Matt Szczur, Photo by Mark LoMoglio/

Rooting for Matt Holliday to take a fastball to the ribs today? I wouldn’t think you a beast.

  • Among the Cubs’ players in the Arizona Fall League, one guy who could stand to make a good impression is Matt Szczur. The supremely athletically gifted, but “baseball young” center fielder, has built a great deal of his prospect status on those athletic gifts, rather than huge numbers (particularly for his age and level). He’s already on the 40-man roster, which puts the Cubs in a bit of a bind going forward, because he’s taking a spot up, but isn’t particularly close to breaking through to the bigs. At least, to his credit, he’s hitting quite well as a lead-off guy in Arizona – hitting .304 with a .407 OBP (and 4 SB). But the power remains wholly absent – he has just one extra base hit (a double) in 23 at bats. Szczur, 23, hit well at High-A Daytona last year, but struggled after a late-season promotion to AA. He’ll likely start 2013 back at AA, and if the Cubs don’t see significant progress, they’re going to be faced with a difficult decision regarding his roster spot. How many years can they afford to keep waiting on Szczur (while using up his option years, I should add)? The question is made even more difficult by the presence of other youngsters on the 40-man – Jorge Soler, Gerardo Concepcion, Junior Lake – who also may not be close to contributing in the big leagues.
  • According to a report out of Omaha, the Nebraska Corn Huskers are hoping to making their 2014 visit to Northwestern a visit to Wrigley Field – in other words, they want to play Northwestern at Wrigley. With the approved wall change at Wrigley Field, we knew college football was coming back. I am very much all for it.
  • Len Kasper wrote a guest article for Baseball Prospectus on bringing sabermetrics into the broadcaster’s booth. Len has always been progressive in this regard (for a mainstream broadcaster), and it’s a good read.
  • The 40-man roster situation – who gets bounced, who gets protected, how many spots need to be opened up for the offseason – is being discussed over at the Message Board.
  • Carrie Muskat answers questions, which touch on a variety of offseason topics.
  • Doug Padilla continues his look at the Cubs’ positions from 2012, with a stop at shortstop. Since Starlin Castro played every in single game there this season, I think he might show up. Similarly, Vine Line has another player profile, and looks at probable future starting catcher Welington Castillo.
  • The MLBullets at BCB look again at the Matt Holliday crap, and wonder whether he’s going to take one inside today.
  • Fishin Phil

    Ribs would be OK, but I’m hoping for gonads!

    • tim

      That would require a soft line drive to him on defense. Like in LA a few years back.

    • bloctoad

      How many catchers are the carrying? I would pay to see Holliday dig in the box then get dropped into a kimura.

      • cubchymyst

        A flying armbar would be more entertaining.

        • MichiganGoat

          I’m down for a Ultimate Warrior Splash after he dropped with a fastball or maybe a Macho Man elbow from the bleachers.

          • Jeff

            Holliday gets drilled by a fastball, then the catcher gives him a DDT on home plate!

          • Ed Wiese

            After the Macho Man, R I P, how about we get John Cena to lock in the STFU!

  • Idaho Razorback

    With so many bowl games, why not add another one? The Wrigley Bowl. A Big 10 team vs a Big 12 or SEC team. A late December college football game in Wrigley Field would be awesome!

    • Brett

      I’d be so in. But I think the risk of weather problems causing attendance problems would be too much for the schools to bear.

      • EQ76

        As a die hard OU fan here in Oklahoma, I’d love to come to wrigley and watch my Sooners play a bowl game. Of course, we are usually in a BCS bowl.

        • Deez

          I think the attraction of Wrigley Field & Chicago can make this a go, but being a CFB guy, I wouldn’t want my players & team in Chicago for a Bowl Week.
          Talk about getting into trouble.

    • The Dude Abides

      If it’s the Wrigley Bowl they should select the last place team from each conference to play in the game and make the Ricketts family pay full price for addmission and watch the entire game outdoors.

    • ssckelley

      I love this idea, if Yankee stadium can get a bowl game in December then why can’t Wrigley?

  • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

    I actually like Len more than I did before. That was a great article.

  • Luke

    I’m not too worried about Szczur yet, but 2013 is going to be a key year for him.

  • tim

    Soler upped the ante on the whole system. If we had been shopping Internationally like that the last decade, we wouldn’t have needed Theo. Except to train our hitters that walks aren’t bad.

