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I’m taking the Little Girl to her first dentist appointment this morning, so I’m going to be on daddy duty for a chunk of the day. Hopefully you won’t notice a difference in posting, and hopefully she doesn’t absolutely lose it.

  • The Cubs are already getting interest from a handful of college football teams about the possibility of playing a game at Wrigley Field. Recall that, in 2010, Wrigley hosted a Northwestern/Illinois game that was marred by the fact that poor planning and close walls led to the offenses having to go only in one direction (every time the ball changed possession, the teams had to flip sides of the field – like you might see in a backyard game). Now, the Cubs have received approval from the Landmark Commission to make one of the walls near the Cubs’ dugout movable, which will allow for football games without issue. Teams want the opportunity to play in Chicago, on a national stage, and the Cubs want – in part – to demonstrate that Wrigley is a year-round attraction and facility (which could help in their continued quest for public funding on a massive renovation project). And I want to see some college football at Wrigley Field!
  • Getting Blanked, a blog on The Score’s site (the Canadian one, not the Chicago one), took a comprehensive statistical look at the defensive performance of catchers throughout baseball, and ultimately ranked them. I can’t vouch for the numbers behind the numbers at this point, but I can say that the eyeball test at the top of the list looks legit (in other words, it seems like the right names are at the top, including (sigh) Yadier Molina in first place by a wide margin). The Cubs? They did not fare so well. Out of 116 ranked catchers, the Cubs’ top offering is … Koyie Hill at number 30. And then there’s Anthony Recker at 32. Maybe Recker is legitimately a great defensive catcher, but it’s an excruciatingly small sample size. I’d probably throw that one out. Then there’s Blake Lalli at 66 – he’s gone to the A’s now. Where are the guys who are or were the actual, like, starters for the Cubs? Welington Castillo shows up alllll the way down at 104. Geovany Soto is shortly thereafter at 106, and Steve Clevenger is at 109. Ouch. Most of Clevenger’s bad score comes from baserunner problems, whereas Castillo’s and Soto’s problems were mostly on the error side. That all said, the rankings should probably be taken with a grain of salt: while Chicago Soto was near the bottom of the list, Texas Soto ranked 25th. Obviously there’s quite a bit of flux in these numbers, not unlike many defensive stats/rankings.
  • Each of the A’s and Giants won last night, moving their series to 2-1 against the Tigers and Reds, respectively. They play again today, as do the O’s/Yanks and Cards/Nats. Starting at 12pm CT today, if you want to watch baseball, it’s on. (The Cardinals and Nationals are at 1pm ET (MLBN), the Giants and Reds are at 4pm ET (TBS), the Orioles and Yankees are at 7:30pm ET (TBS), and the Tigers and A’s are at 9:30pm ET (TNT).)
  • As noted, the Arizona Fall League kicked off yesterday, with some Cubs seeing action (more on that in a surprise EBS). Keith Law says that, of all the prospects in the prospect-heavy AFL, he’s most excited to see top Cubs prospect Javier Baez. From Law: “The ninth overall pick in the 2011 Rule 4 draft out of a Jacksonville, Fla., high school, Baez has huge raw power due to very quick wrists that allow him to drive the ball to all fields, but was widely seen as a candidate to move off shortstop in pro ball. Improved instruction and increased effort on his part now have that flipped around, with pro scouts who got their first looks at him this year giving him a good chance to stay at the position long-term.”
  • If that’s true, Baez is now an uber prospect of the likes the Cubs haven’t seen since, well, maybe that brief half-year window when folks realized that Starlin Castro was ridiculously good? Since Mark Prior? A bat like Baez’s that can actually play capable big league shortstop is supremely valuable. And, I know where your head is going: what about Castro? It’s still too early to worry about that – Baez has another couple years of development before that bridge would have to be crossed – but there are many ways to incorporate both players (the better glove sticks at short, the slightly worse one hopefully becomes a very good defensive third baseman or second baseman). Worst case if they both develop? You’ve got at least one absurdly good trade chip.
  • Positional reviews continue, with Doug Padilla looking at the bullpen, and Paul Sullivan looking at second base.
  • The ivy is pretty in the Fall.
  • The MLBullets at BCB note the tightening divisional series, and the insane traffic problems that DC might face with its first playoff game in 79 years.
  • Spriggs

    The Baez HR last night must have went over 450 feet to straigh-away CF. His 2 run double was a smoked line drive deep into the LF corner. No plays at SS to speak of… I love watching him hit!

