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Man. Quite the day of baseball yesterday. The Giants and A’s pull even in their series after being down 2-0 to the Reds and Tigers. The A’s do it on a walk-off after being down 3-1 in the bottom of the 9th. The Yankees do what no team could, like, ever do against the Orioles this year: they won a one-run game in extra innings, thanks to a game-tying homer in the bottom of the 9th, and then a walk-off homer in the 12th – both from Raul Ibanez, who pinch hit for Alex Rodriguez. There was also another series or something, but I can’t remember who it was or what happened …

  • John Sickels has revealed his very early top 5o positional, and top 50 pitching prospects for 2013. The Cubs score four on the positional list (Javier Baez at No. 5, Albert Almora at No. 35, Jorge Soler at No. 36, and Dan Vogelbach at No. 50), but none on the pitching list. While it wasn’t shocking to see no Cubs pitchers on the list – we all know the issues there – I was surprised that Arodys Vizcaino didn’t make the cut (he’s going to show up on most top 100 lists for next year, I do believe). I asked John about the omission, and he confirmed that it was because of the Tommy John surgery Vizcaino underwent in Spring Training. “Still a prospect, of course,” Sickels said, “but I never assume automatic Tommy John recovery.” Fortunately, increasingly, while it isn’t automatic, Tommy John recovery is becoming something like an 80/20 proposition.
  • Baez was behind only Jurickson Profar, Oscar Taveras, Wil Myers, and Xander Bogaerts on the list. That’s elite, elite company right there.
  • Speaking of Baez, he came in for some love from a number of folks in the organization, as collected in this Cubs.com piece. From Scouting and Player Development Chief Jason McLeod: “When you watch him play defense and watch him on the bases, he plays like a veteran who has been in the Major Leagues for a long time and at a very young age. That was the most pleasant surprise for me, and it’s really fun to watch him on defense. It’s like he sees things before it happens.” And from Cubs Minor League Hitting Coordinator Tom Beyers: “He’s got tons of talent and it’s not just hitting, it’s his overall game. One of his biggest strengths is aptitude. I was very impressed with how he took instruction and applied it right away in a ballgame. Some guys, that process takes longer than others. His is pretty quick, and the knowledge he has of how the game is played, he always seems to be a step ahead.”
  • Mesa voters have already approved the money needed to build the new Spring Training facility for the Chicago Cubs, but now they’re voting on funding for additional projects in the area (I believe this would be a portion of the “Wrigleyville West” concept, which would add shopping, dining, entertainment, etc. to the area immediately surrounding the park) to make it more of a destination – “regional attraction” is the phrase used. I say, whatever you want to do, Mesa. I’ll be there to see the Cubs, but, hey, I like to eat.
  • Positional reviews continue, with Doug Padilla looking at the catchers, and Paul Sullivan looking at shortstop.
  • You can vote for Alfonso Soriano for the Hank Aaron Award.
  • Bruce Levine is the first to mention something we’ve all probably been quietly thinking: if Bob Brenly (who is currently negotiating an extension) leaves the Cubs’ booth in favor of Arizona, the friction between Hawk Harrelson and Steve Stone could push the latter to try and come back to the Cubs. I was a huge, huge Steve Stone fan when he was in the Cubs’ booth (who wasn’t?), but I’ve been very disappointed with his attitude since leaving the Cubs (who hasn’t been?). I’m not really sure a reunion is all that realistic or desirable at this point. I like Bob. I’m happy with Bob.
  • One more Baez bit. BN’er Northside Matt tracked down video of Baez’s monster shot homer in his AFL debut. Check that bat waggle – no wonder folks always mention Gary Sheffield:

  • Mike

    I can’t stand Steve Stone. And I don’t think he’d work well with Len. Len is a pretty big “new age” baseball guy. And it’s not just that Stoney is old school – if you listen to his interviews on the Score in Chicago, he is utterly contemptuous of the whole ideas. Everything I hear him say is “RBI this”, “Wins that”.

    • Stinky Pete

      Last time I checked, they didn’t award wins to a catcher so I’ll decide what pitch I want to throw.

      -Steve Stone

      Maybe catchers should get wins and losses.

    • OlderStyle

      That is true. I came across an article where Stone (with Hawk) poo-poo’ed Moneyball and Billy Beane’s influence on the game.