  • Fastball

    These are the guys I would cut from the 40 man roster. Some may be risky but most would never get claimed off waivers by anyone else. Many we claimed off waivers that nobody else wanted. If teams claimed any of these guys in the Rule 5 it wouldn’t be the end of the world. We then have 30 guys on the 40 going into the off season which gives us a ton of flexibility. Most all of these would end up back on Minor League rosters in the Cubs organization.

    Alberto Cabrera– drop from 40 man
    Casey Coleman – drop from 40 man
    Gerardo Concepcion– drop from 40 man
    Manuel Corpas– drop from 40 man
    Justin Germano– drop from 40 man
    Miguel Socolovich– drop from 40 man
    Chris Volstad– drop from 40 man
    Ian Stewart 60-day DL **– drop from 40 man
    Joe Mather– drop from 40 man
    Matt Szczur– drop from 40 man

    • tim

      Szczur would be claimed by Houston. I’d release Berken and Mateo, and ‘do something’ with LaHair. Lake should be traded.

      I would retain Szczur, am ambivalent on Concepcion, and would add Watkins, Villanueva, and McNutt in advance of the Rule 5 Draft.

    • David

      Cabrera would concern me a little. His entire body of work in the minors isn’t particularly impressive, but he was so good at Tennessee this year that it at least gives me pause. Then again, it was only in half a season of relief, so it was most likely an illusion.

      • Luke

        No illusion. Cabrera has one of the best fastballs in the Cubs system. He could be a very good reliever for a very long time.

    • stillmisskennyhubbs

      Way too early to drop Szczur. He needs a good look-see for another year or so. He would be snapped up by someone if we dropped him.

    • Cedlandrum

      there is absolutely no reason that you would drop Cabrera from the 40. He is a guy who can be a mainstay in the bullpen for years to come.

  • bloctoad

    I would have rather faced the uncertainty of Zambrano throwing heat at hapless hitters or throwing tantrums and going ape shit then face a Volstad start knowing we’d lose. We were still paying Z anyway.

  • Katie

    Excellent article by Len!

  • Fastball

    My thoughts are most of these guys just don’t have enough to get worked up over if they did get picked in the Rule 5. We need room for adding talent to the roster this off season. If and Jed are going to try to improve the roster they need plenty of room. I would say 10 spots might not even be enough. I look for more house cleaning than what I suggested.

    • tim

      The only guys eligible for the Rule 5 are guys not on it presently. If we release Szczur or Concepcion, they aren’t Rule 5 eligble. They are free agents to any team wanting to add them. The Rule 5 eligibles are here partway down the page.

      The only ones I’d add are Watkins, Villanueva, and McNutt. One may well get added by Houston. Good luck with that, Astros.

      • JB88

        Peralta is one that I would be worried about losing. He pitched pretty well in Peoria this year, and, while a huge stretch, could be someone that might get stashed on the a roster, like Houston.

  • Jeremy

    I think Szczur is a guy we need to look to trade. Guys like him are expendable right now when were trying to add pitching and elite players.

  • tim

    Which team would trade a prospect for a guy 20 months from the big leagues? What do you expect to get?

    Junior Lake, by and large, doesn’t fit with Theo’s strategy. He won’t bring much (Carreno 2.0?), but he’d probably bring more than Szczur, who represents as a Reed Johnson-type.

    • Jeremy

      Do you not understand the concept of quantity deals and selling while stock is high? That’s a common sense concept in baseball. I’m not talking about trading just Szczur but combining him with other expendable depth prospects (Lake, McNutt, etc.) or in other deals for better talent. Not hard to understand.

      • Kyle

        MLB teams don’t usually like to trade quality for quantity, especially when trading like for like (MLB for MLB, prospects for prospects, etc). It’s bad for the team receiving quantity.

        Also, it’s about a year too late to sell high on Szczur.

  • Jeff

    Question? if we drop Gerardo Concepcion from the 40 man roster and he gets claimed in the rule V draft, does the team claiming him take his salary too?

    If so, that’s a no brainer, drop him off the 40 man roster.

    • Jeff

      ah, should have read Tim’s post….what if they are exposed to waivers, just wondering if there is a way to remove him from the 40 man to open up space.

      • tim

        With Concepcion, I’m not sure of the domino action.

        Let’s say we release him, and save a roster spot, and even save some money. But piss off International Agents, limiting our chance at better players down the line.

        Bite the bullet for another year. If he can’t get people out in 2013, release him with a clear conscience. It could be he needed a year to adjust, and wasn’t healthy. It isn’t like we’re adding seven major free agents this season.

        • bbmoney

          It’s too early to consider releasing Concepcion. Terrible this year I know, supposedly he just wasn’t right. He’d get snapped up by someone immediately.