    • Richard Nose

      OMG. I need to see this. Were you there or are vids posted somewhere?!!?!?

  • Kyle

    Baez has really separated himself from the Holy Trio Of Upside. Top 20 next year? Certainly. Top 10? Maybe if he has an extremely good AFL. Kid is just that good.

    With the catchers, I think it’s most important to note that the difference between Soto (106) and Alex Avila (12) was less than 10 runs, or about 1 win.

    Catcher’s defense is counterintuitively so important that there’s no much difference among them, because you don’t get to play it in the majors if you can’t handle it to a competent degree.

    • Featherstone

      I wonder if he continues to develop at this level if the debate between him and Lindor will continue to exist. Everyone said Lindor had the better glove, but Baez had the much better bat. Wonder if any revisions will be due if he can stick at Short

  • hansman1982

    BAEZ IS AN UBER-PROSPECT!?!?!?!

    Ha, I think if he becomes a legit MLer the Cubs will have no problem moving him or Castro to 3rd.

    • ETS

      Or Baez to second. Or baez to third. Or….

      Not worth worrying about. The better question is where do we put this rizzo guy once vogelbach destroys MLB pitching [/tongue in cheek]

      • Richard Nose

        Put him in Toronto and yank on some of their young starters. Jkjk but seriously, I love Rizzo and Vogelbach both, gonna be a good problem to have.

  • Kyle

    I hate letting myself even get sucked into this sort of discussion, for all the usual reasons.

    But *if* you don’t trade either one and it’s time to fit them both in the lineup, you probably have to keep Castro at SS and move Baez to 3b. Like Castro, Baez’s bat will take him to the big leagues before his defensive skills are fully matured. There are a ton of growing pains to being a MLB-quality SS, even if you have the basic physical abilities, and Castro’s already gone through them for the most part. There’s no need for the 2014 Cubs, who I optimistically hope might be trying to win games, to go through that with Baez at the MLB level.

    Plus, Baez’s skill set just fits 3b better than Castro’s would fit any other position.

    • CubFan Paul

      The last couple quotes I read from Theo on Baez (playing alongside Castro), he was quick to mention 2B not 3B for a Baez move. I think they see his development headed towards being our slugging 2B of the future. Sweet

      • cubchymyst

        I wonder why 2nd, the cubs have a plethora of 2nd basemen in the minors. 3rd base seems to be the black hole that is harder to fill. Maybe it has to due with his glove being better than most thought. Any one hear anything about how strong of an arm Baez has?

        • CubFan Paul

          None of our 2B prospects slug, that’s why 2B. They have Ian Stewart, Vitters, Lake, and Villanueva for 3B for now

      • bails17

        Having a guy at 2B that can slug is a HUGE value. That is why Cano is the most valuable player on the Yankees club. Where or how do you replace a guy like that? There isn’t anyone else like him!

        • cubchymyst

          Okay, 2nd base because it allows his bat to have a larger value when compared to other 2nd basemen. The change in opinion to have him play 2nd base now instead of 3rd (as original predicted) is it because he has shown a better glove than most expected or simply because his bat has more value there?

  • Fastball

    Let him play some baseball for a while. If he continues to develop and not hit any walls the Cubs have a very good problem. But that problem doesn’t exist today so I keep developing Baez at SS and worry about what to do when the time comes. Anything can happen to him or Castro in two years time. Maybe he comes to the Majors at a very young age like Castro did. What is the harm in that. We don’t have anybody really in his way all the way through the system. I can live with the Castro type growing pains and I could certainly live with Baez’s growing pains. I’m not saying bring him up this coming season but to start 2014 wouldn’t be a stretch. Maybe even a call up late next season.

    Our catching situation is just raw. Castillo is improving in most area’s of his game. I think we need to sign a veteran back up to help him. Bring back Hank White for a season. Bob Brenly’s favorite player I think. Hank White would probably be the best catching instructor the Cubs could ever hope for.