  • Stevie B

    I’ll try not to beat around anyone’s bush here…If you are not a Steve Stone fan, you and I will never see eye to eye.
    Stone would still be here if not for a couple of dick heads….and you mention his comments / affiliation with Hawk, who is the duchiest of douches. Well, it’s his job and many of us, including me, will compromise certain principles to earn a check.
    Truth be known, Stoney is a Cub at heart…and I’d take him back and not look back.

    • jwilson

      I couldn’t agree more, Steve Stone would still be in the both at Wrigley if a few people accepted the hard truth and weren’t royal [female anatomy]s. I like Brenly, but if he bails, I really hope Stoney comes back. That bomb by Baez sounded like an explosion, good to get a glimpse of the bat speed everyone is talking about.

      • Tommy

        Put me in the ‘bring Stoney back’ camp. He’s head and shoulders better than anyone else in my opinion, and that included Brenley. It may have been the chemistry he had with Harry that made me like him so much, but whatever the case, I do.

        Bring him back!

        • Ssckelley

          Same, I would love to see stoney back in the booth

      • Rcleven

        If you liked the bat wait till you get to see him in the field. Just soooooooooo smooth.

      • wilbur

        Saw Baez in Peoria and the sound his bat makes when he hits ball makes people in the stands stop and turn to see what happened …

    • Doug Dascenzo

      My favorite was when Stoney and Brennaman were on together. They had really good chemistry. You could tell that Steve enjoyed working with him because he really brought out Steve’s dry sense of humor.

  • ETS

    Hey Bret did you ask Sickels why Puig is rated higher than Soler?

  • DocPeterWimsey

    What’s almost as impressive as the home run is how quickly that pitcher threw 3 pitches.

  • Bricklayer

    I’m done with Stone. Honestly, if Brenly does not come back I would love for them to bring in Doug Glanville.

  • Kevin

    If the Cubs had “average ” players across the board they would be a .500 team. I don’t know why people want to trade Barney, he’s a solid second baseman and not a below average hitter. Additionally, Vogelbach could end up being better than Rizzo if given a chance. I would certainly hate to see Theo & Jed blackball Vogelbach just because they didn’t pick him. A sign of a good GM is to admit they made a mistake, correct it, and move on.

    • Tommy

      When people talk about Barney, I don’t think they’re saying we’d just give him away for nothing. Everyone is tradable. It’s just a matter of what you get back. Barney’s D was awesome this year, but an .OBP under .300 and an .OPS around .650 isn’t exactly irreplaceable.

      I don’t think it’s a crazy concept to want to find someone that may be a little worse defensively, but better offensively for 2nd base. Don’t misunderstand what I’m saying as being anti-Barney, because I’m not. I like the guy, and am content with him sticking around. I just think the talk of him being traded is not unreasonable, and I don’t see his stock getting much higher than it is right now. If the right offer comes, of course we should jump on it.

      • http://www.hookersorcake.com Jade

        If Barney hit around 700 OPS next year as a 27 yr old his value would be much higher, right? And its a possibility. Not saying its for certain but he’s a grinder and now that he has more than successfully switched positions. He can almost solely concentrate on hitting, right as he begins to enter his prime. Many hitter seem to blossom around 27, 28. Plus I don’t think anyone would give the Cubs a top pitching arm prospect for a +defense – bat middle infielder. I think he is worth more to the Cubs right now in fan value and there is no obvious replacement. Maybe if he doesn’t improve, I don’t see him regressing, he could be moved next year when someone with a bigger bat is pushing for playing time.

        • Kyle

          He’ll be into his arbitration years then, so his value would still be lower. A big part of his value now is that you can pay him peanuts in 2013.

    • http://www.hookersorcake.com Jade

      On Vogelbach: I think its a little early to be casting his HOF bust (ps you’re gonna need a shitload more bronze) He crushed Rookie ball and short season, awesome. But lets at least wait until high A. Also there talk that he might not be able to stick at 1B. He’s a DH.
      If he smashes Kane Co. next year and finishes at Daytona and is successful I would probably trade him for a top arm if possible.
      If Theo and Co. are down on him its probably because he doesn’t have a position. Plus saying he might be better than the 23 year old who looks like a .300/30/100 guy is like saying San Diego is right next to Cresent City. They are both in California, but its a helluva long ways off.