          Give him at least another year.

        • Kyle

          He gets paid either way, it can’t piss them off *that* much.

          But it’s academic, because they are going to give him at least one more season before admitting a mistake

  • Richard Nose

    That sabermetric stat Sunday Len and Bob did was hella annoying. I just wanted to watch baseball.

  • tim

    If we drop Concepcion from the 40 Man, he is a free agent.

    Like if we’d drop Rizzo or Castro from the 40 Man.

    • Jeff

      How did we let Blake Dewitt go through wavers and return to Iowa, we took him off of the 40 man yet still retained him, if another team claimed him, they would take him and his salary, right?

      Can’t we do the same to Gerardo Concepcion or do you have to have a certain amount of service time?

      I’m doubting anybody would claim him at this point

      • hansman1982

        Concepcion would most likely get claimed by someone. Obtaining a prospect for just money is every GM’s dream.

        • Kyle

          It’s been less than a year since every team in baseball had the option to sign Concepcion for just money, and none of them wanted to pay $1.2 million/year for him but the Cubs. Many rolled their eyes at the deal, and Concepcion’s stock has only dropped since then.

          He goes through waivers with a $4.8 million price tag attached and has to stay on their 40-man roster, same as he would on the Cubs. He sails through waivers without any team even thinking about claiming him.

          • InquiringMindsWantToKnow

            Many rolled their eyes at the deal

            What’s your source for this statement:

            • Kyle

              Extrapolating from the various reports.

              Kevin Goldstein was higher on him than any other prospect pundit, and he said “$7 million for Gerardo Concepcion is just wacky.”

              Ben Badler of Baseball America, the premier guy for international free agents, said “International scouts not sure how Concepcion could command $7MM.”

              Granted, those aren’t GMs, but the point remains that the deal raised a lot of eyebrows around MLB.

              And, of course, there was the scout who saw him at Peoria and said that if he’d been scouting him at a JuCo game, he would have just left.

      • tim

        We waived him. Nobody wanted him.

        If someone dealt a Concepcion clone, Theo would claim him.

    • hansman1982

      No, you could waive and DFA them, thereby opening them up to other teams. Upon completion of the 48 hours on waivers you could then outright them to Iowa where they would be off the 40 man.

      • tim

        And Houston would claim Concepcion. It’s what they do.

        • Jeff

          wouldn’t you rather have Houston take the salary off the books?

          • hansman1982

            The remaining $4.8M? No, I would rather have him have a shot to become something on the Cubs.

  • Fastball

    I believe if someone was taken on the Rule 5 like Concepcion his contract would follow him. In his case I don’t see anyone picking him because of his contract.
    I like the idea of trading Szurzur for pitching prospect. I wouldn’t lose any sleep over most of these guys that are re-treads from other minor league organizations. They are a dime a dozen for the most part. I would rather Theo focus on bringing in quality depth to fill up the minors and majors rosters. Many of the guys we claimed were guys who already played out their hand in their previous organization. Probably a deeper organization than ours is right now. So do we want those types around especially if they take up a 40 man roster spot. I don’t think so. At some point we have to move away from the scrap pile and forget about those types of players.

    • tim

      Name a team that would offer a good pitching prospect (among the Top 300 in all of baseball) for Szczur. Not happening.

      If Concepcion is released from the 40 Man, any team (read, Houston) can add him to their 40 Man on waivers without the Rule 5 rigmarole.

      We have system depth, just not much flash/bang on the pitching side. Which is why Theo plays 40 Man Jenga so much.

      • Luke

        The Cubs could easily score a Top 300 guy in a deal for Szczur. He was on some league Top 100 lists just last year; he hasn’t fallen that far.

        • ssckelley

          If the Cubs “could easily score a Top 300 guy” for Szczur then they need to do it. I like Szczur but the Cubs have other good outfield prospects and need more pitching prospects, especially in the upper levels.

    • Jeff

      Agreed, there are easily a dozen guys on the roster that you could questionably dump, they were given their audition, now time to move on.

      The Szczur trade scenario is interesting,After all this typing we do on here, I’m of the belief we should trade anyone whose name is hard to spell…lol watch out Shark!

  • Fastball

    You are right about Dewitt and Concepcion. And many of the others on the 40 man would most likely go unclaimed. I think we got ourselves in a bind having to put these very low level / quality players on the 40 man to begin with. We can’t be in the One Mans Junk is Another Mans Gold business.

  • cavemencubbie

    The Bears played at Wrigley before leaving for Soldiers Field. When and what did they do to Wrigley field to require renovation for college football?