    • cubchymyst

      So your thinking of a situation in which Baez skips AAA and go straight to the majors from AA like Castro did? If his bat is as good as everyone is saying it might be possible. I don’t think Theo and Jed do that though based off of what they have said in the past. He might be fast tracked to AAA though and not spend a lot of time at High A or AA.

      • Chris

        Realistically, I think we’re looking at 2015 for Baez. Maybe he comes up for a cup of coffee in 2014, but I can’t see him moving past AA in 2013. Theo/Jed will do everything they can to squeeze another year of control out of Baez too, so there’s no rush. They certainly won’t do what the Orioles did with Machado and rush him up like that, even if they’re contending and need another bat.

    • Richard Nose

      Best nickname in baseball?

  • ColoCubFan

    Brett, the first dentist trip is a breeze! Basically just introductions, etc., then a toy at the end. I asked the dentist the last time I was there where my toy was like he gave my grandson, and he LAUGHED AT ME !!!

  • Corey

    If Baez goes to 2nd, what will we do with Barney? I don’t think it’s a good thing to get rid of him even if he’s hitting .400 Defense wins championships.

    • Cubbie Blues

      No, scoring more runs than the other team wins games. You can either out hit them or you can keep their run totals down. Now, do you have a better shot at winning games if you have a good defense behind good run production? Of course, but defense doesn’t win games by itself. Oh, and if we had a 2B that hit .400 with passable defense? Yes Please.

    • CubFan Paul

      I bet you a dollar Barney is traded this offseason.

      He’s at max value for a trade 1) he’s not arb eligible yet, one more year of gold glove defense at $500k is worth alot 2) the gold glove he’ll receive (jinx) adds value/leverage in a trade 3) and people think his. 660 OPS is good enough to be a starter because they like his “makeup” (not me) combined with his defense

      • Mick

        I’ll take that bet. Sveum would have a stroke if Barney were traded. Who would we replace him with, Valbuena, Cardenas, Matt Tolbert? I think Barney will eventually be traded but not until Baez, Villanueva, or Gioskar Amaya unseat him. If Barney can reach the potential Sveum talks about being a .300 hitter and batting #2 in a lineup he’d net a lot better prospects than right now after batting .256 w/a .299 OBP.

        • CubFan Paul

          Barney will never hit .300 and be a competent #2 hitter. He’s too old to be thinking about offensive development (unless he’s SLUGS more)

          • Mick

            Do you want to double down on Barney hitting .300?

            • hansman1982

              I would bet a lot that Barney never hits .300…

              • scorardpaul

                Be careful how your bet is worded!!! what if he gets a hit in his first at bat next year?
                do you know that the Chicago Cubs are the only current profesional sports team that has never had a loosing record??

            • DocPeterWimsey

              Barney would need a really high singles rate on ground balls to bat 0.300 for a season. He can get some months of 0.300, but a full year would be improbable.

      • http://www.hookersorcake.com Jade

        Barney’s value may not have peaked. Yes it has improved because he’s a gold glove. But his bat is about the same. He’s only 26 and a grinder and can still improve. Lots of guys really blossum 27-29 with the bat. If he gets to .700 OPS next year and adds another gold glove. He’s a lot more valuable.

        Plus he’s a bit of a fan favorite. And who do you replace him with? Cardenas? or someone else who isn’t ready? or interesting in any way?

        Also I don’t think there are a lot of teams clamoring to give up real quality prospect arms for light hitting defenders.

        • CubFan Paul

          “Barney’s value may not have peaked”

          Yes it has. It’s at its maximum. That’s not my opinion, it’s the opinion of front office executives that talk to Cubs beat writers

          “He’s only 26 and a grinder and can still improve. Lots of guys really blossum 27-29 with the bat”

          Fangraphs? Baseball Reference much? Barney’s track record doesn’t jive with what your selling offensively UNLESS he slugs more, then he could approach a .700 OPS

          “Plus he’s a bit of a fan favorite.”

          Do you actually think Theo&Co care about a utility infielder being a fan favorite when rebuilding/acquiring younger assets?

          “And who do you replace him with?”

