When The Wife, who is a teacher and uses her Twitter account for academic pursuits, tweets about the Winter Meetings, you know it’s serious business in the Taylor household.

  • Over the weekend, I shared some photos from BN’er Dave, who’d taken a couple shots while at a season ticket holder event at Wrigley. One of those shots showed a tent in the bleachers, presumably shielding a work area. But then another BN’er, Steven, took that picture, and transformed it into something else entirely. Vamonos Wrigley … it’s ‘Breaking Bad’ at Wrigley Field:

  • I really love this community. (Also, “Where’s Mike?”)
  • An appropriate quote on Theo Epstein from rival GM Kevin Towers, given the above picture: “He’s got zero fear,” Towers said of Epstein, per Patrick Mooney. “He’s a great friend, but he would step on my neck, slice my throat to win. That’s just who he is.”
  • Danny Knobler reports that the failed Dan Haren/Carlos Marmol swap went down like this: the sides agree, the Cubs get Haren’s medicals, the medicals scare them enough that they ask for more money in the deal to ease their concerns, the Angels refuse, the two sides try to play with the money until the final hour, the deal falls through. As I said at the time, things are rarely as black and white as you want to make them. (Also, that scenario is exactly what I said probably happened. Hooray for deductive skills.)
  • FanGraphs looks at a number of lesser-known prospects that should get a look at “add-on”/”throw-in” types at the Winter Meetings, should a deal accommodate it. One of the names is Dae-Eun Rhee, the righty the Cubs sent to the AFL this year. He’s long been loved by scouts, but hasn’t put up the numbers to match. From FanGraphs, a portion on Rhee: “If you look solely at Rhee’s professional statistics you’d probably think me mad for including him on this report. But after watching him pitch on a number of occasions, he continues to fascinate me as a prospect that should be much more successful than he’s been – and I can’t help but think that there’s a pitching coach out there that could help unlock his potential. Rhee, 23, is tall and lanky. He shows good balance over the rubber and has a high 3/4 arm slot with smooth mechanics. He also works quickly – perhaps too quickly at times. The downfall for the pitcher, though, is his lack of command. When I watched him pitch he was struggling to command both his fastball and his curveball, which was slow and loopy. He had good movement on his fastball, which can touch 93 mph, and it was cutting down and in on right-handed hitters. His best pitch was a tumbling splitter that helps him induce an above-average number of ground balls. He lacks swing-and-miss stuff and gets into a lot of trouble when he elevates the ball due to inconsistent mechanics.”
  • The MLBullets at BCB, obviously, are a primer for the Winter Meetings, among other things.
  • A video – an awesome video – of soon-to-be-officially-signed reliever Kyuji Fujikawa has been making the rounds, and it’s worth a look (spoiler alert? stay tuned for the splitters):

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

    “due to inconsistent mechanics.”

    Bane of pitching prospects all over the Cubs farm system. That is part of the reason I could not be happier that they hired the new minor league pitching coordinator away from Vanderbilt.

    • bails17

      DJ will have a huge impact on the Cubs minor leagues! One of the best pitching guys in the country, period!

    • Rcleven

      Thought the same thing when I read the attachment. Pretty much saw the same thing as the scout.
      ” He lacks swing-and-miss stuff and gets into a lot of trouble when he elevates the ball due to inconsistent mechanics.”
      This is not just a Dae-Eun Rhee thing.

  • bbmoney

    That quote about Theo is pretty magnificent.

    • Myles

      I thought the same thing. Great to hear.

  • Believe in 2015

    That splitter is just nasty!!!

  • Myles

    His curveball is pretty, too. It’s got a nice, late snap to it.

  • http://www.survivingthalia.com Mike Taylor (no relation)

    I believe he’ll be really effective, throwing off batters with his double-leg pump before his delivery. I suspect that he will really throw off a batter’s timing, but I noticed he doesn’t do it with runners on, so I also suspect that he’ll be less effective if he comes into a game with runners on, because he’s just pitching from the stretch. I’d love to see a spreadsheet which includes splits w/runners on.

  • FFP

    Fujikawa seems to change the timing in his delivery with the fastballs in this video, that’s got to screw with a batter. (and 152 km/h is 94.4 MPH I wouldn’t assume the radar gun is right, though)

    • Rcleven

      Watch the location. Every pitch seems to be at the knees, on a corner, or high at letters and above. Seems to have exceptional control.

  • Fastball

    Fuji’s Film looks great. I coined it. Fuji-Film

    His mechanics are very good. Balanced over his back leg all the way through to release point on all of his pitches. Release point is almost identical for each pitch he throws and he disguises his pitches very well. Some of his fastballs looked hittable. The Japanese league aren’t MLB hitters. But he does spot his fastball really well. Notice where his catcher sets up on those videos. He hits the glove with all three of his pitches. If only our younger pitchers had mechanics and knew how to hit the glove. He will be a good addition IMO.

