we have major gaping wholes in our farm system with regard to pitching and catching and many of the position players in the infield and outfield are 2 or 3 levels away from the ML. I wouldn’t go so far as to consider our farm system that elite until we can show we have players in High A, AA and AAA that are progressing at a rate where everyone in baseball notices. Until then it’s probably better to stay under the radar until we are in a position of strength. We aren’t there yet.

    • Kyle

      ” I doubt we have really moved into the Top 10 farm systems in baseball in one year”

      That shouldn’t be that hard to do, really. For one, there’s no much difference between 10 and 20 in any given year. For another, there should be a lot of movement each year as the top teams graduate the prospects that made them the top teams.

  • Cubbie Blues

    Best quote:

    “Just did a little extra work this offseason.” – Marlon Byrd

    Yeah, you sure did put in a little extra.

  • cubs1967

    what?????? Torreyes is not a top prospect………NOOOOOOOOOOOO; team theo could not miss. must be a typo. i’ll continue to blindly follow the boy genius and his sidekick; jed(ai). No way team theo trades the best left-handed homegrown under 30 RP for a #5 starter, #4 OF at best and a non-prospect; just non-sense…………….but then again…..

    • TWC

      I though you weren’t going to say anything else until 2016. No?

      • cubs1967

        huh?

        need a tissue…………or a hug; what will stop your whinin?

        • TWC

          I’ll take the hug, thanks.

          • TWC

            I’m waaaaaaiting!

            [img]http://i.ytimg.com/vi/agfX4pJs-vo/0.jpg[/img]

        • King Jeff

          I could ask you the same thing, but I already know the answer. Nothing will stop you from whining about the same thing, every day, over and over, nonstop.

    • Drew7

      “No way team theo trades the best left-handed homegrown under 30 RP for a #5 starter, #4 OF at best and a non-prospect”

      Right, because it would have been *way* better for him to leave for nothing.

      • ETS

        I still think it’s a pretty good haul for a bullpen guy. Especially a nonCloser (don’t ask me why people still pay for saves but they do).

        Bullpen arms are cheap and replaceable and really one of the last pieces to acquire for a championship team.

        • Kyle

          Completely agree.

          We *needed* that “No. 5 starter.” He’s a real, MLB starter under team control for quite some time. That’s an incredibly scarce commodity in the current Cubs system.

          • hansman1982

            wait…we agree on something? Is that allowed?

            • Kyle

              It happens a lot. It just takes 2 posts to agree and a good disagreement should last at least 10, so the ratio seems screwy.

          • AB

            Is there any chance Travis Wood ever brings down the number of HR he allows, or he is that a product of his physical stature??

          • Featherstone

            I would even go so far as to argue that a true Major League 5th starter under team control for the next 4 years is a commodity in short supply in most major league teams not just the Cubs.

      • cubs1967

        for nothing…………??………..your right we can’t sign him……….no way!……..just like we can’t try to put a winner on the field while we rebuild.

        that was an asinine comment………….I’m sure you are smarter than that?

        • Drew7

          “for nothing…………??………..your right we can’t sign him (…………….?)”

          “just like we can’t try to put a winner on the field while we rebuild.”

          You’re arguing two separate points here, bud. First, you have to argue (as Kyle has done thoroughly here) whether or not the best plan was to “hit the reset button” or “build on parellel fronts – rebuild the farm without gutting the ML club”;

          Once the FO chose the former, paying a 30 yr old, LH set-up guy over $5 mil a year wasn’t gonna be in the cards. Would it have fit in the other scenario? Maybe, but once they decided to “hit the reset button”, re-signing Marshall wasn’t going to be a good option.

          I ‘m afraid there may be a slight language-barrier here, I’m gonna go ahead and try it your way:

          wHat….????……a 3o yr 0ld pticher for $5mil???;???…….carzy;talk……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

  • Mick

    To infinity and beyond with our farm system. We may be top-10 now but I think this rebuild plan will get us to #1 by the end of 2013. From what I’m reading, this offseason is going to look very similar to what we did last offseason in that any FA acquisition that would cost the Cubs a draft pick can be crossed off the list. So much for Greinke, Marcum, Sanchez, Santana, Haren, Hamilton, Bourn, Swisher, Upton, or Victorino. To go along with that, I believe the FO will target players on a 1-2 year deal that can be flipped this or next trade deadline. We may not be targeting 100 losses but with this plan 90 is realistic with our current roster and only adding a few mid-level FAs.

    By 2014 or 2015, that’s when the Cubs will be in a position to build a perennial contender using payroll flexibility, surpluses from prior years payrolls, and prospects to acquire MLB players. So, for 2013 pick another team to root towards the playoffs because it’s going to be a long season. Personally, I’m willing to give this plan 2 more 100 loss teams but by 2015 we better show unbelievable promise and in 2016+ win the Central.

    By 2014 or 2015, that’s when the Cubs will be in a position to build a perenial

    • cubs1967

      have you EVER seen an owner take “surpluses from previous years and spend it?……please…….it gets spent to paydown debt, line the owners pockets, etc. (rebuild Wrigley ‘cuz this public money to improve private business idea is NOT gonna fly in bankrupt Chicago and Illinois).

      gotta love our cubs fan enternal enthusiasm; but papa Joe ain’t gonna let that happen.(and he’s the pursestrings no matter what good son Tommyboy says).

      business is business.

      • TWC

        [revenue surpluses get] spent to … line the owners pockets, etc.

        Yo, kid: you know what would have been a good way of lining the Ricketts’ pockets with money? Not spending $800m on a vanity project in the first place. The Ricketts aren’t likely to see net revenue into their pockets for years — or until they sell the team.

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