          In the near term: Valbuena, Cardenas, Watkins or whoever they acquire this offseason with $80M to spend. All three would competent defensively with Sveum’s positioning and all three would probably have no problem putting up Barney’s OPS (sub .700)

          “Also I don’t think there are a lot of teams clamoring to give up real quality prospect arms for light hitting defenders”

          Again, front executives love what Barney brings to the table (to a winning ballclub). Barney’s name has been thrown around in trade talk since July because they think he has uber value (cheap, gold glove)

          • DocPeterWimsey

            I’d alter one thing there. Barney’s value has hit a peak: he’s never been worth more than he is now. However, this does not mean that he won’t be worth more in 9 months: if so, then he’ll be at a new peak.

            To an extent, it almost must be the case that some people think this possible: otherwise, his value would be dropping!

          • Kyle

            His playing abilities have probably peaked, but it’s not out of the question he could add a bit more offense, I guess.

            But his value has definitely peaked, because service time doesn’t go backwards. He’s got four cost-controlled years, including one pre-arb, coming up. That will only go down from here.

          • Mick

            I still think its a bit too small of a sample size to conclude Barney has “peaked” in value. He’s had 2 full season with the Cubs and 5 years total in professional baseball. After reviewing his numbers I’d say the results are inconclusive at best. If you suggest that his value as “peaked” then you must be referring to his defense. If that’s the case, what’s the difference if the Cubs traded him now or a year from now? His value would be about the same. But, if he were to improve in a few categories such as BABIP, SB, and his home/away splits his value could improve significantly. I’m not a huge Barney fan here but in the efforts to net the Cubs the greatest trade return I believe the risk in giving him one more season is less than that of trading him now as soley a defensive specialist.

            • CubFan Paul

              Smh. See Kyle above.

              • Mick

                Cool, then you’d trade him for a bag of shag balls and a cracked fungo because his value would never improve. I think I need to re-read some of your other posts because I get confused who supports a complete rebuild, the rebuild on parallel fronts, or those who prefer to reload instead. In any case I’m not sure where trading Barney for a low-ceiling prospect while replacing him with a lesser candidate would fit in.

                • Chris

                  Nobody is advocating trading Barney just for the sake of trading him. But he’s certainly not a core guy that would be considered for the long haul. Not unless this team is, all of a sudden, stacked with bats at every other position. It’s fine to keep him around for now, but if there is a trade out there that makes sense, now is probably the time to get the most for him. His long term projections are that of a utility infielder. People got so excited about Theriot back when he first came up, but he’s proven to be exactly what he was always thought of as, a utility player. Barney is better, but he’s never going to hit for power, walk much, or hit for a high average. His defense and ability to make contact make him a major league player, but probably on the bench long-term. If there is value in moving him as part of a package to get a good minor leaguer, they have to consider it. But dumping him just for the sake of dumping him is not something that is necessary.

        • Chris

          Barney has exceeded expectations, as far as his performance has gone. To think he can build on this further seems a little too optimistic. He’s a solid defender that won’t hit for much power or average. He doesn’t walk a ton. Long-term he’s really more of a utility player with a good glove. He’s Ryan Theriot with a better glove. Selling high is the best option they have. This team should continue to build towards having an allstar at every position. Barney’s not the long-term answer. I expect he’ll get packaged with other players to maximize the return. Not saying they should just dump him, but utilize the upcoming gold glove to capitlize on his highest value.

    • Drew7

      “Defense wins championships”

      Did Skip Bayless start saying this recently or something? Is it just that it’s catchy? Did Tebow write it on his eye-black?

      • DocPeterWimsey

        Maybe it’s “bad defense”: after all, the 2011 Cardinals were one of the worst fielding teams in baseball!

  • BluBlud

    I know I’m being a little optimistic, but I see no reason why Baez can’t play his way to chicago by september, if not ST 2014. I know he struggled at Daytona, but his power numbers where still there, and if he has a strong AFL(so far, so good), I see him starting next year in Tennesee.

    Also considering that he looks like a better ball player then the #1 prospect, Jurickson Profar(Already in MLB), and is older, I see no reason why he couldn’t handle it. I hope Theo doesn’t hold this guy back, just for the sake of holding him back.