    • BD

      You beat me to it- I was going to say that his release point is the same for all 3 pitches, which is great. Also, he doesn’t get his back elbow too high before follow through. Pretty smooth and seems very accurate. Plus, the Cubs have a guy throwing 150!! (I kid)

  • bails17

    1. Splitter is nasty!
    2. Dude gets crazy angles with his bottome half. This guy is using every ounce of what he has from his hips/legs.
    3. I really like what I see!!

  • Fastball

    He can hold his delivery over his back leg because he has great balance. He can add that hesitation and keep his timing together because he does it while he is totally on his back leg.

  • Featherstone

    Is it just me or does his Fastball look super straight?

    • chirogerg

      It’s a product of the angle and just watching on video. His fastball looks a lot like Jared Weaver’s on film, and Weaver has one of the best fastballs in baseball.

  • JulioZuleta

    Those splitters do look pretty nasty. Has to work on tightening up that curve. Very loopy kind of an exaggerated hanger, that could get crushed on occassion.

  • P hertz

    Can you stop and wiggle your leg in mid windup? Or is that going to be a balk?

  • http://www.albuquerquerealestateplace.com Rich Cederberg

    Look at all the left handers flailing and pulling out like our old friend Kosuke Fukidome…

  • Fastball

    It looks like he puts movement on it when he wants too. When he is throwing to a location he keeps it straight. Also his hesitation is not a balk. That is perfectly legal. Sometimes he even does a double arm pump. Still legal.

  • OlderStyle

    Rising fastball? Hmmm, not sure about that in MLB. The splitter looks Sutter-esque, though.

  • JoyceDaddy

    Brett, doesn’t the Fujikawa signing make perfect sense for the Cubs?? Relievers come at a premium for teams in contention and **IF** he performs well couldn’t we see a great package of prospects come back in return for him?? Also, we need relievers as it is, so if we decide to keep him I think he would be a great fit. His fastball looked very average but the movement on his splitter and curve ball made me believe that he could have success in the majors. He’s also reasonably priced (about half of Marmol’s salary) and I believe he’d make a great setup man.

    • bails17

      93 is can be unhittable when located.

  • cubchymyst

    I read that said Theo once responded to a trade offer with a text that simply read “LOL”. The quote about Epstein makes me happy the Cubs got him.

  • http://www.backingthepack.com Rynomite

    Don’t think it’s a balk with no one on base…or for that matter if you deliver to the plate with a runner on.

    Fastball has a bit of movement and he seemed to locate it well at least in the video sample. But he was also throwing it past some pretty long AAAA swings. But, with the filthiness of his other stuff, I do think he will be able to throw it by MLB hitters in pitchers’ counts. I think the key will be his ability to get strikes with secondary pitches in hitters’ counts.

    Very excited to have him. Marmol should go today if he can bring any sort of prospect in return, regardless of how much salary we have to eat.

  • Stevie B

    Wait…this cat has 3 above average pitches. Hmmmm. Could we try and stretch him out….?
    I know, I know… That’s crazy talk…right…?

  • MichCubFan

    He must be the best pitcher ever! Not a single person could even make contact off of him in that video! Why weren’t all the teams trying to get him?

    • Blublud

      Was thinking the same thing. I was wondering why his GB/FB/HR rates were all 0. I even heard he once threw a perfect game on just 81 pitches. All strikes.

  • WhyTheRentalTalk

    Does it bug anybody else that everytime the Cubs sign a player now-a-days, it automatically becomes fact (more-so in the BN comments) that the Cubs are going to “flip” them at the deadline? Paul Maholm was the only flipped player last year in a complete system revamp… Soto, Demster, johnson and Baker had expiring contracts, so its par for the course for any team that doesn’t want to resign guys to deal them….

    • http://www.casualcubsfan.com hansman1982

      Part of that comes from the contracts they are handing out – 1 and 2 year deals for a team like the Cubs generally comes with the expectation that, if the player is good and the team sucks, they will be flipped.

      Do some people take that too far to include guys with 5 and 6 year contracts getting flipped after half a season. Yes.

      As usual, the truth (and best route) is in the middle.

  • DarthHater

    Okay, if the Cubs are cooking meth in the bleachers, then signing Hamilton would definitely be a really bad idea . . .

    • Stinky Pete

      But the only to only way to afford his contract is to cook and sell meth. Catch – 22.

      • http://www.casualcubsfan.com hansman1982

        Actually it is a brilliant idea:

        Step 1: Cook and sell meth to afford Josh Hamilton
        Step 2: If Josh Hamilton sucks – get him addicted to Meth
        Step 3: Release him through a clause in his contract allowing you to do so if he gets addicted to meth

        It’s almost tooo easy…

  • DaveY

    Fujikama’s over the top delivery and fastball remind me of Rich Harden with similar results.

  • Chase S.

    Nasty splitter. His fastball is pretty straight so I hope he can locate consistently as well as he does in this video. I’m not so sure about the curve though, especially when he locates it over the plate like he does for a few of those batters. But hey, if he has better command than Marmol than it’s definitely worth a shot.