    • hansman1982

      Added bleacher seats to LF and LCF. The field used to run North to South not East West.

      • Frank

        And even then, the end zones were not a full ten yards.

    • Cubbie Blues

      For almost five decades the Bears called Wrigley Field their home. In order for football to be played at Wrigley Field, the gridiron was laid out over the infield and into left field. Bleachers were placed in right field. By 1970, Wrigley Field became to small for the Chicago Bears as the NFL and the team became very popular. The Bears played their last game at Wrigley Field on December 13, 1970 with a win over the Green Bay Packers. The following year the team moved into Soldier Field on the south side of Chicago. The Cubs continue to play at Wrigley Field as it has changed very little since the Bears left. Lights were installed in 1988 and suites were added between the lower and upper decks in 1989. Today, Wrigley Field remains one of the most popular ballparks in baseball.

      Here is what Wrigley looked like when the Bears played there.

      • TWC

        Yikes… that back left corner of the south end zone looks treacherous.

        • Cubbie Blues

          Psh, They have the ivy for cushioning.

          • MichiganGoat

            and I hear Andre Dawson is in there for extra protection

            • DarthHater

              Always thought Dawson was soft.

      • hardtop

        wait, when was it re-named from Weegham to Wrigley? why did i think it was ’26? or was it called “Cubs Park” at some point before ’26? i thought the Bears (then Staleys) moved to Chicago in ’21. i guess it doesn’t change the statment that “the Bears played at Wrigley” but the Staleys also played at Weegham/Cubs Park, before the Bears played at Weegham/Cubs park, before the Bears played at Wrigley. Chicago sports history is fun…

        • Cubbie Blues

          Your right, in ’26 it was renamed Wrigley. In 1920 it was changed from Weegman to Cubs Park.

  • BD

    I think Szczur could earn himself a trade with a good showing in the AFL. I think the Cubs have so many young OF types (or IFers who could move to OF), some will need to start being moved for pitching.

  • Ben Peoria Cub’s Fan

    I watched Conception’s best outing pre-mono. Many are giving up on him without the benefit of ever seeing him. If the Cubs choose to take players off the 40 man roster I hope it is not a young left handed pitcher.

  • SFCCubbie_Fan

    Being from Nebraska and a cubbie fan I am excited to be able to say my team will be playing at wrigley! Looking forward to 2014.

  • Curt

    I’m all for football at wrigley just not Nebraska or notre dame 2 programs living in the past and full of themselves. say no Tom,send Nebraska to Evanston or soldier field.

    • HuskerCubsFan

      Spoken like a true Iowa fan. 😉
      Nebraska is a match simply because Tom Rickets is an Omaha native, a Husker fan, and TD Ameritrade has it’s ins with the athletic department. Husker fans travel well too so it’d be an opportunity to make some decent cash off fans willing to pony up for tickets.

      • Chase S.

        It’s a travesty that either of those teams get to play in Wrigley :) It could be that I’m sour NW has Iowa’s number lately and my severe disdain for anything loud, red, and begin with N (all of the above in this case). I would love to see Iowa get a chance to repaint the marquee gold. We, too, travel well, especially considering Iowa City is 3 hours (give or take) from Chicago.

        Go Hawks!

  • Kyle

    Not too worried about the 40-man, we’ll be fine.

    We’re at 45 right now, including the DL guys (which have to come off the DL when the season ends).

    You can easily lose Bergen, Brigham, Coleman, Germano, Socolovich, Mateo, Mather, or Campana without flinching.

    Corpas, Volstad and Stewart are obvious non-tender candidates. Camp is an FA. You could DFA Concepcion without the slightest worry that anyone would pick him up.

    That gets us down to 33 without even trying that hard. I really don’t see 7 guys on that list I’d be worried about losing in the Rule 5. Granted, that’s before we add 3 or 4 worthless veteran relievers, but even still.

    • tim

      Concepcion gets taken by Houston. Brigham has value if healthy. Good strikeout guy in AA before the trade.

      I’d keep Campana, but could see waiving him.

      • Kyle

        Keep in mind that Concepcion didn’t get a signing bonus, he got a MLB contract paid out year-by-year.

        If Houston wanted him at that price, they could have signed him as an IFA. Nobody else was interested in Concepcion at the price the Cubs paid *before* he came to the states and thoroughly embarrassed himself.

        He clears waivers about as easily as Soriano at this point.

        • tim

          But, that may sour agents on him.

          Maybe not, but maybe so.

        • Brett

          This is an important point – waiving Concepcion is a slightly different story than waiving your typical fringe prospect.

