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A little Saturday afternoon chatting bits for your perusing …

  • Bruce Levine chatted earlier this week, and offered his usual array of thoughts. Among them: (1) The Cubs may elect to fill center field from within, going with a Tony Campana/Dave Sappelt platoon until Brett Jackson is ready (if that happens, you know the Cubs have absolutely no intention of winning more than 65 games in 2013); (2) the Cubs are still looking to move Carlos Marmol, and Bruce mentions the possibility of picking up a Major League third baseman; (3) that big Marlins trade didn’t interest the Cubs because they didn’t want one year of Josh Johnson or an aging Mark Buehrle (among many other reasons the deal wouldn’t have made sense for the Cubs); (4) the Cubs would love to be able to add a young third baseman like Nick Castellanos or Lonnie Chisenhall (well, yeah); (5) Bruce doesn’t get the sense that the Cubs are interested in bringing Ian Stewart back; (6) the Cubs “would listen” to an offer for Darwin Barney, but they aren’t looking to trade him; (7) the Cubs have not been negotiating with Ryan Dempster; (8) as soon as Matt Garza is healthy, the Cubs will be shopping him; (9) both the Cubs and White Sox are looking at Brandon McCarthy, whose agent says McCarthy would “love a chance to come back to Chicago”; (10) Bruce guesses that Chisenhall would cost Josh Vitters and “another young player” (sounds about right to me, though that other player would have to be a top 20 type prospect, at least); (11) Bruce hasn’t been able to confirm Jim Bowden’s report of the Cubs making an offer to Francisco Liriano; and (12) the Cubs will probably look at Eric Chavez as a platoon option for next year.
  • It’s not a roster-type rumor, but Levine added that he hears the Cubs are considering adding another LED board in left field, like the one they added in right field before the 2012 season. It’s not finalized, and I’m not quite sure how that would work, given the slightly different configuration on each side of the field. It couldn’t quite be a mirror image.
  • Ben Nicholson-Smith from MLBTR also chatted … (1) If the Tigers re-sign Anibal Sanchez, they’ll probably look to deal Rick Porcello, who will “draw interest” (in other words, they’re not just giving him away, despite his slow-developing career); (2) Ben sees the Cubs’ next move being another free agent starting pitcher; (3) the Scott Baker signing was a good one for the Cubs; and (4) a seven-year deal for Anibal Sanchez in the $13 to $15 million per year range is too much.
  • ssckelley

    I would hate to see the Cubs give up Vitters and a top 20 prospect for Chisenhall, which then blocks that position for prospects coming up through the system. Especially when you can get Chavez fairly cheap to platoon with Vitters until Baez is ready.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      If, for example, Baez showed he was ready to be a big-league 3B in 2014/2015, Chisenhall would not block him, even if Chisenhall was raking. Instead, the Cubs would just have a really nice trade piece.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        Also, as Baez can play middle infield, he could be moved to 2B. Most 3Bmen can be moved to RF, too: if they can judge balls at all (and that is something that improves with experience, even if that sort of “instant” judgement is a natural talent), then they almost always have the arm strength.

        • Jeremy

          I’m actually hoping Baez can end up at 2B. It would really maximize his value with that bat playing at 2B.

          • DocPeterWimsey

            True, but as the average OPS of 2Bmen is almost always lower than the average OPS of 3Bmen, that’s almost always going to be the case! (Standing it on it’s head, one could say that playing Barney at 2nd instead of 3rd minimizes the damage of his bat: or at least one could until they looked at what the Cubs actually have as options at 3rd!)

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            The dynamics at 2B and 3B have changed so much in the last few years that they are almost offensively equal – that is to say, the bats at 2B are just about as good as at 3B now.

            • DocPeterWimsey

              the bats at 2B are just about as good as at 3B now.

              My first reaction is that you are right, but MLB 3Bmen still are hitting a lot better than are MLB 2Bmen, at least when you look at starters. If you look at guys with 400+PA, Pedro Alvarez was the median MLB 3B (OPS = 0.784). Omar Infante was the median MLB 2B (OPS = 0.719). To put it into context, a team of the difference between a team of MLB 2Bmen and MLB 3Bmen would be the difference between the Rockies offense (GRUNT!) and the Mets’ offense (whimper!).

              • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                Well how about that. That’s what I get from going on instinct.

                Although, and correct me if I’m wrong, but are you looking only at 2012? How was it in 2010 and 2011?

                • DocPeterWimsey

                  In 2011, the difference was 0.764 (Roberts) to 0.717 (Johnson). In 2010, the difference was 0.745 (ARam) 0.730 (halfway between Sanchez & Kendrick).

                  One thing that jumps out is that there is a short-term trend widening the gap. That obviously can reflect a lot of things. (I used medians, so a “monster” season by one player doesn’t affect things: it’s the guy or two guys in the middle who count(s).

                  However, one big caveat leaps out, too: a lot more 2Bmen make 400 PAs than 3Bmen. That might reflect the higher injury rate of 3Bmen: they dive a lot more and make a lot more throws that are hard on the shoulder. However, it might also represent a lot of teams like the 2012 Cubs who have a rotation of subpar 3Bmen, none of whom make 400 PAs. So, if 3B is a harder position to fill (and it almost certainly is), then what the handful of good and healthy starters do might not represent what the average guy playing there any one day might do. And that mitigates the “X OPS plays better at 2nd than 3rd” a little bit: getting a guy worthy and capable of 400 PAs has to count for something, too.

                  Still, I think that the Cubs should aim for a guy who is above average relative to other starting 3Bmen, not the Valbuena’s of the world.

                  • Marc N.

                    I like the cut of your jib, and am happy to see more people promoting Baez as a 2B. A Castro-Baez middle infield would blow minds if Baez is as good as his early hype says he is.

                    • Internet Random

                      “I like the cut of your jib . . . .”

                      You should see my jib.

                • DocPeterWimsey

                  Oh, and given that this year is the biggest difference between the two positions of the last 3 years, I see why your (and my initial) perception was that there hasn’t been much difference in offense between the two positions. There was this year, but really not so much as recently as 2010.

      • ssckelley

        But is he that much better than a Chavez/Vitters platoon? Good enough to justify giving up a prospect?

  • nkniacc13

    Interesting that Plesac pulls out of cubs TV job

  • Nate

    One thing to remember is that Baez is doing well defensively at shortstop and looked very uncomfortable in his few games at third during the AFL. Some are starting to think he doesn’t profile defensively at third. He could stay at short or Castro could even move to third in a worst-case scenario.

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