    • bails17

      The guy hasn’t even played past A ball yet. We don’t know how he will do against AA or AAA pitching. He will need time to develop. He MIGHT see a September call up in 2014. But it will not be any sooner than that.

    • Ssckelley

      Unlikely we see Baez before 2014 but you never know. It is encouraging to see how well he is hitting in the AFL. it makes you wonder if all the rainouts affected his timing.

    • Chris

      He won’t go any higher than AA in 2013. He’s 19-20, and just finished his first complete season of minor league ball. I know Castro was of a similar age when he came up, but that’s a different situation. Castro was in the system for 3-4 years, and was known as a contact hitter with not enough patience. And arguably, he shouldn’t have been called up when he was. Baez is a different kind of player. He’s a power hitter, with even less patience. There is no reason to rush him. They should definitely continue to challenge him, but he had his hands full in Daytona last year, once moved up. I’d like to see him solve that league before moving on to Tennessee. And I certainly don’t see him solving AA in 2013, let alone the majors. And don’t forget the full season of at bats in AAA mantra Theo/Jed lives by. Given all that, I think a cup of coffee in 2014 is probably the most realistic expectation to have for a Baez call-up.

  • ruby2626

    I am very excited that Kane County is now the Cub farm team especially with all the super prospects on Boise likely to be moved up. Last year I saw Peoria play there 3 times, the first 2 Baez hit monster home runs and the 2nd trip Soler hit a bomb right down the left field line. Since this topic is mostly about Baez I just want to throw my 2 cents in that I was surprised how big physically the kid is. He is listed I believe at a very solid 6’1″ and 205, his legs seem very thick, for someone as big as he is he also showed great range at SS. The kid just looks like a ballplayer. Considering how little power 2nd baseman typically generate how great would it be to have a potential 30 homer guy playing that position for us. Although Fontenot showed us power for maybe half a season we haven’t had any power at that position since Ryno. If Baez’ future is 2B then who is on 3B, hopefully the kid we got for Dempster could be the guy. Wish I had high hopes for Junior Lake but sorry I really don’t read too much that makes me think he’ll be the answer. Be cool if Baez showed enough in AZ to start the year in AA.

  • DocPeter Wimsey

    Heh, what traffic problems? The Metro was empty this morning!

    Oh…..

  • MightyBear

    Brett/Luke,

    I don’t know if you know this but here goes: Between Castro and Baez, who has the stronger arm? If you know, thanks.

  • Cedlandrum

    “If that’s true, Baez is now an uber prospect of the likes the Cubs haven’t seen since, well, maybe that brief half-year window when folks realized that Starlin Castro was ridiculously good? Since Mark Prior?”

    Prior was ranked #2 as a prospect in 2002 and Patterson was ranked #2 in 2001 and #3 in 2002. That is why I chuckle at times when people criticize Hendry and the minor league system. When he had control of the system himself, we were pretty highly ranked. When he moved up and Macphail replaced him we went down hill.

    • MightyBear

      Macphail replaced him? What?

      • Kyle

        Hendry began working with the Cubs in 1995 as director of player development, moved up through various titles, and in 2001 was promoted to assistant GM with the intention of giving him the GM role eventually, which he took over in 2002.

        His work with the Cubs minor leagues was largely a wild success, culminating in the No. 1 ranking the farm system received in the early 2000s. 1994-2000 GM Ed Lynch frittered away a lot of the minor league talent that Hendry developed in the late 1990s, and eventually MacPhail stepped in and took over the role temporarily, with the intention of promoting Hendry eventually.

        At the time, Hendry’s success in the farm system and promotion to GM was widely seen as an opportunity for the Cubs to build a sustained run of success off a commitment to the minor leagues, with the Tribune Company opening up the pursestrings at the right time to supplement it.

        There’s nothing new under the sun :)

      • Cedlandrum

        Yep when Hendry was appointed GM. it was MacPhail who hired Stocks kill the system.
        When Andy left Hendry hired Wilken.