          My question: because he got a big league contract, if he clears waivers, does he have a right to reject an assignment and elect free agency? I know that you can only outright a typical player once without his permission, but I’m not sure if something is different for contracts like the one Concepcion got. In fact, it’s possible it’s built into his deal that he cannot be outrighted without his permission (otherwise, he can elect free agency). His agent wouldn’t have done a very good job if he didn’t insist on such a clause.

          • tim

            Since we haven’t read the contract, there may well be stipulations.

            That said, and wanting to keep Concepcion and Castillo on the 40 Man this time around, if either or both aren’t showing legitimate improvement by June, I’d have no problem with them being released.

          • Kyle

            Unless his contract states otherwise, he can be outrighted without his consent once before he has five years of MLB service time.

            It’s not really going to come up this offseason, but hypothetically if you had to choose between losing Concepcion and, say, Starling Peralta or Dae-Eun Rhee, you have to choose Concepcion, imo.

            • tim

              I don’t have any idea who Houston will choose. Peralta nor Rhee would survive the season in the bigs. Houston would sign Concepcion, and I haven’t read his contract.

              In short, I trust Theo here.

              • Kyle

                If Houston or any other team is silly enough to want Concepcion, they are more than welcome to him and the $4.8 million remaining due to a pitcher of whom one scout said “If he were pitching at a junior college game, you’d just leave.”

                • tim

                  I haven’t read the contract. We may be on the hook if we waive him.

                  • Kyle

                    It’s possible, but that’s so out of the ordinary with the way contracts work that I think we can presume it doesn’t contain that until shown otherwise.

                    • tim

                      I will never be shown a major leaguers contract.

                      If Theo retains Concepcion, there are three major possible reasons. 1. He has more talent than you think. 2. His contract discourages it. 3. It would hurt us in future recruiting.

                      By yo-yoing DeWitt last season, he showed he understands contracts. If GC sticks around, there is a reason. Theo won’t have to tell me to why.

            • Brett

              I just don’t think we have nearly enough information to make that call. It sounds like a copout, but I’d have to trust the Cubs’ talent evaluators on that one.

              • TH


                Side note Brett, as you know – I’ve been reading daily for a couple of years now (and a die-hard since the early 80’s) and hardly comment (so who am I to talk) but all the irrelevant banter among some members (more new than old) is getting old. If you dislike commentary provided by Brett or Luke or even the regulars, feel free to speak up, but keep it relevant and constructive. Free speech is a good thing, but we are all here because we love the cubs. The majority of us anyway.

                Keep up the good work! Feel free to rip apart my punctuation now :)

                • TWC

                  My favorite episode of the Brady Bunch was the one where Cindy had the sniffles and wan’t allowed to go to the movies. You?

                  • Cubbie Blues

                    I don’t know. I’m kind of partial to the one where Marsha and Greg get their license and argue over who is the better driver. Spoiler alert! They have a contest and Marsha wins when Greg hits the cone holding an egg and the egg breaks.

                  • TH

                    Just proved my point although I’m surprised it was you…Fair enough.

                    • TWC

                      Seriously, if you’ve been reading for years, you might have noticed that ol’ Ace isn’t afraid to let loose on a little OT conversing, no? Try re-reading the last week’s worth of intros to the Bullets posts (and the discussions that follow).

                    • TH

                      Why was that necessary or relevant? Nothing to do with you Enjoy.

            • AB

              why do we assume houston wants any of those guys?? I’m sure there are players with higher potential available than pitchers who just put their first year of full season ball in the books.

  • Cheryl

    Question. My dad once told me theer was a time when there were heavy-weight football teams and light-weight football teams. The light-weights played other light-weight teams and the heavy-weight players playe heeavy-weight players. I’ve not seen any information on that. Was there such a thing or league for that?

  • Jeff

    Although we disagree on here whether Theo and Jed are doing a good enough job or are making enough right moves, at least we all agree on whose crap and needs to be moved along…lol.

  • Kevin

    It appears Soriano looks so much better, as trade bait, than A-Rod.

  • Turn Two

    I think we need a whole lot more patience with these kids than this,szczur is one of top rated prospects in the whole system and because of one year with no power we start discussions on how he is not part of the plan?patience is needed in a rebuild whether he is on the 40man or not

  • ssckelley

    I have enjoyed the article and everyones comments. I find it amazing that there is so much debate over a 40 man roster that finished with 101 losses. The better question may not be who the Cubs protects or don’t protects but who is available for the Cubs to draft to improve the 40 man roster?