  • WI Jeff

    Stealing from Joshua’s post at 10:23
    I see things similar, yet a little different for spring 2015.
    With 2013 draft, I do want waves and waves of pitching, but I don’t see Appel, Stanek, Manea or of’er Meadows as our locks.
    Everybody is should be trade bait or pieces for starting pitching…. Barney, Brett Jackson, Vitters, JR Lake along with any short-term older pitching prospects.
    My 2015 team is:
    c- Castillo/perhaps another catcher in trade
    1B- Rizzo
    2B Baez (Carlos Baerga with more power and glove over life of career)
    3B – trade/free agent acquisition/ Christian Villanueva actually might make it with glove-and bat combo- everybody needs steady play! (will have the at bats to be a late 2014 call up.
    ss – Castro- established
    OF- (LF) from 2013 draft Austin Wilson from Stanford (don’t believe he is a reach at #2) smart, advanced and has the tools-70 power and arm, little heavy footed, but an awesome addition to Wrigley. Also a hedge to play RF is Soler doesn’t progress. (not as impressed with younger lefty meadows just yet, but can be convinced, but his arrival is more likey mid 2017 if at all) .(Iate 2015 call up)
    Of – Soler (RF)-age might push him to High A in 2013 and full year double A in 2014
    OF- Almora (CF)-advanced fielding tool could have him manning CF next year, but the hit tool (although advanced) needs about 2000 ab’s (Might get 1250 over the next two years) and be a mid 2015 call up

    I see a lot of power and small ball capabilities….. , but we still won’t have a prototypical lead-off that you might find with my line-up…. Almora, Baez, Castro, Rizzo, Soler, Castillo, Wilson, Villaneuva and pitcher.

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

    WOW! That bat speed from Baez is un-real.

  • Rizzo 44

    I hope the Cubs sign Josh Hamilton for CF trade Josh Vitters and Brett Jackson for Chase Headley, and find away to get David Price form the Rays. I would also trade DeJesus, Barney and Marmol. I would call the Braves about their SP to see what it would take to get someone. I would also (if healthy) trade Garza to the Blue Jays or Royals. I think the Cubs could win next year with these types of moves. The Cubs have to get SP thats the biggest hole they have. Also need a true leadoff man.

    • Rizzo 44

      Trade Barney to the Tigers for Rick Porcello

    • King Jeff

      Why would you sign an older, more injury prone Josh Hamilton, and then turn around and dump Garza, DeJesus, Barney, and Marmol? That seems counter-productive to the win-now strategy you propose. No way they could get Headley for Vitters and BJax, and getting Price would cost more than Garza did’ I don’t think they can afford to trade for two stars with the prospects that they have.

      • Rizzo 44

        No Josh Hamilton would kill in Chicago and Dejesus sucks. They can package more to get Headley. David Price may be the hardest man to get for the Cubs. But they can trade players to add to the players they want to trade for. Garza could be traded easy if healthy.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          Teams almost certainly offered the Pads a lot more than Vitters and BJax for Headley this year. We never get exact details, but all of the “gossip” said that a lot of teams were inquiring about Headley: he is the sort of guy that the Pads usually trade, after all. However, the Pads said all along that they intend to build around him, and they seem to have been serious.

  • Rcleven

    And with the good Baez news comes the bad.

    from Aizr Phill:

    JAVIER BAEZ: Played 3B for the first time in his pro career, and he looked terrible. Without even discussing the body language (sullen and disengaged), there were three balls hit to him in the game, and he misplayed all three to one extent or another. The first was a ground ball that went through his legs for an error, the second was a bouncer where he ranged a couple of steps to his left and let the ball bound off his glove for another error (he should of let the shortstop make the play), and the third was a hard hit grounder to his right where he made a nice backhanded stop, before throwing a lame one-hopper to 2nd base for a FC on what should have been an inning-ending 5-4-3 DP (2B Jiovanni Mier saved Baez a third error by making a nice saving catch on the one-hop throw). Throughout the game Baez kept looking at Solar Sox SS Jonathan Schoop (who made a costly error himself in the top of the 1st inning), as if to say “How about we change places?” I don’t think Baez wants any part of 3rd base. Offensively, Baez went 0-5 with three strikeouts in his final three AB (first two swinging on pitches up in the strike zone, and then looking on a 3-2 pitch right down Broadway in his final PA). The first two times up he grounded out sharply to short and lined out (an absolute rocket) to LF.

    • TWC

      Without even discussing the body language (sullen and disengaged)

      “Without even discussion the body language (even though here I am discussing it)…”

    • DarthHater

      Uh oh. Better trade this Baez guy, immediately.

  • ManaCub

    On Steve Stone: NO WAY! There is no way you can bring him back from the dark side! He has allowed Comiskeyville to corrupt his baseball character. In the words of Hawk: “He gone!”

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