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 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:

  • King Jeff

    I don’t think I could listen to Stone do games anymore after suffering through hearing him as Hawk’s lackey. I used to be a huge fan of his, but it seems like he’s still got an axe to grind with the Cubs, even if nobody from his tenure is left with the team.

    Also, just to pimp out the King’s twitter, Baez retweeted me twice last week. He’s now my favorite player off all time.

  • Fishin Phil

    Turn Your Knob To Bob.

  • ColoCubFan

    Personally never cared for Steve Stone. I don’t mind criticism of the team when obvious, but he always struck me as the “if I was doing this, it would be better” type. Just my 2 cents worth.

  • HuskerCub

    Let bygones be bygones, bring Stoney back!

  • TC

    Man, that’s a Bomb

    • SirCub

      The sound when the ball left the bat? Whew.

      • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

        I live that he didn’t try to pull it, went with it, and got every bit of it.

  • fortyonenorth

    FWIW I read, just yesterday, that Stone said he would be with the ChiSox for at least one more year and “hopefully” into the future.

    • Brett

      Levine wasn’t buying it, apparently.

  • CM

    No way was that first pitch a strike.

  • oswego chris

    yes I have been MIA…

    Vogelbach is an extremely interesting prospect…if you really look at his numbers so far…he actually may be a better hitting prospect than Rizzo…nice problem to have I guess….

    • Chris

      Probably a little early to compare him favorably to Rizzo. Rizzo is a hitter in the major leagues. Vogelbach had 2-3 really good months in Rookie Ball and Short Season A ball. Hee Soep Choi hit pretty well in the NW League too, if I recall correctly. Not saying he isn’t a prospect, but calling him a better hitting prospect than Rizzo is a reach. He reminds me more of Brian Dopirak, another large 1st baseman type they drafted in the 2nd round several years ago. He stalled out by Daytona and then played a few more years in the Bluejays organization. I hope he’s as good or better than Rizzo, but with Rizzo already performing at the ML level, and concerns about Vogelbach’s weight and defensive ability, he’s probably destined to be a trade chip. Hopefully he’ll bring back something really nice in return too.

    • hansman1982

      you were MIA?

      why should I have noticed…do you think you’re some hot shot stick jockey?

    • Cheryl

      Vgelbach needs another year to gauge his potential but he seems to be doing all right for now. I’d hate to see him traded. He cold end up like Prince Fielder or he could bomb. I believe he’ll be a very good player. Rizzo is good and is a FO favorite. But if you have a better hitter in V and a better fielder in Rizzo who gets traded? I don’t think they’ll sitch positions with Rizzo.

      • Cheryl

        Sorry about the mising u in cold and the missing w in sitch.

        • Richard Nose

          Apology accepted.

  • Clark Addison

    I’m guessing Stone will take the Arizona gig.

  • Idaho Razorback

    I always liked Steve Stone. I want Brenley to stay, but if he were to leave, I would take Stoney back. As for the Baez HR, I never saw it land.

  • Myles

    …I think I just heard that ball land.

  • WGNstatic

    One complication of course with any reunion with Stone is that he is currently employed as the White Sox announcer… except… his employers are actually WGN and CSN, who just so happen to hire people to announce for the Chicago National League Ballclub…

  • Myles

    Rizzo stat today:

    His OPS+ this year was 119. Out of all players in baseball with over 75 starts at 1B, that puts him at 10th of 26th. Last year, in his “rookie” season, he was already an above-average offensive 1B (and clearly a good to very good defensive 1B).
    He’s under team control for (I think) 6 more years. That’s a very good thing.

    • hansman1982

      5 more years…2 more at league minimum and then arb for 3 (i.e. 2 more years until he gets a nice extension)

      • Featherstone

        I thought it was 6 years too which is why the Cubs kept him at triple A until June. Think he gets 2 more years at the league minimum then 4 years of Arb as he’ll be a super-two. Please correct me if im wrong

        • Brett

          Not wrong.

          • hansman1982

            I was mathmeticing wrong…wow…giving up cigarettes (for the 9 billionth time now) is not good for the brain…

          • BluBlud

            Not Wrong. But I highly doubt he sees Arb year 1. I assume if he continues to improve as he has, 2 years from today, he would have already signed an extension.