        • Kyle

          Haha, now I’m getting nostalgic thinking about it.

          https://groups.google.com/d/topic/alt.sports.baseball.chicago-cubs/TObLBoeuhxw/discussion

          Here’s a post to the Cubs USENET group back in October of 2000 in which a teenage Kyle lays out the case that the Cubs are setting up to fire Baylor, promote Hendry and usher in a prolonged period of success based on MacPhail and Hendry’s commitment to the farm system.

          This section kills me:

          “2002 would be the earliest season we could really field a team dominated by Hendry farm products. The season and a half between Lynch and Hendry gives time for the old guard to be phased out slowly. Grace gets a one year deal or more likely nothing
          at all. Guys like Tapani, Guttierrez, Buford, Young, and Andrews could and should be done with their Cubs career by that time. It’ll be about that time that Patterson is really cementing himself into the CF role, Choi could step into first, Hinske or Kelton should be ready to be given a shot at third base. “

          • Eric

            So really when you are arguing against guys like me who are mostly behind this rebuild. You are arguing with the shadow of yourself because you feel you were mistaken and find yourself wiser today. However you should accept that not every attempt at doing it that way will fail. It doesn’t HAVE to be the exact opposite. Or even 80 or 90% opposite for this to work.

            • Kyle

              Who said I think it will fail?

              • Eric

                Ok so you think it can succeed you just do not like that approach then?

  • DocPeterWimsey

    Prior was ranked #2 as a prospect in 2002 and Patterson was ranked #2 in 2001 and #3 in 2002. That is why I chuckle at times when people criticize Hendry and the minor league system.

    No one player ever alters the way we look at baseball, but these are two guys who contributed as much as possible, I think. At any rate, a player with Patterson’s tools would not be anywhere nearly so highly regarded today. (With Prior, it is more an issue about how organizations should handle young pitchers.)

    Still, it is sort of shocking how nearly none of the Cubs many highly touted prospects of 2002 ever amounted to anything in MLB.

    • Kyle

      Patterson achieved the No. 3 ranking after putting up a 9% BB rate at AA. There was reason to hope he wouldn’t be a hacker.

  • Richard Nose

    I always think of Baez at 3B, but man a lineup with him at 2B would be so nasty. Think of the Phillies lineup with Utley and having Ruiz as their worst hitter. Then Cano and that Yankees lineup. Kinsler in Texas. Having a legit slugger playing 2B and hitting in the heart of the order instead of having a little boy playing 2B and hitting 8th would change a lot. Save the WAR comments, Darwin’s defense didn’t keep us in the 2-digit loss category this year.

    • CubFan Paul

      Pow.

  • Pat

    Even with moving one section of wall, you’re still going to have a brick wall within five feet of the field in certain areas. As dumb as having a brick wall in the field of play is in baseball, it’s even more dangerous in football. Wrigley just isn’t well suited for football (you need an undersized field to make it work)

    • daveyrosello

      The Bears managed to play in Wrigley for three decades, doesn’t seem to have hurt them much.

    • Stinky Pete

      and the Bronk drove over left tackle. He never looked up, just
      trampled three would-be tacklers, stormed over the goal line,
      and crashed into the brick wall of the grandstand.

      His first words after Andy Lotshaw’s cold towels had
      brought him around were: “Who in hell hit me?”

      “Fellows, this is all my fault,” he blurted. Then, coldly,
      “Brummy, give me that ball!”

      Quarterback Brumbaugh complied with a shovel pass that
      sent Bronk thundering around the Spartan right end. Down
      the muddy field along the side line he charged like a mad
      bull, tacklers flying off him like mud from his cleats. When
      he crossed the goal line, he was going so fast he zoomed head-
      long into the dugout at the south end of Wrigley Field.
      Groundkeepers still maintain there’s a dent in the bricks
      where he hit.

      From a book published in ’47 about the Bears. Fun stuff.

      • JB88

        My favorite Bronko Nagurski story has to be the one where he allegedly picked up an iron plow to point the MN Gophers HC in the direction of a QB he was recruiting.

  • Melrosepad

    Jesse Litsch just came available. I know he is coming off an injury, but I’d think he might be a decent risk for a minor league deal or low guarantee. Never struck out many, but he kept his walks low.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I saw that and thought the same thing. As with many guys like him, the Cubs might be a very attractive option.

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