            • Featherstone

              Legitimate question. Let’s say he doesn’t improve upon this season’s numbers and puts up his triple slash line of .285/.342/.463 over the next 2 full seasons. What do you do with him then? Do you sign him yo an extension before he starts arbitration and if so, what do you sign him for?

  • ihop

    Baez is a better overall hitter than castellanos imo

  • Myles

    Oh, yeah, Castro is 7th of 26 SS too.

  • LeotheCub

    What postion does Baez play? How old is he? Looking forward to this winter because I think this is the time where the Cubs begin to add to the core and build make improvements getting ready for 2014.

    • hcs

      19 currently, 20 in December. Currently a SS, and apparently doubts about his ability to stick there are being erased. Good problem to have, though.

  • Frank

    Maples, Paniaqua, Wells, Underwood, and Blackburn could potentially earn spots in a mid rotation list, then again, they could all be disaters. Vizcaino could also be there if completely healthy. I guess time will tell. What it clear is that we need more young pitching. Good young pitching, and Vogelbach might be decent bait considering every expert has him pegged as either a defensively below average 1st baseman or a DH, and one compared his offensive ceiling to Billy Butler. A nice bat, but with a mid .800s OPS, it’;s not enough to make up for the defense at the postion. The question is does he have any value yet?

    • Frank

      “Maples, Paniaqua, Wells, Underwood, and Blackburn could potentially earn spots in a mid rotation list”

      I meant mid season list.

    • WGNstatic

      I have a hard time seeing Vogelbach being traded this offseason. Based on Sickels rankings, it seems like he is now being viewed as a fringe top 100 prospect in baseball. However, as such a young guy it seems likely that he will climb those rankings in the next few years.

      I just don’t think that he brings all that much back at this point relative to what his likely/possible value will be in a couple of years.

    • AB

      Maples still has a long ways to go if he’s still struggling with his command in instructionals.

  • biff

    baez is 17 and he is a catcher

    • cubchymyst

      Think you looked up the wrong Baez, The Baez being spoken of is 19 and currently plays short stop.

  • BluBlud

    I know I said it before, but Baez is developing at a pace that should have him in the Majors by next September, or ST 2014 at the latest. The guy is a monster with the bat, and his defense points to a guy that can handle a spot in the bigs. I suspect the FO will play him at the position they see him at long term, be it 3B or 2B, so he can get a little experience before reaching Chicago. Don’t be suprised if he is with the Smokies come the start of next year.

    • hansman1982

      I have seen a couple of quotes that lead me to believe the Cubs FO is not too pleased with his swing so I think you could see them push him pretty aggressively until he fails. With that, he could, theoretically, see a taste of the bigs in Sept.

      • BluBlud

        I agree. I dont see his stint in Daytona as a failure. 86 plate appearences can’t be viewed as a failure. Add in the fact that his power, his Walk rate(good or bad) and his Strike out rate(good or bad) state pretty much the same, give or take a few points, I dont his time in Daytona will do anything to sway the FO opinion of him as a hitter one way or another.

        • BluBlud

          *Stayed not “State”


    • WGNstatic

      I’d be surprised if he breaks camp with the Smokies, particularly since he didn’t light it up in Daytona. That said, I would expect him to see him in Tennessee by midseason.

      Do folks think there is any chance he will get a spring training invite with the big club? Obviously no chance of breaking camp to CHicago, but giving the coaching staff a chance to work with him some and give him a taste of higher level competition?

  • OlderStyle

    I really liked Stoney. He made listening to the Caray-era Cubs bearable. As a young fan I learned a lot from him but I think it’s time to move on. Keep Brenly.

  • North Side Irish

    I finally add something positive to the site and you give Northside Matt the credit…I’m sure the names just got mixed up purple monkey dishwasher.

  • The Dude Abides

    Listening to Stone during this rebuilding phase would be brutal for us and management, constant second guessing would not sit well. Find new blood and move on if Brenly leaves.

    • fortyonenorth

      Agree. I liked Stone when he was here, but feel that Brenly is much better. Stone is boring by comparison, IMHO.

  • Joshua

    I personally hate the waggle,but it’s hard to argue with it until it fails. Assuming he makes strides and doesn’t mind shifting position a prospective lineup soon could look like
    c- castillo
    1B- Rizzo
    2B Baez
    3B – Vitters (if he can translate to the majors, he’s 23)
    ss – Castro
    OF- Jackson
    Of – Soler
    OF- Almora

    That’s not dipping into FA. Could be the unit in 3 years – ish? Mop up the pitching and we got a SQUAD.

    • BluBlud

      Honestly, I see Baez and Soler sticking with the Cubs. If both of those guys develop right, I see Almora as core trade bait in landing a MLB quality Ace. If we can turn the first 2 into fringe or full blown Perrenial All-Stars, Almora’s value to the Cubs becomes greater as a trade chip. If we could turn him and a few others into a david Price or something close in a couple years, it a win/win for everybody.

      Look at it this way. Price is Arb eligible this year. His number, I would assume, is close to 9 million. The Rays will no doubt keep him for that price. Next year his number becomes 13 million plus, at which point the Rays need to consider trading him. With 2 years of service plus a still managable, if not a down right Bargain salary for a larger market team, the Rays will be able to maximize their return on Price. If Baez and Soler are performing to expected levels, why NOT throw Almora, Vogelbach and a pitcher at Tampa and see what happens. this is all theorectical, but it’s not far fetched.

      • terencem

        I can almost guarantee you they’ll look for an offer with a pitcher with Price’s upside as the center of the trade.

      • Richard Nose

        I could read theoreticals all day long. Very interesting to think about. Tough, but it’s reality. I always seem to turn every hypothetical back to the Hanley Ramirez for Josh Beckett trade. Beckett was only 25 when that went down, I’d love to trade for an ace of that age. Price is 27 right now. Still not ‘old’ but he’s not as valuable as Beckett was I don’t think. I know youre just dropping theoretheticals, but I had to talk it out on paper! Good shit. I don’t hate any idea, I’m all about thinking how all this is gonna play out.

  • ETS


    Stone is awful. Why don’t we just get Valentine or Joe Morgan.

    • Stinky Pete

      I hope you mean Ellis and the guy who managed the Red Sox…

  • Cubbies4Life

    Is it too much of a stretch to think I might see Baez, or any of the other hot prospects, at AAA Iowa next season? Geez, April seems so far away…!

    • hansman1982

      Yes. The best Cubs fans could reasonably hope for is that Baez season in AA. Irrationally, he may get a Sept call-up from AA. We will get a small chance to see Baez next year here in Des Moines.

      • hansman1982

        Next year as in 2014.

  • Njriv

    What is this friction between Hawk and Stone, you mention?

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Well, Stone is part of the known universe…..

  • Max

    I would love to see Vogs continue to produce and then use him and some of our other infield prospects (L Watkins, Torryes, Lake, Villanueva) to trade for a solid #2/3 starter in 2014. We have such depth at infield prospect that somebody’s gonna have to be traded

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Well, keep in mind that most of these guys will not amount to anything, and ultimately the Cubs will want to replace Barney with someone who can generate an OPS better than that of the average starting 2Bman.

      As for Vogelbach, he’s obviously a future DH, even if he spends some of his youth at first. However, with the barriers between the leagues breaking down yet another step this coming year, the chances of the NL adopting the DH has just risen yet again. We definitely are counting two chickens before they hatch to project Vogelbach as the Cubs 2016 DH, but chances of both are realistic enough that I’d keep that in the back of my head if I was Jed or Theo.

      • terencem

        Vogelbach doesn’t have a lot of trade value yet, especially if he’s still considered a hitter without a position. One good season won’t shoot him to the top of a lot of teams’ wishlists.

  • Stinky Pete

    It’s like he sees things before it happens.

    You know. Like a Jedi…

    Qui Gon Baez. It has a ring to it…

  • Stevie B

    Boom goes the dynamite!

  • True(ly) Blue

    I liked Stoney while he was here but I think Bob Brenley is just as good or better. Stoney burnt his bridges with the Cubs. Keep Brenley.
    Where are the continuing discussions about moving forward on “Parallel Fronts”? It seems to me that only counting on the draft to create a winner is going to be incredibly difficult with the new rules and financial restrictions. We need some good free agent signings.